Whoo. New chapter. Not particularly amazing plot-wise, but it does have a character I'm rather fond of, as well as several lines I like.
Chapter 15: Hope
Raptola shivered in Carrie’s arms. Trying not to think about him too much, she scanned the scenery around her. On one side, the terrain rose with a familiar bumpy rockiness; to the other, far in the distance, she could see the reassuring green of trees. Somewhere between the two, she knew, was the desert – and more importantly, the Pokémon Centre at its outskirts. She fixed her eyes straight ahead and started walking, knowing that her destination was far away.
Once they reached it, they would be safe. The traumatised Raptola needed a new Poké Ball and some proper rest, and the hurt Pokémon – particularly Ivyx – needed healing. More than anything, Carrie was deeply worried about Foliano. She had no idea if he was going to evolve or not, but she convinced herself that he would be fine as long as she got him to the Pokémon Centre quickly. It was the only consolation she had.
She was drawn out of her deepening anguish by the sound of Theo’s footsteps behind her. She almost envied him; the only troubles his Pokémon had were minor, everyday battle wounds. He had it easy.
He came into sight at the edge of her vision, a good few metres off to her left. Carrie had the distinct feeling he was deliberately keeping away from her. Then she realised that unlike her, he probably knew exactly which direction the Pokémon Centre was in. Grudgingly, she fell into line beside him, albeit a few paces away; resentment seemed to radiate from him like heat. She tried catching his eye, but he remained staring determinedly ahead, his jaw clenched in apparent anger.
Absent-mindedly stroking Raptola, she kept her distance and let him sulk. Velotus drew level with her, casting Theo a glance out of the corner of his eye. Carrie saw the darkened patches on the Grovyle’s body and reflected on how he should really get them sorted, whether he agreed with it or not. For a moment, an image of herself mildly offering a Burn Heal to Velotus popped into her mind. The thought almost made her laugh.
Theo continued to ignore her. Carrie wouldn’t have minded, but it annoyed her to be treated as though she didn’t exist. Her attempts to walk with him in stubborn silence eventually gave way to mounting frustration. “What is your problem?” she burst out.
“You told them where Archopy is,” he said, his voice infuriatingly calm.
“And now we have even more people to race to N – no, I’m not even going to say it,” Theo said, anger starting to creep into his voice. “With our luck, there’ll be someone else hiding behind a rock, listening to everything we’re saying.”
“They had Raptola,” spat Carrie. The young Grovyle whimpered; she held him closer to her protectively.
“They’d had Raptola for ages, and you’d managed to keep it in you until I came,” Theo retorted, still not looking at her.
“Yes!” Carrie said emphatically. She steered the conversation away from a topic she didn’t want to think about: the fact that she could have given in earlier, and a certain event wouldn’t have happened. “Until you came! And you did a great job of rescuing me so I wouldn’t tell them anything, didn’t you?”
He huffed. “I didn’t come for you. I came for Archopy. Only you had to go and make it a waste of my time.”
Carrie frowned. “How did you know they wanted Archopy, anyway?”
Theo’s voice reverted back to relative calmness. “Milo phoned me and told me about how the guards have left MemorCorp. Apparently they’re after both Archopy and us.”
“I’d worked that out myself, thanks,” she muttered.
Theo didn’t bother replying, so the conversation dissipated into nothing. More minutes dragged by; more stretches of bare ground passed underfoot. Carrie tried to occupy herself by rhythmically stroking Raptola’s crest leaf. As the little Grovyle began humming softly in content, she found herself riled at the thought that there could be anything wrong with wanting to protect such an innocent, harmless creature.
Now seemed a good enough time to break the silence again. “Would you have kept quiet if it was one of your Pokémon they were threatening?” Carrie asked with a hint of menace. “Omanyte? Your precious, brainless Anorith?”
“Don’t call him that!” Theo suddenly exploded, rounding on her and glowering. His gaze burned into hers for a moment, then it dropped and clouded, and he turned back around.
Carrie raised her eyebrows in amusement; it seemed that she wasn’t the only one who felt the need to protect her Pokémon.
In silence once more, they walked on over the mountainside. High in the sky, the sun was beginning to descend.
* * *
“I’m stopping for the night,” Theo said.
Carrie shot him a sideways glance. They had been walking constantly through the afternoon and into the early evening. Her arms felt stiff from holding Raptola for so long, but she hadn’t the heart to move him now that he’d finally fallen asleep. His eyes were closed, and he was breathing peacefully, though he stirred and fidgeted occasionally as if from a nightmare. Velotus was still going strong, but Carrie could tell from the strained look in his eyes that his burns were taking their toll.
She cast her gaze towards the horizon, looking at the expanse of sand which now seemed almost within reach. At the foot of a mountain beside the desert, she could even make out the tiny shape of a wooden building with a painted red roof. The sky may have been darkening, but Carrie felt sure that they could reach the Pokémon Centre before night truly fell if they pressed on.
“It can’t be that far,” she insisted.
“An hour’s walking, at the least,” Theo told her. “Look at the sky. It’s getting dark.”
Carrie snorted. “Noticed that without your help today, thanks.”
He sighed. “And this is as good a place as any to stop and camp.”
She looked around her. They’d finally ended up on a marked route more commonly travelled on by trainers – Route 112, if she remembered correctly – and the path was smoother and more worn. Patches of grass had started to spring up again, as if making a last-ditch attempt to appeal to travellers before they reached the desert. It was to one of these, rimmed with rocks, that Theo indicated they should set up camp.
“It’s not as good as the Pokémon Centre would be,” said Carrie, refusing to be swayed.
Theo sat down on the grassy ground as if the decision had already been made. “When we get there tonight – if we were to get there – it really would be dark, and we’d be exhausted.” He swung his bag off his back and began taking things out. “Besides, I’m starving.”
She stayed where she was, not joining him. “I can eat while I walk. It’s called multitasking. Males should try it sometime, it’s not that hard.” She gave him a searching stare. “I thought you were the one desperate to get to Archopy, anyway?”
He stopped his unpacking and looked up at her. “Either we rest here and get to the desert a little later tomorrow, or we carry on to the Centre, oversleep due to tiredness, and get delayed because of that,” he said matter-of-factly. “We’ll be late either way.”
“Fine,” Carrie said as she turned away from him. “I’ll be late my way. Some of my Pokémon need healing as soon as possible,” she added, putting subtle emphasis on the “my”. With that, she set off towards the distant building. Theo didn’t even bother to protest.
Velotus caught up to her with a soft growl. She could tell what he was thinking; his current pride would never admit needing to be healed. “No, Velotus, I wasn’t talking about you,” she said.
“Although you could go back into your Poké Ball if you –”
Carrie sighed. That would be the fifth time he had refused to do so since they’d started heading towards the Pokémon Centre. Or the sixth. She’d lost count.
“Enduring a few burns isn’t going to help you, you know,” she told him, exasperated.
“Help me with what?” asked Velotus, as though he didn’t know the answer.
Carrie rolled her eyes. “Nothing.”
They continued in silence for some minutes. A rumble of complaint started up from Carrie’s stomach, reminding her that she was famished. Raptola was still sleeping soundly in her arms; she’d have to wake him up to reach her food.
She reluctantly gave the Grovyle a gentle shake. He stirred, so she shook him again. Abruptly, he snapped into wakefulness, gripping her with his sharp claws and staring wide-eyed up into her face. “Don’t!” he squeaked, before realising who he was looking at and softening.
Carrie stroked him soothingly. “Rappy, it’s me,” she murmured. “It was just a bad dream.” Raptola nodded and released his claws slightly as he took deep breaths. “I just need you to climb onto my back like you normally do so I can get at some food,” she told him.
He mumbled something meaningless and drowsily clambered over her shoulder to hang from his usual position. His face didn’t even peer out from beside hers; he was probably too exhausted to lift himself up. Carrie twisted to root through the bag at her waist for some food without dislodging him.
“Are you sure?” came Raptola’s faraway voice.
“Huh?” she said, preoccupied with finding something edible in her bag. “Sure about what?”
“Are you sure Daddy won’t evolve?” The Grovyle sounded quietly terrified.
Carrie’s walking came to an abrupt halt. She abandoned her search for food and fumbled instead through her mind for reassuring words. None came. Fear gripped her – a fear which was the very reason she had been trying desperately not to think about this all afternoon.
What if Foliano did evolve? What would she do? How could she live with him? He’d still be himself inside, hopefully, but outside… She had no idea how she’d cope, how he’d cope.
Trying to push the thoughts aside, she looked forward and saw that Velotus had come to stand in front of her and was fixing her with a piercing glare. “What did he say?” he growled as soon as she’d met his eye.
She definitely didn’t know how Velotus would cope.
“Please be sure…” Her youngest Grovyle seemed close to tears.
Carrie’s legs suddenly decided to go on strike. They buckled underneath her, and she collapsed to the ground, landing awkwardly on her backside. She gazed up at Velotus who now towered slightly over her, thinking oddly that this must be what the prey that he occasionally hunted felt like.
“What is he talking about?” Velotus hissed fervently.
She stared at him, her mouth hanging open stupidly, but no words seemed to want to come out. Raptola, who had let go of her when she’d fallen, crawled around to her front. She reached for him and held him, more for her own comfort than his.
“I… He…” Carrie swallowed. “Foliano might evolve.”
Velotus took a step back and hissed almost impulsively. “Why?” he spat with a mixture of bewilderment and disgust. “What the hell is he thinking?”
“It’s not his fault,” she said hurriedly. “It’s forced.” She took a shuddering breath. “You know MemorCorp? How Ivyx told you about that Grovyle that evolved? Those men had some of the stuff that forces it. They… they threatened to use it on Rappy.” Raptola squealed in fright at the memory, and she rubbed him comfortingly. “But Foli… he got in the way. And they used it on him.”
Velotus had been listening with increasing horror. “The bastards!” Then he suddenly stopped seething with anger, and his mouth fell open. “Wait. Didn’t he…”
“No. I recalled him before he could…” Carrie broke off, almost choking on her own words. Her Grovyle nodded, his face grim.
She pulled out Foliano’s Poké Ball and stared at it. “If I sent him out now, that could be it for him,” she murmured.
Velotus pointed forcefully at the ball, almost physically trembling. “Don’t,” he ordered. “Whatever you do, don’t let him out of there.”
Shaking, Carrie replaced the ball in her pocket. “I won’t. Not here.” With Raptola snugly in the crook of one arm, she pulled herself to her feet and convinced her legs to walk again. “That’s why we need to get to the Pokémon Centre, fast,” she said, forcing more speed into her strides. “And Raptola needs a new Poké Ball,” she added. “I kind of… broke his.” The Grovyle whimpered in acknowledgement.
Velotus smirked. “That was clever of you,” he commented drily.
Carrie huffed. “I know it was.”
She noticed the flap of her bag hanging open and remembered that she was meant to be hungry. This time, she had one arm free to root around while Raptola clung to the other one. After a while, she found a packet of cold meat and some bread that would do for a meal.
She bit into her makeshift dinner, her eyes fixed stubbornly on the ground in front of her as a means of distracting herself. She couldn’t afford more discouraging thoughts about Foliano – not yet. The Pokémon Centre was only a small shape on the horizon. They still had a long way to go.
* * *
Carrie burst through the Pokémon Centre door, panting. In a spurt of urgency, she’d run the last stretch of the way, and now she took a moment to catch her breath. The room she found herself in was as dark as it was outside; apparently, lighting in this place was optional.
She held the door open for Velotus, who was in less of a hurry than her. As soon as he was in, she slammed it shut and felt around for a chair. The only one she could find was small and hard, but she slumped into it gratefully, waking Raptola up with a jolt. Theo had been right – she was exhausted. Part of her wanted nothing more than to lie down and sleep in one of the Centre’s beds – if the place even had human-sized beds. If not, she’d happily settle for the floor and her warm, comfortable sleeping bag…
But she had priorities. Pulling herself up from the chair to avoid falling asleep in it, she scanned the room for anything useful as her eyes became accustomed to the gloom. All she could make out was a healing machine which appeared to be rusty standing against the far wall. Apart from that and another pathetic excuse for a chair, the room seemed to be empty. Where was the counter with the bell on it that you whacked manically when you wanted service?
“Hello?” Carrie called into the darkness. “Anyone there?”
At the sound of her voice, a thumping started up above her as if someone was moving around upstairs – she was surprised the building even had another floor. She blinked as a dim, bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling spluttered into life, revealing the room to be every bit as empty and shabby as she’d imagined it to be in the darkness. There were only two doors leading off from it – beds were probably out of the question, then.
One of these doors suddenly opened and out stepped a smiling young man. His sandy hair and brown eyes seemed fitting for a place so close to the desert, and the t-shirt and jeans on his skinny form went well with the all-round haphazardness of the place. He caught Carrie’s look of disdain and grinned sheepishly.
“Sorry,” he said. “I’d turned in for the night – didn’t think anyone would come.”
She stared at him, blinking. “And you are?”
“I’m Nurse Johnson. Call me Sam. I’m the only nurse here.” He indicated the whole building with a wave of his hand. “I know, I know, this place is rubbish,” he said. “But it’s in the middle of nowhere, so the authorities don’t give a damn. Haven’t given me any money to do it up for years. Anyway.” He stepped forward and brightened. “What can I do for you?”
Carrie was momentarily taken aback, then decided that at least this man made a change from the frustrating, overly-formal nurse she had encountered in Verdanturf Town. She only hoped Sam actually knew what he was doing.
“Okay,” she said, pulling three Poké Balls out of her pocket and dumping them in the nurse’s hands for lack of a counter to place them on. “They need healing. And him.” She turned and pointed another ball at Velotus. He didn’t protest, but he did shoot the rusting healing machine a rather apprehensive glance as he dissolved into red light. His ball was thrust at Sam as well.
Undaunted by suddenly holding four Poké Balls in his hands, the nurse darted over to the machine and placed them into the semicircular holes. “Don’t worry,” he assured Carrie. “It’s rusty, but it works fine.” Not encouragingly, he thumped the contraption, making it whirr softly. “Anything else?” he asked while it warmed up.
“Um.” Carrie felt awkward in having to admit her stupidity to a complete stranger. “I broke his Poké Ball,” she said, indicating Raptola, who still clung onto her arm. “He needs a new one.”
“No problem,” Sam replied, smiling at the Grovyle. “I can sort that. I think,” he added, not filling Carrie with confidence. But at least he’d skimmed over how foolish she’d been.
She suddenly realised that he was kneeling in front of Raptola, his face level with the Pokémon. Carrie flinched and held her Grovyle with her other hand protectively. Sam surprised her by reaching out and gently stroking his crest leaf. A flicker of a smile passed across her face; it seemed the nurse did know what he was doing.
“Why so gloomy, little one?” he asked kindly. Raptola whimpered and clung tighter to Carrie’s arm. Sam looked up at her, concerned. “What’s wrong with him?”
Carrie’s face tightened. She didn’t want to share details. “Bad day,” she muttered.
Sam nodded as if he understood. “I’ll get him a new ball, then he can rest,” he said, giving Raptola’s leaf a final stroke before jumping up. “Just let me find –”
A bleep from the healing machine cut him off. He bounded towards it and peered at its tiny screen on which something was flashing. Carrie watched, worried.
“I’m afraid your female Grovyle is badly hurt,” said Sam with a note of apology in his voice, as though it was his own fault. “I’ll have to treat her myself. But the others are fine,” he added more brightly. “Here you go.” He took out Velotus, Empathy and Crescent’s balls, and Carrie suddenly found herself loaded with more spheres than she could hold in one hand. Fumbling, she forced them back into her pocket.
Foliano’s ball was still in there. Slowly, she pulled it out and coughed to gain Sam’s attention; he was headed towards the door that he hadn’t come out of, Ivyx’s Poké Ball in his hand.
He spun on his heel to look at her. “Another one?”
She nodded. “It’s complicated.”
If anything, Sam’s face lit up. “Complicated’s more fun. Waiting around for someone to turn up and then only putting their Pokémon through the healing machine when they do gets boring after a while. What’s the problem?”
Carrie took a deep breath. “Okay. He’s a Grovyle, and there’s this chemical in him that forces Pokémon to evolve. But I don’t want him to evolve.” She had planned to stress the not evolving part more, but something about Sam’s manner seemed to indicate that he’d understand.
“Mmm,” he said. “Interesting.” Once again, Sam chose not to ask any awkward questions. He tossed Ivyx’s Poké Ball from his right hand to his left and reached out for Foliano’s. “Can I…?”
Realising she was clutching it protectively, Carrie loosened her hold on the ball, allowing Sam to take it and place it on the machine. “Stopping evolution,” he murmured as he pressed a few buttons. “Have you ever heard of Everstones?”
Carrie’s mouth fell open. She felt a sudden urge to bash her head repeatedly against something hard, but a shred of self-consciousness and the fact that there was barely anything in the room to bash it against held her back.
Sam turned to her with innocently wide eyes. “You have, haven’t you?”
She said nothing. She knew what an Everstone was supposed to do. It was so obvious – why hadn’t she thought of it?
He glanced back to the screen and grinned. “Well, your Grovyle’s still a Grovyle. The stuff in him’s pumping him full of energy, so much that he’d have no choice but to evolve if he was out. But he’s okay as long as he stays in the stasis of a Poké Ball.”
Carrie remained gaping at him. “Everstone,” she mumbled, the only word which seemed to want to come out.
“Yes – he needs one. Everstones give out an odd kind of radiation which forces everything nearby to stay in the same state. If he’s near to or holding one, he physically won’t be able to evolve. Then we can just wait until the stuff goes out of his system.”
She could feel her insides beginning to fill up with relief – and hope. “Do you have one?”
Sam turned to her again and pulled a face. “Nope. That’s the only problem.” He must have caught her look of despair, and he stepped towards her with an encouraging grin. “Don’t worry. If needs be, we can leave him in there until you do find one.”
Carrie nodded slowly. She was still kicking herself inside. If only she hadn’t been too busy distracting herself from Foliano, she might have worked it out, and then… then what? It wouldn’t mean she’d suddenly have the Everstone she needed.
“Okay,” she said. “Where do you find them?”
“Oh, caves and stuff, mostly,” said Sam with a wave of his hand. “People dig ‘em up.”
The flicker of hope suddenly switched back on like a torch. “Digging? You mean, like digging for fossils?”
He nodded. “I think it’s pretty much the same thing, yeah.”
Carrie rushed to the door and yanked it open. “I’ve got to go. I know someone who might have one…”
Sam chuckled, raising the Poké Ball that was still in his left hand. “I believe both you and I are still holding one of your Grovyle,” he grinned, indicating Raptola.
She turned in the doorway, feeling awkward. She couldn’t just go haring off with Raptola still clinging onto her. He really did need rest. After a moment’s reluctance, she disentangled the Grovyle from her arm and placed him gently on one of the chairs. He tilted his head to look at her questioningly.
She knelt to his level. “I’m going to leave you here with Sam,” she said softly. “He’ll get you a Poké Ball, then you can sleep.” After a long pause, Raptola nodded, his eyes still clouded with prolonged fear.
She stood up to see Sam gesturing back and forth between himself and Carrie with Ivyx’s ball. “Do you want to take her, or shall I…?”
Carrie thought for a moment, then said, “You take her. Get her healed.” She darted over to the healing machine and plucked Foliano’s Poké Ball from it. “I’ll take him.” She didn’t even know why she was trusting the nurse with Ivyx and Raptola but not with Foliano, but it hardly mattered.
Within moments, she was at the open door again, the ball safe in her pocket. She shot a final glance at Sam, who smiled encouragingly.
“I’ll be back. With an Everstone. Hopefully,” she said, before racing off into the night.
* * *
A half-moon, silver like a Skarmory’s armour, hung high in the deep blue sky. The stars around it twinkled, reminding the bird Pokémon of himself. If he stared up there with his eyes half-shut, it almost seemed as if there was nothing stopping him from flying out to greet them with just a flap of his miscoloured wings.
Then the Skarmory opened his eyes properly, and back into focus came the mesh separating him from the world.
Being a captured Pokémon wasn’t like he’d hoped.
For one thing, he hadn’t realised how painful it was to be caught. He vaguely recalled the stories mentioning battles, and so he’d attacked the humans’ Pokémon rather than run away, thinking it was what he was supposed to do. But it had hurt a lot – he was sure there must have been a better way to do it.
And once he’d finally found a human to capture him, he had only caught a brief glimpse of his new companion. It had been talking to another of its kind – about him. He’d glanced quickly around the place he had found himself in, taking in his exotic, human-made surroundings and the contraption in the corner which had gleamed silver like his former flockmates.
Then the world had disappeared again, like it had done when he was captured.
The next time he became aware of himself, his armour no longer ached from the battles. That was good, he assumed; this new human, the shorter one in black which had stood in front of him, was going to care for him like humans were supposed to. He’d listened to what it had to say: apparently this was to be his new home; he was going to enjoy it here; and most importantly, he was special.
While exploring his “home” he’d realised much to his dismay that his freedom was limited. It wasn’t too bad, he supposed; the area inside the mesh keeping him in was still fairly large. It had trees, some water, and a small outcrop of rock – he found the similarity to his old life oddly comforting. There was also an entrance into a cave-like space, but he preferred it outside. Inside, it was too regular and humanish. It unsettled him.
The others liked it, though. The other freaks.
The human kept many Pokémon in this “home”, he’d found out. All seemed happy with the life they led. And all of them, including him, had one thing in common: they were the wrong colour. None were normal. As he had asked them about their life with this human, he had begun to realise that there was something wrong about it. Something off. Something forced.
The food was good, that was undeniable – but in fact, it was just a little bit too good. The area outside with its rocks and trees felt familiar, but it was nothing like the rest of the human’s home inside the cave-space. It was like the real world had been taken and put within the mesh wall for his comfort.
And the human itself had stressed that he was special – but he had never been special before in his life. Only different.
No, there was something wrong about this. It wasn’t what being with a human was meant to be like. They were supposed to care about him enough to let him savour the freedom of soaring through the skies whenever he liked, not to prevent him from doing just that. They were meant to give him attention, friendship, even. This human had retreated back into its square cave after telling him he was special, and he hadn’t seen it since. Above all, he had longed simply to be treated like any other Skarmory – but would a normal Pokémon be kept with other freaks?
He gave the mesh blocking off the sky another rueful glare, wishing it was gone. Then it hit him that this might have been possible. He hadn’t tried to break through – what if he could?
Feeling hopeful, he took off from the rock he’d been perched on and rose into the air as high as the mesh would allow him to. Focusing glowing white energy into his green wings, he slammed into the barrier, swiping with his bladed feathers. He could feel them weaken, so he slashed again and again. The mesh tore apart with a painful screech of metal that made him wince, but he was through. He was free. Joyfully, he swooped through the opening and out into the night sky.
For a moment he hovered, unsure where to go. His flock would be long gone by now, and they would hardly have welcomed him back even if they weren’t. He considered trying to find another, better human before deciding against it; he wasn’t that naďve any more.
The build up of resentment which had led to his escape came back to him, filling him with a sudden purpose. He knew what he wanted to do. Find the human who had captured him – the one who had made it all go wrong.
Twinkling like the stars above, he gave a flap of his miscoloured wings, turned a somersault in midair and shot off into the night.
* * *
With a clumsy mixture of power walking, scrambling and stumbling, Carrie urged herself on towards where she had left Theo. Her aching legs were protesting angrily, and her eyes needed persuasion to keep themselves open. But she pressed on. She was only about halfway, she reckoned – she needed to keep going.
She kept cursing herself for not bringing up Foliano’s situation earlier. Theo might have put two and two together and offered her an Everstone, and then she wouldn’t have been in this mess. But she’d kept quiet. She hadn’t wanted Velotus to know, and she simply hadn’t considered Theo important enough to be told.
Ironic that this apparently unimportant person was the one Carrie was desperately rushing towards in the dead of night.
Her legs buckled underneath her in a moment of exhaustion, and she crashed to the ground, smacking her grazed palms against the dusty path for the umpteenth time. She stayed crouched for a moment, catching her breath. Her eyelids drooped. The dark of night pressed in on her, enticing her to give in and rest.
She forced her eyes open stubbornly, fixing them on the path she couldn’t even see. She tried to push herself up, to keep going, but the strength she needed refused to come. Reason was beginning to seep back into her thoughts, and her sleep-starved brain egged it on. Foliano would be fine in his Poké Ball until the morning, it told her – why the rush? She didn’t even know if Theo had an Everstone, so why was she wasting so much energy?
Carrie tried to protest, but the stubborn part of her mind fixed on saving Foliano didn’t seem to be thinking in a straight line any more. The thoughts blurred into black – black that she vaguely realised was not just the dark of night but the emptiness of closed eyes. The notion of opening them again flitted across her mind, then disappeared.
She was lying down on something – something hard, but her exhausted body didn’t care. As the darkness swirled into her thoughts, she wondered fuzzily why she could ever have wanted to do anything other than lie here and sleep. Something about Foliano? What was wrong with him, anyway?
Everything ceased to matter as sleep overwhelmed her.
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