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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Journey of the Soul-Linker, Part 4

Previous part here

Beginning here

Melly's world could fit in your pocket.

It's true: you're carrying twenty dinosaurs, a tree, and a hair dryer in your pocket, all folded up tiny using Melly's pocket-liner and a pair of those weird fingerless gloves motorcyclists wear. You're walking, sore and sweaty, through a dry, rocky, cracked plain under a vicious sun, but at least you don't feel the weight.

"This used to be a riverbed," you say, to make conversation.

"You some kinda geologist?" Melly's walking, too, to save jetpack energy, and she doesn't seem happy that her stride's a bit slower than yours because of her height. She's marching like she's got something to prove. Sweat glimmers under the short hair on the shorn side of her head, like dew on a lawn. The long half of her hair's tangled in a ponytail reminiscent of an actual horse's tail at this point.

"I don't know if I'm a geologist," you say. "I don't know the background of this body I'm apparently forced to be in. I don't know who I used to be or who I am."

"Well, we gotta figure out your talents," Melly says. She wipes her forehead in her forearm, and looks at the sweat for a second before looking accusingly up at the sun. "We'll make a detour through Quest Valley to test you."

"Aren't we getting a little off track? We need to stop the disease destroying your world."

"No, you're here to find out if you're loved or not, and by what or who. Stoppin' the disease is a means ta that." Melly tosses a stone in the air, and it unfolds into an umbrella, floating over her, blocking out the sun.

"Wouldn't that be selfish of me?"

"Depends. Say your good takes you through a journey that helps tha world. That selfish?"

"So the ends from someone else's point of view, which are the means of my point of the view, determines whether my end's selfish or not?"

"Yer getting me lost in word salad. Get over here and shaddup." Melly sits under the stone umbrella and begins to cook a maiasaura steak over a fire you didn't see her start.

You hang back. "I don't want to sit next to the fire," you say.

"But I got shade."

"Shade over fire."

"Mebbe sometimes you gotta pay for shade."

"That's nice and all, but can't you just put the fire outside of the shade?"

Melly tilts her head. Without taking her glance off of you, she scoots back and pulls the umbrella back with her, leaving the fire exposed to the sun like you suggested.

You sit beside her in the shade, and take the dripping strip of meat she offers you. It's hot, soft, stringy in your hands. You've become used to eating like this, without utensils, even though you'd never do that at home. You're much more civilized than that.

You turn to her and smile. She took your advice for once, moving the fire. "So you're not always right," you tease.

"Never said I was. I'm just s'posed to find the meanings in stuff for you." Melly stuffs her face, and talks while she chews. You take tiny bites that sit in your mouth for what seems like ages--the meat's stringy and tough, with a powerful flavor like chicken graduated to red meat and overcompensated.

"What did you do before escorting travelers on adventures?" You ask Melly. "Just chase dinosaurs all day?"

"Travelers? You mean traveler. I never met a soul-linker before."

"How do you know what to do with me, then?"

"He told me."


She tilts her head, as if listening to a voice in the windless heat, or as if adding up chess moves. "Someone who loves you."

"Oh great, this again. I'm still waiting for this to end on some kind of sermon," you smirk.

"Hon, everything in life's a sermon. Anyone who tells you somethin' else is just hiding the fact they're selling something because they know what they're sellin' ain't all that great."

"Sometimes the things you say don't make sense."

"Sometimes the things you say don't make sense," she mocks your tone.

"Excuse me?" You laugh.

"Mee Mur me?" She mocks you again.

"Are you, like, five?"

"Look, I'm hungry and tired, I can't be shoving wisdom down your throat 24-7. Imma open a door to Quest Valley for ya, and you'll Quest for your abilities, and then we'll head to the disease epicenter. That's what you want, right? Epicenters and stuff, to see where the goop's comin' from?"

"Is it that easy? We can just go there?"

"It's simple, not easy. We all know how the disease started. Problem's stoppin' its spread. But we gotta show you the beginning. Maybe see if you got any new ideas about taking it out." She shrugs. "Sound good?"

"We do a lot of planning and not a lot of doing," you observe.

"That's life sometimes. You'll be doing for the next five links. Questin' and such."



She opens a hole in the ground, and shoves you in.

Next link here. Sorry it's short this week. It'll be more worth it next time.

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