Descent of Darkness

Adventure with Swizzle
Cannibalistic Gnomes aka 'Stink Pots'

" Set yourself free"….that is the last thing I recall saying before waking up. There was a sudden rushing and cacophony of noise then everything went silent. Now all I can see is the sky. I start to get up and the rest of our party is not in sight. I wonder where they went off to. Kaine, Rabble, Lunara, and I start to get our bearings. We notice that where the portal once was is now a perfectly cleared circle. We all decide to start walking through the grasslands. All of a sudden I see something move out of the corner of my eye. Lunara snuck a little bit closer to where the movement came from. She was hit by something and collapsed! I hope she is ok. All of a sudden Rabble was shot in the neck and shoulder by what looks to be darts…something seems familiar…
We are being attacked by those gross, creepy, cannibalistic gnomes. They are a disgrace to my race! I tried to give them what to, what for!
S: Hey! Why are you doing this?!

CG: You look tasty…

S: You look tasty…..yummy…(in hindsight, probably not the best thing to say)

That liitle stink pot shot me with a dart! Did I give in to it you ask? NO! Nothing but a little bee sting. These gnomes are out of control, gnashing teeth, blowing darts, weird growls…disgusting creatures. I have half a mind to go with them and talk some sense into whoever their leader is.

All of a sudden Bear is attacked by a cheetah – Oh Bother.
Kaine thankfully is able to take a chunk out of the cheetah with his chains then slashes a gnome right across his throat. It was truly a nasty sight to behold.

I start to feel really sleepy and lethargic. Everything goes dark. I don’t think it is too long before I am able to wake up and discover that these gnomes are still at it! They just will not stop.I have had it with them and I throw words of shame at them! They cower in their shame and I tie them up. Surprisingly I find I quite good at tying knots!

After the kerfuffle we look around and see that Lunara is gone. Nowhere to be seen. Kaine lifts Rabble up onto his shoulders to see if he can spot her anywhere. After all she has been known to run off. However that is not the case this time. As Rabble looks around he discovers that Lunara is badly injured and is being carried away by a couple of other gnomes! Rabble orders Bear to chase after them. The gnomes drop her and when we reach her, I am able to help heal her. As Lunara comes back around, we start talking about where we could possibly be in time. Lunara and I start to have a disagreement about whether or not we should try to fulfill the prophecy. I am sure this is something that we will continue to butt heads over. Oh well.

As we start to settle in for the night I can’t help but think about my family. Have they thought about me? How much time has passed? Has any time passed? Are they worried? Are they all ok? I really hope everything is good and well with them.

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Kaine
Small ones...

The world was alive… like living inside a lightning bolt. I thought the energy would rip my muscles apart. It felt like it would never end and yet it also felt like it had just begun. The surge of adrenaline left me feeling overwhelmed and weak in the knee. Never before have I been party to such raw untamed power.
My vision cleared, and I knew i was going to fall. I surrendered to the only thing that seemed familiar, the feel of the solid ground beneath my body… the sky filling my sight. How long had that been?
Once we all recovered a bit, the stony gnome decided finding the orc village would be best. I look at my companions… they all look the same… and yet feel different. I think the flighty one is walking with more confidence. She seems to have seen the truth of herself… and grown to fill her potential. Our Rock friend seems to be more at peace and not so… cagey? Anxious? It’s as if they were all asleep for a long time and work in someone else’s vision of them. Even the elf seems to be less terrified of the group. Perhaps she was changed in the light of the portal like the rest.
We are headed off course a little bit, the elf and i acknowledge this and begin steering the group from the back… slowly pulling the direction more south… toward where we know the orc settlement to be.
A small smile found its way to the corner of my mouth as I began to wonder if I was different in some way too. But the fleeting feeling of joy was short lived as I saw Lunara grab at her neck and collapse. Moments later I saw Rabble do likewise, toppling from the back of his bear. to land in a heap on the ground. I felt my blood boil as I realized that the moment of serenity that the four of us had found… it had been stolen. My friends had been attacked. we had been caught unawares.
As I felt the bloodlust cloud my thoughts, i heard Swizzle talking with someone… gibbrish… it made no sense, but there were clearly two voices at play.
when the pulse in my ears subsided I found myself covered in quills, laying upon some indiginous gnome. I sprang to my feet doing a headcount. “Where’s Lunara?” I demanded… the others seemed to have little in the way of answers. So i hoisted Rabble high as I hoped elevation would help his keen eyesight find purchase on our quarry. He pointed and said about 150 feet that way.
I bolted, not thinking about what I might find once I got there. To my surprise, I saw Winnie keeping my pace and charging in as well. We came upon Lunara shortly… she looked injured… those freaking gnomes had bitten off chunks of her flesh. I looked out after them and began to pursue, feeling the blood thunder in my ears once again. But before the rage took hold, I saw the shape in the grass had multiplied… tenfold… now 20… now 50… even in my enraged state, we had no hope of coming out of this alive. I ran back to the group huddled around Lunara and said, “We must run… now” hoisting her into my arms and sprinting north as fast as I could without losing the others all together.
We ran for… hours… Until Rabble’s senses saw, and heard no signs of pursuit. Now in timid safety, we can discuss our united future… our sortid past… what the hell is going on… and what we should do next.
This makes me uneasy to say the least. Where have our friends gone? And where do we go from here?

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New plans
into Dreshnaul

So here we are at the fire after talking to Sorcha; all of us arguing in vain to try to find a course of action we all agree on. Where do we go from here? To the elves to try and get into the library? Try and persuade the dragons to head to this dimension? And who exactly was Sorcha talking about when she said someone is supposed to meet us in two days time…someone who is looking for us? It is all too vague for my liking. It could be anyone – good or bad! I go and get Lorne and he joins the discussion for a little while but eventually Lorne, Gareth, Waryk, and Gattican all leave, leaving only the four of us who closed the portals to decide on where and how we want to proceed. My gut clenches – it is a lot to expect only four people to decide on a course that may affect the fate of the entire world. And we do not generally all agree on things either. Plus we have been missing in action for three years! I take a deep breath, though, and try and concentrate on the moment at hand. I am here and I have vowed to do all in my power to do this right. I must join in – no more running. I must truly be part of this group.

Eventually we agree to head to the capital city of Dreshnaul to explore the libraries there and plan the beginnings of gathering an army to try and defend ourselves against the army of drow and warforged that are already gathered. While we are doing that Waryk will teleport himself to the dragons and see if he can convince them to come over here. The more the better; for the closing of the portals will be much smoother if they come to our dimension. He will return once he’s talked to them and we can decide further from there. There are portals nearby that we can get to in order to close if he can manage to convince the dragons. And if not – we will do our best to get things in order here before we close any more portals – for, according to Sorcha, there will be a time jump each time we close a portal. It is a good plan – and one we all mostly agreed on! So we prepare to do what we planned…

The next day Waryk leaves and we start the journey to Dreshnaul. It is ENORMOUS. Aldritch looks like nothing more than a small broken-down side-cart compared to the enormity that is Dreshnaul. There are multiple guards wandering around when we enter and they actually look like they know what they’re doing. They even hand out maps of the city to travelers. You need a MAP just to get around their city! We head through the initial part of the city and come across an inn called the “Thistle and Owl” that looks promising. It is still early in the day though so together we seek out the temple district in the hopes of getting a feel for the worship of the deities in this city as well as maybe getting something for Swizzle to read and translate for us. It is quiet when we enter the temple area and there are buildings and worshippers of every god and goddess you can think of – even the ones you wouldn’t expect.

I try and travel with them for awhile into the temple area but I quickly realize that this is definitely not my area of expertise. I can do nothing here to assist our quest. My eyes are starting to glaze over with the preternatural calm and quiet in the area. I shake my head and glance over the map once more and my eyes catch the names of some of the shadier districts. There is a red light district and a slum district; marked right out on the map! I know how the world works in places like that – I might be able to find something of more use there! Many times there are things for sale that aren’t available at any price in the clean-nosed law-abiding marketplaces. But I can’t bring the party with me – they would stick out like a sore thumb and probably cause more harm than good in any reconnaissance attempts…all except maybe Kaine. But I don’t know how he would take going with me. It’s better if I go alone, at least initially, and scout things out – see if there is even anything worth finding in those areas. Nodding to myself, I tell the party that I’m going to leave – planning on trying to find at least one or two shady-looking establishments and check them out. I even agree to set up rooms for the night so that they’ll let me go. But they don’t trust me to myself and insist others go with me as well. I grit my teeth but flash a forced smile at them and agree to set up rooms at the Thistle and Owl. I sigh and Kaine and I head that direction. There will be time, I assure myself – we still have quite a lot of time in this city and I will be able to find some way to explore that area. Maybe I’ll even be able to talk Kaine into going with me – it couldn’t hurt to have some extra force to back me up and I definitely don’t want a repeat of the cheetah incident by going off alone and biting off more than I can chew! For now it will keep – for now I will head to the Thistle and Owl and do what I am bid; set up rooms for the night. Tomorrow dawns bright and full of promising leads!

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Lunara Once More
...in which Lunara finally finds herself

Nyx…Nyx…I am Nyx… All I can see is the loss of everything I’ve been striving for. My heart is numb and each thought that runs through my head is more chaotic and violent than the last…And for once, I’m not afraid of it. I relish it – want to hold it in my soul and feel its darkness bleed into me. Let the blackness overtake me – I’m through fighting with its relentless embrace. I listen with newfound black purpose as Gareth and Waryk try and update us on the last three years of our absence. The planes are collapsing in on each other as they are squished together. Let them – I don’t care anymore. Let the worlds come tumbling down. I am eager for their velvet destruction. The inevitable death and pain. Let the world writhe in pain as I have; as I still do every day. I am not Lunara…I am Nyx. And the first chance I get I will burn my mask and pendant both – for they are a part of my past I want forgotten!

Eventually the two dragon-elves finish their endless talking and we walk back to camp, where Gareth and Waryk have gathered a veritable host of followers. I watch as Kaine and Alog are reunited, than Rabble and his bear. Even Swizzle meets her brother and sister there. My arms cross in front of me as a pang of jealousy shoots through my heart, swiftly turning to anger. I have no one to meet me here and I want no one. Life is better without entanglements. Let them have their reunions. It will not last; not at the rate the world is crumbling.

But when I look over to the fire, my heart stops in mid-beat in my chest. The fist of ice encircling my soul cracks as I see what I thought never to see again. Lorne! Lorne alive and well and sharpening a weapon next to the fire! I blink slowly a couple of times in disbelief. It can’t be real. Lorne is dead. I know he’s dead! This is some trick or figment of my imagination – a cruel torture. For a few minutes I can only stand and stare to try and figure out what’s going on. It can’t be this. Not what I see before my eyes. Things don’t work out for the better – not for me. It is a mistake. It has to be a mistake!

Slowly, as if time itself has ground to a sudden halt and all that exists in the world is Lorne and I, I take step by careful step forward. With each step closer, it is apparent that it is, in fact, Lorne. It is his hands that hold the sharpening stone; the fiery orange-red hair I thought never again to see. The kind eyes behind a gruff façade… My throat closes up with a will of its own and it is all I can do to speak the words “I thought you were dead” past the sudden lump in it. He responds with a snarky “I thought you were too – guess that makes us even” and I smirk inwardly – that is such a Lorne response that it finally starts to hit me that he is actually here – alive and breathing and here with me again! I walk away for a minute to gather my thoughts and try to quell the whirl of conflicting emotions I feel. My heart feels—well it’s indescribable. I am beyond happy – beyond joy. The emotions I feel I can’t even put into words yet. But I can’t face him. I feel so ashamed too- I lost hope. Wanted to destroy a city to assuage the anger in my heart at his loss. What was I thinking? I wonder bleakly. How can I even look at him?? I raggedly draw several more breaths, still facing away from him.

It is Lorne’s gentle touch on my shoulder, his quiet understanding as he asks if I’ve had enough time to process that finally breaks the impenetrable wall I have built in his absence. The anger and hurt I felt as I left Aldritch finally fall away. Unable to contain my feelings or my shame, I blurt the foremost thought in my mind “I was going to burn Aldritch! Burn them all for hurting you!” as I turn swiftly around to face him. No more secrets. He has to know. I wait for the recrimination – for him to turn on me in anger or hurt disappointment as so many have done before him. But how swiftly I forget Lorne’s sharp insight into my heart. He doesn’t judge…only laughs a little. My worries flee and when he hugs me I feel the deep love in his heart. He truly cares. Cares for me as I am; meets me exactly where I need him to. I am safe. I start to sob and he pats my back. I don’t care anymore. The dam is broken; the wall crumbles and is washed away with the tears that fall as I stand there in Lorne’s arms. Let them see me cry – let the whole world see! I would do it a thousand times more if it means that Lorne is here with me again; whole and real and here! Once again he is there when I need him the most. It is enough.

I smile through the tears as I take a step back and breathe fully again. He asks me about the pendant and I am grateful I never got the chance to carry out the black thoughts in my head before finding him again. I never had the chance to destroy it. I tell him I know it’s elven and then I remember the other sneaking suspicion I had been having since finding that out. I ask about my name and he hesitates a moment, as if he knew how I’d respond, and I learn that it is indeed elven as well. I should have been angry enough to punch someone but to my surprise, I don’t feel that way. Not with Lorne. I just shake my head in rueful exasperation. Of course it would be elven! But it doesn’t matter. It is Lorne that picked out the name – it is enough. Let it be elven. Let it be anything! I was foolish to cast it off. I AM Lunara. And I am not a child; not anymore. It’s time I stopped acting like one! I need time to think and process and Lorne knows me like the back of his hand. He leaves me to my thoughts for awhile and it is good.

When I am ready I head back to talk to Gareth and Waryk and learn that there are two factions of elves fighting. Of course they are! It always comes down to elves! There is a group of elves trying to find a place to escape instead of remaining on this plane and fighting for it! This is the group of elves we need to somehow get on good terms with, as they hold a large library that could help us as we try and close the portals as fast and losing as little time as possible. But no one is allowed in. Lorne was there for a little while, doing something else, but no one else has been able to get in again!

There are also two armies, a drow army in the south and an army of warforged in the north; both led by different evil gods. That’s right…there are gods! Actual, real gods! I have never worshipped one in my life but through Swizzle’s expertise we learn that the good gods are fighting back and trying to help but are stuck somewhere else because so few mortals believe in them anymore. Gareth casts some crazy magic spell that makes him look more draconic than I’ve ever seen him and we find and speak with the faerie that was in the fire weeks back – Sorcha was her name. We learn that we need to get the dragons to leave their pocket portal; as many as we can as quickly as we can – for the more dragons stay, the more time is lost as we close the portals. And if too much time is lost, we will end up closing a portal and being put back into a world of death; one where all the planes have collapsed in on each other and destroyed everything. This is some serious business. I can’t believe I had my head and heart so lost to anger and despair that I didn’t realize the gravity of what we are facing. And I won’t let the world burn – not with Lorne still here. Not with Swizzle and Kaine and Rabble and Gareth and Waryk and Gattican here… I will fight with every fiber of my being to preserve it. For Lorne; for the rest of my party trying so hard to reach out to me that I kept pushing away. I will do better. I will be better. I know I can, if I try. And the first step is to flip the fear I have felt all these years into courage. True courage – not the bravado I have worn to try and fool others. We will do this! We will save the world and we will become the heroes we were meant to be! I am not lost to darkness and I am not afraid anymore; I take the mask from Aldritch that I have been hiding behind for so long and I watch as it crumbles to ash and dust in the fire. I don’t need it anymore! I have friends and I have family. How can we not succeed?

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3 years

I hurt… and confused. I’ve lost three years of my life for something I don’t understand. And to make matters worse… My body is raging. I feel like someone lit my veins on fire, every inch throb with a dull ache after closing the portal. And We are in some forest with the three we left apparently three years ago. It’s not like we forgot the past three years, but rather it’s like we just were absent for them. Or lived them all at once.
After the pain dulls to a level I can comprehend, I begin to wonder about Gattican. I told him I wouldn’t leave him… but I have… I told Alog I would come back and I haven’t… I am not a liar. And this was taken from me and made me something I’m not. I will be wrestling with this for some time. But right now… My heart and mind are as on fire as my body… you know… metaphorically speaking…

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Nyx
the breaking of Lunara

Kaine apologizes to me on the long walk to the portal and though I give him the cold shoulder, inside it makes me smile. I feel myself once again starting to care; starting to feel like maybe I found actual friends in this unlikely group of adventurers. I spent much of the walk lost in thought and when Swizzle comes to sit a little ways away from me at dinnertime I do not refuse…

Then we get to the portal and recite the incantation…

…then everything changes…

Gareth! Waryk! Once the portal is closed we find ourselves in a forest somehow; with Waryk, Gareth, and Gattican broken and bleeding on the ground a short ways away. Broken and bleeding and WITH us even though they were not anywhere near the inner portal circle as we closed it. I gasp as I slowly recognize their scorched bodies; horrified that we had killed them in closing the portal. More death. Does everything I do result in death for those I’m starting to care about?? But no, they are only seriously hurt; not yet dead. Once they are healed enough to move, though….they look…different, though I can’t put my finger on why.

It is only on our way away from the forest that we come to understand that THREE YEARS have passed for them while we closed that portal…And there is now some sort of war that they will explain to us once we’ve escaped the ELVES THAT HAVE BEEN TORTURING THEM. Oh get this – they also think we should RECRUIT said elves as ALLIES! Fuck that! NO WAY IN HELL will I be getting anywhere NEAR the elves…

All these thoughts and more whirl chaotically through my mind as we teleport out of the forest and to the edge of the grasslands once more… Finally, they coalesce into an icy needle of truth; piercing me to the core. I am not a hero. Nor will I ever be one…And I am through trying.

I am DONE! So done with things I don’t understand fucking with my damn life! Somebody knew – the dragons, the damn fairy, the orcs with their visions…SOMEONE KNEW! And yet we were told NOTHING. Were not even given a choice. The mere moments it took us to deactivate and close the portal caused three years to pass for the rest of the world. THREE DAMN YEARS! Do you know how much changes in that long? EVERYTHING!!! Everything changes. My revenge on Farl- everything I’ve dedicated my life to accomplishing? A moot point! Farl’s reign of terror lasted almost ten years before we closed the portal – longer than almost any other leader in living memory. Now? Most likely already dead. No one survives that long on the streets of Aldritch. The others who aided him? The ones I would have given my eye-teeth to be able to give some payback to? Dead and dead; more than damn fucking likely. Even Lorne’s shop…in that amount of time it has either been swallowed by the street or been rebuilt into something completely different. Why does everything I hope and strive for get torn so violently and viciously from my closing grasp? Not again. NEVER again.

I thought I was walking the razor-line edge of an abyss; trying to save the world. Trying to make friends and temper the anger and pain in my heart. Trying to follow in Blink and Lorne’s footsteps – to be the hero; to save those I cared for… No longer…

I dive lithely into the depths of myself…Gracefully…gratefully ecstatic to embrace the rippling, inky blackness of my deepest underwater treasures; heretofore shunned and locked away. I open myself, body and soul, to be a vessel for my darkest desires. The anger – the pain – the soul-crushing despair. I take it all in – they are my oldest and dearest friends. Why did I ever run from them? No longer do I fear these things; they are my greatest gifts…they have hammered and honed me to be who I am. I embrace them with an icy smile.

I am not Lunara. Lunara is a name I wore for a season. I accept that it was a name I once called myself. No more – I renounce it. For I am not the broken young girl-child that idealistic Lorne wanted to heal and have rise above her roots. I will never care; will never feel as he felt nor be who he wished me to be. I am not Ears. I accept that Ears is a name that I once called myself. No more – I renounce it. For I am not the frightened, cowering girl-child that Farl tortured nor the kind, innocent soul that Blink once took in all those years ago. No; those are only names I once accepted as mine. No more. I renounce them. I reject it all…THIS is my birthright. This is my home. Here within me all along; waiting for me to fall below its watery surface. To drown in its exquisite black waters covered in sheets of ice. To chill my heart; excise the festering, poisonous feelings that hold me back from who I am meant to be…There is no light at the end of the tunnel; no dashing hero to swoop in and save the day. Only me. Only who I am…who I no longer fear to be.

For I am anger. I am pain. I am deepest despair.

I am death…and Death’s gifts will I bring to all I may, in time; in their turn. It has been my gift all along; I have stopped shunning it and trying to be something I am not

I name myself Nyx; gutterspeak for violent death and pain.

I have found my true purpose.

And I am free

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It Hurts
Not so subltly

My vision held somethin I did not expect. My mother being whipped for me. Crying for me… likely dying for me. I can only assume I am meant to follow the same path. I am apparently hewn from the same stone. After our visions left the 6 of us exposed like a bare nerve… silently screaming inside… I make some thoughtless remarks to Lunarra. I chastised her for spiting the loving childhood she does not remember… I drove her from the group… into the wild. I swallowed my grief for fear of losing another person I care for. I followed Lunara, after convincing Alog that I meant to return her to the campsite unharmed. I have been close to the place she found herself… inside. I was hoping to approach and apologize for my outburst in some stumbling cluttered manner, but before I could. I saw something twitch in the tall grass.
Instinctually I sprinted up to meet the predator. Some type of large cat. Viscous teeth and piercing claws found me twice and I realized today was not a good day to die. I called for a retreat and fled. I let the rage take me. I remember little more than the blood pounding in my ears and the elf running alongside the golem… and music.
We exited the tall grass, happening upon Rabble and his magics soothing the ferocious beasts. And was caught off guard by the abrupt onslaught leveled at me by Alog while I tried to explain what had happened. There was a flurry of activity and I looked for Lunara who had disappeared again. I had regained control again by this point, but weary as I was my friend had needs that must be met.
I confronted Waryk about Lunarra’s mothers jewelry, and set out once again to find her. An elderly woman had directed me to the hovel in which she had cried herself asleep. She was there, sleeping peacefully, tear-stained and exposed. Her face uncovered, so unlike the Lunara with which we began our quest. I could not let her sleep there on the ground, alone… I gathered her and her belongings up, and trekked back to the hut she was to share with Swizzle.
Imagine my surprise when I met Gatacan at the door keeping watch. He resisted me when I asked to enter. He is so simple, I almost understand why Rabble tells him what to do rather than asking. It certainly would be easier for him, I’m sure. I explained that we were all friends and I only wished to place our mutual friend in a bed to sleep. I had no intentions of disturbing Swizzle. He seemed to like the expression of friendship.
I laid Lunarra down in her bed, placed her mask upon her face and her necklace within arms reach on her satchel. I then left to find my own quarters and get some sleep. Tired enough to pray for dreamless sleep… but heathenous enough to know my prayers would not be heard…
Upon waking the next day we prepared to leave, I was tasked with explaining to Alog why she could not attend us on our mission. I eel as though I succeeded to some marginal degree. She seemed pleased with her duties and gave me a necklace that her tribe uses to mark her seasons.
The only other thing of note to happen before we left today was again regarding Lunara. She approached me and wished to discuss her… admiration… and gratitude. She may not have said the words, but love lay in the heart of them. Last nights visions still stung and I recalled the increasingly short list of people who have loved me. I tried to explain to her I require no admiration or gratitude… I did what was right… I did what she needed… I had no choice in the matter. Let her look up to Waryk or Gareth. They have noble qualities… they can teach her things. They know what to do with admiration. I know I hurt her. It is unfortunate. But what good is it to let her think I am some kind of chivalrous knight? Still I can’t help but shake the feeling that I hurt her more… … …perhaps it is for the best.
We are setting out for the first portal… I have made cold friends of my clan… I have managed to drive away these people I must depend on… those who must depend on me. Must I have their love and friendship to have their loyalty? Am I bound to chase off everyone who tries to give me the one thing I seek? Perhaps this journey will find me more than a portal.

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Progress

We are definitely making progress. After our encounter with these strange creatures called Cheetahs I am a little bit nervous about what may come with the plagued cannibalistic gnomes. On a more positive note, I think that Lunara is starting to open up! She actually shook my hand! I hope that she can open up enough to trust us. I want to be her friend and for all of us to be unified. If we want to survive, this I believe is the only way that we can fulfill what we are destined to do. Some things are still a mystery, some of us are discovering our past, some are gaining new knowledge, and others are experiencing new powers. Who knows what may happen next. It is all rather exciting.

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Strange things

Oblivious blackness envelopes me for what feels an eternity; a blessed relief after the previous night’s violent emotional upheavals. I finally open my eyes to find myself staring at the wall of one of the village tents. I can hear Swizzle talking and moving behind me but I ignore it and close my eyes again with a wince, pretending to sleep. Part of me wants to stay here forever; forget yesterday ever happened. Forget the visions; forget the loss of Lorne’s pendant; forget that something in me snapped late last night in the darkness. I feel different but I don’t know how yet; it scares me. I don’t even remember how I got back to the tent – the last thing I remember I was in a secluded area of the village, outside. Have I been wrong all these years? I wonder bleakly.

Swizzle is still trying to talk to me. With a deep inward sigh, I finally answer her and start getting out of bed. I don’t understand how she can be so damnably chipper all the time! She chatters worse than any of the kids I knew in Aldritch. Suddenly images of the elves in the past part of my vision flash before my eyes. My…family?? Ngh! Not THIS again! I can’t have a family…even the word sounds…wrong somehow I just want to forget the visions ever happened… But the laughing elven children spinning in a circle lingers, the laughter echoing in my mind. The little ones free and uninhibited by anger or fear or starvation… Like Swizzle I think. Maybe I haven’t been trying hard enough. Swizzle has never been anything but nice to me. My gut clenches; all of my instincts screaming at me to back away from the situation…but I extend my hand slowly and tremulously manage to utter “Friends?” even so. My emotions balance on a knife point as I wait to see how she reacts.

When she grabs my hand to shake it, grinning from ear to ear, I heave a sigh of relief and release the breath I didn’t even realize I’d been holding. Swizzle wants to be my friend! Even after everything that has happened so far; all the times I’ve pushed and shoved her and everyone else away. Even after almost leading her into a pack of cheetahs yesterday! I feel warmth spreading through me as I smile inwardly but I can’t let it show! I look around the room, trying to come up with a scathing remark or something to throw things off again when my eye falls on my pack; my crescent moon pendant laid out on top! I gasp and run to it! It IS! It’s my pendant! How did it get here? Someone must have given it back… Waryk??? or maybe… I ask Swizzle if she put the pendant there but she says no. I feel better just holding it. I quickly slip it on… Thinking hard for a moment, I finally decide to hide it away under my clothes. I don’t want anyone to think that I hold with elves at all but I don’t want to give the pendant up again either. I just won’t wear it where anyone can see.

Swizzle and I go to leave the tent, only to find Gattican in the way. Swizzle, he, and I talk a bit and, somehow, we shake hands and become friends too. TWO friends in one day! That’s more than I’ve ever made at one time before! Part of me is terrified but another part is strangely thrilled. More emotions that are too hard to sort through at the moment. My mind racing, I wander off on my own through the village and decide to go search out Waryk. Waryk who, when all is said and done, has also been fairly nice I suppose. Not that I think just being nice gets you anywhere but I figure if anyone knows how to figure all of this emotional crap out – it’ll be him. And I’m pretty sure he’s the one who gave me my pendant back; without me even having to feel all humiliated asking him for it. He is the last one who had it after all…

When I finally find him and pull him aside to talk, though, he REFUSES to help! And he’s not even the one who gave my pendant back!! I can’t figure out who else it would be! Waryk tells me to go find Kaine or Gareth, as they’ll be better able to help me figure things out. It feels stupid but I do want to get back to my normal self and through all these awful emotions. And Waryk SAW what Farl did. I hope that no one else knows…I wondered if he’d been the one to scry me but hadn’t really dared to ask before this. So humiliating! Damn. I start to feel angry again but I leave to hunt out Kaine and hope that he’ll be able to put things into perspective so I can clear my head. He DID save me from the cheetahs yesterday, at great risk to himself. Even after I stormed out on everyone… Maybe we can be friends too, like Swizzle, Gattican, and I. I do admire the way he handles himself. And the way he treats others when he thinks no one is looking reminds me of Blink..

But the conversation with Kaine goes even worse than the one with Waryk, if that’s possible. I open my fucking soul: as raw and open as I have EVER been with someone and he practically spits it back at me. I told him I ADMIRED him – I don’t think I’ve ever told ANYONE else that… I’m still so naïve….a bloody idiot if I thought things would be different; that letting someone in would help… Fuck if I’m going to try and let anyone in again! I remember now why I shut myself out from everyone else so many years before. The agony of rejection so isn’t worth the gain! I thought he was some sort of caring, gentle soul deep down – like maybe we could be friends or something. Fuck that! I didn’t even get a chance to ask. Fuck if I ever try to talk to Kaine about anything important again – him or anyone else, for that matter. The vision threw me off. I forgot my purpose; forgot why I LIKED being on my own. My plans for Farl and for Aldritch… Nobody close means no one can truly hurt you; no one can get in and know enough to mess up your plans… My hand goes to my mask, laying stuffed in a pocket still. I come close to putting it back on; being safe again. But Waryk’s exclamation of being proud of me when he saw me without it earlier today echoes through my mind. He did brush me off but I can’t deny a part of me felt good when he told me he was proud…I can’t decide whether to put it back on or leave it alone. I waver a moment more before finally withdrawing my hand from my pocket, leaving the mask inside. For now, I decide to keep it off…for now…

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A Cursed Gift

Rabble Wadderbabble

Well, we have all received our visions. I have a talent now that is also a bit of a curse. I can sense where we need to head in order to reach the next portal. However, it seems that when we stray off course I learn this through a violent physical reaction. My body seizes up, my stomach drops, and I am nearly incapable of doing anything.

So we must move forward. We must not stop. Abandoning this quest is, at least for me, not an option. Am I moving toward the salvation of the world guided by destiny or am I merely a prisoner of this talent marching toward my doom?

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