Theodeth had heard others talk about their worlds ending before, had done what he could to comfort them, console them. He had never thought any of it would ever apply to himself, it just hadn't crossed his mind - and really, who would seek to do something like that to a healer?
He'd also been under the impression one actually remembered when their world fell apart.
He woke to pain.
Intense to the point he couldn't tell if he'd made a sound or not, even breathing brought fresh waves of agony. It seemed to centre in his forehead, but radiated in waves throughout the rest of him. Movement was difficult, and through the pain he couldn't really tell if he was successful or not.
Beyond the pain, however, laid a deep sense of loss, one he could not place. Memories slowly returned as he lay there, yet nothing came back which told Theodeth what had happened - the last he could recall, he'd gone out to find Volodar, to check up on him. Had something happened to his son?
Worry, concern, and fear for his son's safety finally lent Theodeth the strength to open his eyes, to lift up his head and look around. The dirt was a chaotic mess of churned earth, turned mud by the slow drizzle from the storm-clouded sky. It was still light out, still day, enough for Theodeth to make out the small brown shards against the gloom. They felt important, but he had no idea how.
Staring at them wasn't telling him anything new, and so after almost a minute, Theodeth finally turned his gaze away from them to examine himself, search for sign of injury. Aside from some scratches, there was nothing, whatever pain he was in did not have a readily visible cause. He couldn't think of any illness that caused sudden, body-wide pain, not without other symptoms and a build-up first. Maybe it was a spell?
In retrospect, trying to stand had not been his best idea.
In too much pain to think straight, too much to pass out to escape it, Theodeth just lay there to wait out the dizziness and additional throbbing that trying to get up had caused. Far as he was able to tell, he was stable, but in his current state all he could do was wait and hope someone found him before exposure or something hostile did first.
Five hours later...
It was a familiar voice calling his name, one fraught with shock and worry, that shook Theodeth out of his pain-induced haze. Raising his head from the ground again, he searched out the familiar form, hope reigniting - he'd begun to worry he might die from hypothermia, as the drizzle had become a downpour, and he was shivering from the cold water. Even if, despite his condition, his mind had become somewhat clearer instead of more fogged.
"Did you find him?" Sargatanas' voice drifted through the rain. He appeared from the underbrush to stand by Astéto, mouth half open to say more, but then he caught sight of Theodeth. Whatever he was about to say died on lips, and his expression hardened. He laid a hand on his mate's shoulder to keep him from running to the healer. His eyes flicked around the scene, and his long ears turned this way and that while he sought out potential signs of danger.
After a few moments, he was satisfied that any danger was already long gone, and then slowly approached Theodeth and knelt beside him, long tail coiling behind him. "You fought the Ruin?" he asked, his voice low. The taint of the foul creature was impossible to mistake.
Theodeth blinked up at the nightmare, taking a moment to fully recall Sargatanas' name - it had too many vowels for him at the moment - then finally registered what Sargatanas had said. He blinked again. "I...do not, remember..." His voice sounded rougher than he was used to, almost hoarse.
Astétó came to sit next to Sargatanas, staying quiet for now, but placed a hand on the wounded healer's shoulder. Though Theodeth looked to be mostly uninjured, the one injury he had....Astétó prayed it wasn't as bad as it looked - Theodeth had saved his life, and the lives of his children, multiple times from complications. Few deserved this, and Theodeth deserved it even less.
"Well, that's what it feels like." Sargatanas looked up and around one more time, just to be sure the three of them were alone. He sighed through his nose. "And it looks like you lost. Come on, let's get you home. Astéto... grab the pieces."
He leaned forward and slid one arm under the front of Theodeth's chest, the other arm under and around his rump, pulled him up against his own chest, then slowly lifted. It left all four of Theodeth's legs dangling, but there weren't many options for carrying one of their kind in natural form.
Astétó nodded, then went and gathered as many of the shards as he could find. They were quite scattered, and after about a minute of searching, he had to concede that they probably weren't going to find all of it anytime soon. "Theodeth needs shelter, I can stay out here, but....with the rain and mud, they're too scattered to be sure we'll ever find them all."
"Pieces...pieces of what....?" Theodeth had to ask - he'd watched Astétó pick them up, but the pain made it hard to connect the dots.
"Don't worry about it right now," Sargatanas said, his tone unusually gentle. He folded a wing in front of him so he blocked Theodeth's view without blocking his own, and then made for the town. "We can come back later, Astéto. Let's go."
Astétó nodded, then followed his mate back to town, making note of the location in his mind so that they could return to it if needed.
When word did get out of what had happened to Theodeth, the town was shocked - though the Ruin's presence was a tidbit of information discounted as rumour by some, the one thing that was undeniable fact was Theodeth's sole major injury. An injury which he was kept in the dark about, until he finally regained enough of himself to get up and look in the mirror himself - a large part of him wished he hadn't, the rest of him, however, was sure in that he'd have found out anyway eventually.
His horn had been shattered.
Not just broken, going from the pattern of cracks and the remaining shard-like spikes of it. No, it had been shattered from within, and the damage explained the deep, persistent pain. Unsure if he could even cast anymore, Theodeth turned to Sylvanus - he was the only one he knew of familiar enough with Drakiri horns and energy flow to be able to tell one way or the other. The news was mixed, but ultimately that while he might need a foci, there was a chance that he was still capable of casting.
Theodeth didn't have long after that tentative relief before other things came to light.
Months passed, and while Theodeth slowly began to recover - even if his voice remained rough and the pain liked to linger - it was discovered that he was also, by some manner, pregnant. Theodeth did not recall having ever taken more than one equal opportunities potion, and that one had been with Sand Dune. Their clutch had already been laid, leaving Theodeth with little idea of who the sire could be, at least at first. But symptoms began to show that he'd once seen in Astétó, and again in others, and combined with Sargatanas' comment on that day, it left Theodeth wondering.
He asked Bones to help him find the books he needed, then got to studying. Both to distract himself, and because he needed to know, needed to be certain.
That certainty didn't take long.
Caring for a clutch born of corruption had always been an odd experience, a clutch of his own being even stranger. The months before they were laid were exhausting, and it wasn't long before he learned of why - nine draklings, and he didn't even have Astétó's mutations. Learning the veil between normal reality and the forbidden was not something Theodeth normally sought out, but for the health of his own children and himself, it was necessary, even with Sylvanus helping him.
It also provided a distraction, as relearning to cast was a long and painful road that quickly became depressing.
So it was that Theodeth had nine unintentional children, all showing some manner of corruption, while simultaneously having to relearn his magic. Every spell was painful, yet he was able to avoid the usual pitfalls associated with the damage, even without a foci to help. The energy ran in him in an unusual way, altered from how it had been. Indeed, over time, his body began to recover more rapidly, as though instead of becoming destructive, his innate magic instead sought an outlet in repairing what it could - which proved to be everything but his damaged horn.
Theodeth also developed an irrational fear of leaving the town on his own, even the thought becoming enough to make him anxious. With so much else plaguing him, he chose to not fight the fear, instead seeking friends and family who were willing to come with him whenever he needed to leave Andatori's walls. To help him feel better, Kéveith enchanted his necklace to allow for the illusion of his horn being whole, so that he could avoid the reminder when he needed to.
It was to be a long road, and Theodeth wasn't sure if he'd even really started....