So I was trying to get back to my blogpost but the stranger was too distracting, you know why? Because he was wearing the blanket I gave him to cover himself up, on his back, like a cape. He was wearing the blanket like a cape! Anyway, I looked back at my screen, and think I even managed to write a word, and *scream, cat scream, noise*
[Music in background]
This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
[Music louder and solo]
Nadec, chapter 2, stranger
‘I have no time for this,’ Nadec announced to the man lying at her feet. He was looking up at her, eyes wide, lips parted. ‘I’m already past my deadline.’
Kitty detached his claws from her shoulder and jumped off, sniffing at the strangers’ bare knees. Nadec grabbed her halberd from her back, detaching it with ease from the magnet, causing the safety cover to pull back. While she did this, she saw all the pink blood on her hands and clothes and uttered a long and solidly vulgar curse.
‘I should take a shower first,’ she muttered.
She glanced at the man. He had pushed himself to a sitting position but still looked dazed. He better not vomit. She’d only just gotten her carpets cleaned. A trip into the Muddy Marshes had made that a necessity.
Aah, I told Astrid all about that trip but she doesn’t want to include it in this story. She claims it would distract too much and has no place here. Pfoeh.
Remembering the first time she’d skipped, she did feel sympathy towards him. Whatever he had to endure from the xlurps probably only added to his feeling unwell. Being on the brink of getting eaten can be an upsetting situation.
And this is another story I told Astrid and again she cut it out, boooo. Perhaps I can convince her to publish it separately someday. For now let me just say that I wasn’t defeated that day, that’s not how it happened! Remember I said last time that I was undefeated!
She couldn’t feel too sorry for him though, it was his own fault, he shouldn’t have grabbed her ankle and then he wouldn’t have skipped along! Her assigned job had been to merely eliminate the xlurps and free the captive. Her brows drawn down, she took a blanket of her couch and tossed it to him.
‘Here, at least cover yourself up, you can have a shower after I’ve finished.’
His eyes glazed over and narrowed. He mouthed something—Nadec was pretty sure it was the word shower. She ignored him, grunted again, and walked towards her bathroom. Despite the urgency she still felt, she did take a moment to pat Kitty on the head and tell him to keep an eye on the stranger. There’s always time for cat cuddles. Always.
The quick shower did wonders for her mood.
This didn’t make it into the edits, so I’ll just quickly mention it now. The xlurp blood is terribly gooey and sticky pink stuff. Very hard to get off. So although the shower was quite nice, it was also frustrating.
She straight away went to work on her blog afterwards. Trying to explain to the stranger how the shower worked—and everything else—would be too tedious so she didn’t bother, for now. She worked on her blog, but watched the stranger from behind her desk. The large, open space containing the lounge room, kitchen and dining area made that easy. A mild annoyance at herself for watching him more than actually typing words didn’t stop her from doing it. He was too amusing.
He had draped the blanket on his back like a cape, completely missing the point of needing to cover him up. He’d been walking around the room slowly, head high, stopping at every little thing and looking at it several minutes a piece.
Nadec decided that he was easy on the eye, very easy even, especially considering what an average person of the other realm looked like. Her eyes kept drifting back towards his uncovered body. Definitely much better than what the xlurps had to offer. She snickered quietly. Even in modern day standards this man would hold up very well compared to other men. Dark hair falling in waves to his shoulders, unshaven chin and cheeks—something between stubble and a beard—tall, lean, obviously muscled in all the right places. A warmth spread from the middle of her tummy. She quickly averted her eyes and stared back at the computer screen.
A feline squeal, a male scream, and a clattering sound, made her look back at the man again, all senses alert. He had stumbled back from the window, tripped over her cat, knocked over her side table and rolled over the back of the couch, hitting the lounge table so hard with his forehead that the wood made a creaking echo. Or maybe that was the sound of his head splitting open. Rolling her eyes, she looked back at her computer screen, scowled at the ten words she’d written, and got up with a sigh.
After fetching her first aid kit, she knelt next to the stranger.
‘Alright fella, let me see. Well done, you’ve split your head open. Don’t look so horrified, it’s only a cut. Right, sit down in the lounge. Yes, that’s this large red thing behind you.’
She cleaned out the cut and used her special skin glue to keep it together. That should do. He let her do it, looking at her in silence, studying her face intensely enough to heat up her cheeks. She was not used to being scrutinised in such manner. Her plain features weren’t a source for much ogling.
‘Ugh, fine. My deadline isn’t going anywhere so I might as well give you some attention. Maybe bake some cookies too, while we’re procrastinating. Do you have any other wounds? Did the xlurps hurt you in any way?’
Perhaps she should’ve asked him that before but she’d been too determined to make up for her missed deadline. No matter that it was self-appointed and no one was waiting for it. False accountability as a motivator did help sometimes.
‘No, I am quite alright,’ he replied softly after clearing his throat. ‘Who are you and where am I? Is this a castle? How can we be so high above the ground and the view is utterly strange, what are all those square structures around us? Are those all towers from this castle? It looks to be in a proper disarray. And I can not believe you have glass in all of the windows, and what is the point of having so many? That does not look ideal for defense.
‘I still can not fathom how we can be so frighteningly high? What were the colourful moving objects on the streets? For that matter, were they streets? They did not look like dirt at all, they appeared dark and hard. How is that possible? I saw a multitude of strange things, too many to name. For instance, what was the point of the tall poles? You must have exceptional archers here for them to be able to hit the tops? And many too, if you need that amount of poles for archery practice.’’
His effort to hide his discomfort and fear was a total failure. The rambling nature of his questions and the amount of white his eyes showed, told Nadec enough.
‘Alright, I’ll try to explain things to you,’ aiming to covertly move the blanket to cover his lap. Too distracting. It was pointing at her.
‘I’m a red knight, and was sent to rescue you. I’m called Nadec. I’ll tell you more of me and what I can disclose of the information my employers told me later. We’ll get you in the shower now, that will make you feel better. But first, tell me who you are, where you come from, how the xlurps caught you and why I’d been sent to free you?’
The stranger pulled himself up, sitting as straight as possible, his chin lifted up slightly—the blanket shifted again, causing Nadec to sigh. His posture reminded her of royalty characters from fiction books.
‘I am Pagewyn O’Elope d’Onnosely, ruler of Paralelo, master of the Squares, defender of the Triangles, chief of all Lines, bearer of the Wooden Water Crown!’
Not knowing whether to swear again or to stare, Nadec burst out in gales of laughter.
Thank you for listening to Nadec, chapter 2, stranger. 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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Thank you all and see you next week!