Everything falls into place.
Well, sort of. We made no plans or conclusions that night. I went back to Seroan's room, and found that the wooden chair I had sat in before had been replaced with an upholstered chair. I settled myself in, and fell asleep watching him. I didn't even notice when the guard duty changed. They were probably very quiet, so as not to disturb Seroan.
A day and a half later his eyes opened for a moment and he looked at me. I know he saw me, and for just an instant I saw his eyes twinkle before they closed and he slept again. The physicians kept him heavily dosed so that he would rest without disturbing his delicate wounds.
My heart felt renewed hope and I left him for a moment to tell the nurse that he was starting to come around. She thanked me, and I went back. I must have fallen asleep again, because a few hours later I felt a hand squeeze my shoulder. It was one of the guards, he woke me when he saw Seroan move and open his eyes again.
This time he smiled at me weakly and I felt the tears again, "Hello my love," I said softly.
He didn't answer, but his expression was enough. I kissed him gently and he closed his eyes. His breath deepened and he slept again. Finally I felt able to leave his side for more than a moment, and went to ask to speak to the Empress again. I wanted to know what she'd decided about what I told her.
To my surprise I was allowed immediate audience with her, and I found her reading what looked like field reports. She shuffled them into a pile and handed the stack to the assistant standing behind her who bowed politely and left the room. She stood up to greet me as I entered, "Hello Ivaris, how is Seroan looking today?" she asked warmly.
"He's better," I smiled, "I think he's getting ready to wake up."
"Fantastic news," she said sincerely, "I'm glad." She went back to her desk, "Please sit down."
I obeyed, "Thank you."
"I suppose you're wondering what we've been doing around here," she said brightly.
"Well you're psychic, you must know what I'm wondering," I joked.
"Hah," she said, "point taken. But I don't read minds uninvited unless I have to," she smiled. I realized after a moment that she was apologizing for tampering with my emotions earlier. She was instantly forgiven, of course.
"Of course not," I answered and she smiled, "So, what's going on around here?"
"I thought you'd never ask," she got up and poured me a glass of water. I took it and she poured one for herself.
"Well, I've put all troops on high alert. The borders should be swarming with patrols by now. My husband left yesterday to make sure our armies are prepared for deployment as soon as possible."
"Alright," I said. I felt dumb, it actually sounded like I was approving her actions. The Empress for goodness sake. She didn't take it that way, though, I'm sure.
"And I've got people working on some ideas for recovering the stones, though I'm not sure exactly how that will work yet, as we don't know where they are at this point.