A Fallen Light, A New Hope

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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A Blacksmith's Workings
Marked

It’s not surprising that the black wants us captured or killed. With the Duke missing we represent one of the larger threats left in the area. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that he sent his goons against us. It looks like it will be dangerous to travel from now on though. If he has people looking for us there won’t be many places left to hide. We will have to thank that man with the raven if we ever get the chance. He gave us the warning about the ambush and that helped us take care of the guards without trouble.

After a short stay back in Baemore we headed north to a church that was supposedly abandoned and safe. Upon arrival it proved the opposite, an elf named Gal’l was inside. Rowan said something peculiar to him and I will have to ask her about it later. I would have then, but shortly after the church was overrun by undead. My scar started to burn shortly after they appeared. We had to move away from the church as it started to collapse and head further north to the nameless order. Upon arrival we found that monster again.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel fear seeing that monster again. My scar was not letting me forget the day that I encountered him before. There was no doubt in my mind this was the same creature, I saw it turn to ash and its armor decay before my eyes. But there it stood just like that day, no it looked stronger and this time filled with a desire to destroy me. I pushed past the pain and stood my ground against the creature and its ally. My friends had encountered his ally once before and had killed him. I guess they are like Iona, whats dead never stays dead. We pushed through the creatures and made our way into the sanctum of the Nameless Order. We met an old friend and some new faces. I don’t quite remember much after that. I was focused on the monsters last words. I was marked and it wants my body for service of its master.

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Trappers Tales XXXIII
2nd 1st day, Ches - Well, I've been afraid of changin'

2nd 1st day, Ches

It appears Iona wasn’t killed by Bagoda.
Well, kind of killed by her, but not entirely. There’s some kind of core there, that once was Iona, but it isn’t her anymore.

Then again, thinking back on it, even before she was taken Iona wasn’t the Iona I grew up with. Before she was changed into that… thing, she’d changed.

The girl I grew up with would never have started killing people for coin.
She’d never have compulsively lied to her friends.
She’d never have put her suicide on her friend.

It makes me worried about when the changes crept in. It was only after we all gained these powers that she started to change. Has it effected the rest of us? I mean, obviously I’ve changed, but that’s not the way I mean. I mean something more insidious. More creeping.
I feel we’re all more ready to reach for our weapons now, but that may just be a result of us becoming more comfortable with them.

I wonder what other changes are happening we don’t know about.

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An Alchemist's Tale XXXIV

I don’t know what to say… I never thought any of this would happen… I thought that chapter of my life had ended… she made her choice and scared me for life… but I am constantly haunted by it…She should be dead… she should be at home with her grandmother and grandfather to be honest… but this whole adventuring thing has destroyed her family… it’s cost her literally everything… and despite knowing it was her own fault that she made the choices that she did… I can’t help but feel like it is my fault… and that i owe her… because I am still here and mostly intact and she is the plant like thing that wants nothing but someone to care for her… love her…

I forget that she lost her love… selise sacrificed herself… poor girl… if she only knew what she sacrificed herself for… a selfish little girl… who I wish I could hate. but i don’t… she is my best friend… she is probably the most important person to me that is not family… and I need to find a way to save her… I will save her from her fate… at least she can die as a human that way. and finally be at rest. no one deserves to become something like that…

I don’t know what to do about her but i am sure something will come up… a solution usually does. besides I have Kaleb to worry about, he doesn’t seem like he will wake up anytime soon… and well to be honest I am just glad he is alive and well… I… I am sure Ander will be happy to see him returned in one piece…

I will leave you with one last thought… What is the point of anything if you lose what is most precious to you…. I fear i may learn this lesson myself if we do not act in a certain manner…

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A Blacksmith's Workings XX
Scars

Some scars are fake. The orcs left a scar on that region without ever existing. That manufactured scar was there to scare and terrorize the people. Whether it was Dentin, Ellis, or Kesba, they had all seen the horrors of that creature. The elaborate setup to appear as if its only orcs terrorizing the village.

Some scars are tangible. During the fight with the minotaurs I was acutely aware of the scar and the trouble it foreshadowed. I though nothing of it at the time. It was just a scar, a reminder of the past. A reminder of the mistakes I have made and the mistakes I will continue to make.

Some scars run deeper then they appear. That woman, no that monster that appeared to us in the orc village. She caused a pain I have never experienced before. Something about her gave so much power over me. By her mere presence I was reduced to nothing. I couldn’t think or act all I knew was the pain. And then it was gone. Rowan wasn’t happy to figured out the news of this scar.

Some scars are invisible. Iona left a scar with Aaron that I thought was long healed. But her reappearance proved that wrong. He hesitated in that fight. He chose the feelings he has for the twisted body of a long dead friend, one who used him in such a selfish manner, over us. More proof that not all scars heal I guess.

Finally some scars are still a mystery. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Rowan about her collapsing in the forest after we returned from the story book. I have been to selfish with my own issues and my own scar. Which is turning into more of a mystery itself. I have been “marked for death” or “claimed by another.” The dagger Iona left for me in my leg also worries me. Will this become another scar?

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Tales of the Huntress XVI
Fear and Loss

11th of Ches

I spent a day in bed rereading this thing after I found out the consequences of my deal. I suppose I was trying to piece together who I’ve been these past few months. All I found was a lot of pointless declarations and promises to myself. A bit of whining too but that’s neither here nor there. I’m tired of swearing to reinvent myself and then just being disappointed when I end up being just me. So I guess this will be my final promise. The one I keep.

I’ve cried my only and last tears for Randal and my parents just as they finished crying theirs for the little girl in that locket a long time ago. I don’t think it will stop hurting, but I don’t have to dwell on it. I don’t have the luxury to be honest. So goodbye to my family, and my life as Rowan Tallstag. I can’t be her anymore, but I won’t be the sad and self hating shell Bagoda tried to mold me into either. Rowan Evenwood is as dead as
Rowan Tallstag. If I’m neither I suppose that makes me just Rowan in the end.

I want to cry, to scream, and rage at a lot of things right now, but what good would it do? What good has it done me in the past? There’s too much to do and I can’t waste any energy on screaming or moping. I certainly can’t waste time. I hope for the best outcome, and a happy ending with my friends who if I’m honest are more a family to me than anything else by this point. I’m optimistic but I’m not naive, and I understand things are against us. I’ll fight for the best outcome to my last breath, but accept that it may be a far away dream.

I’m worried for all of us. Mireya is still no closer to Briar and I’m not sure how having Anzo back in her life will affect her. I think if they can come together and be there for each other that they may be alright. Then again Anzo doesn’t always have the best sense. Aaron is not much better. His friend’s transformation far outweighs any relief at finding Kaleb alive I think. I never knew her, but I saw enough in that creature to pity it, and know that Aaron’s pain at seeing someone he loved in that way must be enormous. Perhaps I should try to talk with him? I say the wrong thing more often than not, but I need to do something. Arseni as usual seems to be the only one who has it together. I hope I can help share that burden a bit in the coming days.

Roy always finds new ways to worry me. This time though, I’m absolutely terrified. That wound and whatever is bound to it grows more frightening every new incident. Both Iona and the night carriage owner alluded to something being behind it, and then the witch in the camp made it burn…whatever is behind this it can’t be anything but vile and evil. I’m afraid at any moment he could be ripped away and there’s nothing I can do. I want to blame that stubborn and self sacrificing attitude of his, but I’ve always known the type of person he is, and I don’t think I can fault him for it. Not when it’s also part of what I admire about him. I promised him my support and I won’t break that no matter how scared for him I might be. So for now I’ll keep it together and stay by his side. To the very end if I have to.

All I can do for anyone right now is be there and protect them when they need it. Which may be often with how things are going. Every bit of strength we gain seems to draw stronger and stronger enemies to us. Our luck may run out soon. Still I’ll do what I can. For the sake of this strange family I’ve found my way into.

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