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The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-Two: Everything (Continued)
Previously: In pursuit of the Questing Beast, and prodded by Gina’s inscrutable sword, Zack and Gina continued their journey eastward.
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Zack had figured out how to mime-converse with Buigor the mute swordsman, and had now progressed to telling stories. The child-like warrior was entranced, and soon began pantomiming parts of his own. In short, they got on brilliantly. By the time the coach stopped for the night, Zack had convinced Buigor to teach Gina how to use her broadsword. Lessons would begin the next morning.
The moment she fell asleep, Gina’s dream returned. This time she was both hero and disembodied viewer: “Noooooooooo!” groaned hero Gina, but viewer Gina had no idea why. Then she saw that the mysterious stranger was on his knees before her, his head bent toward the ground…and for the first time he wasn’t wearing the golden helmet! All around, Dark Tinkurs were closing in. Had the Dores failed? Then Gina realized that the dream-version of herself was holding the helmet, and she knew—knew—that the moment she put it on, she would be able to save everyone…and yet she could not bring herself to do it. Why?
Zack dreamed too: He was no longer in the cloistered chamber where the Dark Tinkurs worked their obscene magic. Instead, the monster he’d become was hurtling through the night, surrounded by Dark Tinkurs, the air filled with the stench of blood and sulfur. Bulbous and unnatural, he waddled on ill-fitted joints, full of pain and choler. He loathed the Tinkurs for making him this way, yet their power constrained him, so he vented his rage at every other living thing. Why does hurting others make me hate them more? he wondered.
Gina was shaken brusquely awake.
“Here, put this on.”
Something landed on her chest with a flump. She unlatched her eyes and squinted at the grayish bundle six inches away.
“It’s my hauberk,” said Zack. “Put it on. There’s a lady with meat pies outside. They’re kinda gross, but eat one anyway and come on. Sword practice starts now!”
Gina put the hauberk on by pulling the suspenders down one at a time—the harness was surprisingly cooperative—and then dragged herself off to sword practice.
It would have been fun if hadn’t been so real. She learned that her double-edged broadsword was designed not for stabbing but for hacking. Buigor showed her all kinds of double-handed cuts, including a nasty manchétte (upward cutting blow) for destroying her enemy’s unmentionables, a vicious 45° verbé that severed legs at the knees, a horizontal scissor slice for disemboweling, and a windmill chop that cleaved heads in two! Would she ever use such moves?
Would they be used on her?
Thoughts: Have you ever faced an “unbeatable” physical, emotional, or spiritual foe?
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