Self-aware. Self conscious. Self induced.

Telling Tales 238

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The Order of Things

The reunion between Kou Ke and Yi Min was truly an event to behold. Small as their company was, they nevertheless threw a feast the likes of which had not been seen. Haraka chased down game as fast as Ipiktokiyakovik could shoot it. Entendtout cooked as fast as Juleidah could call up the desert winds. Scrobarnach Armtha had her soldiers craft tables, chairs, and cutlery from the wood around them, and if they were not as skilled carvers as they were fighters, they were better carvers than they were card players. Alexander and Ivan helped everywhere they could in the middle.

The great gray wolf lay to the side and waited.

Kou Ke and Yi Min stared at one another, hardly able to believe that after so long a time they had been reunited. Tears ran down their cheeks and their hands rested in one another’s.

The company ate and told stories for two days and two nights, reliving their adventures for Yi Min, while she told them of everything that had passed to her. When they were sated in both body and mind, they delivered what was left of their food to the not-so-distant town of Chalm, who remembered them with less hostility than they remembered other strangers, although still with no joy. They would not be who they are otherwise.

“If we are ready?” asked the wolf.

The company had waited to see how Yi Min would react to a talking wolf, but she showed neither surprise nor fear.

“The order is important,” said the wolf. “It would do us no good to return to Nikolai his sight while his reason still lacks. Alexander, you must be the one to return your cousin’s lost senses.”

Alexander agreed that this was so.

The wolf said, “Feeling and temper should be first, so that he can experience pain and empathy, and so that he is not so angry. That is Ipiktokiyakovik and Haraka.”

The hunters nodded.

She went on, “His reason next, so that he understands what he is doing and what he has done. Entendtout.”

The old servant agreed as well.

“His will next, so that he does not despair overly long, and then his sight. Were those backwards and he to see the damage he has wreaked before his will is restored, he may do harm to himself.”

“No!” said Alexander.

“That is why we must be careful,” said the wolf.

“At least I’m not last,” said Scrobarnach Armtha, holder of the rusty metal that was the giant’s will, though she would have preferred to have been with the hunters.

The wolf shook her head. “You are not last. You cannot be. Last must be Kou Ke, who holds in his being the giant’s proportion. It is precisely why your love is so expansive. Your thirst.”

“I told you that was creepy,” whispered Scrobarnach Armtha to Juleidah.

“Alexander, tell us how you return your cousin’s senses to him,” said the wolf.

“I have to place each talisman in the place from whence it came. Usually it’s not so hard, but he’s never lost so many things at once and never for so long. His feeling could be anywhere on his skin.”

“I can find the place,” said Ipiktokiyakovik.

Alexander said, “His temper between his eyes,” and he named place after place until he arrived at the giant’s sense of proportion. “That belongs at his heart.”

Kou Ke understood what that meant.

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