At tumblr, I received an anonymous ask about Tayla and Liani. I ended up including an excerpt of a draft of one version of how Tayla and Liani might have met. Because of that, I thought I’d put it over here too. As I say below, all of this might change! See the tumblr post below.
Hi! 😀 For some reason it always makes me happy when anyone asks about Tayla or Liani. I guess because I like them even though they aren’t in the series very much. So, thank you! ❤
I’m actually planning to write a book or series of oneshots or something that spans important parts of their lives together.
I wrote one version of the first time they met for a short story I was going to submit for an anthology, but I ended up not sharing it because I have to do a lot more research to make sure I don’t have anything out of place for either of them. At first I was just going to summarize for you what that was about but then I decided, what the hell! May as well show you the very beginning of it.
KEEP IN MIND: this might all change! Details might change significantly as I fill out more important pieces! If I do change the story entirely, I still want to keep the spirit of their first meeting alive because it fits them pretty well.
(Oh and, unless I change anything which I might, they knew each other about 10 years by the time they first appear in Evenfall)
Anyway, here’s an excerpt below. It’s unedited and probably sucks but it will give you an idea of the general feel for how I think they first met. This was the start of the story:
Liani ignored the English word at first, the same as she had ignored the sound of movement behind her. The Siti Nurbaya bridge had a fair amount of foot traffic at this time of day, and more than one conversation had come and gone behind her.
She continued to stare down at the water not far below her; a dusky blue against the brighter reds, blues and whites of the boats docked on both sides. The railing she leaned against had once been red as well, before time and weather had worn the paint away in large patches to the dull grey metal beneath. She could feel the warmth of it even through her clothing, and drew in a breath of air tinged by the Indian Ocean.
Her gaze was just lifting to the rustling green trees when she was rudely thrown out of her reverie by a shove on her shoulder.
“Are you daft? I said laugh! Help me out here!”
Startled, Liani looked over.
A young woman whose skin was the sort of sun-crisped brown of a naturally pale person was staring at her defiantly. Her jaw was tightened and arms crossed sharply in front of her to lean against the railing in a mimicry of Liani’s pose. Her hair could not be seen beneath the dark brown hijab wrapped amateurly about her head. Liani noted this must be a woman who recently started wearing it, as she clearly didn’t know how to wear it properly. Her eyes were the palest blue Liani had ever seen in person. She barely had the chance to notice faint freckles across the woman’s face before the woman discreetly shoved Liani on the shoulder again.
“Get on it!”
The woman’s gaze darted subtly past Liani’s shoulder, and before Liani could do more than start to turn her head as well, the woman snapped her arm around Liani’s shoulders and dragged her closer in a half-hug. A large pair of dark sunglasses materialized out of nowhere and hid the woman’s pale eyes. She tipped her face toward the water and ran a bizarrely comforting hand along Liani’s upper arm.
“Fuck’s sake, fine,” the woman muttered grumpily under her breath. “I’ll console you, then. Jesus, not a good actor among the bunch ever– don’t look over,” she yanked Liani closer, “just, I dunno, stare down all morosely at the water like you were already doing. Wanna put in some tears too, that’s fine. They’re coming so you gotta act natural, right?”
To Liani’s further surprise, the woman switched seamlessly into Indonesian. Her accent was heavy and she was mostly mumbling mundane commentary that tourists learned, but the cadence was just right. Liani felt herself learning closer to the woman, straining to hear the words despite herself, and she remained this way even after she vaguely noted the heavy footsteps of a small group of people rushing past.
There was a beat in which the woman kept mumbling– “saya tidak mengerti, jam berapa sekarang, bisa tolong diulangi, saya harus berlatih bahasa Indonesia saya…” — and then, with the faintest shift of her chin toward where the people had departed, she relaxed and fell silent. A huge grin was soon aimed in Liani’s direction.
“Well,” the woman said cheerfully, back to English. “You’ve been a right help. Good to see chivalry isn’t dead, this day and age. Let’s continue that way, yeah?”
She pushed Liani lightly in the direction from which she’d come. She had an accent but Liani was too distracted to be able to analyze it properly.
“What are you–”
Liani straightened and hazarded a glance back, toward where the footsteps had receded, but the woman was already tightening her grip on Liani’s elbow and pulling her along faster.
“Don’t break the spell, doll. Let’s keep on. I’ll fill you in a bit once we’re not broadcasting it to the world, here.”
Not knowing precisely why, Liani let herself be led, strangely enough, to the waterfront not far from the cemetery. The two of them carefully picked their way onto the large rocks angled against the lapping water. Liani was slow in sitting, trying to find the best way to settle in without anything cutting into her, but the woman flopped down carelessly onto her back and stretched her hands behind her neck.
“This is brilliant,” she announced happily.
Liani stared at her dubiously.
The moment in which neither of them spoke was interrupted by the woman digging between the voluminous shirt and skirt she wore– another thing she didn’t seem to have taken great care in putting on properly– and bringing up with great relish a handful of bills.
“So how much did I nick, anyway?” the woman asked curiously, holding the colorful money up against the dull wash of sun and fanning it out between her fingertips. “I feel like a bloody millionaire. Look at this. This thing seriously says 100,000 on it. Do you see? 100,000. And I’ve got, what, five of them?”
“Who are you?”
The woman’s eyebrow ticked up at the demand. She paused, and in seconds the money disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. With a sinuous roll of her shoulders, she was sitting up and holding out her hand to Liani with a crooked grin. Her other hand was already divesting her face of the sunglasses.
“Tayla,” the woman said cheerfully. “And, aside from my white knight, you are…?”
Liani hesitated, eyeing first the hand and then the smile, but ultimately allowed for the handshake. “Liani.”
“Pretty name for a pretty girl.”
The words, so happily said, caught Liani off-guard. She settled into another dubious stare while Tayla was already breezing ahead.
“You’re probably wondering how soon you can be rid of me, but sad to say for you, it’ll be awhile. You’re my alibi right now so we’ll have to stick together for a bit. Say, do you happen to have a guest room wherever you live? I can pay.” The crook was back in her lips, and a 100,000 rupiah note flashed into existence between her pointer and middle fingers.
“That’s–” Liani’s gaze was drawn, nonplussed, to the money. “What– No. I don’t even know who you are–”
“Tayla, as I said–”
“–and it seems you’ve just stolen something–”
“You can’t help bad luck–”
“–and, as I said, I don’t know who you are–”
“Like I was saying earlier–”
“I think I know enough about this to know I shouldn’t be involved,” Liani said rather firmly, and moved to stand.
Tayla’s hand snapped out between them, snagging Liani’s wrist in a painful hold. Her entire expression shifted darker with the simple lowering of her eyelashes and curling of her lips.
“Now listen here, doll.” Her tone was deceptively light. “You lost the chance to pike out when I made you as my second mark. Cooperate with me, it’ll be a piece of piss, and you won’t see me again after tomorrow, all goes well. Fight me and you’ll learn how terrible a decision that is.”
“Are you threatening me?”
Tayla rolled her eyes. “Why’s everyone gotta go and ask questions like that? You feel threatened, you were threatened. Incredulity won’t endear you to your captor.”
This conversation was doing nothing to slow the alarmed thudding of Liani’s heart.