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Reaching the West Reaches

Reaching the West Reaches quenches the mended blade, and brackish steam flares up around him, faster than he expected: brings with it towers and terraces, figures in the mist, screaming, minarets shattered in flames.

Stumble Jade lifts his welder’s mask to glare. “Control, control, you must learn control!”

“I saw a city in the clouds,” says Reaching the West Reaches slowly.

“It is the future you see.”

“They were in pain.” He rubs his head thoughtfully, the scars smoother than they were when he came here, tan blending their edges. “Will they die?”

“Always in motion,” says Stumble Jade, “the future.”

Reaching the West Reaches

Reaching the West Reaches can run now, for the first time in many years. It’s strange and painful, and he staggers gladly to a stop at a cold-breathing cave to set the dwarf down.

“The Wish Power could never heal me before,” he grumbles. “Tell me why I can’t–”

“There is no why,” sighs Stumble Jade, sitting.

He peers into blackness. “What’s in there?”

“Only what you take with you,” says Stumble Jade. “Your weapon–you will not need it.”

Reaching the West Reaches takes up his broken blade anyway, and limps through the entrance.

The Backstroke is waiting inside.

Reaching the West Reaches

“We’re wasting our time!” snaps Reaching the West Reaches, and swings down hard to slice the dwarf in half. The little man sighs and takes the energy of his mighty strike, steps in, turns and buries the blade deep in pumice. Reaching the West Reaches strangles and Wishes and pulls with gearground arms, but the sword is stuck.

“I cannot teach him,” Stumble Jade growls. “The boy has no patience.”

“He will learn patience.”

“Hmm.” He smooths his bald head again and again. “Much anger in him. Like his father.”

“Was I any different,” murmurs Ratio Tile, “when you taught me?”

Reaching the West Reaches

“Like we’re being watched,” grates Reaching the West Reaches, spinning with his broken sword out.

“Away put your weapon!” cowers a dwarf. “I mean you no harm!”

He grunts and lowers it. “I’m looking for someone.”

“Found someone, you have! Help you I can, yes, mmm.”

“I don’t think so,” sneers Reaching the West Reaches, and leans on his sword like a stick. “I’m looking for a great warrior.”

“Warrior? Stumble Jade. You seek Stumble Jade!”

Reaching the West Reaches shares a startled glance with The Plum Of; but she just watches, always behind him, flickering blue as an ocean mirage.

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