(Let’s just assume there have been a lot of Jin musings about the Vanguard and her place in it. From trial by fire in going immediately into combat to save their Commander, to learning about the transitive energy caught up in minerals over time that can be released through control of sand, to adventures silly, grim, and terrifying, to once more taking on the responsibility of bonding with an animal – a skyscale this time – that she’s in no wise equipped to care for, there’s plenty of stuff I missed writing about! This will be a narrative rather than her writing because she’s not in the mood to explore her thoughts philosophically).
Jin left the two norn sibs and their banter with Kory, looked to where Fiel had so definitively cold-shouldered her attempt to help, and turned into the barracks. Long practice had kept her face calm, her voice solid. You want folks to believe you can heal them, put them in contact with the dead, clear their blood of toxins, you want them to trust you enough that they do the work themselves with your aid instead of fighting you, doubting you, you learn a good bedside manner. It was pure habit by now. But she could feel the sham of it. The cold here stripped away comfortable self-delusion. Just a weak human pretending she understood norn ways.
She should have figured it out sooner, she guessed. Every offer to talk rebuffed, dinner invitations never followed up on, her suggestions of how she could help out in the crisis flat out ignored. The norn tolerated her but she wasn’t one of them. She’d known for years that despite similar looking results, humans and norn came at social stuff from different angles. Humans needed to belong, to be inside a group, norn needed to be known, and being in groups offered that even while they followed their own paths without much caring if others disapproved. You couldn’t ostracize a norn, that would just add to their legend. And no legend was going to be improved by leaning on a skinny little shopkeeper.
That whispering voice hadn’t been trying to egg her on. She wasn’t worth it. She couldn’t hurt its true targets, not up against their strength and skill. It had only passing contempt for her. Sure, she’d shaken it off better than some, but only because it just didn’t care if she did. The norn didn’t take her advice? Six, she wasn’t taking it herself. Get back to Grothmar, she’d said, don’t stay here. But she was staying.
Staying because it was the only way to find one norn in particular. One asshole who couldn’t be bothered with her either. A Wolf who’d only turned to her because his own pack ignored him, runt that he was, and didn’t care to send her word that he was surviving up here all these weeks. Come to think of it, that probably -was- the word. He was done with his human fling and her clinging need to belong. Fine! But he was damn well going to say it to her -face-.
So she lay on an unclaimed bunk in a freezing corner far from the fire. She closed her eyes as they went white, and started teasing out the sense of her norn. If she could find Riathan a week after meeting him just from a sample of his blood, track him through the desert’s singing sands, then she’d be able to trace her lover of many years. She -knew- his blood, his body, his heartbeat. And she knew the cold, yes, knew how it came from imbalances, could feel this cold’s unnatural origin in how it shaped itself to gather more closely around any living thing. She reached out through the memory of the ice … nothing. Stupid. Ice didn’t hold memory the way rock and sand did.
But those crystals, they shaped themselves around the living forms to which they clung. And this cold, it was everywhere here, it was one big thing, it shivered around the heartbeats it sought to quell, their pulses rippling it. So still she might herself be dead, she cast her senses further. This wasn’t Grenth’s cold as such, gone as He was, but His methods of working energy remained hers to use. One heartbeat in the web, who knew how far … she was fooling herself. Jin let go her straining reach, pulling back into her body. Her eyes began to open.
“Drool!” Jin sat bolt upright, eyes still white, but it was gone. Just one beat, not enough to tell anything more than a heart still alive. Where had it … she blindly turned her face towards the wall. The west wall. That had been so far, so deep away into the frozen lands. Past the forest of horror where Cap had taunted them. Too far for a weakling shopkeeper to follow on her own, for sure. Drool proving how far he’d go to get away from the burden of her.
Jin slowly lay back down, curling up around herself. If the others cared, they’d come looking for her.
She didn’t expect they would.