Bloodwing's eyes glowed like embers, piercing the darkness of this cloud-enshrouded night.
"I would barely call this a pestilence, Seventh Son. The symptoms vary wildly rom one soul to the next. This has all the signs of a curse."
I nodded quietly from behind the Soul Mask that the Founder recovered.
"Any sign of Loki?"
"The scamp who unleashed this havoc? Not yet. Xavael is circling the city to find him."
"But I must..."
"No." Bloodwing drew his blade halfway out of the scabbard. "Stay here with your fellow patient. Putter with your alchemy if you think you can find another clue. Perhaps you can find another ingredient for your precious serum so it will actually work this time. But you shall not infect infect another soul. If I wanted to live in the land of the walking dead I would have stayed in Erebus."
He slammed the door in my face before I could scream at him and dredge up one of his many failures, for which he may very well have cut me down on the spot. I simmered silently in rage at myself for not being careful enough. For refusing to believe that someday a plague would come for which even the famous Mason Reanimation Formula would not protect me from.
There was a single candle casting shadows about the room. Our eyes had grown to bleary to stand any more.
"Doctah Mushtash?" The young girl coughed and whimpered.
I returned to her sie, and used an alcohol-soaked towel to wipe another droplet of black pestilence from her mouth. Her sunken eyes stared balefully back at me.
"Are we dead?"
"I've died several times, child. This isn't death. And it's Dr. Mason, by the way."
She trembled beneath her sheets.
"Mindy. I want you to wear this. It will keep you safe." I removed the skull-like mask from face and placed it over her.
"Doctah Mason? You..look worse than me. Are you sure?"
I couldn't feel my face anymore. I suppose that's a blessing.
"I'm a lot older than I looked, Mindy. That serum I tried on you...it's helped keep me young all these years. But now it's not working. Time is catching up with me."
"I don't want you to die!'
I squeezed her gray, cold hand. My own hand seemed almost as thin as hers at this point.
"I am as scared as you are. But we will make it through this."
"I'm not familiar with...ah...if you insist. Yes. Pinky-swear, then."
"Doctah Mason? What's your first name?"
"It's Darien, Mindy. Darien James Mason."
"Darien...can you keep a secret?"
I nodded. I leaned towards the dresser. Through cracked and shriveled lips a somehow drew enough breath to extinguish the candle.