Three days after fleeing the cave in a hurry, we were still trying to make our way toward the Spiraling Spinal Spine Spines. During those days, I had a lot of time to think about what the zlurp had said. Wyny had tried to start a conversation several times, but I always deflected. I felt like I needed to process it all by myself first, before I could talk to someone else about it. Blackie had left us, but I wasn’t worries because I knew what she was up to. Wyny didn’t know, but he suspected. Damned man is smarter than he often seems. He turned very insistent to have have a talk about what the zlurp had said. I wasn’t keen, so *sound of dull thumps and a grunt*
[Music in background]
This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
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Episode 17: rocks
‘Where did Blackie go?’
The question slashed through the silence of their walk. It had been a silence of words, not a complete silence as the crackling of leaves and twigs under their feet formed an orchestra of wood sounds along with the tweeting birds. Wyny looked at Nadec, the question as much on his face as it had been in his words. He suspected she had something to do with it.
‘How should I know? She’s a free animal.’
His eyes narrowed at her. She rolled hers at him.
‘The last time I saw her was yesterday evening, right before falling asleep. It woke me up this morning, not having her by my side. I’ve gotten used to her warmth. And presence.’
She absently lifted her hand to stroke Kitty, who was riding along on her shoulder. Since their unexpected skip to The Other Realm—or Troponia, as she often called it now—her furry buddy had been holding up pretty well. Nadec suspected that meeting Blackie had much to do with it. The dragon and the cat had formed an almost immediate and super strong bond.
‘You had her go back to the cave to wake the zlurp, have you not?’
Nadec stopped in shock. She slowly turned her head toward Wyny. He stood there stoically. Even wearing peasant clothes, his royal bearing was obvious. His face was serious. Nadec felt herself shrivel under his gaze. She did not like confrontation, despite her quite violent jobs. But she also did not like to cower down before anyone.
‘I did.’ She met his stare eye for eye. Who did he think he was? She didn’t have to answer to him. Besides, she’d merely suggested it to Blackie, she hadn’t forced her to do anything.
‘Why would you do that? You know what he had said. Blackie might be flying straight into their hands. She might be in danger. And once the zlurp is awake, he can tell them things.’
He was serious, wasn’t he? Nadec felt her face redden and her blood boil.
‘What can he tell them? Oh, huh, they took bunch of cloths and left me, eeuuh. We’ll be fine. Blackie will be fine.’
But now doubt crept up to her, like a wriggling traitorous itch on her back. Had she sent Blackie to her death? No, the dragon could take care of herself. And there really wasn’t anything the zlurp could tell them. Except… except what he’d told her and Wyny. Would it be a disadvantage if they knew that she knew? Wyny was still looking at her, silent.
‘No, I mean, yes, she’ll be fine. You’ll see. The zlurp was probably too out of it to remember what he’d told us anyway.’ Damnit, she thought, when she saw Wyny shift. He hadn’t even thought of that yet. She’d have to give him something more, she didn’t want him angry with her.
‘I just couldn’t let him die. Too many have died by my hands already.’ Her voice was soft. She’d tried to keep it low enough so he wouldn’t hear.
‘Anyway, we should keep going, still a long way to go.’ The words blurted out when his face softened while taking a step toward her. She moved away from him in the direction they’d been going.
‘I’m sure Blackie will join us by tonight, we’re only three days away and she’s a fast flyer. At least, I assume she is. How long until we reach the city near the, what was it again, the Spiraling Spinal Spine Pines?’ The chuckle she forced sounded hollow. Perhaps it would’ve been a better idea to leave Wyny behind. It’s no good having people around, because that lead to talks, and those eventually—sometimes—introduced deeper talks. Wyny appeared to be a trigger for her.
‘Bloody ridiculous man,’ she murmured under her breath at the same time he said: ‘Yes, that was the name, I am not certain how far it still is. If Blackie was here, we could ask her to take us up long enough to get our bearing.’
She flinched as he put his hand on her shoulder. Oh no, he’s not! She knew what he was up to, once again he wasn’t letting go of the momentary weakness she’d showed. He liked to latch on to those moments, as if those convinced him she was a woman. Even worse, as if that meant she was a woman who needed a man by her side. Fool.
The underground crunched beneath her feet as Nadec swerved to the side, putting a tree between them, dismissing his hand in an effective and—she hoped—inconspicuous way. He wasn’t ready to give up yet though.
‘We will need to talk about it someday, Nadec.’
‘No, we don’t. I don’t even know what you‘re talking about. Just keep walking. We’ll listen to any rumours in the city first. I’m sure they’ll tell us the zlurp was lying.’
‘You do not believe that. I saw your face when he mentioned your parents. Were they really—’
He ducked in time to avoid the rock she threw at his head.
‘Perhaps,’ she bent down to pick several more rocks, ‘it wasn’t a coincidence,’ she aimed another rock at him, ‘that I was sent to rescue you. Perhaps,’ another rock, ‘it also wasn’t a coincidence,’ this one hit him on the shoulder, ‘that you skipped along with me. Perhaps,’ a grunt from a solid impact on his back, ‘it wasn’t a coincidence that my couch exploded while you were there.’
The last rock went flying over his head. She didn’t really want to hurt him. Much. Only a little. That felt good. Perfect vent for the frustration she’d been feeling lately. His own fault for insisting to talk. He gaped at her. She went down her knees, searching the ground.
‘No! That is not—you can not believe I have anything to do with that! Please, I would never hurt you.’
She shut out his pleas. It was good to hear him grovel. Was he too adamant about his innocence though? She shook her head. She didn’t suspect him of such a thing. Well, Frankdamn fucking shit. I suppose I really trust him. The thought surprised her.
When she straightened again, holding more rocks, he stopped babbling and steadied himself. He was going to take it like a man, it seemed. Although why he wouldn’t tell her to stop or even walk up to take the rocks away, or anything else to take control of the situation, was beyond her. Social difference between man-woman interaction on Earth vs Troponia, she supposed.
‘Relax, I’m done throwing these at you. Come have a look. Do these look man-made?’
Wyny looked at her warily but came closer anyway. The hewn marks were clearly visible on the rock, now that she paid attention. It had a special blue-pink colour, strata of both colours forming a mesmerising effect. She almost dropped them at the startling gasp coming from Wyny.
‘The statue of the Originals. It is supposed to be only a myth, but this colour. It is unmistakable. It is said that the statue was divided in eleven parts and carried away to other lands. The power of the complete statue was said to be too powerful. One of the parts must be… There!’
He pointed, but all Nadec could see was a hill with a funny protrusion at one end.
The only thing she could say. Of course. Of course the part they had to come across was the middle. Of course she had to get the balls again.
Thank you for listening to Nadec, episode 17: rocks
Narrated by myself, Nadec. Adventure by and lived through by Nadec. Written in a better way than I can tell it, by Astrid Jef.
Don’t go just yet, we’ve got bloopers coming up. Before we get to those, [music on background] we just want to say that if you head over to astridjef.com, you can find transcripts and full chapters of this podcast. Even more, you can find the unedited draft of Nadec at least up to 15 chapters further than the podcast goes. So if you’re keen to know how the story continues, you have the option to go and read. Find us on Twitter @astridjef and @nadecandkitty.
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