Budsday, 19 Frost

Earned 24 / Spent 15

Savings 17,130

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You know the maréchaussée are out in force when you never see any of them.

The weather drives everybody out of the streets.  Kernel never could cope with rain.  It’s the proximity of the jungle, pressing in close at the edges of the town: all that water makes it alive, alive, thrashing with life and the things that live in it … Hundreds of birds, some as big as a man, and lizards in flickering lounges that sometimes dash out from the protection of the trees – out across the mud to snatch at waterlogged insects.  Vegesaurs thunder through the forest, agitated by the weather.  They hate it.  Cauliraptors stalk the boundary of the jungle as they wait for the rain to let up.  You’ve never seen so many cauliraptors.

Yet I haven’t seen a single member of the maréchaussée this week.  That makes me nervous.

Rain comes when you need it, I’ve found.  You look up and realise the sky is as grey as your mood.  The Disc is close to eclipsing the sun.  When you feel like crying, sometimes the sky does it for you – long and hard, the sound of clouds overlapping coming like wracking sobs

Running has worn me out.  Yesterday in the cold Frost dark I wound my way to the alchemist.  I walked.  They named the month right: it was freezing.  Up past the Den I went in the rain, watching the trees lean out over the ramshackle town of treehouses.  The people of the Den are crazy most days, but in the rain they scratch themselves with anxiety with the jungle towering over them, growing greener and thicker.  I swear I saw vines curling over the suspended walkways like grasping fingers.  Xylem were tearing about the place, little mischief makers in the downpour.  They just soak it up into their branches and hunker down in the slippery earth to digest.  Rain doesn’t bother the xylem.

It was a new alchemist, and ex apothecary, but she was sure and fresh.  She wore the hood and hemp of the trade, rough material surrounding her smooth face.  I tell her about the root, I tell her about the running.  When she asked to take a sample, she surprised me by finding a thread at the side of my neck, under my ear: a tiny root tendril that has growth through the skin.  One of the earliest sign of Drakeroot addiction. 

She pulled on it and I screamed; the extraction was agonising, drawn out, and I sobbed through the process as the thread was pulled out from under the skin like a tapeworm, tugging the muscle of my neck and shoulder and chest.  Eventually she had the whole thread.  She ran it through her fingers and said she could help, prescribed a totem painted in two halves, blue and blue, that I’m to strap to my stomach and touch three times a day.

Blue and blue, there’s irony there – but you don’t care much in the rain, even when the rainforest presses in. 

In the sky, the sun is almost completely covered by the Disc.  That hasn’t happened in six or seven years.  There are whispers of another Displacement. 

I’m not sure we can handle a second one.

— RSR

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