Sci-fi / Fantasy

The Untold Tale by J.M. Frey

“I thought I was supposed to be the hero!” she blurts.

“You?” “It’s my quest, isn’t it?” she complains. “It’s my destiny! But that’s three Stations now where you’ve done all the work. Your Men found the sigil, you fenced for the quill, and you demanded the cup! And all I did was stand there like some . . . some dumbass princess in peril, and I hate it.”

“You tackled Gyre,” I correct. “You taught me the way of winning against the sylph. You are no damsel in distress.”

“So I’m the sidekick then,” she mutters. “Not much better. It’s not fair! I’ve wanted this my whole life, and I don’t even . . . I don’t even . . .” She trails off and turns her head away, but I can tell by the way that her jaw is shuddering that she is sucking back tears.

Pip hates for anyone to see her cry, so I simply wait her out, using the time to remove my gloves and try to rearrange my hair into a less lanky wet tangle. When she has calmed herself again, she turns her face back to mine.

“I can’t Speak Magic Words,” she confesses. “That’s the problem. I can’t be the hero because I can’t Speak Words. I will never be the main character, and that’s what’s killing me, Forsyth. Because I want it so badly.”

“It’s a skill,” I say. “I can teach you.”

“It’s not like picking up a sword and learning how to stick the other guy,” she says sadly. “I can’t hear them.”

“But—”

“I can’t. And that will never change. And the more we Quest, the more I realize that I can’t be here. That I don’t belong. That I ha-have to go . . .” Her eyes flash emerald for a moment, as she turns them forward, her gaze on Karl’s footing as the horses pick their way across the slate stone banks. “I have to go home.”

My heart breaks a little more. “I still don’t want you to,” I say softly. “But I understand. I just wish . . .” I reach out and grab her hand. She uncurls her fist enough to tangle our fingers together. It is awkward, but I try to make Dauntless keep pace. Eventually, the footing forces our horses onto different levels, and I have to let go.

“I love this world,” she explains. “I’ve played here, in my imagination. In the games of childhood, when other kids were being Hobbits or Harry Potter or Iron Man, I was here, wielding an enchanted bow and arrow beside Kintyre Turn and Bevel Dom! I was besting the Viceroy and throwing Bootknife off cliffs and having fencing practice with the queen! And it hurts, Forsyth, it cuts that I love this world so much, and it won’t open to me. It refuses to give up its deepest secrets. Your world doesn’t want me here.”

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