When last we left Our Protagonists, one of them was bleeding, and one of them was pretty sure his day had just gotten even weirder– and that’s saying something, given the day he’s had so far. We now return you to Inkling, already in progress.
(If you need to catch up, you can always read the full story (for free!) here: Inkling
by Reesa Herberth
“Just a drop for the past, and a drop for the finding—“
“A drop for the need, and a drop for the binding.” Through gritted teeth, Collin’s voice remained steady, and there was a flow to the words that Grays appreciated, a rhythm that made them something more than creepy poetry. Or maybe that was the green glow rising from the counter as Collin’s blood boiled away to a mist.
The mystical mood was broken a bit when Emygdia looked up at Collin and raised one dark brow. “You want specifics, or do we both know what we’re getting out of this?”
“Specifics just make things harder to navigate. I’m good with generalities.”
The mist curled and twisted around their joined hands, drawing long shadows around them that Grays wanted to sketch, but would never quite manage, because they were cast from different directions, and moved without any relevance to the objects they sprang from. He wasn’t used to shadows with no sense of propriety.
It ended abruptly, and the sun returned in such a brilliant fashion that Grays realized it had been missing for several minutes, locked outside this strange little box of impossibilities. He turned, trying to see where the shop sprawled out into the endless, but there was nothing stranger to be found than the vaguely organized collection of things you might expect in an occult shop. Notably absent were a fox the size of his car, and any trace of blood, acidic or otherwise, on the counter.
“This is the most fucked up afternoon I’ve had since I accidentally dosed the day before midterms.” He didn’t know why he thought it was a good idea to remind them he was in the room, but Emygdia, at least, cracked a smile at him.
“That’s what you get for being nice.” Collin’s hand fell to his side, and he took what seemed to be a measured breath before holding his hand (uninjured, Grayson noted) out to Emygdia.
She reached into the pocket of her jeans and handed him a rock. Just a plain river rock that could have been pulled from any front yard in Phoenix. Well, any front yard that wasn’t green painted gravel. Collin took it carefully, his thumb brushing over the smooth surface.
“Best I can do for you, Bastion. I can’t risk the safety of anyone else in my realm by letting you in, but as long as you find an established dwelling and plant that rock by the front door, inside, mind you, you’ll have a safe zone unless someone comes knocking and you let them in.”
“Will it work at my place?”
She shrugged. “Sure, but if he knows where you live, a little thing like that isn’t going to stop him. It’s a masking spell and a temporary grant of homestead, not a shield. It won’t work at a hotel either. The boundaries of residence aren’t clear enough there. I’d lay low for awhile, if I was you.”
“Fucking perfect.” He slipped the stone into his pocket, looking back up at her with what Grays could tell was a totally fake smile. “And I suppose you’ll just come calling for yours whenever you feel like it, right?”
“That’s the plan.” Emygdia favored them both with a bland look, then crooked her finger at Grayson. “You should come here. You want to come here.”
He very much did not, but Grays found himself compelled across the space between them, managing to stop just shy of her touch, and only because he fought the urge to move tooth and nail, twitching like there were bugs under his skin. “I don’t.” It was all he could say, the diversion of speaking enough to break his hold on what little control he’d kept.
Her fingers were too warm against his skin, and her eyes were beyond anything he’d ever imagined; endless, bottomless, ancient. When she smiled at him, her teeth were pointed, her breath the smell of burning sweetgrass, and she licked her lips slowly.
“You shouldn’t have brought your friend. He can’t see what he’s seen, even if he doesn’t understand it. It’s been a long time since I devoured a memory.” Emygdia leaned in close, and Grayson didn’t know whether to look at her eyes or her teeth, both equally terrifying, and equally near. “I remember what youth tastes like, though, and he’ll do.”