Posted by: jolantru | May 31, 2010

Eight Branch: Confrontation

Fiona remained an enigma. As the days became weeks, City street vernacular was whispered behind her back. Siao cha bo and gila followed her as she passed by the groups of City refugees. I heard the words said in silence, almost in secretly. Mad woman. Crazy. No doubt she was uncommonly hard on the City folk, including me. Her tirades were infamous because she loved perfection and insisted things done her way. She was in charge of the bath house and was extremely proud of herself. Yet I could observe no love between the City folk and her. They disliked her and she responded in kind.

Once I spied her wrapping a long strip of leather around a piece of blue glass. The sharp edges cut her palm, lacerating her fair skin and causing it to bleed. She simply smeared the blood on the blue glass, keeping the strange pendant in one of her many pockets. I wondered what her actions had meant and mulled over them for days.

Meanwhile, Auri spent most of her time in deep conversation with Farhadi. Our time at the caravansari was slowly coming to an end. We had to move on.

“We have to go,” Auri told me quietly. “Farhadi has to run his business. We do not want to impose on him.”

“Where are we going?” I retorted back and she eyed me wryly. “To Josh’s own family stead?”

“We just might.”

“Auri, I want to go back to the City.”

“Mirra.” She kissed me gently on the cheek.


I made several attempts to be nice to Fiona. She rebuffed me each time, calling me names and giving me cold stares. She seemed to bristle with so much hatred. She often sat alone to have her meals; everyone avoided her. Heri dealt with her mildly. Farhadi only shook his head whenever he encountered her along the passages.

Without warning, she attacked me.

I found her shoveling hot coal into buckets. Beads of perspiration streamed down her neck, her dark hair damp and clinging to the skin. I could see that her hands were covered with a criss-cross of cuts, most of them healed, some newer and weeping with crimson blood.

“Fiona,” I tried to pitch my tone as neutral as possible. “Can I help?”


It was flatly delivered. Her back was turned resolutely to me. I could see wet streaks down the grey blouse.

“There is a lot of coal,” I said and Fiona’s back stiffened.

“No. Now go away.”


“Go away!” Fiona screamed, swinging the shovel at me. She came at me in a blur, I flinging up my hands to repel her off. White circles formed a shield.

“Ugh, take your magic away from me!” Fiona shrieked, hysterical now. I found myself thinking: Maybe the City folks are right. She is crazy. Fear.

She rushed me, the shovel whizzing through the air like a whip. Sharp pain lanced through my right side. I found myself lying on my back, gasping in pain. My right arm was consumed in invisible fire. I could hear people shouting now. Footsteps. Figures moving in the distance.

Fiona stared at me, her eyes wide. In fear. She looked like a trapped animal now. “Oh no, oh no, oh no!” She whispered raggedly and ran, flinging the shovel down. Two men chased after her. Later, I was that they apparently lost her after she crossed the green knolls.

Habibah helped me up, Josh and Auri right beside her. I let them dress the wound with antiseptic and clean gauze. Habibah declared she might need surgical needle and thread.

Fiona, what has been done to you?




  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joyce Chng, Candace McBride. Candace McBride said: @jolantru RT Eighth Branch: Confrontation is up: #weblit #webfiction […]

  2. […] About The Novella · Author’s Bio · Characters · Contributors/Sponsors · Crafting Ideas · Donate · Flora and Fauna · Gallery (Pearls Of Beauty) · Interconnections – Links · Map of Mirra’s World · Prologue – Read This First · Recipes … View full post on pearls – Google Blog Search […]

  3. Way too much anger bottled up in someone who lives in an isolated setting. Methinks that her hostility towards the City folk is tightly connected to that anger.

    Now I have to wait for the next Branch. Aargh.

    I am also going to try to figure out a way to purchase a hardback of this.

    • Yes, Fiona is a very angry woman. But she has her reasons.


      Thank you for your comments!

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