by Ellie

Harriet watched them leave, and wished deeply that she were going with them. The cup shook in her hand spilling the tea she had taken with her to the gate to see them off.

A flash, and the shattered world lay before her. All edges and skewed distances. The ground crunched under her feet as the landscape scythed her mind. Her hands shook as she lifted them to close the burnt gate and seal herself in madness.

Bairoth had said he would come back, and she worried about him, how he'd changed since she last saw him. He was so determined to kill the Goddess he had once worshiped so passionately and refused the blessing she had offered from her Lord. Harriet had asked Tarich to keep an eye on him and sent him out with her blessing and she knew Adi would do the right thing no matter what. Carlos was always quiet and she didn't know him well enough to ask him about his half brother and Carmina she didn't know at all.

Turning she sees things of glass crawling slowly towards her, she grips her sword in one hand and holds her arm and the mark of her Lord to her chest. Then all is blackness and she is surrounded by familiar grey.

Wishing deeply that she was walking with them, she watched until they were out of sight along the road, and offered up a prayer for their safe return. She could hear the sounds of the city behind her just waking up as the dawn broke. Turning carefully she made her way slowly towards the temple.

Her hands shook all the way back to the White City. She managed to hide it from the others, even from herself for a little while. But she knew the shattered plane had left its mark on her.
* * *

She heard the news before she saw them. Four brave adventurers returned from the north. Hurrying as best she could down to the temple she wondered which of them had not returned. They were waiting at the temple to speak to the high priest when she arrived. No Carlos and … where was Bairoth?

She listened as they told their tale; how they had nearly been trapped by the necromancer in his prison of the dream of forgetting; how the dream artefact they had been carrying had eventually burnt a hole through the landscape to let them out, but where hardly a moment had passed outside, and their path was clear before them- the burnt gate the necromancer had created.

She could hardly believe her ears when she was told that the necromancer had not only taken a part of the burnt realm from her lords but had created replacements designed to destroy their counterparts as well. The Man Who Acted, the Woman Who Lived, the Good Mother, the Benevolent General and the Common Man and a half finished, crazed replacement for the Lord of the Gardens. How he had imbued each of them with his own essence of himself and how they had to destroy each of them before he was even vulnerable to their attacks.

She heard how at the end they had all nearly died. How Carmina and Carlos had lain side by side defending each other from the blows raining down on them, wounded too badly to do anything else. How Adi had only managed to take down the necromancer by accident, her hands containing the last token falling on his body as she herself collapsed, and how Dominic had been the only one left standing at the end to pick up the pieces and carry Carlos’ broken body across the realm until her Lord had found them.

It was said that Carlos had taken on an ashen wound to defeat the Gardeners opposite. The mark of mortality was now his and, having left the burnt realm, he had travelled north to the Wistful City alone. Harriet heard how Bairoth had become what he hated and gone to serve She Who Whispers in the Dark. Given him self to her so the others might live. He had promised to try and come back… and now he never would.

She had woken screaming that night she recalls. Something had torn at her heart as the burnt realm was wrenched open. She hadn’t known what it meant but she knew something terrible and powerful and wonderful all at once had happened.

All that he had said to her – telling her she was worth something and had done more than enough, but she hadn’t. She would always wonder whether if she had gone with them whether he might have come back. Now he was trapped in his own living nightmare and all she could do was listen for his voice on the wind.

Tarich came to her after their return. His eyes full of regret and guilt. He had run from the fight, when all hope seemed lost, he ran to keep the tokens from the necromancers clutches. He ran with the hopes and last messages of his friends so that their deaths would not be in vain. But they had lived and she could see he wished he had not left. He had brought her a gift from Bairoth – his breath as a free man. She took it gladly and could feel it in her but she knew it would not sit easy with her for long. It was a thing of life and fierce independence and needed somewhere else to be.
Goodbye Bairoth.
She glanced over at the rose she had been given by the Lord of the Faithful all those months ago. It had hardly grown in the earth and ash it was in, it’s red bloom only just beginning to open. She leaned over and passed Bairoth’s breath into it knowing that together they would thrive.

misc/fiction/aftershocks.txt · Last modified: 2011/04/06 22:20 by elliew
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