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Celadon Toadstool was delirious.

The funny bit—uproariously funny, it seemed to her—was that she knew she was delirious. The world was billowing around her. It looked as if someone had meticulously painted the inside of a cottage on silk, and then hung it in a gentle breeze. The corners floated inward and collapsed back out again with a sigh.

That someone would go to all that trouble, painting a cottage on silk, was hilarious.

She knew she was wounded. She couldn’t quite remember how she’d been wounded. Imagine not remembering a thing like that!

This also struck her as hilarious.

Her name, in Orcish, was Urrsharruk-gah, and she had skin the delicate gray-green of the gills of cave mushrooms, and eyes the color of stolen gold. Her hair was thick and dark and she wore it tucked under her helmet to keep enemies from being able to grab it, which was problematic, because she’d lost her helmet somewhere along the way, and she wasn’t in the best of shape anyway.

Even in her immense good humor at the moment, the lack of her helmet struck her as a bit unnerving.

She couldn’t remember quite where she’d lost it. There’d been a battle—yes—that was pretty clear. Someone had hit her. Well, it was a battle, people tried to hit you a lot. Nothing unusual about that.

The great truth of this observation sent her off into gales of laughter, which was a bad idea, because her shoulder flared up with a heat that rapidly ceased to be pain and became something else altogether.

She still couldn’t stop laughing. It was the unstoppable, shaky-bladder’d laughter that came over you sometimes, and there was just no stopping it, despite the pain. The agony was breathtaking, and she couldn’t remember why, and it was so—damn—funny!

Celadon couldn’t get enough air in her lungs to sustain that for very long. Her head lolled back and she wheezed. Her eyes opened again.

A worried face was staring back at her. It didn’t look right at all. The silk painter had obviously run out of green pigment, and left it at just a pale underpainting. He was probably off getting more paint. Celadon felt smug at having caught this unknown artist out. Once he got back, she was going to say something really snide.

One pale hand came out and laid across her forehead. The fingers were like bars of ice across her skin.

Come to think of it, she was feeling a bit hot.

More than a bit, actually. Had she gone into battle wearing a parka? That didn’t make any sense.

The owner of the fingers was frowning. The artist had gotten the expression down pretty well, even if it was rendered in ghosts of color.

The unpainted person said something in a language she didn’t recognize, all liquid clicking vowels, and then something else in another language. She didn’t think she spoke that one, either. Then he said “You have a fever.”

Then he said it again, only in Glibber, the goblin language, except that in Glibber what he said was “You blood-heat-sick.”

That makes sense, Celadon thought absently. I really am quite hot.

She’d written a poem about fevers once. “Heat of Battle,” or something stupid like that. One of her early poems, before she’d gotten over herself and stopped thinking that she was the only person on earth who’d ever thrust words in the fire and hammered.

She wondered if he’d read it. She hoped not. It would be embarrassing to be hovered over by someone who’d read your dreadful early work. She wanted to ask him, but when she tried to talk, her voice came out in a weak, breathy rasp, like an asthmatic baby bird, and that was so funny she lost it again.

And where the hell was her helmet, anyway?

She’d taken it off. She remembered that fairly clearly. She’d taken it off on the battlefield.

Was she still on the battlefield? She didn’t remember leaving.

The silk billowed around her again, bringing shouting and the clang of metal on metal with it, and the underpainting of a person leaned forward, his frown deepening even farther.

Losing your helmet in the middle of a battle is never a good idea, and she normally would no more have removed her helmet during combat than her underwear (and granted that her underwear had little protective value, she would probably have sacrificed it first.) But a stray mace coming up from below had missed her face by the width of a hair, caught her nose guard, and pushed it up sideways so that it was completely blocking the left side of her vision. Celadon hadn’t even seen what had happened, and had halfway believed she’d lost an eye. She still couldn’t quite believe it, when she had half a moment clear and pried the helmet off—the force of the blow must have been extraordinary, and she’d gotten away with a gouge across her cheekbone that was oozing blood down the side of her nose. Given the choice between vision or a helmet, she’d reluctantly chosen vision, but it was a near thing.

The battle was nearly over now. The first few minutes had passed in the kind of mad daze of screaming and noise and hammering and stupid luck and stupider accidents that characterize battles, and now it was down to a last few pockets of fighting. In a way it was a lot worse—you could actually see what was happening, and notice the blows that were coming your way and feel sick when they just missed you, or a lot sicker when they didn’t.

Their side had won, but that wouldn’t matter for a few more minutes yet.

A great blond brute, six feet tall if he was an inch, and also missing his helmet, appeared in front of her. He roared something. She roared something back—the great grim gods only knew what. They both knew what it meant, anyway, no matter what the words said—“Let’s try to kill each other!” “Yes, let’s!” and then they fell on each other, hammer and tongs. He bent her shield into weird shapes with his hammer, and she carved his thighs up like a ham. At the end of it, her left arm was limp and the shoulder felt like water, and he was dead.

It went on like that, a couple more encounters. She would have lost count, if she’d bothered counting to begin with. The last one was a whippy redhead with a broken nose who realized that her shield wasn’t worth much any more, and kept going for her left side. She would have been in serious trouble, but Thrugguk, her eighth cousin a few dozen times removed, wandered by and broke the man’s collarbone, and after that it was butchery.

She stood and tried to catch her breath. She was very, very hot. Battle was hot work, but this was worse than usual.

She couldn’t see out of her helmet. She took it off. The nose guard was pushed out of position. She should have lost the eye. A cut leaked blood down her cheek.

Wait…wait. Didn’t I do this already?

Where was her helmet, again?

She turned around. The world was rippling. There was someone standing there, one of the elves, except that he wasn’t wearing armor. This was so stupid, not to be wearing armor on the field of battle, that Celadon didn’t immediately attack him. You didn’t cut down lunatics or holy men, and he might have been either. It wasn’t always possible to tell the difference.

But then he reached for her, his face so pale and angular, like a white fox, and his fingers were coming towards her face, and she raised her sword against him.

Err…where was her sword?

And where the hell was her helmet?

He was still reaching for her. Deprived of weapons, Celadon did the only thing she could think of. One of her arms didn’t seem to be working—had she been wounded? She couldn’t remember—but the other one worked just fine, and she reached out and wrapped her hand around his throat.

No sword. No helmet. He didn’t have a sword or a helmet either. What were they doing on a battlefield with no swords and no helmets? Were they both mad?

This, too, struck her as hysterically funny, and as her fingers dug into the elf’s windpipe, all she could do was laugh and laugh and laugh.
A much shorter installment this time, since Celadon Toadstool is a woman of action, not steaming piles of consciousness.

Don't worry, I'm not cruel enough to leave you at that cliffhanger for long. I promise. So you can count on at least one more installment. Past that, of course, I promise nothing, etc.

I suggest you read part 1 first, by the way: [link]
Add a Comment:
bloody-valentine-93 Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well, ceiling fires are quite a problem, if not what is beneath them is...hehe :+favlove:
Elvenwyn Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wow, I really enjoyed that. Quite amazing.
AcolyteVersion1 Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2006
Simply fanstatic second installment once again - I really am thoroughly enjoying reading this ^_^
Turtlekie Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2006
AuroranWings Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2006  Student General Artist
Hah hah!! I love your description about Celadon being a woman of action. :D

This was wonderful!! I loved how you had her delirium expressed as a painter painting, and describing the light colour of Sings-to-Trees' skin.

I'm excited for the nest part! :nod:
zeltgeist Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2006
That was funny. Great job with adding the delirium. I think one thing that people tend to forget to add is battle fatigue. I really loved the way you portrayed that, and the metaphors were great. They really helped me visualize what she would have been seeing.
109cita Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2006  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Is it rude of me,
before even reading
the third installment,
to ask for paintings
of their children?

I loved the first page
because I so love
Sings to Trees.

This one was brilliant as well.
People have complained that
it wasn't as good as the first.
It's different, because it's from
a different point of view,
from a different type of person.
That's not a good reason
to say it's not as good!
People need to learn to empathise.
A more 'human' point of view
is not the only worthy one!

*steps down from soap box*
yukikousagi Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2006  Professional Artist
I like this POV a lot. Definitely captures that delirious-sick flow of thought. I remember thinking very similarly when I was on morphine the one and only time (though I didn't have pretty elves or bloody battle in my head at the time-- might have made things more interesting if I did).

I really do hope their relationship takes a better turn. After all, strangling her savior isn't a real spiffy way to make good first (conscious) impression. Poor Sings-to-Trees.

The mention of Celadon's name in Orcish was appreciated, and amusing.
horai Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2006
I'm so enjoying this. :D
willdrawforfood Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2006
I love your writing so much. It seems to be the case with most of your updates that the description and artwork itself contribute equally to the awesomeness, and it's fun to get some of your writing on its own. Keep it coming; it's brilliant!

P.S. And I thought I was finished with fantasy writing forever...
Cheesegoddess Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
Woo I can't wait to read what happends.
Servitor2152 Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
Very good. I must admit, it didn't strike me quite as much as the first installment did; not quite sure why. Maybe I miss the rambling (you're right; Celadon really doesn't mince words). Excellent description of delirium, by the by.
raukoiel Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
still in love!
spazfroggie Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Hobbyist Photographer
Awesome! Man, I thought we were supposed to be patient for this, and then the next part is up, like, a day later! You get an A+ for Exceeding Expectations!
Redpyre Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Professional General Artist
Omg...your writing!


Seriously. Everything about your writing...the style, the setting, the my favorite type of writing.

I love it. Don't ever stop.
traditionalevolution Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I may hyperventilate before the next installment.
GaleforceRin Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I definitely look forward to reading more!
MacDude4 Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
Just gets better and better
HobbsEnd Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Professional General Artist
This is brilliant! My brother recived a fractured skull in his younger years (A line drive soft ball that he threw) And he always described everything seemed to move in a way that reminded him of being in water. Excellently done, but then that's the standard for your stuff!
CraigInATin Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
Yay, second part. A bit more confusing, but still very cool.
VioletVampireVixen Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
T.T It wont let me read the first part. The second part was very good though :D Cant wait for the 3 one.^^
keight Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
This really gets to be interesting reading when you're in the middle of a day rather like it, from Sings-To-Trees' point of view. During the saner bits, it is just as funny as Celadon thinks it is.

Yesterday was impressive. Today is better. This is like finding a piece of fine jasper while digging rocks out of the planters.

BTW, congratulations again on having Harcourt Brace purchase your book.
Zirtavia Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
Oh, I love your writing. So very much.
Bozack Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Student Photographer
just beautiful at se first one! :D Looking forward to more more more! :D
Sunflicker Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
you just offically saved my break time at work from its usual pit of despair. where clock watching until i have to go back in there and sell more clothes to women who persist that small folds in the fabric merit 50% off the item make my day a living hell.
this has brightened my mood. i am most shocked that this could happen but it appears to be the case.
my deepest thanks
BlackPencil Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
How can anybody wait for somthing like part 3?
Kaytara Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Damn... how come there isn't an edit option? It's all too often I keep commenting and then think of something else....

Yes, well, there IS the inconsistency glitch - in the first part, the elf takes her helmet off, but now she remembers taking it off during the battle.

Heh... I imagine the elf is now thinking this is all even a worse idea than it seemed originally. :D
ursulav Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
*grin* She remembers taking her helmet off three or four times. This may be a clue to the reader that Celadon's memory is not entirely reliable in this case.
Kaytara Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, I thought it was something like that. :D OR.... Perhaps she had multiple helmets on? :D
Kaytara Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh gosh, I love it! :D Thanks for not making us wait long for the second part, it was a nice suprise when I looked into my message centre. :D Hope the third part comes as quickly. :D

Poor Sings-to-trees.... :D You won't ever have any mercy on him, will you?
SunGryphon Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
More ! More !
JeyBarnes Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I think I like this installment even more than part one! You have the most wonderful, no-nonsense voice in your writing. And somehow you balanced that with an almost tangible sense of delerium--and made it look easy! The whole thing flows like buttah from beginning to end. Yes, gush gush gush. Can't wait for part three!
x-marks-the-spot Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
Hahaha! Great work again! "Carved his legs up like a ham...", haha!
arwinfaber Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
I don't get it. In the first chapter Sings-to-trees takes of the helmet after getting her home. In this chapter she removed the helmet herself during battle. I think you need to work on this.
ursulav Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006
Celadon is delerious and remembers removing her helmet several times, over the course of a battle that she isn't currently in. One might question whether Celadon is actually a reliable narrator at the moment.
Inkthinker Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Professional Digital Artist
Is good. More, please. :D
vengefulkiwi Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm going to disagree with a few people -- Just as if not slightly more fascinating that the first installment, but more importantly it lacks that faint hint of "fan-fiction" flavor. Now, it's not as endearing, but that's because I sympathize with males. I'm not sure why... I think it's because they all seem just slightly more pathetic than women like myself... I think it's because boys just over-react so much. Like when they get minor colds and mope around sniffling muttering about how they're probaby going to die.
But I've gone completely off topic...
Oh! And congrats on being published. I look forward to purchasing it.
Fox-the-Kitsune Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006
I do like how she winds up finding things hilarious, even though she knows damn well they aren't funny. I don't recall ever being amused by the fact of being delirious but, then again, I was too small to remember. Then again, orcs probably have a different sense of humor. It's also amusing that she suddenly hopes he hasn't read that one early poem.

I make no sense right now. Oh well. I like this and I'm quite sure I'll like part three too.
keute Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006  Hobbyist Photographer
I think I love it. xD
RainyRogue Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
Yay! I took your warning to heart and didn't expect another section, so this was a pleasant surprise!
Ghanie Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006
This is good! I hope she doesn't hurt him to much..
Emp- Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006
Yay part 2! I love your story =D
ImaginaryGoddess Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006
Yayyyy you continued it! It's fantastic. Oh Ursula I want to be just like you when I grow up. :-D
GoldeenHerself Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006   Traditional Artist
My aunt once complained how she was sick of all these movies wherein some dorky-arse loser guy gets this babelicious brazillah as his girlfriend, but if a girl is to get anyone of any kind of chisled-cheekbone, pouting-lips, excellent abs, etc. guy she's got to look like Uma Thurman. Or a horse. Or just be damn thin.

So thank the almighty Ursula-muse for Celadon and Sings-to-Trees!

Panur Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006
I LOVE THIS STORY. i love any story you do, the mandrake girl being my favorite, right after the unicorn giving birth. You have unique sense of humor and narrative, and I justw ant you to know i greatly enjoy all you do. I can barely wait for the net installment, and thanks for being so awesome.
hotaru Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Oh my! I look forward to the next installment with butt-cheeks teetering precariously on the very edge of my seat!
gryphonmoons Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006
*Eagerly awaits part 3*

Good work! I'm really enjoying this. :D
illixim Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
Oooouch. Poor Sings-to-trees ^.^;; not much in the way of gratitude there. Hopefully he'll be able to pry her off.

Again, lovely work. Your characters are so well-developed and so obviously original and themselves. :heart: Gorgeous.
CreatureSH Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I like the way you conveyed her delirium. It's confusing, but not too confusing to understand that it's meant to be confusing.
dissolved-oxygen Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2006
Ah! This is sooo good. I read the first piece last night, and I found myself hoping that you'd continue the story. It's really brilliant so far. You are an excellent writer and artist! Kudos to you! ^_^
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