Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Forty-Five

Everyone’s gone mad, Kemeny thought as she watched the Keidenelle and their prisoners fight mercilessly against each other. Frightened at the chaos that had erupted around her after splitting up with Draegon and Zanthys, she had found herself a hiding place in a large audience chamber, and she was still there. Panic had rushed like a wave through the people, savage and civilized alike, and they had scattered like rice on the wind. One small fight had remained, two men grappling over a sword, and then a third man had joined them, but they were gone now. All that had remained in the chamber with her was a body lying in a pool of blood. She hadn’t seen what had happened to that man– a Keidenelle by his clothes– but she suspected he had been knocked down and trampled in the madness as everyone rushed out.

Before she could squeeze herself out of the low little alcove she had twisted herself into– thank the Mother for her flexibility– the crazed masses had rushed back in, but this time they were fighting each other rather than running aimlessly. Savage fought savage; prisoners fought Keidenelle in pairs, in threes; women brawled with men; people died. Once what seemed like hours had passed and calm settled back in through the chamber, she was alone again, but instead of one body on the floor, there were now dozens. The sounds of fighting still came now and then from the hallway outside.

Trembling, Kemeny squeezed herself out of her hiding place and picked her way among the bodies, not daring to call for Draegon or Zanthys, not sure where to start looking for Weslyn and Roark. Part of her was afraid they she would find one or more of her friends– deep down, she even considered Zanthys some sort of a friend, even if an unwilling one– among the bodies.

It was Draegon she found as she carefully stepped between corpses. His face was battered and blood-covered; his shoulders, chest, and hips looked sunken. He had been dead for some time before she got to him. She wasn’t certain, but she thought he might have been the one who had been trampled–or whatever had happened to him.

She stood in shock, looking down on the lifeless face of her old friend. His eyes were closed, thank the Mother– she thought she might have vomited if he had been looking at her with dead eyes. Even so, her stomach heaved just a bit so she had to turn away from the bard’s body. The tears came then, rushing from her eyes in torrents, turning the rest of the bodies surrounding her into unidentifiable blurs. She was grateful for that; she feared turning around would only bring her to Weslyn’s body, or Roark’s, and she couldn’t deal with that at the moment.

Thunder rumbled outside. She had seen flashes of lighting flickering through the room all during the battle that had taken place. There was no accompanying sound of rain, though. Had the world gone mad?

Stumbling among the bodies, blinded by the tears that wouldn’t stop, she found herself up at the dais where the men had been fighting before. A heavy sob racked her, and she fell to her knees on the rug-covered floor.

Approaching footsteps reached her ears, and she wiped her eyes to look up. A woman had come into the room and was standing a mere six or seven paces from her, across the dais. The woman was lovely and finely dressed, but the look in her face screamed that she had seen and done and endured far more than anyone should have to. She looked tired, defeated, and in a strange way, empty. She was missing… something.

The other woman’s eyes lit up at the sight of Kemeny, and some of that missing something seemed to filter back into her.

“I know you,” Kemeny found herself saying. She stood, and she and the stranger approached each other.

The other woman nodded. “I’m Senne. I… know you, too. You’re……”

“Kemeny,” she finished. They were now so close they could touch without extending an arm very far. For a second that lasted an hour they stared into each other’s eyes. Kemeny felt a smile grow on her face and saw it mirrored in Senne’s.

“Jo…” she said at the same moment Senne said it. She knew who she was, who this other woman was. Jo. She remembered Jo, remembered dancing. Reaching out, she wrapped her arms around Senne in an embrace. The other woman held her right back. She felt whole.

If any eye had looked into the room at that moment, they would have found it empty save for dozens of dead bodies.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Forty-Four

Zanthys had already forgotten who he was supposed to be looking for. The savage fool Draegon had only given him names and vague descriptions anyway, and how was he supposed to find two complete strangers in this chaotic, panicking crowd? People, both Keidenelle and civilized, were running in every direction, cowering in alcoves, breaking things, screaming at the top of their lungs, pushing each other, and everything else people do when they’ve been driven mad by uncertainty.

The great doors of the castle stood open, showing only blackness. That thick, congealed-looking darkness scared him, froze him right to his soul. And what was even more terrifying was that some people were actually running straight out the doors and being swallowed by the nothingness. They just… disappeared. For one moment, they existed, then in a second they were gone, swallowed up so that their screams were cut off completely. They disappeared. Zanthys didn’t want to think about what happened on the other side of that black wall.

He backed away from the open doors, wanting to put as much space between himself and the blackness as possible. Where had that foolish bard Draegon gotten off to, and that girl Kemeny? Zanthys scoffed at the thought of the two of them. He shouldn’t even be here! It wasn’t his fault someone else picked up his fake Sonsedhor! No matter what had happened since then, it was a fake, and if it had caused problems for this Roark fellow, well he shouldn’t have picked it up anyway. Zanthys couldn’t control that, much less reverse his actions now. What were they really expecting, him to apologize and for that to make everything better?

He passed by a wide arch that led into an audience chamber and did a double-take when he glanced into the room. There was a dead body on the floor– Keidenelle by the looks of him– and a pair of men grappling on the throne’s dais.

One of the men he recognized immediately as Jaidyn Huntley. Anger welled up in him at the sight of the man who had ruined everything, all his plans, his prank– it was really Jaidyn’s fault that Zanthys was here, trapped in a castle with scores of Keidenelle savages. He drew his sword. He might not know how to use it– not really, anyway– but he knew which end to stab people with. He rushed toward Jaidyn and the man he was fighting with. He realized they were grappling over a sword, a sword he recognized: his false Sonsedhor.

Jaidyn glanced up as Zanthys hurried forward, sword drawn. His eyes flashed with sick amusement, and Zanthys saw for a moment a very foreign look in his contemporary’s eyes. Jaidyn looked– he couldn’t think of another word for it– possessed. Like someone else had taken him over and was looking through his eyes. Glancing at Jaidyn’s opponent, he saw the very same look mirrored in this stranger’s eyes. It was foreboding, calculating… evil. He shuddered but did not stop advancing.

Somehow, the two other men both got hold of the false Sonsedhor’s hilt and raised it to meet the descending slash Zanthys aimed at them. The fury of a demon came over Zanthys– he wasn’t sure from where– and his sword became a blur as he slashed and swiped with it wildly, pushing the two other men back. Neither of them relinquished his hold on the hilt, and together they parried blow after blow, not struggling for possession of the sword anymore, but for an advantage to dispose of Zanthys. It was almost as if they were of one mind; Sonsedhor moved smoothly, arcing, slashing back, flicking…

The two other men took a step backward. Sweat beaded on Zanthys’s forehead as he pressed on, pushing the mad-eyed men back one step after another. Through an open doorway they went, through a small antechamber, and onto a balcony.

The moment Sonsedhor crossed the threshold onto the balcony, somewhere between the balcony rail and the black curtain that loomed dangerously close, lighting flashed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Forty-Three

The great chamber had erupted into madness. An oily-looking man in black and blue clothes had stormed in and without a word, begun attacking the frightening young man who had stolen Sonsedhor. The two men were grappling over the weapon. The Keidenelle were just watching the two of them fight, wordlessly staring. Weslyn was a little surprised they weren’t placing bets like they had with all of Roark’s fights, but then she realized that this new man must be important.

She was standing on the edge of the group of prisoners. They had been untied from each other, but their wrists were still bound. Enough of the Keidenelle were still keeping watch over them that she didn’t dare trying to untie herself.

She watched as the two men kept struggling. For one moment, the youth had the upper hand, then the oily man. It changed with every breath. Even if both men were servants of the Dark Father– she had heard the evil deity mentioned more than enough to suit her for one day– she hoped the man won. The youth frightened her. Anyone who could so quickly come up with two dozen horrific deaths as he did was someone to be feared. She didn’t want to see what he would be like if he had the power to make those torturous deaths happen.

A hand grabbed her arm and began to pull her away from the group. Looking up, she saw a Keidenelle man had hold of her and was trying to make off with her. Wishing she had managed to untie herself, she began beating at him as well as she could, kicking at him, struggling to get out of his grasp. He dragged her past a window, and all she saw outside was black. No streets, no buildings, no golden glint of the dusted and painted city. The black nothingness had reached the outer walls of the castle.

Others noticed it, too, and the prisoners and the Keidenelle broke into a panic almost all at once. People began screaming at the top of their lungs, men and women dashed for the doors– although where they were running to was anyone’s guess. She kept beating at the Keidenelle who had her. He was shouting now, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying in the din. She didn’t care; she’d heard enough of their strange language to know he wouldn’t say much she could understand.

Another hand grabbed her other arm, and she looked up into Roark’s face. Before she even had the time to sigh with relief at seeing the big man, Roark had slammed a fist into the Keidenelle’s face and knocked him to the floor. Pushing Weslyn aside, Roark dove onto the reeling savage and began pounding him with fists, over and over again, beating the man until blood spattered onto the tiled floor.

The savage didn’t stand a chance. He was half Roark’s size and was only weakly able to defend himself. It was a few moments later, when much of the crowd had cleared out of the room and their screams had faded out in the corridors, that she heard her name called.

The Keidenelle man was shouting her name. And Roark’s. He was begging Roark to stop.

Weslyn caught one of the soldier’s big arms and tried to hold him back from hitting the man again. Roark stopped long enough to recognize Draegon beneath him.

By the way he was twitching and the way he groaned and protested when Roark tried to help him to his feet, she knew there had to be a great number of bones that were broken and fractured. Draegon stay lying on the floor in a pool of blood that was slowly growing. His hair was matted with the stuff, no doubt from a crack in his head where Roark had slammed him against the floor, trying to rattle his brains. He feebly moves his arms and legs. “I think… you crushed my shoulders…” the bard muttered faintly. “And my hips.” He coughed; droplets of blood flew from his mouth, dotting his crude clothes and his face with red. His breathing came shallow and with difficulty.

“Kemeny is…… here,” he said despite Weslyn’s insistence that he not talk or try to move. There was a terrible look in his eyes, like he was seeing everything for the last time. He was already convinced he was going to die. She knew it was too late for him, that Roark’s beating had done him in as surely as a knife to the throat, but she didn’t want to believe it. If he just stops talking and stays still, he’ll live, she told herself, even as she chided herself for having false hope.

“Kemeny…… in the crowd… looking for you.” He coughed up more blood this time. His eyes wouldn’t stay open, but she could tell he was trying to keep them from closing. “With Zanthys… lordling… he tricked…” He took in a rattling breath that made his whole body tremble violently. “I love you… Wes…lyn.” His fingers twitched. “Go… get out…”

She felt the tears welling up behind her eyes as Roark grabbed her by the arm again. She stood rooted where she was, not wanting to leave Draegon while he was still alive. She could at least be with him to the end, so he wouldn’t die alone.

“Just…… go,” the bard whispered hoarsely.

Roark pulled at her arm harder, forcing her feet to move. Feeling hollow, she trailed after him, barely registering his voice saying, “I think I saw Kemeny.”

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Forty-Two

Senne stiffened a bit when the two Keidenelle– a man and a woman– brought Roark into the chamber she was sharing with Akotherian. Without wasting a moment to put on more clothes than the little he was wearing, Akotherian stood and walked to Roark so the two were face-to-face.

“Where’s Sonsedhor?” he demanded.

One of the Keidenelle said in his halting speech that Jaidyn had taken it.

Akotherian went into a rage. “Sonsedhor is mine! You were told to bring it to me, not to him!” He slapped the Keidenelle man who had spoken across the face with the full extent of his strength. The savage didn’t even stumble, but looked at Akotherian with a mixture of defiance and humility. Did the man actually believe the Dark Father had the right to treat him like that? Senne knew she would never understand the savages. She ventured a glance at Roark. He was unreadable.

But Akotherian wasn’t finished with being angry. He seized one of the Keidenelle women who had brought Roark and unceremoniously took her head in his hands and snapped her neck like breaking a twig. Without another word, he dashed out of the room. She felt the tug at her core, the pull she associated with him being further than arm’s length away. Her essence longed to follow, to be near him. It was almost painful. But she could endure it.

The Keidenelle man seemed to have forgotten Senne and Roark were there. When he was certain Akotherian was gone, the man knelt and tenderly lifted the lifeless body of the woman and carried her out of the room, turning a different direction down the corridor than the Dark Father had gone.

She was left alone with Roark. Slowly, the big soldier turned his stony eyes to her. She returned his gaze, wondering what he saw in her eyes, what he remembered from before.

“I loved you once,” he said softly. “I remember.”

Faint remnants of memories tugged at her, but it wasn’t the face before her that she recognized. It was Hoeth, the young, na├»ve man who held her heart now– what was left of it. She had no love left for this unshaven, blood-covered bear of a man who stood before her.

As if sensing her feelings, he nodded and left.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Forty-One

Surrounded. By enemies. Even in the middle of a war, Roark had never been completely surrounded by enemies before. It wasn’t a feeling he relished. He now understood what it must feel like to be a wild animal caught in a trap: frightened, knowing that trying to escape would only end in injury or even death, but so desperate to be free that any price is worth it.

It was hard not to lose hope. He had seen the number of Keidenelle he would have to fight through to regain his freedom, and it was staggering. And he and Weslyn had now been separated. She was still in the big audience chamber, but she had been crammed into a far corner of it with a great deal of other prisoners. Sonsedhor was still in the hands of the savage he assumed was the leader of the band that had captured him.

Somewhere in the back of his mind– the part of him that noticed every detail of his surroundings and analyzed them for tactical purposes– he couldn’t help but notice how similar the big audience chamber was to Lady Ara Fusica’s chamber in Necras. The sudden, unbidden thought of the girl hit him like a hammer. What had happened to Lady Ara? He had practically raised her– not alone, of course– but he had been set as her personal guard almost from the moment she had been born. It was only natural that he should feel a fatherly connection to her, but… what had happened to her since he’d left? With everything that was happening in the world… had she been taken by the blackness? Attacked by Keidenelle? Was it possible… could she be among the multitudes of prisoners here in Estra?

Once that possibility entered his head, he couldn’t help but scan the room for her. The large bunch of prisoners in the room were perhaps a twentieth of all the prisoners the Keidenelle had brought. Odds were if Lady Ara was a prisoner, she wouldn’t be in here.

Another movement caught his eye. The Keidenelle man carrying Sonsedhor was approaching the dais in the center of one wall. Atop it was an ornate chair– the ruler of Estria’s chair– and in the chair, a haughty- looking young man sat sideways, one leg thrown carelessly over an arm of the chair. His pitch black, wavy hair was swept aside from eyes that had once surely been handsome but now looked somewhat lifeless. If not for a defiant fiery twinkle in the depths of his eyes, Roark would have thought the young man completely apathetic.

The savage offered the still-sheathed Sonsedhor up to the young man, who practically leapt down form the chair to seize it from him. He rapidly unsheathed the blade, throwing the scabbard aside like trash. He ran a hand up and down the wide blade, caressing it like a lover. Roark narrowed his eyes. He swore he could almost feel those caresses on his soul, sending shudders up and down the core of his soul. From the handful of paces away from the dais, where the Keidenelle were holding him, he could see that Sonsedhor had changed again since he’d seen it last. His bloody handprint was still on the hilt, but the blade– the once brilliantly silvery-white blade– had darkened to the sickening rusty, blackish red-brown of old, dried blood.

The young man kept his grip on the hilt and one hand on the flat of the blade, smiling at it. Roark could see the greed in his eyes, almost feel the desire for power it radiating from him in waves. For a long while, the Keidenelle stood silent, watching him.

“Kill them all,” the young man said suddenly.

The prisoners began to scream and the whole mass of them trembled. The Keidenelle exchanged looks, but it was Roark’s lead man who spoke. “Dark Father orders not to kill man,” he said, gesturing to Roark. “Dark Father’s order first.”

The Dark Father?! They followed the Dark Father? Mother save us all, he thought. They actually received orders from the enemy of all that was good? Roark began struggling against the savages holding him. He had to get out, had to get Weslyn out, to get Sonsedhor out of the hands of the Keidenelle and this sulky youth.

“I said to kill them all!” the young man shouted, his face turning red. The tiny spark of fire in his eyes had turned to a full blaze. He brandished Sonsedhor grandly, holding the blade over his head. Light from outside glinted off the darkened steel, making it gleam sinisterly. “I hold Sonsedhor! I am the ancient hero Cheyne Firdin’s rebirth! I am the legend, the perfect tool and chosen agent of the Dark Father himself! I will be obeyed!” Lowering the sword, he charged through the mass of Keidenelle toward the huddled prisoners. At random, he began pointing them out and ordering torturous deaths for them: boiling in oil, slow skinning and dismemberment, disemboweling, burning alive, and every other horrible fate he could probably imagine.

Eventually, his finger found Weslyn, and he began to detail how she would be enclosed in a metal chamber and have a fire set underneath it so she would roast to death. Weslyn’s eyes grew wide with terror. Roark narrowed his and vowed to himself that he would sooner die than allow someone as sweet as Weslyn come to that sort of a death. Somehow, he would find a way to save her and as many others as he could from the sick, twisted whims of this youth who fancied himself Cheyne reborn.

But how could he do it? Even if he somehow managed to free himself and all the prisoners– a nearly impossible feat in itself– the Keidenelle still outnumbered them at least three to one. Then there was the question of interference from the Dark Father. Was he really able to give orders directly to the Keidenelle and to this youth? If so, could he take action to stop any plans Roark tried to act on?

There was too much doubt. It would be difficult enough getting himself out. Weslyn and Sonsedhor were his priorities. Two people would be easier to get out than four hundred.

The young man was still going on with his torture assignments, but he had moved past Weslyn. The merchant girl caught Roark’s gaze. Her dark rich blue eyes were full of terror.

Swallowing, he made himself a different vow. If there’s no other way… if I must, to save her from a worse fate… I’ll kill her myself to save her.

The young man seemed to have tired of his sport in scaring the prisoners. Or maybe he had simply run out of ideas. Either way, he turned now to face Roark. “You’re the one he wants… you’re the one who found Sonsedhor first.” He sneered. “I can’t believe those filthy hands touched my sword…” He turned to the nearest Keidenelle. “If Akotherian wants him alive, take him to him. Get this usurper out of my sight.”
As a pair of Keidenelle dragged Roark from the chamber, the last things he saw were Weslyn’s terrified eyes and the youth fastening the re-sheathed Sonsedhor to his own belt.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Forty

Kemeny could see why Weslyn was attracted to Draegon when he stripped down to almost nothing. He wasn’t muscular, but he was well-built and lean, and there was enough definition to his muscles to know they were there. She wondered whether or not Weslyn had actually seen Draegon without his shirt on. If not, she was in for a treat whenever she did. If she ever did. For a moment, Kemeny actually considered stealing him away from Weslyn, but she overcame that desire quickly.

By the time she had decided not to start flirting with Draegon, the bard had crept down the hill and was nearly to the closest Keidenelle wagon. He had chosen his target and waited for the better part of two hours until finally, it was left unguarded. There weren’t any prisoners tied to it, and it was on the outermost edge of the masses. She just hoped he could reach it unseen.

Holding her breath, she watched him approach the wagon, keeping a lookout for unwanted guests. He finally reached it, rummaged around in the back of it until he came away with a large bundle. He hurried back up the hill to her and Zanthys, panting, and showed off his prize: an assortment of clothes, mostly sewn animal hides– some with the fur still on– just like the Keidenelle wore.

He sorted through the bundle until he came across some pieces that looked like they would fit him. Once he had gotten dressed, he looked like he would fit in perfectly with the crowd down there.

“How do I look?” he asked somewhat dismally. She could tell he was having a hard time really coming to terms with what he was doing.

“Silly,” Zanthys muttered.

“Almost perfect,” she replied, drowning out the snide lordling. “Hang on.” She bent down and rubbed her hands in the dirt for a moment, then ran her hands over his face and arms and through his hair. Once she was done, he was thoroughly dirty and had very mussed hair. “Now it’s perfect. I almost don’t recognize you.”

“I you’re sure…” he said, producing a length of rope from his bundle. He bound her and Zanthys’s wrists– with more than a little protesting on Zanthys’s part– and ran between their necks, making them part of his own little prisoner line. “This should work… One more thing.”

He took his instrument cases, wrapped them in a few of the unused articles of Keidenelle clothing, and fastened the whole bundle to Zanthys’s back. “I am not leaving my instruments out here. Well… let’s go.”

“Do you even know how to get in?” Zanthys said suddenly, his face contorted in anger. “These are savages we’re talking about! They’ll mark you for civilized the moment you open your mouth! How can you really expect to pull this off? It’ll never work!”

“I’m working on it!“ Draegon snapped back. Taking the end of the lead line in his hand, he led them down the hill. When they reached the swarm of savages outside the city gates, Kemeny heard Draegon take in a breath and hold it. She didn’t blame him; she wanted to hold her breath, too. But what they needed was for the charade to work. She hung her head, trying to look like a beaten prisoner.

As they moved among the wagons, no one gave them a second glance. Sweat appeared on the back of Draegon’s neck– the only part of him she could really see as he led them. He was terrified. Still, in some distant past, he was one of them. She felt sorry for him.

He led them in a winding pattern, slowly making their way to the gate. He breathed again, and she could tell his ears were cocked, trying to pick up bits of conversation, to learn how they spoke to each other. Kemeny made an effort to listen, too. She picked up broken bits she could understand– fragmented, poorly constructed sentences– that were aimed at prisoners that were still among the wagons. But to each other they spoke a completely different language, guttural and strange-sounding to her ears. Now she was getting frightened. How was he going to pull this off?

They finally reached the gate. Before the bard could open his mouth to say a word to the few lingering savages who seemed to be guarding it, they were swept through by the current of people, and then they were in the city. Letting out a whoosh of air in relief, they kept walking. The current continued to pull them, leading them towards the ruler’s castle.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mere Acquaintances- Chapter Thirty-Nine

Becca could hardly sit still as she looked at the piles of papers and tapes on the desk in front of her. So much information, that before had been nothing but cryptic…… but she thought she might have some answers now.

The personalities her patients had made for themselves… weren’t even part of this world. It seemed painfully obvious now. Even though it had baffled her so long. She felt sheepish that she had let that theory escape her. Just because she didn’t read fantasy novels didn’t mean no one else did. More calls to family and friend contacts had earned her the answers that yes, all five patients were huge fantasy literature nerds. Even Vale hadn’t been able to hide that from his coworkers. Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, Dune… all five were avid readers who, long before coming to Ighosia Falls, escaped into other words via novels. Now their worlds had become real, and they were part of it.

But their profiles suggested that all five had split their personalities before being committed, Dr. Anderson would ask. Becca thought she had her mentor pegged and knew how she would respond to this new theory. If that were true, if their personalities were developed before coming to Ighosia Falls, then how did they become so connected?

Becca thought she had the answer to that, too. The characters Cheyne and Masithina– the names had been given to her by Becky– were already part of the world. Looking back, she knew she had heard those names mentioned before, but not as direct address toward someone, so she didn’t think they were Emery’s or Joanna’s alternate persona. But the world was familiar to both patients. It was contrived by them as an adventure game when they were children. It was only natural that when their minds split, they would cling to something familiar, something from a happier time. That would explain the two of them.

Ryan… his study of mythology, legend, and fantastical writing, as well as his emotional sensitivity and creativity could connect him with them. His recent work on the Tyrfing opera would have given him another tie to Emery’s sword, Sonsedhor.

Lydia was much simpler. She had a need to belong, a desperation to be accepted and loved. That would have been enough to pull her in: the need to be part of a group.

Vale was more difficult. What could draw him into such a group? His coworkers had given her the answer: jealously. He hated being excluded.

Everything made sense all of a sudden. But what to do with this knowledge? Helping her patients was the ultimate goal; understanding them was just the first step. So how could she treat them when they were in a completely different world? Rowarck, Weslyn, Draygun, Sen, Kimminy, Jaden, and Xanthis had no idea where they were really, probably had no clue what a doctor or a mental hospital were. They were so deep in their delusions, their alternate world, that she wouldn’t fit in. She wouldn’t know what to do anyway, to interact with them.

She could very easily turn her speculation and research over to Dr. Anderson for her input, and maybe eventually publish a study about them, but to what end? She still hadn’t cured anything. At best, it was still all conjecture.

What could she really do differently anyway? For months, none of the patients had responded to any sort of therapy, group or individual. None of them had even acknowledged the presence of a psychiatrist. Which of them was the real person now, the body’s identity or the mind’s? Was Emery truly and completely Rowarck now? Was Joanna Sen or Kimminy? Or was she still Jo?

She finally decided that all she could really do was wait and see how things panned out. Would they stay like this indefinitely, or was this their own form of therapy? Things like that had been known to happen. They might just one day snap out of it.

It could go any way.