Saturday Storytime: A Deeper Green

Sometimes you just have to find a way to say, “No.” Enjoy this story from Samantha Murray.

Davvi was not happy. Juvianna could read it in the tension in his stride, the small crease lodged between his brows.

“This does not feel right,” he said finally, as they neared Hensson’s hut, way down close to the shore of the Odaay.

Juvianna kept walking. “Oh really?” she said, glaring at him.

“No, it doesn’t. Ju—” He grabbed her arm and stopped her. “There are a lot of people who are not too happy about this.”

She had been at the public audience. She had heard the rumble of concern, of dissent, passing through the crowd, like low-key thunder grumbling on the horizon, when the mair had spoken of Juvianna using her gift as a preventative measure rather than just a reactive one. But the mair, by pure force of personality coming through his cool and persuasive words, had led the colony back around, gentled their protests before they could build into a storm. He had spoken to their need to feel safe. At the back of their minds, they all knew winter would return. How the darkness would worm its way into the minds of people they knew as their neighbors and friends when they were too long without a glimpse of the sun.

“They listened to the mair,” she said. “If I could save someone… Losing one—”

“—diminishes us all. Yes, yes we all know that, Ju. These people haven’t done anything. Going hunting in their minds…”

“They haven’t done anything—yet,” countered Juvianna.

“If you could have felt what it was like in my uncle’s mind, what I find in any of their minds… it is better with it gone, believe me.”

“You are not a god, Juvianna.”

Against her will, she felt herself start to shake. “I never said I was a god. I never asked to do this—they asked this of me… it is my maka, this is my call. You can’t deny your maka, you know that. It is banishment, or death. This is who I am.” And then, because she felt like her stomach was rolling and dragging her like the currents of the Odaay, the heat left her voice and she knew she was truly asking, “What do you want me to do?”

Davvi softened then. “I don’t know,” he said quietly.

Juvianna looked at him a long moment. “We all have our maka, even if we find it disagreeable,” she shot at him. Davvi of all people should understand that.

She stalked into Hensson’s hut, not particularly expecting him to follow. He did though.

Hensson was a middle-aged man, timid, yet with a history of being aggressive and antagonistic under the effects of varmelon wine, or any other summer-brewed intoxicant. He had never in the past crossed the line that would have had Juvianna called to him, but the Council considered him at risk, and not an asset to the colony. His maka was as fisherman, not that he was particularly good at it.

He reacted to Juvianna with politeness that had a tremble underneath it, and his nervousness did not seem allayed by the presence of Davvi.

Juvianna spoke the new words, “I offer you banishment or release of the darkness.” Usually she said death or release, but as he had not committed a crime, death was not on the table here. It did not matter—banishment and death were essentially the same thing. Where would he go, how would he survive if cast out? There were stories of another colony, far, far to the west. But stories wouldn’t save him when winter hit.

“I didn’t do anything,” Hensson said, not looking at either of them.

“Do you choose banishment, or release of the darkness?” Juvianna repeated, her voice gentle.

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Saturday Storytime: A Deeper Green