Listen to this post’s soundtrack.
When I begin to crumble
And the walls begin to fall
Someone please keep me humble
Hold my soul up through it all
On the bed, the Vegasian stretched lazily – held her hand up to the ceiling and watched the sparkle of jewels on her finger. The candlelight arced in prismatic strands from her hands, illuminating the dark corners of the room.
Under the blankets, stretched along her hip, lay a man entangled. He didn’t know it yet but the Spider was crawling towards him, sizing him up, cocooning him in silk, and when she was done she would on to the next, leaving behind only desiccated husks and the slow blink of corpses who didn’t yet know they were dead.
Another town, another suitor. Another heart to steal to plug the hole where her own should have been. Does the Spider feel pity for the fly?
No. The Spider only feels hunger.
Let fulfillment fuel the fire
Hide the emptiness inside
We all cover up desire
Learn to face it with our pride
Gatorland was a steamy cesspool of a settlement. The thick night air weighing the limbs of the woman as she moved through thick brush. Rajah cursed the oppressive humidity, pushing her hair back from her damp brow and adjusting clothing plastered to skin. She much preferred the dry heat of the West, where the thirsty earth sucked up blood, sweat, and tears as quickly as it did water.
Shadows filled the path ahead, a group sluggishly moving down the sandy trail towards her. She poised to run if needed, to slip into the shadows and put distance between herself and the mob.
“Who is that?” a voice called , somewhat familiar.
“Rajah.” she responded warily, eyeing their drawn weapons.
“There’s Hunters out there. We were coming to check on you.” the group relaxed, weapons lowering as Braves moved closer, fanning out around her. In the dark Rajah blinked in surprise at the considerate gesture.
“I didn’t know you cared so much, Jess.” she teased the grumpy rover with a grin, watching him scowl and cover with an insult. It was good to be back among familiar faces after the Burning Season apart. She hadn’t realized how much she missed it.
They weren’t Family, but they were the faces of Home.
The wheels begin a turning’
And the light cuts through the fog
And I begin a learning’
What it takes to do it all
A lone candle burned steadily in front of a loose-robed figure. Unseeing eyes watched the wax slowly drip on the table, dark and contemplative, arms limp in her lap.
The stench of smoke was still heavy in the night air. The Braves had returned to reclaim their town from the Cinders. Tonight many candles were burning, lighting up the scorched scrub around the Crossroads for the first time in months. Normally the Madame would have been ecstatic about the prospective business.
But instead she stared, somber, watching the flame eat away the tallow. To have a devastating War followed by the Burning Season had taken its toll. Pockets once full of Brass were now depleted. Bravo was an invalid recovering from a devastating illness. Another huge blow could ruin the town.
Rajah’s jaw set in determination. She hadn’t come this far to watch the settlement fall. Here was Family, Blood, Faith, Business and Future. She wasn’t a fighter like Star, nor was her strength in learning or SCIENCE! but she had her own skills she could contribute to making Bravo great. In a year she had crawled and scratched her way up from dirt, and now she was recognized, even respected by some. She would use that. Use it to make Bravo stronger. To breathe life into those who struggled and give them resiliency.
It wasn’t altruism. No one could accuse her of that.
It was Survival. And she was fucking good at it.
We rise up in the morning’
When the fire lights up the sky
We need to keep it burnin’
Fuel the fire in our eyes