Sometimes when I have mental lapses and frustrations, I try to ask myself “What is it I know for certain?” What blessed things can my mind cling to as solid fact as a safety harness? When I can’t be sure who or what I am, I need those things to keep me somehow tethered to myself. I meditate on them to keep myself from falling into a me-shaped spiral.

I know that my hands are a cool violet, like the tinged, dying light of dusk.  It’s slightly lighter on my palms and inside of my arms. My Mistress Lectra used to compare my skin to the color of orchids, which means nothing to me since I’ve never seen one. Or if I have, it was when I wasn’t Raguel. She said that orchids used to grow in our swamp, before things changed and the fungi took over most of the local vegetation. Perhaps she liked me like this because it reminded her of a more innocent time when flowers were flowers and not disguised parasites.

The most radiant blossoms that sprout from the ground close to my Mistress’s tower are a hybrid, inverted-pitcher plant that germinates by burying itself into the eyes and ears of unsuspecting animals and humanoids. I watched a goblin youth struggle against it for months; his body fertilizing a new crop of carnivorous blossoms in the earth; he periodically spasmed and cried out for help. It would be impossible to know if it were really him or a trick engineered by the plants to draw in more hosts. I remember that little boy whenever I feel the desperate need to ask my companions for some kind of help:

“I might be dying, I don’t know if this could be my last day. I’m frightened, please help me.” These sound like the words of a dangerous insect. As a withering host to a parasite myself, it would be useful to draw in new prey.51206985_2930061497019699_2771694304807092224_n

It started as a discoloration on my shoulder from where my Mistress used to touch me, sweetly and beguilingly. The poisonous infection started off as a shadow from her fingers and embraces. I discovered that her poisons could be addictive. It supplied me with a gentle high of condemnation that I could never achieve from years of tedious meditation. I never worried that I would ever come to rely on them because my Mistress promised me that everything she did to me was done out of deep abiding love.

I could feel her love in everything she did to me, even when it hurt. No, especially when it hurt. The scars in my arms where she planted crystals, the myconid skin-grafts that she applied to me indecisively again and again, and of course, the sickly green infection that is growing exponentially faster now, are all precious proof of how Mistress Lectra wanted to claim me as hers.

I wonder why she was so frightened to lose me. Particularly if a single order from an uncaring Queen was enough for her to release me from her service. She apologized and told me to go live a good life. Her last order was to forget about her as if that were possible. Lectra is in my flesh now. I can’t forget her. The obsessive, twisted Lectra that walked out of the Dark Room made sure that would be impossible for me.

What was she like before the Ordeal? Was there that same need to brand me with her devotion? Were there orchids before she disappeared forever into the Dark Room?

I have thought it over and I don’t know what is certain. My hands are not certain, their color might give way to the green infection any day now. Whether or not the sun rises in the morning remains to be seen. Whether or not gravity keeps my feet locked to this world or sends me spiraling into the void, remains to be seen. I keep losing myself to the me-shaped spiral because nothing is certain. Not anymore.

Published by Alana Tedmon

Hi! My name is Alana Tedmon and I'm a freelance illustrator, D&D nerd and writing hobbyist. I created this blog to share some stories from my life that my friends have encouraged me to write. Stick around and enjoy!

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