Alexei rapped a knuckle on the doorframe that opened into the Catabasian's office, not wanting to enter without permission even if her door was open.

"Alexei. Come in." She gestured to a chair opposite the desk she sat behind before tucking a strand of grey hair behind her ear. "Thank you for finding me so promptly. Can you close the door?"

"Of course, Catabasian." He gave a hasty bow before he did as asked and stepped forward to take the seat she'd indicated.

She had a captain's log open on her desk, and a sheet of vellum beside with a long list of names. She let out a sigh and replaced the stopper on her ink bottle, eyes scanning the list one last time.

"How is Nikolai faring?" She asked after a moment, finally turning her gaze to him with an expression of quiet concern.

He was not getting any worse, but he was also not getting any better. His moments of consciousness could hardly be called such, trapped in bouts of terror upon waking. "Poorly," he said, voice flat.

"And yourself?"

He hadn't expected that question from what he had assumed to be such a formal summons. Poorly would also have been enough to describe his own state. "I am… well enough," he said instead, uncertain. "So much as one can be, under such circumstances." He had been struggling to sleep again. Worry over what the sailors spoke of and a gnawing dread had been keeping him awake well into the night long before Nikolai had returned in his state, and seeing him such had done Alexei no favors.

Katarine searched his face for a long moment before speaking again. "You must try to rest, kozeldets," she chided gently, knowing that it was easier said than done for him, "one's symptoms will only worsen if the body is too tired to fend them off." She could always read him well enough, but she had said her piece and didn't try to press him further over it.

He ducked his head in understanding - he had a tendency to lose himself when he went too long without sleep. "I will try, amay." The severity of the insomnia that had plagued him most of his life seemed to wax and wane and it was certainly in one of its worse bouts now; he would have to be careful to keep a grip on his thoughts.

She nodded, smiling slightly at his acceptance, before she dropped her attention to another page on her desk, seeming to struggle momentarily with some internal debate. "Well, with my mothering out of the way - I have something I must ask of you, setkhel." She held the page in front of her, re-reading the schedule before she continued.

"The Haruspex has told me they hear more stories every day from travelers who come into our port. Odd tides, sounds on the wind - those who fish bring up twisted creatures. We know well enough about sailors and their superstitions, but after what we have seen for ourselves..." she trailed off with a sigh, lifting her head and rubbing at the bridge of her nose. "We can no longer attribute this to fantasy or rumor."

He waited for her to continue, uncertain what this had to do with him. He had heard the sailors' comments himself, and Nikolai's ravings had only seemed to support the stories they told.

"We need help - if the dead truly seek to threaten us here, we do not have much hope." He understood her worry. Songana did not maintain a standing army - there were barely fifty outriders trained as combatants throughout the town. The nation's capital city wouldn't send help for something so outlandish without evidence of a true crisis, at which point it would likely be too late to seek help overland. She sighed. "Tomorrow, a ship from Kynos will be arriving. Then, at the end of the month we are expecting a Catalunyan vessel to arrive after it stops at that same port. To the point, Alexei, I am requesting you travel to Kynos to seek out some who would help us."

She must have seen his confusion because she sighed and added: "You have always spoken plainly with me - do not cow yourself now for my sake."

He pursed his lips a moment before nodding. "I struggle to understand your reasoning for sending me to seek out such help. It is an honor and I do not mean to sound contrary, Catabasian - but I feel there are others better suited to such work. As Haruspex, would it not be wiser to send Theo? Their presence would add more gravity, and they are far more... adept at conversation." He held no illusion that he was any good at talking to others - hells, he barely even spoke to those he was close with unless spoken to.

Her smile was as patient as ever. "The Haurspex is needed here - and as their paladin, the duty falls to you." She watched him for a moment, studying his face again before she continued, speaking quietly. "I also feel that some time away from having to see Nikolai in this state may be wise. I know how this troubles you, and I hope that being actionable in seeking help for him will bring you some peace."

Ah. Had it been that obvious? She was right - to not have any concrete way to help had been driving him mad. He closed his eyes for a moment and took a breath. She had bid him to speak plainly. "What if I am away should the worst come to pass?"

"What if you were here, Alexei?" She asked. Her tone was gentle, but she continued with a hint of cautioning reprimand. "Would you deign to take him back from the Aegis when his time had come?"

Yes. He inclined his head apologetically. "No." He swallowed and lifted his eyes back to hers. "I understand, Catabasian." He wasn't pleased with her decision, but he understood, and it was far from his nature to disobey. "When does the vessel bound for Kynos depart?"