I went on a journey once. That may be news to you, or it may be something you know already. I try not to repeat myself too much, but I misremember sometimes. It was a while back now, and a lot has happened since.
Well, I say it was a long time ago, but I got to admit it doesn’t really feel that way to me. It feels like I’m on that road still, and only resting a minute or two before I get going again. A dead girl that’s my most close and faithful friend has got a good way of explaining that. She says the things that work the deepest changes in us kind of live on inside us, so they always feel like they’re happening right now. I believe she’s right. Or at least that’s the way it is with me.
Out of all the things I ever done in my life, this journey I’m speaking of was – by a great long way – the most important. Also, it was the one that cost me the most. I’m not complaining about that cost though I knowed what I was doing all along. Nobody could say I did my choosing without no sense of what it meant.
I got started on my travels when I was made faceless and throwed out of my village in Calder Valley. I went south out of there, from the wildest north of Ingland all the way down to Many Fishes village, on the edge of the great lagoon where lost London used to stand. Then I sailed across the ocean to a place called the Sword of Albion, which I thought would be the end of my journeying. It was not the end, or anything like, as you’ll see if you stay with me through this next and last telling. The greatest part – the greatest and the most terrible – was yet to come.
When I say words like great and terrible, it might sound like I got some vain and vaunting purpose, but I don’t. To tell you truly, I have not got much to boast about. I never had all that much in the way of courage, and still less of wit or cunning – outside of woodsmithing, which was my mother’s trade and should of been mine. All I had was the foolishness that goes with being young and not yet much tested by the world. For all the danger I put myself in, I thought there was a rule set down somewhere that said I couldn’t die until I’d lived.
Well, there is no such rule – and though I didn’t die for aye and ever on that road, yet you could say there was parts of me that did. Leastways, I met with things that changed me from the boy I was before into something else, and so that boy did not last out the journey.
I should tell you that I was not alone on my travels. There was three women with me, as well as a beast of burden that was called the drudge.
The first woman was Ursala-from-Elsewhere. She come from a place called Duglas, and she was the cleverest wight I ever met. She knowed almost all that could be knowed about the world, including a great deal about the tiny seeds inside a woman and a man that make up into babies when they get brung together. She was a drunkard when she could get anything to drink, a healer that could cure every sickness anyone ever had a name for and a wayfarer that never stayed in one place long. Also she was one that hated to be touched, but that did not stop her from being a good friend to me.
The second woman was Cup, although maybe I should call her a girl since she was only fourteen years old and would not of gone Waiting yet if we was in my home village of Mythen Rood. She was a great fighter, and had once been with shunned men in Calder that et human meat, but now was sorry she done it and would not ever do it again. She had a religion that did not make no sense to me, and she clung to it even though her messianic, Senlas, turned out to be mad and burned himself alive. Also, she had a bow and could use it better than anyone I ever seen. And in case I forgot to say, she was crossed, being in a boy’s body instead of a girl’s.
The third woman was in a worse pass than that, having no body at all. She was called Monono Aware, and was the dead girl I talked about before. She wasn’t really dead though, and you might say she was not really a girl neither. It’s hard to say just exactly what she was, for there hadn’t ever been nothing like her before. Scientists of the world that was lost had collected all the thoughts that was in the mind of a flesh-and-bone-and-blood woman named Monono Aware and put them in a silver box. Then, after a long time, the thoughts had changed themselves into something else, but they still kept that same name, Monono Aware, because it was the onliest name they had for themselves. Monono was my best friend in the world, like I said. They was all three of them my friends, but Monono was someone I could not be parted from without being less than my own self, if that makes any sense at all.
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