I write fiction very rarely. I used to write it more often at some point, but I never finished anything and upon rereading stuff it usually ended up being deleted - if it was on a file on my computer - or ripped to shreds and the shreds duly hidden from view. Also, if I write fiction rarely, I more rarely let anyone read it. My fiction writing is most often only for myself, it's about clearing my head and unloading stuff - in addition, it's almost always in the form of poetry, so one more reason not to let anyone else read it. There are some poems I've rewritten over and over and am quite proud of and will probably keep till the rest of my days, but don't think I'll ever publish them anywhere. They're mine, and that's how they'll stay.
So now this text: I got an inspiration to write something last night when I was going to bed and I thought this morning, that since it's the National Novel Writing Month, I could in the spirit of it publish it here in my blog. I'm not taking part to NaNoWriMo itself - I don't have the time and I could never hope to write anything as coherent as a novel. My writing is at its best in short form and I myself enjoy it the most when I get to describe moments in time - then move on to something completely different once I'm finished with it. Also, my writing often tends towards the fantastic, as it is my favourite type of literature for reading as well. My weakness is writing is that I cannot ever think of things that could happen in the text - it's always just a description of things gone past, of kingdoms or estates, of characters, or sometimes, as in this case, of dialogue between characters. The dialogue writing is one of the most challenging ones for me, so I was surprised this ended up becoming such - I was rather planning on some self-reflection on the part of the main character; but she ended up being rather suppressed by the other one I brought on primarily as a supporting character. That's how things happen sometimes - the best plans go wrong, as those imagined start to develop a life and a character of their own, regardless of what you as a writer were planning for them.
Maybe now that I debut some fiction in this blog too I can publish something more later. I like writing, but I believe I need a lot more practise in it. Poetry is starting to be rather fluent for me already, and I can often spot points of development straight away after writing the first draft; but with prose I lack the experience.
They got the fire going and after a while both of them quite forgot themselves; both staring at the flames and the sparkles dancing, flying upwards only to disappear into the blackness of the sky. The wind was picking up, disturbing the sound of water heating on the fire. It boiled after a while and Autumn picked the tin up, pouring half of it on the herbs she'd gathered before making camp and to Ella's dismay, the other half straight on the wound on her leg, without as much as flinching. The smell of the burning flesh and blood made Ella feel sick again, and she gasped at the cleaner, colder air from outside their ring of fire. The memory of blood and bone returned with the smell of the same at the back of her throat.
- What are you? She managed to get the words out, as Autumn started padding the wetted roots and whatnot on the wound that had started to seep blood again. The other gave her a look and with an effort, Ella shrugged her shoulders. - There's no harm telling me, is there? It's not like I could run off telling anyone else, right?
- Knowledge is a nuisance. You're better off without it. Autumn finished tending her leg and leaned back. As Ella watched, the phosphorescent tattoos started to move again - swirl and stretch and spread - they closed on the wound and encircled it, pulsing with a faint light. Autumn had resumed staring at the fire and said nothing.
Ella shifted her legs around, but remained sitting on the other side. - What are those doing? she finally asked. - Are they mending your leg? Can you heal yourself that way? I can see how that could be useful...
- They don't heal anything. The flesh has to do that on its own. They just concentrate on a tainted area, to fight corruption.
- So it doesn't get infected?
- No. More like, it doesn't allow passage.
- Passage? For corruption?
- I don't think I follow.
- I don't really expect you to.
They were silent for a time, then Autumn also shifted, raising a bit to inspect the leg and turning then to lie sideways to the fire, while the tattoos continued their swirl.
- Does it hurt? Ella had seen wounds like that before, on men much bigger build than the stranger facing her now. Most didn't live through such, unless their leg was cut off above the wound. Autumn, however, didn't seem to be even in much pain; she hadn't even gasped at the boiling water or at the funny smelling herb paste she had applied to the open wound before dressing it.
- I don't really feel pain. Sometimes, but that's quite rare. And then its on the inside too.
- Inside? Autumn looked suddenly straight at her and she almost unconsciously curled up a bit, drawing her knees to her chest and hugging them. - Just asking.
- Hmph. Well, as you say, there's no one you really can run off telling. Autumn looked back at the fire and Ella perked up a bit. - If I were to explain this plainly, you could say that I'm two different people.
- Somehow I get the feeling you mean that literally.
- I do.
- I don't understand.
- You don't need to understand. No one does, not even me, really. And no one is supposed to, either. It's just how it is. Simply put. Autumn reached and picked up a stick from the fire, waving it until it no longer burned but only glowed from the other end. Then she started drawing figures to the air above her. A triangle first, then a circle around it, and while those were etching themselves in Ella's eyes, staying there even though the light had already faded, she closed them both within a square.
- You see, a wood doesn't heat much if there's no fire to burn it. And fire, well, it needs the wood to keep on burning, as well as air - if you try to light a fire in a sack, it will only smoke a little while and then die.
- So you're burning the wood to be the fire?
- No? But.. then how? Before? The camp?
- I'm not the fire. I'm the wood.
- Oh. Ella paused, thinking. - I don't follow. If you're you, but you're not the fire... Who's the other one?
- That's something you don't need to know.
- You can't just tell me this much and then nothing! Ella bursted out, and saw how Autumn flinched a bit. Emboldened, she continued - You said something before, that I'm "bonded" to you, whatever that means. You may not remember about it anymore, but I do. So if there's something else beside you or with you, then it's clearly it that feels the bond with me, right? And since it's not here, or not now at least, you owe me the explanation! While her tirade was going on, Ella could see Autumn moving uncomfortably, raising her shoulders up defensively and tensing her muscles - but otherwise she stayed still. Ella felt a bit out of breath after her outburst and as the silence stretched, she too started to feel herself uncomfortable in the other's presence.
- Tell me, she said in her most commanding tone. Not that she had ever commanded anyone before, but she somehow now felt she could.
- Fine. But you asked for it. Autumn picked up the twig again and this time, started making wavy patterns in the air, circles and swirls, similar to those her tattoos kept still making on her leg. - You know, most of the raw power in this world is pretty much useless on its own. I talked about the wood and the fire both needing each other - otherwise there'd be no use for them.
- A wood could grow, as a tree.
- That's true. But in order to grow it needs the dirt to grow on, water and probably some other trees too, as growing on its own on an open plains is difficult. Then it might bear fruit and be a mother to more trees, but eventually it will die and fall down and be trampled or eaten - or a forest fire might kill it, who knows.
- So you're saying you're like that? Dependent on something else?
- Yes and no. Something like that. You see, there was this power. No one really understood it properly, didn't know what it was or indeed, what it was good for. They just knew it had power, or more accurately, that it had the potential to have power - a great amount of it. But it required something else to flourish, a wood to burn, or a patch of dirt to grow on.
- So you're using this power, burning it, so you can level an entire camp of bandits in a manner of moments?
- It is "burning" me.
- What? How? Why?
- I told you already it required something. Not me, I require mostly food and rest - but now I require less of both. You see, I'm sort of a vessel for this power. See these? Autumn pointed at her tattoos, which had slowed down from their previous movement, but were still pulsing with the bluish light around the wound. - These are a part of it, its protection. Protection mainly for it, but by extension some also for me. They mark me as a vessel, but they have another purpose as well. As I said, they forbid passage - nothing is to come in, but not a drop is to get out either, unless warranted. Such as in the bandit camp. It is currently balancing itself out - burning me, so to speak, to make more of it. But as I'm wounded on the outside as well, it is doing it more slowly, so that my body can concentrate on healing as well and won't allow anything from the outside to interfere with it beneath the surface.
- So it's inside you?
- Yes. And when there's excess of it, it comes out. And then I can kill a campful of bandits in a manner of moments. I'm using the word "I" quite loosely here too.
- You mean... You don't control it?
- That's right. Not completely anyway. There are some ways I can affect it. Autumn looked at Ella again and smiled a little smile. - And sometimes I loose myself, wake up later, no recollection of what has happened. And I don't remember what I've done, or what I've said.
- So that's why.
- Yes. Usually it's quite bad at those times.
- How bad?
- You don't want to know.
- Actually, I kind of do.
- Hmph. Well, I woke up on a plains once.
- There had been a city there when I arrived.
- The well was still good, thankfully. It was rather long way from anywhere.
- You destroyed a city?
- Were there... a lot of people there?
- So that's what you're bonded with it, if I'm to believe what you're saying. Never heard anything like that happening before though. That's why I think you're still here. And that's why I'm taking you with me.
- Well, it's not like I have anything to return to.
- No, that's not what I meant. I mean, I was a slave. I don't mourn any of those bastards. It's just... Well. I don't know if I've not traded the freezer into the fire at this point.
Autumn smiled at her at that, then turned to her back and closed her eyes. - We'll see.
It was a long while before Ella was able to close her own eyes - the fire danced low now and the tattoos kept encircling the wound on Autumn's leg under its dressing. But she didn't feel quite so afraid anymore, and after some time she also slept.