Mari-Anne Melina greeted us with her regular cheer, that is until we showed her Chigger’s leg. She immediately called for some of her aides and took Chigger upstairs to redress and fix the wound. They worked for just under an hour, Chigger screaming at the top of her lungs about how she was going to kill the next person that touched her injury. Typical Chigger!
In the meantime, I took the opportunity to get some real food. Mana and I ate together, while Bastion and Cinder did some catching up. It was strange that he was back with us now, after everything that had happened. And what about Cinder? She apparently had this powerful weapon or Yagan bone-thing inside of her that could kill a Z’Bri! What did it mean and how was it going to affect our future? I still felt as though no-one understood me, but I really do care for my companions. They really piss me off sometimes, but I can’t just leave . . . not yet. We haven’t rescued Slash and the Clinic still stands as a blight on the earth. We have a lot ahead of us.
Mana fell asleep in one of the upstairs hallways, and I went ( with full stomach and clean clothes ) to check up on Chig. Bastion was speaking to Cinder in the hallway, so I went in to see the wounded sis.
” Hey Chigger. What’s the word on your leg?” I asked.
” It’s fine, they say about a week, maybe less! Then we can go kill Eshlazi!” she said.
” Great. That’s good news about your leg.” Cinder came into the room.
” So Cinder, we can take Chigger back to the Bin to rest for the week and then follow through with our plans!” I stated.
Cinder looked at me and shook her head. ” Mari-Anne said at least two weeks off of the leg and another two or three weeks after that for muscle damage and flexibility. Chigger’s not going anywhere.”
Well, that was not going to do. I complained to no-end about how Slash was in a dire predicament and that we couldn’t wait any longer. I convinced Cinder that we should speak to Mari-Anne and and ask her to heal Chigger with the River of Dream. Cinder gave a shrug and I was off. I tracked down Mari-Anne and pleaded with her that a friend of our was in danger and that we couldn’t allow Chigger to be in bed for so long. She saw our point and agreed to help with Dream Weaving an Aspect, as long as we promised to help around the Shelter in the Winter time.
Mari-Anne was rubbing an onion base brown paste into Chigger’s leg. We knew it was going to stain her skin an oily brown hue for a very long time. The essence in the room could be felt moving in a spiral like fashion and pure life energy seemed to flow through everything. Mari- Anne continued the ritual, constantly mixing more paste into the wound as she worked. When she was finished she told Chigger to not touch it for at least a day, and that it would itch a lot. Hopeful that the Aspect of Anima would quicken the healing process, we left Chigger alone to sleep.
The rest of us thought it would be a good idea to see to other matters while we waited for Chigger to get better. Bastion and I were going to check up on the status of the Bin and make sure that no- one else had moved in, while Cinder and Mana were going to speak with Veruka about the importance of the Spear. We parted and went about our separate duties. When Bastion and I arrived at the Bin, the place was infested with vermin. Rats, insects, roaches ( those things can survive anything ), even a bird’s nest! We cleaned the place as best as we could, utilizing our eminences to speed up the tasks. When the girls finally got back to the Bin, we were almost done.
Cinder said Veruka spoke about a bunch of cryptic and non-specific areas. I guess you have to be careful when people ask you questions about their fate! Veruka told Cinder that when the time is right the Spear will present itself to be used. So there would be no practice runs, or any idea what the power of the Spear was going to do for us when we finally faced the Jo’han. My earlier concerns about the cost of using the Spear resurfaced and I closed off from the others. It was strange, the feelings of elation and fear that I felt. I was anxious and excited that we had come so far in understanding the enemy that haunted us, but did we really know anything? We seemed very close to the edge of something that could change our destinies for ever. . . and I was scared.
Mana caught up on some more sleep, and I tried to follow suit. My mind had too many thoughts and I felt restless. Bastion and Cinder went off to the far room. Love or Lust?! Either way, by the time we all woke up, we decided that going back to the Shelter would be the best thing. On the way we encountered Meg, from the River Dreamers and a Fallen we see quite often, Nirvin Deker’on. Nirvin had something to say to Cinder in private, so I took the opportunity to see what the River Dreamers were doing tonight. Meg said they would be at Junks so I knew that Danelle was going to be there as well! I know she’s older and everything, but she sure is cute. I think I might have a chance with her.
It seemed that the date was set and that we would all hook up at Junks later. We headed for the Shelter again. When we arrived, we heard Chigger had created some trouble for herself. She was wandering around, yes against orders, and had found her way into a storage closet. Of course, she wasn’t exactly completely lucid and in trying to keep herself from falling, she took an entire series of shelves down with her. We were not impressed. The least I can say for it is Cinder did speak to her about it. Finally, Cinder was taking some responsibility for her bratty, unrestrained sibling. I had to laugh though.
When the time came for us to go to Junks, I felt bad that Chigger was not able to go with us . . . so I stayed behind. We talked about a lot of things and played some old Dahlian Dream games. Soon, however, the conversation turned serious. We started taliking about the Hive. Chigger told me she had a dream while she was sleeping. She said it was horrible. I listened to her, but she said she was afraid that the Jo’han was toying with us. That it had sent the visions to her to tempt her and scare her. Somehow I doubted it. We had broken its control on us. Chigger was probably just having nightmares because of her wolf bite. She didn’t believe me.
You see yourself standing before a table covered with various tools and apparatus of shining silver. You lift a needle, holding it gently between your thumb and forefinger, letting the thin strand of flesh attached to its end fall naturally to the floor. You stare at your face in the reflection before you and lift the needle to your lips. The first prick draws a brilliant red line of blood that trails slowly down your chin and neck.
The needle pierces deeper, and you tug at it ever so slightly, allowing it to resurface, drawing the fleshy thread into a stitch that joins your upper and lower lips together. A tear rises and then escapes your eye from the stinging pain. You continue to make more stitches, tightening each one with a quick tug of the wrist. As you finish, your mouth now completely sealed, you place the needle back with the others.
Your hand reaches for a set of pliers. You toss it in your hand, playfully rolling it about your palm. You then proceed to grip it to the end of your left pinky finger’s nail and wrench it from its natural place. You would scream at the pain, if you could, but instead your mouth lets out a muffled whimper. The blood flows freely from your left hand’s fingertips, your nails lying on the floor by your feet. You smear the blood onto your face and neck, your eyes shining brilliantly at the contrasting richness of color.
You pick up two of the nails at your feet and place one under each of your eyelids. The scratching, abrasive touch of them against your sensitive iris causes your eyes to slam
shut. You place your thumbs on the top of your eyelids and press, the nails underneath digging into the soft, supple texture, blood mingling with tears. You fight to scream and the stitches you had so carefully created upon your lips rip, revealing broken lines along their edges.
You fall to the ground, the self-induced torture becoming too much for your body to handle. You weep at your sad state, knowing all too well that in the morning you will be healed by your captor, only to begin anew a day of fresh sensations; of fresh pleasures. The worst part of your realization is that you are starting to enjoy the perversity of it all. The sex, the torture, the death. Yes, especially the death. You wonder who will feel your pent up anger and hatred tomorrow, even as you bleed on the floor. The child you were given today didn’t put up any resistance. But children do taste better.
A soft hand caresses your cheek, and lips kiss your forehead. You sleep . . . but do not dream.
The next day we went back to the Bin to arrange some supplies and carried out some other errands. Cinder told us, that at Junks, Nirvin asked for some help from us, if we were willing. It seems that our capabilities at arranging contacts in Bazaar were becoming better known to others. He asked if we would help set up a meeting with his sister . . . his ‘TeraSheban’ sister, Isabela, who happens to be a ‘Word-Taker’ for the Iris Medi’on of the Elder Council! Cinder told him we had some other immediate concerns, but that we’d let him know in the near future if we could help. It was starting to come together. . . a lot of what was happening in Bazaar now. Elder Council TeraShebans arriving with entourage. Joanite Blades from the Seven Fingers and beyond riding in as well. ‘The Date’ mentioned at the secret rendezvous place. Something big was happening in Vimary, and I sensed it was going to affect all of us, Fallen and Tribal alike!
By the time we returned to the Shelter, Chigger had done it again. She had wandered away and was brought back by one of Mari-Anne’s aides. She was feeling especially ill as well. She said she was just exploring the Shelter and the surrounding grounds and ended up by the pond several dozen paces away. A couple of kids were playing with sailboats and Chigger said another child had a boat that went really fast, but without any sails! The kids started fighting over the boats, claiming that the one in possesion of the sail-less one was cheating somehow. One of them pushed his friend into Chigger, who with a weak leg almost fell over. Except, somone stopped her from falling. A bald-headed woman. Chigger had no idea how that encounter would change her life!
We convinced Mari-Anne that Chigger would be safer with us at the Bin. ( Whether the Bin itself would be safe was another thing all together! ) When we got there, a sick and perverted sight caught our eyes. Hanging from the ceiling was a single strip of pure black cloth that barely touched the floor. A Yagan death rite, placed in a person’s home after a recent passing of an occupant. Was someone playing a trick on us or were they on to us? We all started chattering, raising our voices to get a piece in. I was screaming to burn it, to burn the cloth and all that it represented. Cinder tore it from its place and folded it up and placed it on the table. This was bad. The Yagans, who we had recently massacred, were hinting that we were already dead! I stormed into the other room.
I heard a strange voice from behind me as I went and, upon turning around, saw a youthful Yagan wearing a tight top and a flowing set of pants standing on the table where the cloth was placed.
” You are the Spear holder,” she said to Cinder. ” Return with me, or the poison that was administered to your sister will slowly kill her. Her fate is in your hands.”
” Bullshit!” we said.
Chigger was feeling very ill recently; throwing up, getting dizzy and such, but we thought it was because of the herbs Mari-Anne had given her.
” Witness her elbow. There is a scratch there from when I caught her outside by the pond. Only I have the antidote, so killing me will seal her fate. You must decide. Return what you have taken from the Yagan Fleshers and save your companion, or watch her slowly wither in the next five days and perish.”
Cinder stepped forward and said very quietly,” Why aren’t you gone yet!”
The Yagan Flesher-Assassin left via the balcony entrance and we all stood ther staring at Chigger. We headed back to the Shelter.
” You went beyond the wards, Chigger. There is nothing I can do.” Mari-Anne looked helplessly at her, even as she comforted our poisoned friend.
” What about Veruka? Maybe she can save my sister?!” said Cinder.
” Perhaps, but what will we do? Is this all worth it. Remeber what Mek said?!” I spoke with hesitation. Suddenly I just wanted to give the power back to the Yagans and save Chigger, but I knew Cinder would have to be sacrificed to do it. Maybe she would have to be sacrificed anyway? I was so confused. We spoke for a long time in the basement, and Chigger was really feeling that we had come far, and wasn’t willing to let her sister go to the Yagans, whether it meant she would die or not. We were slowly moving towards the opinion that we were going to storm the Hive and use the Spear, regardless of Chigger’s current dilemma.
I didn’t like it. For all we knew, Cinder was going to get killed using the Spear, and Chigger would die soon after. No matter what the details, it seemed to me that at least two of us were going to die in the quest of destroying the Jo’han Eshalazi, if not all of us. I mean, was risking all of our lives to rescue Slash worth it? Was killing the Jo’han so imperative?
We needed to speak with Veruka. Only she would know if an antodote could be made without trading Cinder to the Yagans!
” A Flesher-Assassin’s poison is unique and precise. I am afraid you have no hope in saving yourself, unless the Yagan gives you the antidote.”
No! Veruka was our last prayer. Now, even she had no further advice for us. We again, discussed, in her presence, the importance of the choices that lay before us. It wasn’t easy, and Veruka aided us by sending us each a vision of the horrors that the Sangis have enacted upon us. Upon humans. The visions re-affirmed our minds and set us on a course I knew I would regret. The Yagans vengeance was complete. We were going to use the Spear to kill the Z’Bri. The fate of Chigger was decided. She was going to die!