Rethais sighed as he desperately tried to find a way to occupy himself. He had spent much of the past few days confined to an over-sized bed in an old Banikan tent-house, in a small Banikan village on a planet filled with large monsters and Banikans that hunted said monsters. There was very little modern technology and what this tribe did have was mostly incompatible with Rethais and his Rethan hands. What made matters worse though was that none of the Banikans allowed themselves to talk to Rethais. They had attempted to explain why, but none of it had made much sense, mostly because their explanations had all been in the strange, incomprehensible Banikan language, which Rethais didn’t understand.
Right now, Rethais was just lying in bed, switching between staring at the ceiling, at the bamboo bandages around his stomach or at his brother Retvik, who had finally managed to fall asleep. Retvik was also struggling and had been tossing and turning for hours. He had already been tormented by horrible events beyond his control and now he had to deal with the collapse of Rethan society as they both understood it as well.
Suddenly, Retvik sat up, staring blankly ahead. Rethais would have been lying if he’d said he hadn’t jumped.
“Are you well, brother?”
“We… we are still at the Banikan tribe place, yes?”
Frankly, Rethais wasn’t sure how Retvik was holding on. His life had collapsed towards the end of last year and he had only just began to pull himself together again. But at the same time, Retvik was the only reason Rethais was still alive, having consistently put his older brother’s life ahead of his.
“You should sleep, Retvik.”
“You are not safe.”
Rethais sighed again. He was partly glad Retvik was awake, because Rethais really didn’t want to be alone with his thoughts. That’s why he craved any form of distraction, to keep his personal fears at bay. But he was getting more and more worried about how Retvik was coping. Or rather, how he was barely scraping things together. Over the past few days, rather than resting to recover from his injuries, Retvik had been rushing around trying to complete various ‘projects’, like trying to establish communications with the outside world, trying to learn the Banikan language, trying to work out why his little magical tea strainer didn’t work and trying to contact the Thantophor. None of these tasks had been successful, and they both knew that it was bothering Retvik.
Not because of his failures, but because Retvik also needed distraction from his own fears.
“Retvik, you cannot spend the rest of your life protecting me. Not at your own expense.”
“It is not like I have much else to continue existing for…”
That sentence caught Rethais off guard. Was Retvik having… depressive episodes? Kicking his blanket off himself, Rethais sat up straight and looked directly at Retvik.
“That was not like you. What is wrong?”
“A lot of things, if you had not noticed!” Retvik snapped. “Everything has gone wrong and I have been utterly powerless this entire time! My only use is to make sure you have a use!”
“You know that is not true. You saved my life. You got us out of those tunnels…”
“And I brought us here, where we are so out of touch with the rest of the universe that we do not even truly know where we are!”
Rethais shook his head. “Is this because of…”
“It is because of Gath. I mean, it is because of the takeover and subsequent destruction of our culture and society, replaced by the mindless desires of a God of Nothingness, but a lot of it is because of Gath.”
“I am sure he is safe and-”
“No, you do not understand…” Retvik interrupted, rubbing his eyes. “Lysar never needed to be uplifted. Relkay and Revan are your kids, they are of the old blood, they will pull through. Gath though? He is a common Rethan. And… And he has most likely been enslaved like one.”
Not knowing what to do, Rethais got up and sat down next to Retvik, putting an arm around him.
“You do not know.”
“No, but that is one of the potential situations. He either miraculously managed to escape, knowing what was coming. Or he was captured or even killed in his attempts to escape. Or he is now a mindless slave. And I have no idea which of those situations my beloved partner is in.”
Rethais grunted, wanting to change the subject. This was the exact reason why he wanted to keep himself occupied.
“Well, we need to go and find Gath and hopefully same him. The same way we need to save my dear Lysar. And the first step to doing that is getting off this planet.”
“I do not know how to do that.”
“We will work it out… Maybe we need to leave this tribe and go to one of the bigger cities. Maybe we need to work closer with the Banikans. Maybe we just need to work out where in the name of the Light this stupid Thantophor is. We will work it out, but before we can, you need to rest, because you have not slept in days.”
Retvik sighed, knowing his brother was right. “I know… May I make a request?”
“May we push these beds closer together? I feel… lonely in this bed on my own…”
Rethais shrugged. “Of course we can…”