Excerpt from "Drawn to the Brink"

She could have drawn herself a dress of crimson silk, sewn with buckles and bells of gold and a tall moon shaped hat to match. However, Sajiana preferred the anonymity provided by her ragged, rugged, real travel clothes. She tromped through the town, whistling, past villagers dressed no better than she, ignoring and ignored. She had a string in one hand, a scrib and a slip of blank paper in the other. A close observer would have seen that the string did not dangle from her hand, but poked its’ head out this way and that, gently tugging at her fingers. These were the tugs that led her ever closer to the brink.

The string suddenly jerked her quite hard toward an alley along the cheesemonger’s street. Sajiana looked up and met the eyes of a startled young man. His hair tousled about his head all unruly. His eyes were huge in his face, haunted. His lips pressed together under hungry cheeks. Strange that in all this time since he had escaped from the twixtening, he had not used his considerable powers to better maintain himself.

Some brinks tried to run. Some tried to fight. The outcome would be the same. This brink looked at her a long moment, hard. He walked away. It was as though he lacked either the humility or the sense to fear her.

His striking face would be his undoing; she could hardly forget a face like that. Sajiana sat down against a wall beside a cheese shop. In feathery, charcoal strokes of her scrib, she began to sketch the face she remembered. It took her only a few minutes to have a likeness. It took her longer to tie the complex knot around the portrait. With her knotted portrait, Sajiana stood and walked into the alley.

“Come to me,” she said.

She heard him before she saw him. A scritching and scratching and scrapping sound: he fought each step of the way to answer her call. He could not resist the compulsion, however, and he finally dragged himself into view. His eyes no longer looked haunted. They blazed with hate.

“You would dare draw me? Do you know who I am?”

“Just another brink, as far as I’m concerned,” Sajiana said.

Whatever answer he had been expecting, it had not been that.

He stared at her, flummoxed. “Are you mad? What are you talking about? I’m no brink!”

His surprise surprised her. She had never met a brink who did not know it was a brink. Most boasted of their inhuman superiority.

“Did you honestly think you were human?” she asked, overcome with curiosity against her better judgment. The teachers at Mangcansten universally advised against entering into prolonged discussion with a brink.

“I am human,” he said. “And the fact you cannot bind me proves it.”

He wrenched himself free of the compulsion. This time he did run.

The charcoal portrait had become a smudged mess of meaningless lines. She rolled a choice curse around the inside of her mouth. Because he had not attacked anyone, stolen anything, or wrecked any havoc, she had assumed him to be weak. Instead, it appeared he had a stronger will than any brink she had previously encountered. Sajiana began to worry that a more experienced glamourer should have been assigned to this brink. She had a quick hand, but not the patience for the truly intricate work needed to bind an extremely powerful will. The brink was wrong if he thought that humans could not be bound by a portrait. That was what humans and brinks had in common. However, a strong will could turn a line drawing to mush. She would have to put more effort into it.

She blew air between her teeth. She untied and unrolled her scribroll. It contained an assortment of scribs and brushes. She chose one of the thin charcoal scribs. She peeled back a layer of the wax paper to reveal more nub. She began to draw the brink again...

Read the rest of Drawn To The Brink in the anthology WomanScapes