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Dec 16, 2018 12:09 PM
Carel & Dianav in a fairyland
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Carel feeds chickens. Dianav sweeps the floor. Both of them separately conclude that it's riskier to ask than to assume.

Which is not because assumptions seem any safer. There's the slight possibility they're dealing with someone who would never even imagine being unreasonable but it's more likely they're doomed.

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The witch leaves the room with the green door after Carel comes back inside. She watches them for a few moments without speaking, then says, "There are mats in the back room. You may sleep there. I will wake you when you are needed."

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"Thank you, ma'am. We're sorry about earlier, we've both mistakenly thought we understood requests before, but now we know not to bother you and we'll try to avoid ever doing that again."

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They don't know how much time they have so they sleep immediately.

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It's impossible to tell exactly how much time passes before the witch rings a bell with a harsh, piercing sound to wake them, but it is enough for them to feel rested.

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Dianav is fully awake in seconds and on his feet almost immediately. Carel gets up at a speed that a normal person might call fast without Dianav there for comparison. While she's pausing to rub her eyes and stand slowly Dianav goes to see what the witch wants. Maybe she'll be distracted enough with him that she won't be upset that it takes Carel almost a minute to be ready to face the day.

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The witch doesn't seem to care that only one of them shows up immediately. "There is food on the table. When you are finished eating, take the laundry inside. It will storm tonight."

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When Carel comes to breakfast, he passes this on to her. They eat fast. They go to get the laundry taken in together.

"Not a lot of people here, seems like," he says.

"Hm. Do you think it's just us?"

"No, of course not."

"She might know everyone there is."

"Hmm. Yeah. One of her..."

"No?"

"Yeah. Wonder where she wants the clothes put."

"Maybe there?"

"Yeah, I'll try that."

"I miss home."

"Yeah, me too."

They put the laundry in a likely place and Dianav goes for the broom while Carel looks for the witch to see if she has any other requests.

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The witch is the room adjacent to the kitchen, staring closely at a large bowl full of slightly glowing pinkish liquid. "It needs something more," she says thoughtfully without moving, then turns to look at Carel. "Give me an eye," she says, and holds her hand out expectantly.

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At a rate of one a day that's four days. Carel revises her mental deadline.

She does not turn to see Dianav look upset. She hesitates. It's not just squeamishness. She's actually not sure how you get an eye out. She gets it out of the socket, draws a sharp breath, exhales shakily. It's still attached by something. She pauses. She wants to pray. Shame all the gods are evil and it's the local goddess doing this to her.

She silently and secretly recontextualizes the experience for herself. Sometimes narrative matters.

It is for the strength to survive another day of her eye for herself, for her life, for her power. For knowledge of what the witch wants and knowledge of her evils, for food, for the chance to someday destroy the witch and all she stands for.

She does not ask to borrow a knife. She has no need of help, she is master of her own body and if she wills a part to be gone it shall be gone with no need for help.

She hands over her right eye, as the price for knowing why exactly the witch needs to die.

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"Good girl," the witch says, in a tone one might use to speak to a dog, and takes the eye. She holds it close to her own eyes, nods to herself, and drops it into the bowl. The liquid bubbles and turns a milky white before fading into the light brown of Carel's eyes.

"You may go now," the witch tells her dismissively. Outside, it starts to pour.

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"You understand?" Carel asks Dianav.

He nods, looking shellshocked.

"I'm going out," she says. Looking for more people.

"I'm staying here for now."

Carel walks out into the storm as if the rain doesn't bother her.

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Emma is creeping away from the house with a chicken in her mouth, but she pauses and turns when she hears the door. And then she stares.

Holy shit, how badly did you piss her off?

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Carel smiles mysteriously. "Wouldn't you rather ask how I feel about her? I'm pleased to see you're still alive, Emma Harris. You may join me on my walk if you like."

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...How do you feel about her?

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Carel considers all of the possible honest answers to that question and decides on one based on the attitude she needs Emma to hold toward her.

"My brother would have grown more powerful than I, if not for her. I am very pleased."

Not as pleased as she is terrified but she doesn't need to say every true thing she knows.

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I don't understand, Emma admits, but she drops the chicken and approaches Carel cautiously. Where are you going? Do you know how to get out of here?

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"No but I expect to know by the day after tomorrow. I'm looking for people. Are there other people here?"

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Some. The dog, but I don't know where he is. If you wait here a bit, he'll come back, and Dereva Kule's bird, too. Dereva Lina probably has some people but I haven't gone near her in a while. What do you need people for?

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"It's convenient to let a lot of people know before you become a god. Since I'm new here, I need to make some new friends. And I don't have much time, since I'll be a god tomorrow."

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Emma blinks but doesn't ask how she knows.

...I can take you to Dereva Lina? she offers.

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"That's the other witch?"

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"Yes, please show me to her."

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