Long Distance Seduction: Chapter 6

~~~

I sigh. It’s not the first time tonight and certainly not the last. Until some new request or sudden update arrives, I have free time, and that time isn’t spent doing much these days. Reading feels stifling, thinking is almost overbearing, and taking a casual walk is always and forever will be out of the question. I sigh again, idly kicking my legs under my desk. It has been another lazy and lethargic day.

A hundred feet away, a witch and her familiar play cards atop the catcher’s tower, probably just as bored as I am. If I remember right, those two would be Hailey in the brown pointed hat and Krysta wearing nothing but green painted-on stars. Strange, this isn’t their shift, Vanna is supposed to be on duty. Oh well.

Sometimes I wonder when I’ll get over the source of my despondency- wondering if he’ll respond, his health, his thoughts, wondering about him in general is a given right now- but when do I move on with my life?

Well… that time isn’t today.

I consider taking a nap to see if that would make me feel any different upon waking, and while the idea is most attractive, I can’t shake the feeling that doing so would make me feel even less energetic. Thus, I stay rooted at my desk, an elbow and curled fist holding my head up while my body slouches forward, staring out the window.

I sigh.

Hm? Hailey and Krysta are scrambling now, grabbing all the cards and snapping to attention for some reason. The trapdoor on the tower’s roof must have been knocked upon, a general rule and warning I established to prevent accidents (it’s an open space up there after all). It is steadily pushed aside, by whose hand I can’t quite tell from here. The sight is enough for me to sit up straight again.

The distant figure climbs up, revealing herself to be Malida of all people, those brown and blue feathers are unmistakable. Why didn’t she just fly up there? My primary messenger starts speaking animatedly with Hailey, wings thrown upwards suddenly and briefly, sometimes giving casual glances in my direction. Hailey is nodding every now and then, craning her neck to look down the still open trap door.

Oh, someone must be coming up… after… her.

My jaw wobbles before I restrain it. It might have dropped from sheer surprise were I less disciplined. He looks… Cleaner than last I saw him, healthier and better dressed. Maybe it isn’t even him at all, just someone who looks similar. Yet, I’m sure it’s him, it can’t be anyone else if Malida is that excited (and her husband is blond, not brown-haired). Carrying what I think is a small stack of white paper or a package weighed down by something large, red, and yellow must be a twitchy and nervous looking John.

What is he doing there? How long does he have? It’s over fifteen kilometers from Derutcurts to his orchard, how did he get here? What is Malida’s role in this? How do I look right now? Is he looking this way?

For all the excitement building up inside me and the questions rampaging in my mind, I can’t bring myself to do anything other than stare out at the catcher’s tower. A mixture of disbelief, longing, and laziness keeps me in place.

Malida is clapping John on the shoulder now as he nods and then watches her fly away. A pause. Hailey shuffles forward to break the silence between them. John, startled, takes a seat on the tower cross-legged with something flat across his legs, slid out from between that yellow weight and stack of white he carried up. Krysta starts rooting around the former object, which I quickly realize is a basket, and passes John several small items. A black lump (inkwell?), a gray stick (quill?), and a white sheet (paper) are given to him.

He starts… writing. Yes, I’m sure of it. Writing. No more than a few strokes are made before he places the paper in the basket and tells Hailey something.

The witch nods and begins her ‘pitch.’ With a wave of her feather-laden staff, she focuses on levitating the basket, sending it smoothly but slowly gliding to me. Hailey is perhaps my favourite catcher because of her method of working. Every delivery she has made in the past came to me perfectly intact and without damaging any part of my tower.

I rise, going out to the balcony ringing my quarters to meet the basket sooner even if it is only a few feet. It arrives not soon enough and gently sets itself down into my waiting hands. I cradle John’s basket with one arm against my body and quickly wave at the tower to confirm the delivery. Hailey, Krysta, and John wave back (and the latter did so with no awkwardness at all. Surprising).

I look down into the basket. Sitting within are four apples, one pear, three peaches, and a piece of paper with two freshly inked words on it,


Hello Palamina.

~~~

Okay. Brain. Am I regretting this yet?

Yep. But were I going to jump from some garish Zipangese (Zipangin? Zipanguin? Never did find out which is correct) half-wagon freak thing that was being pulled at a breakneck pace by a red oni? Were I going to run when I’ve already made it past the border between the human and demonic realms, more than ten kilometres of dirt road, a guarded checkpoint, a long ‘ol torch-lit mountain tunnel, a GIANT pigs’ trough of a valley, and wayyyy past the front gate? Does that sound like ideal travel/escape conditions for a human?

…Yea- No.

That’s what I thought. Also the view’s fantastic up here, probably doesn’t make the trip worth it by itself, but it’s a point in that direction.

So a couple of days ago, Malida and I discussed my decision to go to Derutcurts and ‘speak’ with Palamina as directly as possible. She couldn’t have possibly agreed faster, arranging for what she called a ‘rickshaw’ (from the Walking Straight Rickshaw Company, “A steady ride even when we’re drunk!”) to pick me up and hitch a wagon to. HA! Gods, I just keep following that harpy’s schemes like a blind man.

Oh, what a depressing thought. My relationship with her isn’t like that at all. Communication! Courage! Children! Sanity maintaining!

The first I’ll give me, the second was more like ‘Fine, I’ll do what you want me to do! Jeez!’ The third may have been a facade to make me think I’m trusted by her (Gods, that’s a horrible thought, why did I think that?), and why isn’t the last one a word starting with C?

‘City’ starts with C.

Yeah, I know I’m in, shut up, brain. I’m on the clock now and so far I’ve lost most of the feeling in my toes and some in my feet and ankles. My headache is mild… for now. Oddly enough, even though I’m feeling irritable right now, I don’t feel very much in danger. Maybe it’s because Malida assured me she’d check in every thirty minutes. Maybe it’s because I’m not Hailey’s or Krysta’s type according to them. But most likely, it’s due to my very actual want to be here and ‘speak’ with Palamina until I can’t lift my arms anymore.

I came here voluntarily because what needs to be ‘said’ between us isn’t going to be fast enough or seem honest enough given the days that pass between Malida’s delivery/pick-up round trips. I’m going to ask questions, she’s going to ask questions- and I should have clarified what I wanted to do instead of just writing ‘hello.’ Crap.

She’ll understand, right? I mean, she, and not Malida playing matchmaker, wrote that letter and sent back my project book, yeah? Do I even know what I’m going on about-

Freshly laid ink on paper suddenly flaps in front of my face. Malida told me how this system works on the way up the tower. Its effectively a game of catch so I guess I didn’t notice the response being thrown back. Wait, how is the ink not smudged? Is Hailey levitating the letters both ways? Whatever, guess so. The paper I wrote on, and now Palamina too, is held daintily at the corners by Krysta.

“Err, move back a bit, it’s too close.”

The little green star-spangled girl takes a hop backwards, letting me see what grand and smoothly written proposition, speech, or whatever Palamina wrote under my simple greeting (Gods, why am I still thinking this way?).

~
Hello John.
~

… Huh.

I raise a hand and wave it off to the side, getting Krysta to skip away, letting me see that spiral shell tower, or rather, it’s occupant. A hundred feet is just enough for me to see that lilim, the lighting is thankfully casting over both our sides too, otherwise, I don’t think I could see into that place.

I squint, trying to make out any kind of movement from the other side. She’s not on that balcony, so she must be inside. … Ah. I think I see her. There’s only one window on this side and she’s framed by it, sitting perfectly still like a rock. It’s hard to NOT focus on her actually (however little I can see at this distance), my eyes (in)voluntarily dragging themselves towards the (bewitching) beauty I didn’t see during our first encounter what with the blood in (and out) my eyes. I see her distant figure from the waist up, reminding me of a porcelain doll, sitting in a dollhouse. No doll I ever saw had a vacant, maybe fidgety, stare though.

What’s her problem? I thought she’d be more excited.

Hey. Heyyyyy.

What, brain?

Give her a chaaaaance.

I DID give her a chance; she didn’t bite.

Be more chance-givingful. More! I don’t think she believes I’m actually heeeeere.

Alright, alright. I do want to keep her company. … Wait- that came out wrong. Guttermind. Whatever. Writing. Owe her at least a few tries for returning my project.


I’m sorry.

I never believed you could be just casually friendly…

~~~

… and not sexually friendly. If you really want to give friendship a go, I’ll do my best to welcome it. Truth be told, it sucks being afraid of everyone here; and at the same time, they’re afraid to approach me. It’s basically you, Malida, and her family that have spoken with me more than once or twice.

One… Two… Three times I read, just to be sure.

I almost choke, stifling a giggle coming up my throat. I’m having a conversation with someone. Well, I’m going to have a pseudo-conversation with someone. And it won’t contain any sex talk, lewd moaning, business orders, statistics, or worshipping me. How wonderful! The last real conversation I had was with my crass elder sister dozens of years ago. It didn’t end well. I can just barely keep my quill straight as I gladly write another response below his. And he sends one back. And I send another. And back and forth and back and forth…

~~~

~ John, thank you for the fruit. I’m happy to see you finally come around and realize my feelings to be true. However did you get here? And how long do you have?

– Something called a rickshaw on Malida’s coin. I don’t like it very much, doesn’t feel secure like something with four wheels, but it was a fast trip. Also, no offense, but unless you try what you did when we met, I should be able to stay for a few hours until I have too strong a headache or lose all feeling in my arms.

How’s the fruit? They’re the most ripe ones I could find. There’ll be better product in the fall, the real harvest period.

~ The pear is wonderful, juicy and sweet. I’ve never eaten one before.

– Great. I was worried about those pear trees. Not a lot are surviving the replanting.

~ Well, if this lovely snack is any indication, you’ll not only be the sole proprietor of human realm fruits here, but you’ll also be trusted for quality. And you clearly care about quality.


– So what IS Malida to this city? She seems pretty famous sort of. Saved me from being harassed at the front gate (the violent kind with beatings) and got waves from a lot of people while we rode that rickshaw to here.

~ Were you bringing anything covered up and tied down? Something not easily inspected?

You’ve met Malida’s children, yes?

– My wagon with these writing tools and the fruit basket. I threw a blanket and rope over them so they wouldn’t fall out while hitched to that rickshaw. Oh damn, the guards thought I was bringing weapons or Church soldiers in, weren’t they?

Also, yeah, Jessica, Cadence, Candice, and Malory.

~ Then you know Jessica and Malory are adopted while the twins are her children by blood. Monsters don’t often have children at all. Twins are like a miracle in themselves.

– So Malida is a fertility goddess and your busybody messenger?

~ Excuse me, busybody?

– Yeah, she kept nagging at me to write to you whenever I wasn’t for the past six months. I suppose you would be still sending those hopeless ‘love’ poems if it weren’t for her.


~ A house made entirely of glass?

– Panes aplenty set within an iron frame or something similar. I’ve never been able to test it at a size larger than a dog house, but the heat from the sun was kept entirely inside the house because of the glass. Sure, in the winter the sun needed to be reinforced by bonfires, but my old place had a tiny batch of strawberries that could have been harvested in late fall, growing in winter and spring, harvested again in the middle of summer, and then all over again across different seasons. And that’s how an all-seasons glass house works.

~ It sounds amazing but expensive. I would have liked to have avoided talking business, but if you’re willing to share your research, I can arrange for additional refinement and development on your hothouse plans.

– Only if I am involved in every step of the process.

Why hothouse?

~ It retains heat within a house shaped space. Plus, it’s less of a mouthful than ‘all-seasons glass house’ isn’t it?

And now who’s the controlling one between the two of us? I don’t blame you for caring for your project like I care for my realm, but I find it funny that you’re a little like me.

– I’m not sure I find that funny.


~ I’m proud to say that Derutcurts is still standing tall after two-hundred years of the Church’s eyes upon us in the north, harsh winters, and my rule.

– That phrasing doesn’t paint you in a very good light. Heck, two-hundred years and it honestly doesn’t look like you have a lot of territory. One major city and a network of villages separated by a barrier of mountains?

~ We’ve been holding out against the Church in the north for the most part, a stalemate. Neither of us are confident enough to place attention elsewhere. However, there is a lot you aren’t seeing, especially in the west and within the mountains that form the north and east walls and gates of Derutcurts. One day, you should take the grand tour.

– If it only takes three or four hours, why not? Though I imagine it doesn’t, and I’ll pass out first from a migraine.

~ I actually meant to expand south six months ago to where you’re living now, but after I failed to capture you, those plans just got shoved aside indefinitely.

I’ve always been curious about your condition actually. I remember asking about it in my first letter to you, but you didn’t give a straight answer.

– Sure, I remember that. But you should note that I’m not really looking for a cure. Basically, demonic energy sort of makes me feel like I’ve been hung upside down with all my blood rushing to my head. It’s slow unless I crash into someone like you. Then I explode.

~ I apologize once more for that. You’re unique that way though.

– Pretty much. I can’t turn into an incubus to boot. That’s why the Church wants my guts to experiment on.

~ John. Always remember that you are safe from them here.

– Thanks.


– Cats suck. Dogs rule.

~ How can you hate cats or kittens? Were I able, I would have a male and a female here just to listen to them wander around and meow.

– No one ever knows if they’re actually a nekomata in disguise or not. I know a few Church towns that kill them on sight for that reason.

~ That’s terrible! You approve?

– Not really. I just don’t want to meet or keep a cat is all. One of the last things I want to see in the morning is a nekomata sleeping on my chest when she was a cat last night.

You never hear about DOG monsters that can do such a trick, so I’d rather keep a dog. Some breeds are fluffier than cats anyway.

~ Cats can be plenty fluffy and there are ways to know if a cat is actually a nekomata in disguise. Keep an open mind, John. You sound very well-traveled sometimes, but in other moments you show a little bigotry.

– No, just well-placed paranoia.


~~~

Stacks of paper, covered in ink on both sides, sit next to us. We got absorbed so deeply in conversing with one another that Hailey ordered Krysta to take over and proceeded to take a nap on the spot, flopping backwards and sprawling out like a starfish while the green paint covered familiar took over levitating my letters and John’s. She’s wavering now though, the letters wobbling like a drunk harpy flapping irregularly in the air.

I’m not sure how long we’ve been talking, but John is also tiring. His responses are getting slower, his handwriting sloppier, bit by bit within the last hour. I can see Malida sitting by him, trying to convince him of something, probably leave, but he’s waving her away. He probably can’t take the strain of the demonic energy much more. I wince as a flash of memory screeches in my head, him crying blood and screaming at me to “Get away!”

There’s probably time for one last exchange before he is forced to leave, and he has already chosen the subject. His latest response is laid out before me, my index finger tapping the paper nervously and hard enough for my nail to gouge it and my desk.


I’m noticing a lot of your responses make me realize something weird. Why can’t you own cats? Why do we have to communicate this way? Does this have to do with why you never tried to just take me by force again after the first time? And no, I’ve never asked Malida, this only occurred to me just now.

I’d rather not discuss my biggest personal shame, but it’s not like the answer is (physically) harmful to me or him, and he is very likely the only person in my realm who doesn’t know about my own… condition. Yet, I’ve never actually had to discuss it before with someone. Everyone usually just figures it out over time or receives the details from someone else, sparing me the bad taste in my mouth for personally admitting weakness.

Well… John isn’t a bad man. He dislikes the Church deeply enough that he wouldn’t tell them anything about a place he owes his life to, physically, mentally, and sentimentally. Additionally, his stance on monsters seems neutral so long as he isn’t touched. But would he hold up under torture if he was captured again? … No. No, that will never be the case. I won’t let that happen under any circumstances. He is a friend.

Regardless, I could always shut down the topic if I don’t like where the conversation is going. My quill hand still moves quite reluctantly though.

~~~

Breathe. Breaaaaathe. And focus on the papers in front of me.

It’s not that bad, brain. Calm down a bittle lit.

Well if I’d just take my suggestion and leave (leaaaaave), I wouldn’t have begun losing my mind in the last hour.

Come on me, I’ve got maybe forty minutes of safe time left (maybe. Never stayed around this long before). Though I guess I need that time for travel. Still, not until this last round gets done. Don’t know why I didn’t ask this first.

Maybe because it’s a really awkward conversation starter given our… history.

Yeah, that. … Malida’s gums n’ wings are flapping, what’she saying? I can’t really hear with the blood pounding in my head.

She’s begging me to leave (leeeeeave) before my head turns any darker red. Also if I have to write, get her to edit, my formerly tanned-and-now-beige arms aren’t doing great right now.

Sure, sure, I’ll ask. No need to totally worry yet about this yet though. But yes, I know it’s scary-scarring for everyone to watch me like this for the first time, even for Palamamonomana. Oh hey, look at that, a response.

~ I don’t like my magic. Not at all.

– But you’re a lilim. You take slaves and travel and build stuff like this city on whims and demonic energy.

~ I use magic for pragmatic purposes. Not willy-nilly or for any task some would deem ‘menial.’ I carved out the mountain range to make way for Derutcurts’ construction; but since then, every brick, plank, nail, and stone has been set by hand, claw, tooth, and nail.

As for slaves, I don’t keep any past a week. They remind me too much of my inability to control my magic. My aura stopped expanding and increasing in strength fifteen years ago, and I gave up researching any way to stop it fifty years past. Before then, the tower you sit on had to be torn down and reconstructed repeatedly to account for every extra foot I manifested. That’s why we’re writing at a distance instead of actually talking, that’s why I get most of my knowledge from books, and that’s why I never used scrying pools or opened gateways to come after you. There was too much risk of exposing you to my aura again. I wanted to have you join me in bed, not die in my arms (not that such is my intention anymore).

– What happens to them?

~ The hospital here has a wing dedicated to recovery after time spent with me. They receive the best mental care in the realm. Most get out with a clean bill of health after a year on average and get paired off with unmarried citizens.

– That’s actually impressive. But terrifying. I remember something weird I heard from a year back when I was out east. A shirohebi was trying to wean a man off oomukade poison via ‘forgetting by touching a different body.’ I’m guessing you’re not mentioning THAT part of your hospital?

~ My facility’s methods are it’s own.

No way it’s not totally sexxxy nurses. If one doesn’t mind monsters that is, not that there’s a choice.

And the other thing. She can’t control herself so she’s effectively sealed herself in a single location? Doesn’t that suck… That explains the letters and why I immediately started bleeding out the first time. I’m wood, she’s fire. I’m glass, she’s a hammer. … Feels like she’s wanted to talk about that for a long time.

I struggle to write a coherent response. Between the anvil being banged on in my head and slowing blood flow in my arms, my quill looks like it’s spitting or drooling ink on the paper as I go. Glad Malida’s here to proofread and get me the heck out of here once I’m done.

– Ha. I knew i

Mmmm, wait. Slash that out, slash that out. …. … Mmmmmm… Why not.

– Palamina, I collected a list of people that owe me a favour over the years I’ve been on the road. Some of them have some very obscure tomes or tal-

Hold it, hold it, am I thinking of helping her THAT much?

Aren’t I supposed to be all for helping Palamamonomana?

Not to the point of risking myself with a renewed pursuit from her. Oh for- listen to me, me!

Blah, blah, blah, blame it on I can’t think straight. She gave book; I give possible freedom. Let’s write this right.

But I decided to share the plans with her already-

Up bup bup. Shhhh. Shut up, brain. I’m making a friend.

~~~

– H\a/. I kn//e\w\ i/

I raise an eyebrow at his incomplete sentence. Partially from worry, partially from intrigue. John has very roughly scribbled over his words and ended there. A quick glance upwards and squinting tells me that he’s still… conscious at least. But is he delirious? I stop reading and pull out a blank sheet.

~
Get him out of here, Malida. Immediately.
~

Tearing the paper in half, I hurriedly sketch my primary messenger’s name on the back of my order, then turn to write on the blank piece.

~ John, it’s been wonderful talking with you, but you need to leave. I’m not giving you a choice, I can tell even from here that you’re suffering. Please do stop by again, but not for so long. May the remainder of your day be restful.

I don’t give Krysta the chance to prepare. I wave a little floating flame above the ink to quickly dry it, roll up my order and farewell together, tie a weight to them, and throw. Hailey’s familiar almost doesn’t notice it rushing straight to her chest. With a shriek she shuts her eyes and freezes it in mid-air with a pair of outstretched magically-charged hands. She pops one eye open… then the other before visibly relaxing and handing the smaller portion over to Malida. I watch and wait, hoping John is agreeable to leaving.

He turns to Malida. The two briefly exchange words, nod at each other, and then she flies away while John starts writing again. He didn’t just convince my primary messenger to leave him alone did he? John is in ever increasing peril with every second that passes. He can’t just keep on passing notes to Krysta like he is now.

A few moments later, his latest and hopefully last letter falls into my hands. With a frown and more than a little worry for his well-being on my mind, I start thinking of contacting Vanna or Tsuruko to throw him out of my realm or ordering Malida and Gertrude to air lift him out. At the same time, I try to absorb the contents of his writing.


I hear you. Another hour and my face will be a fine shade of purple. Palamina, I agree that we should do this again sometime and maybe I can try to make it here more quickly to give us more time to talk.

Also, please give my offer some thought. I’m sure we both have theories about each other that we should discuss.

Have a nice day.

Well that was cordial.

I spend the next several minutes watching him from the balcony, making sure he is leaving as he suggested in his response. In an entertaining turn of events, it seems my previous consideration of having him air-lifted out has become reality. Malida called in Gertrude to assist in getting him down, each of them grabbing a shoulder and flapping furiously to control their descent speed. I expect that she also arranged for quick transport out of my realm’s limits.

This was fun. Just simple conversation. Aside from his condition spoiling the end of it all, I’ve felt more content emotionally then I have in a long time. We must do this again. I find myself nodding with this sentiment, even though there’s no one else around.

Stepping back into my chambers, I scan the room for the letter I dropped, the one where he scrawled all over his first sentence. Ah, just under my chair, trapped beneath a leg.

John’s response is indeed much longer than I thought it was. I sit down again, this time on my bed, crossing my legs and looking over what I missed.


Palamina, I collected a list of people that owe me a favour over the years I’ve been on the road. Some of them have some very obscure tomes or tales on demonic energy channeling, transferring, dispelling, and such.

Can’t say that I’ve spoken with them again ever since leaving each of them, but if they’re willing to lend the books or info, why not try researching a solution for yourself again? I’ll help if you want. I owe you for returning my research, and I get a kind of uncomfortable feeling from your prisoner-like state now that I know why you’re holed up in that tower. You remind me a bit too much of every time I ‘lived’ in a laboratory for me to ignore this.

Following that, a little over a dozen names have been written. A few are actually familiar from my first attempts at researching a solution to my aura, but the rest of these names are new to me, and it could be that my old contacts have more information than before.

I’m a bit shocked that John actually empathizes with me and… more than a little embarrassed. Yet, my shoulders feel like they’re rising into the air and everything seems more colourful in my eyes, especially John’s last response. Staring at his offer of help, I try to suppress a thin smile so hard that it ends up lopsided and twitching. My face feels like its on the verge of tears or laughter, maybe both.

Though I don’t completely lose control of my emotions, I can’t help but giggle like an idiot as I start poring over maps and my own list of international contacts, comparing them to John’s.

~~~

What did I just do? WHAT DID I JUST DO?!

You’ve been shouting that nooooonstop since we got hauled off the tower and into the rickshaw, brain, I’ll tell you. I just stared at the marketplace I can’t visit right now, and before that I and Malida (who’s sitting beside me for my safety on the trip back) waved weakly and furiously, respectively, at Tom and their kids when we passed by and before that-

No, me idiot! Why did I offer help to Palamina? Why did I offer to try and get rid of that aura that keeps her away and me safe?!

Eh. Blame it on not thinking straight.

Don’t give me that crock of shit!

Honestly? It’s starting to look like I really shouldn’t be afraid of anything or anyone here. You’re too paranoid. Funny. I remember you telling me to not be paranoid and have meaningful meetings with people. Looking back these last three and two-thirds years I’ve had lots, just never appreciated them properly. In fact, you’ve been trying to keep everyone at an arm’sleg’stenfootpole’s length haven’t you?

Yes! All for my mental and physical health! All for my safety! I never wanted to have people connect with me, especially a LILIM. I need enough food to live and enough conversation to remain sane; I don’t need actual ‘friends’ who want to jam knives or their tongue into me!

I used to agree, brain. I felt that I couldn’t trust anyone. But you’ve never thought about when we can stop, get comfy, and lay down roots. It’s pretty literal now what with the new orchard. Did you expect that we’d just live like a hermit? The old man at the top of the hill (plateau, whatever) who tells stories and hands out sweets to children, living off the goodwill of their parents who don’t really want anything to do with him? And then later when the kids grow up, they stay away too, leaving the hermit to perish in bed alone, and no one finds the body for a couple of months, and when they do, it really really stinks so the crappy little hut is burned down to prevent the spread of disease?

Yes! If only I would listen to me every step of the way!

Gods, that sounds stupid. Brain, you’ve been the only one I could trust for all our time on the road, first helping me after that first lousy month alone in a cell, but you should (give it a) rest.

I won’t get rid of me so easily! I am a survivor!

Yeah, yeah, shut up and let me try and nap until we get home. I don’t want to listen to you anymore.

I shut my eyes and try to drift off in the rickshaw, usually it’s easier for me to fall asleep when I’m numbed, but my brain keeps shouting and shouting. Ranting on fixing the situation and raving about severing all ties clog my thoughts, my REAL thoughts. Something just… Split in two in me after writing that contact list for Palamina over the very loud objections of my brain. It’s like a ghost has suddenly decided to live in my body. I can’t think like I used to, like two-in-one and not one-in-two (or is it the other way around?)

Don’t look to me for answers, me!

I quietly whimper, and hear Malida ask if I’m okay. I try to open my eyes and turn to request a doctor-

NO!

But am forced to remain silent and keep my eyes shut. For this entire trip back home-

Not home I twit! It’s a vulnerable place where rapists and clergymen can find me. They’ll find out where I live and make plans to lay siege!

I dread going completely insane.

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