When Janna finally woke up, she felt a numb pain in her forearm. She looked to her right and remembered what was going on. She was stuck to the tree, a branch jutting out from the space between the two bones in her arm. She was in a hole, a lush bright brown hole of dirt, moss, grass, and the tree. The tree who’s branch was intruding on her arm’s wellbeing.
She knew her sister was there with her, but everything was so blurry. She was in an uncanny and wavering world. Off in the distance, it seemed, a hazy figure moved with purpose. Then, it stopped all of a sudden.
It spoke with the voice of a feminine man, or perhaps a deep woman.
“Ah, the King is awake.”
The voice touched her ears, but seemed to skip all the formalities of her nerves and go straight to her mind. It was a warm feeling. This person, who was not at all her sister, was very easy to listen to.
“You have lost four ounces. You use ounces, correct? No? I apologize. You have lost two-hundredths of a stone. Oh, no stone either?” The person looked away, a glowing blur, “twelve percent of your blood is here, shared with me in the ground. I thank you, dear, I have taken what I require.”
It was definitely a woman, but her voice was deep, deeper even than Natasha’s, who spoke low due to the immense height of her trachea. Janna blinked and tried to focus, but nothing worked.
“You have fluid in your eyes, focusing will not help, dear. Look, I will show you.”
Then Janna felt a spined tongue lash out softly and clean her eyes. Yes, it was so large a tongue that it cleaned both eyes at once.
Janna blinked again, and focused, and this time it worked. Before her a lioness stood, grinning smugly as cats do.
“You will be fine,” the creature growled, licking Janna’s arm, “but this will forever be the weaker for it. In certain distant timelines you lose a lot more blood, so perhaps you might consider how close you are now to joining me and my company.”
The lioness looked to the sky as she said “company,” and then became a blur once more. Janna blinked, and between instances, the cat, Mother Nature, disappeared.
“She’s gone catatonic. Oh good, the bleeding has slowed. From being catatonic.”
It was the deep feminine voice of Natasha.
“But it still hasn’t stopped. And I didn’t find anything.”
There was a great sigh. She was blurred but Janna, who was entirely unable to move or act, could see what she was doing. She came into focus, but only slightly.
Janna watched her older sister as the young woman closed her eyes and, taking a bone razor from about her neck, cut neatly across her inner wrist. A small but deep vivisection. Natasha violently tore a tendon and then noticed Janna’s open eyes.
“This is all I could find. There are no vines around. Do not look at me so, this is the vestigial tendon, it does nothing.”
Even as Natasha said this she realized that she had pulled the wrong one and no longer had control of her pinky finger. She inhaled sharp regret, swore, and then continued regardless. She wasn’t going to go pulling out any more, but she still had what she needed.
Natasha tied the artery closed, then cut the dead tendon and wrapped it around the forearm near the elbow. Then she removed Janna from the tree and lifted her. Janna at this point was a lot smaller than her sister. She had yet to hit puberty, while her sister had just finished with it.
Natasha held Janna close, facing away, and then sat against the tree with Janna in her lap. They stared up out of the hole. Natasha embraced her little sister, and Janna, who had begun to shiver and turn blue, was grateful for the warmth.
Natasha held the wound tight. She had slowed the blood flow a lot, but it seemed not enough. An hour passed. The wound stopped bleeding. Natasha studied it and after another hour she removed the tendon that bound the artery. The now healed tube did not reopen after blood flow returned at full force.
“Oh, thank the spirits.”
Minutes passed, and Natasha removed the other tendon as well. She no longer had to apply pressure either.
She realized that Janna had been sleeping for a long time. Good. Natasha lay back and rested, but did not sleep. Her wound also healed, although she would not notice the regrown pinky tendon for some time.
Not a moment later, Chloe, the youngest of the family, jumped to the mouth of the fissure. She always ran with a sort of bound, prancing about with her tongue sticking out at the corner of her round face. Natasha looked up and saw her.
“I got mum! And also, Kain and dad and Zealott too!”
Only then did Natasha sleep.