Cold sweat breaks out on her skin as Shyan pulls Fassn away from the growing crowd. Her vision swims and her joints ache, as though a virulent ifluenza were coursing through her blood. She doesn’t know what the poison is, but she knows she needs the antidote, and getting lulled into some sort of animistic rage-state by this preacher’s chanting isn’t in the cards. It’s working on the peasants, though.
Once Fassn’s ears are safely plugged again, Shyan finds a stone that fits snugly into her palm. She grips it, tosses it gently, gets a feel for its mass distribution, before arcing it beautifully through the sky to fall upon the unprotected head of the preacher. His chanting stops with a short, garbled noise as he sinks to the dust. His eyes glaze and he murmurs, shifting slightly. The peasants, no longer under the effects of the chant, shake their heads incredulously.
“Let’s go?” Shyan asks.
“Let’s go,” the princess says.
The gang, alongside the small grey princess, dart out of the town square, past the tree line and into the woods.
changes embraced and taken right out
to extremes, chances to change
is that not what
Abia recognizes the preacher’s peculiar liturgical tongue with a start. “Plug your ears,” she says to her companions, tearing strips from her loose robes, rolling the fabric into tiny balls. She jams these into her ears to block the noise, then helps the princess do the same. Shyan, Fassn and Cang take their cues from Abia, too, and tear at their clothes to form rough ear plugs. A buzzing sensation crawls over their flesh, they can almost feel the sound waves of the chanting buffeting their bodies.
The townsfolk to whom the preacher is obliged are not so fortunate. By turns they emerge from their hiding places, their eyes wide, their mouths agape and making the shapes of the preacher’s chant. Their shuffling feet remind Shyan of the lich’s castle, and she feels a wave of revulsion creep over her again. If she had anything left in her belly, she thinks, she’d throw up again. Meeting Fassn’s pained gaze, she grumbles, “Gotta get that antidote.”
Fassn plucks the fabric from his ear and says, “What?”
Shyan springs upon him to shove it back in.
elegance is given up
for racing through the cold
pulling out the husks of bread
over two days old
peering at the rising sun
over rough grey homes
leaving soon, it’s all too soon
to find myself alone