Saturday, March 3, 2018

Page 1571 -- CLXIX.

((Triple Saturday -- Page 1 of 3))
Chapter One Hundred Sixty-Nine: ‘Think not, worry not...’
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Durendia awoke to the sound of the one-horned man’s voice.

“--yeah. He’s certainly a strong candidate. But who would he match with? I would be most concerned about--ah. You are awake. How are you feeling, cedo?”

Her little head pulsed. Not with pain, exactly, but a close approximation of it. She wanted to move, to get up, but she was still so dizzy and exhausted that she ended up just shifting in place a bit before giving up. It was pretty cozy right where she was, anyway.

Then she realized why.

The big gray dog had wrapped himself around her. His tail alone was enough of a blanket that she didn’t feel cold, despite being able to see her breath.

Germal crouched over her and felt her forehead. “Cedo, can you hear me?”

“Y-yes,” she finally managed to say.

“Good. That’s very good.”

She had never heard such a soothing voice. Not even from her own mother.

Her mother...

Durendia’s eyes widened and her face went pale. The memories. The images. The carnage. It was all rushing back to her, and she didn’t know what to do about it. She didn’t know what was real and what was imaginary.

So much blood. And the stench. She couldn’t get it out of her head. Or her nostrils. She could still smell it. Everything was--

“Shh,” came Germal’s voice again, which seemed to soften her entire world, somehow. “It’s okay, cedo. You’re okay.”

And she was.

As simply as that.

She felt... normal. She felt like herself again.

In fact, what had she just been worrying about? She couldn’t remember.

“I know,” said Germal. “I’m being careful.”

She didn’t know what that meant. Was he talking to her? She couldn’t tell.

She felt Koh’s giant nose next to her ear and heard it sniffing. Then he licked her cheek, and she couldn’t help giggling at the tickling sensation. He smelled like tobacco, but she didn’t mind it so much.

Germal removed his hand from her head and stood up.

She was still confused beyond all reckoning, though. She asked the first thing that popped into her head. “Who are you?”

He regarded her with a smile. “I’m your uncle. And don’t you worry. I’m going to take good care of you from now on.”

She believed him wholeheartedly. “Why do you have a horn on your head?”

He laughed mildly. “Someone gave it to me. Why? Do you like it?”

She shrugged.

“Hmm. It doesn’t frighten you, does it?”

She shook her head.

“Good. That’s very good.”

Comfortable as she was, she still wanted to stand now. Her whole body felt stiff as she wriggled her way out from the wall of canine around her and tried to find her footing. She stumbled forward.

Germal caught her. “Careful now, cedo.”

She looked around. “Where are we?”

“A little town called Orobell. Have you heard of it?”

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