Those of Noble Status

Second Draft.

“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. “Omens cull the meek and annihilate the weak. There is no omen that the Spirit could not for you give an more correct answer.”

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.

“Inquire within, fool,” she mumbled.

Crystal Jealousy didn’t mind the man’s attitude, not any more. They had not been on good terms for many weeks. She knew his nature very well by now, and so she simply led the giant, wrinkled bulldog along, with it’s passenger. She knew where they were going, thus 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 if his sloth was so enticed. Weakness.

“Crystal! Look!” He shouted, a shriek of fright.

“Ah yes, very good.” Jealousy watched the mist.

Crystal Jealousy had to pull her hair behind her ears. Usually, she let her crowen locks fall into her face, but there were times when vision was important. She pulled her, tangled eyelashes straight, then itched her upturned nose with shined and fair-skinned hand. Something about lashes so long that they clumped together when one blinked; Jealousy found it both frustrating and interesting.

They were surrounded by knee-high, overgrown grass. Ferns and saplings were beginning to cover the long-abandoned path. Beyond the grass was dense forest, the sort of wood that blocked much of the sunlight; not that there was sun right now. Everything was grey; grey and wet. Her cloak, one of the many layers of brown and black clothing she wore, was soaked at the brim, weighing her down.

Jealousy rubbed water into her eyes with her thumb and finger and then blinked.

When she opened again, she was in a different location. This always happened to her. She knew that her associate would be in good, albeit younger and stupider hands.

 

She had left her body behind and 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 the words, and then spat at the ground.

“Oh no!” Illinois whined. “Not again!” Why did she have to get mad at him like this? He moaned on the mount, wriggling, but too lazy to get off and leave. Always too lazy to leave.

But Jealousy knew what she was doing. She had written about what had happened here. She knew what to do. She walked the man and his dog until they arrived at an intersection, and then she turned her head to face the path that met theirs. It was built from right to left. She knew this, but the information seemed unimportant.

Crystal saw the figures approaching, finally. This was what Illinois must have been complaining about, this alternate pair that came to them in the myst.

“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 speak the oncoming duo, but she knew this encounter well enough that she knew that it didn’t matter. She would know what happened here in great detail in coming years.

“You would do well to stay quiet. You are not long for this…” She stopped and blinked, rubbing at her eyes again.

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.

Instead, she realized what was going on; a distant chiasm that was closing before her. “Here they come.”

And to Illinois’s horror, Jealousy waved. One of the figures; the shorter, brighter one; waved back.

Within a minute, the pair was close enough that their features were visible. The taller one was very tall. He had a black mess on his head that Illinois assumed was hair. His skin was tanned, and he wore a dark grey jumpsuit, made darker in the damp. 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!” Illinois cried.

“Quiet. That’s my sister you idiot,” Jealousy whispered.

The upturned nose and waved hair made it clear. But it was as Illinois had said, this woman had white-blonde hair, and altogether lighter features. The effect made her look like an apparition hovering out of the evaporate.

“Oi! Who’s that then?” The woman shouted.

“Hello Janna,” Jealousy 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.”

Jealousy 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.” Janna told him.

“I thought you only had two sisters.”

“Nope, there’s also poor Crystal Jealousy. Although…are we sisters or…something. She’s related to me anyway.”

“Well,” the man said, “What about that guy?” He pointed.

“No idea.”

“That’s Illinois, my fiancée. But not for very much longer.” Jealousy told them.

“What?!” Shrieked Illinois.

“Getting married?” Asked Janna.

“No, rather, dear, I’m finished with you. Goodbye.” And then she 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 winked, smiling deviously, falsely shivering a little in her semi-transparent top.

“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 are despicable! Your insane kinsman, 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 into trying to acquiring it!”

“Sooth sooth! And yet,” Jealousy said softly, laughing, “You have been deemed unworthy by those you despise so suddenly! Oh my! May HaShem forgive thee!”

“Yeah man, piss off, right?” Janna took her undershirt off and whipped it at him.

The cold, wet tanktop slapped Illinois in the neck, and then Crystal muttered something to the dog. The giant creature barked, alerting all manner of chaos in the woods around them, 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 harder than was necessary.

“You thing the beasts of the forest will eat him?” Mumbled the tall man.

“I hope so. Is he gone yet?” Crystal said, suddenly angry.

“What? Yeah.” Janna said. “And, I think he’ll be fine. That mount of his was far larger than anything that lives in this shallow a wood.”

Janna was not confused by the sudden change in her sister’s countenance, but the man was.

“Right. What was I saying?” Crystal snapped.

“Illness?”

“Right!” She caught herself. She had been doing something far more relaxing eslewhere just moments ago, and she was troubled to continue a line of conversation she would not start for some time. “He was a bit of a help, truly. Perhaps he saved my life, so patient of a man, thought I doubt it. But slowly we realized that we were not a good long-term match. The fool kept me around because of my blood. That is how the Lussa aristocracy are you know. Much different than the Solune back home.”

She rubbed her eyes again.

“Ah, did I explain about the illness just then?” Jealousy asked.

“Yeah.” Janna nodded.

Jealously promptly vomited to her right. “Okay good.” She coughed.

They set up a camp at the crossroads. It seemed that Janna liked to carry a dry board in her rucksack 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. The light made Jealousy’s sickly features more apparent.

“It’s not good for me to switch twice in one day. I should be okay with a little rest.”

The flames started to burn Janna’s bare skin. She pull her jumpsuit’s top half over her torso and zipped it closed.

“Yeah, I know. You said you were going to help us?” Janna asked.

“Of course. You will find my abilities very helpful, I’m sure.”

Drake finally asked, “What was all that? Issues? 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?” Drake shook his head and she frowned in response. “Oh my.”

However, Crystal Jealousy “Keturah” Rhye sang her next words with uncanny joy. “Allow me to explain!”

Image result for halford crucibleI don’t write much about Crystal, although I have a story swimming about in my head for her. Truly, her narratives seem to prefer to be open-ended and chaotic and wet. She brings water and misery wherever she goes, and archetype of the chaotic feminine in some sense. Hope to see her again some time.

Daniel Triumph.

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P.S. Check out Crystal by Halford, which of course was the inspiration for Crystal Jealousy Rhye.

P.P.S. Anyone interested in knowing more about the timeline, read on. This story takes place in the time after The Solune Prince but before The Epic of Däwngale. Janna is still searching for Venus and Zealott, and Crystal Jealousy intends to use her “abilities” to aid the hunt.

Not sure how it works out. Follow me and perhaps we can figure it out together in a few years.

 

Alice and Finch: Duodenary Dusk

In case you missed it, it turns out I finished Alice and Finch, but didn’t publish it. So, here it is!

Table of Contents

“Lovely! You didn’t tell me your bond was so pretty!” Chloe gushed.

They had met not in a library, but in Chloe’s lamp-filled bedroom.

“And look!” She grabbed Alice’s arm and squeezed it, then pulled it, “She’s rock solid! Must feel safe sleeping beside someone so strong.”

Chloe blushed, and Alice gave her a weird look.

“Tell me dear, have you had any education? Ah!” Chloe couldn’t help herself. She rubbed Alice’s hair and squeezed her cheeks, “You’re so small!”

Alice was the same height as Finch, which meant that she was fairly short. Chloe was nearly two heads taller. She was actually the tallest person in the room, Jutt coming in second, and Artus being the only person of regular height present. Those two were sitting on Chloe’s surprisingly hard bed.

Finch began the process of detaching Chloe from his mate.

“Oh sorry.” Chloe wrapped her delicate arms around herself. She hadn’t realized how lonely she was until now, but that she kept secret.

“So?”

“Oh, umm, I like learning about families. I know all about yours.” Alice said.

“Oh! Ancestry! How wonderful!” Chloe was radiant, “I personally love history. We might make a good team in the future.”

Alice nodded. She wasn’t sure what to think of this woman. When Finch had told her that Chloe was hundreds of years old, Alice hadn’t been expecting someone who barely looked twenty.

“Finch told me that you had some sort of plan.”

“Right.” Chloe nodded. Her face became authoritative, almost imposing. It was a look that suited her in a strange way. “You look like a completely different person. I saw you, you know. It was Janna who gave you all that meat.”

Alice didn’t believe her, “Batshiva did!”

Chloe nodded, “You’re right about that, but he could rarely afford meat. It’s expensive you know. Ah, well, Janna ended up donating most of what you ate to him.”

During this, Finch’s mind was racing. Who was Janna? Why did he recognize the name?

“Isn’t Janna in a relationship with Drake?” Alice asked, “I know Drake from Baracus.”

Chloe stared, “What?” This was news to her.

“Oh! Yeah! I saw them one of the first days I came here! Right before I met Vinth for the first time!”

Chloe turned to him, “You saw them together?”

Finch nodded, “And Janna, whew! She wasn’t wearing much.”

Chloe put her hands on her face. Her voice stuck its highest pitch, “Well, it could always be worse!”

Alice poked Chloe’s nose. Lex, who had been patiently watching, laughed sweetly. Chloe blushed.

“Ah, I’m sorry. I’ll have to talk to my sister though…” Chloe looked out the window, “If the guards ask, your name is Jessica May, and you’re my board, my live-in student.”

And, interestingly enough, in a few short days, that’s exactly what she became.

Sorry for the mix up!

Daniel Triumph.

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Alice and Finch: Undenary Dusk

In case you missed it, it turns out I finished Alice and Finch, but didn’t publish it… so here’s the beginning of the end.

Table of Contents

Finch slept until the next dusk. He awoke frequently, and fervently, and every time he did, his eyes searched for Alice. She was there every time after the first.

“Ah, mother?” Finch looked around, “Ah!”

Alice was gone, it was just Jutt. Jutt looked a lot like Finch’s mother, except that her face wasn’t as wide, and her hips and chest weren’t nearly as laden with healthy layers of motherly fats.

“Yes Finch?” Jutt turned to him.

He immediately realized what was going on. This was the second time he had woken up injured and looked on by a pretty girl. He wasn’t going to embarrass himself this time.

But after asking, “Where’s Alice?” He realized that he had failed.

“She’s getting you food. And bandages.”

Finch nodded.

“Keep breathing. My mother told me about this. There was a guy who got a lung infection in her gang because he wouldn’t breathe deep enough.”

“No!” Finch shouted. Talking didn’t hurt, not as much as inhaling did, “I can’t leave her alone! Where’s Alice?”

“Alright, dear, just go back to sleep. I’ll wake you up in a bit to make you breathe some more.”

Finch gave her a dirty look, as if he really were a child again. Jutt just smiled.

“Hey Lex?” He said.

“Mm?”

“If you see my mother, tell her that I want to see her again.”

Alexandre “Jutt” Dirge nodded solemnly, “Don’t worry, dear, I will.”

Finch, comforted, went back to sleep.

He was woken up only twenty minutes later to the sound of arguing n’juzu. Or rather, arguing women.

“No, you can’t bind his chest, that’ll make things worse! He needs to breathe!”

“Well! Well! Well!” Alice stumbled, “Help! I want him to have my help from me!”

Jutt shook her head, “Look, the second, er, the first think he did when he woke up was ask for you. If you want to help, just be there next time he wakes up.”

Alice glanced at Finch and stopped. She dropped the abnormally large bandage roll and sprinted to him, crossing the temple in a vigorously short period. A second, maybe. She grabbed his hand, and almost broke more bones.

“Ouch!”

She instantly loosened, “No, no! Did I break more of your parts?”

Her face was bright red.

“No, I don’t think so.” Finch proved it to her by moving his fingers inside of hers.

Alice spent the next few minutes feeling his body parts, squeezing things and asking, “Does this hurt?”

He realized that she was testing his pain thresholds. He was amazed. He didn’t think Alice was that clever. Jutt watched them, amused. She half hoped that he would grab the one piece of anatomy that they didn’t share. She did.

Jutt laughed, and Finch inhaled, causing his ribs to pain him. “Don’t touch that!” He managed to growl between clenched teeth.

Alice withdrew, “Why? What? Ah!”

Jutt took Alice by the elbow and took her away to explain a little about how men and women were different, and also, to Alice’s horror, how children came to be planted inside of a womb.

Finch fell asleep to her soothing words, filled with technical terms and unrelenting description. Lex was enjoying making Alice feel entirely uncomfortable, and also a little curious.

When Finch next awoke, he heard Artus talking to Jutt.

“Yeah, he seems a lot better. I figured it’d be okay to let him get a full cycle or two of sleep. That’s three or four hours, you idiot. Learn basic biology.”

“Hey, you’re the genius not me.”

Finch opened his eyes. Alice was still red faced, and she was looking around, bashful. She noticed his stare, and they locked eyes. Neither person blinked for over a minute. Eventually, Finch’s eyes began to burn.

He whispered so quietly that Alice had to lean in.

He repeated, “What did she tell you?”

“Everything!” Alice hissed, “You adults are all so disgusting!”

She pointed at her chest, “I’m almost happy that Plainkind don’t have breasts!”

Finch gave her a wary look.

She blushed, “But I wouldn’t mind if we… but later.”

Finch nodded, “Yeah. Later sounds good.”

He sat up.

“Alright, good folk. It’s time that I told you all of my news. Chloe would like to meet with Alice. She looks a lot different now, and Chloe thinks that we could use that to our advantage. She’d also like to know if Alice has any sort of genius… for personal curiosity apparently.”

He found that breathing was a little easier now. When Lex looked at him, he took his prescribed ten deep breaths. Then he stood up.

“Let’s go. She wanted to meet today.”

Alice nodded, and then Finch’s blood rushed to his head and he promptly lost his balance and fell over.

A few minutes later, he was on Alice, piggyback, his nose no longer bleeding.

“As I said, let’s go!”

They all shared a laugh, and Finch let Alice carry him to the castle.

Sorry for the mix up!

Daniel Triumph.

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Of Heirs

Eight day of the The Month of Resz, 4011th year of the Solune Standard calendar.

Monarchy is a touchy subject for some. It is not for me. Corporations have begun to appear in the Lussa and Djeb realms, and they are quite similar to what I have in my Kingdom. I have been around since the foundation of this nation, I, in fact, founded it myself. Very few of my citizens question or take issue with my rule.

Soon, I will be announcing my stepping down, I will be announcing my heir. I have spent three centuries considering all the options. I have made many conclusions. The gravity of my conclusions are not to be questioned by those who have not been considering their own subjects for at least a century. By this measure, most of the people in the Solune Kingdom are unfit to veto with my decision, and I doubt that they will. My considerations are thus:

  1. If wisdom increases with age, than mortals, especially those with mundane life expectancies, are too unwise to rule. On average.
  2. Those who have eclipsed adulthood are unfit to rule. Their brains have finished developing and they will therefore never truly adjust. Thus, a ruler should ascend before her mind is made, that she may develop with the people and for the people.
  3. She must not use violence except as a last resort. A ruler should lead by example and inspire respect. Only brutes lead with fear, and brutes are overthrown, always.
  4. The people must come to respect their leader. Respect is not the same as like. She must be someone whom no one us hateful when following, someone with drive.
  5. My one weakness is a lack of progress. I am extremely old fashioned. We have not stagnated, but we are close, especially compared to the Djeb, the Lussa, the Metch, their science, trade, and industry. Our next leader must be progressively minded. Youth is particularly inclined to such ways of thought.
  6. Finally, it would be best if the heir is not one of my own children. This might cause jealousy, or suspicion of favouritism among my followers and peers. It might be misconstrued as a norm.

I have a shortlist in mind, and yet, only one person stands out… She fits all but one point. No, if I follow my whim, my kingdom may fall, just as the Djeb had. And yet, she is the most qualified by my measure.

But, is leadership to be chosen by a check-list? We will have to see.

Daniel Triumph.

Alice and Finch: Denary Dusk

In case you missed it, it turns out I finished Alice and Finch, but didn’t publish the end of it. So, here’s the beginning of the end.

Table of Contents

Finch unceremoniously slipped away in the morning. He had a lot to do now that Alice was back. In fact, he had already thought of a plan to finally, finally make everything right for her. Finally.

Alice awoke to the sound of her friends milling about. Some went home, others had returned with potatoes to throw into the coals. Others still were playing touch tag or seek the hidden inside and around the temple.

“It would be nice if there was another doorway.” Jutt said.

Alice turned and looked at the tall Riley girl.

“Why?” She said.

“So that they have another exit. Right now, if someone gets trapped inside, they’ll hop out of a window to avoid getting tagged. Two. That’s how many kids’ hands I’ve had to bandage from broken glass.” Jutt shook her head, “The responsibilities of the eldest I suppose.”

Alice twisted onto her stomach and rested her face in her hands. “How old are you?”

“I’m nineteen. I will be twenty soon.” Jutt said.

“I just turned nineteen two days ago!” Alice beamed.

“So, he likes older girls, huh?” Jutt mused.

Alice gave her a confused look. Jutt just closed her eyes and in minutes had gone back to sleep.

The temple was full of spotted sunlight and running children. Alice watched Artus fish a potato out of what had once been a bonfire. He dropped it, it was too hot. He turned to Alice.

“Oh, hey! It’s been morning for about an hour.” He told her.

“Where… where’s my boyfriend.”

“What in the name of mobile moose!” Artus jumped up and almost squashed his breakfast, “You’re finally dating Finch then?”

“Finally?” Alice cocked her head.

“Come on! Even you should have been able to tell that it was only a matter of time. I know about his plan to become Captain and waive your whole assault thing on his dad. He’s been completely obsessed with the guard since you left!”

Alice blushed. She absently opened her mouth and began fiddling with one of six her finger-long canine teeth.

“I thought he forgot about me.” Her words were flat.

Alice figured that she would see what her friends thought of that first, and then face Finch once she was armed with weapons of knowledge.

“Alice…” Artus had become very serious, “Don’t you know about him? About his mother?”

Alice shook her head.

“She didn’t leave right away. That’s just what he tells people.”

“Leave? I thought she was dead?”

Artus’s eyes opened wide, “Oh man! Listen up, okay, you’re way behind!”

As Artus began to tell the story of Finch’s past, a handful of kids gave up on their games to join him. Jutt opened one eye and both ears.

“Okay, so Finch’s mom was another Riley. They say her father came from the north, they say he was 100%!” He noticed that Alice and a few of the Solune children had missed the significance. “They’re the pureblood Riley from the northern wilderness. People like Jutt and Finch’s father, and Gina there are only about five percent. The 100% Riley are really dangerous! They’re crazy, and they kill people,” He paused for effect, “and then eat them!”

There were assorted gasps. By now Jutt was sitting up.

She added, “They find the Solune to be very delicious. That’s why the King added so much alkaline food to our diet. It makes us bitter to the taste.”

Alice found it odd that Jutt was grouping herself in with the Solune, but she let Artus continue.

“Right. So Finch’s grandfather was one of those. He had two children with Finch’s grandmother.”

“Artus, what are you telling them?” Finch had entered.

Artus turned, horrified. “Uh…” He stammered, his brain stumbling over itself.

Jutt took his baton, “About our grandparents.”

Both Finch and Artus gave her the strangest look.

Finch sat down in what had become a small circle next to the bonfire. She continued where Artus had stopped, and Artus just ate his potato, splitting it with Alice and giving her some of the salt that he just happened to have in his pocket.

“My grandparents were in a very violent relationship. I wouldn’t call it abuse, because it was quite mutual. They loved each other in a very violent way, which is completely normal for the 100% Riley. They were called Finch and Aretha” Jutt sighed, “They had two children, two girls. My mother, and Finch’s mother. My mother came first. Her name is Hail, and right now she’s off as part of a Riley gang. Finch’s mother came eight years later, after about one stillbirth every two years.

“When Diesel, my aunt who is also Finch’s mother, was finally born, she took Aretha’s life with her. Finch, the older one, went berserk and lashed out at Hail. Hail fended him off of course, leaving him with a large scar across his abdomen. Since then, Hail has become very adept with the rapier.”

Finch was staring at her in awe. He hadn’t heard any of this.

“So, they both ended up becoming parts of Venus gangs. Diesel runs her own at this point, and I think Hail is in a decently high position in another.” Jutt shrugged, “Anyway, Hail met my father, a Solune. There was an issue with her gang because he was a poet, a threat. Hail was ordered to execute him. To capture and behead her husband, or I would be killed. This is the sort of sick game Dezallldwin plays. One day, I will kill that man.”

Finch wasn’t very interested in hearing more about this Dezallldwin, so he said, “And my mother? What do you know of my family?”

“Hmm? Oh well, Diesel didn’t really like Ilias. She actually left him when you were young. But she did like you, a lot. She would have stayed just for that, I heard from my mum that you two were close. I can sort of remember it.”

Finch nodded, tearing up. Alice watched him longingly.

Artus noticed Alice’s hopeless gaze and whispered, “Grab his hand. Gently!”

Alice slipped his hand into Finch’s. He looked at her, surprised, but then pulled himself closer. They leaned on each other.

Finch, now bolstered by his bondsman, said, “Right. You’d be surprised what you can remember from such a young age. I remember we did a lot together. She tried to go to the university, but failed almost every class. We used to go together. She taught me how to make paper gliders, and paper spinners,” he was lost in memory by now, “We would drop them over the edge of staircases and watch them spin to the ground. The bigger ones were better, you know?”

He sighed.

“Well, she ended up having to leave. She told me she didn’t want to. She told me never to become involved with Venus, and that my father was a good man, even though she thought he was an awful bore. She…” Finch choked a bit, and added feebly, “Well, Lex can continue.”

He and Alice embraced at the side, and the conversation was once again passed to Jutt.

“I’m surprised you used my real name.”

Artus said, “Alexandre. I’ve heard Finch call you that before.”

Jutt nodded, “Jutt is just a nickname. It was weird, I got my fang teeth first, and they often jutted out of my mouth. Finch gives… uncreative nicknames.”

Finch felt Alice heave slightly, probably a silent chuckle.

“I think that’s it though. Now that I have an excuse, I’m going to go find my mom. She went mad after the whole ordeal with our grandparents. She couldn’t cope, I was basically independent since the age of eight. She couldn’t even work, I have no idea how she manages in a gang. In fact, I don’t even know if she’s still alive.”

Finch looked at her, horrified, “And what about my mom?”

Jutt shrugged.

Alice said, “A gang leader? Called Diesel Dirge? Raids, well, used to raid Baracus?”

Jutt looked at her suspiciously, “Yeah that sounds about right.”

“And is not nice? And is telling her friends to having to kill me!” Alice stood, leaving Finch suddenly lonely, “And then is cut-hurting Alice and her militia!”

Finch was shocked, “Alice and her militia? What?”

Alice crossed her arms. She told the group all about her battle.

“The Plainkind are fearsome enemies. I didn’t know about the muscle shifting, but it explains a lot. I don’t really care for biology… I’m a chemistry girl, you see.”

Finch couldn’t believe that Alice had taken out a whole gang. Jutt was very happy to hear it.

She said, “It’s good to know they aren’t all that strong, actually, since I’ll be invading one of them to find my mum. Anyway, weren’t you going to tell us where you went?”

“Yeah!” Alice said, “You abandoned me in the night!” She sang. Finch wasn’t sure if she was joking.

“Right, actually, it was about you.” He said, pulling Alice back down to the ground. Their faces were very close together. “I talked to Chloe about you. We have a plan. You’ll be safe now, and free soon.”

Alice looked at him, perplexed, but overjoyed. She hugged him and almost literally broke most of his ribs.

In the end, she stopped after hearing only four or five snaps. For the second time in two days, she had caused him a major injury.

Finch was bedridden on the floor of the temple for the next few hours, following Jutt’s instructions to take large breaths to keep mucus out. Alice ran around frantically, and ended up shooing out all the kids except Jutt, Artus, and of course Finch.

Jutt looked at Alice, “He’ll have to tell you tomorrow.”

Sorry for the mix up!

Daniel Triumph.

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