(I queued up a bunch of spoiler/out-of-buffer emergency posts back in like October? in case my move to Taiwan completely blew up on me, then progressively kicked them forward a few months at a time when things didn’t blow up but didn’t normalize to a functional environment either. They’re currently slated for the end of this month and some random times next month, so, well. I’m sticking this parenthetical on top. Things may actually be better at this point but I’m not sure enough to kick it back further.)
From an early version of Micah’s birth scene
Micah’s eyes are having trouble getting used to the light in the office. He is reaching around him. He is trying to adapt to the presence of the world.
His hands are still slick with the substances of his birth.
He coughs up liquid on the monster’s shirt.
“The next name on the list is Preston,” the monster says. “You don’t seem a terribly useful god, but you’ll forgive me for noting that you’re mine, and I can hurt you, or her, at any time I please.”
Micah looks blankly at him.
“What are you for, Preston?” the monster asks.
“My name is Micah,” Micah says.
“That’s not an answer,” the monster points out. “That’s just defiance.”
Micah flounders around in his brain. Liril makes a pained noise; his heart leaps in sudden panic, he is moving to try to console her; but a twitch in the edge of the patterns of his will drags his attention back towards the monster once again.
“I have a surprisingly relevant knowledge of historical trivia,” Micah says.
Micah consults his knowledge of historical trivia.
“Please don’t eat me,” he says.
The monster frowns at him.
“Because sometimes monsters eat people,” Micah says. The monster gives him a deeper frown and adjusts his tie. Micah babbles, “It’s surprisingly relevant!”
The monster sighs.
The monster touches Liril’s hair.
“Small experiment,” he says.
He places his hand on Liril’s chest. He puts pressure on a broken rib. She cries out.
Micah has gone very still.
“Nothing to stop me with, then,” the monster says. “That’s good to know. Unless there’s some bit of surprisingly relevant historical trivia that applies?”
“You don’t want to break her flesh,” Micah says.
The pressure of the monster’s hand lightens.
“Is that so?” he says.
“She is tainted,” Micah says, “by the passage of a King.”
He is searching around him in the dark. He puts his hands against the bars of the cage. They are still slick with the substances of his birth.
The cage is one unbroken trap.
Something terrible is approaching in the dark.
He sits cross-legged. He pulls her head into his lap. He says, “You do not need me. You are already in a cage.”
It hurts him terribly that she is damaged.
“I need you,” she tells him.
He bites his lip. He looks around, pointlessly. He thinks.
“I have a talent for surprisingly relevant historical trivia,” Micah says. “Would you like me to use that to set us free?”
Micah sits there in the dark.
He suspects that there is blood.
“Let me restate that,” Micah says. “Would you, ha ha, like me to use a talent, ha ha, for surprisingly relevant historical trivia to break us free from this cage and the miles of horror that surround us?”
“Oh,” Liril says.
She coughs again. The fact that he is being sarcastic bludgeons the solution space of her thoughts like a sledgehammer upon a melon.
She ignores it.
“OK,” she says, again.
“Oh,” Micah says.
He looks up. There are red eyes in the darkness, staring down at him. They are swaying a little. They are quite large. He does not like to imagine the mouth that must be attached.
He licks his lips.
He tells the story.
“There is,” he says, “a King.”