Sorry this is a little late coming out today. I left my USB drive at home. Now I present the next Canto, wherein a meeting finally occurs. If you’ve missed anything or wish to re-read, follow the “Oscambria” label or click here.
Oscambria jerked awake,
Gasping madly for air and clutching at his lips.
Jumping alert with her master.
Her purple tongue flashed through the air.
Oscambria took in his surroundings
And for a span of moments forgot where he was.
Then the weight of everything collapsed on him and he remembered.
The capture and subsequent near-death experience.
Eating too many eggs and gorging himself on sweetcakes.
Falling asleep while waiting for Koesan to arrive.
He bolted from the couch and slapped his head.
“Mossy, how long was I out?
What if she came in here while we were sleeping?”
Before he had time to fret any longer
The door handle rattled.
A woman’s voice cursed.
“Oh full Pantheon in Gastron, deliver me,”
bracing himself for the verbal assault
and the certain heartache that would come.
The door opened and she walked in,
Glanced at Oscambria,
And softly shut the door behind her.
She was every bit as beautiful as he remembered.
The exotic mask concealed most of her face,
But her eyes were both a sharp and soft,
Silvery blue, alert and accusatory.
Fear bubbled in his stomach.
His heart ceased to beat
(or so he claimed),
though his pulse quickened.
He moved towards the woman,
But she moved at the same time,
Creating an awkward two-step.
Soon they were sitting on the couch,
Side by side,
But not yet speaking.
They simply sat and stared.
Mossossopia’s tail wagged happily,
Thrilled that Koesan was scratching a favorite spot,
And a small giggle of laughter escaped her lips.
The Hero had no clue on where to begin.
He'd never been good when it came to women,
well, when it came to speaking with women,
and the mess of his nerves helped nothing.
He rubbed at his face and thought frantically.
"What do I say?" he wondered.
He opened his mouth and Koesan filled in words.
"Why do you not smell?" she asked,
pulling down the cloth that concealed her face and sniffing.
As if he didn't have enough problems concentrating,
he now found himself staring at this beautiful woman's exposed face,
the first time he'd seen it fully since the night he'd saved her.
"I noticed it as soon as I entered.
It's almost as if the odor has completely vanished."
A blank moment passed before Oscambria realized he needed to respond.
"It's... It's this suit I'm wearing.
It somehow keeps the smell from escaping.
I, uh… Koesan, listen. I’m sorry.”
He stopped thinking and let the words fall.
“I shouldn’t have left you all back there near Bransustopoles.
I don’t know what I was thinking.
“I didn’t want to upset you
or cause you any undue stress,
so I thought it’d just be better if I left.
I followed you all as best I could,
Keeping a watchful eye in case of trouble.
On my way I met someone who offered me this suit
And I greedily accepted his bargain.
“Believe me, I never wanted to hurt you.”
The words stopped,
Ending abruptly as they began.
Her intoxicating eyes narrowed
And a smile broke out on her face.
“I was too hard on you.
It was unfair of me to say the things I said.
“I hope that you, too, can forgive me,
as I have forgiven you. Let’s put our disagreement behind us and start anew.
What say you?”
“I say that’s a wonderful idea.”
“Good,” she laughed,
grabbing the Hero and hugging him like a girl hugs a rag doll.
“Now don’t ever leave me like that again.”
Perhaps it was the heightened senses of seeing her again,
Or maybe there was love in the air,
Thick and heavy as a yoke of oxen stabled on a barge
Traveling down a river of lead
And loaded with iron ore deposits.
Maybe it was the hug.
Whatever it was, the Hero found his brain addled and his heart pounding in his ears.
“You made a bargain for that suit, eh?”
she asked, prodding.
“I’m surprised it works.
Blocking out a curse is impossible.”
“And it looks so strange,
like it’s from a far off country or something.”
“It sort of is,” he answered lamely.
“The person I made this bargain with was Lahk.”
Koesan blurted a sharp, piercing gasp.
“You made a deal with Lahk?!
The God of Deception!
What were you thinking?”
Already her calm was cracking, her budding temper kindling.
“I was trying to—”
She laughed forcefully,
Holding up a hand and stopping him.
“I’m sorry, Oscambria. My temper is quick to light.
If I were cursed and had a chance to block the curse,
I’d’ve taken the bargain too,
Even if it was with the Snake.”
She paused and took a calming breath.
“What did he ask of you in exchange for the suit?”
“I’m supposed to retrieve something that was stolen from him.
The item’s supposed to be in Feoga,
And I stopped by here to get some supplies before I headed out.”
“Well, I’m going with you,” she said bluntly.
“And don’t try to talk me out of it.
“If you’re going to survive then you’re going to need help.
Besides, you’ve got a bigger role to play,
Or have you forgotten your destiny?”
“If only I could,” he thought,
remembering the strange dream,
the fog and haze pouring over everything.
The haunting stare of his own skull.
“No, I’ve not forgotten.
I just don’t want to do it.
A savior for the Living Worlds?
Who am I to do that?
All I want is to be cured of this disease
And punish Zzizgarg for his actions.
I don’t want a war among the gods.”
He was standing near the table of food,
Looking blankly at an apple,
As if it could give him some answers.
Koesan moved from the couch,
Coming to stand behind him.
She placed a comforting hand on his shoulder
And spoke gently.
“I know you don’t want this, Oscambria,
but it’s what’s been given to you.
What’s woven is woven. You know that.”
She moved closer to him,
Taking his hand in hers.
“And I’ll be with you every step of the way.
You won’t have to do this alone.”
He turned his eyes to hers,
Pain and misery etched behind them.
The overwhelming emotions pulsing through his veins left him vulnerable,
Left him excited, but tired and wary.
He blinked slowly and nodded,
Setting his lips to a determined line.
“Let’s tell Columbus. Then we’ll get some stuff and go.”