Will Saves vs Crocodile
The royal twisted and rolled, dragging Glig by the wrist, scraping him across the riverbed. Glig was in a psionic hold, paralyzed, unable to fight, unable to even feel anything except his memories being devoured by the ancient crocodile’s mind.
Swimming in the Candleglass. Walking barefoot through the rice fields. The taste of the pumpwater at his grandmother’s. As each memory surfaced, Glig lived it for a second before the royal tore it away, leaving nothing but bloody fragments drifting back down into his subconscious.
Spear-fishing with his brother as a teenager. His friend Felty’s stupid laugh. His cousins holding his head down in the water trough. Each gone, gulped down in front of him. This time though, Glig noticed the royal seeming to choke, as if that last memory was sour. He thought of the pinecones, of Mahani shouting nonsense. Maybe if he could feed this thing enough sour memories, it would release him.
His cousins trapping him inside that barrel with the gill spider. His cousins throwing him into an occupied mating burrow when he was only six. His little sister’s blushing, betrayed face as he did the same thing to her a few years later. The royal struggled, but forced the memories down.
Breaking his ankle at ten. Sleeping alone in the shed for a week when he had lullmaid fever. Having to kill a wild burrback by himself at age eight because his father wasn’t there. The royal gagged. Glig felt some sensation in his toes. He kept going.
His father not there during the flood. His father not there during the famine. His father not there when the birdmen raided their village. Cowering with his brothers and sisters in a dilapidated house, watching his mother shaking at the door with an axe. The birdman walking right through the wall, putting its sword in her back, shouting its own name in triumph. Velriel.
The royal convulsed, vomiting out the memory, losing its paralytic hold. Glig could now feel everything. The cold of the river. The toothy jaws crushing his wrist. His dislocated shoulder. Dozens of lacerations from being dragged through the mud and branches and rocks. And the desperate need for breath. He was drowning. Glig panicked, and memories poured out for the angry, gluttonous crocodile.
His mother’s funeral. Living with his cousins. Helping them work the fields, the same fields he walked through with his wife every winter. Gone.
The smell of those fields. The smell of wet riceshoot. The smell of the spice necklace she wore their first year together. Gone.
Glig tugged on his wrist. Nothing. He pulled his knife from his belt and stabbed blindly toward the royal’s head. Nothing. The knife slipped from his hand and he clawed at the royal’s face, pounded at its eyes with his fist, knowing he was dying.
His wife’s favorite song.
His children’s favorite colours.
Their ages, their names, their fac–
The royal howled. The water turned red. It howled again, letting go of Glig’s wrist to flee from something.
Glig saw them now. A team of mighty, sleek creatures. They looked like even bigger versions of the waterpigs that grazed in the marshes back home. Hippopotamus.
They surrounded him, carried him up through the clouded water, and laid him down on the warm, red clay of riverbank. And as Glig coughed silty water out of his lungs, cradled his broken wrist, and tried desperately to remember his wife’s name, Mahani ran over and knelt beside him, dripping wet, clouds of steam flying off the white-hot summoner’s glove on her left hand.
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