The room was very quiet. Mercer and Nicyes sat in chairs flanking Arturo. Esther and Alquis stood in opposite corners on the far end of the room, Alquis rubbing his head in thought, Esther leaning against the wall with her arms crossed.

“So is that it, then?” Arutro’s voice was weak and strained. He coughed. “Mission accomplished? Problem solved? World saved?”

Mercer shifted his weight uncomfortably in his chair. Esther made a coughing noise into her fist which could just as well have been a cough or an invitation for anyone else to take the floor.

Nicyes answered. “The beast is dead and gone.”

Another silence passed through the room.

Arturo coughed again and said, “You’ll have to tell me all about it when I can hold a stylus again, so your legend can be recorded for future generations of heroes.”

Alquis spoke out suddenly, “Nicyes did do most of the fighting.” He looked confused for a moment, as though surprised at the fact that he said something. Mercer looked at him and then down to the floor.

With a noticeable edge to his tone, Mercer voiced his agreement. “Aye, it was his plan, too.”

“You’ll celebrate with us, of course,” said Esther. Arturo looked at her when she spoke, and though she was only across the room from him, he squinted at her like she was a speck on the horizon.

A moment and a bewildered expression later, he said plainly, “I feel horrible.”

“You did have half the ceiling of a temple come down on your head,” said Alquis. “That isn’t the sort of thing you just walk off. It’s amazing you weren’t killed outright, what with the fire and all.”

Esther shot a look at him, which bounced harmlessly off his aloof exterior. That tactic proving useless, she walked over to the edge of Arturo’s cot, physically boxing Alquis out of the conversation.

“You know,” said Arturo, his voice becoming fainter, “it wasn’t so long ago that our situations were reversed. I remember standing right there, looking over you while you were here, resting.”

They all stayed with Arturo until he fell asleep, at which point Esther stayed behind and the others left.