Light. Searing. All-consuming. It felt as though it reached into his every crevice and laid all bare. There was no safety from it, no safety in it, and all he could do was curl further into himself in the vain hope that maybe, maybe, he could find some relief, even if only for a moment. His ears were ringing. The light burned. The ringing grew louder, more insistent, and still, it burned him, still, it stripped all, until his terror was replaced with irritation, and he raised an arm in some effort to cover his ears…
And realized that it was the phone all along. Eiran jerked upright with a gasp, now fully conscious, fumbling for the still-ringing handset. He didn't even have time to reflect on the dream before a familiar voice reached his ears.
"THERE you are!" Eiran winced, holding the phone away at arm's length as Six's shrill voice, used to piercing through the rumble of strange machinery and the bustle of endless work, tore through his poor phone's vintage handset instead. "You picked up on the third ring! You're losing your touch, my dear partner in crime. Sleeping again?"
Eiran groaned, hopefully far enough away from the phone that she didn't hear it. For once, there was no rumble of machinery, no bustle of hard work, behind her voice. That meant only one thing. He took a deep breath and steeled himself, grateful suddenly for the rest he'd inadvertently gotten. It had been at his desk, which meant everything was still properly set up for whatever it was she needed this time. When he replied, it was with the airy, soothing voice he reserved for whenever he had work to do. "Mm, it appears so…and I am not your partner in crime, sorry to say. That title is reserved for the rest of your team, I would think, and I remember turning that offer down a few years ago."
That had gotten a laugh out of her. "That's rich, coming from my off-the-field medic. Hurry up and let me in."
Eiran sighed and hung up. As he suspected. He stood from his chair and bustled about his upstairs clinic, haphazardly pushing bottles and notes aside to make room on his main table, and unceremoniously dumping everything off of his side table entirely. The books would be fine on the floor for a while. He dragged the table over to the spare bed, pulled the dust cover off the bed, and replaced it with the usual oilcloth, grateful that he'd recently bought a new one. Hopefully this one would be slower to stain, especially with whatever Six and her team had carried in this time.
Prep work done, he gave the room one last once-over, pulling the curtains fully closed as he went, then went to his equipment rack, grabbing a visor from where the lot of them carefully hung. He kept it with him as he descended to the ground floor and shut each of the curtains down there, too, sparing only the slightest of mournful glances out at the sprinkling of stars and great pale moon outside before shutting them away. It was a beautiful day, but he had work to do.
With every curtain accounted for and every unneeded room behind closed doors, only then did he turn to the front door. He put the visor over his eyes, adjusted the strap, took one last breath, and pulled the door open to greet not only Six, but the entire rest of her Void Runner team. They knew the drill by now, thankfully, which meant his only duties while nearly blind were to usher them all in, make sure no stray guests were waiting, and then shut the door firmly behind them as they made their way up the stairs, their lanterns no longer shuttered now that there was no danger of the light leaving the house. They would take care of the lighting upstairs. All he had to do was fumble blindly over to the coffee table and light the oil lamp, blinking as his eyes adjusted to having sight once more. He hurried up after them.
Six was already leaning against the wall closest to the spare bed, her arms crossed as she looked at its occupant with lips set in a thin line. Eiran ignored the rest, having sighted exactly why he'd been called upon for this little visit. "Oh. You found another out there?"
Six's nod went ignored as Eiran hurried to the bedside to examine the person lying there. Dark skin, dark hair, sharp features, very obviously shivering. If he could see it, he'd bet their lips were blue. It seemed almost a rite of passage that human remnants of the god of light came into the world with a severe case of hypothermia, and this one was no exception. An easy cure, at least.
He went to his main table, plucked bottles of powdered herbs and solvents and pickled organs with a practiced ease, tipping their contents into measuring spoons which then got poured into a small earthenware bowl, set onto the engraved plate that formed the working surface of his alchemical stove. Six helpfully reached over and flipped the switch, allowing the magical energy to flow into the conduit properly. He ignored that too, focusing instead on retrieving the pestle to his mortar and grinding the various ingredients into a fine paste. "Ooniemme."
Six's teammate looked up from her position on the floor, curled up into a careful sitting position, with a bundle in her lap, that kept her out of the way of everyone and, more importantly, left her able to wait comfortably without having to stoop or bash her horns against the ceiling. The houses in Praecidia Noctum were not known for their friendliness towards the heights a land deity reached. "...Yes?"
"If I hand you some water, you can get it to boil, yes? Magic is faster than the manual method." He'd already started pouring water into a different earthenware bowl, shallower than the last, with part of the rim angling outwards into a spout.
"Oh…Yes, that is very possible, though I've never tried reaching for it here…" She still held her hands out, and he set the bowl in them almost as soon as she did. Her task set, Ooniemme closed her eyes and started to hum tunelessly, her large lop ears swaying back and forth in time with her movements as she rocked from side to side in rhythm with a melody only she could hear.
Eiran mashed the paste a little finer, keeping his eyes on Ooniemme's bowl, and as soon as the first bubbles appeared he stepped forward and tipped the whole thing in, stirring it crudely with the pestle until, with a puff of steam, the liquid turned denser, more the consistency of soup, with an odd color that couldn't seem to decide whether it was red or brown. Ooniemme squeaked a little in surprise, but she held firm as Eiran finished the final steps of the medicine, far too used to Six's antics to let Eiran's own franticness startle her for long. She gave the bowl up easily as soon as her part was done, craning her head towards the bed as Eiran approached it and its occupant once more.
"Six?" Eiran kneeled, and with a little laugh at some hidden joke, Six joined him, reaching for the fallen remnant's head to tilt it back and lower the chin, allowing Eiran to carefully tip the medicine in. As soon as it reached the remnant's tongue it seemed to rouse them - their hands lifted feebly to join Eiran's on the bowl, helping him pour. The shivers ceased, and slowly as the last drop fell in, the remnant's eyes fluttered open once more. Eiran had already stepped back, so only Six jumped back, swearing profusely, as the remnant jerked violently upright in the throes of a coughing fit. Eiran frowned sympathetically. He still hadn't found the time to experiment on fixing that little side effect. It was a terrible way to be welcomed back to consciousness.
Six rounded on him, clearly preparing to give a tongue lashing, when the new remnant spoke their first words in a soft, feminine voice, silencing all present. "...Wh...Where am I?" They looked at the motley crew assembled there, brows lowered in confusion as they took in the pale boy with massive headgear covering his eyes, the red-skinned woman with her fist half-raised, the giant horned rabbit-creature, and the rest of Six's crew, looking more and more confused as they took more in. "...Who are you people? Why…?"
Eiran set the bowl down. He was not trained for Welcoming, but it seemed the others still expected him to do it - their eyes followed him, not Six. Just this once, the attention didn't bother him. He approached the new remnant with his hand outstretched. "...Welcome to Praecidia, friend. My name is Eiran. You?"
The remnant eyed his hand warily for a moment, but then took another look at his face and their eyes brightened in recognition. They took it, letting him help them out of bed. "Inga. I think. The red one told me about you...the, uh...maker of miracles?"
Eiran smiled soothingly, guiding them over to Ooniemme, who had already started unwrapping her bundle to pull out the rest of the clothing they'd packed, and the paperwork that they should have taken care of in the beginning. "Is that what she said?" He made a note to remind Six once more of the rumors she was allowed to spread, and the ones she certainly was not. "I'm not sure about that, but I am glad they were able to get you to me in time. The god of light does not often leave his children in a good place."
Inga bowed their head. "...No. No, he does not. But…why?"
Funny how that seemed to be the question every remnant asked, as soon as they were conscious enough to understand their place in the world. Being sent to the Void, to Praecidia, a refuge for the unwanted, provided an answer both too obvious and too painful for him to offer once again. So instead, he said, as he always did, "...It is hard to say. Perhaps you'll find your own answer, in time."