Saturday, November 28, 2015

Grasping Worms and Squishy-Brains

Bleh. I am sorry for the long delay. I have been trying to think about what to write since Monday, and due to Nano-Squishy-Brain, there was nothing. For those who haven't heard the term before, Nano-Squishy-Brain is achieved when you are so deep into noveling, that you're more living in the world of your novel than you are in the real world. For example, if someone asks if you're hungry, you'll be able to answer yes or no, but not when you last ate or what you're in the mood for. The person asking would have a better chance of getting an answer if they asked what your Main Character is in the mood for.
Any way, I finally figured out that I could just post something that I had worked on for you. So, here is the chapter that I spent all today working on! Let me know what you think in the comments below!



Chapter Thirty Four
       Jocelyn entered the Koi and nearly left as every eye turned to look at him. Not that he should be surprised by that. It was a small town with plenty of travellers. Everybody wanted to know if it was a friend or a stranger joining them that evening. What he didn't like was the confusion. Like they didn't know which category he fit into any more. He felt a small touch at his side and looked.
       It was the smith's youngest daughter, Carol. She was mature, her hair bound back into a matron's hair clip. Not a single hair out of place. He'd met her around town, but the first time he'd actually gotten to know her was earlier last year when he'd helped deliver her son. What had she named the boy? Calvin?
       "Jocelyn," Carol said.
       "Carol? What do you need?" he asked taking a step away from her.
       "I didn't ask before, I didn't know to ask... will you bless my baby? I want him to grow up strong and healthy..."
       She moved the baby towards him. Jocelyn held up his hands and moved away.
       "Carol... I helped you deliver him. I'm not... I'm the same guy I was then."
       Her eyes filled with tears of relief.
       "So you already blessed him? Jocelyn, thank you."
       She moved Calvin into the crook of her arm and grabbed his hand. She tried to kiss it and he yanked it away. She looked like he'd tried to slap her or worse slap Calvin.
       "Carol, I don't... I'm not holy. I'm not..."
       "You're blessed." She said, looking confused. Then her expression turned stricken. "You don't approve of Calvin?"
       "Calvin is fine-"
       "Is it me you don't approve of then?"
       "Carol, I like you fine... Ow!"
       Something had caught at his hair and a few strands tore out of his scalp. He turned and saw Donal, the tanners eldest son.
       "Your hair... it will be a blessing." Donal stammered before running off, the strands protectively held near his chest. Jocelyn moved to run after him, but shook his head in disgust instead.
        "I'll just have to hope he isn't planning on eating it or something... My hair isn't a blessing..."
        "Gods damned right it isn't. Now, I want to know why you didn't fix me when I broke my arm."
        Jocelyn turned again, feeling assaulted at this point. Was everyone moving closer or was it just him?
       Sam was there. He was older than Jocelyn, dark unwashed hair and a long dirty beard. His eyes were dark and his skin, yellowish. He'd broken his arm falling from a height a few years back. Jocelyn ground his teeth.
       "Your arm was fine. It didn't need to be Healed. All it needed was rest."
        "I lost nearly three weeks of work due to it. Do you only use your powers to help your ex's? Or did she put out again with that little harlot you started keeping recently when she started sleeping the nights at your place? Is that why you healed her?"
       Three weeks to heal a broken arm and the man had the nerve to think Jocelyn had done nothing? Had he been here helping so long that they took quick healing for granted?
       "Kuzunoha wouldn't have healed on her own. She was dying..." Jocelyn growled.
       "Yeah, what about my arthritis? I guess that isn't important enough to matter?"
       They were moving closer, surrounding him. That last had been from Joel. He was old, one of the community elders. He'd owned the tailors until he'd passed it down to his daughters.
       "I've been helping. That's why you come to see me every week."
       Healing Joel once a week made the condition manageable and arthritis wasn't life threatening to begin with. Speeding up the body's natural healing cost him nothing and he'd always done that freely. Healing like he had done for Kuzunoha, that would kill him. Slowly, but it would result in his dying before his time all the same.
       "If you really cared you'd take it away forever!"
       Joel moved forward to punch him and Jocelyn stepped out of the way. The old man tripped and fell to the ground. Argent, the bartender, stepped forward before anyone else could move.
       "Hey, this is my bar. I'll have no fights in here, especially not with Hidalgo's healer. Blessed or not, he's safe in my establishment."
       Joel and Sam snarled and left, taking three others with them.
       "Thanks, Argent." Jocelyn said.
       He was shaking. How had the town's mood turned from respect to hate so quickly?
       Argent picked up another glass and a cloth.
       "I remember when you helped my momma. She nearly died of the flu, didn't because of you. Whether you healed her or Blessed her, I got nothing to say. You did your job in my book. Sit down. You and your girl eat free, as always."
       "My girl..." Jocelyn felt a touch at his arm. Salla was smiling at him.
       "Come and sit down."
       He nodded and then flush guiltily, remembering what Sam had said about her and Kuzunoha.
       "Salla? How much of that were you here for?"
       She sniffed out in annoyance.
       "Enough. It's alright though. I mean, I waltzed in and took the best looking guy in town from them. They were never going to like me. I will say that I'm surprised to get it from the men folk too. Normally it's only the women that are the vindictive ones, fearing I'll steal their husbands and sons."
       "It isn't true. What he said." 
       About anything, he wondered? Jocelyn wasn't sure. Kuzunoha certainly hadn't tried to steal him away from Salla... only because she didn't want him though. She'd made that clear when she'd cheated on him.
       Salla took a drink. The mug was half empty; she must have been in here before he got here.
       "Of course it isn't. I'm not a harlot and you haven't been keeping me. And while I wouldn't put it past Kuzunoha to try it, I know you well enough. I have no worries on that front."
       He sighed.
       "You've been here months. I'd hoped they would start accepting you as one of them."
       "Jocelyn, you remember how long it took for them to accept you, right? Hell, some of the old men here still refer to you as "the new boy". It's something that people in towns always feel. They're close-minded."
       "I'm going to have to do it all over again."
       "Do what?" Salla looked confused.
       He gestured. "Leave. Work to be accepted somewhere else."
       "Why would you want to leave? You've got a good thing going here?"
       "Did you see what just happened? It's not that I want to leave, it's that I'm going to have to."
       "Jocelyn..." She put a hand on his arm. He shook her off.
       "This is serious." He told her. "The first time I healed someone I was seven and my best friend had fallen wrong. She'd broken both her legs. I fixed her. Within a few days everyone was acting weird, begging my parents to see me. They were hated when they wouldn't let anyone. Still, they didn't really start worrying until a man dressed in royal livery came to my home. He told my parents that the high lords wanted to see me, to see if I was Blessed. We all knew the stories. Kids held captive and used only for their power to keep the lords and their high mucks happy. I don't want that. We left that night."
       "I think you're over reacting just a bit."
       "You think I should have gone to work for the lord?"
       "By the gods, no." Salla said with a laugh. "Those high lords are all the same... grasping worms who want everything. Everybody who gets that much money and prestige becomes one. If they don't start that they, they turn that way. No, what I think you've over-estimating is your community. Your people. They'll accept you again. But they have to get used to the idea of who you are now. Give them some time."
       He wanted to growl, but it seemed reasonable. It had only been a day. That also meant that it had only taken a day for hate to develop. Better not to think that way though. He was so worried that they would never accept it though.
       ''I can do that. Give them some time to come to terms with it."
       "Good. We can work on some of your other problems."
       "Other problems?"
       "Kuzunoha for one. How long will it take before she's fully healed?"
       "She is fully healed."
       "She's... what?" Salla said. "I saw her this morning. She did not look healed to me."
       "All of the illness in her was cleared when I healed her. What she is now is weak from blood loss, bruised, beaten, dehydrated and suffering from malnutrition. Richard and Shasta confirmed that she pretty much stopped eating after she got hurt. She was only drinking water and slim broth and she drank less and less of both every day. But all she needs is water, easily digestible food and time."
       "Good. When she's around we don't seem to have time for each other."
       Jocelyn leaned his head back. 
      "Trust me. I don't want her in my home anymore than you do. She'd been be gone soon. Another two, maybe three days and that's it."
       "Where's she going to go?
       He didn't answer immediately. He didn't know.
       "She has money. Even if she's still too stubborn to go home to her sisters, she had money to pay for an inn."
       Would he really send her to an inn? Three days after she'd nearly died? He corrected himself. Three days after she'd ruined his life a second time.
       "Good." Salla put her hand on his. "I'm less that fond of her. She can be self-centred, vain and catty."
       "She is that." He agreed.
       "So if we leave, where will we go?"
        "We?" He hadn't thought about that. What would Salla do if he left? She responded before he could.
       "You thought I wouldn't come with you?" She seemed disappointed by that. "Jocelyn, before I stopped here, I'd never lived in a town. Why would I stay here without you? I wanted to stop moving around, I wanted to know where I'd be the next day, where I'd be working. But I'm about ready to go on the road again anyway. Oh! You could join my familia!"
       "Would your family accept me?" He asked. She laughed.
       "You're blessed. Of course they would accept you. It would take time for them to trust you since you're a townie, but having a good healer, especially a blessed would be a huge blessing for the whole kompania."
       He puffed out his breath. Because he was blessed. Everything would be fine because some god had decided to meddle in his life. Maybe the gods should have given him some sort of a map or a purpose along with the powers he was granted. The truth was he'd never wanted to be blessed. He'd wanted a quiet life. Living with a woman he loved. Could he do that on the road? He could do that with Salla?
       He didn't know.
       "I'll keep that in mind. Maybe. Would you be up for travelling somewhere else instead of with your family?" She smiled, proudly.
       "Jocelyn, do you know the history of my people? We believe that the goddess Denina chose us.  She wanted people to follow her and so she danced in the sky to let everyone see. Those that saw her twinkling footsteps swore that they would learn that dance and began travelling, searching for the old ways and the ancient knowledge. Our eldest tell us that our travels are the dance. What I'm saying is that so long as I left a message for my kompania here, their well wishes would follow me everywhere. Decide where your heart is leading. So long as ours remain in accordance, I'll be by your side."
       She lifted her hand and put her palm to his. It was a strangely touching gesture. He felt connected with her. It had been a long time since he'd felt so comfortable with a woman...
       He shied away from that, turning his mind over to wondering how he was supposed to figure out where his heart was leading him to? It was easy for Salla. She just followed her goddess, dancing among the stars, apparently. The gods of his birth parents had never laid such a clear path for him. He venerated them, the lady of winter and lord of summer, but he didn't worship them. How could he worship any god, not knowing if it was the one that had Blessed him, or worship another, knowing that some other deity had believed in him so much that it had blessed him at birth?
       Now that was an interesting idea. Finding out what god or goddess had marked him, might help him find out what exactly he was supposed to do. Perhaps he could even find out more about being a blessed. Find out what others had done before with their blessings.
       If he had more information, he could find out who his god was. That would be the first step to finding out why he'd been blessed. Where could he find that much information? Not in town, clearly. But he had heard about a huge library somewhere up north... He'd ask about it, see if he could find out where it was.
       He smiled at Salla and their hands, still touching. He stood and kissed her, winding his fingers between hers.
       "Thank you. You've given me a lot to think about."
       She kissed him back.

       "That's what I'm here for."

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