Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Twenty-Two: Everything (Continued)
Previously: Buigor, the coach’s hired guard, began teaching Gina how to use her broadsword.
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Two hours after her first sword practice, Gina crawled, every muscle moaning, into the coach’s empty front cabin and buried herself in her book of Frengan history. Her mood began to lighten when she read about Farnottien the Fair, a newlywed whose husband had died in the Third Holosian Rebellion. Fifteen year old Farnottien had single-handedly defeated an entire garrison of Holosian soldiers (using all of the brutal sword cuts Buigor had shown Gina), and then, as if that weren’t enough, had found a dragon’s egg and become the first dragonmeer!
Gina also read about P’leusa the Perceptive, a chieftain of old D’nair who’d had fourteen extra eyes implanted into his head, giving him a total of sixteen, thus fulfilling his fantasy of becoming “wiser than a spider” (spiders were said to be wiser than humans because they could see everything from eight different perspectives), and then died from infection.
They stayed in an actual inn that night. It was smaller and plainer than the one at Doviclé te Siell, but had palatable food—morels and rowan root steamed in herbed butter, served with pine nuts and currants—and actual feather-stuffed mattresses! But comfortable mattresses weren’t enough to stave off night-stalking visions:
For the first few hours Gina’s semi-conscious mind rehearsed the moves Buigor had shown her. Over and over she repeated the maneuvers: hack, slice, parry, verbé, spin, thrust, windmill, scissor, parry, manchétte, hack, slice, parry, verbé, spin, thrust, parry… Then, when she’d finally reached something resembling sleep, the vision returned, only this time she wasn’t on the ground, she was in the sky, and all around her were cloaked figures, also shooting upward. Some held Objects, others instruments of unknown magic, which they cooed to as though they were ugly metallic babies. What was happening? Where were they going? She looked up at the gleaming double moon.
And then she knew.
In his dream, Zack was no longer a cobbled-together creature; he wasn’t even a character, he was an observer. But not a casual observer—he was being forced to watch. And the setting had changed: He wasn’t in Gerd anymore. He wasn’t even in the Ten Kingdoms. All around him, Dark Tinkurs were wielding strange violet-gold instruments, pointing them at people, hissing incantations: Shaeg daeskooladden toosz! Molszghad felsmun pen maughenfka! Violet fire enveloped the people, breathing them in, not just their bodies but their very existences, every memory anyone had ever had of them. Zack saw buildings embraced by flame too, gingerbread Victorians with dappled chimneys, creamy stucco apartment buildings. In the distance, a beautiful crescent of cedar-dotted hills burned a sickening purple.
And then he knew.
This was their home.
This was Middleton.
Thoughts: Have you ever feared the you you might become?
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