“No, you listen, we should not be here! It is an ill omen, this mist!” The man whispered, shouting almost.
“You tell me we should go back, and then you have the gaul to speak of omens?” The woman replied, quite calmly.
They walked, or more accurately, she walked. There was only room for one on the pale mount. Or at least, the man had decided that there was only room for one.
Crystal Jealousy didn’t mind the man’s attitude though, they had not been on good terms for nearly a month now. She simply led the giant, wrinkled bulldog along. She knew where they were going. It was appropriate that she led. It was also good that the man, Illinois, was on a mount. He would be less likely to leave.
“Crystal! Look!” He shouted, a shriek of fright.
“Ah yes, very good.” Jealousy watched the mist.
Jealousy often let her thick, wavy black hair fall into her face, but now she pulled it behind her ears. She also pulled her fingers along her long, tangled eyelashes, then itched her upturned nose with a shining and fair-skinned hand.
Surrounding them was knee-high and overgrown grass. Ferns and saplings were beginning to grow in. This trail had been abandoned, and within the last four or five years too. Beyond the grass was dense forest, the kind that blocked out most sunlight. Not that there was any sun right now. Everything was grey, grey and wet. Her cloak, one of the many layers of brown and black clothing that she wore, was soaked at the brim.
Jealousy rubbed water into her eyes with closed fists, then blinked.
When she opened her eyes, she was in a completely different location. She knew very well what had happened. This always happened.
But, she had left her body behind. It was now inhabited by a slightly different consciousness. The woman in Jealousy’s body snapped her head around to look at Illinois.
“Oh, I’m still with you am I?” She spat.
“Oh no!” Illinois whined.
Not again! Why did she have to get mad at him like this? He just moaned in the mount.
But Jealousy knew what she was doing. She could remember what had happened here. They had arrived at an intersection. Jealousy turned her head to a path that met theirs, coming from the right.
She saw the figures approaching. This was what Illinois had been complaining about, this alternate pair that was approaching.
“You stupid man! This is the whole reason that she, that I came here! Quiet your moans, you fool!”
She knew that she would not have a chance to actually meet the oncoming duo, but she could remember this encounter well enough that it didn’t matter.
“You would do well to stay quiet. You are not long for this,” She stopped and blinked.
Jealousy was taken back to her body. She hadn’t known that the other consciousness had been talking, so she didn’t finish its sentence.
“Here they come.”
And to Illinois’s horror, Jealousy waved. One of the figures, the shorter one, waved back.
Within a minute, the pair was close enough that their features were becoming visible. The taller one was very tall. He had a black mess on his head that Jealousy assumed was hair. His skin was tanned, and he wore a dark grey jumpsuit. The woman was much shorter, and also wore the grey suit, although her top half was tied off at the waist. Her undershirt shone bright in the mist.
As she got closer, it was clear that there must be some relation between her and the woman.
“A… A spectre! A ghastly white image of you, Crystal!” Illinois screamed.
“Quiet. That’s my younger sister.” Jealousy said quietly.
The upturned nose and wavy hair made it clear. But it was as Illinois had said, this woman had white hair, and altogether lighter features. She did look like an apparition hovering out of the mist.
“Oi! Who’s that then?” The woman shouted.
“Hello Janna,” Crystal said as her sister finally came into view.
“What’s all this mess? Is that you Jealousy?” Janna was surprised, “Not dead after all, huh.”
Crystal shook her head, “It is good that we met up like this. You need my help.”
“We what?” The tall man said.
“No no, she’s probably right. Never known Jealousy to be wrong, actually.” Janna told him.
“I thought you only had two sisters.”
“Nope, there’s also poor Crystal Jealousy here.”
“Well,” the man said, “What about that guy?”
“That’s Illinois, my fiancée. But not for very much longer.” Crystal told them.
“What?!” Shrieked Illinois.
“Getting married?” Asked Janna.
“No, rather, dear, I’m breaking up with you. Goodbye.” And then Jealousy let go of the reins. The pale white dog stared at her, panting calmly.
Illinois straightened up, “Quite right! You were far too much of a hassle anyway! I thought it was worth it, all these years, but now I know! Now I understand!
He glanced at Janna’s soaked form, her white shirt semi-transparent. Janna stared back at him. She had absolutely no care that her bare torso was visible. Then she winked, smiling deviously.
“They say you people are mad, the Solune Royalty! I heard,” He hissed, “That one of you actually attacked the police in the city! And I mean the entire police corps! Started a riot, set the place into shambles.”
“I hope that’s true,” Janna’s mouth opened, adding teeth to her smile.
“You! You… you people are despicable! Your insane sister, Crystal here!” He shot a finger at Jealousy, “And now you, so shameless! The Rhye family name is not worth the effort I’ve put in!”
“That’s enough from you,” Jealousy said softly.
“Yeah man, piss off, right?” Janna took her shirt off and whipped it at him.
The cold, wet article slapped Illinois in the neck, and then Crystal muttered something to the dog. The giant creature barked and lumbered back down the path, carrying the man off with it.
“Shame,” Janna said, “He seemed like a great target. The kind of guy that gets offended at everything? Would have loved to tease him a bit.”
“Well, no real loss. He took care of me when I had that illness. Did I tell you about that?” Jealousy spoke, and then blinked.
“Is he gone yet?” She added, suddenly angry.
“What? Yeah.” Janna said.
She was not confused by this change, but the man was.
“Right. What was I saying?” Jealousy snapped.
“Right! He was a bit of a help. May have saved my life, so patient of a man. But slowly we realized that we were not a good long-term match. The fool kept me around because of my Royal blood. That’s how the Lussa aristocracy are you know. Much different than the Solune ones back home.”
And then she blinked and was back to normal.
“Ah, did I explain about the illness just then?” Jealousy asked.
“Yeah.” Janna nodded.
Jealously promptly vomited to her right.
“Okay.” She coughed.
They set up a camp at the crossroads. It seemed that Janna liked to carry a dry log for times like this, so starting a fire was easy.
“Remind me to get another one, eh Drake?”
The tall man shrugged.
They sat around the flames.
“It’s not good for me to switch twice in one day. I should be okay now though.”
The flames started to burn Janna’s bare skin, so she put her suit’s top half over her torso and zipped it up.
“Yeah, I know. You said you were going to help us?” Janna asked.
“Right. You will find my abilities very helpful, I’m sure.”
Drake finally asked, “What was all that? Personality issue? Janna always said you were a little odd.”
Janna gave him an unfriendly look.
“A little odd? Only that? She did not tell you the nature of my problems? Oh my.”
Jealousy sang her words with an uncanny joy.
“Allow me to explain!”
There will be a second part.
P.S. Check out Crystal by Halford, which of course was the inspiration for Crystal Jealousy Rhye.