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Dec 16, 2018 10:16 AM
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And here is the haunted marsh. A distant, quiet voice can be heard singing, but the singer never pauses for breath.

A light comes into view from behind a tree.

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Makji walks without looking, testing each step gently before committing to it. A completely automatic action, now; his focus is on the bird. On its wings, on the wind over its feathers. If he could just--

And the bird is gone; Makji stumbles as his sight snaps back into his head. And here is the marsh. And here is a marshlight.

Death, if he follows. Or the path to being accepted at the edge of things, somewhere else, and never having to return. There's only so much he can kid himself; if he keeps going without a plan, he's just going to end up back here.

The risk had never been worth considering before. He could just find another bird. Forget about this. Keep walking.

He turns and follows the light.

 

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Deeper and deeper into the marsh it goes, singing softly.

And then it stops moving and stops singing and waits. This spot doesn't seem to be anywhere in particular.

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Waiting is fine. Waiting is okay. Watching the light with his own eyes. It's fine. But it itches, like a secret itches to be told. He wants to be flying. He wants this to be over. There has to be a bird nearby. But he's barely even blinking, lest the light vanish between moments.

It's fine. He can wait. He's good at waiting.

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"Are you following me?"

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There aren't any birds nearby. Doesn't matter. It's rude to let your eyes wander when someone's talking to you. Doesn't matter again. This is just a wisp; why would it care?

"I, um. I mean. There was--I just--"

--was not cut out to be a witch, clearly.

"Yes?"

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"Wow. Nobody ever does that. Hi, I'm Valen, who are you and why are you following me?"

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"I...didn't have...anything better to do?" he admits. Is this a test? It's probably a test.

Be polite to the nice murderlight, Makji. Don't screw things up now.

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"Fair enough. Where'd you come from?"

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He gestures in a direction he is not at all sure is correct. "That way."

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The light starts moving again.

"Do you like going for walks in the wild like this?"

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"In a sense, yes." Is it a good sign that he isn't dead yet?

"I like how the world looks, out here."

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"I do too. I think I'd rather live in a town, though, if I could."

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"Why can't you?" he asks, before his brain has caught up with his mouth.

No birds nearby. Rude to look away. No birds. Still looking at the light. Itchy secrets. Idiot. He--wait.

Rather live in a town?

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"Well, just to start with, if I showed up at a town everyone would run away. Except you."

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"Including me. Probably. If I saw you."

Well. He'll be over here continuing to stick his entire foot in his mouth while it somehow keeps producing sounds.

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"Okay, no, see, 'away' is the direction where the thing gets smaller and smaller and then you can't see it anymore. Going miles away from home to follow someone is called going 'toward' them."

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Was it miles? He was so focused on his eyes, it could have been any distance at all.

"It's different now. There was...I left."

It's fine. This is fine. He's still probably going to die. So what if a wisp knows anything about him? It's not like it's going to tell anyone. Obviously.

"I told you. I didn't have anything better to do."

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"I'd ask if you need a hug but that doesn't really work. Can I help you?"

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It's fine. He's fine. He's going to go be somewhere else, and everything's going to be okay.

"Do you need a hug?"

Because death or no, it kind of sounds like it does.

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It is a test. It isn't a test.

There is no test, probably. Just a sad light in the middle of nowhere.

He opens his arms. Hesitates. Is ready for whatever comes.

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It's sort of warm.

"I like you."

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Awww. "You just met me."

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"So far I like everyone I've met. How about you?"

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"I've met a lot of people."

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