Tale: Dead Inside

“How is he?”

“Well, if I hadn’t sworn to never intentionally harm another sentient being, I would recommend that we put a bullet between his eyes and put him out of his misery.”

“Is it that bad?”

Kaldoran, the General of Medical Affairs and essentially the best medic in Rethan territories, nodded his head. At the Vice General’s request, he’d come here to see what he could do to help the ‘saviour of the Rethans’. Or, at least, that’s what non-Rethan media outlets were calling him.

In a glass cage, strapped down to a surgery table, Arkay was finally sleeping. It had taken five hours to calm him down long enough for medics to be able to inspect him, and even now, his body was flinching and fidgeting, tormented by his dreams.

“What have they done to him?” Elkay finally asked. It was almost physically painful seeing his little brother like that. He never thought he’d see his brother again. Really, if it meant Arkay not being in pain, Elkay wouldn’t have had a problem never seeing him again.

Kaldoran picked up a tablet and brought up Arkay’s file. “You… You don’t want to know.”

“Of course I do.”

“You will spend the next few weeks feeling guilty that you sent Arkay through that portal.”

Elkay tutted. “I already feel guilty for sending them through and costing Retvik Rethianos the life of his child. I am already upset that Arkay is suffering like this. Just tell me.”

“Very well…” Kaldoran sighed. “Physically, he’s put on a lot of weight, having been force-fed both food and alcohol. His muscles have weakened from not using them or properly exercising. Arkay’s genitalia are in a horrible state due to a lot of sexual abuse, having been stretched and overused. The biggest problem is the vast amount of withdrawal symptoms Arkay is experiencing, the constant fidgeting and shakiness being the main part of it. He’s essentially been made addicted to the strange slime from Temthan skin, and no longer being exposed to it is causing most of his problems.”

“I knew that slime was… wrong. That’s why I refused to touch the Empress.”

“You made the right call. Arkay’s body is desperate for a hit, but he has to go without. It’s a miracle we got him back sooner, because the slime, it’s unbelievably toxic to nitrogen breathers. A slow killer, but dangerous nonetheless.”

“You can fix all that though?” Elkay asked.

“Yes. We can’t make him lose weight, but we can do a little cosmetic surgery, clean up the peeling skin on his arms, mend the horrible cuts on his tail and legs, hopefully fix up his downstairs. Mentally though, I don’t think we can fix that. His mind is shattered.”

“How do you mean?”

Kaldoran gave Elkay a funny look. “He sacrificed himself for his friends, he got captured by a vicious race of Thanatians, was sexually assaulted goodness knows how many times, force fed food and drink he probably didn’t want, was drugged into being loyal to the Temthans and ended up stabbing the person he’d been drugged to be loyal to. This is only a year and a bit after he returned from being missing for eleven years, ten of which he’d spent being tortured. I understand that Arkay is a powerful Ksa but… It’s all too much for him.”

“So what do you plan to do?”

“I am not sure yet. Once he is physically healed, I’ll have him transferred to a family home, give him a simple job to keep him occupied. He’ll need a lot of medication and a new diet plan. If Arkay is lucky, he’ll be able to live a normal life, but more realistically, he’ll spend the rest of his days trying to get from A to B while wallowing in depression.”

“I don’t suppose he’ll be able to serve as a Ksa again…”

Kaldoran unexpectedly laughed. He didn’t mean it though. “Y-you really think Arkay could even begin to serve you again? No. It’s not happening. If it wasn’t for the fact that Arkay’s part Trehan, he’d be dead.”

Elkay paused. “Wait, what?”

“You didn’t know?” Kaldoran tutted. “Of course he is. His father is Psivee-en. Psivee-En’s father was a Trehavok. Of course some of that has been passed down.”

“I guess… When can I speak to him?”

“Not for a while. He needs to rest… He needs to be left alone, so his mind can begin to comprehend what happened.” Kaldoran sighed, feeling helpless as Arkay began to shake and fidget again in his sleep. “I’d like to say that Arkay is lucky to be here right now, but really, he’d be better off dead. And he’s going to live with all that happened for the rest of his life…”