Frustrated by the notion of not being able to understand his own memories, Daq did not react favorably to Pagusel's comment. The stiff curl of her lips, the heavy-lidded look--these were purposeful expressions, though he, like Morax, couldn't properly decipher them. There was no mistake in his comment. She was a shifter, and shifters could heal in such a way, but there was another layer to it, something that she knew but wasn't saying.
Daq was no shifter, nor Morax. Was that what she was saying? Did she know what was at play?
A sensation welled up, rising from his gut to settle at the base of his throat, and Daq, like that burning, tightening sensation, rose as well. At first, he'd had every intention of ignoring this newest battery of questions and simply setting out for the mansion at the outskirts of the city, to return to Morax and Zapar, who, despite their deficiencies, might better comprehend him--his frightful displacement, his unendurable thirst for identity, for self.
Zapar, who, instead of teasing him by playing word games, might simply coo softly and reach out to hold him, placing his cool, steady hands on his hot, agitated skin.
Morax, who, instead of scrutinizing him with such suspicion, might only observe him with his serious, yellow eyes and ponder a remedy to his condition.
Before he had taken more than a few steps, though, he stopped. He wasn't there just on his own accord. Morax had sent him. Certainly Morax, who had never seemed to show any respect for such tenuous bargains as oral contracts, would not have sent him if there was nothing for him to find. So why was he here?
He ran his hands through his hair, at once feeling the thick, durable blond and remembering Daq's fragile grays, and stared at the stars. For the first time, he knew all of their names, the virtue of each constellation, but, from what he could tell, they had never seemed to him so foreign. Inhaling sharply, he turned around and sat again before Pagusel. He felt the muscles in his face playing almost involuntarily, some tightening, some slackening, to form an expression. It was an exaggerated look, like that of a child, who had only once or twice in his short life been required to look stern.
"Morax is now wholly Morax," he said. "And this... This is what Daq has become."
He took the proffered pipe from her. He would play her game and see where it led. Looking at the bowl, he could tell the leaf had nearly gone out. He would need a source of flame. With the same ease and speed as Morax, he spotted a suitable object in a close-by mound of discarded materials. Intuitively, perhaps even by smell, he recognized it as a piece Auermetall. After placing the pipe on the ground before him, he reached out with a long arm and snatched the 'stone.' From his coat, he took a knife--that same rusty shiv from many times before. After a few fumbling attempts, he struck the stone at just the right angle, with just the right impulse, and sparks flew. A thin spire of smoke rose from the bowl again.
Placing the stone and blade on the ground before him, he picked up the pipe, put it to his well-crafted lips, and inhaled.