Evelos didn’t come to him for at least an hour, then at least three. Krest didn’t worry too hard: he figured the elf would have to sleep it off, and he had plenty of work to do that would keep him busy until morning. Not having to sleep had its productivity perks, he thought, though he did miss the dreaming, sometimes.
But then the dawn bells tolled, then the mid-morning ones, and still Evelos didn’t come. Krest got distracted by a particularly difficult problem of how to mix a troll’s blood potion with a lion’s strength elixir without it over-boiling, and once he had solved that, the evening bells had come and gone. Worried now, he called on one of the soulless to make up a meal, and then he brought it down to the elf’s quarters himself.
The elf was still lying where Krest had left him on the cot. When Krest set the food tray down, the elf came by to nibble at a crust, then, with a guilty look at Krest, stood in the farthest corner.
Krest stared at him. “What are you doing?”
“Staying away from you, Master.”
“When did I tell you to do that?”
“You told me to come see you when my head stopped hurting. My head still hurts, Master.”
“Oh.” Krest came over to the elf, who pushed himself back against the wall. “Nevermind that last order. Come with me now. If I had known — we’ll give you one of the mind clarity potions. Yes, that should help your head. That’s what we’ll do.”
Evelos didn’t even groan in response, but he did follow.
Krest diluted the potion. He wanted to take the edge off the poor elf’s headache — seeing as how he had inadvertently caused it — but he didn’t know how it might interact with the mind control enchantment, and he didn’t want a repeat of the night before. It was difficult to tell if it had had an effect once Evelos had quaffed it, which Krest supposed was a good sign for the spell’s integrity, but not for whether the pain had abated.
“Is that better, yes? Tell me the truth.”
“I am dizzy,” said Evelos.
“Sit down,” offered Krest. …he should have known Evelos would take that as a command to sit down right in the middle of the floor where he had been standing, and so he had.
While the elf sat there, rocking slightly, Krest returned to the abandoned petri dish containing the slave’s blood. It had dried by now of course, but it became liquid quickly enough when he mixed the clarity potion into it, too.
“Hm. This needs something,” muttered Krest, and he took some other potions down out of his stock. “A bit of free action. A bit of healing… oh! How about some mana. Elfsies like that; yes, I’m told they do.”
The blood was now colored more like plague than like blood, but it was liquid again. Krest stirred it with a rod, then set it on the alchemy table, where he could just see the tips of Evelos’ ears from the other side.
“Dance a jig for me,” he breathed over it. The blood began to shift back and forth, slowed and weakened by its dilution. Evelos was staring at him with the kind of intense attention that Krest usually took to mean the elf had (correctly) assumed Krest hadn’t given him a direct command.
“Ah,” said Krest in disappointment. “A very hard spell to break, this is. That Magister Runefire sure did a number on you, poor soul. Poor soul.”
He glanced at the voidbeast.
“But the Void… this enchantment of yours. It’s elfsy magic, yes? Magic of the Light, of the Holy. Why would the Holy bend you to its will? Evil deeds. Dreadful magic. But the Void… ah, but the Void sets you free. Doesn’t it?”
Evelos answered the question hesitantly. “It might, sir.”
Krest crossed back over to the voidbeast. It snarled at him, as per usual, but he ignored it, also per usual, as he was thinking.
“Slave, come here.”
Evelos obediently got up and stood a foot behind Krest. The elf shivered a bit, and Krest marked the fear in Evelos’ eyes as he glanced at the voidbeast, one hand closing instinctually over his once-bitten arm.
That gesture of the hand made up Krest’s mind, more than anything. It would be useful to his Lady’s research as well, he thought in condolence.
“I want you to stand here, for at least an hour, every day,” he told the elf. “No shield of the Light. If it speaks to you, talk to it, yesss. If it hurts, you may take one serving of the clarity potion from my stock.”
The elf began to tremble, then shake, and Krest took a careful breath.
“I wasn’t the one who betrayed you,no . Remember that, elfsy, if you never take another order from me again.”