A Fallen Light, A New Hope

Heat of the Moment
A moment in time

If all else fails you can always just jump behind me and hide!

She’d laughed then. She’d smiled and nudged him like always whenever she poked fun at him and kept going thinking it was going to be like any other fight. They’d take a few hits, get back up, and beat the other guys down until they stopped hitting them. Simple. They’d done it a million times. So why did this have to be different?

Duck, weave sprint…a blade to the side. Like fire under her skin the pain explodes and she’s fairly sure she feels a steady flow of blood rolling down beneath her armor. Typical repairs will be needed. It’s a nasty thing but there’s still too many up to take a knee and Aaron’s just about slaughtered the one attacking her anyways. She fires two more into that woman. Arseni is down. Mireya is down. They have to hurry.

The adrenaline had powered her through it, she’d been going strong, so why couldn’t she have gotten there sooner? She knew they were in danger. She knew.

The leader goes down not a second after giving them a death sentence. She could practically worship Aaron for his timing. They’ll have to laugh about it later. She sees the path to them open and bolts. She turns to the line gathering to box in Aaron and fires two shots back every few steps. Run, shoot, miss, hit, run, shoot, hit, hit-

Sodding javelins! It pegs her right in the thigh and she stumbles yelping. Another one flies less than a few moments later this time the side of her neck gets a clean swipe. She hears her heartbeat pounding and feels the familiar heaviness settling her body that tells her she’s on her last limb. She picks herself up. Everything is fuzzy. Is that Aaron screaming? One glance back. He’s holding his shoulder.

Two more shots. One more horseman. One miss and one great hit right between the eyes. She’s too dizzy to think about the man she just killed and keeps wobbling to Mireya. A shaking hand already getting a salve from her pack. It’s a new recipe, longer to make but about twice as strong. It’s almost over, they’ve won.

They lost him. She let him go. She was supposed to keep him safe. Protect Hordegeirrs little brother, like he was her own younger brother. Then again, wasn’t he?

She’s plucking arrows up, two missed shots from the ground, and one that sailed clean through and managed to not get too much gore to ruin it. The last she salvages from a soldiers shoulder right as Mireya screams out. She turns quick and sprints over. Mireya’s healing really can perform miracles if one surge can have her moving this quick after the beating she took.

They need one more miracle it seems

Now she’s kneeling, weeping, and begging to every god that has ignored her prayers so far for one thing in her mind.

Please give him back.

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The Healer's Diary XXVII
Mireya's Thoughts Vol. 27

Date Unknown

Contrary to what my experience in life so far would tell me, it seems that there is a chance for what should be disaster to turn out for the better.

By no fault of mine, Mrs. Marsk seems to have found out about Briar and the whole unusual circumstances surrounding his birth, as well as my current nightmare of a situation. I keep telling myself that I should be furious with Aaron for letting this very personal information slip into the hands of such an imposing woman. She may be Briar’s grandmother, but this was not his place to say.

Instead, however, I find myself relieved. Reluctantly though it may have been, it would seem that my son’s existence has turned her opinion around to my own… although I admit to being a bit taken aback to know that it was she who has been behind my inability to pin down Anzo as of late. With what little I know of her, I should not be surprised, but it would be just like Roza Marsk to always astonish me in new ways the longer I stand within the shadow of her formidable presence.

Nonetheless, it seems that I may have more allies on my side than I could have ever known. Not only did Analissa confirm that she and her people have begun the search on my behalf, but indeed Mrs. Marsk herself seems determined to join the hunt to bring Briar home again.

I know that this should be my fight, and mine alone. But especially after this lost year, especially after the vision I had of him back in the book world, I know in my heart that it will be impossible to muster the force necessary to take down Bagoda myself. Try as I might, I am still so weak, still so fallible. And hate her as I may, I recognize that she is far out of my league and the league of all of us here.

I hope that Mrs. Marsk is as powerful as she claims to be. I hope that it is not a mistake to agree to her involvement.

I hope it is not a mistake for her to bring Anzo here into the midst of this resistance, and all of the danger it carries along with it. I so dearly wish to see him again, but I know that in the past, the closer he has gotten to me, the more precarious the situations into which he has been drawn.

And, of course, I must fear his reaction to all of this news. I never had a chance to see him again after he received the last letter I wrote him, nor have I received any response in return. Where I was unsure of him knowing the truth before, now Mrs. Marsk is determined that he will understand the meaning behind everything. He will be forced to face me with the knowledge of every last detail, and an obligation imposed by his mother to do something about it.

In the last letter, I had offered myself to him in response to his proposal, if he would still have me.

After everything, and under the pressure of Roza’s iron-clad will, will he still want to go through with things? I would not blame him if he did not.

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Trappers Tales XXXV
2nd 6th day, Ches - Subtlety

We are not subtle.

Sure, Rowan and myself can sneak around, and the others to some extent, but we don’t tend to use it to our advantage. “Just going to scout” we said. Oh, no one here. Better look further. Deeper. Oh hey, here’s some scary, dangerous people. Better not just leave silently.

I didn’t even think about that option, which probably makes it worse. We’ve become too quick to turn to violence, I feel. I don’t know. Maybe the doors back the other way would have been shut and we couldn’t turn around, but we didn’t even try.

At least it turned out okay this time, I guess. We didn’t lose anyone, and took out the creepy guy in the strange hat, and Mara is also dead (again). Hopefully that’ll slow the undead in the Crestwood, too.
However, I’m not so sure it will, after having gone further north. I don’t know what that thing was, but I do know I don’t want to tangle with it again. Until it’s gone, though, the forest will never be safe.

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An Alchemist's Tale XXXVI

More reasons to hate them… I am mad at myself more than anyone else… It’s not Roy’s fault he was entranced by that thing. That servant of the drow god… one thing is sure I need to stop trusting Drow. I have met maybe one that hasn’t had evil intentions,… It doesn’t help that they all seem to be able to lie like its the truth. I realise that she wasn’t actually a drow this time… but she served the same god as they do. if anything she is worse. I will come back and kill her when I am stronger. we know she stays here. I vow to eliminate everything drow from this island. starting with the elven city once the attack is planed.

Mara… I didn’t know very well. and I know you were not the best person in the world. but you deserved better than what you got. Iona was selfish. and honestly worse than you in my eyes. and with what she has become that statement has been reinforced. I will always love Iona and care for her, I want her to rest in peace, but she is still a horrible person that needs to be put down…for good. I hope you found peace Mara, because I at least understand that with you gone someone else, perhaps even worse than you is taking your place in my home town…

On a positive note, I feel like I am getting used to this magic stuff. I feel it growing everyday. I still feel however like it’s not enough… I look at Arseni and Mireya… and they are so powerful with what they can do, and I can do so little. I guess you can say I am a little jealous of them, but I guess i just need to find my true calling in the art. I am sure it will come to me eventually.

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A Blacksmith's Workings XXII
Uncertainty

Every time I close my eyes I see the image of Rowan collapsed before me. Whatever that creature was it took hold of me and asked me to do unspeakable things to my friends. And I just agreed to do it all. I attacked Mireya without hesitation. I then lied to them and after they trusted me I took my hammer and went after Rowan. I struck her down amidst her pleas for me to stop.

No matter if I had control or not, I’m to blame. How can Mireya trust me after I attacked her? Will Rowan look at me the same way after I told her I would kill her? We accomplished something so great, but it doesn’t matter anymore. We defeated Azir and Mara, we stopped him and his control of the undead. But now what? The alchemist’s lab is out of the question, I don’t think we will get away that easily from that monster again. I guess I should talk to mother.

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The Nightmare Continues
At the Base

The girl stands in the clearing again, this time surrounded by a wall of dark brambles on all it’s sides and already in armor. She stares at the bow in her hand confused.

“Kill him!”_a voice shrieks. Dark and cackling.

Her head turns up quickly and sees four figures closer to the center of the circle. All of them familiar. A woman and two men surround a third. Broad and wild eyes with a hammer in his hand. He starts to swing at them shouting out like a feral animal. They strike back just as hard in a clash of steel and magical light.

The girl tries to scream at the top of her lungs. She cries out again and again and tears fall, but not a single sound comes out.

This can’t be happening…

Please stop!

Finally she bolts towards them. Her silent screams continue as she draws closer. The man in the center falling to his knees the hammer falling from his grasp. He collapses bloody and broken. She moves even faster and rushes pas the other three falling to kneel beside him.

She shakes him trying to call out his name. Still no sound. She lurches forward throwing herself over his still body quietly sobbing.

Her eyes meet the man with the shield who stares down at them with pity and resolve.

“I’m sorry, we don’t have a choice.”

His blade comes down towards the collapsed man’s chest and she moves as fast as she can to intercept the blow.

Her voice comes back and Rowan wakes up screaming that night.

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An Alchemist's Tale XXXV

I am still at a loss here… I don’t know what to do… I have people and things that all want the same end… the death to all those that i love… I have the black that promised to kill everyone i cared about if i don’t help him as my end of a deal… and than there is Iona who has gone crazy and will kill all my friends so that i only have her left.

What have I done to deserve this… What do I do to protect everyone… I feel my life falling through my fingers… I no longer control where I am going… I am reacting to what these evil being want… I miss the days where I was normal… and what I would give to take these few months years back…

Than again… I am who i am today because of everything that happened… there was a lot of good mixed in with the bad… I mean I know magic now! I found out grandmother can as well… There is so many thing that came to light that I am happy about! I guess i will have to find a way to take control again…

I need to become stronger… my alchemy is the key… I need to find a way to be able to practice at home… but that won’t be enough… Magic… magic is the key.. i am still learning magic but there must be something out there that will make me stronger… make me better at protecting… I know there must be…

I also think it is time i give up on this double sword trick I have been using… It worked when we were fighting brainless beings… but lately I almost feel like a shield would be more useful.. maybe i will ask the judicator if they have an extra one in the morning…

I must protect them… if the enemy is getting smarter I must as well… and I am of no use if i am dead. But mireya… Rowan.. Arseni.. Roy… you are all in more danger than I am… so I vow as of this moment to keep you all safe… I can’t handle another loss…

The next page is riddled with scribbles that contain nothing of great interest but clearly show Aaron’s is not himself

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The Healer's Diary XXVI
Mireya's Thoughts Vol. 26

13th of Ches

The Black is out to get us — captured or killed, he doesn’t seem to care which, as long as we’re removed from the equation. The others would likely call me foolish, but I can’t help but think that this doesn’t make much sense.

He’s always been terrible. He’s always been behind the scenes, machinating to cause trouble for Baemore for some reason or another. Yet upon having spoken with him privately, I can’t help but be surprised somehow.

Undoubtedly he is not a kind person, nor is he overly concerned with what people’s lives he ruins in his quest to get what he wants. But it never seemed as if this much power and visibility was what he wanted. Perhaps I’m just being blind and can’t accept the fact that I did not read him correctly, but this whole game he’s playing at right now feels a bit out of character.

In addition, I never got the distinct feeling that he meant us any harm personally — and yet here we are, running from his henchmen at every turn. Before we had even attempted to stop him, we were already given a mark as pariahs in our own town. Does he do it because he knows we must stop him, or because he is trying to draw us closer to him instead? The latter at this point actually makes more sense to me, but I can’t tell why besides to say that it’s a feeling.

That being as it is, I fear sharing my thoughts about this with the others. Aaron is so overwhelmed after seeing Iona again, Roy is worried (rightfully) about his scar, and Rowan is worried for him. Arseni I could speak with, maybe, but it’s probably better to find proof first. It’s less complicated to have a single-minded view of fighting for your life from the Big Bad Guy who is out to get you than to think about what he might be playing at. Working off of only suspicion adds even another maddening layer of complication to the whole circumstance.

But he is playing at something. I know it.

I’m sure all will be revealed before long. It always does.

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Trappers Tales XXXIV
2nd 3rd day, Ches - Value of none

2nd 3rd day, Ches

Some time back, I guess longer ago than I even realised, thinking about the time we’ve missed, I wrote in here about the things I’ve lost since that camping trip.

Some those losses have faded in time, but a lot still hurt. A lost month seems like nothing, to the years since, and a lot of my things that I lost I’ll never miss. Home never felt much like a home to me anyway. On the other hand, I still miss being me, and I miss my friends, and I don’t think I’ll ever not want that back.

Since I wrote that, though, I feel I’ve lost so much more. I’ve lost more things, which can be replaced. I’ve lost more time, and another form of me (Although this one works much closer to actually me, so at least that had a positive).
I’ve lost more friends, which hurts. I don’t even know if all my lost friends are lost, at this point. Last time we saw Tavion he said nothing to us, but was that because he wanted nothing to do with us, or was it because he was afraid of what would happen if he did? Kara has disappeared, and we don’t know where she is. Selise is gone, and the less said about Iona the better. I don’t know that she should count, to be honest.

What really makes it hurt, though, is knowing that all the losses, everything we’ve been through, has been for nothing. All along I’ve been trying to make things better. Even as it got darker and darker around us, I kept hoping that we’d be able to stem the tide. At least slow it.

And now everything we’ve done has apparently been undone anyway.

Back when this first began, it started with a necromancer in that cursed cave. We killed him. Our first kill beyond defending ourselves from goblins (depending on how you view Kara wanting to follow them). And we’ve seen him again. Alive. 2 years on. We’ve killed him again, I guess, but who knows how long that will last this time?

So if it hasn’t mattered yet, will any of it matter to come? Has everything we’ve done been of absolutely no value?

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Tales of the Huntress XVII
Future

13th of Ches,

Things are as bad as ever. I would say worse but in truth we’re simply going deeper into the same problems. Aaron seems no less lost in his grief, but there’s not much I can do for that. I offered my support and tried to let him know he isn’t alone. Whether he listens and accepts is his own choice. I can’t bring myself to beg for my friends to make the right choices anymore. Not when I’ve a thousand other things on my mind. I guess from now on all I can do is offer what I can and accept their decisions. Even if it’s a painful one.

The Black’s definitely getting more aggressive. We got out okay this time, but our attackers have news to bring back to their allies. I have to wonder if giving chase was really the right thing. I know it was the safe one, but I couldn’t bring myself to fire more than two extra shots once they turned heel. Maybe that should be a comfort, that I can still feel guilt for shooting at a running target.

As far as guilt goes, Roy’s mark flared up during that fight. Not just the pain we’ve seen before. Something happened I know it. He couldn’t barely go on after. At least the elf was able to help some. I hate seeing him like this. I keep thinking about that damned scar and how I should have kept it in mind during the fight. He was head to head with the very thing that gave it to him and I was completely distracted with another part of the battle. Maybe it all goes back to that I regret not being there when it was given to him in the first place. Instead I was running across the woods after sleeping for two days.

I’ll have to do my best to protect him, and kill that thing of course. I have to keep protecting all of them honestly. Between Mireya and Arseni’s frailty in physical matters I’m the sturdiest wall we have once Aaron and Roy are gotten past. The fact that I can land a brutal shot from just about anywhere helps to. It’s always funny to see how they react when I shoot point blank. But, I’m worried the risks may finally be getting to me. Falling in and out of conscious repeatedly is never fun. Even healing and potions won’t stop all of the pain. I’ve got a couple of scars of my own by this point and the aches in my joints don’t fade as fast as they used to. There’s also been a couple of times where I can just feel my body wearing down and I wonder how much more it can take. I’m worried what happens when closing up the scratch with a quick spell isn’t going to be enough.

Nothing about our future is sure. Whether Aaron can get himself back up, if Roy will be okay, or if any of us including me will even survive the next day in this mess of our lives. I’m not ready to give up yet though. Not until that very last moment.

I just realized tomorrow’s my birthday. I wonder what the day will bring?

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