[Alice and Finch ? Wavering✓ The Hero✓ Span✓ Djeb✓ Inck✓]
Cover page for readers:
This is only a fifteen page portfolio, double spaced (despite what it may seem). In fact it’s shorter than one might expect because poetry uses a lot of lines. The portfolio can be easily navigated using the navigation tools (ctrl + f > type anything from the table of contents.).
Table of Contents
Contents [you can search with ctrl + f]
- Alice and Finch – Primary Dawn
- The Hero and the Star
- Span – Chapter 1 [abridged]
- The Djeb Guard
- Alice and Finch – Sluggish Mind [Chapter 12]
Alice and Finch – Primary Dawn
Ever since she appeared in the capital, Alice was always a point of interest. During her childhood, she had passively garnered followers, children in the neighbourhood and later others from around the entire city. Alice was an energetic girl. She wasn’t entirely coherent, but she was very driven and children seemed to find value in that. Adults would watch her warily and some would even keep their children away from her. It was the unusual appearance. Alice had an obvious and striking look to her. Her hair was brightly coloured, less Solune-brown and more sandy-orange. Usually her eyes were a deep maroon, but when she got excited or angry they would become an astonishing red. But, the real reason why adults avoided her was because of her unpredictability, paired with her tooth and nail.
Alice was of the mysterious desert people from the east, a Plainkind. She had extra canines, longer and thicker than any Solune’s. They often hid behind her stretch-marked cheeks, but when she smiled they never failed to come out. Her nails were not only long, but claw-like. And her free spirit made many worry; what would she do next? Even worse, there were the rumours, whispers passed behind scornful faces. Had she ever used those claws? Hurt someone? Maybe killed someone? And with a spirit such as hers, whatever she may or may not have done obviously didn’t affect her morality. Did she even have respect for us common folk?
But, those were only rumours, right?
Finch had heard all of these things, and so he’d avoided the southern area of the city. His father, Ilias, had told Finch that she was a dangerous monster. Sometimes his friend Artus would invite him along to go visit her, but he always refused. He liked to listen to what his father said.
Finch was on his way home from the library with an armful of books. His father had been homeschooling him; the primary method of primary education in the Solune Kingdom. He’d sent the boy with a list, and Finch had also taken some books he was personally interested in. Unlike most children, Finch wasn’t interested in Prince Chloe’s series or Gwenhime: A History of Conquest. Finch sought only Natural Studies textbooks. He also liked finding books from outside of the city, from external academics such Joss Resz, Bradley Jeremy, and Azure of the Djeb.
He was halfway to his house now, and the books were starting to strain his arms. He might have taken too many personal picks. “Aww man…”
Finch knew he’d have to rest at some point before reaching his house. He saw a bench and decided that now was as good a time as any. He sat down and put the pile of books beside him. It almost reached up to his shoulders. Finch closed his eyes and caught his breath. He had definitely taken too many.
“Hello there!” A small voice said.
Finch jolted, tensing up. He turned to his left side, and saw the top of a head hiding behind his books. He didn’t remember seeing anyone there while he was sitting down, but this person was so small that he wasn’t sure if he’d simply missed them altogether.
“Umm,” Like most children, Finch had little sense for pleasantries, so he got right to the point, “How did you get there?”
“Oh, well, I saw you sit down, so I came and sat down next to you. Or at least I tried. I didn’t want to sit on all of your books!” The voice replied.
Finch could still only see the small person’s hair. It was an unusual colour. His father and he had black hair, but most of the other people in the city had either blonde or light brown hair. This person had blazing orange-yellow hair.
“Your hair looks like a fire.” He said.
“I know, isn’t it cool?” The little person replied, sounding excited.
“Yeah— can you stop hiding behind the books?” Finch asked.
“No, you’re scary.”
Finch stopped, confused. No one had ever called him scary before. Maybe it was because he was already twelve. He was a big kid now, only three years from being an adult! Maybe that was why. But he wasn’t sure, so he asked.
“How am I scary?”
“Your hair is so dark. And around your eyes too!” The small person said.
He had never thought about this. He looked just like his dad, but thinking back now it seemed that almost no one else looked like them. Finch became very confused, but he was still more curious than anything.
“If you don’t show me your face,” He started, thinking, “I’ll just stand up so I can see it!”
“Oh…” The person said, “Okay fine.”
The small person peeked out from behind the books with her head tilted down.
“You’re a girl!” Finch pointed. He’d found it was always hard to tell by voice at his age.
The small girl nodded. Finch decided that she was the unusual one of the two. She had darker skin, as if she’d been in the sun forever. Her bright hair colour made her eyebrows and eyelashes stand out.
“Hi! What’s your name? How old are you?” She asked the two most common questions a child could ask.
Finch was used to answering them, “My name is Finch Dirge Zeth and I’m twelve.”
“That’s strange. Out of all the kids I’ve talked to, you have the most weirdest name.”
“So?” He said, “What’s yours then?”
“I’m called Alice! Alice May Dawngale, and I’m fourteen.” She said proudly. “Well, it was nice meeting you, but I have to go!”
“Okay, goodbye,” he replied.
The girl was really small. Finch didn’t believe that she was two years older than him. He stood up too. She winked at him and then ran off to the south. South.
“Oh no,” he whispered, “the hair, the teeth, and she’s from the south—Alice is the monster! Alice Dawngale is the monster my dad said I was supposed to be keeping away from!”
Finch grabbed his books and ran home, worried.
In the distance, it seemed, a hazy figure, blue like the sky, moved with purpose;
Then it stopped.
Ah, the King is awake.
The voice touched her thoughts, but seemed to avoid the formality of using her hearing.
a strange feeling.
This person was not her sister. She didn’t much like the voice thath’d interjected into her mind.
It, a blue glowing blur. It said, Twelve percent of your blood is now with Mother Earth.
Janna blinked, slowly. Her eyelids were sore. She tried to focus. nothing worked.
You have fluid in your eyes, focusing will not help you.
Janna became irritated with the glowing man in front of her.
He said, distantly, You would be excellent in this line. He stood over her, outlined in azure. Through her teared, wavering eyes, she could see wisps. branching lines of light coming from him. She didn’t like any of it
so she told him, You can leave now.
He said, I came to ask for your help.
You thought now would be the best time? Take advantage of me because I’m dying?
You can take that straight to the abyss.
Umm, no… I mean, as far as I can tell, you aren’t going to die.
Janna tried to focus on the figure, but her vision did not oblige her. Just like the visitor.
Like a man to be this indecisive. He isn’t talking so fancy anymore. God damn; a fucking actor.
I don’t know what you want, so either spit it out so that I can disagree with it, or leave me alone.
I am the Servant of Tendrils, I can see into future timelines… although too far ahead there are
Too many tendrils to know anything.
From what I can tell we can benefit the next few years if we work together.
You have influence,
an open mind.
Janna sneered, Not that open.
She looked at her arm. It’d become crimson. Where is Chloe?
Why don’t you help me with this first. I can talk to your dumbass after when my arm’s not
impaled on a tree.
Tendrils frowned, I thought that you would agree, but… maybe my reading was wrong.
Janna cursed the sky. The idiot is talking fancy again.
Then she cursed him directly. For being a fraud.
Don’t you understand what I am?
Janna’s head slumped to face him.
A fucking glowstick? I can tell exactly what you are! She judged, I can tell you’re an actor, a fraud, you’re presenting me with a false version of yourself,
A false reality! I want none of it.
Leave me alone. You said I’ll survive? Well that’s great! That means you can leave!
No! He shouted, flaring soft cobalt lightning.
No. he calmed. no. I’m a Servant of the conscious world. I can see the future…in a sense.
But I can’t affect anything in the way people like you can. I can communicate, I can—
with people whose minds aren’t as firmly attached to the physical world, even if it is only while they are in states like this, I can communicate with those who are like you. That is why I ask.
Then she opened her eyes again.
She said, I’d be far more willing to work with you if you were like that, honest, all of the time.
And shed a tear;pearl (of wisdom)
You will help me then?
Janna closed her eyes, and then her world focused.
“Oh good, the bleeding has slowed! Although, ah, it is probably from becoming catatonic…”
Janna opened her eyes. Her younger sister was kneeling over her. Behind, her older sister loomed. Janna saw that she was also bleeding in the forearm.
“Look Natasha, she’s awake! Hey, you can take a little pain, I guess?” Chloe’s hands moved …
The Hero and the Star
Thousands of years ago, a star fell from the sky. It was unlike a dead shooting star. It was alive. It landed on the planet, and the ancient people encountered it, and came to fear it.
Luckily, the first person to find it was a town hero, a man of virtue. The star landed in the square, and it took on the hero’s image as its own. For the citizens, the transformation and the copy, it was all very uncanny. They accused the star of being a demon, and captured it.
The hero feared for the star. He knew that it would be charged will any form of frivolity, and that the ancient nation would decide they should kill it. Standing around the star’s prison, and surrounded by his people, the hero took a risk to save the life of the star.
The hero gave a great laugh, and then pointed to the cage. “You fools, you have captured the wrong person, for I am the star, and he is the true hero!
The star was cunning. It said, “Indeed, I am your noble hero, please free me!”
The hero gave the star a smile, and then ran away. Half of the people pursued, and the other half hastened to free the one they thought to be their hero. The star needed to find help, so it said in a heroic voice, “I will chase down the imposter! Leave it to me!” And gave chase. The two heroes ran about the city, each claiming to be chasing the other.
The true hero stopped at his house to rest. He hid and watched through his doorway. The city calmed. The star, seeing that the hero was missing, assured everyone that he had chased the imposter out of the city. Then he patrolled in search of the hero, fearful at the civilization before him, fearful that his impostering would be uncovered.
Finally, the star noticed the hero in his doorway. He beckoned. The star approached, and the hero pulled him in. Safe inside the house, the hero told the star to journey out of the city and return to his home. The star told him, “I need energy,” so the hero gave food and drink, the star thanked the hero, but took only water. Then the star left the city under the guise of the hero, and returned unto the skies. The hero watched as he ascended to the night sky. It became the southern star, the beacon that the ancient hero later used to guide us to our current land.
Span – Chapter 1 [appropriated/shortened for the purposes of this portfolio]
He said, “Why, then, child, are you here?”
I told him that I had become very unhappy because my father was unhappy. I said that he was longing for a son, someone to teach and apprentice, and also that I very much enjoyed and missed listening to his knowledges. I said that we would not have another child, and that my mother told him to stop speaking about things that he could not change. He laughed at me!
“What, Talc, who cuts our meat, would like to kill it too? “You might be like Shell, girl,” he said, waving his finger theatrically.
We parted and I went back to help my mother. I thought of Sap’s statement. I do not think that you know of Shell, but I believe that her comparison to me was correct. She had been a hunter in her youth, but she grew out of it with the coming of her first child.
I asked my father about hunting again and he sighed, saying Sandgrain (awful name, he added,) had a son who had just begun hunting, and that he might go mad with jealousy. Mother spat at the ground, and my father shrugged at her.
I ignored them both and said, “You would like to teach someone to hunt then?”
He nodded slightly, and then glanced at my mother. She threw up a hand, resigning herself for the night. My father made an exaggerated frown and looked back to me.
“Maybe I will be happier once I am grey like Sap. Then I can finally have a pupil!”
I swallowed my nerve and asked, “Why not teach me?”
There was a silence. My heart became the loudest thing at the circle, and I watched my father look around to my mother for an opinion. I was, after all, the child of both. My mother’s expression shifted a few times as she considered my words with severity.
“It does not matter to me! She is very slow at any task that is not cutting animals!” At the insult, I looked at her, and she added, “You are good with children as well.”
My father’s expression was one of deep thought.
He bared his teeth, “Tomorrow, you will have to wake up earlier than usual.”
The Djeb Guard
We are here, we watch the city.
If they come with hands open to take, or closed to hit—
If they come with words that are false, or are threatening—
We are here, we watch the city.
We walk overnight, we walk overday.
We walk along paths; we walk over ground.
We are the ones who respond, to the cries of our city, the Djeb.
“Hannah, focus on the people.”
I focus on the people. I focus on the process. The guard’s process.
Step one is discover. The conflict is not the fire, it is the people escaping it.
Step two is confirm. The nature is not to rescue the homes, it’s to rescue the citizens.
Step three is intervene. Can it be done with reason?
I say, “take them to the eastern district.”
I say, “take them across the canals, they not deep.”
I say, “take them, lead them there.”
It’s too big for a line of buckets, but we try nonetheless.
An empty bucket is taken,
Filled with seawater,
Passed it down the line,
An empty bucket is taken…
The rhythm the movement, becomes automatic.
And I look around, I stare into the sea.
The islands of mountains, To the dim of the sky.
Legends will recall, a guardian spirit,
a Winged Shadow, rising from the isle.
The side of one mountain breaks off, a natural event.
I watch it fall into the sea, just off the shore.
I watch the waves, they echo off the island.
They head towards our shoreline.
I see it, I shout, “tidal wave!”
Ex-residents first, the guards will follow.
Exit the sea’s new domain.
Water hits the shore, cracks against the beaches.
The waves hit the buildings,
The waves come behind us,
It claims The Fires of the Djeb.
Inck Alice Dawngale made her way through the dim snowy wood. She wasn’t sure where to go. The south was barren. She would find no resources, no food there. She had survived on nothing but snow melted in hand for eight weeks, rationing the only food she had to her young child. For the most part, the child stayed on her back, wearing Inck’s only shirt in addition to her own clothes to stay warm.
Inck had followed the base of the cliff west for two weeks, then east for six. She knew that she didn’t have enough energy to double back again. She didn’t have enough energy to continue much longer either. Her exposed shoulders were developing frostbite, her fingers spared only because she kept them crossed and beneath her arms. Trees stopped most of the winds, but Inck found little solace in this.
As she followed the cliff, the ridge had become higher and higher, and then suddenly it spiked. She was sidling a nearly vertical mountain at this point. On her back, the child Alice woke up. She slept a lot, lacking the energy to stay awake.
Inck said, “My Alice, my Alice, what shall we do? I’ve walked to the edge of my vision once then twice, but what I see remains the same. My legs will not take me beyond the naught I can see in front of us, east, west, or south.”
“Ah, and we can’t go that way right?” She pointed to the forest, “And we can’t go back! So the only way to go is… north?” She pointed at the mountain.
Inck stared up the white spire. She could not tell for sure, but she doubted anyone lived at the top. She took her hands out of her armpits and stared at them. The Plainkind kept their clawlike fingernails long enough to be effective. In the past month and a half, they had continued to grow unbitten, unused.
Inck looked at the morning sky. She had a lot of time left, but she knew it still wouldn’t be enough. She dug her fingers into the stone, satisfied that it was soft enough, and began to pull herself up, limb by limb, cubit by cubit. Alice watched from her back as they ascended in amazement.
Inck made it halfway up before her sleep reserves gave out. Her arms began to shake, her legs tremored. She paused for a moment.
Alice could feel the shaking, “Are you okay? Mum?”
“No. Just… Tell me about home.” Maybe she could use a distraction.
“Home? The Plainkind Desert? It’s warmer there. My dad is there. My friend, umm, Marisa. She’s there too.” Alice’s voice was wistful, but still held onto its joy.
“And,” Inck huffed, “What happened?”
“To get us here? Oh, well, we got lost in the sandstorm… We got stuck below the cliff. You tried to climb it, right? Yeah. It didn’t, well it, yeah. It didn’t, wasn’t soft enough. So we tried to go around, both ways. It’s cold down here. Snow is cool! But… Only for a while.” Inck nodded, and started climbing again. Alice continued. “And now we’re hungry all the time. And now we’re climbing a mountain. And I haven’t seen, we haven’t seen anyone, anyone in long…” Alice got sad and so she stopped.
“It has been very long.” Inck agreed.
Time passed as silence fell between them. Inck climbed, not looking back, her eyes ahead. The sun began to set, and soon night was upon them. Inck could see in the dark, but not as well with the cloud cover. She climbed primarily by feel. Some time in the night, she reached the top. In the dark, she could see that it plateaued.
Alice said nothing, asleep. Inck could see the opposite edge of the summit at the edge of her vision. She wasn’t sure if she should rest or continue. She decided to continue. However, upon her first step, her exhaustion, her starvation, caught up with her. She felt contempt at her own condition, but she failed to stop herself from falling forward. She could not fall asleep yet.
There was only a veil of snow around them. Inck lay awake for the minutes required to melt it with her heat, and then she took her daughter from her back, and held her. Then she allowed herself to drift away.
She awoke before morning, a rest broken by bitter cold. She had another flash of her old life, a life of adolescent hunting, of eating. But now her life was doveoted to parenthood. She could not hunt, she could not eat, but mothering was something she could do. Inck positioned Alice on her back and started walking.
Her goal was to get to the other side of the mountain. Then she would be able to see all that lay to the north; to see where home was. Walking was far more difficult now. Her limbs ached and her stomach churned. Her legs still shook, and she had to pay attention or she might lose her balance.
Inck reached the other edge by dawn. She gazed out at the lush green lands in amazement. The sun’s war rays woke Alice, and she saw it too. “Wah! Look!”
Inck nodded. She pointed. “There is our home to the northeast. In front of us is the walled Solune Kingdom. And look, another group of settlements lies to the northeast.”
“All we have to do is get down!” Alice was excited.
Inck doubted that she had the energy to make the climb down. Her reserves were at their limit, and there was no food on the mountaintop.
A frightening solution came to her as she looked down at the plummet. A Plainkind’s body could survive such a landing. The injuries would undoubtedly be her undoing, but she would have the strength to protect her child from the inertia first. She put the thought aside for the moment.
Inck dug into the ground for a couple of stones. She was familiar with rocks and found two, a softer and harder stone. She copied something in the Plainkind script and then began to climb down. On her back, Alice excitedly twisted around, looking at the world below. She wanted to go back home, but was also interested in this new kingdom.
This descent was the most difficult thing Inck had done. She could feel her muscles giving way. She wondered if they could do such a thing. As they went further, Alice became more and more worried about the shaking.
One-third of the way down, Inck had to stop. She steadied herself. Aside from her tremors, she could not move. Physically she could not continue. She looked down and wished upon her ancestors that she’d had the strength to continue just a little further. Inck closed her eyes. She wished she hadn’t headed west for so long. She held onto the regret for only a moment.
Then she thought of Alice, who must have been concerned, clinging to her back. Inck knew that one of them would survive the fall. She channelled her life – her reserves. She shed her regrets. And then, she pushed away from the mountain.
Alice screamed out in shock. She couldn’t understan what was happening. She clung to her mother as tightly as her small body let her. It was tight enough. The fall ended sooner than expected, and Inck took the landing as hard as she could. Nearly all the force went into her leg muscles, and then into her bones. Her shins and thighs crumpled under the force. Most of her vertebrae fractured. Her daughter felt the force of multiple gravities, but was unhurt overall. She dropped off her mother’s back and ran around to her front.
“Mum!” She looked at her mother with a pleading expression.
“Dear Alice… Alice May Dawngale…”
Inck looked at her lower half, damaged beyond conventional healing. She watched blood ooze slower and slower as her outer wounds healed superficial. Still she did not let go.
She said, “When I stop moving, wait but a day. Then, bury me in front of that boulder.”
Inck pointed with her long damaged fingernail. It must have been part of the mountain at some point because it stood out in contrast from the surrounding forest.
“Copy this onto it.”
She handed the stone to Alice. Alice could not read it. She couldn’t read anything yet.
I am your Mother, Inck Alice Dawngale.
They spoke together, of home, of Alice’s father who had lost the rest of his family to the sea of sand, the sandstorm, and their perilous journey. But Inck spoke primarily of Alice’s future.
“You must find a home for yourself, even if it is not our old home, if it is with the Solune. You must live a good life for yourself, for me.” Inck shed a deep iron-red tear.
Alice nodded, and embraced the parts of her mother that were still alive. She too cried tears of ruby. Though it was only morning, the two, exhausted, slept together for the last time.
Alice awoke the next evening, and felt her mother. She was warm, but it seemed to Alice not to be the warmth of life. Alice scavenged for food and found many strange fruits. She returned and fed some to the mouth of her mother.
“…” Inck exhaled and gave Alice one final look, a look of hope. And then she died.
Alice looked at Inck for a long time, frozen, staring at the vacant expression of hope for many moments. And then, when she felt she had absorbed all she could from Inck’s last mortal message, when she had taken in the final emotion from her mother, Alice moved. She reached forward and closed her mother’s eyes. She took the unknown fruit and ate it.
Then she began to dig.
Alice and Finch – Sluggish Mind [Chapter 12]
“No, you’ll have to try again, dear.” The old woman said.
“Ah! Ahh!” Alice growled through clenched teeth, crushing a pencil in her hand.
Oritha had very quickly switched from pens to pencils. Alice frequently became frustrated, and when things were going particularly foul, she often snapped her writing tool. Oritha had lost an expensive fountain pen to this; though the incident was followed by profuse apology. It was now clear to her that the small investment into one bulk order had a wise one.
Oritha wanted to believe that Alice had an uncanny strength, except that her arms and legs were rather muscular, meaning that logically her strength was entirely canny.
“What for am I so stupid!” Alice shouted, mashing the pencil tip into the table as if it were nothing but a blade of grass.
“Dear, I have told you over and over. You are not stupid; you are just a slow learner. Perhaps you are more adept at physical tasks, and not at mental ones.”
Oritha paused for a long time, and considered her statement. She realized that this was not true. Recounting their years’ worth of lessons, Oritha concluded that Alice had never to her knowledge forgotten anything she had learned. Her final examinations were identical in score to her preparatory tests. It was as if information was encoded thoroughly into her mind.
“That is actually incorrect. You just learn differently than everyone else.”
“What that means? Drake said, ‘that’s what teachers tell their stupid students to make them feel better.’ ” Alice recounted.
“Drake is correct about that,” Oritha admitted, “I have said that to students before I retired, and for those reasons too.”
“Alice, what did I tell you about ah-ha,?”
Alice sighed and said, “I should stop saying it because I always immediately get proven wrong.”
“Yes. So, in most cases I was correct, some of those students had successful futures outside of academia. No, I mean it in your case. Answer me this, what are the four major cities in Murdock? The ones to which the surrounding settlements and villages pay taxes to and take rulings from?”
Alice wasn’t sure what was happening, but she answered her teacher. “By population, Hannibal, M-Murdock, Baracus, and FACE. But FACE doesn’t have any proxy settlements.”
Oritha was impressed, but not surprised that Alice had remembered about FACE.
“And the Capital?”
“Murdock. That’s where from I have come.”
“It is Murdock, isn’t it?” Alice asked, but then realized her grammar issue, “Oh, That’s where I came from!”
Oritha decided to give her a more difficult one. It was something they had learned at the beginning. Alice had wanted to learn nearly everything about Murdock.
“What are the names of the members of the Royal Family?”
“Why are you asking me all this?”
“Do you not know?” Oritha asked, adding, “I will explain after, dear.”
“The wife of the King is called Gwenhime, she had no last name, and so she took his, Rhye. Then, from youngest to oldest is Chloe, Janna, Natasha and Kain are twins, Zealott, and Crystal Jealousy. We don’t know the King’s name, do we?”
“No we do not.” Oritha nodded, “You see? Most students forget the names after this much time had passed. And yet, you haven’t!” Oritha said proudly.
“What… What are your meaning?”
“Try again.” Oritha said once more.
Alice cleared her throat, and then her mind. “What do you mean?”
“Consider the wood carver.” Oritha started.
Alice listened intently.
“He makes a sign with letters carved very shallow into it. It only takes a day to make it. The rains and the sands batter it, and in a few months, what happens?”
“The maybe sign it—” Alice saw Oritha’s look and tried again, “The sign maybe fades?”
“Right. But consider a second wood carver. She carves deep, meaningful letters into their board. It takes many days to complete, but when it is finished how long do you think it lasts?”
“Years!” Alice jumped up, causing the house to shudder.
“Please sit down. What have I told you about jumping? You are fifteen now, and nearly two hundred pounds. I will not have you falling through my floor.”
“Oh, sorry.” Alice sat down. “But that’s me? I like the second carver am?”
Her sentences got worse when she was excited or angry. Oritha gave her another look.
Alice sighed, “I am like the second carver then?”
Oritha nodded sagely. She reached back and removed her black hairpin, letting her long grey hair fall around her shoulders. Alice recognized this as the signal that class was nearly over.
“You have a very good memory for what you have learned, but in order to etch that memory, you have to carve deeper. It isn’t that you have a sluggish mind, but rather a deliberate memory. Please, try to be patient with yourself, as I am patient with you.”
“Yes miss.” Alice nodded, taking it in.
“Now, you have a good evening. Don’t let your second father work you too hard. I don’t need you coming here sore and hard to deal with like the other day.”