The wicked heroine, p.14
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       The Wicked Heroine, p.14

           Jasmine Giacomo
 

  ~~~

  Sound returned first. So that much is true, she thought idly. Always nice to experience these phenomena for oneself. The sound she heard was a rhythmic scraping, metal against wood. Sanych searched for her eyes and found them where they’d last been, so she opened them.

  She lay next to the campfire, bundled warmly. Meena sat on her rock, flicking pieces off the end of a switch. They each landed in the fire with a small yellow flare. The mare munched contentedly in the background.

  Sanych was confused; hadn’t they already done this part? She pulled her arms from the blanket wrap and touched her throat, feeling for the gash she was sure would be there. She couldn’t find it.

  “Was it a dream?” she asked.

  “Would you feel better if I said yes? That would be an unpleasant type of dream to have; would you want them often?”

  Sanych sat up, folding down the blanket on top of her so it settled at her waist. “No. But at least I could wake up from them.” She took a breath, then hesitated. Meena flicked a few more wood fragments into the fire. The world seemed too calm.

  “What happened?”

  “Before or after you nearly died?”

  “Both.”

  Meena looked at her, an eyebrow raised.

  “I really thought you were going to die, and that it was my fault. Then I thought I was going to die, and that was my fault too. Then I was pretty sure I was dead, but I woke up without a mark on me, and you’re sitting there like nothing happened. You… you killed all of them?”

  “Sanych. I’ve lost track of the number of skirmishes I’ve been in. There have been that many. You can’t think I’ve wafted through time advising people and affecting the course of history without offending, insulting, or just plain enraging some people, can you? It’s been a while since I had to kill anyone, but I did what needed to be done.” The Shanallar nudged a collection of swords and daggers with her boot.

  Sanych looked at the small arsenal, awed, and said, “You saved my life. Thank you. You even healed me, after I disobeyed you.”

  “I still need you,” Meena said, flicking another shaving into the fire.

  “You need me to get you to the Magister, you mean.”

  Meena humphed a bit, shifting on her log. “Yep.”

  Sanych’s hopes faltered, wilting like a flower held over the fire. “Wisdom, what am I doing out here?”

  To Meena’s exasperation, Sanych put her face into her hands and began to sob. Meena rolled her eyes, knowing the girl couldn’t see it, then checked herself. After a few moments, she slipped down to the ground beside the girl and put a sturdy hand on her shoulder. “Listen, Sanych. Maybe the skirmish we had is your fault, but we survived it. I know I’ve been a rude hag. An old habit. I’m not good with being open to others. Why do you think I moved to the mountain?”

  Sanych lifted her face from her hands and wiped her eyes with a corner of the blanket. “For the view?” she asked softly.

  A sudden emotion flooded through Meena, and her eyes teared up, but she coughed and blinked them away. “I’ve missed being known. You are the only person in the world who has the faintest clue who I am. It’s been centuries since I was known as the Shanallar. And yet, tonight, when you thought you were going to die, you called to me for help. To the Shanallar. That touched an old place in my soul.” She tipped her head and gave a half-smile. “Kind of forgot I had that spot, ‘til now.”

  Sanych was spellbound. So many words from Meena all at once, and with such meaning. She was humbled, honored, exhilarated. “Sounds like you need a friend, Meena,” she offered.

  “Is that the term nowadays? I guess I might have healed you for a couple reasons, then.” Meena gave her a genuine smile.

  “Can I ask you one favor?”

  “If you ask in a friendly way.”

  “Next time you want me to shut up like that, can you say ‘please’? It’s considered polite.”

  “You are an insufferable child.”

  “What happened to friendly?”

  Meena chuckled, a low, rich sound. Sanych found that she liked it.

  “Do journeymen and Archivists ever write anything themselves?”

  Sanych blinked at the shift in topic. “Sometimes, but it’s usually their memoirs. Why?”

  “I know several stories that should be told. Get some sleep. It’s the middle of the night.” Meena went over to her sleeping spot.

  Sanych lay wide-eyed in the dark; Meena had offered her a chance to write parts of history that were likely lost. All thoughts of her brush with death were forgotten as she lost herself in visions of rediscovered tales.

 
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