Friday, August 30, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Twenty: Never compromise. Not even in the face of Momageddon.

"We are going, and that's fuckin' that."

Lemme preface that remark.

I spent the morning thinking of ways to explain to Libby why we could not go on a trip to the other side of the world. It was tricky, lemme tell you. Not because I couldn't come up with reasons - that was bloody easy - but because I couldn't think of ways to phrase them which Libby would understand. Or accept. A reasonable tone and a slow, measured delivery sounds good on paper, but it's kinda lame when you practice in a mirror.

I needn't have bothered. No tone, no delivery, would have mattered to my wife.

When I went to visit Libby, I found that she was gone. Daena informed me that Libby had shambled off not twenty minutes prior, and with Celine off somewhere and no one else around, Daena hadn't been able to deliver a panicked message about her departure. Because, you know, all that stuff about being stuck to a tree.

Following Libby was not difficult. She had a head start - but she was also carrying an enormous stomach, apparently cradled in her arms. Lots of people watched her march steadfastly down Pubton's streets, up to one of the gates, and out into the forest… towards the work site, where a cadre of her assistants have not-so-secretly been assembling the Dauphine. Edmund, who had tried briefly to reason with Libby and gotten a punch for his troubles, told me that my wife had a hammer strapped to her belt.

My first thought was of Monday. Of a hammer to the stomach. I dashed off in pursuit, the worst notions in my head.

I caught Libby before she got to the work site. She was attempting to move through the brush, and her stomach had gotten wedged between two redwood trees. She was trying, gently, to get herself out again.

"Libby!" I yelled, running up behind her. "The hell you doing out here, lady? Are you crazy? You should be laying down!"

Libby grunted and twisted, wincing at the bite of bark on her bloated skin. "I'm… ngh… goin' to work. Got shit to do, and I don't trust those lunkheads I trained to do it right. Get me outta this damned boxed canyon thing, will you?"

I chuckled, despite myself. "A boxed canyon doesn't have a way out. Two trees do."

"Not for a fatass like me," she grumbled. "Hurry up."

With time, and patience, and no small amount of spit, we managed to extricate Libby from the trees. She fell onto the ground with the ponderous grace of a whale performing a ballet, and we sat for a while in silence, watching the trees.

"Leaves gonna fall soon," she commented, once she had her breath back.


"Might bury me."

"I'd say so."

"Probably means I should get up 'n get the Dauphine done. So we can get outta here."



I braced myself. "Libby, I don't think we're goin' anywhere after all."

I expected shock. Rebuke. Refusal. Instead I got cold silence.

I fidgeted, waiting for a response, then continued. "This… this belly of yours, it… it's got me worried, y'know? I don't wanna risk hurtin' the baby. Or you. At least until it's born, I… I figure we should stay here. 'n…"

She waited.

"'n maybe…" I took a deep gulp. "Maybe you should stay in Pubton anyway. S'probably safer here."

Again, I expected an explosion. Instead, Libby reached over, touched my face, and kissed me. I flitted on little butterfly wings for a few seconds, happy and content.

Immediately thereafter, she headbutted me.

"How's that feel, huh?" She cracked her knuckles. Her hands barely managed to meet over the bulk of her stomach. "Feel weak or vulnerable at all? I'm a tough bitch, Dragomir. I'm goin', you're goin', baby's goin', we're all goin'. No delays."

I rubbed my forehead and waited a few seconds for the trees to blur back to normalcy. There were way too many trees. "B… but what -"

"We are going, and that's fuckin' that."

The finality in her voice set the issue to rest. We are, indeed, going.

Libby spent the remainder of the day shouting orders at her workers from the shade of a tree. She wanted to join in on the action, but I reminded her that she didn't stand a chance in hell of climbing up the side of the Dauphin in her present condition.

And you know what? In retrospect? I think her going is the right call. Because this pregnancy, it's not the same as the others. And I'm not even talking about the heft of her belly. I think… I think this one's going to be normal.


When Libby was pregnant with Eve, she was a psychotic she-monster. She nearly ripped my head off in the wake of her discomfort. When Libby was pregnant with Grayson, she was almost abnormally calm, as though constantly drugged. With this kid, though… this apparently huge bugger… she's normal. She's just Libby. Cranky, work-oriented, tough-as-nails. And I think she realizes that, because as far as I can tell, she has no further intention of sticking a knife in her belly. Thank the gods for it.

Though the fact that she went so far in the first place…

I still have concerns. But I'll keep them buried for now, because… ow… she's got one hell of a headbutt.


Dragomir the Wanderer

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Nineteen: Objects may be larger than they appear

My gods… how… how big can it get…?

In the last three days I've made a point of checking on Libby every hour. Daena's a wonder, and she is kinda stuck in one spot all the time, but I can't expect her to forever focus on Libby. I'm the husband, and as the husband I need to attend to my duties as well as my wife.

Libby is getting bigger. And bigger. And bigger. I swear her belly had grown a teensy bit larger each time I saw her, and when I finally bade her farewell for the night, I had difficulty spotting her head over the swell of her stomach. It's huge.

Libby isn't taking it well, as you can imagine. She's incapacitated and groggy, but even in that state, she's freaking out. I'm glad there are no knives in the Matriarch… or if there are, I'm glad Libby isn't able to fetch any of them. Her stomach has pretty much pinned her to the ground.

She might have been right. Maybe she can only give birth to… you know… abnormal babies. I'll still love whatever comes out of her in the end, but… gah. Babies.

All this makes me sincerely wonder whether the trip in the Dauphine is a good idea.

Ever since the battle against the Non, as well as the revelation that the Eve living here was some old man in disguise, I've been longing for the opportunity to get on the road. Iko is a long, long way from here, and we have a lot of ground to cover in as short a time as we can manage. The thing in my hands… hell, I don't even know what to call it… it's practically itching to get out and do some good.

Or wreak some havoc. Not sure which phrase is more apt.

But imagine this. On average, Libby takes a few weeks after pregnancy to give birth. As far as I know, Grayson was in her tummy longer than Eve, though I'm honestly not sure about that. Either way, I'd say two months tops. Two months of pregnancy - and in this case, it's pregnancy with a stomach that keeps growing like a balloon. If this doesn't stop, we won't even be able to fit Libby in the Dauphine. That's a purely logistical concern.

And what about her health? Libby has significant trouble moving around at this point. In a few more days she'll be totally incapacitated. What will happen if we try to cart her into our transport? Will it hurt her? Or the baby? And what will the constant motion do to her? Could she, gods forbid, pop?

I won't leave Libby alone. Where she goes, I go… and where she stays, I stay. So… unless something changes… the Dauphine might not be going anywhere. Not right now.

Fuck you, Iko, for so many things. Most of all for living on the other side of the world.

Yeah. I… I guess we're… not going anywhere. Not until we know more. I'm hoping to get a doctor into Pubton to see Libby, so… hopefully… that'll happen soon.

My family is so messed up.


Dragomir the Wanderer (or not)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Eighteen: It Grows

My gods, is she ALREADY going to give birth…?

Libby remains under the watchful eye of Queen Daena, usually in a small tent within the ruins of the Matriarch. Problem is, Libby's belly is growing so quickly that she's becoming too large for the tent to contain. When I visited today, I noticed that a small portion of her stomach was peeking out of the side of the fabric.

I don't know what's happening. Her belly is now quite a bit bigger than when she had our other kids. And though there are plenty of moms and dads living in Pubton, none of them can offer an explanation for Libby's rapid growth. They all claim to have had children of a normal size. This did not comfort me.

Even worse were the hypotheses. Every parent I spoke to offered 'possibilities', things that could potentially explain why Libby's stomach is on a rampage. The explanations included:

- Twins, triplets, or potentially more
- One really fat baby
- Two fairly fat babies
- Three babies that should get more exercise
- Not a baby at all, but some kind of parasite (I nearly throttled this guy)
- A baby with its own home office
- A baby that likes to run around a lot, and therefore created a small arena in Libby's tummy
- Aaaaaand a wife that needs to cut down on her sugar intake

Most of the explanations were meant to calm or reassure me. None of them, except maybe the explanation that Libby's becoming a lardo of her own volition, did the trick.

In the end, it was Daena who offered the most comforting advice:

"Stay by her, Dragomir. Stay by her and support her. That's the best thing you can do."

Daena's been a godsend. As I'd hoped, she's managed to stabilize Libby with her cheerful words. When I arrived at the Matriarch's grave earlier, they were happily chatting and swapping stories of the past year. I imagine the topic of lost sons came up at least once or twice, though by the time I got there they were both laughing gaily.

I didn't get my chance to speak to Daena until Libby rolled over to nap. She offered me a cold, accusatory stare before closing her eyes, but I don't think there was any hate in it. Think.

I rubbed the back of my head. "Support her, huh? Gonna be tough to do that if she gets much bigger. We'll have to, ah, 'adjust' the Dauphine. Hell, our trip might be on hold as it is."

Daena nodded. She's one of few people who knows what Libby, Plato and I have been building. Makes sense, since she's once again the primary power source with her kicking legs. "I understand. And I'm glad you're willing to hold off until she gives birth. That's very responsible."

I shrugged. "Well, y'know, what can I do? Don't wanna expose Libby to the world if'n she's not ready for it. Especially after the… erm… knife. Thing. Has she… said anything… about yesterday…?"

Daena shook her head. "It hasn't come up. I don't want to pry into it too much until Libby makes it clear that she wants to talk. As strange as it sounds, I think she's already put it from her mind."

That knocked me for a bit of a loop. "Put it from her mind? She…" I lowered my voice to a husky whisper. "She tried to stab herself, for gods' sake! How the hell can you put that from your mind?"

The queen shook her head sadly. "The human capacity for self-denial is amazing, Dragomir. I don't know that Libby would have actually gone through with it anyway."

My mind crawled unwillingly back to the flash of the knife, turned aside only by a miracle I'm not sure I want to address right now. "I'm not so sure. But, uh, as long as she's not gettin' near any pointy objects today…"

Daena laughed sadly. "No, no. She appears too pinned by her belly to go anywhere anyway. Do not fret, I will keep both eyes on her at all times."

The queen offered me a hug. I accepted. Celine danced by, singing 'That could be construed as cheating', and we both shushed her.

Work continues on the… yeah, okay, it's called the Dauphine… in Libby's absence. I've recruited a bunch of her assistants onto the project, now that reconstruction of Pubton is complete, and Plato 'n I are leading them, day and night, in getting the thing done. We made incredible amounts of progress with Libby at the helm, and it may only be another day or two before we're ready to leave.

… assuming I CAN leave.

Babies. Ugh. You little bundles of joy make things so complicated.


Dragomir the Wanderer

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Seventeen: Yikes

Hell. We found Libby.

I don't know where she hid out last night, but it was good enough to confuse Pubton's trackers. (Including me. I've become somewhat adept at it.) I searched until 3 am, until my eyes were drooping and my head bobbing, and I found no sign of my wife beyond the occasional familiar boot print. The muddy ground's made it tough to track.

I was called back to the scent a few hours later, when an early morning labourer, on his way to work in one of the fields, called frantically for help. I couldn't hear most of what he said, but I heard the word 'Libby' quite plainly, and that was enough to get me out of bed and out the door, still in my ragged-ass mayor's clothes.

Libby was lying on the mound of dirt where once stood a beautiful golden tree, so recently her prison. She was covered in grime, a wild, desperate spark flitting in her eye. A paring knife danced from one hand to the other. Most of the time, she was pointing the knife at her belly.

A small crowd had formed around her, but no one dared to get close. Libby didn't respond to anyone until I pushed my way through to the front.

"Get BACK!" she screamed, pressing the knife lightly against her belly. A small trickle of blood slid down the rise. "YOU GET THE HELL BACK, DRAGOMIR! THIS'S YOUR FAULT IN THE FIRST PLACE!"

Grimacing, panicky, I urged everybody to back off and give us some space. I think the crowd moved maybe five feet away, otherwise remaining staunchly on the scene. Jackasses.

Hands up, I took a few careful steps towards my wife. The knife didn't cause any more wounds, but it was as threateningly close to my child as I would ever care for it to be.

"Libby. Please. Drop the knife, honey. S'okay."

"IT'S NOT OKAY!" A few tears slid through the dirt on her face. "HOW… HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT? I'm going to… to give… to bring… another… another FREAK…"

I shook my head. "No. You'll have a baby. And we'll raise her. Or him. And he, or she, or it, will be lovely. And ours. Please, c'mon, Libby, drop the knife."

Libby looked to the sky. "He… he was… I… I thought he was perfect…"

Two more steps. "I know. So did I. 'n he's still our boy, and this will be too, maybe, so-"


I jumped forward, but it was too late. Libby's knife came down -

- and with a sudden, unexpected BOOP, the knife went sailing away, landing in the mud.

I skidded to a stop in front of Libby. The horror and pain in her face faded instantly, replaced by near-comical confusion. She'd seen it as clearly as I had: just before the knife hit her stomach something within had pushed up, deflected the knife to one side, and sent it flying. The milky white of Libby's belly was as pristine and unblemished as ever.

I wasted no time. "GET HER!"

The crowd descended. Gently, but forcibly.

Libby's under close watch. For now I've left her with Queen Daena, who's the closest thing to a friend that Libby's ever had. I think Daena can stabilize Libby's mood… and Daena's occasional attendants will help her keep an eye on Libby. Fortunately, it shouldn't be too difficult to catch Libby if she tries to run away again…

… because her stomach has grown. Not by much, but it's noticeably bigger. It's bigger than it was when she had either Eve or Grayson.

I… I don't know what that means.

I saw a dark side of my wife today. She was prepared to kill her unborn child (and possibly herself) without knowing if it will be… you know… abnormal. And while I have to admit that the odds are stacked against us so far…


I'll have to keep an eye on her.


Dragomir the Wanderer

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Sixteen: The day of the nudies

Oooooooooh, I don't think I'm allowed to touch Libby like that anymore.

The bellow of my wife as she discovered her third pregnancy belly was enough to rattle the rooftops of Pubton. I'm pretty sure her roar blew out one of my ears, if not both. I still have a slight buzz in my head. I can only hear it in the quiet of the night, but, trust me. It's there.

The roar was accompanied, in short order, by a furious WHAM of her fist. It sent me sprawling out of bed and into a nearby wall, where a slight concussion added to the lingering effects of sleep. I tried to inquire about the problem, but I think my question came out as "Bbbrrrbrlllprl?"


Crawling away from the wall, attempting to worm my way back into bed, I held up a supplicating hand. "Libby, m'love, you're… talking again -"

Libby grabbed my 'supplicating hand' and twisted. I heard a crack. My pinky might be broken. I'm not sure. I wobbles weirdly. Add it to the list of injuries. (Still missing two teeth. Do they grow back? I don't rightly know.)

Once I was back on the floor and wincing in pain, Libby grabbed her clothes and left. She stormed out of the room in her pyjamas, prominent belly wobbling. I haven't seen her since, and not for lack of looking - hell, I've been on my feet all day, hunting for my pregnant wife in every building and corner Pubton has to offer. There's nary a sign of her. Everyone else is also on the lookout, but…

Skimming back on what I've written, I don't sound that concerned. Trust me, I am concerned. I'm extremely bloody concerned. Libby wasn't in her right mind before this happened, and now… now that she's faced with the prospect of another child, ripping her world apart… gods. I can only imagine what will happen. I'm scared.

But I'm also giddy. How often do you get a third chance to do something right? Something you feel you were born to do? I get to be a DADDY AGAIN! And come all the hells of all the worlds, I swear that I'll raise this child to be well-adjusted, loving, caring, and not the least bit psychotic. Just you wait and see.

… assuming I find Libby, of course. I really wish she'd stop taking off like this. It seems like I only just got her back from the last time.

Back to the search. Libby's a bit ponderous when she's carrying a kid, and this belly developed in record time. I'm hoping it will slow her down and force her to ground. Then I can swoop in and bring her home.


Dragomir the To-Be-Father-Number-Three-How-Awesome-Is-That

Friday, August 23, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Fifteen: The tradition continues

I write by candlelight. I'm bare-chested. And… bare-legged, to be honest.

Tonight was weird. Very weird.

I spent all of today feeling incredibly optimistic. The transport is well underway, the crew is prepped and ready, our destination is clear… ish… and, for the first time in a while, we received some good news: Goblinoster is holding fast against the Non attacks. It's one of the only kingdoms still standing in the Indy Plains, at least in the north. Nice to hear that King Gok is fighting the good fight.

I suspect that the Non are concentrating more on the giant landmass that's apparently appeared where the Grand Chasm used to be. As far as I know, the lock they were after was keeping all that land under wraps. So… maybe they have everything they want, and will back off a little on conquest? Who knows. For now, this is good for us.

Problem is, the more I thought about the trip, the more I began to wonder if I was heading in the right direction.

Ever since shit went south in the hole, I've been struggling to get my daughter back. It was always my intention to storm the old castle and pull her straight out of hell… but when June dubbed me 'mayor', I kinda lost sight of that goal. I was mired in petty politics, in farming and building and all sortsa meaningless stuff.

Then she came back. But it wasn't really her. And with the fake gone, I'm back to square one. My daughter is out there, she's always been out there, and she's under the control of… things. Hell, when I saw her, she had green eyes. Green. She might be turning INTO a Non, and if that's how they're born… gods help us all, I guess.

She attacked me. She beat me up. She… she was going to kill me. And she wasn't smiling this time, she wasn't saving me this time. She was going to off me for good.

I… I can't help but wonder if she thinks I abandoned her. Left her to rot with demons spawned from an unknowable place. And in thinking that, I… I have a responsibility… a duty to set her free… and gods, I want to, I just want her, and Libby, and me, and, hell, even Grayson, I want us to be a damned FAMILY.

Just a fucking family. You know? We can be dysfunctional, we can yell at each other… can fight whole wars against one another… just… I just want a family. Is that really so much to ask?

The more I thought about this, the more it wore at me. It nibbled at my happy thoughts and dragged me down. I must have looked as bad as I felt, too, because as the darkness came in and I bid goodbye to Plato for the night Libby took my hand and led me to our bed. She set me down, and she hugged me, and in the quiet we embraced for a long, long time, weeping over our broken children.

Thank the gods I have her.

Now I write by candle-light. I'm still bare-chested. And bare-legged. She's asleep in the bed.

We did that thing that married people do.

But, oh, lords above, it was so sad.

(Yet I still have a stupid grin on my face. Can't help it. Is that strange of me? No doubt.)


Dragomir the Wanderer

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Fourteen: Recruitment Drive

Whoa. THAT was a confidence boost, lemme tell ya. I kinda sorta feel like maybe we can possibly do this conditionally.

I posted the recruitment sign yesterday with two expectations:

- One, that I would get a small handful of people.

- And two, that people would add their names to the sheet by way of their agreement.

I did not expect enough people to fill our transport to capacity. I also did not expect those passengers to show up at my house to announce their participation in the trip.

The first was, unsurprisingly, Plato. I guess he doesn't count - he's already coming along, and he's been showing up every morning to help us work. I greeted him, he quacked, and we sat down to breakfast. (I try to eat at home, now.)

The door resounded with a second knock a few minutes later. Edmund stood outside.

"Greetings, Dragomir. / Have no jot of fear,;/ I'll cover your rear / from peril far or near."

I counted and grinned. "Six syllables on that last one, Ed. You're slipping."

He punched me on the arm and went inside, apparently to partake of my breakfast.

Three minutes later there was another knock. This one sounded distinctly grouchy, and my vigilant ears were rewarded when I opened the door and found Grylock standing outside, a boar at his side with a chain looped 'round its neck.

"Hey." He took a drink from his hip flask. "Goin' somewhere, eh? Hope you aren't thinkin' of leavin' me behind."

We've never been 'friends', per se, but I shook my head anyway. "'course not. But, uh, what's with the boar?"

Grylock patted the beast. "Always wanted a riding pig, ever since I was wee. Borrowed this one from the butchers'. Too fine a beast to slaughter, you know? Could come in handy."

The boar grunted. Now we need to make a little pen for it.

The exodus continued. Celine was next, and she offered he services of herself and her mother. This was good, as we needed at least Daena to come along, and I'd intended to talk to her later in the day. Harold appeared after her, though I had to turn him down, as the town needed its two leaders. Then came Morris, and the head Weekendist, the hunter with the fox, Jeffrey's old bannerman, a slew of old and beloved faces who all wanted a piece of the journey. I accepted the lot.

(Expect, you know, Harold. Poor guy.)

By noon we had a full contingent of people, and I had to take down the sign in the Beefiary. Everyone else who showed up past them went away disappointed, and by nightfall the visits had stopped.

Except for one.

The last visitor was none other than Lord Pagan. Pagan's been attending to the issue of defence, and has been personally training my father, now Captain Oswald, in tactics and leadership. I haven't seen either of them much in the last two weeks, and when I saw Pagan I expected my father to be standing beside him. No surprise, he was.

What I didn't expect was the man being led by my father, clad in chains.

"Good evening, Dragomir." Pagan nodded. "How are you?"

I tilted my head. This was half curiosity, half to furtively swallow part of an onion that was still in my mouth. (Dinnertime. You know.) "I'm… good… how are you…?"

"Hale and hearty." Pagan lightly thumped his breastplate. "But I'm not here for pleasantries. I have a special request from my long-term prisoner."

My father pushed 'the prisoner' forward a few paces. "Go on, maggot. Evenin', bastard boy 'o my loins. Libby still tight-lipped?"

Unphased. "Yeeeeep."

"Need to get her into bed. That'll open 'er mouth. I did breed ya with a penis, didn't I?"

That made me cringe a bit. "I prefer 'thinger', dad."

"Fuckin' hell, what kind of baby talk -"

"AHEM," Pagan loudly interjected. "We're not here for this, either. Go ahead, speak your peace.

I turned my attention to the shaggy-haired, ragged man standing before me. Sometime in the last four weeks he'd ditched his grey, smelly mantle and cardboard crown, but contrition still clung to him as tightly as it had when I planted my fist into his cheek.

"Hi, Jeffrey."

The old king nodded. "Hi, Dragomir. Nice night, isn't it?"

I nodded, head still tilted. "Y… yeeeeep."

"Yeah…" He shuffled his feet in the dirt, chains clanging. "Real… nice."

My dad whacked Jeffrey in the back of the head with one of his flailing wooden arms. "Man up!"

Jeffrey stumbled, looking more pathetic than ever, but the move did the trick. His request came out in a burst. "I wanna come with you!"

I hadn't expected that. "… what?"

Jeffrey shook his head. "I… want to come. As well. Too. Please. You… you can consider it… part of my sentence, if you like."

I cocked an eyebrow at Pagan. He shrugged. "I don't see why not. I have no idea why you're gallivanting off to the west, and I'm sure many of you will be killed. The risk seems punishment enough. Not to mention I'd like to reclaim the storeroom where we've been keeping him. It smells like yak breath, and needs to be aired out."

I thought it over for a moment. There were lots of reasons to turn him down. He's a criminal, he's weak, he's whiny, he's a coward, and he fired a cannonball at my daughter's head. I can't bring myself to be angry about that last fact, since Eve is nigh-indestructible, but still. The intent to kill was there.

Yet he saved my life. I haven't addressed it so far, not once, but Jeffrey risked himself to keep me alive. That earns him a chance.

"Sure." I reached out and shook Jeffrey's hand, even though he hadn't offered it. "Welcome aboard."

We have a crew. Now we just need to finish our new home… and set sail.


Dragomir the Wanderer

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Thirteen: A little whittle

Today, I made Libby smile. I carved a little statue of her with a pair of scissors. I only got halfway through, because the scissors slipped out of my hands when I realized it could technically be a weapon, and the statue looks more like an overweight old man than my beautiful wife, but I got her hair right. The ol' ponytail look.

Gods. That smile. So gorgeous, even if it is so tiny. It breaks my heart. She looks so much like our daughter.

Libby's still not talking. I'll keep working on that. For now, I have something else to discuss: the trip.

As I mentioned, I'm not gonna talk about our mode of transportation. That's a strict secret. I can at least say that it's going to be big, and will have room to house a couple dozen people inside it. I would LIKE those people to be familiar faces, and so I posted a sign in the Beefiary, asking if anybody would like to join.

As I was nailing the sign to the bulletin board (with an old, hard wedge of cheese - stupid weapon-esque hammers), a shadow fell over my shoulders.

"Hi, Dragomir."

I stiffened and turned. "Bora."

She bit her lip. "What brings you here at this time of day?"

I stepped back and pointed at the sign. It read as such:

'Looking for adventure? Excitement? Travel opportunities? Dangers in far off lands? Possible encounters with some guy who throws rocks? Really big rocks?

Dragomir needs YOU!

Some travel accommodations - food, water, transportation - will be provided. Please bring your own clothes, cash, and weapons. Especially the last one. You may die, but your chances are probably as good out there are they are here.


Bora squinted at the sheet. "It's… a bit dire, don'tcha think?"

I shrugged. "Maybe. I figure people should know the truth 'bout stuff like this. Bein' honest is important, you know."

"Yeah. I guess it is."


We stood in silence. A flashback to a pair of kisses, one used to help somebody escape, hung between us. If nothing else it reminded me of the other reason I'd come, and I reached down to a small satchel at my feet.

"What's that?" Bora asked, grasping for some reason to change the subject.

I reached into the satchel and pulled out an old, beaten, muddy straw hat. Bora cringed when she saw it, breathing in sharply.

I handed the hat to her and left. I don't think the real Eve has any interest in straw.

Now I wait and see if anybody's willing to join me on my crazy-ass trip. I hope I get a few people. Ed and Grylock, at the very least… we could probably use a cook, but I'm kinda hoping someone else will step up.

I guess I can cook.

If I have to.


Dragomir the Wanderer

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Twelve: It's quietude... a little too quietude

So that's my relationship with Plato. What about Libby?

Yeah. Libby's not doing so well.

When Libby and I first got married, she wassssss grouchy. Very grouchy. She could joke, yes, and she had her happy days, but most of our interactions were less-than-cordial. And, frankly, I kinda got used to it. A Libby who's not at least a bit grouchy isn't really Libby. She's kind of a douche like that, and I love her for it.

When Grayson came along, it all changed. He had a calming effect. He brought out the best emotions in her, turning her into a big ball of joy… but only when he was around. When he wasn't, or if his honour was called into question, Libby's rage asserted itself. She became the ultimate defensive mother. And now, I know, it's because Grayson himself was messing with her head. And mine.

I couldn't convince her of his maliciousness. She would never stand for such accusations. I knew that if I even tried, he would claw into her even more. She had to see him for the monster he was. And now, in the midst of the battle, she has. She's seen him.

I'm told she kicked the crap out of Grayson. He's since disappeared. Nobody has a clue where he went, but I'm pretty sure it's… away. Because Libby, well, the old Libby is kinda coming back, only she's saddled with the worst case of regret, remorse and outright sorrow that I've ever seen in a person. She loved that boy with all her heart.

He was, is, a monster. In his own way, Grayson is just as bad as Kierkegaard, or The Baron, or June, or Doc, or… bad people. The bad people of history. I might even say he's worse, because Grayson wields love like a weapon. And I don't think he knows any other way of using it.

Grayson. Gods. I pray he doesn't come after us. The last thing Libby needs is an appearance by our twisted son.

All this is to say that Libby is a mess. She spent three days in utter stillness after the battle, only moving to use the latrine or to fetch herself water. She refused to eat. On the fourth day she went into the latrine with a razor, and when she came out… no hair. I like the look, and I think it was cathartic for her, but…

The silence. Libby's mute. She hasn't said anything in weeks. I know she CAN speak, she just… won't. All she does these days is toil away on our pet project, hammering together wood and pieces of metal in the dark, below Pubton. (We can thank Plato for carving a hole through the living room floor and into the ground for us. No clue how he did it, and I'm not sure I want to ask.)

I bring her food. Small presents. Gifts of goodwill. My kisses and hugs. She takes them all, but she won't offer any comment, not even a tiny smile. She just accepts things, nods, and goes back to her hammer and nails. Libby needs time, I know that, but I have to try anyway. It's my duty as one of the worst husbands in the world.

Work continues. I'll discuss the project when the project is done. Right now I'd rather write about other things. Lord knows I have no shortage of topics.


Dragomir the Wanderer

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Eleven: Be kind to your platypus

On the first night, after the battle, I nearly killed Plato.

I was wet. Soaked. I can't imagine my clothes ever being any wetter than they were. I was exhausted. My mind, my brain, utterly erased by everything I'd seen and learned. My daughter, killed… and my daughter, resurrected. I'd spent months, months, with a stranger. A fake. A fucking copy.

Plato came with me that night. He led me to Libby, as if he'd known we were connected. We numbly embraced, both of us drenched. Then Plato brought us home, back to this house, where, over several nights, he told me as much as he could.

Plato told me that he'd found me, after being placed in the jury by Edmund, through pure luck. I believe him.

Plato told me that he'd followed me after the end of the trial, that he'd practically stalked me during the siege, and that he'd kept after me all the way to Pubtwon. I believe him.

Plato told me that he didn't announce his presence because he's bad at communicating. I believe him, because his vocabulary is… a bit… odd.

Plato told me that he knocked out Antonia so I could escape. He won't say how, but I believe him.

Plato told me that he transported us from Pubtwon to Pubton in a matter of seconds, using a device he doesn't want to discuss, and which, unfortunately, he can't replicate. I believe him (and so does my stomach).

Plato told me that he fled my side because he fears Kierkegaard. They were, says Plato, schoolmates - though definitely not friends. I believe him.

He told me that Iko was their teacher. I believe him.

He told me that Iko sent him to find me, though he doesn't really know why. He only embarked on this journey because he trusts his teacher. I believe him.

He told me that he knew nothing of the Eve copy. I believe him.

But I didn't believe him that night.

Plato's words were ill-timed. I was drenched, ripped apart, bleeding, heartbroken and confused. He should have waited a day or two. Instead, he decided to reveal the truth to me on the spot, while there was still so much rage penned up in me, only held back by the sorrow of my loss and the revelation that my Eve was not the real Eve.

Those gave way when the platypus spoke of Eve's copy, and of Iko's deception. The thing, the red power in my hands, burst forth again. I was holding that crimson cross-piece for a second time. And I nearly, I so very nearly, used it to cut Plato's head from his body.

I only stopped when I realized that he wasn't trying to duck away from responsibility. He remained firm, his eyes closed, tears rolling down his bill. Truthful or lying, he wasn't the one to blame. And when I realized that, the… weapon… the whatever it is… disappeared again.

I'm still not sure about Plato. I… think… he's one of them. He may have a hidden agenda. But he's been honest with me, and he believes that Iko can help me control this weapon hiding in my fingers. If this thing could… make me good enough…

To… take on…


I need it.

To defend Pubton, and maybe… maybe to get her back… I need it.

We're going on a trip to the Imperium. The Imperium, and beyond that, a big-ass desert.


Dragomir the Wanderer

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day Five-Hundred-Ten: Time for a Mindful Walkabout?

Yeah, fine. It worked.

But only because I'd planned to come out in public anyway.

(I wonder where Harold picked up my diary. I could've sworn I left it in June's cave, back in Pubtwon. I'll have to ask him… or read up on past entries… there's no such thing as a private document when you're mayor, I guess.)

I woke up this morning with one hell of a headache. I've been working some long nights with Libby, lately, and sleep's been a precious commodity. Our project has involved some rather intense work. I'm bushed, and sore, and… well… confused.

Yeah. Confused. That's a good word for it. Confused, but determined. Determined to see this shit through.

I wasn't really in the mood for a crowd at my door at 8 am. Even if it was a crowd of well-wishers, supporters, and friends. My constituents. But there they were, and there I was, in my pyjamas, and… hell.

Evangelina stood at the front of the pack. I knew she'd be the one to make the demands. She's tenacious. (And she's been hiding under my porch. I'm not stupid. I noticed her boot tracks in the dirt.)

"Dragomir," she said, crossing her arms.

I looked the crowd over. At least eighty people, all gathered 'round my house. Including Edmund, to whom the house originally belonged. "Pubton."

Eva snorted. "Cute. We're here to have a talk with you. You know, the talk we should have had two weeks ago? Maybe three?"

My head drooping, I nodded. I waved behind me, and out of the darkness stepped Libby, also in her pyjamas. More than a few people in the crowd gasped when they saw that most of her hair was gone, chopped away by a sharp razor and several hours of determination. I was pretty surprised myself, the first time. (Kinda reminded me of Logan shaving his dad's hair. Though much prettier. Sorry, Jeffrey.)

The crowd made room for me as I descended the porch steps, mindless of my bare feet, and walked towards the remains of the golden tree. The entire damned thing was uprooted a few weeks ago, as far as I know, and the roots burned. A shame - it was such a pretty thing - but it's good to know that June doesn't have a hut to hide in anymore. I think.

Had my wife trapped under my nose the whole time. That withered bitch.

(June, I mean. Not Libby. She can be bitchy, but she's not a bitch.)

Libby walked at my side, and, presently, appearing from a side street, Plato joined us. He's an odd duck... platypus… whatever… but I think I like him. Decent, plain-talking fellow, and he's been really helpful. The crowd followed our trio, oddly quiet, still led by Evangelina, though even she seemed taken aback.

I stood on the mound of dirt where once the golden tree had grown, thinking, 'Hey, this might be the last time I have to do this,' and waited for everyone to gather around us. By now most of the town had turned out, spotting the crowd from a distance, and though I felt the slightest tinge of panic at their numbers it was soon quashed. I'm pretty awesome at public speaking after the past year.

"People of Pubton," I began, clearing my throat, "I've been real quiet for a couple weeks. 'n I'm sorry about that."

The crowd murmured their forgiveness. I sensed no recriminations. Pretty grateful for that.

"I know you think I'm a great mayor, and junk. Or I think you think I'm a great mayor. I dunno. Have we ever done a popularity poll? Evangelina? Have we?"

"They like you just fine, Dragomir," she yelled back. "Get to the point!"

"Oh, yeah." I scratched my head, keenly aware that I wasn't wearing my floppy mayor's hat. "Well, first off, I'm retiring. For real this time. A year's long enough to play mayor, I figure, and y'all don't need three of us. From now on, Harold or Evangelina can be mayor. Pick one, they're both good at it."

The crowd focused on the two co-mayors. They fidgeted. Then the attention went back to me, and none other than my dad, decked out in guard's armour already, shouted "Are you pussyin' out again, you little fuck?"

I waved. I've gotten used to handling him. "Nope. That's the other part of this, dad. 'n everybody else. Libby, Plato and I… we're all takin' off for a while. We've got something we need to do. Somewhere we gotta go."

"But where?" somebody in the crowd yelled. "And why? And how? And who? And what? And when?"

"Across the world," I replied. "Stuff to do, you'll see in a bit, already answered that one, don't know HOW to answer that one, aaaaand a week. Maybe two. Gonna be gone a long time, I can say as much."

Evangelina looked like she'd had just about enough. Stepping away from everyone else and pulling Harold with her, she stormed up to me and shoved a finger in my face. "You can't fucking abandon us, you asshole! We just barely survived those shadow things -"


"I know what they're called." She nearly planted her finger up my nose and removed several days' worth of boogers. (I need to clean.) "We barely survived, and the only reason we're still around is because of your kid. Which means, at the very least, that we should have YOU around. If you leave…"

I smiled and patted her on the head. "If I leave, I think you'll have a whole lot less problems. Trust me. I'm pretty sure a lot of the shit you suffered is because of me. If I'm gone, you'll be okay."

Evangelina's face twisted into something furious, but also sadly desperate. Vulnerable, maybe. It was a weird thing to see. "But how do you know?"

I had to force myself to nonchalantly shrug. "I… guess I don't. But I'm willing to bet on it. And besides… if I do this…"

I turned back to the crowd. Expectant faces with expectant expressions bored into me, demanding solid answers. I knew that the wrong answer would unleash a torrent of refusals and demands to stay. So I had to say the right thing.

"… if I do this, I'm pretty sure I can save you all."

And that was it. There was confusion, and gloom, and a bit of cursing, but… more than all that… there was trust. Pubton quietly accepted it all, without any more explanation than that. I guess I've led them through so much shit that they believe in me. Or… something.

Yeah. Something.

I spoke of many things after that. I told Pubton that I would need people to come with me, if anybody was willing. I told Pubton that Libby and I were working on a transport, and that we could use some help, now that we were done… grieving. (Though I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who's done.) I told Pubton that we probably wouldn't be back for a year, because that's about how long it took Plato to get to me. I told them a lot of things, and I told Evangelina and Harold a lot more, later that night, sitting in the dark.

Not once, though, not once, not to anyone but Libby and Plato, did I ever mention the name Iko. The name of the man I've sworn to kill.


Dragomir the Wanderer