Saturday, September 05, 2015

Restorer's Journey - Bonus Scene - Medea

After Chapter 2


Shelves crawled up the walls of the small shop, full of strange items I didn’t recognize and didn’t care to learn about. Cameron scowled at the lumpy man behind the counter, so I stepped closer. He obviously needed my help—as he had each moment in this strange place. Delicious warmth rose in my chest. Having this powerful man dependent on me was intoxicating.

Of course, he was just using me. Again. But at least Cameron was entertaining. Few people had such wonderful threads of darkness to explore. Most were dull vacant husks of basic desires and simple fears. Like the oafish shopkeeper who kept shaking his head.

“Sir, you need to show me your permit to carry. And then you’ll have a waiting—”

“We don’t want to wait.” My words poured like thick liquid, rich as lehken blood. The man’s eyes glazed. His thoughts froze, and I slipped through them and around them. There it was. Greed. Child’s play. So easy to work with. “Think of all the sales you might lose if you don’t help this important man. You’ll do anything to give him what he needs.”

 Not even a flicker of resistance.

 He didn’t speak, but lumbered to one of his crowded racks and pulled out the long, clumsy tool that Cameron was so obsessed with possessing today. Cameron stuffed it into his sack, along with the small heavy boxes that the shopkeeper pulled from behind his counter. Strange symbols traced across the box, the same strange symbols littering everything in this cluttered world. Unimportant.

We left the shop and the light assaulted us again. Searing. Brilliant. A thousand lightwalls closing in on us.

Cameron steered me down the street toward the place we’d taken lodging. “I wish you could teach me how to do that,” he said.

“So do I.”

Then I wouldn’t need to be in this hateful place. As we walked along the street, noises welled together. Chaotic fragments of music. The clamor of odd-colored transports. The constant dull buzz of machines. Apparently these people couldn’t produce heat, light, or movement without all this noise. My head throbbed. I stopped, squeezing my eyes shut.

 Cameron shifted his bag over his other shoulder and took my arm. “Is it worse? Did that last encounter drain you?”

I wafted a hand through the air. “Don’t insult me. It’s the light. And the speed.” Everyone rushing. Sounds jabbing at my brain.

He drew me off the busy street and into a city park. Only a few trees and the prickly, violently-green coating over the soil and a few stone benches. Nothing like the nurturing beauty of Rhus. Not even as peaceful as the tiny parks in Lyric. But a place to catch my breath.

A hideous creature slithered up a tree trunk, then back down, in haphazard patterns. Cameron said the animals—squirrels?—were harmless, but their faces held menace, and they moved too much like rizzids. I tensed whenever I spotted one, expecting it to sink razor-sharp teeth into me, injecting its poison.

I grabbed Cameron’s arm. “This whole place is poisoning me. Take me back. Now.”

Cameron led me to a bench in the shade. “Rest first. Then we’ll talk.”

I leaned forward, running my hands over the soft fabric of the dress we’d taken from one of the many shops we’d explored in the past weeks… or was it years? “How long have we been here? Can we sit here until the rains? I want to feel the rain.”

His sigh was heavy as he took my hand. “They don’t have rain every day. Remember?”

Why bother remembering insignificant things like weather? The longer we lingered in this horrible place, the more my thoughts scampered away to hide or spun in dizzying circles. Nicco had warned me. At least I thought he had. Unless my memories were jumbled again. Nicco never understood how valuable my alliance with Cameron would be for Rhus. Now I couldn’t remember why, either. My head hurt. “You have enough weapons. It’s time to go back.”

 “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.”

Not another change in plans. I was slipping. Another reminder I needed to get home to Rhus. He’d never been able to hide his thoughts from me before. But I’d been so distracted, coping with the irritations of this place, I’d missed the subtle shifts in his mood, his energy, his focus. I met his eyes, ready to intrude, to bend his will, to let him know exactly what I required of him.

He quickly held up his hands. “Wait. Think about it. We’ve already proven we can control the clans. Imagine what we could do here.”

I sprang from the bench. “And our arrangement? If you aren’t back in the Council leading the clans, how will you send Rhus what we agreed?”

“I’ve given my best years to those ignorant, backward people. They refuse every attempt at progress. Why don’t we leave it all behind and start fresh. Here. Together.”

A shrill laugh broke from my throat. “So you can become a king over this ugly world and I—” No. He couldn’t know. He knew I suffered when away from Rhus too long. But I couldn’t allow him the power of knowing the rest.

I stepped back, and the horrible light from the sky found me, searing me with its unnatural vibrancy. I clutched my temples, stumbling forward to the cool stone bench again. “It’s a fine idea,” I choked out. “You’re meant for bigger things.”

His chest lifted and he leaned back, surveying the park and streets beyond as if he already owned them. “Exactly. This is only the beginning.” He patted the lumpy bag at his feet.

“You deserve to lead people who will respect you. Fear you.” Unlike my conversation with the shopkeeper, this time my words were as soft as a caress. Direct assault rarely worked with Cameron. Instead I gave a barely perceptible nudge. Ultimately he would change direction. He would never know I had influenced him. I leaned against him and smiled sweetly. “But first, you deserve your revenge on Markkel and Susan for all the trouble they caused you.”

I watched the new suggestion rush through the tangled branches of his soul, felt it soak into the deepest roots of hatred. Recognition lit his face. “Of course. Now that I have weapons, we should go back to their home.”

“Today? So soon?” I widened my eyes. “That’s a beautiful idea.”

By the time we reached their home, he would decide his original plan was too important to abandon. I’d get back to Rhus, and Cameron would tear his people apart clan by clan to supply what we needed.

(The rest of the story is found in The Restorer's Journey - Book 3 of the Sword of Lyric series)

No comments: