Just as a forewarning: this is an extremely short chapter. I just wanted to get something else out there while the events of the last chapter are still somewhat fresh in your minds.
Gil's eyes fluttered open, his vision swimming. He blinked several times and started when he was met with a pair of large green eyes just inches from his face. He gasped and tried to pull back, groaning softly as he moved his aching muscles.
"Oh, thank goodness," Oz breathed pulling away. "You're alive."
"What happened?" Gil asked managing to lift himself into a seated position.
He had been lying on a bed, uncomfortable, but better than what he had been expecting. He had been expecting nothing, vast darkness and crimson liquid, such as was typical of the Abyss. He wondered how much of it had been real and how much of it had only been a dream.
"I don't...," Oz said in perfect imitation of Gil's currently scratchy voice. He then proceeded to mock swoon, doubling over in a fit of giggles. He sobered up and said, "You were about to say something, but if you were going to say I don't feel good, well, that would have been understandable."
Alice snorted, reminding Gilbert of her presence. "What a useless manservant you are," she said pointedly to Gil, "making me carry you."
Oz ignored Alice's comment and gave his friend a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry you don't feel well. Being stuck here probably isn't doing anything to help you."
Gil just stared, slowly processing Oz's words. His mind was so clouded with sickness that it took him a moment to grab the meaning behind his words. Right. They were still in the Abyss. It was all real and he hadn't dreamed a thing.
That meant that he still had the problem of trying to get them home. He sighed and laid his head back against the bed railing.
"Where are we," Gil asked, "in the Abyss? Have you ever seen this area before?"
"This whole place looks the same! It's impossible to tell where we are or where we've been!"
Again, Gil and Oz ignored Alice, and Gil, still looking at his master, asked, "How long have we been here?"
Oz shook his head. "You, of all people, know I can't tell you that. The ten years I spent here felt only like a few hours."
"You were gone nearly a day before I came in after you." Gil shook his head and ran a hand through his curls. "You left for Tamis, right? What did you find?"
Oz said nothing. In fact, the more Gil studied him, the more he saw something unusual creeping into Oz's eyes. Was it fear? Or guilt? For a minute Gil thought that he was imagining it—perhaps it was the fever putting images into his head—but cutting a glance at Alice and seeing her expression, Gil knew that he wasn't mistaken.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Maybe you should get some more rest," Oz said. "Alice and I can hold down the fort. Hopefully the next time you wake up we can figure out a way out of this place."
Even as ill as he was, Gil did not miss how Oz skirted around his question. Whether it was meant purposely to hide something or whether Oz felt that Gil really did need more rest (as much as he wanted to, Gil couldn't argue with that fact), Gil was having a difficult time figuring out the questioning look he saw in Oz's green eyes.
"Tell me what's going on," Gil said. "Oz, please, why are you looking at me like that?"
The silence between them was thick and unwavering. Alice looked between master and servant, her curiosity mounting. Judging by what she knew, she wondered how Oz was going to best handle the situation. She next pondered how Gil would accept the explanation; he was fragile enough as it was (weak with sickness, of course), and if he passed out again or if his condition get even worse, then they might never leave the confines of the Abyss.
"Oz!" Alice said suddenly, causing the others to jump. She leaped down from an unsteady stack of dining chairs and pointed to some spot in the distance. "I'm going to stand sentry over there. God knows I can't trust either of you men to guard us out here."
Oz chuckled and watched silently as Alice disappeared into the darkness. He remained silent, sighing when Gil cleared his throat and urged him to continue.
"Nothing," Oz said, and he wiped his palms on his pant legs. "We didn't find anything."
Gil was confused. "Why couldn't you just tell that?"
"Gil, nobody lives in Tamis. The city was wiped out years ago."
Since the last time I updated this I was just about as sick as Gil. I had tonsillitis and was given foul-tasting antibiotics to boot. Now those were some crazy drugs—the first day I took them I ran into a wall in my house... But I mostly just slept. The week after that I got the stomach flu. :(
Anyway, sorry for the short chapter. Please review and let me know what you think!