Monday, May 21, 2007

I was awakened by her scream--I had chosen a spot where torn earth had created a nine foot long ditch, yet still I heard the cry which was like a child watching her entrails spilled before her. I hurried fast as I could to the Grey Girl Beast but found her sitting silent, hugging her knees and watching the river. I smile now as I try to imagine what terrible dream inspired such a cry as that. I like to think fear is driving her mad.

The night wore on and the Grey Girl Beast did not move except to rearrange her legs into a more comfortable posture. I wanted to pace, but didn't dare for fear of revealing my position a short distance away behind some dead shrubbery. So I watched her and made what meagre breakfast I could from the maggots I prised from the places in my mouth were I missed teeth. After a while, moonlight off the water producing a hazy luminance behind the Girl Beast caused my mind to wander. Her tense, motionless shoulders and bowed head a black silhouette, causing the glow by contrast to seem all the brighter. My mind was wandering, and to this I attribute the vision; at one point, it seemed as though four pale figures stood in the luminance, barely distinguishable as they seemed themselves to glow with a similar light. I fell backwards, and I was afraid. They wore Elven armour and seemed to watch me.

But of course, they weren't there. I realised this only a moment later when I could see that it was only moonlight and water and the Grey Girl Beast's posture had not changed. The next several hours I spent staring at her and steeling myself. Foolish to let my fancies become my enemy! I found myself gripping the pommel of my scimitar. An hour before sunrise I decided I was tired of waiting and of thinking--I drew steel and walked to within a few feet of the woman, who still had not moved. I said, "Stand, Sindaseldeonna!"

Instead she twisted around and lunged at me with her bull's horn, a gesture I easily avoided by simply a few backward steps. She did stagger to her feet then, and though she watched me warily, her eyelids drooped as though she were under the effects of a drug or spell.

"Lay down the horn," I said. It fell from her hand.

"Where are your men, Commander?" she asked. Maybe it was a taunt, I'm not sure. Her voice was hoarse and hard to hear.

"Tell me your mission, or die," I said. She said nothing. "You're going to Seregost, yes? Why?" She said nothing. "All right, then. We'll go together and see how you like the dungeon. But first, take off those rags."

She stripped bare without emotion, as though the action involved no concession to me. Aside from the obsidian shard, she had nothing. She left everything there by the river, which we left then to proceed more directly for Seregost. We walk in sunlight and her pretty white flesh is burnishing red before my eyes. I'm tired, but I feel good.

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