#1 [fr] 

Eeri opened her eye somewhere on the beach at Avendale. As so often, she tried to awaken the vision in her dead eye, without moving. All in vain. The nightmare continued, none of it a bad dream.

Even if she hadn't been able to show it, she was deeply happy for Kyriann and Ostium, who over the years had built a stable, lasting relationship in keeping with the values of the federation. Their marriage had been just like that, festive, happy, carefree. In a word, Tryker.

But so many people, what an ordeal for her. So many glances at her disfigured face, her once terrifying right arm now dangling pitifully from her shoulder, which was also almost motionless. She hadn't responded to the many greetings. She'd had to make a gigantic effort to finally meet Wixarika, Lylanea and a few others, pretending she'd simply not seen them.

The terrible Eeri, who had become a shadow of her former self in the wake of one folly too many. Coriolis wasn't enough; she still had to believe she could go on, to contemplate the ramparts of Fyre. The flamboyant Kipesta, against whom she had failed in combat, had won. She'd foolishly thought she was up to the task, running madly towards the fight, without thinking, instead of letting her companion take the axe. Oh, what a chance to come back, what a chance not to have lost her mind completely, they all said. She'd have been better off dead, dying with honor, in combat. She would have done better to return to Citadelle, give the truth to the marauders, and face their justice. And who could blame the Karavan agents who had taken them in? In the same situation, she would have done anything to help fellow human beings in distress.

The only comfort she found was with Azazor. The two had been through so much, hated each other so much, yelled at each other so much, that an invisible bond bound them, oscillating between love, devotion and complicity. Of course, they still quarreled and disagreed deeply on many subjects, but they also shared a common and unique vision, like two souls who had bonded in death and resurrection. Two souls who needed only a brief glance to understand and accept each other.

But he wasn't there.
Azazor wasn't there to give her the little spark of energy she so desperately needed. Had they lost their way? The fyros had decided to take their son, Uzykos, to Fairhaven, without telling her. It didn't surprise her that father and son had left without her. Uzykos avoided her out of fear, or shame, she wasn't sure. He'd probably found a way to delay their arrival, not caring if he arrived on time for his mother's friends' wedding. All Eeri's attempts to create a bond with her son were failing, day after day, driving her deeper into drink.

She would have been better off dead. Her son should have kept the image of a heroic mother, the image of crazy, brilliant parents, with grandiose dreams that would have led them to their doom, or never to take the road back. Would it have been better? She had promised to come back, she had come back, but at what price... She was well aware that she had missed everything. Well, Lyren seemed to be doing just fine. Probably because she hadn't been raised by her mother.Ò

Those Karavan agents should have let them die.

Her time was over. She was useless, finished, destroyed.


"Quand on a le nez trop près de la bouteille, on ne voit plus le bar"

#2 [fr] 

Yet a final choice, a final decision, lay before her.
A choice with no way back.

First she had to find him, convince him, and hope he was still fit to work. Rumors had a lot to say about his condition, but the ounce of pragmatism left in the fyrette told her that the nature of a rumor was to remain false until it was verified. He would always agree to help her, she knew.
The decision had been taken long ago, and had only been delayed too long. The decision to let him operate, to let him experiment on her what, in the memory of homins, had never been attempted or succeeded. If he succeeded, it could be a gigantic step forward for research and science, for the healing of irreparable damage. Perhaps it would open up hope for curing goo intoxicants, those whose seed of life had been affected, by operating as close to it as possible. If he succeeded, she could regain the use of her arm, maybe her eye.

If he failed, at worst, she'd die. A terrible loss, she chuckled to herself. To die, for good, to finish that kitin's work. In any case, the homins of the New Lands are running to their doom, unaware of what awaits them if the Citadelle passage gives way. Might as well die first and avoid having to watch it happen without being able to do anything about it, she thought, as it would rid everyone of his pesky, annoying presence. No one dared tell her what a burden she had become, dependent and unbearable. Everyone avoided offending her at all costs, avoiding being unpleasant with her. Those false voices, oh, you're looking good today, Eeri, here, have another byrh, but shut up, don't grumble too much. Or maybe they just couldn't see. Azazor, Lyren, Kyriann, the drakani, and the others, all had far too much to do to notice or admit that she was slowly sinking into loneliness and madness. Or maybe she was good at hiding it. Or maybe they were all doing it on purpose, to push her over the edge. Or maybe they just didn't care; they had too much to do with their two arms.

Wixarika, by slapping her on the night of the wedding, had shown her that she was perhaps the only one who still had a little hope, the hope that she would pull herself together, that she would break out of her destructive spiral.

She shook her head, still on that beach. Hope was futile. It was too late for her. She didn't want to go on like this, in denial, in immobility. She couldn't go on watching others do what she'd dreamed of doing.
Regain mobility or die. To become sawdust and tree again, to become matter, water and dust again.
Or to be able to move again.
One or the other, without compromise.

She had to find Maze'Yum, one last time.


"Quand on a le nez trop près de la bouteille, on ne voit plus le bar"

#3 [fr] 

Eeri crouched down, panting. She let a few predators pass, torbaks she'd used to defend herself against with her dagger, scaring others off with her boots in the old days. Every moment, every step reminded her of the time before, of that distant world, that world in which she was still able to wield an axe, to taunt bandits and varinx, to laugh, to run.

The road to La Masure wasn't very long. She hadn't warned anyone this time. Not Lyren, not Wixarika, not even Azazor. She had locked herself in her Fairhaven apartment and instructed the janitor not to let anyone in, not to disturb her under any circumstances. When night came, she put on her armor, put a few bottles in her bag and took advantage of the janitor's brief inattention to slip away. She swam straight from the pontoon to Fairhaven. Using teleporters was out of the question, as the risk of being seen was too great, and she didn't go unnoticed. She avoided the villages and crossed the Loria towards the vortex linking the lakes to the Masure, taking every precaution not to run into anyone. She skirted the cliff so as not to be spotted by the Karavan agent standing there, and crossed the vortex.

On the other side, while it took her a few seconds to get used to the darkness, she checked that no one was at the other teleporter, on the forest side. Luckily, at night, she could pass through without being recognized, and it wasn't Agent Karavan's job to keep an eye on hominid passages. Before her lay the real challenge: crossing this labyrinth alone. She knew the way, but the slightest carelessness or noise could turn her into prey for the area's many predators.

A few hundred meters further on, she saw a homin, standing in the middle of the path. She approached slowly, relieved that he had come to meet her, provided it was indeed him.

- I almost thought you'd give up coming.
- Have I ever let you down?
- No. And you're one of the few.

Mazé'Yum was nervous, she could feel it. She approached him, contemplating his tired mask, then his slightly trembling hands.

- Your friends didn't miss me.
- I know.
- I've got better things to do than get back at them, despite the time they've wasted," he added neutrally.
- It wouldn't do you any good, except more trouble. And I no longer have any power to help you.
- I know. I prefer to ignore them. Mediocrity and ignorance are their choice.

The Zoraï rolled up a sleeve to observe his hand, and flexed his fingers several times.

- Besides, everyone thinks I'm out of shape. We'll let them think it's true. Even though I've lost a lot.
- So she really did a good job, that... What's her name again?
- Varnili. She's talented, but special. Remember, you're not here to make friends with her.
- I thought I understood. But I...
- As long as I'm here, she'll do a good job," he cut in. That's all that matters.

The two stood there in silence for a moment.

- Let's go," Mazé'Yum finally said. You have to get ready.
- After you.
- By the way, did you write a letter?
- It's on the table in my apartment. They'll come looking for me there when they notice I'm gone. It'll keep them busy for a while.


"Quand on a le nez trop près de la bouteille, on ne voit plus le bar"

#4 [fr] 

That was it. Eeri was strapped to the operating table, so that any false move would not jeopardize the success of the operation. Mazé'yum felt as feverish as he had for his first dissections, even if he didn't let on. All his years of study of hominin physiology and the seed of life were now at the service of an unprecedented experiment. If it succeeded, they would have exceeded Karavan's capabilities. As failure was of no interest, his thoughts did not dwell on it for a moment.

Varnili was checking the sharpness of his instruments. The matisse was excited too, even if her reasons differed slightly. Of course, the scientific aspect also interested her, almost as much as seeing the pain resistance of her new test subject. However, Mazé'yum hadn't told her that he had planned to use various anaesthetics to preserve (as far as possible) the mind of his pupil and guinea pig. Varnili would be outraged when she found out, but once she'd started, she wouldn't stop. Nor had the Zorai told Eeri how Varnili had acquired her surgical skills. Besides, he was one of the few people to see this quality in the Matisse; to her fellows, she was just the most sadistic and inventive of torturers. No matter what adjectives they gave her, she was as expert as he was in homine anatomy, if not more so, and her hands were far more sure-footed. All the more so since Nikuya and Naveruss had broken the Zoraï's fingers; it was precisely thanks to Varnili's talent that he'd been able to regain the use of his hands, but there were still a few after-effects, a little too many for a sensitive job like the one they were embarking on.

The first part was easy: test the state of Eeri's nerves and muscles in this unresponsive arm. All he had to do was press the right spot and note the reaction to stimuli. This allowed us to pinpoint the damaged areas. The arm was a dead weight, absolutely inert and insensitive, but certain manipulations awakened a reflex or a rapid arc of pain.

Then the reconstruction work began. It was just as well that Varnili had trained shortly before on Mazé'yum's fingers, she was all the faster this time. They were also helped by something the scientist wouldn't have bet on: since Eeri had been so weakened by his ordeal, his natural regeneration was naturally slower, giving him time to guide and force the fibers back in the right direction. The potions prepared to counteract this natural regeneration were hardly affected, which was just as well, given their side effects.

This phase was one of the dirtiest butchery jobs around. Sometimes you had to start over in the same area, over and over again, until the flesh recomposed itself according to what you wanted from it. It was painful, but Eeri had seen it all before. She gritted her teeth, murdering the matisse with her eyes, but not even asking for a break. Varnili's smile widened like a torbak's when faced with a particularly juicy yubo. She loved it when it wasn't easy. Maze'yum was content to note the physiological reactions, ensuring that certain drugs acted in sufficient quantity and leaving the two homines in their mental battle. What the Zoraï gave Eeri over time kept her muscles limp; the wrong tension at the wrong time would have been embarrassing. He carefully monitored the vital signs of the fyrette, who for the moment still showed as much fighting spirit in her eyes, trapped in this body that was escaping her, tortured by the matisse's manipulations. Painkillers would be in order if she started to weaken, but as much as she had rage for the moment, it could only help her not to let go.

Finally, they reached a point where the arm was reasonably functional. The motor part had been adjusted; it had just been a few almost "easy" mechanical problems. Mazé'yum offered Eeri the comfort of a powerful painkiller which plunged the hominin into a near-death sleep; she needed to regain her strength for what lay ahead. And so did her two doctors.

Varnili scoffed:
- You're still a natural. She'll sleep with or without your product.

Mazé'yum was still a little vexed that Varnili considered him weak, but he wouldn't change her mind, and besides, he knew that it wasn't a weakness of character that motivated his actions, only the need to fully succeed in the experiment, which meant keeping the guinea pig as physically and mentally healthy as possible.

The matisse went back to her tribe to get some sleep and a bite to eat. Mazé'yum cleaned up the laboratory and instruments, preparing for what was to come, before settling down in a corner to breathe a little while keeping an eye on Eeri. It would have been handy to have Mac'Duncan for this stooge job, but Varnili cordially hated the tryker, and the latter was so terrified of the matisse that he committed blunder after blunder when she was around. In the end, it was less work not to have them in the same place together.

He dozed for a while, until Eeri's groan roused him from his slumber. He then got her to eat and drink, watching how she recovered. She grumbled at the fact that he was giving her water and asked for shooki, which was a good sign for the future. But despite her best efforts, she couldn't move her fingers or bend her elbow.

- Don't tell me all this was just to amuse that weirdo, Yum.
- No. It would have been nice if that had been enough. But tomorrow we get down to business. As we feared, there must be something on the side of the seed of life.

He let the fyros go back to sleep, noting her weary, even slightly desperate look. He was exhausted himself, but took the time to review some of the potions he planned to use the next day, before allowing himself a few hours' sleep.

#5 [fr] 

Back to the operating table. This time Eeri was plunged into unconsciousness; there was no point in her hearing Varnili cutting off his skullcap. The matisse had bitterly mocked Mazé'yum, until he told her he'd had enough:
- Enough is enough. If she's resurrected by the Powers That Be, we can start again. If she makes the slightest move, it could happen. And if she loses her mind, it'll all be for nothing. Especially as I didn't just give her something to put her to sleep.

The rest was a little wonder learned from Tao Sian. Obviously, the Dynastic Healer hadn't taught this to the Black Circle scientists directly, but the information was circulating. A few years earlier, the illustrious Zoraïe had tried a remedy on Supplice to slow down her illness, using a rare Prima flower. The mixture had indeed slowed the ailment... and the Sage, stuck in a time that stretched out slowly, very slowly. Not exactly the desired effect at the time.

But in this case, it was perfect. From the moment a homin's skull was opened, a countdown began. What better way to kill someone... and for the Powers to bring him back after far too little time. For a long time, Varnili and Mazé'yum had to (discreetly) explore the inside of hominin heads with an hourglass beside them and in ten-minute increments. At the end of this time, and provided they hadn't done too much damage beforehand, they had to use a healing spell, or see their victim recalled by the Powers. It was virtually impossible to reach the life seed in such a short time and without doing too much damage. As for acting on it...

Here, the Puo-Kean was going to give them time. It was timed too (and quite precisely, thanks to other unwitting guinea pigs), but it offered a lot more room for manoeuvre.

Cutting, cutting, carefully, cautiously, never going too far. Admire the sight that so few homins knew: a seed of active life, at the heart of the brain, whose ramifications extended in all directions. Mazé'yum had prepared an entire magnifying device so as to be able to see the details. The seed of life had yet to reveal its mysteries, but at least he knew what it should look like, more or less. A tiny grain with innumerable striations, whose infinitesimal threads ran to various areas of the cortex and body, binding to the nerves until they merged with them. He took lucios, in every possible way, so as to be able to observe any damage more calmly once Eeri had been sewn back together (and saved from resurrection). They had to repeat the whole operation three times, to prevent the resurrection from setting in, before the Zorai felt he had seen everything and had enough shots. He paused again, watching the lucios pensively. This was really, really complex. A homin with less pride than him could have admitted defeat, right then and there. How could he do better than the Karavan, when he didn't have all their knowledge, nor their tools?

But that wasn't going to stop Mazé'yum. Certainly, he couldn't understand why this arm wasn't responding. Since no two seeds of life resembled each other exactly, it was hard to say whether the differences on Eeri's were due to damage or to the nature of the hominin. It was also hard to know how to change that. From experience, he knew that touching a life seed was... very random. They were extremely solid, almost unalterable, until they suddenly shattered into thousands of pieces that dissolved in the process, for no really identifiable reason.

Varnili didn't scoff for the moment, waiting for the Zorai's instructions. Despite her sadism and contempt, even she felt the sacredness of the seed of life. The two scientists felt almost sacrilegious approaching this mystery, daring to intervene in it, and only their ambition to go ever further, to fight any arbitrary limits that might be placed on them (be they the limits of a still somewhat hominous feeling) drove them on.

- Ukio," mumbled Mazé'yum, who at times like this rediscovered the accents of her native tongue. I can only see this... it has to work.

"It was a vial with black and purplish highlights, untouched until then. "Above all, it was the culmination of long years of research spanning several generations. The sciences of the Zorais, the Matis, the marauders and the trytonnists, the various tribes of the Bark and the more or less avowed research of some, combined to transcend homine limitations. "This, if Mazé'yum hadn't made a mistake in his formulas, would have the same effect on a life seed as a healing spell did on a homin body. Or break it.

- We're going back. Don't cut any wires.
- You want to take my place, Ser la tremblotte?
- Varnili...

Too much tension, which would have to be released at some point. But not now. La matisse began cutting again. Slicing, slicing, until the seed of life appeared once more.

- One drop," breathed the Zoraï. Just a drop.

The pipette dropped its black tear onto the glistening seed of life. For a moment, the liquid seemed to slide down the corpuscle, then was suddenly absorbed, transforming the color of its support, as well as its texture. It was one of those moments when the absence of a Goddess to whom one could address one's prayers was keenly felt.

- Close... We'll have to see...

Varnili repositioned the materials around the seed of life and its web, letting a gentle flow of care slide along her instruments, until she closed the skull and skin of the fyros, still asleep and slowed down, but whose breath had become heavy and jerky.

Mazé'yum slid down a bench, not even trying to hide the trembling of her hands. Varnili couldn't keep still, at times clutching the table with all her might, as if this would speed up the fyros' awakening.

The wait was unbearable. But their patient was breathing. Breathing harder and harder, as if the air were struggling to reach her. Then, suddenly, Eeri arched her back, cracking the bonds that held her, and letting out a cry from the depths of her soul. Mazé'yum rushed in, working to limit the damage of the convulsions, even reluctantly giving new drugs to calm the fyrette. He would have preferred to limit the products, unsure of the interactions, but she was going to kill herself if she went on like this.

For three days, he watched over her, waiting for her to regain consciousness. Each time she emerged, Eeri screamed incoherently and struggled with all her might, until the Zoraï gave her painkillers again. It was impossible to find a happy medium: either it knocked him out, or it wasn't enough. He was beginning to accept that he had failed, but still refused to give up. As long as she was alive... And then, despite the fact that Eeri wasn't coming to her senses, there was one successful aspect: she clenched her right fist fiercely in those moments of suffering.

Varnili had left them, that part didn't interest her; the suffering of others only excited her when she took an active part in it. Patiently, Mazé'yum watched over her pupil, reading and rereading his notes to find an idea, something he might have forgotten, that could improve the situation.

And then, little by little, the pain seemed to subside. Eventually, Eeri woke up, his eye haggard. The second eye was still dead, but it's true that they hadn't worked on this mechanical part (and that it seemed more complex than an arm). She was in no condition to speak yet, and seemed lost, terrified even, which was disturbing when you knew her. But still, a little more "there".

A few more days of unconsciousness, pain and daze... and then...

#6 [fr] 

Mazé'Yum gently untied the straps still holding the fyrette. Rarely had he acted so gently, so carefully. She'd been awake for several hours, but it was still hard to tell whether she was fully conscious behind her unblinking eye. Yet the scientist sensed that something had changed, as if she was following him with her eye, as if she had regained awareness of the reality around her.

- Come on, you should try to get up, and we'll go outside for a bit.

His patient didn't move as he freed her feet, then her right arm. Her breathing was slow and deep, but also strangely sonorous and shaky.

- We'll take it easy. You have nothing to worry about.

Maze'yum untied the last strap, the one connecting Eeri's left arm, but with a clumsy gesture let it fall from his hand to the ground. The thump of the leather strap hitting the ground startled him, and for a moment he thought he saw the fyrette flinch, though he wasn't sure if his eyes were playing tricks on him or if she'd really moved. He bent down to pick up the strap, and gently, noiselessly placed it back on a shelf beside him.

- Come on, I know you can hear my voice. Some fresh air will do you good. Try to sit up first, I'll help you.

Mazé'Yum placed her hand on Eeri's left arm to encourage her to make a slight movement. She jumped to her feet and flipped over to the other side of the bed where she lay. With her right arm still dangling inertly, she grabbed a small dagger lying on the table with her left hand. Then, in a burst of fury, she lunged at the Zoraï. The latter, so surprised that he remained motionless, managed to dodge two blows from the dagger, but was soon wounded in the torso by the homine who was redoubling her vivacity. The latter gave him little time for respite, striking him again in the flank and then the shoulder, sending him tumbling to the ground. Letting his reason take precedence over panic, he decided not to retaliate, at the risk of letting Eeri finish him off without resistance, still dodging what he could. The Zoraï knew that his physical strength was far superior to that of the fyrette, but the risk of injuring her and sending her back to the powers that be was too great. It was still far too early after the operation for resurrection.

She managed to strike him several more times in the stomach with her dagger. Sputtering, he managed to shout his assailant's name, in an attempt to get her to stop.

- Eeri...!

She suddenly stopped knocking. Whether disconcerted or surprised, her face was no less implacably cold. She took a step or two back, looking around slowly. Mazé'Yum couldn't tell whether this was a panic attack or sudden fury, and how much control she had over her own actions. Finally, with disconcerting speed, she spun around and planted the dagger in the bed, in the very spot where they'd cut open her head a few days earlier, then dashed for the door, which she opened with a flick of her shoulder. She disappeared into the pouring rain, leaving Mazé'Yum on the ground.

She had reacted to his name, Mazé'Yum thought. Her memory wasn't totally impaired. That's something to consider. He got to his feet, took the time to treat his wounds and put on his amplifiers to set off in search of her.


"Quand on a le nez trop près de la bouteille, on ne voit plus le bar"

#7 [fr] 

A sensation had come. A new sensation, and yet so familiar.
The pain. A pain that grew subtly, day after day, night after night, ever more intense. As if this arm, so long deprived of sensation and movement, was catching up.

Every minute, palpitations ran up and down her arm, which was slowly regaining a kind of mobility: disordered reflexes that she could barely control. Occasionally, she managed to concentrate to the point of being able to move a finger. But at what cost? Suffering spread to every part of her body, as if burning from within. Radiant, painful heat spread from his head to every corner of his body. What had he done... But she couldn't blame him. Somehow, the operation had worked, and he'd kept her alive. Somehow.

There she was. Palpitations Pass, a predestined name for suffering and despair. One of the few places on Atys where someone could scream endlessly and no one would care. She had found refuge under a root, far enough away from any predator, where no one would come looking for her. But how she got there remained a mystery. In the rare moments when the pain faded, she put her post-operation memory in order. She had been awake for a long time, unable to move, as if trapped behind her single eye, staring at the ceiling. Mazé'Yum's silhouette appeared and disappeared on the periphery of her field of vision, and a tumult seemed to come from all sides, similar to what she had felt during that long coma, after falling against the Flamboyant. Without being able to control her body, she had the impression of infinite omnipotence, an incredible energy that filled her consciousness, but remained blocked behind the thin film of her eye. The worst frustration, the one she'd endured for years, her worst nightmare. Suddenly, a dagger slammed into her eye, into her face, and the tumult turned to silence. That's it, she's out, on her feet, it seems. But she still has to find a way out of her prison. Is she still a prisoner? She now sees her own body, lying motionless, open-eyed. A figure approaches and thrusts a dagger into her face. She leaps up and strikes, but it's herself she's striking, the Eeri from before, the one with two eyes and two arms, in front of her. She shouts her own name as she collapses, and the tumult returns, deafening. On the operating table, there's nothing left, no one left. With the din, pain gushes forth, powerful and disordered. She must flee, she hurls herself forward, the other will come after her. She's out of this prison again, out of her eye. A rebirth in pain and chaos. That's it, she's out. Alone. She stops.

Rain, she feels the rain. The real world, no doubt. She has to run again, the other is already in pursuit.


"Quand on a le nez trop près de la bouteille, on ne voit plus le bar"

#8 [fr] 

How long had she been there? How long had she been in that coma after the operation? What had happened to put her there?
She had survived a few days on the plants she knew to be edible, but it wasn't enough to restore her strength. Yet her awareness of time and space returned, slowly, with questions, and with the need to find the world again, to find Mazé'Yum, to let him examine her. Her arm moved, slowly, at the cost of unimaginable concentration and pain. She could open and close her hand, and slightly bend her forearm. Yet even the smallest piece of bark seemed to weigh as much as a dead animal, slipping from between her fingers that were too weak to hold anything. She would spend hours and days watching her hand bend and unfold, so concentrated on trying to develop this weak movement that she would forget to scream out in pain, if she didn't collapse, exhausted, under the root that served as her shelter.

She needed to get back to civilization, to find help. But where to start? She had nothing but a light tunic, no pact, no dapper, not even a dagger to protect herself. Further on, at the exit of this labyrinth, was this tribe of fyros mercenaries, but she didn't know them well enough not to be suspicious. Oh, and then, she thought, a hominin in such a state can't be sold into slavery. They'd probably detected her presence, too. This could be her chance to get out, taking advantage of a patrol to reach the elusive garden, if they agreed.
She set off very slowly, knowing that she had to be on the lookout for the slightest danger, her teeth clenched so as not to scream out in pain, as each step activated the muscles in her right arm. She now remembered her last conversations with Mazé'Yum, that she had to avoid a return through the Powers at all costs, as even he was unsure of the possible repercussions. He'd said she'd lose her bearings when she woke up, but that much? Something must have gone wrong for her to find herself there, alone. She wasn't the first to survive such an operation, but the scientist had omitted to give her too many details about his previous guinea pigs, apart from the fact that the last ones had woken up alive.

She soon lost herself in thought, putting one foot in front of the other in the middle of the path, which luckily was free of predators. She regained her senses when she saw the tribe, and approached it with the utmost dignity.

- There you are again," said the Fyros guard standing by.

Eeri looked at him incredulously. At least he seemed relaxed, and rather unsurprised to see her there. She stopped in front of him.

- So, are you going to talk to us this time?
- Do... do we know each other?

The guard smiled, his gaze full of pity for her, then beckoned her to follow him.

- Come and sit by the fire, there's some food left.

Eeri didn't hesitate, and took advantage of the still-warm grilled meat, the fresh water and the warmth of the fire. There, another guard told her that a patrol had spotted her a week earlier in the north of the region. She was disoriented and exhausted, circling one of the tall trees. As they approached, she lost consciousness, and they took her with them, carrying her to their tribe. They made her comfortable by the fire. A few minutes later, as they looked around for warm clothes, she simply vanished into thin air. So she hadn't crossed this region alone, a mystery was clearing up. Then she told the little group that had formed around the fire why she was here, starting with the fight with the Flamboyant, the reason her arm was in such a state. Some had heard of this journey, and it was a story that circulated among the Fyros tribes like a legend whose details changed according to the storyteller's whim. Some even said they hadn't come back alive from the trip. Of course they did," she told them, "otherwise how would the story have got here? Fortunately, her explanations were enough for them to agree to escort her and a patrol as close as possible to the Mazé'Yum laboratory the following day, without asking too many questions.

They left her close to the Karavan host of the Jardin Fugace, unable to go much further, as the territory controlled by the Matisagoo began. From there, however, the path was relatively easy, and she reached her goal without difficulty, slipped behind the vines that hid the door, and pushed it open. No one was there. The operating bed was still there, in the middle of the room, a scalpel stuck in the cushion on which she had been operated. Her belongings were there, her armor, her pacts, her jewelry, her badge. Slowly, after a brief grooming, she equipped herself, then settled into the Zoraï's armchair and waited.

Last edited by Eeri (2 months ago)


"Quand on a le nez trop près de la bouteille, on ne voit plus le bar"

#9 [fr] 

A few hours later, an exhausted Mazé'Yum lightly pushed open the door that the fyrette had slammed shut, and poked his head inside.

- Ah, it's you," he says.
- That's me," she replied.
- Have you come to finish the job, or have you come to your senses?
- My spirits," she mumbled, "if I already had one... How can I have more than one?

Mazé'Yum sighed, and finally entered. A touch of humor was a good sign.

- I'm fine. I spent some time looking for you in the area, after the seizure you had when you woke up. Tell me what happened and where you've been.
- It's up to you to tell me.
- I wasn't expecting such a violent reaction.
- Meaning?
- You managed to get away, mostly. My last test subjects were pretty weak when they woke up, and...
- And they didn't last long, did they?
- Never mind," replied Mazé'Yum. The circumstances had nothing to do with it. May I examine you?

Eeri winced as she stood up and approached the operating bed. She removed the scalpel, which was still there, and placed it on the table.

- Is that me?
- That's you.
- Tell me all about it.
- Some other time. I already want to check what state you're really in. Lie down.
- My arm moves," she replied.
- So it worked... Does it hurt?
- Worse.
- This is normal. I have to study your blood first, then we'll see.
- We'll see... What? The other damage it caused?
- You're alive, that's already a success.
- You mean, a surprise?

Mazé'Yum's only reply was a small sigh, then he turned to the shelf to prepare his equipment: a few empty and full vials, a scalpel and some needles. Eeri watched him for a moment, then lay down, not without shivering a little, on the operating bed where she had woken up a few days earlier. And suddenly, something had changed. Yes, something was no longer the same. She realized it now, looking up at the ceiling of the laboratory, the ceiling she'd contemplated for long hours between two states of consciousness. Past the pain, the shock of awakening and the loss of bearings, there had been a change. She turned her head to the right, looked at the wall, uninterested, then to the left, at the Zoraï, from behind, still working. No, it wasn't that, her one functioning eye still had the same capabilities, her vision hadn't changed. She ran her left hand through her hair, then lightly pinched her ear. That wasn't it either, her sensations weren't much stranger than before. It was much deeper. She felt a restlessness, a growing chaos that was once again shaking her consciousness to the core.

- You did, didn't you? Did you use it?

Mazé'Yum froze for a second, then continued her preparations without answering. What was there to say? She'd given her consent for him to go through with it, so he had nothing more to say. He finally turned and approached her, a vial in his hands. He lifted her left arm and announced coldly:

- Make a fist. I'll take some of your blood,

The operation was quick, Eeri was used to it and it was a fairly easy process, even for the Zoraï's trembling hands.

- I'll have some work to do studying it all. You should rest in the meantime.
- I can also stay and help you.
- You're in no condition. You're in no condition. Get some rest, go into the next room, there's some food. And get some sleep. We'll talk later.
- I'm in a total state! I need to know...

Mazé'Yum sighed.

- Eeri, let me work and you can rest. It's not a request, it's an order.

Edited 3 times | Last edited by Eeri (2 months ago)


"Quand on a le nez trop près de la bouteille, on ne voit plus le bar"

#10 [fr] 

Mazé'yum was relieved to find Eeri. Guinea pigs wandering in the wild were rarely good for scientific research. No witnesses, no worries...

She seemed back to her old self. At least, in part. The biological results were quite good, within the limits of what they could hope for. Her arm was gradually regaining its mobility and sensitivity; it would be a long time before she could use it as she used to, but it was possible.

However, as the days went by, Eeri became increasingly agitated and nervous. At times, she looked at him as if she were meditating on sticking a dagger in his mask because the results weren't up to scratch. It was a little more than the predictable fyros impatience and there was something about it that reminded the scientist of other guinea pigs, in other circumstances. Annoying, very annoying. He could, of course, drug her to make her more malleable, or test various potions to purge her organism of the poison that was corrupting her. None of these solutions appealed to him. Exchanging Eeri's mind for an able-bodied arm was of little interest, and fighting the product that had altered her life seed would lead to more than uncertain results.

One thing was certain: she was no longer "herself" enough to make an informed choice. He wasn't going to be able to present his experiment to the other scientists as a great success. It wasn't a failure, but he couldn't say it was a success. The exact limits of his experiment remained to be seen.

He picked up the scalpel, serene about what was to come.
- I need to check one more detail with your sap, Eeri.

She eyed him warily, but allowed herself to be approached. Without giving her time to react, the zorai thrust the makeshift weapon into the fyros' heart. As her life slipped away, he kept his gaze on her, supporting her almost tenderly:
- We meet at the vortex.

There were three possible options. Either the resection would put things right, and everyone would feel better. Or it would reveal more clearly the shortcomings of the operation, and allow more appropriate action to be taken. Or the Powers That Be wouldn't bring her back... in which case, one less problem.

She exhaled a final sigh, then disappeared. In all probability, the Powers had taken care of it. Mazé'yum hurried back to the wormhole, albeit less expeditiously for himself: he didn't like sticking a dagger in his heart when he could avoid it.

However, no one was waiting for him at the wormhole. The Karavan agents hadn't seen any acerbic fyrette, or one in any other mood.

Her body had been recalled. She had to be somewhere. The most likely attraction was the country's other wormholes, but it would take her some time to check them out, especially as the others were not guarded like the Masure: Eeri could very well have fled into the Primes or the Desert without anyone seeing her, completely disoriented and having lost all common sense.

And it was all the more embarrassing that he couldn't organize the hominid hunt himself. He himself had people to run away from, who were just waiting for an opportunity to find him...
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