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Some conversations are easy. They flow like a breeze over the dunes, each word falling into place, each reaction clearly foreseen. This was not one of those conversations. This was the wind howling through the Singing Canyons. It carried me along around corners and dropped me into deep rifts with no warning.
“I need to think,” I said.
Jonath looked at me, hard, and shrugged. “I understand. But don’t think too long. Whether you agree to help me or not, the Dragon will go to Verdure. And I can only protect you if you are with me.”
My thoughts tumbled, eddies and whirls. Jonath wanted to leave Loess; that I could understand. “What does my brother have to do with this?”
“Your brother. Yes, that’s a different thing.” Jonath studied my face. I stared back, trying not to give away how my pulse quickened.
Damn those eyes, I thought, and turned to look out the window.
Most of the passengers were sitting quietly, backs to the cavern wall. One woman sobbed into her hands. The Captain stood to one side, hands bound. Just out of reach, a man trained a crossbow at her chest.
A commotion drew my attention to one of the indistinct openings in the cavern wall. A half-dozen men walked out. They wore typical desert clothing: loose, light-colored garments that fluttered with every movement, though the newcomers lacked the ragged, travel-stained look of Jonath’s men. Another figure stepped into the cavern. At first he seemed no different from the others, but as he turned toward the ship I saw that the lower half of his face was covered in a kind of mask.
“His lungs were scorched when Verdure burned,” Jonath said softly in my ear. “Every breath is a torment. Because of the dust.”
Eddies and whirls. “That’s the Prophet?”
Jonath nodded. “He’s the reason your brother is involved. Let’s go say hello, shall we?” He took my arm and I let him lead me out of the ship.
This post is part of the Jade Dragon series. Though I try to make these installments enjoyable as individual pieces, I highly recommend that you read the series from the beginning to really get what’s going on. This particular piece is probably less self-contained than most, and for that I apologize! I hope you find it interesting anyway, or that it inspires you to read the whole series.
This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge weekly prompt:
You should write a creative response using the third definition of the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:
1 a (1) : a cover or partial cover for the face used for disguise (2) : a person wearing a mask : masker
b (1) : a figure of a head worn on the stage in antiquity to identify the character and project the voice (2) : a grotesque false face worn at carnivals or in rituals
c : an often grotesque carved head or face used as an ornament (as on a keystone)
d : a sculptured face or a copy of a face made by means of a mold
2 a : something that serves to conceal or disguise : pretense,cloak <aware of the masks, facades and defenses people
erect to protect themselves — Kenneth Keniston>
b : something that conceals from view
c : a translucent or opaque screen to cover part of the sensitive surface in taking or printing a photograph
d : a pattern of opaque material used to shield selected areas of a surface (as of a semiconductor) in deposition
or etching (as in producing an integrated circuit)
3 a : a protective covering for the face
b : gas mask
c : a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation
d : a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material
e : a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries