Part 7: The Shadows of Miir
I can see the Pen Wall ahead of us. It rises higher than any of the buildings around. But, frustratingly, there's no direct path to it. All the streets, in fact, seem determined to twist away from the Wall. Many of the alleys are blocked, or a dead end. I've seen this before. If we can't go through, we're just going to have to go over. We don't have time to be lost...it's getting lighter out every few minutes.
I lead Jessamine down a dark alley. As I thought, there's a cart blocking it. I begin to climb up the cart. My wounds protest. It hurts. But if I can't hop a simple hay-cart, then there's no way in the Dragon's Belly I'll make it over the Pen Wall, so I grit my teeth and pull myself up. I reach the top. Wonder of wonders, there's an actual shadowy path out of the alley. I've beaten you, Miir. You have no more tricks for me.
"Hey! Don't leave us behind!" Jessamine cries.
"It's just a simply hay-cart. What, are your arms broken? Just climb up and over." I reply.
"I...don't know how." She mutters. Great. Pampered brat. I still don't want her touching me, but it seems I have no choice. I extend a hand. She's fairly hopeless, scrambling up the cart without any grace whatsoever. Amateur. How does she expect to get over the Pen Wall? At least her touch hasn't sapped my soul of anything, though her hands are a bit slippery from the blood on them. I hop down.
My feet sink through the street, as if it were thick mud instead of slate cobblestones. The shadows here are darker than I like--What the?
"Gaven!" Jessamine screams. I'm about to scream too. That shadow is moving. It's sliding across the wall, and there is nothing casting it. I pull the fireglass dagger and try to step back. The cart's in my way, and I'm slowly sinking into the pavement. I stab about wildly. The glow on the dagger dims as it enters the shadow. Oh, no. Not my light. Please, whatever god is listening, don't put out my light!
The girl is screaming something, but I can't make out what she says. There's another voice. It's a cold whisper. It's from inside my heart.
Why bother to struggle any more? What is the point? It's not as if you have much of anything worth the struggle. You are gutter trash. What have you ever done, really? You rob from the rich to pay your creditors. And when you fail at that, you run. But there's no escape.
I'm not listening to this. Just one good job, and I won't ever have to worry about the knee-breakers again. I struggle to get away from the shadow.
And what exactly will you do, even if you could make this fanciful "big score"? Go back to the street? Knife some poor sod for his hovel? You have nowhere to go, Gaven. Nothing left waiting for you at home, not anymore...
"I-I just made a few tiny mistakes. I'll get back on track, I swear it." I murmur. But god, its right. I'm trapped even if I pay them off. The whole reason I came to Miir was to make enough to get Longshankes off my back and let the heat blow over. Look where that got me. Even if I could escape Miir tonight, what good would it do me? I can't return to Calisapas. I'm tired. I let the shadow flow over me.
It's cold...so cold...
And suddenly, The sky becomes the ground, and I am pinwheeling over the cart. I can only stare dumbly as the cobblestone meets my face. Ow. It takes me a few seconds to orient myself. There's a voice yelling something. It's hoarse, dark, and ugly. "By my command, return to night!"
I've somehow been flung back behind the cart. I climb up it and look. Jessamine is standing where I was, holding my dagger at the shadow.
Is she insane?
I can't see her face, but her voice has changed. It's raw, commanding, and not of this world. And the shadow is heeding it. What exactly is going on here? Did she TOSS me over the cart? I've never met a man strong enough to do that, let alone a girl half my weight. She turns to look at me. Her face has gone back to that creepy blank look. Her eyes are hollow and devoid of life again. She looks at me, and speaks in that horrible voice. "You are a supreme fool. I would strike you down myself if we didn't need you."
This must be "us." She moves entirely differently. Smoother. More confidant. Powerful.
"You seem strong enough to handle the night." I say. I'm still shaken by the shadow's words. And being flung like a rag doll. And the change in her demeanor.
"As long as the night lasts, perhaps. We will be useless come dawn." She tosses me the dagger, which begins to glow again, thank god.
"And this is my problem because..." Giving her to Naros is looking better all the time. Her face changes back to normal. She looks scared. "Nice trick. Not falling for it. Answer the question."
She begins to tear up. "Please," she whispers. "Please don't leave me alone with her."
She did save my worthless hide, I suppose. I don't trust this crazy switching thing she has going on. Not that I trust the wizard, either. "Maybe 'she' can tell me just what in the Dragon's name that thing was, and I'll consider it." Boil and damn. It's an hour to dawn, perhaps less.
"Remember what I told you about the dark thoughts of God that Naros made the deal with? That was one of them. That was God's Despair."
This just keeps getting better. "So, how were you able to stop it?" She shrinks away. "Because She is God's Wrath." she says.
Evil spirits, a tower that is their tabernacle, and an apparently ancient wizard named Naros trying to "get her back." Fuck, fuck, fuck! I finally understand what's going on here. The spirit is trying to joyride out of Miir for some reason, and Naros is bent on keeping it here. The wizard is ancient, and apparently his power, perhaps even his life, must depend on that deal he made which keeps the spirits in Miir.
"Jessamine, how many of these fallen spirits are there in the city?" I ask. She shrugs.
"How many evil thoughts can God have over eternity?"
Fun thought to contemplate. Dragon take it. We've wasted too much time here. The Pen wall is tantalizingly close, and we may just make it.