One Wrong Gate
« on: December 15, 2018, 07:58:31 AM »

Kirsi had broke their path through the panicked crowd to the Dark Gate. Ship left behind, grounded in the flaming yard of some grand house. There would be no hope of fitting it through this Gate, or forcing it through the people without killing half of them. But her bared teeth, wild eyes, and openly worn Red made them room. The fact that she extended her shield as far as she could around the strangers kept them from turning violent.

Starling was clinging to the back of her shirt, she noticed with stiff amusement. She did not look at the girl who carried Peregrine’s daughter. Not the queen mother, she had realized when they’d all tumbled down the side of the ship. Psychic scent all wrong. Just a witch girl, some hired nursemaid probably. The brothers were left to manage each other. Kirsi’s Red at their back. It wouldn’t last much longer, but long enough.

Long enough to get home. First of their group through the Gate, Starling had to shove her to make room for the rest. Forcing Kirsi off to the side. There was no room to stop, a flood of humanity at their back. Ahead of them it pooled. Women weeping. Grim faced men staking tents into ground. She pumped into an old man, grey beard buried in his hands, his despair so silent it gave Kirsi chills and sent her skittering back to the group.

This was not home.

A place carved out for them. Baby crying in earnest now. Not in fear but in hunger. It made her body ache, a primal memory it still responded to all these years later, for children not even her own. The infant was tucked into Peregrine’s shirt. She could hear the fussing behind her, eyes pinning the sea of people around them, not daring to look at the ones she travel with. The nurse-girl went off in search of milk, too stupid to bring any from the house.

Kirsi left too. A long legged ghost. Stacked neatly in her arms were the crates she always carried. Clattering bottles of brews. It made the dark nail on her ring finger forgivable. Black around the cuticles, ashy, brittle grey at the tips. Even the finger itself had a putrid cast. But beneath the black widow was a healer, and her Blood Opal was still good, and her brews always potent.

They made her skin crawl. All those people. Close and clutching, but their pain struck her worse. Not just the hurts of their bodies, but the wounds in their souls. She knew what it was like to lose home. To lose family. She could only heal one, but her ears were not deaf to the other.

Kirsi walked among them until she couldn’t walk anymore. Beyond exhausted energy, she slumped on the ground and cradled her head on an overturned crate. They were mostly empty now, and she could rest, eyelids heavy. An empty bottle of calming brew standing guard at her knee.