Previously: After saving Pagewyn several times, from xlurps, blurghs, and an exploding couch, Nadec decides to stick with him until he’s back in his kingdom, Paralelo. He shows her why he is ‘the master of the Squares, defender of the Triangles, chief of all Lines’. A darkness rams Nadec while alone in the woods and she passes out.
Upon waking, she experiences what it’s like to have a concussion, and finds herself prisoner to a zlurp and his vegetarian dragon, Blackie. Nadec finds herself being rescued by Pagewyn. Blackie and Kitty, Nadec’s cat, appear to get along, but the zlurp wakes up and tosses Wyny aside. Blackie turns against the zlurp with Dragon’s White gas, burbing him to unconsciousness. Wyny got hurt in his fall, but Nadec’s concussion is much more serious. She wakes up a week later in a cave, where she and Wyny have a pretty informational talk.
Read all the previous chapters here.
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‘I would really have like strawberries right now.’
Nadec groaned and sat up from where she’d been lying in foetus position. She clutched her arms around her knees, hugging them tight to her body. She’d managed to make a big heap of pads, which were merely strips of fabric folded upon each other. Unfortunately, knowing that the odds of leaking blood everywhere were pretty slim didn’t diminish the pain.
‘Strawberries?’ Wyny sounded confused. Don’t they have them here? Nadec thought, equally as confused. She was sure she’d eaten them in The Other Realm before, so why didn’t he know of them?
‘Yes, strawberries. If I was at home right now, which I would’ve been if you hadn’t messed everything up and if my apartment hadn’t been blown to pieces,’ she paused and bent down to the right give Kitty a peck on the head—a thank you for staying near to cheer her up—’I’d be eating strawberries to make me feel better. Preferably with ice cream. And chocolate sauce drizzled on top. Or poured, whatever.’ She murmured that last bit as she flicked out her left hand to give Blackie a few pets on the massive head.
The dragon had appeared to be as emphatic as Kitty was, or perhaps she liked to follow the grey cat’s behaviour. Those two had become best friends from the moment they met. Nadec was still getting used to having a real dragon around her, even if she was—as Wyny claimed—a small one. He thought she was probably still growing.
‘Comfort food,’ he nodded, looking at her from across the small fire. He had to raise his voice to be heard over the combined purring of Kitty and—mostly—Blackie. They were sitting with their back—or part of, as they’d half-turned to talk to each other—to a side of the large cave chamber. The wall, if it could be called that way, reflected the heat and light of the fire into the rest of the chamber. Unfortunately it made the natural blue shine of the cave disappear into the dancing orange glow. An opening above their resting spot removed the smoke well enough. In front of her she could see the large lake. It looked magical, she told herself once again, marveling at the sight of the bio-luminescence reflecting on the water.
‘But, how can straw-berries be comfort food? They do not sound very tasteful at all. We have appleberries, delicious little green fruits, sweet and sour at the same time. So I assume strawberries to taste like straw and perhaps look golden?’ He shook his head. ‘It does not sound appetizing at all. What other strange foods do you have in your Realm?’
‘Strawberries don’t taste like straw, silly. They grow close to the ground so the ground is packed with straw as a cushion for the berries, to prevent rot. They’re delicious! There are a ton of varieties, but the best ones are mostly sweet, with maybe a hint of sourness.’ She closed her eyes, envisioning them while she spoke.
‘Many people like to add sugar to them, or eat them with whipped cream, but I prefer them just like that. Pure. Hmmmm.’
‘Or with ice cream and a sauce of chocolate,’ he interjected, pronouncing both foods strangely. She smiled and opened her eyes, looking at him. Him remembering what she’d said before, while not even understanding the words, proved that he was really listening. She appreciated that immensely.
‘Exactly.’ Her smile turned into a grin. ‘I wish I could let you taste them. I’m sure I’ve seen them here before. Well, I mean, perhaps not here here, but in this Realm. They’re a conical shape, the length of an average thumb, or smaller, or bigger, and they have the most beautiful red colour. The funny thing is, their seeds—’
She broke off. His expression had changed dramatically. It had gone from interested, even curious, to wide-eyed and sickly-looking. And, was that a blush on his cheeks? Why was he suddenly embarrassed?
‘What?’ She had to prod him when it was clear he didn’t intend to say anything. He was staring at the ground! What had she said that made him so uncomfortable?
‘Red,’ he cleared his throat so often, Nadec nearly got up to slap him on the back. Or on the face, if that’s what it would take to pull him out of his fit.
‘Red foods are not to be talked about and certainly not to be consumed in Paralelo. It is inappropriate and I do not know how I feel about you know that I know you eat those foods and enjoy them.’
Nadec gaped at him. He had blurted the words out so fast they’d almost blended into each other. His breath came as quickly as if he’d just ran a good distance. He doesn’t know how he feels about me now, because I eat red fruit? She strangled the laughter which was about to burst up from her, instead did her best to keep a straight face. It was obviously important to him so she would treat it that way. How’s that for adulting?
‘I’ll do my best to avoid talking about… those foods. I’m sorry, I didn’t know. If you… When you feel like you can, could you tell me why? Is there a specific reason, or is it merely a remnant of history?’
She felt very proud of herself for the way she’d handled that. It had been the right approach, as he appeared to relax. The tension in his stubbled face faded, and his eyes resumed their normal size. Satisfaction spread over Nadec’s body as a slow burning warmth. See, I am learning better socialising skills. The thought sounded smug in her mind.
‘Nozbexraper!’ She doubled up in pain. That had been a bad cramp. When it passed, she saw Wyny standing up, his hand outstretched and a wooden box floating above it, transforming into the L-shapes she’d seen before.
‘That,’ he told her while folding his sticks up, ‘was the most vulgar swear I have ever heard. I thought we were under attack!’ He sat down again, looking at Nadec curiously.
‘We’re not under attack, although my uterus feels as if it is.’
She mumbled that quietly, hoping he wouldn’t hear. Louder, she said: ‘Anyway, I think I should try to get some sleep, I’m looking forward to get answers from the zlurp. I especially wouldn’t mind knowing why that purple big shit kept referring to me as a princess. What, do you know?’ Something in his face had changed when she’d said that. He did know something!
‘I can not be certain.’ The reluctance in his voice made her more curious.
‘Perhaps he has knowledge I do not have.’ Big sigh. ‘Or perhaps he recognises your hairstyle as an indication of your rank.’
She groaned. Bloody great. No one has ever thought to tell her about the significance of hair in this Realm. She hoped it was only a local custom. The only reason why she french-braided her hair in three parts, one on top and one on each side, and then pulled it together in a knot at the back, was to keep it away from her face. Not to mention avoid her adversaries to pull on it.
‘I’ll hear more about that of you tomorrow, mister.’ She tried to put a playfulness in her tone of voice, but another cramp caused her to grit her teeth, making it sound more like a threat. She tried to find the most comfortable sleeping position, but failed.
I wish I had my hot water bottle. That nice warmth always helps against the cramps. She almost considered plucking a warmed up log from the outside of the fire, when Blackie gently laid the arrow-pointed tip of his tail on her tummy. It was the perfect heat to ease her pains. She looked into the dragon’s face, Kitty settling in between them. The large, greenish yellow-gold eye blinked at her. Was that a wink?
Her last thought before falling asleep stirred wonder in her, a feeling she took along to her dreams.
How had Blackie known I’d been thinking about wanting something warm on my tummy?
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These chapters accidentally seem to become longer and longer as more gets revealed about The Other Realm and its people/creature’s habits and customs. I thought about what to do, and decided I didn’t want to cut them down to fit the average word-count of the first chapters. This is the length they need, so this is the length they’ll get.
As far as the podcast goes, my microphone has arrived last week so I’m in full swing of practicing and playing with it. Because of the growing length of these chapters, I also made the decision to add onto the earlier chapters, aiming for an average word count per edited (aka ready for podcast) chapter of 1200-1500. (As a reference, this one was just slightly over 1500). So yaay, even more “Nadec”!! 🙂