Chapter 19.1

Eikasia Book 3: Blackwood

“We know this apodictic rock beneath our feet. That dogmatic sun above our heads. The world of dreams, the agony of love and the foresight of death. That is all we know. And all we need to know? Challenge that statement.” — Edward Abbey


Her lips were against hers and there was the knowing of warmth, the dulcet rings of a world shattered moving them away, moving them apart, moving them, moving them, moving them

The portal–a tentative word, because Elmiryn would have been just as satisfied to call it a wound in the sky–swallowed them whole, white reaches filling her ears with a static roar as all throughout her came the painful sensation of needles.

That was when it started to become too much.

She unraveled at the seams as breath came cutting and choking on panicked laughter, barring out the haphazard delineations that took her attention off to memories of bloody sunsets and cool nights and flowing drinks that fizzed and tickled her–back to the pins and needles and screaming and howling and rippling in and out of what of what of–what could be conceived as a bad idea as the cannon smoke and wet soil fornicated far up her nostrils where her niggling desire for sex contended with the spiky need to survive–back to the pins and needles and screaming where her grip was weakening, and she was ashamed of it, because she wanted Nyx to be with her and nowhere else nowhere else nowhere–else had she ever seen the glass serpents and snarling behemoths with eyes of light that bared metal teeth at her in rage as they spewed black smoke in a train along the sky–BACK to the pins and needles and screaming where she thought she saw phantoms in mist, phantoms in kind, who fell through space just as uncertain as she was of everything

Except–y’know–the fact that they were FALLING.

There was no wind, and therefor no air to speak of.  They seemed to be hurtling through open white space.  Sometimes the edges of her vision would ripple to different colors, like hundreds of little rainbows.

“Nyx!” Elmiryn screamed, her voice small at first before a sonic slingshot sent the words echoing back in a way that made her feel as if she’d taken a right hook in the ear.  Despite the pain in her limited reaches–her shoulder twinging sharply, her forearm making her scream even more–the warrior fought with all her might to keep the girl in her arms.

Nyx was grabbing onto her in kind, her tawny eyes vibrant discs as her terror weaved into the din of static.  “Elmiryn, hold onto me!”

But inertia was the divergent evil that made their separation ever more certain.  The woman felt her friend slip from her arms, and when she tried to grab on with her hands, the forces spinning them as they fell made her injuries too painful to ignore.  Her hands spasmed, and her fingers clawed desperate as Nyx fell away in a gasp.

NYX!” she screamed, legs kicking back as she tried to move herself forward.  But she couldn’t change the direction of her fall.  She couldn’t even go into a spin.

Elmiryn kept soaring on, alone.  She watched until Nyx and the others turned to dark dots against the glaring background.  Then the white swallowed them.

…Then the white swallowed her.


She was on and on and on until she forgot to remember to forget that she wasn’t seeing things right.  She was lacking in containment, lacking the corporal chains that so many took for granted.  She was floating, weightless, a consciousness lost in a nothing world with nothing to occupy herself with.  How fitting.  In this void, she didn’t know who she was, what she was doing.  She didn’t know how long she’d been drifting when…

Something familiar nestled in her ear.  It sounded distended, like the thump of a full stomach.  It nettled her.  It was…music.  A song.  A jig, with a fiddle and a panpipe.  Had she sung it before…?

…You…are anidiot.

No, truly.  You are a fool.


I’m insulting you.  Quite spiritedly, in honor of this untimely arrival.

This UNWANTED arrival.

What did you REALLY think you’d achieve, coming here?

what did i want to achieve

good question


good question like as in i liked it

only the problem is

i have no answer other than the one i just gave you right now

to the question you didnt even ask

Elle the Idiot. The Twins were right to call you this.

Elle the Idiot, have you lost your boundaries?

Is this why you are speaking out of bounds?


You never cease to amaze me.

If you’re to lack Endings, then atleast give me a Beginning.

Start girl.  Go on.

i have no beginnings

You’re being lazy.  I haven’t got all day.

I get no fulfillment from this and it leaves me feeling cross.



i i

Go on…

I Think I Remember You

…Close.  That was…close.

Except it wasn’t.  At all.

Don’t Begin at every word, you daft human.  Just the first.

Like this right

Yes.  Like that.

It’s as good as it gets at this point.

The entry left you rather disjointed, didn’t it?

Im pretty sure i remember you

I should hope so.  Because it seemed for a while there, you’d forgotten.

Your romp in Albias left me feeling piqued.


Piqued.  As in annoyed, vexed, bothered, upset–

Oh okay

Displeased, indignant, disgruntled–

Okay okay i get it

Pissed, livid, ANGRY.

Am I getting through to you?

Is Elle the Idiot reading this?

Make sure to stop at the periods, dear.

Lest you get LOST again.

Ah wait, you already are.

Half crazy, all wrong, no clue.

You sound like a twit.  A real twit right now.  I hate it.

If you don’t get back into boundaries you will spread apart until you are gone.

Do you understand this much?

You will DIE.

That’s perhaps the closest understanding of it.

And I will…

Well.  Let’s just say, I’ll be stuck without supper.


Because you can’t tell my work apart from another, that’s why.

Clearly, I have to violate the deepest reaches of your mind just to get your feeble intellect to recall me.

Destroying your reputation?

Alienating you from everyone you ever cared for?

Making an elemental spirit poison her own river?

No, not enough for the likes of YOU.

Oh yes, Elle.  I don’t mind, I have NO problems when you go chasing off in the wrong direction.

I’ll just adlib, alone on stage, whilst you go gallivanting off to steal someone else’s spotlight…


I remember you

I remember


Rage brought about a fire that shuddered and startled things she had become unaware of.  She felt veins.  Muscles.  The woman–for she was a woman, a human, ALIVE–tried to draw herself together.  She forced boundaries back into place, pulling at them, wrenching them up from nothing.  She still lacked the penultimate markings, the divisors between the background and herself, but what she had was enough.

I remember you!


She wants to say all the usual things:  I hate you, I’m going to kill you.  The feelings are acid, and they don’t feel pleasant or arousing in the usual manner that such things tease and encourage her desire for intimacy.  All she wants is release.  Catharsis.  She wants the anger purged from her, because it is painful the way it swings on her heart and claws under her skin.  But she stops long enough to mull over something.

…You weren’t behind the taint in Albias?

NO.  I wasn’t.  Of course not.

How could you confuse me with something so plebeian?

It makes me ill.

If it wasn’t you then…

Elle the Idiot still hasn’t gathered that I’m not the only one?

Shit…you mean…?

NOW, she gets it…

Feh.  You know what?

It doesn’t matter.

Either way, your still getting intimate with my sword–

…As soon as I figure out how to stab you…

I’m afraid your homicidal wishes will have to wait.

You see, we are now both trespassers.

I am at risk…and so are you.

But more importantly I am at risk.

What the fuck are you going on about?

You are a part of a greater scheme, my precious little fool.

You are mine.

Up until now, we have weaved our own tale.

Yet somehow, you’ve managed to invade someone else’s territory.

You’ve moved out of bounds in more ways than one.

We are now in the court of another player, and if we do not remove ourselves soon, this player will seek to destroy us.

Irregardless of my artistic superiority, my power is HALVED here.

This is not my stage.

Should vengeance come, I cannot stop it.

Fuck you.

I won’t listen.

Your games are your own.

I have my own way, and it cuts right through you–

To what?

Don’t wave that hero archetype in my face, it doesn’t suit you.

I’ve taken away your castles, I’ve taken away your princess, and I’ve taken away your war.

Don’t delude yourself from the truth.

You are a demon’s toy now.

You are MY toy.

All around her was white.  She sees flashes of her ghostly limbs–sometimes just the veins, sometimes just the muscles, sometimes just the bones–but she knows herself to be an entity apart from the nothingness around her.  All she needed was to block out the music, block out the wordless dialogue that trickled in with the notes.  She needed to focus on returning to something fully corporal.  Or something close to it.

Elmiryn, are you listening to me?

The woman grunted, holding up phantom hands, straining the core of herself to solidify, even as she felt the painful needle sensation returning to her.  She tried to see it as a good thing.  If she hurt, then she could feel.  If she could feel, then she was real…and then she could–

–Find Nyx.

I need to find her.

Her mind flickers to vague images, details lost in fuzz and smear.  She knows them in a sense, only because Nyx’s voice is associated with them in some way–calling to them, conversing with them.

The others…

No she comes first…Nyx comes first.

I have to find Nyx.

She feels the angry tension bleed away, to be replaced with a growing anxiety, a growing need to be reunited with her special friend–the girl with the tawny eyes who made her care.  Who made her want.  Who made her…

Nyx?  The Marked Ailuran?

Your poorly spun thread?

Did Elle the Idiot understand when I said we are trespassers?

Did she understand me when I said we are at risk and must leave NOW?

I’m not leaving without her.

And definitely not without killing you.

I’d kill you right now if I could.

You are so dogged.  It’s charming in a way.

That doesn’t make this any less idiotic.

It’s idiotic to want you dead?

No, it’s idiotic to carry on like this when we should be fleeing.

Speaking of all talk and no action, have you come up with an adequate reason for hating me?

You mean besides all the stuff you said before?

Cursing me, destroying my reputation, alienating me from everything, generally being an ass for no reason?

Yes.  Though I protest to the phrasing of that last point–

You’re a fucking ego-maniac and you talk too gods damned much.

How’s THAT?

Then Elmiryn was back–full and whole with blood and organs and weight and color and vulgarity and determination.

…And then she was falling again, too.

Fucking–Gods–Bitch–Cunt–Damn it–SHIT–


Well, as they say…

An object in motion tends to stay in motion.

You’re solid again, so it’d make sense that you’d just resume your free fall from before, yes?

No.  No it doesn’t fucking make any sense.  I wasn’t falling just a second ago!

And a tricky thing, that Time–especially here.

Why is it that it sounds like you’re right next to me?

Are you falling too?

Of course not.  I–



As you’re being so stubborn, I see no other use in it.

I’m getting a little tired of asking you to explain yourself.

What I’m getting at is…

Your my investment.

My toy–

Stop calling me that!

–I don’t want my toy to break.

She fell and fell.  Elmiryn would  have been afraid of hitting something if only she saw something to hit.  There was no up, no down.  For all she knew, she was flying parallel with the ground.

There was a whistle, like steam escaping a tea-kettle.  The music wrinkled and became lighter.  Less ominous.

Here, give me a moment.  I’ve decided.

The fiddle’s cry and the panpipe’s toot faded to nothing.


The music fades back in, surrounding her.

Here, open your mouth.


As she said the word, something large and invisible plopped into her mouth.  It was thick and cold, sticking to her teeth as it gummed along the inside flesh of her cheeks and to the farthest reaches of her tongue.  It tasted harsh and bitter, like when one bit into a grape stem.  She gagged and tried to spit it out–and she managed to rid herself of some of it–but most of the mess slipped further down to the back of her throat, and as it did, it picked up speed, like a marathoner sprinting to the finish.  The slime, the goo, whatever it really was, seemed to have a mind of its own–even after reaching her stomach it kept moving.

It was pressing against the edges of her stomach, seeping through tissue, entering her system, making her blood thick.  The woman screamed, her nerves now stabbing sharply at this invasion from within.  The broken bones of her forearm, the swollen muscle of her shoulder–they shuddered, they swelled, they shifted

The static din vanished along with the horrible pins and needles.  They were replaced with a howling wind.

Her clothes rustled and her hair flew forward.  Elmiryn’s limbs, by gentle suggestion of the air she fell through, drifted upward.  She gasped, her cerulean eyes turning to circles as she realized she was staring at the sky, leaving her to be falling toward–

The warrior slammed into the ground with a muted boom.

Dust and dirt and debris flew into the air before it settled down, slower than when it first rose.  As the soil and rocks and grass fell over her in a thin layer, Elmiryn gulped in air through her mouth.  She felt starved of it–and it was technically true.  Though it hadn’t killed her, she’d just been falling through airless space for what felt like ages.  Her heart was beating fast, making a percussion instrument out of her ribcage.  Around her, she heard the wind gust over the lips of the crater she’d created.  It sounded surprised and grief-stricken.

Elmiryn let loose a weak cough.  Her eyes fluttering.

“I felt…like I just walked backwards into a wall–not like I just fell towards solid ground at top speed,” she thought.  “And I’m not hallucinating.”  Then her eyebrows rose and she glanced sideways.  “Oh, hey, those dashy boundaries are back.  Now I don’t have to fight to sound apart from the background anymore.  That was getting tiring.”

The woman breathed slowly through her nose, then out through her mouth.

“Breathe in, then out.  In, out…” she closed her eyes for a moment before opening them again, her brows furrowing.  Her heartbeat slowed and it no longer fought against the confines of her chest.  “Alright, now slowly…” The woman shifted her elbows, digging them into the dirt.  She pushed herself upright.  “No pain.”  Elmiryn blinked at her arms.  Planting her hands into the wet soil, she pushed herself up onto her feet.

Blinking dust out of her eyes, Elmiryn slowly drank in her new surroundings.

She was in a forest.  All around her were trees of different types.  Oaks, birches, poplars, pines, buckeyes, maples…the interesting thing was that there were no ferns, no bushes, no grass, no great stones, no flowers, or even fallen leaves.  The forest floor was clear save for the occasional tangle of bare roots.  The grass here was a curiously dark shade, an emerald just skimming black–the blades so shiny as to appear waxy.  The sky bestowed partial light, though she doubted the suns were present in this place.  Sometimes she saw gray shapes flash through the white overhead–but she could hardly make sense of the images.  They were too brief and disparate.

Elmiryn looked down at herself.

Either through luck or sheer tenacity, the woman had managed to keep hold of her sword and dagger.  Her quilted doublet was torn and dirty–the fabric crusted with daesce blood and puss.  What once was caramel now was a warm dark mustard, with blotches of dark gray where the monster taint swallowed the fabric so as to appear as scabbed wounds.  She was missing chunks of the doublet from when Nyx had used some of it for first aid purposes.  Her leather pants were cracked and worn out at the knees, and her shoes were scuffed and creased severely near the tips.

The woman grimaced and pulled her top off with a grunt.  She was left bare safe for the wrappings around her breasts.  Even then, her skin was caked with grime and dirt.  Dropping the forsaken clothing to the ground, the woman frowned at her hands, then her arms.

“Meznik…” she breathed.  “What did you give me?”

No answer.  The demon and his music were gone.  Her jaw clenched and she stared as her hands curled to fists.  Her injuries seemed to have all but vanished…yet it left her feeling wrong.  Not violated so much, she decided, as…trespassed.  Disrespected.  The woman spat on the ground and bared her teeth.  Tears came unbidden.  Meznik’s sudden departure was like a prized kill that had slipped away–though she didn’t understand it.  Her chest and abdomen clenched tight, her shoulders knotted.  She hadn’t been able to kill him, what reason would she want him around?

Keep your friends close…and so on.

The woman quickly wiped her vision clear.  What a stupid thing to get upset over.

A sound, something sharp and filled with fury, screamed across the sky.  Elmiryn’s head snapped up to it, but when she scanned above her, she saw nothing but more of the white void she was becoming so familiar with.

Elmiryn took one step, then another.  The ground beneath her seemed to buoy her forward, encouraging her movement.  The woman blinked and crouched to glare at the grass.  They brushed intimately with her boots, running over the edges of her foot and flicking the laces.

Slowly, she grinned.  “Hey now, don’t think I don’t see you down there! Unlike you, I’ve got eyes.” The grass shuddered and leaned away from her boots.  Her grin widened.  “Who on Halward’s Plane would ever dream of perverse plants!  Keep off the grass?” The woman dug her foot into the ground, to happy squeals.  “What happens if the grass doesn’t keep off you?”  She waved.  “Bye lil’ buggers.  Maybe we can have fun later?” The woman winked and walked to where the grass stopped abruptly at the forest line.

Then Elmiryn thought about it for a moment and slowed to a stop.  She rubbed her neck.  “Wait, did I just flirt with grass?”  The woman snickered.  “Gods, I did!”  She resumed her trek through the forest, her boisterous laughter gripping her.  Here, the light was dim and it was hard to make out the roots.  She stumbled in the carelessness of her amusement, roots and uneven terrain snagging her boots and the swing of her legs.  The woman wiped a tear from her eye and straightened.

Up ahead there was a break in the trees.

Elmiryn picked up her pace, her humor dead on the chance that she’d be afforded some insight on her situation.  She reached the break at a jog, light hitting her from all sides.  She was blinded but saw just enough to know that the ground dropped to a sudden cliff just feet away.  The warrior stumbled to a stop, arms raising to cover her face.  When her eyes had adjusted to the light, the woman swallowed and let her arms drop.

Before her was nothing and everything, her foot along the edge of a great and expansive reach of stars and darkness and lights and warmth where dreams did flicker like candles in the wind and worlds not her own buzzed in and out of the window that was her eye.

And Elmiryn knew at once, without knowing how or why she knew, that she was at a window.  A fantastic view that zoomed and froze and burned and darkened.  It could go on and on, and the woman could hardly hope to explain it any better save for to make it far too simple than it truly was.

“It’s a window, and there’s paintings, and colors, and places, and lives seen all at once.”

And that was all there was to it, as far as she could say.

“Yeah, and that’s all there is to it.”

Elmiryn rubbed her chin, her skin flushed and vibrant with the brilliant display of the window.  “I wonder if I can control this?”

There was a snap of a twig.

The warrior jumped back and turned, her hand going to her sword.

A being, no taller than four feet stood near her.  It’s body was of entirely comprised of twigs–not a bundle of them, but long thin lines that bowed and creaked and splintered as it moved to pluck a caterpillar of its leg.  It had one twig for each arm, its torso, shoulders, feet…  Elmiryn had to crouch and squint, to see it straight on as the dark of the forest made the thin creature hard to make out.

That was, it’s body was hard to make out.  Not its eyes, which were stabbed onto two little nubs where the eye stalks dangled and bled.  One eye turned her way.  Than the other.  Both were crooked.

It creaked, like a laden tree branch before giving a slight flourish and a bow.

Elmiryn frowned at it.  Then slowly returned the gesture.

The stick creature, with its little legs and little arms swinging, moved toward the window as though ready to walk through it.

The redhead called to it.  “Um, s’cuse me!”

The creature paused, grotesque gaze turning her way again.  It grumbled, as though mildly vexed at this interruption.

Elmiryn rubbed the back of her neck.  “Ah, sorry.  But I have no idea how to work this window.  Any tips?”

The creature sighed (though she wondered how) and pointed toward it.  It creaked, the sound feeling assertive.

“I’m supposed to…go in?  It’s not a window, then?  It’s a door?”

This was answered with a negative slash of a hand.


The creature beckoned for her to follow.  Elmiryn frowned and covered her mouth as she debated this.  Could she trust…whatever this fucking thing was?  And didn’t these things usually ask for favors in return?

But the stick being was already moving toward the window/door/thing and the woman found her only real hope of moving forward relatively unscathed hinged on this frail looking guide.

With a backward glance over her shoulder, the warrior followed it into the mist.





She was moving slow, her eyes casting about her as she caught glimpses of otherworldly things.  Some were beautiful, and some were–


She’s pulled free just in time before…there wasn’t really a word for it.  She was just glad she was saved.

The twig creature scolds her, a thin finger wagging as it tells her of the dangers of not moving quickly enough whilst in Travel.  She understands it because while it isn’t the thin near-nothingness she had experienced before, it is still thinner than what she’d just come from.  Meaning was garnered easier without the veils that otherwise forced her mind into ignorance.  They march at a brisk pace toward a glow on the horizon.

They reach it.

It’s a crossroads, and there’s five paths to choose from.  A sign points down the different ways.  The creature said she must start at the last before reaching the first, where her true desire could be found.  It pointed toward what she’d decided was the south-westerly direction.  As the creature kept putting it, this was the Fifth Path.  Then it held out a twigged hand dripping eyes knocking together.

Now I’ll have my compensation, the thing cooed.





Someone rapped on her forehead.


A deep voice.  Raspy.  Familiar.

The woman frowned and turned her head.

Someone took her by the shoulders and shook her.  “Elmiryn, wake up please.”

She had just had the thought that the voice should not be requesting such things of her as, since she was not asleep.  But this argument died when she noted the fact that she was in fact, lying recumbent, with eyes closed.

Her eyes batted open fully to fix on the face before her.  A pair of pale white eyes fixed onto hers, shining from a wide smooth face.  A slow smile spread her lips.  “…Sedwick?  Hey, is that you?”

Atleast, that’s what she should’ve said.

Except that her voice was gone.

The warrior’s smile died and she shot upright, a hand going to her throat.  “Fuck!” she mouthed, her cerulean eyes snapping wide.

“…Elmiryn what’re you doing here?”  the man asked elbows on his knees as he squatted naked near her.  Apparently, becoming part elemental meant you didn’t give two shits about clothes anymore.

The woman pointed at her throat and opened her mouth with a shrug.

“No, I know about that.  You should be more careful who you ask favors of here.  Some spirits like to use this Place as a way to shorten their travels and not all of them are fair in their demands for compensation.” The man turned his head and sneezed, his form going watery for a moment before he looked back at the woman, his white eyes narrowing. “Do you know where you are?  You’ve come back to Gamath.  Where’s Nyx?  What happened to Reg’Amen?  And why am I speaking to you–” the woman’s look shriveled, and the man hastily corrected himself, “I mean, why are you in this realm?”

The woman blinked.  Then her eyes widened.  She twisted her head around, staring.  They were out in a meadow, sparse trees sprinkled over the hillsides to the west.  She held up her hands, face screwing up as she mouthed, “Well this is just great.  NOW what in the nine hells am I supposed to do?”

“So you don’t know?  About this place?”

Elmiryn shook her head.

Sedwick sighed and held out a hand for her.  Her eyebrow rose as she took it, and the man helped her up.  She couldn’t help it.  Her eyes as she came up (she was passing it after all) fixed on his waist.  She snickered.

He ‘harumphed’ and glared at her.  “Apparently losing your voice hasn’t done anything to make you less of a brute.”  His hands clenched and unclenched as he glanced down at himself, then back up.  She thought his pale cheeks had tinged pink a little, but she couldn’t be sure.  “And for your information, the cold water still has an affect on size.”

Elmiryn raised a hand to her face and flicked her tongue over the stretch of flesh between her middle and ring finger.  Then she pointed at herself, and next at the man’s…length.  She shrugged as if she didn’t know what it was for.  “I don’t care either way, so don’t feel too bad,” she wished she could say.

…But Elmiryn admitted this miming thing was getting to be fun.

Sedwick’s face hardened and he gestured for her to follow him.  “Enough.  You’re in a parallel realm.  A go-between for spirits.  Theoretically, you aren’t in your world anymore, but you aren’t far from it either.”

Elmiryn nodded, her memories returning to her in a rush of whispered voices.  Inwardly she thought,  “Ohh…yeah.  The Other Place.  Syria opened a portal to it.  I’ve peeked into this place before.  So this is what it’s like to be all the way in.” Her eyes turned to stare around her with wonder.  Their surroundings seemed normal enough–things seemed a few shades darker here, and it lacked the usual presence of wildlife–the chirping birds, the dashing squirrels, the shy rabbits, the padding coyotes.  And of course, there was also the unnatural sky and the fuzzy mist that occupied the space the ocean was supposed to.

As they walked, Elmiryn tugged at Sedwick’s elbow and pointed.  The man followed her finger and gave a nod.  “Ah.  Yeah, the Hellas Ocean isn’t a part of this particular shard.”

Elmiryn wrinkled her nose.  Shard?

At her questioning look, he explained.  “This realm, as I said, is just a go-between.  It isn’t a complete universe, just particles and pieces of nearby universes.  Locations pulsing with strong enough energies tend to imprint a ghostly image here.  This image, though a copy, takes on a life of its own.  Perhaps someday, it will truly become a parallel universe…but for now, it’s just a gate.  Here, the Medwin is still present, but not in the way you think.  The essence of the river is here, and it covers this whole region, up until Tiesmire.  That place is spiritually dead, so you won’t be able to get there from this realm.  Are you trying to get somewhere?”

Elmiryn mimed a hissing cat, managing to create the sound with a sharp exhale from the back of her throat.  She held up her hands, tensed like claws.

Sedwick didn’t need much more than that.  “Nyx is here too, then?  What in the nine hells did you two get into?”  He shook his head, “No, no…nevermind.  I don’t want to know.  I’ve spent the last four months helping Nadī clean up this region.  You wouldn’t believe how many angry nature spirits there were–”

Elmiryn frowned, her hand darting to grab the man by the shoulder.  He stared at her with his pale eyes as she fixed him with a look.  “What?  What is it?”

“How much time has passed?” the woman mouthed, making a circle in the air going clockwise.

Sedwick blinked, then he chuckled, a hand reaching up to sweep over his bald head.  “Oh, I’m sorry.  Yes, this realm has a tendency to compress things.  That’s why so many spirits use it for travel.  Not only do they cross greater distances, they pass through time faster as well.  Nadī can explain it to the both of you in a bit.  I was just on my way back to get the other one.”  The man resumed walking and Elmiryn followed him, eyes fluttering.

“Who’s Nadi?” She thought.  “And what ‘other one’ is he–”

They started up a hillock, the tall grass swaying with the wind.  As they crested the slope, Elmiryn saw a familiar cloaked figure sitting on a rock, a rusty sword in their hands.  They were muttering under their breath.

Sedwick started to speak, though Elmiryn tried to say the same name.


The wizard gave a start, surprised out of whatever trance or reverie she had been swept up in, and she rose to her feet with a pop.  But her foot stepped on the hem of her cloak and she cried out as she stumbled toward Elmiryn and Sedwick with surprising speed.

The warrior stepped aside, as did the man.  Quincy didn’t right herself as Elmiryn expected.  Instead, inertia carried her right over the slope, where she fell head over heels until she skidded to the bottom.  It looked painful.  Sedwick rubbed the side of his face, where his scar had once been.  “Oh…I…sorry, I thought you’d catch yourself,” he said apologetically.

Elmiryn, even if she’d had her voice, wouldn’t have said a word.  She was too stunned.

Quincy straightened, her azure eyes fixing onto the warrior amidst a burning face.  Her hair was no longer blond.  It was now a russet brown, and the unnatural glow that surrounded her was also gone.  The wizard’s pretty bow lips curved together tightly, and she flipped up her hood with a snap, leaving only her mouth visible.  She reached down and picked the rusty sword off the ground.

“Tai’undu!  Of all the people to meet…” she muttered.

Elmiryn pouted and crossed her arms.  She wanted to shout indignantly at the wizard…

You mean you’re NOT blond!?”

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