Without : Wavering

Draft 4

It flowed from the hole in her arm. not pink this time. Red—It was serious.

It was serious, but not that serious. She might die, but either way she would live. —— “funny,” she thought (and also said).

“Ah, the King is awake.”

There was someone else there, she heard him. Someone she did not know. Someone she immediately disliked. She said “Fuck.”

“Fuck.”

“What?”

The voice touched her ears, exercising her nervous system, and permeating her brain. but only the outer layer, she thought. (But did not say out loud.)

She looked around and saw the person, a blue, glowing blur. She couldn’t see properly. She was tethered to the land, not vicariously, but rather, quite directly.—The clay and sand, a place where an old tree had fallen and died and another had sprung up to take its place: A new tree—a new branch from the new tree had invaded her new arm. I am very new. I am only a youth. yet I am an adult, and the garden has shown its teeth. the branch is not truly new anyway; it’s near the bottom.

The pit she was in, where was her family? Where were they? Would they ever return for her? Or was she in God’s hands now.

“Yes?”

“yes. the Fuck is talking to me.”

“What?”

“is that all you know how to say? I know I’m assuming you are a fuck, but at least I’m being consistent. that’s why I capitalized your new and exciting title!”

The blue man seemed beyond confused, acting overtly be-wildered. Janna knew, she knew, she knew, she knew. I knew he was full of shit, even at that point. She knew that he only—seemed— bewildered for a reason. That; that little action, she knew, only proved what she knew because she knew. She said,

“I knew.”

At the exact same time that he said, “What?”

Although, she said it a little earlier. She said “I” and then a bit of “knew” before he said What. he said what with a capital, that pieca shit. But she was first. Janna Rhye is faster on the draw than Idiots.

“I knew,” she said for the third time, “I knew. look, you don’t have to be retarded about it.”

“What are you”
—she made sure to interrupt him.

“I’m being very precise here. very literal. look, I said my bit first, which means you’re slower than me. retarded means slower. don’t worry though, it’s not your fault. you probably just don’t know what’s What, which is why you capitalize the word like an Idiot.”

“How can you just treat me like that out of nowhere?”

“out of nowhere? look, I get you’re a little retarded, but don’t give me this out of nowhere nonsense. out of knoweare. do you know where we are? look.”

She blinked a few times, and then the Fuck came into clearer focus.

“Do you prefer Fuck, or Idiot?”

“Idiot. Wait”
—she made sure to interrupt him.

maybe you’re not as full of shit as you seem.

“look buddy.,” She interrupted.

He waited for her to finish, and then realized that she had.

“come on, you’re being slow again. keep up, man.”

“I am a god, not a man.”

Janna frowned. okay, maybe he is that bad. wow. “it’s pretty clear to me that you are not a god. I can tell, and my eyes aren’t even functioning properly.”

“How dare”
—she made sure to interrupt him.

how dare I. what a joker.
“tell me, you human glowstick, have you looked yet?”

“What?”

again with the capital what. “I said, only moments ago, I told you what.” She sighed. “look buddy.” no need to be so slow on the draw man. you are a man, aren’t you?

Finally he realized what she meant.

“Look at what?”

Janna laughed, and then said, “I’m laughing at you, not with you.”

“LOOK AT”
—she made sure to interrupt him.

“oh look, you can be interrupted even when you’re shouting. how noble the gods have become.”

As she spoke, he flared blue. Janna figured it was time to see her attacker. he was an attacker;  something of a con man. you’ll see.

“it’s funny how blind you are.” She wiped her eyes with her non-dominant, non-stabbed hand. She wondered if her right arm would ever be as strong as it was supposed to be, or if she would be permanently weakened.

“look,” She said again, her eyes still closed, fingers rubbing. She was without sight in front of an attacker. I don’t need to see him to understand him. She continued, “look. look. look. do you understand? you came here while I was weak. you came here when I had fallen and I was on the clock. perhaps, even, the death clock.” I have to see his face for this. She laughed internally, the laugh of feminine exuberance, luxuriance. But she laughed internally. She was in control.

She saw him, the artificially glowing man. She watched his Dumbass face turn to rage and resentment.

She said, “I’ve been telling you for, like, our entire conversation, but you just don’t see. look! I’m here, tangoing with nature, a dirge, a dance of death, and all you want to do is talk about the capital what and use my situation against me. kick a woman when she’s down. really fuckin’ classy, Dumbass.”

“HOW” —she interrupted him.

“yes, how dare you. I took the words right out of your mouth. get out of here before my family shows up and we dissect you in a court of law. who are you anyway? you know where I come from, you know what we call the gods there?” She didn’t wait. “servants. you know.  it’s what you are. you serve us, by your ignorance you serve us. if not now, certainly in your future, but likely even now by accident.”

the Dumbass Idiot approached. he moved with intent to kill, holding some sort of sharp, dumbass glowstick. I laughed at him, I lauged and grabbed his arm with my non-dominant. it worked. he was that weak.

“I’d spit in your face, but I’m sure my words have already done worse.” I grinned at him. he was the butt of his own joke. maybe I shouldn’t laugh. maybe he’s been the butt of a lot of jokes. however, he came to control me, and he attempted to murder. resentment and evil. a connection here can be found.

She broke his forearm in her vice and then pushed her thumb into his wrist, forcing it through the bundle of little bones.

“ah, you really are a man, aren’t you. leave me, or else I will bear witness. fill the cracks in with judicial granite.”

he left with haste. he left to lick his wounds and contemplate revenge. I know it, because we’re contending with it now. I’ll explain all that later, for now…

“Janna!” She watched her sister Chloe discover her, literally jump with excitement and then slip and fall, and tumble into the pit with her. it isn’t hard to tell who’s honest when you know what’s What. I made a bet that I knew, and this time, this time I was right.

“We tried to find you!” Chloe pushed her head out of the moss.

“I know.”

“We tried to find you, but we got distracted following, I think it was a blue light? It turned out to be a dagger, ah, Natasha has it.”

“oh; You were misled.”

“What?”

“I’ll tell You when You’re older. You’re lacking certain…I’ll tell you when you’re an adult. But don’t forget the dagger, and don’t forget that it led you away from me.”

Chloe looked confused, but she said, “away from you? Yes, and while you were bleeding like! Oh no, it is red, it is red, your blood is red, it is not safe! Natasha!” She called out. Chloe knew first aid and biology and she began to work. “You will be fine, I know it.” she knows it. I think we both knew it.

“Natasha!” They both called out. They called for their sister, and they called for their family. it was practical…and cathartic.

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.

 

Span (Shortened version, and Plans)

Span chapter one was originally over 1000 words long. This version is only 316. The reason I made such a shortened version was so that I could fit more poetry into my portfolio. (Something I’m considering releasing here.)

In order to make this post worthwhile, I’ve also put some commentary on the tail end of it, about my plans for later chapters of this story.

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? He considered me. …

So I asked my father about hunting again and he sighed, saying that 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 Sunk. 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.”


 

Span is a story that sort of hit a dead end for me, and I don’t really know where it wants to go, even though I know exactly where I want to take it. Well, I didn’t know where until I started thinking about the location.

Who else lives in the N’Tariel lands? Who might Talc encounter? Then I remembered—there was someone who lived in the forest.

14753426_1173459149367241_7520138819080270918_o
An older Jin, with her Elken features showing.

Jin was born in the northern woods, and began exploring the south as she began to reach adolescence. I always thought that the first person she met was her soulmate Salt*, but perhaps that was too romantic, too unrealistic.

Maybe the first person she met was Talc.

Anyway, we’ll see where this goes, if it goes anywhere at all. Span is a series I’ve been considering simply leaving hanging, but it’s modestly successful, and I think I can figure out how to propel the plot forward to the places I care about—that is, her adulthood, and more specifically motherhood. Oh, and she also becomes a seer, due to her interest in the dead; divination by entrails.

Perhaps more thought is required. We will see. I will state that Span is currently set up as the backburner story for The Solune Prince release (As Evidence was to Alice and Finch). Unless it gets replaced by something like Alexandre Jutt’s story, we should be seeing more of it in a semi-consistent manner.

*I feel it obligatory to mention that soulmates are fictional. So, while I don’t believe it to be a real phenomenon, so to speak, I do believe that fiction works in fiction—Jin Sing only marries one person, and that person is Salt Resz.

Daniel Triumph.

Further reading:
Span 1
Span 2
Jin’s Backstory

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for art: DeviantArt and Instagram.

Span 3

<Prev|

“What is that?”

I pointed at the shape in the distance. It didn’t look like anything I had cleaned in the past. My father peered between the trees, and crossed his eyebrows. He drew his spear—he had only brought one that day.

He whispered, “I have never seen such a creature. As a warg, but with long hair.”

We watched it, and I thought it watched us.

“We will continue,” my father said. He put his spear on his back and took one of the spools off of his shoulder.

He pointed, “See here is a good place, the trees are very close, so they have to go through this space. Hmm. Yes, this is so good,  we will not need bait. Tell me why.”

This is how he spoke when he was trying to teach.

“I think…”

“No think, just look.”

I looked at the spot. It was a small alley where two tree trunks crossed each other near their roots. Maybe I could have fit my fist in it. I looked around it, and confirmed that the brush was too tight everywhere else.

“This is a good spot, they have to go through there.”

“Look.”

I looked again, and then I saw it. Scratch marks in the ground, and claw marks in the wood.

“Oh,” I said, “so this spot is already being used.”

“We will not need bait,” he handed me the snare, “do not put your smell on it.”

I set the trap, and then stood, looking around. “Where next—there it is again!”

I pointed this time, a foolish thing to do, and the creature saw me and hid. “What is that?”

“I do not know, I did not see,” he said.

We continued as if I had not seen anything. I set a few more snares. It was not hard to do. My father told me that I caught on faster than the boys did, I don’t know if that was true. But, he told me that later he would teach me how to set the other sort of trap.

We reached the ridge around afterdawn. I was impressed by the sight.

“We are the village that is closest to the western ridge.”

The cliff wasn’t too deep, likely someone could climb it if they were skilled. Although, I would guess that if someone went over, they would die twice over at least from the fall. At the base was a desert-like plain that stretched and expanded to the north. To the south was a stone wall, an artificial structure that still astounds me to this day. That is the Solune wall.

But I wasn’t quite interested in either of those. I pointed straight ahead, and said, “What is that forest?”

My father sat down beside me and said, “That is no forest. If you went past that treeline, you would be shocked at how dark it is, it is always sunset—always dusk in the Elken Yjungle. Look.”

I saw what he meant. The trees were thick, and they looked to be only leafed trees, not a mix like here.

“Who lives in the jungle?”

“The Elken people. They are our ancestors. Later, I can tell you of them.”

“Tonight?”

“Perhaps.” He must have thought hard about it here. It was his night to speak at the community fire, and he wasn’t sure if the Elken were a good topic.

We ran out of snares at the same time that we finally caught up with the rest of our party. Shortly after, the other half of the men arrived. I looked around at the clearing we had all gathered in, and saw the circle of rocks, the mounds and logs. This was a campsite!

“How was the woman, Errand?” Sandgrain called to my father.

“She catch on faster than your son, I would say,” he laughed, “Lime, how long did it take you to learn to set a snare?”

“Eh,” Lime looked between the two men, “three?”

I looked at my father. It seemed that he was unsure whether that meant three days, or three sub-fragments of a day.

He said, “Talc can set a trap already. I will show her the deadfall on our way back.”

Sandgrain lokoed impressed, but he did not voice it. He said, “You think she will mind her fingers?”

“We will see, I expect.”

My father, Sandgrain, and Sour (the hunting elder at that time) gathered apart from the group to discuss. I saw that Silver and Quick were bickering in front of the pit, and snapping each other with leftover snare line.

Lime and most of the other boys and men were gathering wood. I figured I should be more useful than those who were sitting, so I went into the nearby brush to see what I could gather.

There was not a lot of dead wood on the ground. I was unsure what to do, but you should know I have a capacity for cleverness! I looked around for a specific sort of tree, and started pulling at its branches.

After I had taken a few off, someone else saw me and called out, “Hey.”

I finished, and brandished the stick. The boy sounded young, so I felt safe fooling around. He dropped all but the longest of his sticks and struck at mine.

“You will never hit the target if you aim only at their weapon!” I said, swiping at his arm.

The attack hit, and he followed up, hitting me in the ribs. I jabbed him in the chest, and he fell over.

I said, “Maybe we should stop.”

He coughed and looked up at me. He said, “You really are a girl, aren’t you?”

I frowned, “I do hope so.”

“Do you really know how to set snares already?”

I realized that this was Lime, Sandgrain’s son. “Yes, and I know when they do not need bait.”

Lime stood up and leered at the ground. “I don’t learn very fast,” he said, “I’m surprised that you do, although, maybe that’s normal, and I’m just slow.”

I didn’t like this manner of thought, especially not in a man-to-be. I said, “You will find no happiness if you only look at that which makes you unhappy.”

He looked up at me. I added, “My grandmother says, do not speak of your flaws unless you intend to fix them and do not speak of your virtues except through your action.

He said, “Oh,” and began picking up his sticks. “Well, I came to say, you should get dry sticks off of the ground, and not take living ones from trees.”

I decided to test his intelligence. I pointed to my tree and said, “Look.”

He did, confused. After a minute the confusion wore off, and then he surveyed the ground. “Oh, that’s a dead tree, is it?”

“Are my sticks not dry?”

“Huh.”

Perhaps this boy was not so hopeless after all.

Read the first part here

Daniel Triumph.

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Copyright © 2018 by Daniel Triumph

Wavering (second draft)

For those who are interested in how the first draft became the final draft. This might be my least favourite of the three, but so it goes.

She felt a numb pain in her forearm. She looked to her right. A branch jut out from the space between the two bones in her arm. Janna looked around. She was in a pit, a lush bright brown hole of moss, grass, and dirt. Dirt from where the roots of a tree had torn out the earth. It was long covered over now. Long enough that there was this younger tree. This tree whose branch had intruded on her arm’s wellbeing.

She couldn’t take hold of her senses. She was in an uncanny world. In the distance, it seemed, a hazy figure moved with purpose. Then, it stopped.

“Ah, the King is awake.”

The voice touched her ears, but seemed to skip all the formalities that her nerves had put in place. It was a strange feeling. This person, who was notl her sister, was very easy to listen to.

The person looked away, a blue glowing blur, “twelve percent of your blood is here, shared with Mother Earth.”

It was definitely a man, 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 won’t help you.”

Janna was becoming irritated with this glowing man.

“You’ll be fine in this one,” he said. “In certain distant timelines you lose a lot more.”

He stood over her, outlined in blue. Through her wavering eyes, she could see wisps, lines of light coming from him.

“You can leave now,” she said.

“I came to ask for your help.”

“And you thought now would be the best time? Isn’t this some sort of deathbed-type manipulation?”

“Umm, no, I don’t think so. I mean, as far as I can tell, you aren’t going to die. Otherwise, actually, I wouldn’t have bothered showing up.”

Janna tried to focus on the figure, but her vision kept waving. She said, “I don’t know what you want. You’d better spit it out so I can disagree with it.”

“I’m the Servant of Tendrils, I can see future timelines. From what I can tell, we can benefit the next few centuries if we work together. You have influence, and an open mind.”

Janna sneered, “Not that open.”

She looked at her arm. It was mostly red.

“Why don’t you help me first, and then I’ll talk to your dumbass after, when I’m not attached to a plant.”

Tendrils frowned, “I thought that you would agree, but… maybe my reading was wrong.”

“And,” Janna continued a thread that had been dropped, “not that open, and I don’t have influence. I am only a prince.”

Tendrils saw his opening, his teeth glowed irritatingly, “Ah, you are young now, but you will yet have influence. I can see it.”

“As well as you can see how much I’m interested in helping you I suppose.”

“If you don’t want to help me, I’d rather die without your presence.”

The Servant of Tendrils shrugged, and ceased.

Janna closed her eyes. What a stupid death vision to have. You’d expect to at least see the Servant of Death.

 

“She’s gone catatonic. Oh good, the bleeding has slowed. Although, it’s probably from being 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.

“Oh, look Natasha, she’s awake! Actually, ah, maybe that’s not so good. Hey, you can take a little pain, I guess?”

Janna felt a pinch as Chloe’s arms moved over her wound. She said nothing.

“Actually, it’s better to be awake when you’re hurt like this. I think. Hey Natasha, do you have a, ah, do you have a knife? Of course you do, we just used it, haha… Can you hold the top, I don’t want it to move until I’m done.”

Janna closed her eyes.

“Is she dead now?”

“Hey, wake up!”

Janna gave a shallow nod.

“I wish you would open your eyes. Ah, fine. Look Natasha, just hold that, and I’ll cut it, and then we can pull it out of her arm. Ah, I’ll tighten the tendon first though. Blood flow, right?”

Janna felt the pinch get a lot tighter. Then she felt the branch move as they hacked away at it. She almost vomited when they pulled it out. The sensation oppressed her head, and she again lost consciousness.

“Ah!”

 

It was dark for a long time, and then she saw blue.

“Oh no.”

 

“Do you think she will be all right?”

Janna recognised her brother’s voice.

“I think so. I’m not really, ah, I don’t actually… I’m not a doctor so…”

“And also, what did you do to Natasha?” He asked.

“The Condor have a vestigial tendon, I used it as a tourniquet… everything else kept snapping.”

“I guess hers would be strong,” He laughed, “ey captain?”

“I am not a captain, Kain.”

“You’re getting there. Hey look, I think she’s awake. Can we move her yet?”

“You know,” Janna grumbled, “for a Servant, Tendrils is a dumbass.”

Chloe gave her a perplexed look, “Not Death?”

Janna laughed weakly, “I almost would have preferred Death.”

Again, this is the second draft of “Wavering.” I don’t really like it, but luckily there’s a third draft that I do like.

Daniel Triumph.

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