When the welcome blackness relieved her of the fangs of the worg, Keetel was aware of nothing for a long time. In the midst of her nothingness, raw stimuli periodically fought their way into the dark recess her mind wherein her consciousness sought refuge. She distantly felt a sting and burn. Then cold. Then sharp motion. Then blackness once more.
“Keetel? Can you hear me? Are you still in there?” The voice floated across a great distance, disembodied and hollow. Yet it was familiar.
“Uhhhh,” was the only reply Keetel could muster, her blood loss so severe and her muscles so strained for oxygen that inflating her lungs was almost beyond her capacity.
“She’s alive, and aware, head Primate.” Another voice, closer, but somehow less noticeable, responded.
Another spell of blackness. Not aware anymore. Some more motion. Muted voices.
“Keetel, we’re losing you.” The world slowly faded back into existence. The first voice spoke again, as though through water. “Awake.” The feeling of lightning pulsing through her body raised Keetel from her swoon. Her eyes opened.
For the moment of her lucidity, an image burned into her mind. Leaning over her, cloaked in black and dripping with blood, stood Darell. He laid his hand upon her forehead and a barrage of multicolored energy flooded over her.
“I know of only one way to save you. Will you give me leave?”
A wave of pain flared across Keetel’s head and her body involuntarily convulsed, shaking in a way a body so depleted of blood should not be capable of. She wanted to pass out, but she couldn’t pass out. She was all too aware now of the vaulted, stone ceiling in the room, the wrought iron braziers gleaming with greenish-white light, and a great, black banner bearing a recognizable red seal of four spears radiating outward, encompassed by a gear.
The pain was increasing. It was unbearable and yet inescapable. Keetel tried to scream but the sound choked in her throat. Anything to make it stop. Summoning the last, small reserve of her will, Keetel took her final breath and released it in a desperate “Yes.”