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18+ Violence

Indiscriminate Preferences

by Liminality


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for violence.

The afternoon sun blistered on the black earth. Yao looked out from under the forcefield, the divider of worlds. It was quiet. Only the buzzing of mosquitoes in summer. Sometimes she wondered why the man with the long hair continued on this route. Other times, she counted the red frustrations of humans in the air, lay down, and waited for prey.

The man looked grey to her, though his face was a cold beige and his hair, in actuality, black. Age flowed fast and runny down his features, and so Yao perceived his being as a grey, throbbing ache.

Today she was going to ask him to come with her.

He arrived in the burnt remains of the forest, trailing along behind two women, both statuesque, both much taller than he was, who glowed golden and sweated the scent of untouchability.

The first woman turned around, holding her rucksack over one shoulder. "Come on! What are you waiting for?"

The man eyed her warily. He had his shoulders bunched up, the packs of supplies like a bulky tortoiseshell he was receding into. "Thought you two wanted time alone."

"He's doing it again." The second woman said to the first. She was lean and white, her eyelids fluttery and sinewy like the stems of bird feathers. "Sulking."

"Why do you always have to be like this?" The first woman raised her hands to the sky and sighed. Yao watched her sling her rucksack over the other shoulder and continue walking.

Three days ago, they had tied the man to a wooden pole in the middle of the deserted valley.

It had been wet. Just past a summer shower. There were mushrooms sprouting around the first woman's feet and the second woman wore a shawl and crossed her arms peacefully about her waist.

"I keep telling you, it wasn't me," the man intoned. He looked into the first woman's eyes with a deadbolt earnesty.

The second woman cradled her belly. "My dear," she said to her partner. "But I could feel it here. He was using his magic."

The first woman made a full body turn towards her. She was like a bear, hovering protectively over her mate. With an ocean-deep gaze, the man searched for a listening ear from her - and failed.

"Magic," the first woman whispered angrily. "You dare to use our art in front of us."

"It's not just yours," the man whispered back. His hair was a tangled mess over his shoulder, his neck bearing three green lines from the spell the women had cast upon him. They had locked his elbows taut. Something was done to his spine to make sure he could not squirm, or use his legs. Yao would have admired their work, maybe. But she had her own wants, thoughts, beliefs.

She was thinking about red wisps and cotton wool.

"So you admit it, then. You did use your magic on my wife."

"I never said anything of the sort. I never - did - anything of the sort. Please," his tone softened. "You have to see reason. It must have been a passing ghost, or the river was angered by our fording of it the other day. If we do not ask permission, then we have no permission to cross. I know the arts, my mother taught them to me. And I was taught when to use them."

He said he last part pointedly. It was a cute, sunflower-yellow sort of point, Yao thought. The sort that came from the people that lived in children's stories, and not the sort of stories that adults liked to read. It made her double-heart chortle and squeal.

The first woman folded her muscular arms. A stormy expression came across her face. "Fine," she said. "We need you to carry the bridge when we arrive. But we will keep you tied up at night."

The man met her gaze with an icy glare of his own. "Very well."

He was small, the long-haired man was. Yao liked to watch his ponytail sway behind him when he walked. She could taste his thoughts. They all tasted like rice, with the texture of rice. They were small, grainy, utterly unremarkable things.

"Doesn't he have the creepiest face?" the second woman said to the first, when they thought the Man was out of earshot. "I wonder what he's up to."

For a while, Yao let her attention rest on the women.

They were beautiful, they were. Beautiful and Good, in the way that humans liked to think of Good. The first woman seemed to be coated all over in bronze plating, which she brandished like armour. She pitied herself for it, for the armour she wore. And all day she thought about taking it off. And then she didn't. It was something that frustrated Yao.

Too complicated, Yao thought. She would much rather the long-haired man, whose thoughts were easy to chew and easy to digest. Could anyone else guess what he was thinking?

The second woman chose her clothing very carefully. She had a mantel made from the feathers she had plucked from her dead father's breast. He was half-avian, and her memories of him were soft and coddled and tasted like bitter ash. Her blue skirt was dyed with grated seashells, and on the very pads of her fingers she wore little flat stones, held together with tight chains, so that her every ministration was cool to the touch.

Her thoughts were like glass slides. Very visual, always looking from one pretty, well-lit little thing to the next. Her lover's eyelash. A flower petal. Pearls.

Pearls were crunchy, but rice more filling. Did anyone besides Yao know what the man thought about all day? They speculated, of course, but speculation was never the same as knowing.

On the way to the mountain village, where the three were headed, there had been news of a string of killings on the road. They passed by the unmarked graves, dug by some kind samaritans. Rumour had it - and the crows whispered alike - that a Man was going around killing women travelers who walked alone to the mountains. And of course, the Man the two were travelling with was immediately suspect.

The third night came, and the two lovers tied him up with a special iron-threaded rope, and made him sleep on the other side of the camping grounds.

While the two women slumbered, Yao emerged from between the layers of time and space. She stretched her split-spine, felt the splinters fan out into the night. There were no sensations for her to feel there, of course, but she enjoyed doing it nonetheless. She turned one of her six eyeballs in the direction of the second woman and re-cast the spell that was making a root grow from her small intestine.

There were crows squawking in the distance, and Yao figured they might be hungry.

With her errand complete, she gathered her orange energies back into a straight line, so she could focus on the real reason she came to this place.

The old boy was asleep. She liked to call him old boy, sometimes, because that was what he was. His hair was still tied, sticking uncomfortably to his neck as he could not move. The white edges of the forest ruins flickered when she made too fast a move, so she was sure to drift quietly and slowly forward, ghosting through the campfire and the rocks.

He turned around. Eyes still closed. She blinked, and forced them open.

"You again?" he gasped. "I thought you were a dream."

"And I thought you would want to resume the conversation we were so engrossed in the last time," said Yao, and she swayed languidly from side to side. The old boy watched with wide, bloodshot eyes, transfixed and horrified by the movement. But he did not break eye contact with her. As well as he could, given that she had six eyes and he had only two.

When he had calmed down, and schooled his face into the neutral coolness he kept on all day, he spoke once more. "There's danger on the valley here. You'd best leave."

"Danger?" Yao giggled, and the sound made one of the blood vessels in his eye burst. He made a noise of pain and squeezed both eyes shut.

The sound carried across the campsite. One of the women tossed in her sleep, but did not awaken. Suddenly, Yao found herself alit with a blaze of scorn. It occured to her that she did not at all like the capital-letter sort of Good. As a matter of fact, she found it very irritating.

"Was it you?" he said hoarsely. He was suspecting her of the magic. He threw a concerned glance at the two sleeping forms across the camping site. And then he yelped and curled like a worm because Yao was sending a ringing into his head out of annoyance.

He tried to use a spell on her. It made Yao laugh, which sent a couple of stars careening across the night sky, an impromptu meteor shower.

"Come with me," she grated the words against her comb-like teeth.

"Follow me," she blew the words into his head.

"I am your dearest friend," she whispered between the memory of his mother's death and the thought of his that he had to check their grain supplies for mould the next morning. "Your only friend."

And though he did not say yes, she caught within him the whiff of impossible longing, and it felt cold, like sleep without a blanket. And then he tasted it too, because he choked out a wet cry, "Yes."

She reached light years through the cosmos to hold his hand, and he burst into an amber rain of pure energy. Humans, when they were all grown up, were just suffocated fire-rain.

The next morning the women awoke to find their companion gone and themselves besieged by crows. They shouted curses at all the men they had ever seen in their lives, and at that Man in particular, and all the men they would never see, much less get to know. Yao's old boy shivered, remembering how they had forded the river without her permission. But he also didn't want them to die.

Yao did not care what the old boy wanted now. Yao did not care about anything at all now that she alone had what she wanted. She couldn't. It was not in her nature. Crows ate everything, from camp supplies to the people they were meant to supply. So it cannot be said that the two women suffered a painless death. But it could likewise not be said that the old boy had suffered a painless life. Yes, human beings were a funny race.

She wondered what it would be like, if they could taste each other's thoughts.


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Sat Sep 18, 2021 1:53 am
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SpiritedWolfe wrote a review...



Hi Lim! I saw this story in the green room, and I really wanted to give it a read so here I am ^^ Let's start with some line comments.

Other times, she counted the red frustrations of humans in the air, lay down, and waited for prey.


I read through this story twice so I could make sure I caught everything, and even on the second read I still feel a bit confused. Does she mean red frustrations as in the humans are red because they're feeling frustrated? Or she perceives them as red? Or is it that some people appear red, just as some of the women appeared gold to Yao? I'm also a bit confused because are there more people, or is she talking in general? I just didn't really see how it connected to the scene at hand, and we didn't come back to it at all.

"Thought you two wanted time alone."


The man and the two women have an interesting dynamic. Clearly we don't need to know all the details of their relationship, especially since Yao doesn't really care much for them, but I haven't quite figured them out. Do they know each other well? Or is he just tagging along. This jab at them makes it seem like they're friends but he feels a bit left out, a third wheel of sorts, but their treatment of him is a bit conflicting, at least to me. They roll their eyes at him when he "sulks", like they've dealt with this all before since they're familiar, but they also tie him up at nights and treat him like a dangerous threat they're not used to. I'm not sure how to see their relationship.

She was thinking about red wisps and cotton wool.


This was another line that was lost on me, and while vagueness at the beginning is totally fine, I'm not sure if there was any resolution with that?

... on the very pads of her fingers she wore little flat stones, held together with tight chains, so that her every ministration was cool to the touch.


I'm not sure what "ministration" means in this context? I tried to google it too, but I wasn't sure what you were going for in this context? Like, her touch is cool because of the stones on her fingertips? Does she have chains between her fingers, almost like webs? Or is it more like a glove that she wears? Not an especially important point, but I was having difficulty picturing this in my head.

She turned one of her six eyeballs in the direction of the second woman and re-cast the spell that was making a root grow from her small intestine.


What was the purpose of this? Since in the end, Yao ends up feeding them to the crows anyway, what is the purpose of the root? Is the root for the crows, since the crows are mentioned in the very next line?

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this story. First of all, it's really well written, and I like that the way you write it feels like some extraterrestrial being looking into the lives of people that she deems as completely insignificant. The tone of detachment works really well, and I liked a lot of your word choice (even if it confused me a little bit sometimes haha). I also feel like there's a lot to unpack with this story, and I love to be able to sit and think about it for a little while.

So here's a possible interpretation I was thinking about while I was reading: an analogy to mental health. To me, it seems like the women are described as very strong, resilient, and they have one another to lean on. Yao even sees them as golden and bronze, metallic colors, and gold especially being a symbol of something like a pure heart or a strong mind. Meanwhile, the man is described simply as being gray and having long hair, with age on his features, implying that he might be deeply unhappy with the situation occurring around him. He also frequently does not have agency in this story, being tied up, crossing a river without its permission, being accused of things he didn't commit. I feel that this is also implied with the line:

But it could likewise not be said that the old boy had suffered a painless life.


So is Yao taking the man away from this world an analogy of escapism for people struggling with mental illness, such as depression? Even if this isn't what you intended, does this possible fit with the theme you were trying to convey? Is Yao resembling the "dark forces" of mental illness, like the intrusive thoughts that can carry you away from life? I find it really fascinating.

I also really enjoy the subtle pieces of world building, from the light references to magic as well as talking about some of the other races in the world. It feels like just enough to let us know that there is a whole world in this story, but not so much that it feels like too much. Obviously Yao, this interdimensional creature, doesn't much care other than the surface details, so it all feels really in voice with the character. It's fascinating!

Overall, really great job! Thanks for sharing your story ^^

Happy writing!
~ Wolfe




Liminality says...


Hi Wolfe! Thanks so much for the thoughtful review :D

Or she perceives them as red?

It's this one! Admittedly, I could have expanded on that a bit more, I think. I'd imagine it's quite confusing to differentiate between what are literal and what are figurative descriptions in this piece of mine ^^' I'd meant to use it as a subtle *wink wink nudge nudge* that Yao is some kind of . . . eldritch/ Lovecraftian creature and not human, since she *sees* emotions differently than we do -- though given that humans have strong connotations between emotion and colour, I realise now I should have probably used some other stimulus, if I wanted her to appear 'not-human'.

They roll their eyes at him when he "sulks", like they've dealt with this all before since they're familiar, but they also tie him up at nights and treat him like a dangerous threat they're not used to. I'm not sure how to see their relationship.

Oh thank you for pointing that out! Yeah, I agree that's a bit of an odd contradiction there. Probably might try to smooth it out if I revise this sometime, to make it clearer that they've maybe known each other a few days from their travels, but not before they started travelling, which is why they don't trust him.

Is the root for the crows, since the crows are mentioned in the very next line?

Yup, the root is for the crows. Just to show they're not 'normal' crows that eat pieces of bread and such, but rather some kind of supernatural crows that can eat plants grown by a supernatural being's power c: But halfway through Yao decides she wants to let them eat the women's flesh instead . . . so the root does become kind of irrelevant ^^'.

So is Yao taking the man away from this world an analogy of escapism for people struggling with mental illness, such as depression? Even if this isn't what you intended, does this possible fit with the theme you were trying to convey? Is Yao resembling the "dark forces" of mental illness, like the intrusive thoughts that can carry you away from life? I find it really fascinating.

That is a very interesting and plausible interpretation! I definitely wrote Yao to be some kind of 'escapist' force, and I can definitely see how that might be analogised to the man suffering from a mental illness.

To me, it seems like the women are described as very strong, resilient, and they have one another to lean on. Yao even sees them as golden and bronze, metallic colors, and gold especially being a symbol of something like a pure heart or a strong mind.

I didn't notice this when writing, but I can definitely see how they could evoke these sorts of associations.

Just in case you're curious, the themes I was intending to evoke were something along the lines of human vs. larger-than-human. For instance, the golden-ess of the women sort of imply that they are 'the best', 'the good' of the human population, and their suspicion of the man is based on societal themes and concerns, for instance gender conflict and also the idea of 'magic' in their society only being used by some people and not by others. Whereas their concerns are subverted by it being Yao, someone to whom all these concerns are completely irrelevant, who is the real threat to them in the end.

With regards to the mental illness interpretation, I find it interesting because the original inspiration I had for this story was a Malaysian folk tale called 'Split Stone, Hollow Stone', which I think is also conventionally interpreted as an analogy to depression, where a struggling single mother walks into the titular 'Split Stone, Hollow Stone' to escape her troubles and never comes out. I was only trying to replicate the stone itself and not the theme with Yao, but it looks like some of the original themes seeped through anyway.

Thanks again for the review! <3



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Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:23 pm
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MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi Lim,

Mailice here with a short review! :D

I must honestly say that it is a very special story that you have written here. I'm still a bit in my own thoughts to collect what you wanted to express with it. Anyway, it entertained me and also made me very curious how you came up with the idea to write this.

Phew, yes, briefly written, I liked the story a lot. There was a lot to read in terms of the varied descriptions that gave me a good representation of how the plot unfolded. The details described in Yao's clothing, for example, were good and didn't seem repetitive. Sometimes I lost the thread a little in between, probably because I paused too often to think about what I was reading.

I don't know how you do it, but it's something you manage well. You manage to create something tangible for the reader, only for it to appear invisible later. :D I like that kind of "helplessness" you have when you read something and I also think you make a special point of conveying the text in a not so simple language, but sometimes adding a touch of poetry or philosophy to give the individual characters a touch. Since I assume that your writing style here is more of Yao's world of thought and interpretation, one already gets a good insight into her point of view. That it's gradually revealed what she really is without an actual reveal, I really thought was a bit of a gem.

I can't help but want to see what exactly has gone on with the story now. It seems like Yao is aware that people can't read each other's minds and that some of this can lead to conflict. I think that whole observation in 2/3 of the story was great there and that's why the ending came as quite a surprise. Crows seem to have a connection with her or at least help her, and the "redemption" of the man at the end was more of a selfish goal...? Hm... You still leave me with some questions now, some of them even more than trying to interpret some Asian fairy tales and picking them apart psychologically. I suppose well done for that. :D

In conclusion, all I can really say is that I liked the story. There was something about it that you can't easily get away from. I would be happy if you could read more stories like this.

Other points I noticed while reading:

Sometimes she wondered why the man with the long hair continued on this route.


Other times, she counted the red frustrations of humans in the air, lay down, and waited for prey.

These two sentences in the first paragraph show me a bit of how Yao thinks. I find it fascinating how she describes some of the people around her, like in the first sentence "the man with the long hair", as if that was a special feature and also the only feature Yao has, not to describe this man but mainly to recognise him. But the second sentence was particularly interesting, describing how she can see and count frustration as red colour. I think with that you already open a good start into a kind of unknown adventure. Also in the later paragraphs she draws the descriptions to certain characteristics, mostly in connection with how she sees the colour.

Yao watched her sling her rucksack over the other shoulder and continue walking.

I don't know exactly what is wrong with this sentence, but it seems a bit bumpy, although I think it is correct.

Three days ago, they had tied the man to a wooden pole in the middle of the deserted valley.
It had been wet. Just past a summer shower. There were mushrooms sprouting around the first woman's feet and the second woman wore a shawl and crossed her arms peacefully about her waist.

Here I am a bit dissatisfied with your transition. First you tell what happened three days ago, but in the next sentence we are back in the present?

He was small, the long-haired man was.

They were beautiful, they were.

I like those two sentences. They are in close proximity and radiate something poetic as well as something attractive, something hypnotic.

She would much rather be the long-haired man, whose thoughts were easy to chew and easy to digest. Could anyone else guess what he was thinking?

That was a point that got me thinking. What is Yao? Does it eat thoughts? Does it possibly feed on people's feelings and inner emotions? I used a search engine to find something concrete like a folklore creature, but without direct success. :D Only in the end here is the comment whether the question here is addressed to the reader, or a thought of Yao.

She turned one of her six eyeballs in the direction of the second woman and re-cast the spell that was making a root grow from her small intestine.

Last time I looked in the mirror I had two eyes, four if you count the glasses. So Yao is definitely an interesting creature.

And I thought you would want to resume the conversation we were so engrossed in the last time," said Yao, and she swayed languidly from side to side. The old boy watched with wide, bloodshot eyes, transfixed and horrified by the movement. But he did not break eye contact with her. As well as he could, given that she had six eyes and he had only two.
When he had calmed down, and schooled his face into the neutral coolness he kept on all day, he spoke once more. "There's danger on the valley here. You'd best leave."

Call me too deeply lost in mythological creatures and fairy tales, (as it is exciting to read such things) but I get the impression that the man, while visibly frightened by Yao, is also taken with her presumably humanoid body...?

It occured to her that she did not at all like the capital-letter sort of Good. As a matter of fact, she found it very irritating.

It's sentences like these that make me feel as if the story is being told from two different points of view. I like that on the one hand, but it also contributes to the fact that sometimes I can't follow the plot so immediately.

She reached light years through the cosmos to hold his hand, and he burst into an amber rain of pure energy. Humans, when they were all grown up, were just suffocated fire-rain.

Now that was really unexpected and yet... flabbergasted...?

Have fun writing!

Mailice




Liminality says...


Thank you so much for this in-depth review, Mailice! I enjoyed reading your impressions of the work, and your analysis of some of the stylistic features was really helpful.

But the second sentence was particularly interesting, describing how she can see and count frustration as red colour.

I'm so happy you caught that, because I definitely was trying to use that part as a hint to Yao's non-human nature.

Call me too deeply lost in mythological creatures and fairy tales, (as it is exciting to read such things) but I get the impression that the man, while visibly frightened by Yao, is also taken with her presumably humanoid body...?

That's an interesting interpretation for sure! I didn't think of that when writing it, but re-reading the bit about his eye contact and then his dialogue after definitely makes it seem that way. I'd intended for Yao to have a more . . . reptilian or salamander-like form, hence the descriptions of 'swaying' and the 'splinters' of her spine sticking out in all directions . . . maybe even like a lionfish with legs? But since I spent most of the story from Yao's POV, it was a little hard to describe what she looked like, since she wouldn't be looking at herself.

It's sentences like these that make me feel as if the story is being told from two different points of view.

I definitely see what you mean! Yeah, I'm afraid that's an inconsistency on my part, where sometimes I can't decided doing third person omniscient or deep POV.

Thank you so much again for your review! <3



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HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!!

First Impression: This was an intriguing, I especially love the way that you portray this Yao...she's very unlike most characters that you expect to be horrifying murderers but she has her own way of being unsettling and terrifying all the same. I liked this very slow progression too, and the very casual way that ending comes up almost makes it more powerful than if it was captured in more detail.

Anyway let's get right to it,

The afternoon sun blistered on the black earth. Yao looked out from under the forcefield, the divider of worlds. It was quiet. Only the buzzing of mosquitoes in summer. Sometimes she wondered why the man with the long hair continued on this route. Other times, she counted the red frustrations of humans in the air, lay down, and waited for prey.

The man looked grey to her, though his face was a cold beige and his hair, in actuality, black. Age flowed fast and runny down his features, and so Yao perceived his being as a grey, throbbing ache.


Hmm, intriguing start there....I get the distinct feeling that this Yao person is not a human being for some reason..and she's somehow fascinated by this one random human being...who happens to be an old man judging by the description there. ANd the way this perception situation is mentioned...it seems like she sees things as some sort of aura there.

Today she was going to ask him to come with her.

He arrived in the burnt remains of the forest, trailing along behind two women, both statuesque, both much taller than he was, who glowed golden and sweated the scent of untouchability.

The first woman turned around, holding her rucksack over one shoulder. "Come on! What are you waiting for?"

The man eyed her warily. He had his shoulders bunched up, the packs of supplies like a bulky tortoiseshell he was receding into. "Thought you two wanted time alone."


Okay...well I'm guessing this is some form of new development going on here...and you can see that lovely contrast being created there with the way the auras of the two women appear to be full of life and golden...compared the earlier mentioned grey which seems to represent a bit of decay and death there.

"Why do you always have to be like this?" The first woman raised her hands to the sky and sighed. Yao watched her sling her rucksack over the other shoulder and continue walking.

Three days ago, they had tied the man to a wooden pole in the middle of the deserted valley.


That doesn't sound particularly friendly there...and this is horror soo..hmmm...I have a feeling this is not going to end well for this man here...or perhaps all three of them here...

The second woman cradled her belly. "My dear," she said to her partner. "But I could feel it here. He was using his magic."

The first woman made a full body turn towards her. She was like a bear, hovering protectively over her mate. With an ocean-deep gaze, the man searched for a listening ear from her - and failed.

"Magic," the first woman whispered angrily. "You dare to use our art in front of us."


Well..as far as I can decipher here, it looks like the women are mad at the man and perhaps another man for using magic..which they don't seem to like others using...and hmm...this doesn't look like its going to be pretty as a result of this.

"It's not just yours," the man whispered back. His hair was a tangled mess over his shoulder, his neck bearing three green lines from the spell the women had cast upon him. They had locked his elbows taut. Something was done to his spine to make sure he could not squirm, or use his legs. Yao would have admired their work, maybe. But she had her own wants, thoughts, beliefs.

She was thinking about red wisps and cotton wool.


Hahaha...well, the spell on the man is quite horrifying but that little comment by Yao here is just really funny in the midst of this very serious looking confrontation that is going on right there.

"So you admit it, then. You did use your magic on my wife."

"I never said anything of the sort. I never - did - anything of the sort. Please," his tone softened. "You have to see reason. It must have been a passing ghost, or the river was angered by our fording of it the other day. If we do not ask permission, then we have no permission to cross. I know the arts, my mother taught them to me. And I was taught when to use them."

He said he last part pointedly. It was a cute, sunflower-yellow sort of point, Yao thought. The sort that came from the people that lived in children's stories, and not the sort of stories that adults liked to read. It made her double-heart chortle and squeal.


Hmm...on one hand, it sounds like he's making a valid point of some sort there...its only a bit suspicious, but Yao's observation there makes you think its something to be very suspicious about. The way the two women are acting seems to be fairly reasonable at this point.

The first woman folded her muscular arms. A stormy expression came across her face. "Fine," she said. "We need you to carry the bridge when we arrive. But we will keep you tied up at night."

The man met her gaze with an icy glare of his own. "Very well."


Okay...that looks to be at a bit of a stalemate of sorts there...soo...I'm assuming things are somewhat going to be neutral for this point in time...although you can feel a touch of tension slowly building in the background.

They were beautiful, they were. Beautiful and Good, in the way that humans liked to think of Good. The first woman seemed to be coated all over in bronze plating, which she brandished like armour. She pitied herself for it, for the armour she wore. And all day she thought about taking it off. And then she didn't. It was something that frustrated Yao.

Too complicated, Yao thought. She would much rather the long-haired man, whose thoughts were easy to chew and easy to digest. Could anyone else guess what he was thinking?


So...Yao is a mind reader...that's fun...also like to see how she's analyzed the man there as someone that doesn't seem to think all that much and the woman as someone whose thinking is complex enough that it seems to pain here try and figure out what she's thinking.

Her thoughts were like glass slides. Very visual, always looking from one pretty, well-lit little thing to the next. Her lover's eyelash. A flower petal. Pearls.

Pearls were crunchy, but rice more filling. Did anyone besides Yao know what the man thought about all day? They speculated, of course, but speculation was never the same as knowing.


These little comparisons to the thought patterns are quite fun here...they capture these really nicely...I'm not entirely sure where these thoughts patterns are taking us, but the journey is quite fun.

On the way to the mountain village, where the three were headed, there had been news of a string of killings on the road. They passed by the unmarked graves, dug by some kind samaritans. Rumour had it - and the crows whispered alike - that a Man was going around killing women travelers who walked alone to the mountains. And of course, the Man the two were travelling with was immediately suspect.

The third night came, and the two lovers tied him up with a special iron-threaded rope, and made him sleep on the other side of the camping grounds.


That seems like a reasonable course of action...considering the kind of story running around there...and I suppose when you run into enough unmarked graves, it can definitely lead one to make some drastic decisions.

While the two women slumbered, Yao emerged from between the layers of time and space. She stretched her split-spine, felt the splinters fan out into the night. There were no sensations for her to feel there, of course, but she enjoyed doing it nonetheless. She turned one of her six eyeballs in the direction of the second woman and re-cast the spell that was making a root grow from her small intestine.

There were crows squawking in the distance, and Yao figured they might be hungry.

With her errand complete, she gathered her orange energies back into a straight line, so she could focus on the real reason she came to this place.


That very innocent sounding spell on the woman there...sounds disturbingly like it going to end like one of those horror movies where something grows out of somebody...and that is quite terrifying...also the character of Yao..while occasionally funny here is also quite terrifying and how she seems to have no feelings or emotions at all.

"And I thought you would want to resume the conversation we were so engrossed in the last time," said Yao, and she swayed languidly from side to side. The old boy watched with wide, bloodshot eyes, transfixed and horrified by the movement. But he did not break eye contact with her. As well as he could, given that she had six eyes and he had only two.

When he had calmed down, and schooled his face into the neutral coolness he kept on all day, he spoke once more. "There's danger on the valley here. You'd best leave."

"Danger?" Yao giggled, and the sound made one of the blood vessels in his eye burst. He made a noise of pain and squeezed both eyes shut.


The relatively casual conversation that the two of them are having here...seems to very much downplay the fact that a blood vessel was just popped as the result of a laugh of all things...oh dear, this is not headed anywhere good by the looks of things.

"Was it you?" he said hoarsely. He was suspecting her of the magic. He threw a concerned glance at the two sleeping forms across the camping site. And then he yelped and curled like a worm because Yao was sending a ringing into his head out of annoyance.

He tried to use a spell on her. It made Yao laugh, which sent a couple of stars careening across the night sky, an impromptu meteor shower.

"Come with me," she grated the words against her comb-like teeth.

"Follow me," she blew the words into his head.


Hmm...well the man's seems to be innocent of the murders at least, judging by what's going on at the moment..and this Yao person appears to be someone capable of the murders if not the one that committed them...and this strange fascination with the man is certainly interesting.

"I am your dearest friend," she whispered between the memory of his mother's death and the thought of his that he had to check their grain supplies for mould the next morning. "Your only friend."

And though he did not say yes, she caught within him the whiff of impossible longing, and it felt cold, like sleep without a blanket. And then he tasted it too, because he choked out a wet cry, "Yes."

She reached light years through the cosmos to hold his hand, and he burst into an amber rain of pure energy. Humans, when they were all grown up, were just suffocated fire-rain.


If I'm not mistaken, that is some proper high level emotional manipulation going on there...and I get the feeling this Yao figure is about to enact some serious punishment on all of three of these poor humans here.

Yao did not care what the old boy wanted now. Yao did not care about anything at all now that she alone had what she wanted. She couldn't. It was not in her nature. Crows ate everything, from camp supplies to the people they were meant to supply. So it cannot be said that the two women suffered a painless death. But it could likewise not be said that the old boy had suffered a painless life. Yes, human beings were a funny race.

She wondered what it would be like, if they could taste each other's thoughts.


Hmm, well that's a fun ending....for Yao..not the woman...that's definitely not the type of ending that one wants...phew...I've only run into that particular form of death like twice before and it always gives you that uneasy chill down your spine...and this particular ending definitely does that. Yao's thoughts there give an oddly haunting image to end on.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, this made for a lovely read...definitely a very mysterious and properly terrifying short. Aaand I think that's about all I've gotta say for now. :D

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




Liminality says...


Hi Harry! Thanks so much for your review!

I liked this very slow progression too, and the very casual way that ending comes up almost makes it more powerful than if it was captured in more detail.

I'm happy to hear that, since I did intend for Yao's flippantness about things that would be devastating to human beings to be a main characteristic of hers.

Hmm...on one hand, it sounds like he's making a valid point of some sort there...its only a bit suspicious, but Yao's observation there makes you think its something to be very suspicious about.


Oh, does it? That's pretty interesting - I hadn't thought about how what Yao says might influence perceptions of the man. She's meant to be a bit of an unreliable narrator, but I guess I'd established that more strongly in my head than in the actual story ^^ '

Thanks again!



HarryHardy says...


You're Welcome!!!




You must believe in free will; there is no choice.
— Isaac Bashevis Singer