Hello, readers dearest. Kairlina again, since… it seems I’ve been the one writing this strange story all along.
The Way to Kandge-Brad is far too strange and awful and wonderful a work to capture in a tidy few words. After all, it was only meant to be 10k words and instead came to a halt just shy of fifty thousand–an accidental novella.
It is by far my favorite story. For me, it has been healing. For reasons related to that, I truly do not know if I can recommend it broadly. Probably not. In the last two-thirds of the story, I abandoned any pretense of content warnings.
This story is a journey into undeniable trauma and the scars of one’s own weaknesses–as the cleaning of a wound and the enduring of a disease must forever be. If you have the same wounds, the same sicknesses, this will be to you a salve and a bandage. If not, it will be the illness itself.
There is nothing more to say short of writing the whole thing all over again, and… I would rather read it, or indeed live it. So, here you go–a link to the Google doc for those who prefer that, and a simple Word document for the rest. Read and redistribute as you like. This one’s free.
Edit, 9/27/2021: So… I did something horribly wrong and, in the process of tracing that wrong back to its source–also me, but in something I didn’t do–I’ve been forced to confront some things in this story that I knew were dissonant and traumatic and, well… just wrong, at the time I wrote them. But I wasn’t able to accept that yet at the time.
If you’ve downloaded or read this to the end before this morning (it’s 5AM here–I didn’t meant to work through the night, just sort of happened), well… I’m sorry. Parts VI and VII probably didn’t help you the way they should have, and that’s my fault too. I think this is finally what The Way to Kandge-Brad was always supposed to be. It’s almost 60k words instead of almost 50k, which probably speaks to how incomplete the first version was. I hope one day you’ll trust me enough to go back and read the changes. I truly believe they’ll be enough to work, even after I messed up the first time.
Edit 2, 9/27/2021 (but after sleeping and stuff): alright, so, at this point I think I need to embrace The Way to Kandge-Brad as a kind of living text of me. There may end up being many different versions of it at different points in time. I’ve already written two so far–Part 1-5 remain the same between both, but the end of 6’s second version features a catharsis and a heightened intimacy at its end that just didn’t exist before. I wasn’t ready to create it.
And… the monster I make of myself in the first version is not who I truly am. I see that now. But sometimes it’s easier to start facing our psyche by envisioning ourselves as a monster than to look at what’s truly in the mirror of ourselves, and why. And since that process is always hard, I have nothing but love for anyone who chooses to start that way.
That means me, too. Because I do deserve love, and… I do love myself. Scars and all. Scars… can maybe be a little pretty, even? It’s not a reason to go looking for more, but maybe having some is okay.
I do not think that any of these is objectively better than the others. I don’t say that as a knock against my skill–I’m a very skilled writer. Of course I am… I’m passionate about stories and sharing them. I tend to put in all sorts of work without realizing it’s work, which is, perhaps, something to work on in itself.
I just mean that, since I am very skilled now, any version of a story I write will be skillfully sculpted to what I want it to be in that moment–which may or not be what I truly need in the end, but will always reflect something I need at the time of writing. A stepping stone laid into the way. Sometimes the land it bears me through will not be pretty, but it’s as far as I have the strength to get just then.
Sometimes those needs change later, and with a story as intimate as The Way to Kandge-Brad, I think I’ll probably want to come back to it a number of times to see if it changes with what I bring to it. I may rewrite it when that time comes, or I may not.
In the meantime? If you do decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it, and that it helps you to love what’s truly in your mirror, too.
Edit 3, 9/28/2021: Heh, see? Living text. It wasn’t story-destroying (thank goodness, I was so afraid I’d missed healing something truly awful) but there was a remnant of the first version I missed revising right at the end of Mira’s non-atonement with her uncle. She, uh… says some things in the open I think Mira has by then learned to value herself and her fellow Immortals well enough that she wouldn’t say. New version, she comes as close as she reasonably can in that context. Just feels way better!
Anyway, you know what that means–make sure to download this version before you finish reading! Or if you don’t, don’t go holding the old one against me. Or if you do, I’ll tell you to fuck off because I’ve done my part and I don’t deserve that. For myself, I’m already moving on from it.
Edit 4, 5/6/2022: decided to add the first completed version back to this post for the benefit of the empty spaces crowd, who will understand exactly where it’s coming from. That’ll be the “dissonant version” right here below. This was written from an absolute ocean of trauma and self-hatred. So of course, in retrospect, it’s so edgy I can’t help but laugh at it. That’s healing, I think?
Anyway, it’s here if you want to see how I saw myself at the time of writing, my whole abyssal self as a complete person with absolutely no filters whatsoever. (Which is to say, a way worse version of myself than actually existed, though I fear, an accurate portrait of where I’d been heading if I didn’t change my course)
Or you just like fucked up raw stuff. That’s reason enough to read it.
And here’s the middle version–a little less conceptually interesting, but a much healthier story