Thread: The Mere Tide
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Old 10-26-2016, 08:34 PM
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The Next Bard
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Eight days into her journey she came to an old battlesite, a lithic arboreal of branchless trunks of quartz like polished columns of some sacked acropolis. The grounds extended two miles and the miles were littered with a regiment's worth of bones and shattered disc of araucaria bred for those cold climes, those high heights.

She meandered through the dusty bonework relieving the dead of their clothes, removing their boots to see if any sock had been preserved. She turned pouch and pocket for their artifacts. She found a calculus of a doll head and komodo bones and a shard from a luopan. She pulled the rucksack off an operator suited in power armor and opened its main compartment to find inside lady's undergarments at which she tossed aside only to find more. Indeed it was stuffed and soon the air was full of a vibrant rain of satin casimoles and black bodices and cream gossamer corsets with silk lacing and purple thongs and ecclesiastic fishnets and gothic tangas each article flung aloft with increasing alarm until in abhorred confusion she must run with arms aflail in a circle some minutes to calm down.

Later she found a surgical kit. She laid out the bandages in a quilt configuration and laid upon that ampules and instruments, laid them quite neatly out and named and numbered them and replaced them back.

Last of all she found the shriveled heart of some igneous heresiarch. She reached through the broken ribs and pulled it free. It was the mottled color of old blood and she set amongst the smooth boles like dead ventricles themselves studying it in the twilight and in the dark to follow she augured it with a rusty jobber bit and threaded it with ginger strands of hair. She had still the silver fetish and she compared them to another as if they might be somehow related or components of a larger whole but she could not yet piece them together and she donned the amulet to wear against her breast.

Two days later she came upon the village of Isprachy. She had crested a hill and it was there below without warning. She dropped to her belly. She could hear nothing but birds. The stir of grass. She parted it.

The village was a dense collection of domas, their gardens. Power lines each pole drifted down a single road footed to an enormous cairn of skeletons many with spikes loose between the fingerbones. Of others there were none. She crawled back from the crest and got up into a crouch and peeked out again and watched for movement and seeing none circled the village keeping low and behind the treelings where they grew and was soon away from the place.

She made camp early in the afternoon about seven miles south near a stream and took inventory of her findings thus far. As told she had accumulated something of a mobile wardrobe and she repaired her own costume with the best of those she'd salvaged. She cut the fur cuffs off a jacket and sewed them together then sewed that to the back of her shirt's collar. She padded the shirt then with kevlar from a flak jacket and the inlinings of other articles and topped them with the smooth silk of a base layer. The rest she stitched into a kind of haphazard shelter, not tent, not leanto, not much of anything but a cover that would shade her of starlight.

She removed her mismatched footwear, the ICB and the hiking boot and the rainbow sock and its newspaper padded half pair and felt the callouses on her soles. The back of one heel had blistered and she pinched away the dead translucent skin and let the serum leak out. She fell onto her back and hiked the leg straight up and let the rain wash her foot and then she wiped the blister down with an alcohol pad and covered it in moleskin from the kit. Then she took the hiking boot and a knife and scraped away about a fifth of an inch from the inside of the heel and tried it on again. It was still too tight and she shaved a little more and then it fit well.

In the last gray of light she walked the stream in search of flint but could find nothing. She built a trellis of twigs and packed its insides with leaves as dry as she could find. Then she took a loose round and tried to pull off the bullet but her fingers kept slipping off. She got a small stone to use as a fulcrum and with another bashed the bullet out of the casing and emptied the powder over the leaves and did likewise with a second round. Then she took her knife and raked it against the stone. It produced no sparks. She tried striking the bayonet against it and to strike the knife against the mosin's receiver and stock all without avail. She bit her thumb. Then she took one of the empty casings and held it so that its top was flush against the powder and jammed the knife into the primer. The casing popped out of her fingers. The powder caught but died down almost immediately. She tried again and this time there was not even a flare. She sat for a long while in the dark and after a while she picked up her things and relocated some ways away and laid down for the night to sleep.

No sleep came. She lay shivering in her poor protection little better than the scrannel hide that malefic intellect inhabited listening to the exhausted tune of her cardial illharmony. Sometime in the night she caught wind of deer and in the morning she cut the track of the bevy and followed them south some ten miles to a meadow.

There were about a hundred yards away when she sighted in on them. Cradling the rifle between a double trunk. They were six in number and she let the front sight hover over each in turn. A roebuck. A doe. A doe. A fawn. A fawn. A doe. The roebuck. The fawn.

The nagant kicked. A fawn folded over its shattered shoulder. The bevy ran. She shot the second fawn ere it could reach the safety of the trees and it froze midstride and slid on the ground in a wave of muddy water.

She walked out and stood over the first fawn watching its jaws titter and clack. She planted the blade of her knife in its eye and went on to the second. She kicked it in the rump and hopscotched twixt its bucking legs and stomped on its head and pirouetted and hopped off and kicked it again. It screamed the while. She unslung the mosin-nagant and bashed its skull in and went back to the first and bayoneted it in the gut to death.

Some miles from the site of the kills she stopped abruptly and pondering hard a moment turned fast round and ran. By the time she got back to the meadow it was almost dark. She gutted the animals and ate them raw and layered herself doubly in their bloody skins.

Come down now harder weathers. Ragged rain inkish as lightning, one to mask the mountains the other to relieve them out of the nightbrume. She tried to hold it. That fog that briefly seemed the ethereal dark. She cupped her hands and parted it with her thumbs and parted and cut and hissed furiously dark that holds be a thing to be held.

Two weeks later she was at the M5 highway. Repaved in a joint venture between the colonies and the administrative AI of Chelyabinsk. A light traffic hummed to the latterday town of Kearny through which the river Sim ran through. The ferries were docked by many but the streets had not too many pedestrians and those out of doors hurried to be in.

Saes feller come rown inna begboat ye call musz stove it agether.

She watched the traffic dwindle to a cease with the close of day and the town shrink to a saffronic nebula pacifically shading the idle spiry smoke. Away of this glow in the becamed dark she scapered across the road to the southern foothills and wandered about its bare slopes in search of a hiding place for her things. She picked up on a trail demarked on either side by gravel shoulders and along this route was a minuscule gongen torii bedraped with scalps and hung from its kasagi the skull of a man and on the opposing side that of a wolf. She shoved her belongings in the gate and then moved to scout the town from new angles before venturing down.

In the streets she skirted urinous pools of lamplight, ducking in and out of backyards with an eye to the clotheslines for good wears but all had been put up for the rain.

She looted a shed of an axe and used it to break the latch off a chicken coop. Standing a moment in attunement to noise were any awakened. She went in and came out carrying a headless chicken under either arm.

She axed to death an alleydweller asleep against a dumpster. Standing over him practicing her strikes until her aim was sure and so assured delivered the bit into his brain. He died instantly. When she wrenched the axe free a fan of blood sprayed out the cleft and subsided. She rifled through his clothes but he had nothing and she went on.

Coming out of the alley onto the sidewalk she saw three figures grouped upstreet outside what was a bar for the neon luminescence reflected in the streetwater. She hung her head. When she looked up one of the figures had an arm raised in her direction. The axe clanged loud against the pavement. She snatched it up by the haft and ran dragging it behind. She dashed onto the boardwalk between two houses and collided with trashbins there and kicked out of rotted pickles and collapsed into glass. Houses heretofore dark filled with light. Someone shouted. She rose again and sprinted on frighting cats and dogs in the backyards came slamming against the low stone walls howling like demons in thirst of souls. She crashed out of the alley and was suddenly at the edge of town and she scrambled up into the dimmer strata of light that illumined the face of the hill and she thought she would never be got way of it.
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