Tavros snapped awake, clawing at the rope around his neck, trying to reach up and get a grip in it so he could pull himself up and release this terrible pressure from his throat...
His claws sank into something soft and he went still. He could breathe; he wasn't dying. He was... lying in a bed, covered by a blanket.
"Ah, good," said a familiar voice. "You're back, your most royal Majesty."
Tavros groaned and turned his head, though in truth he was relieved on a scale that was somewhat hard to fathom. "Abbess," he said. "You resurrected me?"
She made a small, dismissive gesture. "You needed it rather badly."
He nodded, because that was kinder than saying, I know, I remember that bastard Helios murdering me. "The others?"
"They returned with your corpse. The rest of them were in rather better shape."
Tavros nodded and started to sit up. "I should see them, find out how things went."
Hilda Sturmgart hesitated, and that was enough to give Tavros pause. The abbess was a decisive woman. After a moment she asked, "How badly do you want to be surprised?
"As little as possible," Tavros answered wryly.
"Well then... The priest who calls himself Marshall has scales."
"Scales?" asked Tavros, certain that he'd somehow misheard.
"Scales," confirmed Hilda. "He says that by the grace of Artem-hiss, he has become a snake-man. Akkora and Sister Tiva say he's definitely one of the lizardfolk -- the only pudgy one they've ever seen -- but nobody's arguing with him."
"Scales," said Tavros, again. "All right, what else?"
"Well, Sacha is definitely the Avatar of Helios now. He glows a little, unless he makes an effort not to." She paused, then added: "And you're not the only half-dragon in the Temple anymore."
Tavros just stared at her, and after a moment she shrugged. "A young woman showed up with three of them, toddlers, a week or so back. From what I can gather from Anica and Aesa, she seems to be Eva's sister."
Tavros clapped a hand to his face. "Ruin. How does he do it?"
"I don't know," said the Abbess, "but I'm impressed. Vigo might be able to tell you; he and Dante are quite eager to see you. I had to remind them that they shelter here at the pleasure of the Temple of Amun and in particular me, and that they needed to be back in their hidden rooms."
Dear Amun... All it needed now was for a band to show up outside the door and start playing that damned song. Tavros shook his head and lay back down. "You know," he said, "I think maybe I'll just lie here and recover for a bit longer. Wouldn't want to rush things."
"Yes," said the abbess Hilda Sturmgart. "Your Majesty's health is so important."
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