“How is he doing?” Vikalos asked as he peered through the tiny window.
Myyxa shrugged. “This one does not talk to me. These others are all well. All back to normal. But this one is… One should not say broken, but damaged.”
“Can I go in and speak to the child?”
“Yes, but that one may get angry…” Myyxa muttered. “This one will not harm you, but one would recommend… caution.”
“I will be careful.”
“Good. One has other duties. One shall return later.”
Once Myyxa had left, Vikalos knocked three times, then slowly opened the door. As he entered the room, there was immediate movement as the young Decayling covered himself up with a white sheet.
Vikalos sighed as he approached the bed. Small pieces of tattered black skin and shards of yellow armour covered the floor, which Vikalos carefully stepped over.
“You are not well.”
“I am not one of you!” Arkay snapped, throwing the sheet off his body. His armour plating, which had been ripped off during his fight with the Corruption, was growing back, but not in the way Arkay wanted. He had been slicing off parts of his armour, sculpting the newly grown plating to be softer and smoother.
“I am not! The Corruption said so! I’m one of THEM. A horrible, hungry monster! You need to shove me out of a fucking airlock and leave me out there because I’m a fucking danger to you all!”
Vikalos didn’t say anything. Arkay grunted, then went back to picking at his armour. It was growing back at an almost visible pace and clearly it was causing Arkay pain.
“When I’m fully healed, I know you said you would be angry, but I’m leaving. I’ll go and find a universe to die in and then you can all forget I was ever around.”
With a sigh, Vikalos sat on the edge of the bed. From here, he could see just how small Arkay was. Small enough that he could probably eat Arkay in about four bites. The Decayling was doing its best to ignore Vikalos’s presence, but he couldn’t stand seeing Arkay like this.
“You really are not a Corruption. If you were, you would not have tried to save us.”
“That’s a pile of piss and you know it!” Arkay snapped again. “Admit it! I am a Corruption, aren’t I? You’re just not sure what kind! That’s why you’re taking me to this Deathven place!”
Vikalos closed his eyes. “There is some corrupted matter inside you, yes. That is how you can kill Corruptions. But there is corrupted matter in all Decay-Lords, the same way there is Voidborn matter in all of us as well. That is how we have domain over death within our universes. You are special because the corrupted matter inside of you is very, very old, even though you seem very young.”
“Yeah but…” Arkay stuttered. He was still clearly in pain. Vikalos looked him up and down. The Decayling was close, but not quite there yet. Slowly getting nearer to shedding his skin and becoming a true Decay-Lord. “But… I’m… I’m dangerous… You all…”
“We have been through this before, child. Corruptions attack on a regular basis. Deathven Vessels are prime targets because the Corruption and the Voidborn know what we all are. You do not change things the way you believe you do, and without your heroics, we would not have survived. You saved us, Arkay, with no prior thought of your own safety. Corruptions do not do that. Corruptions only ever care about themselves.”
Arkay shuddered, then sat forward, swinging his legs off the bed so he could sit next to Vikalos.
“Do not be sorry. You are young and you are scared.”
“I still feel bad. And confused and conflicted.”
“That is normal. I was the same when I was a Decayling. I was not much bigger than you, actually, before I shed my old skin.”
Arkay edged closer to Vikalos, until he was close enough to lean on him. “That… makes me feel better… Thank you…”
“No, thank you, Arkay,” Vikalos smiled as he pulled Arkay close, gently patting him on the shoulder. “You are a good individual. No matter what happens, do not let other beings say otherwise.”
“I don’t always feel like that…”
“No one ever does. We all have bad days, after all.”
Arkay nodded, then sighed. “When will I become a Decay-Lord?”
“Soon, most likely.”
“Will it hurt?”
“Only if you let it hurt.”
Arkay smiled, just a little, before moving away and lying back down in bed. “That’s alright. I can deal with that…”
Vikalos gently tucked Arkay in, then got up and slowly left the room, closing the door behind him.
“You have a fine eternity ahead of you, little one…”