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a witness or two..

a witness or two..

Timeline:

A long stream of refugees disembark from the damaged Arashkan ships to the shores of Serenity Home town, adding to the already unmercifully overcrowded town and the lands surrounding it. From the last ship, a pair; one handsome but tired-looking blond half-elf, the other, a boldly beautiful young woman walk down the ship’s plank and follow the last remains of what was once The Great and Glorious Arashkan, towards the town that’s offering more than it has.

 

This story takes place a week or so after
The Stab In The Back
and sometime after
Grulganesti Grimtooth Bolgrig;
“A Debt Father to Daughter Passed..”

 

 

Agent Largo: This is a bad idea. My guestimation is one of three outcomes..

Lilly Venom: That so?

Agent Largo: Yes. (a) He will suffer a traumatic shock and runoff, shouting how much he hates me. (b) He will undergo some form of angst, followed by an episode of a not so unexpected breakdown, accuse me of letting his mother get killed, and very likely result in him punching me. (c) He will outright defy me, saying I wasn’t there when he was growing up and when he needed me, and that he’s all grown up now, doesn’t need me at all, and will refuse to see or talk to me..

Lilly Venom: Angst, huh? Never thought you a man for high drama, Agent Largo. But here you are, proving me wrong.

Agent Largo: You pun me.

Lilly Venom: (shrug) I pun a lot of people, Agent Largo, and you still owe me a dinner. I hope this town has a decent inn.

Agent Largo: You came here before, Lady Lilly. You should know.

Lilly Venom: The key to being a good assassin, Agent Largo, isn’t the kill, no matter how effective or efficient you are at it.. It is knowing your target.. and their habits.. And of course, never being noticed. The Temple Guardian, Demos, never visited the inn, hence neither did I. Thinking back, good thing I never did visit the inn.

Agent Largo: Ow?

Lilly Venom: Inns are a good source for local gossip, news, and information.. and finding out who is who. Had I visited the inn, I definitely would have left this town with at least one corpse.

Agent Largo: You know someone in this town, then? On a personal level?

Lilly Venom: (slight frown) That’s none of your business, Agent Largo.

Agent Largo: You really enjoy calling me ‘Agent’, all the time, don’t you, Lady Lilly?

Lilly Venom: More than you like ‘Lady’ing me.

Agent Largo: (side glance) You are in a mood, today.

Lilly Venom: I am in a mood, every day, Agent Largo. Have you decided on what to do? About your Dexter, and about your job? At the moment, you have neither.

Agent Largo: That was a tad harsh, Lady Lilly..

Lilly Venom: I have never fallen head-over-heels for any man, Agent Largo. But I am willing to give you a shot—

Agent Largo: Coming from you, that sounds ominous. I am not sure if I should feel elated, or I should start wearing full body armor.

Lilly Venom: —And I don’t like distractions.

Agent Largo: You are quite a target-oriented person, Lady Lilly.

Lilly Venom: I am a Drashan girl, Agent Largo. Everyone is someone’s target there. And if you are a girl, that number rises exponentially. But I have always believed in celibacy. It removes the option of unwanted distractions and complications.

Agent Largo: That’s a bit.. lonesome..

Lilly Venom: Any self-respecting Drashan marries only once, Agent Largo. That being said, there is no such thing as a ‘self-respecting Drashan’, and the only thing we truly marry is ‘death!’

Agent Largo: You make it sound like it’s a proverb.

Lilly Venom: (shrug) It is.. Have you decided what to do?

Agent Largo: I was hoping to get killed in the upcoming battle and save everyone the hassle.

Lilly Venom: No.

Agent Largo: No?

Lilly Venom: No, Agent Largo. You owe me dinner and I refuse to dine with a coward.

Agent Largo: Now, that really was harsh, Lady Lilly. And totally uncalled for.

Lilly Venom: Then go to the boy, knock on his door, or knock it down and say ‘Hi..’, sit down, and explain all your reasons for having done what you did. He might get angry, he might pout, or he might be happy. I would be happy if my mother rose from her grave and came to visit me.. though I doubt she has a grave.. Unclaimed bodies are usually just dumped into the sea with the rest of the derelict, in Drashan..

Agent Largo: That’s.. sad..

Lilly Venom: You don’t really have to act the ‘understanding type’, Agent Largo.

Agent Largo: I am not the ‘acting’ type of spy, Lady Lilly. I am the ‘orchestrating’ kind of agent. Though I see nothing to orchestrate, here. Well, actually there is.. with a lot of potential.. but I just don’t want to..

Lilly Venom: By all means, Agent Largo, do!

Agent Largo: No.

Lilly Venom: Why?

Agent Largo: You are a girl with a very special and specific set of skills, Lady Lilly. But you have honor and, diverse as it may seem, you also have integrity. I am afraid, I just don’t feel like playing with and consequently destroying either. Whatever sins I may have done, I have done for my Arashkan. I never wanted you to be part of that even before we met for the same reasons I mentioned above. The only reason I called upon you was because High Lady Angrellen left me little to no choice and I needed help.. desperately..

Lilly Venom: Do I sense ‘tender care’ in all of that?

Agent Largo: (replies with silence)

Lilly Venom: (after an extended, counter-silence, and a sigh) Neither my honor nor my integrity will save me should I ever be subjected to the law, Agent Largo.

Agent Largo: Arashkan is destroyed, Lady Lilly, therefore I am no longer the law.. And hence, I feel no obligation whatsoever to turn you in. Funny how that turned out.

Lilly Venom: (more silence) You will likely end up an outlaw too..

Agent Largo: I have been in and out of said law for longer than I can remember but never for personal gain. If for once, I end up doing that, I don’t mind doing it for you.. At all! I will do whatever job I can find, once this war is over and provided I am still alive. As for my son.. He will accept me, perhaps in time, or he will not. I did what I did, to preserve his life. He will either understand this too or not. But if you are willing to be with a fool like me, I am willing to do what it takes, Lady Lilly..

Lilly Venom: My contract with you was—

Agent Largo: —Your contract with me got voided at least twice.. back in Arashkan.. when you saved my life in the tunnel and then again after High Lady Angrellen trampled over us.. And possibly any number of other times I am not even aware of, when you watched my back on our deadly plight to get the civilians and the remaining guards out to the docks, and aboard the ships, Lady Lilly.. So when I say, you have my gratitude, I mean it at its maximum capacity. Many people who are alive now owe their lives to me. Funny how they fail to see, they actually owe it to you..

Lilly Venom: (stares ahead and does not say anything)

Agent Largo: ..We will have to take Prince Korodin in with us, though. Quite unavoidable, really. I did, after all, give my word of honor to Lady Ferrara, and the boy needs training from the best..

Lilly Venom: (snort) A wanted assassin and a former ARIS Agent..

Agent Largo: Like I said; The best..

Lilly Venom: (back to serious) Someone’s bound to notice me eventually, you know.

Agent Largo: I thought all you assassins were good with disguises.

Lilly Venom: We usually are. It’s part of our basic training program.

Agent Largo: There you have it then.. A good handlebar mustache or a chevron, along with a brett, and no one will ever recognize you.

Lilly Venom: (snort) Yes. I am sure no one will recognize me, but everyone will notice you, constantly arm in arm with a guy!

Agent Largo: So you want it to be ‘arm in arm’ and constantly, then?

Lilly Venom: (slight frown) Depends on the dinner, Agent Largo.

Agent Largo: You really have your mindset on that dinner, Lady Lilly.

Lilly Venom: Yes. I do.

Agent Largo: Why? I don’t mind a dinner.. many dinners with you, Lady Lilly, but why indeed?

Lilly Venom: Because it will be a first, for me.

Agent Largo: (blink) You mean you have never had dinner with anyone in your life?

Lilly Venom: Agent Largo.. Just who would dine with a wanted fugitive such as myself, let alone an unaffiliated, freelancing assassin?

Agent Largo: Apparently, me..

Lilly Venom: That is yet to be seen.. and I think we are here..

Agent Largo: I suppose we are.

Lilly Venom: There are guards at the town gates and they seem to be questioning everyone before they let them in.

Agent Largo: Let me handle the guards, if you will, Lady Lilly.

Lilly Venom: Handle away, Agent Largo. I have no issues with a capable man. I have nothing to prove, and neither do you.

Agent Largo: I must disagree. Every man has something to prove, where a pretty girl is involved. If you can accept that, we can move forward.

Lilly Venom: I suppose I must. Since you think me ‘pretty’.. So, yes, I am willing to take that risk.

Agent Largo: (smile) Forward it is, then..

✱ ✱ ✱

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Good afternoon, sir.

Agent Largo: Good afternoon.

Serenity Home Gate Guard: What can I do for you, sir?

Agent Largo: We are Arashkan refugees, to see Dexter Summersong.

Serenity Home Gate Guard: And what business do you have with the town bard? He has a full schedule, training the platoon assigned to him.

Agent Largo: He.. he has?

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Yes, sir. Anyone with any skill sets is expected to train others for the upcoming battle. Any kind of training is of use. You can fill in this form over here, take a number and you will be assigned somewhere, or be assigned to someone..

Agent Largo: I see. I will fill in the forms, but after I see Sir Dexter..

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Very well, sir?

Agent Largo: Largo.. Largo Summersong.. And this is Lady Ferra and the young boy is my distant relative, Rodin.

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Alright, sir Largo. I shall send a runner and see if our bard, Dexter, is available. I apologize for the inconvenience, but I can not let you in until there is some sort of vouch —security protocols, you understand..

Agent Largo: Of course..

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Perhaps you can take the time to fill in your forms in the meantime, sir? It may take a while for Sir Dexter to get here..

Agent Largo: (sigh) Very well..

✱ ✱ ✱

Lilly Venom: ARIS Agent? Really? You are actually going to write that?!

Agent Largo: Well, why not? For once in my life, I actually don’t have to lie about my job!

Lilly Venom: Then I guess I will just have to write ‘Assassin For Hire’, in my form, then.

Agent Largo: You.. might not want to do that, Lady Lilly.. For my sake, if not yours..

Lilly Venom: I don’t do lies, Agent Largo. Perhaps you might have noticed that.

Agent Largo: I have.. And it’s made me wonder..

Lilly Venom: A good assassin does not do lies, Agent Largo. Lies constantly require attention to keep track and that clusters the mind. And because I study my contacts very well and plan my exit strategies accordingly so I never have to lie. O.P.G.G.. Observe. Plan. Get in. Get out..

Agent Largo: You really never cease to amaze me, Lady Lilly.

Lilly Venom: Also, it is immoral to lie!

Agent Largo: (stares at Lilly)

Lilly Venom: What? Just because I am an assassin, doesn’t mean I lack moral codes, Agent Largo. I kill because it’s my job, not because I enjoy doing it. That is what was available for me to learn to stay afloat at Drashan, so I learned it well. Had I enjoyed it, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because you would have been dead and I would have been elsewhere, busy cutting throats.

Agent Largo: Touché.

Lilly Venom: (shrug) It’s the truth.

Agent Largo: Write, ‘Security Advisor’, then. I am guessing you can do that very well.

Lilly Venom: I suppose..

Agent Largo: It won’t be a lie..

Lilly Venom: (sigh) It had better be a very good dinner, Agent Largo..

✱ ✱ ✱

Agent Largo: Here you go, sir. Two forms.. One for me, and one for the lady..

Serenity Home Gate Guard: Thank you, sir Largo. Sir Dexter should be here soon.. Ow.. and here he is.. Sir Dexter. These are the two who wished to see you; Sir Largo and his lady, Ferra..

D.D. Dexter: (stunned) Dad?

Agent Largo: (flustered) Uhhmm.. Hello, son..

D.D. Dexter: (still stunned) You.. You are not dead!

Agent Largo: (still flustered) I.. can explain..

Lilly Venom: (snort)

D.D. Dexter: Who are you?

Lilly Venom: I am the girl your father owes a dinner to!

D.D. Dexter: (stunned and shocked) You have a girlfriend? She is younger than I am, dad!

Agent Largo: (flustered and blushing now) I.. can explain that too..

Lilly Venom: (snort) Your father is alive and well, and you are worried about my age?

D.D. Dexter: (splutter) What the heck, dad?!

Agent Largo: (going down in flames) I…

Lilly Venom: (briskly) Your priorities are mind staggering, boy.

Agent Largo: (dead because of fighting in two fronts now) Uhmm.. Lilly..

Lilly Venom: (mildly agitated) What? After some twenty-odd years, he sees his father, ALIVE, and he is making an issue of my age? Really, now.. I thought bards were a polite bunch, if not smart!

 

(many footsteps approach)

 

Sheriff Standorin: (Udoorin’s father) (stern officious voice) Lilly Venom. You are under arrest and wanted for the murder of Lord Trimdel Kandara of Endless Watch. Please do not resist. Master Aager, please arrest this felon, if you will..

D.D. Dexter: What the..

Agent Largo: Ow crap!

Aager Fogstep: (approaches Lilly with cuffed and hisses at her with an extremely angry, tight voice ) You idiot!

Lilly Venom: (sigh)

Agent Largo: (more than flustered) Sheriff Standorin—

Sheriff Standorin: (with a heavy club in one hand) And you, former Agent Largo.. You are also under arrest for aiding and abetting a known fugitive. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. I suggest you keep to your silence!

Agent Largo: Sheriff Standorin. You know who I am. You know what I do—

*wham*

Sheriff Standorin: —There.. I appreciate it when criminals heed to good advice when it’s given and stay silent. How about you, Venom, how would you like your reception? The same, perhaps, would you rather exercise your right to silence?

Lilly Venom: (shrug) No, I’m good..

✱ ✱ ✱

Lilly Venom: How are you?

Agent Largo: I hurt. The good sheriff has a heavy hand with that club of his..

Lilly Venom: (heartlessly) I wouldn’t know, Agent Largo. I did not resist.

Agent Largo: (sigh) Well.. That certainly went well!

Lilly Venom: This is sort of embarrassing for me, to be honest. The first time I come to a town with no ill intent, and I am detained and put to jail. Remind me again why we are here?

Agent Largo: The boy.. Where’s he?

Lilly Venom: Which one?

Agent Largo: Both, I guess?

Lilly Venom: Your Dexter was with the Sheriff the time I saw him, though he did come in to check in on you once. You were still out so he just stared at you.. and me as well, I guess, since your head was on my lap.. He was furious and was looking somewhere to lash out. I told him if he tried that in my direction, he would lose everything he thought was dear to him. I might have threatened him with evisceration and death by choking on poisonous darts as well.. We had a small chat after that, though only I spoke. Told him everything you did for him and why.. He didn’t say anything, but he listened, then he left..

Agent Largo: I should have been the one to tell him those.. Not the evisceration and death by poison darts, part.. The other things..

Lilly Venom: Probably. But you were making such a lousy job out of it.. And the boy needed to know.. Hearing it from a third person is sometimes better. Gave him something to think about besides pouting, at least.. He might come around, or he might not. It’s on him now.

Agent Largo: (sighs) Thank you.. Lilly.. What about the prince?

Lilly Venom: They took him elsewhere. I suppose they will question him first for some kind of leverage.

Agent Largo: Korodin won’t tell them anything except that his name is ‘Rodin’ and that I am his distant uncle. And he will keep repeating that.. unless they hurt the boy.. And if they do that, I will get out of here and really murder someone!

Lilly Venom: (a bit surprised) You care for the boy!

Agent Largo: Well, sure.. He is my prince.

Lilly Venom: True. But you personally care for him..

Agent Largo: (sigh) Yes, Lilly.. I personally care for him. He’s young but I suspect he understands what’s going on around him a lot more than he lets on. And we read The Amazing Adventures of Blom Bundlebim Hobim. Anyone who reads that book together, are bro’s for life!

Lilly Venom: (snort) Boys!

Agent Largo: Don’t pun the ‘bros bond’, Lilly. It’s a real thing!

Lilly Venom: (slight frown) I am no longer a Lady, then, Agent Largo? Why am I suddenly not a lady anymore?

Agent Largo: (sigh) We share a cell and that’s as close to any woman I have been since my wife was murdered, and that was more than two decades ago. I believe that calls for a bit of honest sincerity. I don’t think this was the dinner you had in mind but here we are, in a quiet and dim setting.. just like you wanted. We even have candlelight. I am in your hands.. and your lap, quite literally, I might add.

Lilly Venom: (stares down at the face in her lap, studying it, perhaps to finalize a decision)

We have no dinner, Agent Largo..

Agent Largo: Jail food is never really all that good, but it’s always on time. Should arrive soon enough..

Lilly Venom: Very well, Agent Largo.. Will you propose now?

Agent Largo: I was really hoping for better conditions, Lilly.. You deserve better conditions..

Lilly Venom: I think I will be receiving ‘what I deserve’ on the morrow, Agent Largo. I wouldn’t fret about it too much if I were you.

Agent Largo: You could get away, you know.. I am sure these bars can’t keep you..

Lilly Venom: Could say the same thing for you, Agent Largo, but you won’t.. Because of your son and because of the damage it might do to his reputation.. For similar reasons, I won’t either. Just.. not for a son or daughter.. (pauses for a moment, then sighs) And I gave the good sheriff my word that I wouldn’t try to escape, provided he let me stay in the same cell with you.

Agent Largo: Huh! A wasted bargain, if you ask me, though I can’t complain about my current disposition; your lap is surprisingly.. intriguing. Enough to want to know what’s on either end.

Lilly Venom: (amused) A foot on one end, and a hip on the other, Agent Largo, among other things, and you don’t have rights to any of them.. At the moment.. Not unless you want to embarrass yourself more than you already have.

Agent Largo: (snort) Fair enough. I am guessing the other reason you stayed has to do with the person you know in this town?

Lilly Venom: (silence)

Agent Largo: Very well, then.. If I will have more of your breath.. and perhaps get clubbed every once in a while knowing I shall wake up to your lap, then I would very much like to propose. Would you like to spend the rest of your life with me, Ferra Ferrea? To be my wife, my companion, my partner, possibly in crime, and my friend?

Lilly Venom: Yes. I would, Largo Summersong. The rest of my life, short as that maybe, I would like to spend it with you.. Same conditions!

Agent Largo: The name is Lauca, actually.

Lilly Venom: Lauca?

Agent Largo: Means, ‘warm‘, in Elvish, though I have no idea what my mother was thinking when she gave me that name. It is supposed to relate to ‘A Warm Summer Song’.. But I have been using Largo since a bit before I joined ARIS because they sound similar and Largo was easier to pronounce. This, however, is a definitive occasion, so I thought at least you should know.

Lilly Venom: Lauca.. Sounds intriguing.. Means, warm?

Agent Largo: Please don’t make too much pun of it. Half-elves tend to get touchy when it comes to certain things.

Lilly Venom: Lauca.. Am I pronouncing it right?

Agent Largo: Do you want to pronounce it right?

Lilly Venom: I would, yes.

Agent Largo: Why bother?

Lilly Venom: Why bother with Ferra Ferrea?

Agent Largo: Touché.. and point taken, I suppose.

Lilly Venom: I shall call you by this name, from time to time, so we remember a warm summer song!

Agent Largo: That.. actually sounded poetic. Much better than I ever thought it would.

Lilly Venom: I think, I like it..

Agent Largo: Alright. Now we’ll need a witness or two..

Lilly Venom: I believe we have.. a witness or two..

Agent Largo: We do?

Lilly Venom: Yes, we do.. Don’t we, Aager?

Aager Fogstep: (sighs and comes out of the shadows) You really are an idiot, Lilly.. What possessed you to come here? This place is going to burn, and very soon.. and you came here?

Lilly Venom: Hello, Fogstep. Good to see you too.. Less than I wanted to, but here I am..

Aager Fogstep: This isn’t a game, Lilly. I have no authority over the sheriff, and certainly not over the mayor. I thought you were a survivor.

Lilly Venom: I am tired of just surviving, Aager. I have done it all my life. Took a page from your book and I have decided I want to ‘live’ now..

Aager Fogstep: And you came here.. For that.. Just how stupid are you?

Inshala Frostmane: (comes out from behind Aager) That is not nice, my Aager. I do not think Lilly is stupid. I think her to be extremely smart. Certainly smart enough to make all the correct choices, when we were back at Arashkan.

Lilly Venom: And, here is our inseparable second witness..

Inshala Frostmane: Hello, Ferra.

Lilly Venom: Hello, girl.. You have grown some. And you glow more..

Inshala Frostmane: (blush) I.. I do?

Lilly Venom: Yes. You were scared all the time, the last time I saw you. Now you look.. free!

Agent Largo: Don’t mind me. I’ll just lie down here and nurse the bump on my head.

Lilly Venom: (to Aager) Do you want to introduce yourself, or should I?

Aager Fogstep: (shrug)

Agent Largo: I know who he is. He is SIS —Serenity Intelligence Service; pseudo-named, Aager Fogstep. Single. Real name; unknown. Mother; unknown. Father; unknown. Siblings; rumored to have one, though his or her gender is unknown and presumed dead. He is also a former Drashan convict.. His ‘apparent’ job is being the right hand of Sheriff Standorin Shieldheart. He was one among others to have brought down Themalsar. There are any number of murders attributed to him, though none of them have been proven, nor verified.. The girl, I do not know. None of the spies I sent could get any information about her, back when she, sir Aager here, and their diverse other companions first came to Arashkan and started asking questions about Gar Thalot.. We found out who all her friends were.. Just not her and the one other girl who slept on the roof of the inn they were staying. It’s like neither of them ever existed before. We couldn’t even put a name to them. Heck, we couldn’t even scry them! It was like.. they both were off limits!

Lilly Venom: I am inclined to be impressed, Agent Largo, though I don’t think Aager here qualifies as single and his sibling’s name is ‘me’.

Agent Largo: (confused) Me?

Lilly Venom: (silent smile)

Agent Largo: (somewhat horrified expression) YOU?

Lilly Venom: (smile) ‘ME’..

Agent Largo: (stunned silence)

Lilly Venom: Yes, Agent Largo, he is my elder brother.. I am not at liberty to divulge who or what the other one is, but this cute little girl, here, is Inshala Frostmane. Aager’s girl, woman, mate.. I have thus failed to put a name to what they are, to one another. Nothing seems to sufficiently cover their relation.. In all candor, though, it is likely she is the best thing that’s happened to me in my life and I am happy to call her my sister.. Other than that, I am not aware if she has any other title.

Inshala Frostmane: (beam) I am here in my ‘Ritual Guardian’ capacity, dear Ferra..

Lilly Venom: I do not know what that means.

Agent Largo: I do, and it is an immense ‘capacity’.. I thought the good Master Cathber was killed in his sleep. I wasn’t aware he had any students in training.

Inshala Frostmane: (quietly) He had me. And I had him. He was my Father and my Master since I was a month old.

Agent Largo: I am sorry, young lady. I revered Master Cathber. Now.. Master Aager, Ritual Guardian, if you would be kind enough to put in a good word for Lady Lilly here, I would be grateful. I shall suffer my punishment, whatever it may be.

Lilly Venom: How very noble of you, Sir Agent Largo! I wasn’t aware I was getting a knight in shining armor when I asked for that dinner.

Agent Largo: I apologize, Lilly. But it comes as part of the package!

Inshala Frostmane: (beaming) I have no idea what you just said, but it sounded so sweet. And I didn’t know you were a knight, Sir Largo. I will ask them to release both you and my elder sister Ferra and also to kindly return your shiny armor.

Agent Largo: !

Lilly Venom: (snort)

Aager Fogstep: (snort)

✱ ✱ ✱

Sheriff Standorin: You seem to have left out quite a bit of your personal life, Master Aager. I thought you said your sister was dead.

Aager Fogstep: I thought she was dead, too. Her unexpected appearance in Arashkan did take me off guard.

Sheriff Standorin: I see no mention of this in your reports. Are we making private exemptions, then?

Aager Fogstep: (cooly) Yes and no, Sheriff. Some of the things that happened at Arashkan never got mentioned for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. Suffice to say, putting them in writing would have been too damning for the people involved, which includes our esteemed Ranger Lieutenant Laila Wolvesbane, and by proxy, Ranger Master Davien Hart. Master Nimbletyne Tinkerdome’s niece, Master Gnine, and by his proxy, back to his uncle. Princess Alor’Nadien ne Feymist and High Lady Anglenna Sunsear of High Woods and Bari Na-ammen, damning Ri Grandeleren Feymist and Rise Nadine Graciousward, again, by proxy.. Our Senior Temple Guardian Lady Magella, and by her proxy, Master Argail Smitefast, and the deceased Demos Lightshand. Then we have Udoorin Shieldheart, your son, who also happens to be the betrothal of Princess Alor’Nadien ne Feymist, hence damning her again. And since he’s your son, that would be damning you, Sheriff Standorin Shieldheart of Serenity Home town, by a similar proxy. Last but not least, myself, and by my proxy, damning you again! I shall not mention The Ritual Guardian, Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane, nor ‘The Celestial’ Merisoul Xyrotwu here as neither of them are within our kingdoms’ jurisdictions.. The title of ‘Ritual Guardian’ is not bestowed by the king nor his vassals, but by the Ritual Forest itself and I shudder to even contemplate just who has any jurisdiction over Merisoul Xyrotwu, other than ‘The Great Heavens’.. What was put into writing, however, was done so from a distinctly ‘relevance’ point of view.

Sheriff Standorin: (amused) Nicely done, Master Aager. You have threatened damning everyone of note in this town and people of the highest status among our neighbors. Not to mention damning my own son, my future daughter in law and myself —twice, I might add..

Aager Fogstep: (coldly) You didn’t bring me here from Drashan to play ball, Sheriff. You brought me here to be the solution!

Agent Largo: (snicker) I did offer to take him off your hands years ago, Sheriff..

Sheriff Standorin: (ignores Agent Largo and glares at Aager) Just how damning are we talking about, here?

Aager Fogstep: (total silence)

Sheriff Standorin: (sigh and turns to Lilly Venom) Says here, you are a ‘Security Advisor’, Miss Ferra?

Lilly Venom: Ferra is my given name, Sheriff Standorin. And that would be ‘Mrs.’ Not, ‘Miss’..

Sheriff Standorin: (cocked eyebrow) I wasn’t aware the infamous Lilly Venom was married.

Lilly Venom: I would have been surprised if you were. It happened just last night!

Agent Largo: (cough)

Sheriff Standorin: You can’t be serious!

Agent Largo: I have been. For quite some time, now.

Lilly Venom: (smile)

Sheriff Standorin: What the hell do they put into the prison food?!

Agent Largo: I resent that.

Sheriff Standorin: (irritated) What am I expected to do now?

Agent Largo: (shrug) That’s up to you, Sheriff Standorin. This is my home, but it’s your town.

Sheriff Standorin: I suppose you will spill everything should I try to send you to the gallows, Mrs. Lilly?

Lilly Venom: (shrug) I am an Assassin —or a ‘Security Advisor’, if you will, Sheriff. I kill people for a living and I am very good at it. Whether I shall keep doing that is up to consideration at the moment, but I don’t do two things; lies and blackmail.

Agent Largo: I do.. And yes, the irony in that is sort of disturbing, but in this case, I shall uphold Lady Ferra’s wishes.. and honor..

Sheriff Standorin: (scowl) This is a mess, Master Aager. Please tell me the ‘solution’ in all this.

Aager Fogstep: (shrug) Hire Agent Largo as part of the Covert Ops team and let him do what he’s good at doing. Hire Lady Ferra, here, as a Security Advisor, as written in her form, and let her do what she’s good at doing. This town can’t stay a town any longer, Sheriff, even should we win the war. You know this to be true. We have tens of thousands of refugees of all races and The Ritual Guardian is doing everything she can to keep the weather ‘mild’ and the ground warm so they don’t freeze to death and so there’s is still some crops growing and hence, food available for the all those hungry mouths. It is also because of her and the druidic elves that survived High Woods we assigned to her that there haven’t been any breakouts.. All those refugees will, however, and eventually, require a roof over their heads, and said homes will require a much, much larger security team.. I am guessing Yuleman already knows this also. Everyone is working hard now and for a common cause because there are a hundred and fifty thousand Orken coming this way. But that’s all going to change, should we win the day and the threat of imminent death is gone. Especially should we win the day and the threat of imminent death is gone..

 

(silence for a long, smoldering moment)

 

Sheriff Standorin: (sigh) Very well, Master Aager. I shall take this up to Mayor Yuleman. In the meantime, Master Largo and Lady Lilly will stay in your residence, Master Aager. They may get out into your garden, but they shall not leave the premises. Agreed?

Agent Largo: Agreed.

Lilly Venom: I suppose so..

Agent Largo: I need some rest, anyway. Been running back and forth for weeks now.

Lilly Venom: (cooly) Not tonight, you aren’t!

Agent Largo: (stammer)

Sheriff Standorin: (sigh) Go get the Temple Guardian Thomas here to officialize and formalize their wedding, if you will Master Aager.

Aager Fogstep: (quietly) Yes, sir.. And.. Thank you, sir..

 

(after Agent Largo and Lilly Venom are escorted out)

 

Sheriff Standorin: Is she as good as they say she is?

Aager Fogstep: (slight frown) She killed me, once!

Sheriff Standorin:

✱ ✱ ✱

Lilly Venom: That was one hell of a speech you gave back there. I am impressed. This place has done you good.

Aager Fogstep: The good sheriff might be a harsh man, but he isn’t unreasonable.

Lilly Venom: (after a moment of pause) Will you give me away, Brother? When your Temple Guardian comes to officiate our marriage?

Aager Fogstep: Bit late to be asking me that question, don’t you think?

Lilly Venom: (quietly) I am.. I am trying, Aager.. This is me, taking those steps..

Aager Fogstep: (silent stare)

Lilly Venom: (returning the silent stare)

Aager Fogstep: Where’s your.. Largo?

Lilly Venom: Outside. Behind the house, talking to his son.

Aager Fogstep: You are okay with him having a son? Not that it should matter and Dexter is a decent man. But the fact remains; both are quite older than you. Agent Largo in particular.

Lilly Venom: It isn’t like the age disparity is all that much, you know. Well, it is, but he’s a half-elf. By the time I am old and crooked, should I see those days, he will still be of mild age.. And to be honest, his age never bothered me, considering how much I dislike fools and loath men in general. I think, being forced to work in Madam’s brothel when I came to age, back in Drashan did that to me.. Do you even know, or have any idea what it feels like to be groped or fondled by a total, filthy stranger who is leering at you with unwanted desire when you are barely twelve?

Aager Fogstep: (in pure, silent wrath) No.

Lilly Venom: You are naked. In all kinds of ways. You are shivering. Not because it’s cold, but because you are so scared. You have no idea what you are expected to do and everyone and everything is looming over you and they are all so much bigger than you.. All you know is you are about to be used and it’s going to hurt and you are going to cry because you are just a small, skinny, powerless girl.. You are going to cry and it will not matter because it won’t change the fact that it’s still going to keep on hurting in places that you shouldn’t be hurting.. Not at that age.. All you have is a tiny knife that you are allowed to use if the man likes beating his girls.. I was so scared that I couldn’t even move.. He became angry.. I don’t know at which point I sliced him open! But when I woke up, I had a cracked head and a bloody face, and he was dead. That was my first kill.. Then I decided to do the same for the next half dozen or so men as well. I just stood there, unmoving, and I was scared all the time.. Eventually, though, it would anger the men and they would slam me around and I would slice them open! That is when they sold me off to the Cutters Guild.. (sigh) I don’t think I could have found someone my age that fit my tastes since I really, truly, and quite mindlessly loathed men.. All men.. Still do, really. Largo.. He has.. seen things.. Bad things.. And over the course of years longer than either of us seen put together.. It has made him mature.. And serious.. Yet he still clings to that lame sense of humor of his. It is pathetic, really.. But I find it.. endearing.. if you could believe that. Yes, I freely admit I like those qualities in him. I.. I don’t think he will grope me like those animals. I think he will treat me.. right.. and alright..

Aager Fogstep: So you love—

Lilly Venom: Aaaaaaa! La, La, La, La, La, La, La !!!

Aager Fogstep: (confused) What?

Lilly Venom: I don’t want to talk THAT with you! I don’t like you that much yet! Or rather, I don’t know you that much yet.. Brother..

Aager Fogstep: Fair enough.

Lilly Venom: (sigh) I don’t think we will ever be like you and Inshala are. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want to.. Too much effort, too much work, too much pain.. and too many emotions for my taste. I just want honesty, care, and reliance —both ways.. But I also want a certain amount of privacy reserved for ourselves too..

Aager Fogstep: Also, fair enough. I am happy for you.

Lilly Venom: You.. you are?

Aager Fogstep: (shrug) Yes.

Lilly Venom: This conversation went.. better than I expected!

Aager Fogstep: Just what kind of a beast do you think I am, Lilly, to mess up your happiest day?

Lilly Venom: (carefully suspicious) I am sorry. Hard to change everything, all at once.

Aager Fogstep: (straight face) Besides. You are TOTALLY his problem now!

Lilly Venom: (scowl) I knew it!

Aager Fosgstep: But I would rather you took your man and left. Gone.. Far away..

Lilly Venom: Why don’t you?

Aager Fogstep: I can’t.

Lilly Venom: Why?

Aager Fogstep: (silent moment) This.. is my home now. And my Inshala’s forest.. I won’t give up my home, she won’t give up her forest..

Lilly Venom: Largo will not go. They destroyed his home. He does not show it, probably for my sake, but it’s tearing him apart. I strongly suspect he wants to die in as bloody a way as possible in the coming war.

Aager Fogstep: Why marry him then?

Lilly Venom: Because I.. want him.. per se.. And to give him another reason not to do what he foolishly wants to do.. Besides, we will likely go into the battle together. I’ll just have to watch his back..

Aager Fogstep: You are going into a battle.. because of an idiot?

Lilly Venom: No, brother. I am going to war because I want to preserve what’s mine.. And to earn my own ‘home’..

Aager Fogstep: You are an idiot too, then!

Lilly Venom: Perhaps.. Wonder what that makes you?

Aager Fogstep: The elder brother of an idiot!

Lilly Venom: (scowl)

Aager Fogstep: (snort)

Lilly Venom: Where’s your pretty girl? Where’s Inshala?

Aager Fogstep: She’s up the tree in the garden, trying to convince it to bloom.

Lilly Venom: Do I even want to know why?

Aager Fogstep: The tree is supposed to have very pretty pink flowers. She wants you to share them with your Largo.

Lilly Venom: (stunned) What? I am..

Aager Fogstep: Speechless?

Lilly Venom: Well, yes!

Aager Fogstep: She loves you.

Lilly Venom: I am flattered but how can she love me? Considering how little she knows me, and how horribly I treated her back in Arashkan.

Aager Fogstep: She has a great heart. And it seems she has a distinct affinity to seeing the depths of the souls in people. I can’t imagine what, but it appears she has found something she finds lovable in you.

Lilly Venom: You are not as funny as you think you are.

Aager Fogstep: I am funny?

Lilly Venom: What will you do? We.. seem to have barged into your home.

Aager Fogstep: (shrug) Sisters’ prerogative, I suppose.

Lilly Venom: (scowl)

Aager Fogstep: It’s alright, really. We will take our rest in the temple dormitories or next to some campfire. Too much work until then, though. We still have a lot of things to do before the day ends.. Inshala has to coordinate and make sure there are no frictions between us and the ogres and I have two teams I need to continue training. One in the afternoon, which I should be heading soon, and the other at night and will take all night. ‘Infiltration, Blind Fighting, and Ambush!’

Lilly Venom: Oww.. Ambush! I could help you with that.

Aager Fogstep: No.

Lilly Venom: Why not?

Aager Fogstep: This one is an advanced group of former Bari Na-ammen vets and rangers, hence we will be using live weapons and I don’t want you bleeding back to your.. husband.. Besides, you should make good use of your nights—

Lilly Venom: La, La, La, La, La, La, La —I am not listening to you..

Aager Fogstep: (snort) See you tomorrow morning, then.

Lilly Venom: (quietly) Aager?

Aager Fogstep: Hmm?

Lilly Venom: Thank you.

Aager Fogstep: Thank me when this is over and the ones we love are still alive.

Lilly Venom: (hug)

Aager Fogstep: (strained voice) You.. are not going to try and stab me are you?

Lilly Venom: I just might..

Aager Fogstep: Care for a slice of advice?

Lilly Venom: From you? No.. But say it anyway. I might listen.

Aager Fogstep: Lose some, to win some.

Lilly Venom: What the hell kind of an advice is that?

Aager Fogstep: The kind I gave to myself, though mine was, lose all, to win all! You are a smart girl. I know because my Inshala said so! I am sure it’ll come to you in time. Now, go on to your hubby, baby sister!

Lilly Venom:

✱ ✱ ✱

Lilly Venom: Are you done?

Agent Largo: Almost.

D.D. Dexter: I still can’t believe this.

Agent Largo: I am sorry Dex. After what happened to your mother, I wasn’t going to trust anyone from ARIS where you were concerned. This town was the safest place I could think of and still give you a happy life. You know what is coming. You know the score.. I was ARIS and I had to do something for Arashkan without a constant threat on your life..

D.D. Dexter: I know the reasons, father. It’s just..

Lilly Venom: (briskly) Give it time. You’ll get used to it.

D.D. Dexter: You are.. intense.. If you don’t mind me saying so, Lady Lilly.

Lilly Venom: Just ‘Lilly’ will do.. Considering all the effort I gave to make your father quit calling me that. As for intense.. Guess Agent Largo here will find out soon enough.

Agent Largo: (fluster, flush and blush) Lilly.. Please.. This is my son, for Heaven’s sake!

Lilly Venom: (heartless laugh) And he isn’t nine, Agent Largo. He’s older than I am!

D.D. Dexter: (cough)

Agent Largo: (blush some more)

Lilly Venom: Are you ashamed of me, Largo, that you keep blushing?

Agent Largo: No. Never that. It’s just.. a bit of an uncomfortable topic, that’s all..

Lilly Venom: There you have it, Dexter. He loves you enough to be embarrassed in front of you. Which is the only time I have seen him actually blush like this. You, Dexter, must understand; he did what he did to you, knowingly and deliberately because he had to. And now he has decided to share a life with me, knowingly and deliberately. Your father is a smart man, Dexter. I don’t think he would have been fooled by my approaches, because I am not really a ‘girly’ girl.. He accepted me because he wanted me. Considering just how loyal he has been to your mother’s memory for the past twenty years, I would say he deserves a break, wouldn’t you? Take that into account before you dish out judgments. We just came from Hell itself. There is no name for the blood and carnage we saw in Arashkan. We didn’t watch it from a distance, Dexter.. We were there.. On the ground, fighting, bleeding, and saving lives.. At least your father was.. All I did was to try and stay alive, and watched his back.. Your father needs respite and I hope he finds it with me. Will you not allow him to have that much before we go back into that Hell? Because whether we want it or not, Hell is coming our way as we speak!

D.D. Dexter: (stare with open mouth)

Lilly Venom: Now. If you would please, I would like to have a few, private moments with Agent Largo..

D.D. Dexter: Of course. I will see you later today, or perhaps in the evening when my duties are over.. (pause) On the other hand, tomorrow will be a better time.

Lilly Venom: Tomorrow will be fine. Thank you for being considerate.

D.D. Dexter: (mumble) Not like I was given much of a choice.

Lilly Venom: Best kind of choice offered. Which makes sense, since this really isn’t anything you should be making a choice over, should you think about it with an open mind. The only thing that concerns you is whether you will honor the choices your father had to make to keep you safe and alive and wish him some happiness and that he finds it with me.. or sulk about it.

✱ ✱ ✱

Lilly Venom: I am sorry if I was a bit abrupt with your boy.

Agent Largo: I won’t complain. Had you not said the things you said, when I was still out, I don’t think we would have made any headway today.

Lilly Venom: I just didn’t give him the time to do or say things you both would have regretted, by making myself the target of his possible ire.

Agent Largo: You didn’t have to do that, Lilly.

Lilly Venom: But I did it anyway. I saw enough sad and stupid in my life, Largo. And I am tired of it. We can either carry that particular baggage into our lives or keep it out. This.. this is something I learned.. or rather, ‘was shown’, really, by my bother, Aager, and his skinny little woman.. But he.. they proved to me it could be done and I want to give it a shot. I will sweat for it, bleed for it, war for it, but want you to be there for it..

Agent Largo: (smile) We are back to ‘shots’? Where is the boy, Prince Korodin, by the way?

Lilly Venom: He is with Inshala.

Agent Largo: I don’t really know Lady Inshala. Can she be trusted?

Lilly Venom: More than either of us. She will ‘care’ for him like no other.. Now, quit dodging. Will you go for it?

Agent Largo: I am here, aren’t I?

 

(pale pink flowers start to fall all around them..)

 

Agent Largo: (surprised) What’s this? Cherry blooms in the middle of winter?

Lilly Venom: (looks up at the thousands of pink, cherry blooms flaking down with a glowing face and shimmering eyes, and whispers)

Inshala, baby girl.. Thank you..

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

It is the first few days of December and evening has settled over a white Serenity Home. It is quiet and kind tonight and a barely discernable warm wind seems to blow from Gull’s Perch as if Mab and Titania have come to a rare understanding. There is a great, awe-inspiring, beautiful cherry tree in bloom in a garden in this town and there is a small ‘home’ next to this tree.

A home where people ‘belong’..

In this home, there is a young woman with a boldly handsome face and she shivers even though there is a cheery fire crackling in the small grate. Carefully, she takes off her long, brown leather trench coat, revealing an exquisitely made dress; a pale green loose blouse, a very dark royal green tight bodice with many laces complimenting her narrow hips, her slim waist, her slightly gaunt belly, and her pleasant-looking breasts, hiding in her blouse. A long skirt of the same color embroidered with delicate, silver threads and slits on either side flow down her hips to her bare feet, carefully displaying parts of her slender, naked legs..

The young woman shivers again, her hands in tight fists by her hips, and has trouble looking up at the maturely handsome blonde man standing a bare foot in front of her. The man has a slight frown on his face as if trying to discern a last-minute vex, for the small, single-room home is thread-bare to be sure, but it is warm.

The young, boldly handsome woman, however, is as if knot, and her lovely dark eyes seem to be staring only at his hands.

 

Lilly Venom: Will you have me now?

Agent Largo: Lilly? What’s wrong—

Lilly Venom: If you are, I would like you to take my daggers, all my knives, my darts, and my shark teeth away from me.

Agent Largo: Why? If you won’t mind me asking—

Lilly Venom: (looks up at her husband’s face, then at his hands again and whispers in trepidation)

I am scared.

And I do not want to kill you..


 
Epilogue

 

The boldly handsome young woman is as if staring down at her own bare feet as she speaks in a low, hoarse, throaty, and barely audible voice, her face burning with defiant rage and with a kind of a lost shame. She fidgets as she speaks but her eyes are in fact affixed on the blond man’s hands as if expecting them to move for an assault at any time.

 

Lilly Venom: You are the first man I have liked. And been this close to. And that almost includes my brother. I have loathed men all my life and killed many because they couldn’t keep their hands to themselves. If this is an issue for you, I will try to understand, even should you want to leave.

Agent Largo: (stares at the girl, silently)

Lilly Venom: It isn’t like I am the only girl around.

Agent Largo: (continues to stares at the girl silently)

Lilly Venom: I can’t claim I am much of a catch, either.

Agent Largo: (still silent)

Lilly Venom: You are a handsome man, after all. I have seen any number of girls looking in your direction on the ship while we were sailing here..

Agent Largo: (persistently silent)

Lilly Venom: And yes, I am aware I should have said something about this before. But in my defense, it isn’t something I wanted myself to remember, let alone admit to someone else. It is not exactly table conversation; hey, I loath men, and I tend to slice them open when they come too near!

Agent Largo: (absolute silence)

Lilly Venom: I would rather you said something.. or left..

Agent Largo: (in a dry, gravelly voice) I don’t really know what I should say and still stay safely unbleeding..

Lilly Venom: (scowls while still looking down)

Agent Largo: That you think so little of yourself, and by doing so, you think so little of me, since choosing one another was consensual and you are basically accusing me of having bad taste! That you would notice the girls staring at me, but not notice the constant scowl I had for all the young men ogling at you on that same ship, and why I never returned the wonts of any of those girls but stayed as close to you as I could, while trying very hard not to crowd you. That you think I would leave because you have some issues, serious as they may be. And last but not least, that you would want me to strip you of your weapons, yet never asked me to remove mine..

Lilly Venom: (stares at the man)

Agent Largo: No one is ‘just right’, Lilly. We all have our issues. I will not belittle yours. But at least it is a relatively tangible problem that has its own solutions. I carry the guilt of Arashkan, dear Lilly. The blood of thousands are on my hands because of my failures and there is neither a cure and nor any redeeming salvation for that.

Lilly Venom: You can’t blame yourself because of what happened there. Everyone was at fault for that failure. Everyone ‘failed’.

Agent Largo: True. But I am the only one left alive to have to live with it. The dead feel no guilt!.. But that’s another, and certainly not a ‘tonight’ matter, for you have worked hard to give me some respite and I shall not let that go to waste.

Lilly Venom: Very well. I shall do more, if I must, to carry that guilt with you, only if I can’t wash it off you. What.. solution do you offer?

 

Agent Largo slowly takes off his coat, folds it neatly, and puts it aside. Then, very slowly, he reaches for the girl and smoothly strips one of her daggers from her.. and cooly tosses it aside and out of reach.

 

Agent Largo: There. Your turn!

 

The boldly handsome girl ogles at the man for a frightened, breath-held moment, then, and inadvertently, she smiles, for suddenly she knows this is a game. A game she is certain to win.. She does a quick, mental inventory: the other pair of the long, close-quarter combat dagger, sixteen short-range throwing knives, half a dozen shark teeth, any number of garrotes, and two dozen poison darts!

 

Lilly Venom: (smirks) You will run out of ‘steel’ before I do!

Agent Largo: (smirks back) And what are you willing to bet on that?

A red glare appears over the Gull’s Perch to the east, and very slowly, the sun starts to rise and Serenity Home stirs with a lazy and reluctant yawn. The night, though, hasn’t all gone to waste;

Lilly Venom loses some and wins some..

dungeons and dragons duygusal groups karakter analizi komedi modül role play serenity

Promise To Be
Stupid Together

Promise To Be
Stupid Together

Timeline:

It isn’t the life-threatening moments
that makes us realize the value
of those we love..

 

Not always.

 

Sometimes it is the silly things..

..such as coloring pictures
in a children’s book..

..with crayons.

 

This story takes place several days after
The Oathbreaker (Part Four)
and after Aager Fogstep
and Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane
defeat the tyrannic oathbreaker;
Lord Tarakadahan Karkashi
in a very bloody duel to the death.

 

 

Aager Fogstep held Inshala close and tightly to himself for she was in mourning and because her soft warmth was the only thing that kept him from screaming in pain. The little girl held a sad, broken piece of dry twig in her small, delicate hands —the only discernable part left of what was once a giant walking tree; Snare! True, Snare had never been a ‘nice’ tree, but rather a vicious, sour, and one old cuss of a monster. He had, however, kept the little girl safe and company during their stay at Arashkan, before the city’s fall, hiding in plain sight among other trees, deep in Heaven’s Park, and had helped both her and Aager in their numerous encounters.

This last fight, however, had just been once too many for him. The tyrannic lord, Tarakadahan Karkashi, had come down on the grumpy old bark like ten thousand axes and smashed him into the ground. And now, his tiny mistress held the only bit of what was once a grumpy, eighteen-foot tall monster..

“When we.. get out of this stupid.. arena..”, Aager grinded his teeth. “I want you to go with Lady Alisia and Moira..”

Inshala looked up at him through her tear blotched face.

“No. You are hurt. I need to—”, she started.

“Inshala. Don’t argue with me. Not now.”, he cut in harshly. “This is an excellent opportunity for someone to take advantage of and make an attempt on your mother’s life.. Or Moira’s.. Or yours.. You must watch over them as they watch over you.”

“But.. What about you?”, she asked with a pleading voice.

“I hold no power in this city, love. I am a nobody here. I am not of the nobility and I carry no titles. I am not even a squire, let alone a lord. Not that I would want to be one. Ever..”

“..The only person that would have benefited from my death is dead! Anybody else coming at me will gain nothing from my demise. You, on the other hand, hold the city in your hands and it will take but one fool to ruin everything we gained today should he attack you, your mother, or Moira.”, he said through his gritted teeth.

The pain of his dislocated shoulder was getting at him and trying to rationalize why he wanted her to go, rather than to stay and watch him suffer was taking every ounce of his remaining strength.

“Please. Do this for me.”

“I will—”

The great gates leading in and out of the arena parted with a booming echo, smoldering any objections the little girl might have said, and Lady Alisia, followed closely by Lady Moira, Captain Fardashi, and half a dozen guards came running at them.

“Okay. I am going to let go of you now. You mustn’t show them any tears because everyone is watching you. Be strong and go with your mother.”, he hissed quietly.

“Sir Aager..”, Lady Alisia called as she stared at him, and at the little girl holding a piece of twig, with unveiled awe.

“Lady Alisia..”, Aager greeted the First Lady of Durkahan with a barely contained voice behind his leather half-mask. “..Lady Moira. If you would be kind enough to escort Lady Inshala to your quarters whilst she could rest. She has had a trying day.”

Lady Alisia ogled at the bloodied, sinister-looking man in his dark leathers.

“Please..”, added Aager with emphasis and giving a quick glance at the watching crowd.

Lady Alisia’s face lit with comprehension.

“Of course, Sir Aager. Daughter, please come with me. We must get you out of those bloody clothes at once. I believe a nice hot bath, a meal, and sleep will do wonders to you.”, she said as she held the little girl close to her, nodded at Aager.

And with Moira on the girl’s other side, they started back towards the arena gates as the guards fell in formation around the women.

For a moment Aager was left behind and he gave some serious thought to whether he should just surrender to gravity and fall where he stood.

 

“Ahem..”

..said a gravelly voice from behind him.

 

The fact that he hadn’t even heard that someone was actually standing behind him without his notice was definitive proof that the man in dark leathers was about to lose it soon.

“I’d love to give you a hand and carry you out, but that would totally ruin your ‘cool’.. And I am not sure I’d even get the hand back!”, he recognized Fardashi’s amused voice.

“That was one hell of a fight, young man. Hard to be impressed when you get to a cussed old age like mine but, what can I say, I am impressed. Good thing I didn’t tell you to buzz off the night you two came at the city gates. Will you be able to make it until we get out of here? People with nothing better to do love watching the victor drop dead after a good show!”, the old captain said lightly. A bit like the way he spoke right before he had smashed in the castle guard commander’s face in, about a week ago.

“I think so.”, grinded Aager, and took a stubborn step forward.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Stand guard here.”, commanded Fardashi at the guards, pointing at the door. “I must see to the Ladies than make sure the rest of the city is all well and good.”

Just before he left, however, he paused, gave a thoughtful look at the door, frowned a little, and quietly added, “Whatever happens, don’t enter the room!”, he warned.

The guards looked at their captain, then at the door, and hastily nodded.

 

Aager stood in the darkness of his room. The one he had been given shortly after their arrival at the inner castle of Durkahan city. It was barely ten strides in either direction with two, separate, single-beds, a small chest at the feet of each bed, a decent-sized cupboard, a high, rectangular table complete with a large washing pan, two blocks of soap, and several neatly folded rough, gray towels and one, slit of a window that seemed to stare gloomily at the arse end of a rigid, stone tower rather than at the city, but it still seemed cavernous compared to his tiny, one-room house back at Serenity Home. That house at least had had a larger window —two, in fact, now that Aager had a moment to think about it. Not that he preferred large windows —or any window, and he certainly had never fancied homes with scenic views, but that house —his home— had had them anyway; an easy to climb in and out window with a view to one of the town’s mildly busy streets. The other, he’d boarded the day he had moved in, years ago, because it had provided too big a security flaw for his taste, and because it was a window, it also provided a natural security ‘gap’.

He grimaced in pain at the jarring irony there;

Security GapOpen Window!

Apparently, Aager thought, he had a bit too much free time in his hands, since he had the luxury for such delinquent ironies. But there was a point to that irony.. and the boarded window now. It used to open to a rather picturesque view of the back garden. Not so much picturesque since Aager had moved in, as it was full of dead plants and ugly, barbed, and thorny weeds. But should his Inshala come to Serenity Home, he could open that window while she did some things nice with that garden. And perhaps they could share responsibilities at that point as well; he could keep an eye on the street side window like he always had, and she could cover the garden side!

Alright, the man in dark leathers, hood, and mask thought. There was something genuinely wrong with that thought!

He doubted anyone in that town ever ‘covered’ their windows with the metaphorical fanaticism as he did.

Or rather, no one else..

 

He shrugged —his other shoulder.

 

At least with both windows open, his home would be ‘sunny’.. Unlike how this chamber would ever be..

This chamber was dark at noon, pitch at night, and was slightly on the musty side.

More like a lair.. or a den, really. Men like him did not have suits or chambers.. They had lairs!

 

Just how he preferred it..

 

Or rather..

..just how he should have been preferring it, as awkward as that phrasing sounded!

 

But for whatever reason, however, he did not.

Yes, he had come here every night, washed off the day’s dirt here, slept here, and ate here, quite laconically, too —many times. For the same, ‘whatever reason’, however, that just didn’t seem to ‘cut’ it anymore. He felt ‘blank’.. more than empty, here. A blank he had come to recognize very slowly and growing recently.

He stared at the dark walls of the chamber, all the while sweating profusely in pain.

Carefully he chose a specific stone.

Not that it mattered, but focusing on something in particular had always given him a sense of purpose. And that purpose, now, was not going to be fun..

At all..

Slowly, he walked up to the stone he had selected and stared at it with baleful eyes.

“I am sorry, love.”, he growled with pure, unadulterated self-loathing, swung his shoulder once, twice..

..and smashed it into the stone and wall!

 

A horrid, meaty crack was heard by the guards outside followed by a feral roar of pain..

..and something stumbled over and the room fell silent.

 

Somewhere two floors above, Fardashi ran back into Lady Alisia’s quarters, his sword drawn, when he heard the single, shrill scream of a girl in savage pain!

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

And what do we have here?”, asked Aager, entering his chamber/lair/den, late one night, several days later. The proceedings, the meetings, the strategic plannings, and the secretive, impromptu ‘hallway’ chats on how they should mobilize the Durkahan Army, and which route they would take to reach Serenity Home in time were taking their toll on him. He felt like the sore merchant of some vast trading company, bargaining for rights of free passage through man-eating local’s lands.. without getting et!

 

..or possibly the CEO of some bank trying to stay afloat during an economic crisis!

 

“I am coloring this book that Master Cümeyt was kind enough to give me.”, Inshala replied from where she lay on the thick, pale beige carpet. Aager knew it was pale beige because the guard who had brought it had told him so like it held some significance and in all likeliness, it probably did. Just not for Aager..

..in any way that would be significant.

But then, this whole carpet thing was a new addition to his chamber/lair/den and seemed disturbingly out of place.

Feral beasts like him did not do carpets, nor cushions or loveseats..

Alright, there weren’t any loveseats in his chamber now either, and Aager did not really want to know what a loveseat was, but there were any number of colorful cushions, thrown on the said, pale beige carpet.

Aager scowled at the thick, soft, comfy thing and its fluffy little companions, and they scowled back at him..

..with compounded smug smirks because they knew they had won, and there was not a buggery bum he could do about it!

He certainly wouldn’t have asked for them, had it been up to him. But the young girl had taken a habit of bringing things her new brother, Cümeyt, or her new sisters Madine and Maira, and even Moira would give her, to here, and either play with them or draw pictures —on the cold, stone flour.. Hence, Aager had asked one of the guards if he would be kind enough to bring in a carpet, for Lady Inshala’s benefit.

And a cushion or three, while he was at it..

 

Or even if he weren’t kind enough!

 

Aager did not recall having put any such emphasis, but the thick, soft carpet had arrived within ten minutes followed by the half a dozen or so cushions..

And now, said Lady Inshala was here, lying flat on her little tummy, her skinny legs swinging up with lazy contentment and coloring what appeared to be some sort of flower in the book with little, colorful sticks scattered around.

 

“Crayons”, Inshala had told him with knowledgeable accomplishment.

They were called crayons.

 

The sinister-looking man in dark leathers thought that sounded suspiciously like a fancy name for some kind of deathly and dermal poison!

 

Then there was this coloring-book-thing!

 

Aager had never seen a book that could be, or even should be, colored before. Would have been a surprise if he had. He wasn’t sure if anyone back at Drashan had ever seen one, either.

Drashan aside, why would he?

And what was the point of buying a book, and books weren’t cheap, then doing all the work by coloring it yourself, anyway? Apparently, some smart artisan was making a lot of money by openly cheating his customers!

The nerve some people had in this world..

What kind of a demented idiot would even buy—

 

Aager opted to stop making combustive, mental commentary at that point.

Whatever he was about to say about said idiot, one of them was already here, and apparently, he was about to be the other by joining her! 

 

“Would you like to join me for some? Before I am called back to sleep in my room?”, she asked smiling up at him.

It was quite obvious this coloring thingy was something she had liked a lot, Aager noted, because not only did the young girl seem happy, but she also appeared content. And there was a distinct sense of serenity about her, which made her glow in an altogether new kind of beautiful.

“Maybe..”, smiled Aager as he pulled off his dark, leather hood, undid his mask, and tossed them both on his bed. Then unbuckled his leather armor, and his belt, ridding himself of his swords and daggers, and carefully set them aside.

“You want me to pout, don’t you?”, asked the girl honestly.

“Very much.”, replied Aager in kind. “You could win just about any argument with me using only the pout.”

“But.. I do not want to argue with you. Arguing is not nice. It tarnishes some things between people. And I think it becomes a habit in time and people start doing it without noticing anymore.. They argue about everything, and they do not recognize, both love and respect are now gone!”, she said..

..with a pout!

 

Aager was astounded, once again, at the depth of the young girl’s insight. Particularly when taking into account that this girl never had anyone to have argued anything in her past, save one, venerable old man, to have observed, and consequently, gained such insight. 

 

“We are not doing this on the table, why? Seems easier on the knees.”, he asked as he knelt down across the little girl and on his stomach, pulled off his heavy leather gloves, stared at the flower in the book, which he assumed was some kind of a rose, picked up one of the red sticks, and carefully started to fill one of the pedals.

“I am not sure.”, Inshala replied.

Aager cocked an eyebrow.

“How so?”

“When.. when we sit around a table, the table is standing between us. That makes me feel like I am alone.”, she said, frowning slightly.

“We could sit next to one another, perhaps?”, he offered.

 

“We could. I suppose. But.. that feels like we are only friends.. Like Ranger Corporal Laila, or even Master Gnine are my friends.. I like friends and I like that they are my friends. And I like that Alor’Nadien ne and Udoorin are my friends. And how Lady is my friend. And Merisoul and even Anglenna are my friends. I want you to be my friend too, but not like them. I do not know the words. You should not be my friend like they are my friends. When we lie down on the floor like this while doing things or talking, however, it feels like we are actually sharing something.. and more than just these pictures and more than just words..”, she said, struggling to correctly phrase her mind.

Then she went a bit pink. 

“And.. and our faces are much closer when we are lying down and coloring these pictures.. And I can watch you from this close, as well!”, she said with a blush.

And now Aager had both his eyebrows cocked up, for this insight did not belong to a little girl.

At all!

 

They colored the flowers and some other things that Aager was not always sure as to what some of them were. But they did it anyway and in content silence..

..for two hours straight.

 

He asked what color he should use when he wasn’t sure and the girl would look around for the appropriate stick, pick it up, hand it over to him, and say, “This!”, every time, with a happy, accomplished smile.

It was during those two hours Aager had the opportunity to think, or perhaps, contemplate on certain things.

He threw careful glances at the girl as she savagely colored the flowers, the stems, and the leaves, the sun, the clouds, the bees, and the bugs, and the dears, and the houses in the coloring book with child-like fervor.

He looked down at his own workmanship and noted his seemed more like he was dissecting the flowers, the sun, the clouds, the bees, and the bugs, and the dears, and the houses with jugular accuracy, waiting to be labeled and placed into their corresponding jars!

It was just about then, a number of things dawned on him.

 

One

The little girl was deliberately, or maybe the correct word would be, ‘inadvertently’, acting like a little girl because for the first time she had a genuine mother, a grandmother, three sisters, and a little, overtly smart, mischievous brother and hence she could afford to.. let go?

Or perhaps, drop her guard.

A something, Aager thought, was quite encouraging to see, yet altogether sad —in a way.

 

Two

Thanks to young Master Cümeyt and the emo girl Madina, though Aager still did not quite understand what the buggery bum an ’emo’ was, she, Inshala, was catching up to everything she had missed during her own childhood, both because such entertainments had never been available to her, and it wouldn’t have mattered even if they had been, seeing as how solitary and dangerous a life she had lived.

 

Three

He himself was pretty much in the same rickety boat as she was, dammit! When people looked at his Inshala, they saw a traumatized little girl, all the while thinking he, Aager, was the steady one and that at least he was ‘alright’.

Lying face down, coloring silly flowers and dears and bees and bugs, Aager Fogstep realized he was not alright. He realized he had never been alright, but always skirted at the edges of suppressed, angry insanity all his life. Coming to Serenity Home had been a blessing, certainly, but in a way, and unwittingly to be sure, that had merely diluted his very unhealthy mental status. Or camouflaged it, to put in a more astute perspective.

 

Four

This little girl, Inshala, had come to his room, much like every other night, and shared everything she had seen, learned, felt, and experienced that day with him until late hours, in effect, making sure he healed as much as she did. Bit by bit, she was freeing herself from her fears, her desperations and her losses, all the while seeding her desolations with her mom, her grandma, her sisters and brother, while making new friends, and learning and experiencing the things left missing all her life. And by coming here, she was sharing her joys with him, in affect, bringing whole new norms into his life as well, even if only by proxy.

The beauty of it was, there was never been any deliberation in her actions at all. Only instinctual need to make him feel as good as she was feeling, and the irony in all of that was not lost on Aager.

Inshala was giving him surcease, just by being here and being herself!

 

And Five

Aager loved it!

 

Unequivocally.

Irreversibly.

Without any doubt.

All of it.

 

And knew, at that very moment, why he had felt thus ‘blank’ of late.

For he had just recognized, with quiet fervor, that he could no longer tolerate her being just a ‘part’ of his life..

He wanted to be all of hers!

 

“You seem.. odd tonight. Lost in thought and distracted and your hands are drawing without consulting you.”, whispered Inshala, staring into his eyes.

“I am odd every night.. And distracted much of late.”, replied the man in dark clothes, a tad gruffly.

“A gold coin for your thought?”, she smiled. “I have a gold coin. I think.. I could go and get it if you like.”

“I doubt my thoughts are worth a gold, love.”, Aager said quietly. “But I will share them with you. Just as soon as I understand them myself. I promise.”

“I could ‘pout’ them out of you, you know!”, giggled the girl.

“I think you have been with Master Cümeyt for far too long, love..”, mourned Aager.

“He has shown me so many interesting things. Did you know there is more gossip going on here, in this place, than among the fey at Gull’s Perch? You would think a city full of paladins would have a bit more honest people!”, she said a bit disturbed.

“Ow? Is there some theft going on? That kind of behavior should be discouraged.”, said Aager with a frown and felt no guilt or shame, whatsoever, at the fact that being a thief was what he had started his long line of an uncouth carrier in the first place. But thieving had never really been any more than a stepping stone for him. Sort of something he’d had to endure in a ‘just do it’ sense until better options had presented themselves. If anyone he’d known had been an outright thief, it had been that Darly Dor kid —which did also explain why he had disliked him so much..

“No, no.. Nothing like that. It’s just something I learned, that many people are sleeping in someone else’s room and few wake up where they are supposed to!”, mumbled the girl as she slapped her tiny feet together for emphasis as she totally drowned a sunflower in dark purple with vehemence.

“People are strange sometimes. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. And I am not sure that’s the color for that picture, love.”, said Aager, pointing at her page. 

“It isn’t. I am just angry. That is why it is purple. My sunflower is angry too!”, she said unhappily.

“Ow? Why are you angry? Did something happen?”

“I do not know.”, came her frowning voice in his mind. “I am sorry. You are tired and have been keeping me company when you should be sleeping and now I am afflicting you with my silly!”

“True. I am tired. But doesn’t ‘keeping company’ work the other way around as well? And let’s not go to ‘silly’, please. I haven’t even begun my daily ranting yet!”, he replied in an amused tone. “Now tell me, what has gotten you riled up?”

“I do not know.”, she repeated. “I am put out that people don’t wake up where they should, yet I am doing the same thing. I go to sleep in my room, but wake up here all the time.. Is something wrong with me?”

“Uhhmm..”, said Aager, not sure as to what he should say or how he should respond, really, so he tried for a casual sort of tone. “I.. do not think what you and they are doing is quite the same, love.”

“How so?”, she asked glumly.

“Well..”, he began but faltered. “..Possibly because when you come here every night, I call your name, every time, but you don’t hear my voice. You truly are asleep. You come, your stand before my bed, hold out your arms, and just.. stay there. Took me by surprise the first time you did it, and even more, when I finally figured out what it was you demanded.”

“I.. I demanded something from you? I shouldn’t be making demands from you! That is not nice! And in my sleep, too? What did I demand?”, she asked in a depleted voice.

“A hug.”, replied Aager kindly.

 

Inshala’s face turned bright pink.

 

“I..”, she stammered. “I thought I came here and just slept in the other bed, to keep you company, though I honestly do not remember ever getting up, nor walking here..”

“That.. might have been partly my doing. Not the coming here. The waking up in the other bed.. After I’d give you your silent demand, you wouldn’t move but make this funny noise.. like when cats see a bird or a squirrel..”, said Aager honestly and Inshala dropped her coloring sticks and just buried her face in her skinny arms..

“I think, or felt, to be more precise.. you wanted to.. cuddle up and sleep next to me.. But something about your base, honest character wouldn’t let you.. Not without my express permission.. And because you weren’t really awake, I wouldn’t give you that permission because it would be wrong.. Which is why I would pick you up, and tuck you away in the other bed. You’d make a bit of a fuss in there but eventually, go still.”, he said kindly.

 

“This is so embarrassing. I do not remember the last time I was this—”, she mumbled in a muffled and horrified voice.

“There is nothing to be embarrassed about, Inshala. We both want, what we want. Apparently, you decided to actually do something about it, without ever knowing.”, he said thoughtfully.

“But.. what do you want?”, she asked, her face still buried in her arms.

 

And, there it was..

The simple question that was the core of what they had been, what they were, and what they would become for one another.

To simplify that even further; what they had, and what they could have..

So simple..

..a question.

 

What did he want?

What did he want?

And what did he want?

 

The small nuances in the same question made all the difference, to be sure, but the only thing he was certain of was the answer to the question that actually preceded this one;

 

Did he want?

 

To that, he said, yes.

Not because he was mentally sure of anything.

But because the blank in him was telling him exactly that.

Or rather, he had the blank, because he no longer could tolerate the lack of certain things..

..or a certain someone.

 

And something clicked in his mind.

 

Six

Aager decided, then and there, to shut up..

..and do something about the blank in his soul.

 

“Come, love.”, he said with a deliberate, casual tone. “It’s getting late. I’ll escort you to your room. I believe most of our plannings and meetings are done, but a few crucial details are left. They will need me wide awake for them in the morrow.”

 

The young girl accepted his offer to take her to her room gracefully.

Not that it would matter.

She’d be back in a few, anyway..

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Aager dropped off the strangely beautiful, deeply sincere, shyly honest, and unconventionally his Inshala to Moira’s former room with a gentle kiss, then left..

But not back to his own room.

He decided to have one meeting before going there and for some oddly existential reason, this one would be much more important than all the meetings he had done for the last eight or ten days.

He dashed silently through the torch-lit corridors and long halls of Durkahan’s inner castle and skid to a halt before the one door he would have never expected to have knocked.

 

“Aager Fogstep to see Lady Granma on an important matter —if she is available.”, he said quietly when a young, feminine voice asked who it was, upon knocking on the door.

A moment of surprised silence ensued, but it didn’t last long.

“Come, boy..”, he heard the old, cackling voice of Granma.

Aager slowly opened the door and entered the dimly lit room of the very old woman —the mother of Lady Alisia.

The room was comfortably decorated with many chairs holstered with velvets in subdued colors, a long, comfortable-looking, dark maroon divan, and cushions, several deep, soft rugs, a large, old wardrobe, any number of shelves with books, delicate porcelain cups, vases, and many other delicate curios, and a small table covered with cream-colored laces, all of which gave the distinct impression of ‘been there, done that and I have the aged wisdom to prove it’ feel to them.

The old woman was sitting in a large, rocking armchair, delicately holding a cup with something steaming in it.

“Tea, boy?”, she asked in her wheezing voice but didn’t wait for him to reply. She motioned a hand and Moira’s younger sister, Lady Maira produced another cup from the shelves and poured him his tea, while the Granma watched the sinister-looking man settle down.

“Sugar? Honey? Milk, Sir?”, Lady Maira asked politely, though it was apparent she was not very comfortable with the idea of being just her and her grandmother in the same room with this man.

“None for me, Lady Maira.”, Aager growled with his gravelly voice, inadvertently making the girl flinch.

“Honey. Put honey in his tea, girl. Methinks he will need it.”, snickered the old woman.

“Ma’am..”, said Aager, sort of as an excuse to start from somewhere.

The old woman snickered again.

“You didn’t come here to Ma’am me this late, boy. ‘Granma’ will suffice. I have heard it enough many times to respond to it by now.”

“I came.. to..”, stammered Aager. “I was hoping for a private talk.. on a private matter, Lady Granma.”

 

“Well, now.. Lady and Granma.. You truly must be desperate, boy. But polite. Good qualities to start a conversation. Maira, dear, why don’t you take the night off. You don’t have to sit up late every night for my sake, you know. Do tell Alisia I said that, if you would, please. I am old. Not invalid, nor senile. She can attend to me personally when I am, rather than send her daughters..”, she huffed.

“Are.. are you sure, Granma?”, Maira asked tentatively, giving a sidelong glance in Aager’s direction. “Will you be alright?”

“I am alright, dear. And quite safe with Sir Aager here, seeing as he is the only trustable man left in Durkahan.”, she said steadily.

“I shall not keep Lady Granma up for long, Lady Maira.”, promised Aager quietly so as not to scare the girl any further.

“Then I leave my grandmother in your tender care, Sir Aager.”, she replied politely, bent down, kissed her granny, curtsied Aager, and regally left the room.

“I hope I didn’t scare her too much.”, mumbled Aager.

“My daughter and my grands don’t scare too easily, boy. Managed to give them that much at least. Though they did botch the job when Tarakadahan happened.”, said Granma, staring at him thoughtfully. “Now, what’s on your mind, young man? You truly must be desperate to have come to me for wisdom. People seldom do, anymore.”

“Their loss, I am sure..”, Aager said. “It is true that I am desperate, but I do not believe my choice of wisdom was faulty.”

“Very good, young man. Polite, and honest in his praise. No wonder that poor, skinny girl cares for you so deeply.”, she replied. “I suspect this has to do with her?”

“Uhhmm..”, stammered the sinister-looking man and.. squirmed.

 

Aager.. squirmed!

 

“Speak, boy. Wisdom must be given direction to make sense.”, said the old woman sternly, surprising Aager a bit.

 

The man in the dark clothes took a slow sip from his honeyed tea, sort of to wet his throat, then started talking..

 

“I.. am not sure where to begin.. I.. deeply care.. for Inshala..”, he whispered. “Before I met her, my life was only about work. And the safety of the people who I knew nothing about, and who knew nothing about me. But I did it anyway.. As payment for my past sins. Then I met her.. while tracking the miscreants in the vastness of Ritual Forest, who ran and hid inside the old Themalsar ruins. We spent weeks in the cursed halls and dungeons of that mad man’s temple, fighting and bleeding on a nearly daily basis.. Then we faced Themalsar himself.. I almost died when he cursed me, Inshala got banished and then he dropped his demons on Lady Moira and the others.. We were.. desperate.. Dying, really.. But somehow, possibly by sheer stubbornness and a good dose of dumb luck, we did it.. We slew the mad priest who had plagued those lands for over eight hundred years., though we still couldn’t do anything about his deathly ruins, which would always be a gathering place for evil, as it did on at least four occasions, causing the death of tens of thousands of people.”

Lady Granma did not say anything, nor did she interrupt the whispering narration of the man sitting merely a few feet away. Silently, she listed to his desolate recollection of the historical event that had, perhaps unwittingly, changed the world.

Aager had just remembered what had happened after that.. and the ten days he had spent watching over the girl he’d come to love and honor, constantly making sure she was still breathing and still alive, every moment of those ten days, day and night..

Inadvertently, he shuddered.

 

One day, it was likely he would get over the terrors of those ten days..

But not anytime soon.

 

Slowly, he took another sip and continued.

 

“When we got out, she, Inshala, just stared at us and smiled, and just like that, she took the responsibility of kings and queens, great generals and armies, and buried the sins of men and the ruins of Themalsar, deep into the earth, and brought forth life —a whole forest of it, upon the dead and desolate land that was Themalsar, sacrificing everything that was precious for her. Everything that defined her.. She gave away what she was.. for the sins of men..”, whispered Aager in a desperate voice. “And now, I feel lost.. She comes to my room and together we color these silly pictures with colored sticks —with crayons, and I have never felt anything thus fulfilling in the entirety of my life, Lady Granma. What’s worse, we are going to a desperate war and she will follow me there, right into the bloody field.. I.. I do not know what to do, yet I feel so empty.. so blank.. without her.. I want her to be with me, for the rest of my life, and I want to be there, with her, for the rest of her life.. And yet, she is so young.. Do.. do I even have the right to ask such a selfish wont from her?”

 

The room seemed to hold its breath as Aager fell silent again.

Then Granma took things into her hands and dismantled everything!

 

“You are aware, that you are speaking to a woman who married at the age of fourteen, right, boy?”, she said with a toothy smile.

Aager ogled at her.

“And the same woman whose mother married when she was twelve! My father was barely sixteen himself and could barely hold up a shield.”, she continued with a cackle. “My mother was playing hopscotch with her friends when my grandfather called her inside and they wed her with my father who was nursing a bloody nose because he had just been fighting with some other boys at the time. Then the wedding was done, in under ten minutes, my mother returned to her game and my father went back to return the compliment done to his nose and had his lip split for his efforts!”

Aager snorted!

“Life is not how we define it, boy. That is base arrogance. Yes, they fought and so did I and my beautiful man, who had the soul of a shark, and was a brigand in bed! We did all sorts of silly things and fought over even sillier things and it took us years to understand what being married truly meant. But when we did, we were thick as thieves after that. Children marry at an early age in Durkahan, and for many reasons varying from the need for soldiers to farmers and artisans because we constantly feed our troops who safeguard the vast lands around the Demon Plains just north of here and Heavens Hand to stave off the evil that is constantly trying to overrun the Demon Wall, with logistics, soldiers, masons, and both armor smiths and weapon smiths, knowing should we fail, Heavens Hand will fail, and then the kingdom will fall. Other cities might have the luxury to live otherwise, but we do not. Boys and girls tend to marry quite after their twenties at Koruxan, while it varies greatly in other cities, and our dear little Inshala is not a human girl. Judging her by our standards is a poor way to repay her due respect. Not to mention the fact that she is a bloomer. I could see what she sees when she looks at you. You might see a little girl when you look at her and try to be honorable for all you like, but she sees a ‘mate’, when she looks at you! True, she has not grown in a society, hence, she lacks the things she should know and do, which refrains her from fully blooming. But you should also note; none of that is her fault.

Think of this when you are deciding whether she is too young or not; she sleeps in her room, wakes up in yours!

I am guessing, she does not do this because she needs a father figure. It is possible you filled such a gap, before, and at the beginning. But that is not the case anymore and has not been so for quite some time now, and I believe the delay was only due to her lack of social mingling; she just couldn’t correctly define what you were to her because she never had the appropriate social references. When it came to boys and men, that only meant being chased, caged, and whipped!

It is commendable and quite remarkable that you have managed to be as honorable as you have and never taken advantage of her, seeing as how honest, sincere, earnest, and pretty she is. Just for that, you have my respect. Methinks, however, playing with fire every walking moment of your day, and ‘not walking’ moments of your nights, and not expecting to eventually burn, or burn out, is foolishness, and you don’t look like a fool to me, boy.”

 

Aager stared at the old woman with astonishment. He had expected her to be mildly straightforward, certainly, but what he had gotten was a whole herd of Moxes trampling over him!

 

“You think.. I should ask for her hand?”, he asked carefully.

“And here I thought you were a smart man.”, muttered Lady Granma with exasperation. “We are past hands, boy. Ask her whole, already!”

 

Aager dropped the cup!

 

“Tell me, boy..”, the old woman asked. “When is the correct time to kill? You should know. It’s quite your area of expertise. Right up your alley, as they say..”

 

Aager paused for a moment.

This was something quite off-topic, and not exactly a ‘table conversation’ kind of thing to ask, nor answer, for that matter..

 

“I.. do not understand what you mean, Lady Granma.”, he replied carefully.

“Let me dummy that down for you then, young man.”, she said with a slightly disappointed tone.

“What happens when you stab too late?”

“You have missed your opportunity and are likely bleeding to death now.”, he replied.

“And what makes you think love is any different when it’s too late?”, she asked, staring deep into his eyes.

 

Aager Fogstep picked up the porcelain cup off the thick carpet, slowly rose, and spoke in his gravelly voice.

 

“Thank you, Grandmother. Your wisdom, it would seem, is quite sharp and well earned.”, he said a bit flustered.

“Sit, boy. We are not done yet!”, Granma ordered.

 

Aager sat.

Promptly.

For a moment he wasn’t quite sure what to say. Finally, a low, harsh, and bitter whisper escaped him.

 

“I can not think of a life without my Inshala. I shall ask for her hand from Lady Alisia. I dearly hope she gives her to me, and with her blessing..”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about Alisia, young man. She yearns for a wedding.”, replied Granma with a snicker.

“Thank you for the tea.. and your insight..”, he said honestly.

“Do not wait for a day or three. Ask her hand in the morning, and have the wedding afternoon. The moment you forget to mention that, Alisia will turn the whole thing into a parade. Thrust me, boy, you don’t want that.”, Lady Granma warned with a smile. “Nothing short of an ambush will save you!”

“You have a very interesting way of laying things out, Lady Grana Maarva!”, Aager said, quite intrigued.

“I do, don’t I?”, she replied with another snicker. Then her face turned serious all of a sudden. “You will take care of my granddaughter, yes?”

“As tenderly as I can.”, replied Aager.

 

Granma stared at him and something deep inside her squinting eyes lit up..

 

“Tender is good.. But do not overdo it. Inshala is a flower, but not a wilting one. She will cry easily because she has never had the benefits of social moderations in her life. She also knows pain intimately and does not fear it. She has, methinks, figured early in life that, much like being tired after a long, happy run, being hurt and suffering pain is merely one of the natural outcomes of any venture —as sad as it is that she has come to that conclusion, and at such an early age, really is.

What she fears is not pain, but one of two things that very much matter to her. This, I have seen in her. She listens to everyone around her, and carefully asks the things she does not understand, even things that are trivial or just silly. I am guessing my mischievous grandson Cümeyt and my hair-brained granddaughter Madina are giving your Inshala a crash-course in many things she has missed, and possibly on things it would have been perfectly alright for her to have totally missed.”

“Yes. Buggery bum!”, said Aager with a short snort.

“Heard that, did you? Madina’s favorite for this month. Drives her mother crazy every time she uses it. And now she has learned it to young Inshala, who, willy-nilly, also uses it when her mother is there and is totally innocent of her deed. You can imagine the snickers all around, and there’s nothing much Alisia can do about it. I haven’t had this much fun in the last three decades..”, cackled the old lady.

Aager grinned.

“Her responses are oddly early or late, though. It is like she is miscounting her turn to speak, but eager to blend in..”

“Huh.”, grunted Aager. That had never happened when she was with him.

 

It dawned on him that it hadn’t because she trusted him to see her flaws and correct them appropriately, and for some reason, that made him feel happy.

Funny how it was always the little things!

 

“..For whatever reason, your little Inshala absolutely fears not being comprehended!

This she dreads mindlessly and can not shrug off nor ignore. My guess is, it is because she has been judged, and consequently punished for being something she is not —her whole life, precisely for that reason.

Somehow, she sees the absence of respect not so dissimilar to being misunderstood, hence, she fears this also. It is possible she strongly believes; ‘the misunderstood’ can not have respect.. Ignoring her wonts and desires —and likely her strengths as well— for the sake of your own conformity and providence and for something she can, and is willing to bear and endure will do her injustice on both accounts and give her the impression, quite clearly, I might add, just how little you really understand her, thus, how little respect you have for her! My man had faults. Too many to name here and now. But one thing he was never at fault nor lacking was, he showed me his love the way I wanted it, and I laughed every time he did a funny, even though he was a lump when it came to humor! Give her what she wants, boy. And let her give you the love you need to fill in your blanks.. Life is too short for stupid, and we are all going to war and some of us are not going to come back! Live with the regrets of loss. Not with the regrets of never having had the balls!”

 

Aager stared at his feet.

Wow!

The sinister-looking man in his dark clothes felt singed.

That had been one, classy thrashing he’d just received from Lady Grana Maarva, and she hadn’t even been trying!

Also, she wasn’t done yet..

 

“Being polite and honorable is good and well. I am guessing, is how you have been treating her all along. Polite and honorable are indeed, good qualities, boy, but not at the expense of the people around us. Delia did the honorable thing, and good thing he did too —got himself killed by his own. Don’t get me wrong. I adored and respected that boy. He made my Alisia deliriously happy and I am sure that was a mean trick for him.. My Alisia was quite the petulant girl when she was young. Then my Moira did the honorable thing; landed herself in the dungeons. And then my Alisia decided to be honorable and good, and almost married the animal who killed his own brother and her husband. No one sought the wisdom of this old woman, which would have been; hire cutters, put a bounty on his head, poison his well, hex him, drop a loose flagstone on him, push him down the stairs, or whatever.. just kill him, already!

 

Aager blinked!

 

“My Alisia did disappoint me, back then. Of all the things she could, and should have done, she chose defeat because that animal had threatened her with her children.. You see, boy, when someone threatens you and yours, you do not bargain to bed them. You simply have them killed! “, she finished pleasantly.

 

Damn.

Though, Aager.

Good thing this old lady had been on their side.

 

“What you and your pretty little girl did was more than save our collective sorry hides. You, Sir Aager, and Inshala, in particular, remembered Alisia what it was to be a noblewoman, and the First Lady of Durkahan again. And when I say ‘Inshala in particular’, I do not emphasize it because you were less than her, but because she came here as not as a savior like you, but as the scared little sister, the lost daughter, and the awesome granddaughter!”

 

The old lady fell silent after that as if telling him she was done learning him her wisdom.

Aager stood up, respectfully nodded at the old woman then ghosted to the door.. and paused..

 ..as a moment of unexpected, and quite a retrospect insight dawned upon him.

 

“Would you..”, he asked, looking at Granma over his shoulder. “..know a Lady Daniella, perchance?”

 

Grana Maarva stared at him for a piercing moment.

 

“Now why would you ask me about Daniella?”, she asked sharply.

“No particular reason. Overheard a conversation between a young man, Udoorin Shieldheart, and Lady Moira once, right after we had come out of the Ruins of Themalsar and before my Inshala permanently sank it into the depths of the earth.”, he said.

“Why would Daniella’s name be mentioned at all?”, Granma asked intently.

“From what I gathered, she is the great-great-something-grandmother of the young man..”

“That so? And never did they figure, he and my Moira were cousins, then?”

 

Aager turned and stared at Lady Grana Maarva.

Granma chuckled.

 

“You see, Daniella was my mother’s younger sister and a fiery, rebellious girl she was. She detested the nobility and married a promising young captain named Samdorin Shieldheart and together they left Durkahan and settled somewhere far off to the east..”

“Serenity Home!”, Aager blurted..

“No one will blame the beautiful Princess of Bari Na-ammen to have taken a simple country oaf for a king!”, said Lady Grana Maarva with a check-mate snicker.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Aager Fogstep lay in his bed, staring blankly at the stone ceiling, back in his ‘lair’..

..and quietly waiting.

It was past midnight and he was exactly twenty-five years and one month old now. Normally, that wouldn’t have been remarkable for him. People who lived on a daily, ‘today, I have survived again’ basis, cared little about their age.

This particular night seemed special, however.

Or rather, this particular day.

There seemed a sense of freshness, and perhaps that of ‘expectation’, in the air. Much like how children felt when they learned their father was alive and coming home..

..from a long, depleting war.

 

“Huh.”, mumbled Aager. “That was a bit dramatic. Couldn’t have related to something brighter, something happier, could you?”

 

The door to his den opened and in a particularly pretty, pale lavender nightgown with white, frilly fringes that barely covered her slender hips and nothing else, Inshala walked in.

She didn’t wait at the door to look inside, nor pause for her eyes to adjust to the dark chamber.

She entered as she’d opened the door.

And with silent, naked feet, she ghosted around Aager’s bed until she bumped her, somewhat knobby knees, to his bed and just stood there with little to no expression on her face. What was there, however, seemed on the bare edges of distress.

 

Slowly she rose her skinny arms and held them outstretched and with her palms facing one another.

She had been like this ever since Moira had given her room to her, and gladly, but Aager suspected the whole idea had been Lady Alisia’s.

True, she had done it to preserve her new daughter’s dignity and avoid possible, slandering gossip. But she had, perhaps unwittingly turned ‘the girl who hangs around that sinister-looking man all day’, into ‘the girl who sneaks off into that sinister-looking man’s chamber at nights!’

Aager sighed and put the esteemed Lady Alisia aside, sat up, and stared at the girl.

He stared at Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane and quietly called her name.

The girl’s brows crested slightly, then she made a small, distressed noise.

She looked so very pretty, but sad..

..or perhaps ‘unhappy’, was closer to defining her distress.

She seemed like someone yearning to be somewhere, was allowed to come thus near, just not permitted to touch her wont.

It was a cruel way to punish someone, and unwittingly as it may have been, that was exactly what was being done to her.

Silently, he got out of his bed, came around behind her, pulled her to himself, and enfolded her, and her outstretched arms in his.

She seemed so small in his arms like that and Aager wasn’t a large man, to begin with. A stab above average in height, and an edge broader at the shoulders, certainly, but altogether, a lean man, really.. A man, made of tightly woven, cord-like spring-muscles. More so since he had accepted Mab’s offer and taken the Winter Mantle.

Everything seemed more vivid, detailed, and alive since the Mantle, including his deadly attire, and his not-so-dissimilar desires..

In fact, everything was more since the Mantle!

His moments of happiness, and consequently, his moments of wrath. Which was exactly what he had dished out on Karkashi, in the arena..

And Inshala had found her solace in a man like him, of all people.

A good-for-murder, only Mab would have deemed worthy of her Mantle..

Inshala, on the other hand, had found her peace with him and in her beautiful gray eyes, he saw her storms, and her demons back off and scatter.. and he only needed to be near.

Was it, then, too much for him to ask just as much of her?

To stave off and scatter his demons?

And perhaps find solace too?

No.

Not perhaps.

And certainly not for his demons.

For he had already found his solace in her and that had happened before the Mantle.

The scattering of his demons was merely ‘collateral damage’, per se.

Because Aager Fogstep was always honest with himself.

With her, he had been nothing less.

 

Slowly, and with great care so as not to wake her, he picked the little girl, as he always did, and tenderly lay her in the other bed. And with nothing less than honest desire, he looked at her tiny feet, her smooth, bare legs, her slender, naked hips, her small, palm-sized butt, her slim waist, her little tummy, and her appealing, nubile, baby-pink breasts, quite visible under her revealing nightgown, and her diminutive, somewhat angular face, her long eyelashes, her slightly frowning brows, her cute, perky nose, her plush, cherry-red lips, her beautiful, curving horns, and her scattered, long, and silky hair..

And he wondered.

For an inevitable moment.

Whether this little girl knew.

Just what kind of a stirring effect she had on him..

But that was it, wasn’t it?

Other than some vague insight at an instinctual level, the little girl truly had no idea.

Only suppressed hope that the man, Aager, somehow found her appealing.

And that was also his fault.

Both that she didn’t know, and that she would think so little of herself..

Perhaps it was time, he thought, he really ought to tell her.

Then.

With a destitute sigh.

He reached down.

And covered her tiny feet, her smooth, bare legs, her slender, naked hips, her small, palm-sized butt, her slim waist, her little tummy, and her appealing, nubile, baby-pink breasts, still visible, still calling from under her revealing nightgown, all the way up to her skinny, bare arms, slender neck and her diminutive, somewhat angular face, with his own blanket.

He watched as the girl did a sad little whimper and struggled to free herself from under her covers.

Inshala, it would seem, displaced her blankets quite frequently. A something he would look forward to tending in the near future..

..and mayhap, in the far future as well.

He bent down and kissed her forehead, then her beautiful, curving horns, and soothed her long, silky hair until she calmed, and with a depressed sigh, went still.

For a long time, Aager listened to her sated breaths, then gave a similar, depressed sigh of his own, silently ghosted to the large wardrobe, pulled out a spare blanket, and went back to his own bed.

 

Lying in the dark, and staring at the ceiling of his den, he asked.

“Do you want me thus much, Inshala?”

 

No reply came.

Only soft, steady breathing..

..and a barely discernable, sleepy little sigh.

 

It was possible he had a barely discernable smile of his own on his face when he finally drifted off to sleep. He was twenty-five years and one month old now, the girl he loved was barely an arm’s length away, and today seemed to promise a whole new beginning.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

And what do we have here?”, asked Aager, entering his chamber/lair/den, late that night and stared down at the little girl lying on her tummy and on the pale beige carpet with her legs swinging lazily as she furiously colored what he thought was a woodsman’s lodge with a garden full of flowers, bushes, trees, a raccoon, a dear, a bear, and an eagle, or maybe it was a hawk, or likely a crow. A picture, he thought, was a bit on the pretentious side and would likely end with the bear killing the dear and raccoon destroying everything in the lodge and possibly knocking down a candle and setting the whole thing on fire!

“I am coloring this new book that Master Cümeyt was kind enough to give me.”, she said, looking up and smiling at him from where she lay. “He insists I am getting better so he gave me this one and swore on his ancestors that this one was for pros!”

“I could see how this one is indeed for pro’s.”, said Aager with a straight face, as he pulled off his dark, leather hood and mask off and tossed them on the bed.

“I told him he did not have to swear at his ancestors and that I would have believed him anyway because brothers and sisters never lie to one another.”, she said happily. “But he just stared at me with this funny face and he was like, ‘Ow, like never ever?’, and I said, ‘Of course, never ever, because brothers and sisters must trust one another, and he was like, ‘Well, that’s a buggery bum. Where’s the fun in that?'”

“That boy..”, growled Aager, while he undid the buckles to his dark leathers, pulled them off, and put them neatly on the bed as well. “..will either go far or go to jail, someday..”

Inshala giggled.

“Then he tried to explain what pros meant and I asked him why he cut the other half of a perfectly nice word, and he said, ‘Cuz that’s what pros do, sis!'”

Then she sighed.

“The rules of cities and families are confusing and many.”

“That they are.”, he agreed and loosed his heavy belt and removed his swords, daggers, and knives, and carefully set them aside.

“And of course, I am confused now. I wanted to ask you, then and there but decided against it. You were in a meeting with the pigwigs.. or maybe it was the bigwigs, I am not sure which because both Cümeyt and Madina started laughing and giggling when I said pigwigs and neither of them made any sense after that and I was like, ‘This is a buggery bum of a situation only my Aager could untangle’, but you were at the meeting with the pigwigs.. So then I was like, ‘Girl, you must stop, like, now! You are like this clumsy bear cub that just stepped on a wasp’s nest and is now running around in silly circles with all the angry wasps on your tail!’

I did tell him, I would rather he never cut the other end of my name, though. Or anybody else’s. Can you imagine Inshes, Cüms, Mois, Mais, and Mads and Fards running around all day? I mean, we wouldn’t even have to be running, and we would still look funny and silly!”

Aager snorted.

“I would rather you all didn’t run around all day as Moi’s, Mai’s, Mad’s, Fard’s, and Insh’es, either. That would be awkward, indeed. And funny. And silly.”, he said with a smile, settled on the thick, pale beige carpet and on this stomach, pulled off his heavy leather gloves, grabbed a brown coloring stick, and started on all the tree trunks, and the lodge.

Inshala giggled again.

“Master Cümeyt thought it was funny, and silly too. So he laughed. In fact, he laughed so hard, we had to stop playing for a while. But his laugh was also very squeaky and funny, so I laughed too. Then Madina laughed because she thought we were funny and because I make this snorty noise from my nose when I laugh. Then mother came and grounded us because there was an important meeting going on with the pigwigs and we were making so much noise and being irresponsible! That sort of annoyed Granma so she and mom started arguing. Granma told mom the pigwigs wouldn’t even be having their buggery bum meetings if it hadn’t been for us and we could hear them all the way from our room and Cümeyt, Madina, and I thought that was a bit unfair of mom to have grounded us when they were making so much noise themselves.. I did also wonder why we had been grounded. I mean, we were already sitting on the ground. But I decided to let that pass too, as things were confusing, and funny, and silly enough as they were and I thought maybe not asking would make me look more like this ‘pros’, rather than the clumsy bear cub! After all, I thought, I could always ask you.. when you are not in a meeting, and not busy, and not resting..”, she finished with a pout, as she picked three shades of blues and started on the sky!

“You could ask me now.”, he offered.

“No..”, Inshala said with a happy, yet slightly distracted voice. “..You are busy in a ‘resting-meeting’ now, with me.”

 

Aager laughed.

He just couldn’t help himself.

 

Yes, the story Inshala had just told was mildly entertaining, but it was the artlessly innocent, earnest, and seamless ‘commentary’ way she told it, followed by the unexpected conclusions that made it cute, adorable, and funny. What was more, was that Inshala was not telling her stories with the intention to entertain.

She was just telling them.

The way she saw them and comprehended them. It wasn’t all about her stories and how entertaining, or even fascinating they were.

It was how she delivered them..

 

When Aager told a story, he said it like he was giving an intelligence report; short, succinct, to the point, and with professional deliberation. It would start at point A, and end at point B, using the shortest, straightest, two-dimensionally linear path, and A would always keep B in his LoS —Line of Sight because that’s how much his A’s would trust his B’s!

 

Inshala’s recollection of events never went from point A to point B. They certainly never followed a straight nor a linear path because there were C’s, D’s, E’s, F’s, G’s, and a whole flock of other letters both related and sometimes, not so related, to consider, hence, were all brought into her telling, because outright discarding them was obviously not nice, and probably rude as well, as she told the events of her day in her soft, seamless, and ‘slightly confused’ narrative voice where she took point A into her small, delicate hands and bloomed it!

From there, things could only branch or ripple out, seeming to go every which way without any purpose or destination. She would reach point B, but never in an ‘eventually’, sense.

Her point B’s were neither here, nor there, but stressed in her telling and you just had to be deliberately dense or outright lacking any form of sentient perception or insight to have missed it thus thoroughly, or it came from an angle that had little to do with what she was talking about in the first place but ended up being oddly relevant.

The curious part of it all was the fact that things THUS FAR FROM THE POINT and LINEARLY NON-TWO-DIMENSIONAL were the very same things Aager Fogstep had truly, and unequivocally hated..

..until he’d bumped into one, Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane.

The counter-amazement to this was in the dilemma of how Inshala would rather be straightforward, to the point, and succinct like Aager had been all along, only if she could.

 

Aager certainly wished to never see that!

 

“I didn’t want to tell Master Cümeyt, but the real reason why I thought he shouldn’t cut names in half like that was because names have protective power of their own, and cutting them in half removes that protection..”, Inshala said after a while.

“I didn’t know that.”, admitted Aager.

“Not many do. This is why it is unwise to name certain evil beings. It might irk their interest and bring them upon us. Not something anyone would want, and it will give them power over us. This is also the reason why we shy from calling those we love by their name, I think. We already feel helpless against them and we fear we might succumb to them all the way, should we call them by their name, “, she explained quietly.

“Huh.”, said Aager. “Is that why you didn’t use to call me by my name before?”

“Yes.”, she replied honestly.

“But you are saying it now.”, Aager stared.

“Yes.”, she said again, her voice a bit smaller.

“What changed?”, he asked.

“Nothing changed.”, she answered in a tiny, abashed voice. “I have decided to succumb all the way..”

 

In silent contemplation, the two turned the picture around as per need and colored the lodge, the garden, the bushes, and the trees, the raccoon (who, against all expectations, behaved itself), the dear, the bear (which indignantly refused to kill and eat the dear), and the hawk, in unified trans, passing the crayons back and forth for the next two hours.

 

“Inshala?”

“Hmmm?”

“You once asked me when I would see you as a girl and not a baby —like a woman..”

“Yes?”

 

“Would you like to be my woman? My wife?..”

“..And be stupid together for life?”

 

Just like that.

Aager Fogstep proposed.

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Aager Fogstep, the silent, sinister-looking man in his dark leathers, hood, and mask, the Winter Knight of Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness, and Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane Bolgrig Hooman, the Lady of Durkahan, the Ritual Guardian, the Mistress of The Grove of Titania, the Queen of Mother Earth and Summer, married the very next day, just a bit after ambushing Lady Alisia and asking her blessing, and for the hand of her new daughter.

The wedding took place in Lord Delia Karakarsh’s own small, private chapel in the inner castle of Durkahan City where Ladies Moira, Maira, and Madina happily attended, while the young Master Cümeyt held the tail end of the pretty bride’s long skirt, merrily skipping and hopping behind her and punching the air with a victorious fist and shouting;

“Yeesh! You go, girl!”

 

Seated at the rear, one Lady Grana Maava smirked while her daughter, Lady Alisia, dabbed her eyes as she watched her Inshala join, in health and in sickness, up in the sky and down in the ground.. and for life, with the silence, spooky man, Aager Fogstep..

 

The ring Aager gave Inshala was handcrafted by the best gold and glass smiths Durkahan had to offer and was made specifically for her; a slim, extraordinarily elegant circular glass, quite indestructible, with a forest of very tiny life-like flowers and vines, and tiny motes of what appeared to be fireflies captured in it and smoothly framed with gold —all intricately molded and flecked with emerald, ruby, and diamond dust, and with both red and green copper.

Inshala’s ring to him was a simple, very dark, quite thick, blue-black thing with two fiery orange bands running around it’s surface. And between the seemingly burning bands, was a poorly scrabbled etchings that must have taken the skinny little girl hours to have carved.

 

To • My • AAGRR • I • Belong

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Far, far away to the east and in the dark, silent depths of the vast Ritual Forest was a rundown and abandoned derelict. Standing right outside that small, sad, and desolate hovel was an ancient oak with less than half her leaves and weighted down with snow.

A warm, happy breeze soothed unseasonably from the west and caressed the brittle branches of the old, nearly-petrified tree and the ancient oak shuddered, felling more of her remaining leaves. A sharp, precipitous crack echoed in the forest and the ancient tree split in two. With a great sigh of relief, Tamara whispered.

“She is safe, she is loved, and she belongs. You may rest in peace now, my love..”

And after some three fulfilling millennia of breathing life into her forest, the ancient oak toppled over and crashed with a resounding boom, adding to the derelict..

Tamara gave another sigh.

“You be good, now, Ritual Guardian..”

She said.

And died.

 

 


Tamara was the beloved wife of Master Cathber Gwet’chen Bolgrig who was Inshala’s surrogate father and master. Tamara was killed some eight hundred years ago, during the first Themalsar War. At least on one occasion, Master Cathber was known to have called or referred to the great old oak tree standing mighty in front of his tiny hut as Tamara.. Whether he was calling the oak, Tamara in reference to the day they met and right in front of the old tree, or he is being literal is unknown, as the only two people involved, Master Cathber and Lady Tamara, are both dead.

 

What Inshala etches on the dark, blue-black carbon-alloy iron ring may, or may not be a misspelling of Aager. She does know the secret runes and glyphs of druidic, and perhaps a spatter of elvish, but does not know how to read nor write common. Cümeyt and Madina are tutoring her some (possibly on Lady Alisia’s orders) and she has come far. Interestingly, the first word she asked to be taught how to write was not her own name.

Whether she does a typo mistake on the ring, or she has etched it so with deliberation is unclear. She does confess, much later (in the story: A ‘Warm’ Warning) how Aager reminds her of her saber-tooth tiger, Katana.

Hence, the possibility of the typo; AAGRR!

 

 

 

dungeons and dragons duygusal groups karakter analizi komedi modül role play serenity the plot thickens Whispers; A Cabal

Lie By Omission..

Lie By Omission..

Timeline:

There is no good time for a Lie.

Only good timing!

A FEW WEEKS AGO, ON THE ROAD TO ARASHKAN,
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN SIM TOWN AND MISTY FOREST
NEAR THE GREAT ARASHKAN LAKE.

I feel sick!”, came the groaning voice of a girl from the shuddering wagon. She was an innocently beautiful girl, with a diminutive, sad face, long, honey-brown hair, raven-black wings, and dark, crowning horns. She lay in a fetal position under a rough, scratchy woolen blanket as she moaned dramatically.

“You were sick yesterday. And the day before that. And the one just about before that as well.”, came the voice of the broad-shouldered she-dwarf in heavy armor, and heartlessly. She was already tethering at the end of her patience; she had been trying to compose a prayer —a feat that was quite a challenge, the way the wagon shook and rumbled like a drunken Mox!

“But she is ill..”, said the third person in the wagon; this one, a pretty and skinny girl, and she spoke with a small, scared voice.

She wasn’t lean, nor slender.

Just skinny.

One would think she had been saved from a concentration camp merely a day or two ago.

“And I do believe she totally deserved it.”, scowled the she-dwarf.

“But.. Sister Lady.. Please..”, pleaded the skinny girl.

“Should have kept her hands off my boy. Did she? Nooo..”, the dwarf, ‘Lady’, growled at the skinny girl, Inshala.

“She didn’t know..”, whined the girl.

“What she said; I didn’t’ know!”, came the voice of the girl from under the blanket.

“And that makes it alright, I suppose?”, scowled the she-dwarf, even more.

“Perhaps you should pin a note on your ‘boys’, ‘I AM THE TEMPLE PROPERTY! – HANDS OFF!‘ Or better, yet; ‘OFF LIMITS‘.”, replied the girl in a miserable voice and without a trace of sarcasm. “I promise, I would never have touched him.”

The underlying twisted logic in that was not lost on ‘Lady’, the she-dwarf. Had the ‘boy’ not been a temple guardian, he would have been dead —’used’, and then devoured by the half-succubi girl lying sick under the blanket.

Lady sighed.

There was no arguing with Merisoul. She was what she was; a half-born, a scion of succubi, and devouring the souls of their victims were in their nature. True, the girl had managed to curb her appetites rather admirably since the day they had met, but Thomas —the young temple guard, had almost fallen for the beauty of the succubi.

To be fair, the half-born was not sick because Thomas had been a temple guardian, but because the boy had long fallen for another beauty; the stubborn, pugnacious, aggressive, and troublesome girl, Bremorel Songsteel..

..and the succubi, as seductive as they were, would get branded and sick or poisoned should they ever try to touch, let alone devour a soul who was truly in love.

Funny how that went; beauty always seemed to cause trouble, and eventually, burn —someone!

And boys always seemed to go for the wrong girls..

Yes.

Lady loved Bremorel like she were her own, like all those she had taken under her wings, but the girl was trouble.. and troubled. She had been so, ever since her parents had been killed by a band of marauding orcs and brought to the town orphanage.

In time, it was possible she would have recovered as time healed many things by way of clouding old memories..

..had the girl not actually witnessed the butchery, and she had been only four at the time.

Lady decided she should perhaps be a tad more lenient to those under said wings.

“Are you getting worse?”, she asked finally.

“What I am getting, is a smell and it is going to make me retch!”, said the girl and with a sudden motion, she picked herself up and leaned over the side of the wagon and..

..retched!

For a long moment, she stared at the sick as the wagon moved on.

“I puked.”, she said clinically. “That was mildly revolting, considering I am not even actually, sick! Not physically anyway. You would think a fiend like myself wouldn’t even have a soul, to be spiritually ill.. Shows how much all the great Heavens and their saints know!”

The skinny girl reached up to her with the itchy blanket and put it around her shoulders, shredded a piece of her own thread-bare skirt, and wiped the sick off her face.

“Why don’t you lie down and get some sleep.”, she said and drew her back into the wagon.

“Can’t. The smell..”, she moaned.

“Smell? What smell? I don’t smell anything?”, the skinny girl said.

“It’s coming from ahead. I think someone needs a bath.. and thoroughly!”

“Ummm.. who?”, asked Inshala tentatively.

“That Udoorin boy..”

Inshala stuffed her head under the blanket..

..and snorted.

..and she kept on snorting!

The gnome driving the wagon also snorted. But unlike the skinny girl, Inshala, who was trying to keep it down so she wouldn’t be heard —because she was a polite young girl, the gnome, Gnine, on the other hand, barked out with glee.

“Ow, this is just too good not to repeat.. Repeatedly!”, he said, kicking his feet into the air.

“You repeat that, and I will hurt you, boy..”, came the growling voice of Lady. “..repeatedly!”

Gnine cackled some more.

“Would you like me to tell him? I totally can.”, the gnome said with mirth.

“How altruistic of you.”, said Lady and very much wanted something heavy in her hand.

“The ladies shouldn’t be burdened with this. It would break the boy’s heart! Can you imagine his face if someone told him he stank, right in front of Princess Lorna?”, smirked Gnine.

“By all means, do that, Master Gnine.”, said Merisoul from inside the wagon. “I am sure he will enjoy dismantling you. Not that there is much of you to dismantle.”

“Oh no, my pretty Soul. He will do nothing as long as the princess is anywhere in sight. He can’t!“, the gnome said evilly.

“But.. don’t you share a tent with him?”, asked Inshala innocently.

“Well.. as inconvenient as that might be, it might still be worth it.”, replied Gnine a bit dubiously, now.

“Or not.”, added Merisoul.

“You will do no such thing, midget!”, flared Lady. “I will inform the boy and he can take a bath in the lake. We will make an early camp.”

A FEW HOURS LATER..

“Hey, you.”, said Merisoul, as she approached Lorna while holding a large ‘puking tub’ in her arms.

“Hello, Merisoul. How are you today? Are you feeling any better?”, asked Princess Alor’Nadien ne politely, turning to look at her.

Merisoul looked down at her ‘tub’, then at Lorna.

“It’s only half full, so I suppose I am a bit better.”, she said, as she swayed.

“Please sit.”, she said and turned back to look at something in the distance.

“You can’t see him from here, you know.”, Merisoul said with a straight face.

Princess Alor’Nadien ne blushed.

“What? No. I was not trying to peak. That would be very inappropriate. And unkind to Sir Dorin.”, said Lorna, her face still bright red.

“A bit early to ‘Sir’ him, don’t you think?”, and there wasn’t a trace of amusement in her voice.

“I.. we refer to one another so. I would rather he called me Alor’Na or just Lorna. But he insists on living the habit of ‘ladying’ me, hence I reply in kind. He is a good man.”, Lorna said, still blushing.

“He is also alone..”, inserted Merisoul.

“Alone?”, Lorna asked, a bit confused.

“Yes. A young, healthy male, and not bad to look at, out of his armor, taking a bath, in a lake, and alone. I imagine any number of young, Arashkan country girls are having a great time ogling at him.”, Merisoul replied.

Lorna’s face changed..

..from a bright, blush red to a dark, furry red!

“That is.. that is just rude!”, she fumed.

“I agree. Totally rude.. but fun. Probably. Unless someone takes steps. Once one of them musters enough courage though, it’s over; she will jump into the lake for the boy, followed by her numerous competitors.”, the Merisoul mused. “They say the Dryadkin entrap by their charm, but nothing beats an Arashkan country girl to a young, husky, and healthy male specimen such as your Udoorin!”

“They had better not!”, flared the princess in a rather uncharacteristic way.

“I mean, I wouldn’t mind going there myself —to make sure he stays safe, I mean, but I am in a vulnerable state at the moment and young human males are a tad too scrumptious to pass. Ranger Corporal Laila could too, I suppose, but she and young Udoorin are like brother and sister, so that would be a bit awkward. The gnome would end up getting water-logged, then beached because he would enrage young Udoorin. Inshala is out of the question; she belongs to that not-so-nice Aager and Lady just shouldn’t be staring at a naked man while he bathes.. Now that’s just wrong. That leaves you. Unless you want to risk him.”

“I..”, stammered Lorna, returning back to a blush.

“I mean, all the fights and bloodletting we have been through all these months and losing him now to some country strumpets sounds like such a poor trade, and a waste to me.”, the succubi half-born added.

“But I am on watch duty.”, struggled the princess.

“I can cover for you.”, offered Merisoul. “And trust me when I say, no one wants to be anywhere near my ‘puke tub’. It’s toxic!”

“I won’t be intruding upon him, will I?”, asked Lorna hesitantly.

“Intrude away, darling, I am sure he won’t mind. Not that there is anything he could do about it; he is naked, in a lake, and alone, after all, probably about to be ambushed by any number of sunny, buxom, country girls..”

Princess Alor’Nadien ne took off at a run!

Aager Fogstep walked up to Merisoul as he stared after the princess, running towards the lake.

“What’s gotten into her?”, he murmured.

“She is off to watch duty.”, replied Merisoul.

This event triggers the story: A Bard’s Tale X, Dorin’s Day

✱ ✱ ✱

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO, DEEP DOWN
IN DUNGEONS, UNDER THE RUINS OF THEMALSAR.

Aager Fogstep did not like dealing with people. Not at a personal level. He preferred to orchestrate things in such a way that others did the interacting and the conversing. When things came to his attention on a personal level, it usually meant someone was about to be deleted.

Hence he smoothed over to the two ranger cousins and growled at them in his low, implicating voice.

“You two better talk with that girl.”

The two ranger cousins, Laila Wolvesbane and Bremorel Songsteel stared at one another and the younger of the two, ‘Bree’ made a face which she took no trouble hiding from the sinister-looking man in his dark clothes.

There was, apparently, some dislike between the two cousin-ranger-girls and Aager.

Laila never showed him any animosity. Not openly. Perhaps being half of an elf called her to be more subtle. Hence she preferred a passive-aggressive stance. Bree, on the other hand, did not bother with such subtleties and showed her displeasure as she did everything else; openly and savagely..

“What girl?”, asked Bremorel bluntly.

If Aager was taken aback by the girl’s attitude, he didn’t show.

Because he didn’t care.

Aager Fogstep had had his empathy washed out of his system by the time he was five.. back at Drashan.

“That strange girl.”, he said in his quiet, growling voice.

“That doesn’t narrow anything down. You could easily be referring to—”, she began.

“—You?”, finished Aager, causing her to scowl, and her cousin, Laila, to snort. “But no. You are odd enough without talking to yourself. I was referring to that.. little Inshala girl.”

Bremorel fumed furiously at the man standing before her.

“If you want to be taken seriously, and shown the respect you deserve, you must display it to others, and freely, young Morel Songsteel.”, he said.

Apparently, not caring did not equivalate to ‘accepting’ open displays of disrespect nor insolence, for Aager Fogstep.

Laila put a hand on her cousin’s shoulder, then she turned to Aager, and said, “What are we going to talk to her about? She isn’t exactly chatty, you know. Other than sneaking up to us and mumbling a few words, then taking off again, she hasn’t spoken to us at all.”

“My point, exactly. She has some.. issues. Serious issues that must be addressed.”

“Why don’t you talk to her then?”, inserted Bremorel spitefully.

“Don’t be asinine. That girl avoids me like the plague.”, snapped Aager.

“Can’t imagine why!”, she sneered.

“Bree.. Please.”, said Laila reprovingly.

Aager, however, gazed at the young woman for a long, silent moment with dead eyes.

Then he spoke;

“There is nothing to imagine, young Morel. I wasn’t given this job because of my people skills. I was given it to make sure the said people were safe enough to do all the stupid things they do. I do not defy nor deny my shortcomings. I am a heartless murderer with enough corpses to rope all the way back to Drashan.. I have no past worth remembering, nor a future worth living.. When I kill, I feel nothing. No shame, no remorse. Much like I see no reason for joy when I breathe.. Yet, I show courtesy because those that don’t, are cut first. I see little practical merit for ‘life’, yet do my best to keep those around me safe and alive.. What awaits me in my future, is nothings short of a noose..

So tell me, young Morel..

What’s your excuse for being insufferable?”, he snarled savagely.

Bremorel’s face flushed.

Laila sighed.

“What do you want us to tell her? What kind of issues does she have?”, she asked.

“I wouldn’t know. I could safely say, she needs.. friends. Talk to her. Be her friend.”

Laila cocked an eyebrow at the man in dark clothes.

Even Bremorel was astonished.

Aager Fogstep; the soulless, friendless, exempt-of-all-human-emotions man, was asking them to befriend someone!

“You want us? To be friends? With that girl?”, she asked incredulously.

“Yes.”, he growled. “From what I heard, you two became friends quite after you met. You should know, how.”

“Yea.”, spat Bremorel in a voice that reeked with sarcasm. “Have Udoorin insult my cousin again and we’ll take Inshala with us to beat him! Should make us and her, all cuddly!”

“Ow. Do you like that girl?”, came a soft voice from somewhere above them, and Merisoul Xyrotwu landed right next to them!

Aager Fogstep just stared at the half-succubi.

“No.”, he snarled.

“I don’t believe you!”, she said happily.

“And I don’t really care what you believe.”, he very nearly spat.

“You do know that I can read your feelings, right?..”, she began.

“Neither my thoughts nor my feelings are any of your business.”, Aager growled.

“..And they are all a jumble. A confused mess. Mangled in disarray!”, she finished.

“By all means, repeat the same thing using synonyms.”, he said in an infuriated voice.

“Actually, they all mean different things.”, Merisoul said in an explanatory way. “True. They are, at times, used interchangeably, but in reality, there are nuances. In your case, they all apply independently.

Aager decided this was just about the best time for an acceptably decent retreat and still keep some of his dignity intact. The silly, intrusive girl with the raven wings was a heaven for garbage trivia, making arguing with her, a pointless, but infuriating exercise..

She was exactly the kind of person he avoided at all costs.

The only ‘good’ thing about his birthplace, Drashan, was people like this girl would never last. They would, sooner than later, irritate someone —anyone— and be cut and make everyone else happy.

Other than pirates, murderers, thieves, cutthroats, scoundrels, and whores, it was likely Drashan had the highest concentration of pragmatic and practical people then any other place!

He looked at the ranger cousins one last time.

“She needs friends. Desperately, and soon. Not me..“, he growled and left.

This event triggers the stories:
Sen iyi biri değilsin!
and Day One.

✱ ✱ ✱

A FEW MONTHS AGO, INSIDE AND NEAR THE
ENTRANCE OF THE RUINS OF THEMALSAR.

Tell me, little fiend, have you any last words before you face your doom?”, said the beautiful Archangel of Wrath, Priceptine, as he gazed down upon the broken body of the pretty girl with the long, honey-brown hair, sagging raven-wings, diminutive face, sad, soulful eyes, and the crowning horns. She lay there bruised and bleeding, but still clutching to the dented locket that had been the Archangel’s jail for some eight hundred years.

“To which doom, are you referring to, if I may ask? The one where some Mortals threw me into a pit when I was but two and kept me in there until I was ten?

Or the doom where an incubus had his way with my mother, who died two days after giving birth to me?

Or the doom where I was forced to endure Hell for years? I hope not. Hell is a bore..

Or perhaps you are referring to the doom where the Angel whom I set free, gets to beat me out of ‘gratitude’?”, replied the barely alive young girl.

Apparently, this was not the answer Priceptine, the Archangel of Wrath was expecting. From a demon, something declarative like “I will see you in Hell!”, was more fitting.

“You did not free me out of the goodness of your heart.”, he snarled.

“How could I? I didn’t even know what was in the locket. Had I known the Archangel of Wrath would be my collocutor, I would never have opened it.”, she said, and without a trace of shame.

“So. You admit your intentions?”, he scowled.

“What is there to hide? No one sane would release a being, knowing he will beat you to pulp the moment he’s out. That would be insane!”

Priceptine glared down at the little fiend girl. She was either very smart, cunning, and devious.. or just stupid.

“I think an apology is in order here.”, sniffed the girl.

AN APOLOGY?“, snarled Priceptine.

“Of course. Something to compensate for the smiting, the lack of gratitude and rewards.. I did set you free. And I am a bit appalled about the lack of base courtesy, as well..”

“You did not release me intentionally, nor with good intentions.”, he grinded his teeth.

“As a matter of fact, I did open the locket with the intention of releasing its prisoner in hopes of being rewarded. That sounds like a perfectly good intention to me.. And any fiend or demon would have complied with those terms. But I suppose such rules of courtesy do not apply to Angels.. Or Mortals! I find the similarity arbitrary and quite disturbing.”, she said.

One must candidly admire the cool in the girl’s attitude; there she was, lying in the rubble, with one arm broken, any number of ribs shattered, at least one lung punctured, and bleeding from multiple wounds and still had the audacity to mouth off and make demands.. from The Archangel of Wrath himself!

“You are a brazen one, aren’t you?”, mused the Archangel.

“There are only brasiers and blazes where I come from. Just more of the same, where I am about to go.”, she replied.

“There will be no rewards. I can’t be rewarding fiends, no matter how smart they think they are. Would set off a very wrong presidency.”, he said.

“Yea. An Angel showing gratitude to a helpless girl who saved him from nearly a millennia of entrapment, as opposed to beating the crap out of her. What could possibly be misunderstood, there?”

“Make your last words, fiend. I tire of your mouth.”, Priceptine said in a weary tone.

“Just out of curiosity, are you going to beat me onto death? Because that is exactly what you have done, thus far; beat me. And in the most literal sense; using your fists.. Much like drunken Mortals beat their wives.. Where is your mighty weapon? I’d rather you run me through with it and get it over with. Beating is a little degrading.. Or perhaps you’d prefer murder by strangulation; less effort there, and not as messy as the other options. You will just have to watch as the light of life fades from my eyes!”

The Archangel of Wrath fumed and glared down at the pretty fiend.

“Right. Last words it is, then.”, the broken, bruised, and bleeding girl said.

“A BARGAIN!”

Priceptine scowled.

Then smiled.

So, the devious little fiend wanted to play games, did she?

“A bargain it is. What is your name, little fiend? I shall need it to seal the deal. Can’t have you getting bored nor sidetracked, now can we?”

“Merisoul Xyrotwu.”, replied the little demon girl promptly.

“Happy Soul Zero Two.. An interesting name for a fiend. I see your soul, little girl and there is no ‘happy’ in it.. Only the desire and cravings for ‘happy’, bound by your inner lust.”, he murmured thoughtfully. Then he smiled and his face became even more beautiful. “But that is not your real name, little fiend, is it?”

“How would you know?”, asked the little demon.

“You gave it too soon and too quick! A demon’s name is the most precious thing they have. You truly must be new in Hell!”, he smiled even more.

“Well, bugger.”, grudged Merisoul Xyrotwu.

“So, little fiend.. What shall it be? Your name and a bargain, or no name and Oblivion?”

The little demon, Merisoul sighed.

“My name is;

AREZME XIRISO NU LEI KAREXY ROTXIN GWUE
NIMONORA LUNADORA GWHISHAVA XALISHA
ERRA LILU ALURA NIM DARELLE FEL ESSA WIXEN
BWANDA AD ARA LYNN SELENE BELLA XENARA
DWENDELIEN DE VIENE YLARA X LAKUNA ELLE ISLA
SERRAPHYN EDET VIELLA XILLESSE DEMI

..and it shall never be repeated to another. And for the record, I am not a fiend. I am more along the lines of a demon. A half-born succubi, to be more precise. The differences are minor, from an Angelic point of view, I suppose, but they are there, from a cumulative end.”

Priceptine, The Archangel of Wrath stared at the little fiend.. demon.. succubi-whatsit, for a long moment.

“Your name.. It is a bit ostentatious, don’t you think? Your mother must have been an ambitious woman.”, he said finally.

“I wouldn’t know. She died, remember? But she hated demons and their cults. She gave me that name so I would never be controlled nor ever be used by any demon as she had been.”, she replied and there was something eternal, sadness and loss, in her voice. Perhaps the only time she had shown any genuine emotion since their meeting.

“The bargain, my Lord.”, she said, to skim over her broken heart and what leaked out, whenever she was reminded of her mother.

“The bargain..”, agreed the Archangel.

“You shall defy all your former ties and bonds. You shall enter my service and be ‘good’. You shall never devour the soul of another mortal, and should you try, you shall be smitten by my very hand. You shall spend your days, saving the lives of others, tooth and nail.

You shall commit yourself onto the path of danger to save others, but never with the deliberate intention to end your own life. You shall serve me so long as you live, and until you make true and honest mortal friends. You shall do everything in your power to make them better and you shall do this without ever using your succubi heritage.

Do you, <INSERT THE VERY LONG, VERY OSTENTATIOUS NAME HERE>, accept these terms?”. Priceptine said with a very harsh, demanding voice.

Merisoul Xyrotwu stared at the Archangel.

“Alright. As Mortals say, ‘You have shown me the stick. It’s time for the carrot.’

The Archangel gave her a humorless smile.

“There are no carrots, Miss Fiend. Only the stick!”

Merisoul’s eyes teared.

For these demands were very, very harsh demands. They would effectively close every door from her past, and not really open any new ones. Such a bargain would seal her own doom in the hands of her ‘former’ Master, and in a horrible way, should she ever be found.

And should she refuse these harsh demands, however, this Angel would end her. But at least it would be quick, and ‘mercifully’ painless. She knew Angels did not do the torture thing.

She opened her small, cherry-red mouth in defiance.

“I accept.”

This event triggers many stories and:
A Demon’s Plan (Part One)
A Demon’s Plan (Part Two)
A Demon’s Plan (Part Three) – Release the Horde!
A Demon’s Plan (Part Four) – All End.
and The Best Of Bargains, in particular.

✱ ✱ ✱

A FEW DAYS AGO, BEHIND AN INN,
IN THE SLUMS OF ARASHKAN CITY.

She’s right you know. You should tell her..”

The man in dark clothes tensed, then cursed with recognition.

“Shit!”

“A bit obscene, but essentially accurate..”, replied the soft, beautiful voice.

And out of the darkness, an angelic girl glided down and gently settled in front of the seething man..

She had flowing, honey-brown hair, baby pink skin, black, raven-like wings, a small, pouting mouth, and a pair of dark, possibly black or dark purple horns that appeared more like an elegant crown. She wore a dark, strapless dress that looked as if it were trimmed with soft, black feathers. Her slender feet, however, were naked, yet unstained as though dirt shied from them..

“I doubt this is any of your concern, Merisoul Xyrotwu..”, gnarled the man.

“..don’t you have a Darly you should be concerned with?”, the man continued with contempt, though it wasn’t clear to whom his distaste was directed at; the beautiful girl, or this, Darly person..

“My poor Darly..”, said the girl sadly. “..He has attached himself to a fairy dream where there are no faeries. He has idealized the woman he once loved so much, her death has beset him on a path he can not abandon.. And no other woman can match such blind and purified ideal, I am afraid. But we are not here to talk about my beautiful Darly are we? Now tell me, when have I ever given you a reason for you to hold me in such contempt, Aager Fogstep?

I am not some cuisine you can eat the parts you favor and discard the parts you find distasteful. I find it quite unjust that you would thank me when it suits you, but try and banish me when it doesn’t..”

The face of the man, Aager Fogstep, turned ugly. He bit into the words as he snarled at the girl. “And when have I ever given you the impression that I was a ‘just’ person?!”

The majestic creature paused for a moment and gazed sadly upon the boiling man before her.

And then, the beautiful girl stepped directly in front of the man, reached up to him with one, small hand, and touched his face as if to caress him..

..and the moment she did, wisps of smoke started from her. The feathers on her black, raven wings curled, her hair danced as if hit by a vertical gust and her dress sagged..

Love!..

..she cried in pain.

I feel the love you have for her..

It Burns..

And the hate you feel for yourself..

It Pains!

She.. she is so much stronger and resilient than you think, Aager Fogstep!

Do not deny yourself, your love, nor your pain from her, for she has not..

And just like that, the girl caught fire!

The man in dark clothes just stood there, shocked and petrified as the girl in blazing fire crumbled into the ground..

YOU FOOL! YOU DAMNED FOOL!.. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!“, cried the man with fear and panic.

“I am damned.. and a fool.. But I have made my choice.. Now go..”, a shriek in terrible agony came from the figure, ablaze and crumbled. “Go to her, please.. for she needs your love now more than ever.. Do not make my sacrifice go in vain!”

But the man in dark clothes did not go.

He raised his hands into the night sky as if in prayer.. and called..

“Inshala. My dearest. Merisoul needs you in a most desperate way. She is dying!”

And out of the night, something tiny darted up to the man and landed next to him. It was a small, baby owl..

The owl spun in on itself and suddenly turned into the sweetest looking little girl..

She had very long, soft hair that swept down to her knees, two beautiful, curving horns, deep, forlorn eyes, a small, cherry red mouth, and slightly elfish looking ears. She was also dangerously skinny.

The little girl summoned gallons and gallons of water that came gushing out of the cobblestones and drowned the blazing girl’s fire.

Then she raised one hand in a graceful arc and tiny little sparkling golden motes rained down upon the severely burned girl and the burnt crisps started falling off her, displaying fresh, baby pink, tender skin under them..

And then she turned around to face the man in dark clothes as he stared at the little, skinny girl like she was his last breath on earth.

And the little girl returned that gaze like she had only one more breath left to take, and she wanted him to have it!

Then came Merisoul’s shrieks of total loss;

CURSE YOU! DOUBLE CURSE YOU, AAGER FOGSTEP! I WAS OUT! I WAS ALMOST OUT AND YOU RUINED EVERYTHING!

This event triggers the story: Lilly Venom: “İş Teklifi”

✱ ✱ ✱

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO,
DURING THE LATE HOURS OF CELEBRATION AT SERENITY HOME
UPON THE RETURN OF THE HEROES FROM THE RUINS OF THEMALSAR.

Well, hello there, scrumptious!”, smiled the beautiful girl, Merisoul, at the young man, holding his dislocated shoulder. “I could fix that shoulder for you, and make you feel happy, elated, and very, very exhilarated, all in one package.”

The young man ogled at the ‘otherworldly’ beautiful girl.

He was very nearly tempted to call her an Angel because nothing worldly could possibly be THIS pretty. But he was a polite young man. And as beautiful as this young woman was, he was already fixated on another, even though that other had rebuffed and rebuked him this very evening, sending him off in total defeat and dejection.

“Thank you ma’am.”, he said. “But this suffering of mine is merely part of the learning process.”

“Owww.. Polite and honest.”, observed the angelic Merisoul Xyrotwu, happily.

“As everyone should be.”, replied the young man earnestly.

“Very true. I totally agree. As a matter of fact, I want to keep agreeing with you. Privately!”, she said, blasting the young man’s mind with the full-blown power of her succubi heritage.

“I..”, the young man stammered. “That sounds.. wro—”

“—Right, doesn’t it? Come now. This night should end with some happiness, don’t you think? Everyone is celebrating. Why should you fall short? Why should you be denied of some fun?”, said the beautiful girl and started to respite with excitement and her modest, nubile breasts heaved.

Slowly, carefully, she took a silent but deliberate step towards the boy and reached up to his, not-quite-adult face..

..and something flickered!

It happened so fast, that no one quite saw the long, single streak of lightning that came down the night sky..

..and landed on the slender, otherworldly beautiful young woman, smashing her into the cobblestones of the town.

When the rubble and dust settled, the young man stared in baffled amazement at the nearly charred girl, lying face down and clutching her ‘palm’ of all places and squirming in pain.

“Are you.. are you alright, ma’am?”, he asked, a bit foolishly.

The charred girl waved one hand in a, ‘move along, nothing to see here’, sort of way.

“Perhaps I should call Lady Magella. I heard about a very pretty young woman to have joined their party during her sojourn into the malignant ruins of Themalsar. You must be her.”, he said.

“No, no.. Please don’t call her.”, mumbled the girl. “I believe I have had enough help from your town’s temple for one evening.”

“Well, if you are sure. I should get going anyway. And put some ice on my shoulder. This night has been a hopeless loss for me. I thought she felt something, back there, when she agreed to dance with me and when she was staring at me in the eyes when D.D. Dexter and her cousin were singing. All these years of self-training and she still knocked me around like I was a little boy!”

“You should probably get yourself someone a bit sane, young Thomas.”, groaned Merisoul.

“You know my name?”, asked the young man.

“I know many names. And yours just happens to be one of them. Your dream girl is mad as a hatter and it is very unlikely that will change.”, the burnt girl said, still clutching her one palm.

“Change? She is perfect. I wouldn’t want her to change. I am calm for the both of us. She is all fire. Both are needed in a.. uhhh.. relation..”, his voice trailed off with embarrassment.

“She is broken, boy. You can’t fix her and she is too scared to even try.”

“I do not need to fix her. That is not my place. I can only show her what she could be, or have, or want. She is smart. I am sure she will eventually submit to her own.”, the young man said with patient confidence. “In the end, though, I have but one heart and it’s all hers. It’s always been hers. She can have it, break it, burn it, or destroy it.. It’s up to her.”, he said quietly.

“Anyway. Good night ma’am..”, he added, and with a forlorn expression, he turned around and left, walking in the general direction of the town temple.

“One down. One to go.. There must be an easier way to do this.”, she moaned in pain, staring at the peculiar ‘brand’, still eating at her palm.

“You know, I could cut you right here, and now, and no one would even know about it, you unwholesome little skank!”, hissed a harsh voice, from somewhere above her.

Merisoul could barely pick her head up to see the fuming Bremorel Songsteel, her eyes blazing with some crazy fire, as she held her great, cold blade in her hand.

This had been a painful evening but Merisoul Xyrotwu knew, she just knew, it wouldn’t end there, yet..

“You did not just beat that young, lovely bantam. You humiliated him by physically assaulting him and slamming him into the ground. You did not just break him. You destroyed him. You sent him off refused and dejected. And the moment you did that, he became ‘fair game’!”, the crispy girl in the smoking hole groaned.

“I rebuffed him because he thought he could get familiar with me just because he picked me up to a dance. All these years and he still hasn’t learned, I am not an easy catch.”, fumed the young woman, brandishing her great sword for emphasis.

“Yea..”, agreed Merisoul. “It must be very important for everyone to know you are not an easy catch. What are you? Twelve?”

Bremorel glared down at the burnt girl.

“You know, there is a special kind of hole for girls like you, in Hell.”

“What? Girls can’t have their own opinions?”, Bremorel snapped.

“Mortals don’t get to have opinions in Hell. And girls have rather limited use there. I do not think you want me to spell it out for you as to what those ‘uses’ may be. Suffice to say, cooking, cleaning, dusting, sewing, sweeping, and changing the diapers of imps, lemures, and dretches for eternity is not fun!

But don’t fret. I was done with your boy, the moment I touched him.”, Merisoul said, and in agony, she opened her branded palm and showed it to the fuming girl.

Bremorel stared at the little ‘skanks’ palm in amazement. It seemed like a stylized ‘rose’, and it was still orange-red as it simmered and glowed.

“What the hell is this?”, she flared.

“This.. is the Mark of Love. Or a Fool’s Brand, depending on your point of view. Whenever one of my kind touches a Mortal who is truly in love, we get ‘marked’ —’branded’. If we are lucky, it’s just the mark. If not, we get sick and poisoned for days.. Weeks, sometimes..

The boy is in love and thoroughly, you are an idiot and vastly, and I am the fool who paid the price, and heavily..”, she said in a voice like she wanted to cry.

For a long moment, Bromorel Songsteel glared at the simmering brand, and at the crisped girl in the smoking hole.

“You deserved it.”, she said finally, and quite heartlessly.

“Apparently, but not satisfactorily.”, moaned the girl in the hole, and with dreaded anticipation.

“I WARNED YOU!”

The terrible voice of the Archangel of Wrath boomed in her head.

“No, no.. I am thoroughly ashamed—”, she squeaked in a panicked voice.. to no avail..

..and the smiting Fist of Wrath came down from the Heavens— 

“Well, bugger!”, groaned the crispy Merisoul..

—and smashed the succubi-whatsit, fifteen feet deeper into the ground.

This event triggers the stories:
Düş Kapanı,
Evim yok..
and Önemli olan..

✱ ✱ ✱

A MONTH OR SO AGO,
LATE ONE EVENING, ON THE ROAD TO
THE GREAT ARASHKAN CITY.

I am sorry Master Aager.”, Merisoul said, holding up her ‘puking pot’. “I have not been well of late and it is likely I will be doing a lot of unladylike, retching noises all night long. I am afraid you will have to park dear little Inshala somewhere else this evening. Possible near the campfire. And keep her company as well, in case she wakes up and finds herself to be alone. She does that a lot, you know, wake up and find herself alone.”

Aager Fogstep stared steadily at the beautiful, half-born succubi girl, then at her empty puking pot, then back at the girl, as he held the sleeping Inshala in his arms. He was amazed at how the hybrid hadn’t even flinched nor blushed in the slightest at the glaringly blatant lie she had just told.

“You don’t have to try so hard, Merisoul.”, he said, in his low, growling voice.

“Hence, I did not. You are a smart man.. for a Mortal, and would have suspected me of something, however I did my presentation.”, she replied, and with a straight face.

“Why bother at all, then?”, Aager asked.

“One must follow the motions. It is polite, if nothing else, Master Aager.”, she sniffed as if stating the obvious. “I wouldn’t want you to think less of me by giving you the wrong impression, after all.”

“Which would be?”, asked Aagar.

“That, I didn’t think you were worth any effort..”, she smiled.

“I appreciate the courtesy. But you are missing the point.”, he said.

“Ow?”

“Why bother.. AT ALL?”

“Ahh.. Habit, I suppose. A bad one, yes, but we all have our little vices we like to indulge, now and then.”, she replied.

“No.”, Aager said quietly.

“No?”, asked Merisoul, a bit confused.

“No..”, repeated Aager. “That’s not it. Not the main reason, anyway.”

“What could I possibly want of you, Master Aager?

The thing you most admire, treasure, and care..

The thing that you most desire, hunger, and love..

The thing that perpetually astonishes and astounds you..

And the only thing that has ever given any meaning and joy to your desolate heart..

..is already in your hands, and literally.

And from her, I have never made any requests nor claims but a bit of love and friendship, which she has given without command nor demand, freely and without reservation. Sad, really..”, she said softly.

“Sad?”

“Sad.. that nons have ever given her any, yet she gives it to others so earnestly, even though she does not truly understand what it is, nor just how precious what she gives is..

Only gives.. I am not sure if that makes hers just the more precious, or foolish. It hurts me to look at her.”, she mused.

Aager looked down at the little girl in his arms and inadvertently smiled because she was dreaming and probably visiting something she liked in that dream because her face was calm, peaceful, and adorned with a smile of her own. He was still amazed that of all people, this little, scared girl would find peace in a dreadful man such as himself. He certainly would never have..

He looked up at the other girl, still holding her puking pot.

“You are good, Miss Merisoul. One obvious reason followed by another, not quite so blatant tailored specifically for me.. Very good, indeed, but no..”, he said..

Merisoul squinted at Aager and bit her lower lip.

“You are.. Afraid!”, he said quietly.

“And you are rude, Master Aager.”, she said, as she pouted and crossed her arms. “You don’t have to be like that all the time, you know. All the trouble and effort I put into the planning and application and you demolished it just because you could. Not a quality a girl would find admirable. Sometimes, it’s better to be bested by a well-planned conversation —or seduction.. It is the polite thing to do.”

“Perhaps. Too late to rewind now.”, Aager replied, trying to suppress a stifle. Then he scowled a bit. “The fact remains. What is it you are afraid of? You hide it well, but not from someone who knows that look.”

“You don’t know what you are asking of me?”, hissed Merisoul.

“No, I don’t, because you haven’t told me yet.”, said Aager, calmly. “Personally, I think you are quite mad. But what I think is irrelevant in this matter. Only that you are ‘ours’, and that my Inshala loves you. I am sure there are any number of others in this odd group that would be willing to share your burden. It is possible this will not help you, but it will make things a lot more bearable for you. At least you won’t have to retch all night to make us think you are still sick.”

Slowly, he turned around and left the tent, to sit out the night next to the campfire with the skinny little girl sleeping in his arms.

Merisoul Xyrotwu lowered her crossed arms, tossed the puking pot aside, and smiled.

“Saw through all but the real reason, Master Aager.”, she whispered. “But as smart, cunning, and devious as you are, at the end of the day, you are only a Mortal.”

“The main reason was always the joy in your arms. Love her, and cherish her. For she is one of a kind..”

This event triggers the stories:
Gemini,
Gemini, “Epilogue”,
and Gemini, “Slo-mo”
which in turn trigger the events in
Nefret Dökümü,
Ben, MAB,
Farstep,
and 1:33:017 – Elveda, Felishia..

✱ ✱ ✱

A WEEK AGO,
EARLY ONE EVENING, RIGHT OUTSIDE AN INN
IN THE SLUMS OF THE GREAT ARASHKAN CITY.

Merisoul Xyrotwu watched the huge man in filthy looking clothes swaying drunkenly, from the roof she was perched, as he staggered down the street towards the inn they were stationed. She stared down at the man with a puzzled expression on her small, otherworldly beautiful, yet ‘sad’ face.

“What is he doing, I wonder?”, she mused quietly.

“He thinks he is incognito. ‘Undercover’..”, snorted the young, handsome man, lying on his side, next to the pretty girl.

And the light of comprehension shown on her face, making it appear even more angelic.

“Aaah.. Well, you can’t blame him for trying, Darly. He just isn’t cut for that line of work.”, she smiled.

“Actually, you can cut him in two, and neither half would be any good for that line of work.”, said the young Darly, with a vindictive voice. “He has ‘LAWMAN’ written all over him.”

“Perhaps. That isn’t really anything so bad, though, is it? I am sure the fact that he is the son of a renowned sheriff had some effect on the princess’s choice. Being the sheriff of Serenity Home is nothing to sneeze at. It is a highly regarded position, you know. It does not return much of what you Mortals call ‘money’, but it does garner a lot of respect. At least that is the conclusion I have come to, after extended observation of the relative Mortal social titles.”, said Merisoul happily.

Darly snorted but did not dispute the pretty girl.

Her observations had indeed had a certain accuracy to them. He had barely heard of Serenity Home before his.. uninformed venture into that town some months ago. Later, much later, he had learned that the original founders of the town had all been old, but very much renown and powerful men and woman themselves, who had settled there, some five hundred years ago, sort of as a peaceful retire, and in time, the town had grown slowly but steadily. It had had the potential to become a city nearly three centuries ago but had never bothered. The denizens of Serenity Home did not want a city to live in.

Just, serenity..

“Why do you think Master Aager put him up to this job, then?”, she wondered. “It is obvious, our dear Udoorin will never make a good.. spy..”

“Because he thinks he is smarter than everyone else..”, sneered Darly.

“Don’t do that, Darlius.”, said the girl, absently.

“Don’t do what?”, asked Darly.

“Sneer. It isn’t something that looks good on your beautiful face.”, she said, still absently, as if she was thinking on another matter.

Darly shut up.

“But your observations about that dreadful man are quite accurate, even without the sneer.”, she said..

..and hopped down the three-story roof!

Slowly, she glided down, her raven wings spread, and with her honey-brown hair lashing, her slender arms open, and her dark purple-black, strapless dress fluttering, she looked magnificent.

Like something out of a fantastic dream.

Slowly but surely, she landed next to the huge man, Udoorin, who only flinched slightly.

“Umm.. Hello Lady Merisoul.”, he said politely.

“That is so sweet. The way you are always so polite to me.”, she said with genuine elation.

“Well. It is polite to be polite.. to ladies..”, he coughed uncomfortably.

“You do know I am not really a Lady, right?”, Merisoul said.

“I must disagree. You have everything that makes a woman, a Lady; elegance, refinement, care, loyalty, and a beautifully honest heart.”, replied the young man.

“Wow.. And the things people say about you.. However, I think your definition of  ‘a Lady’ might be a little overcrowded, but that’s not my point. Ladies do not bear horns, nor sprout wings.”, she pointed out.

“Some do have ‘crowns’ and some are just angelic!”, Udoorin said honestly.

“That.. is the nicest thing, anyone has ever said to me, young Udoorin.”, said Merisoul and she had a strange, astounded expression on her face. “No wonder she likes you.”

“I.. what?”, blushed the young man.

“Though she feels neglected.”, she said quietly.

“Neglected?”, Udoorin said, and there appeared fear in his eyes.

“Yes.. Your venture into the slums for information about that Gar Thalot is admirable, considering the late hours you put into it. But Princes Alor’Nadien ne is not a girl you can ever neglect.”, she said.

“I.. this is sort of a private matter, Lady Merisoul.”, he blushed, some more.

“Yes. But I share a room with her and I tire the way she ‘sighs’ every other breath, though understandable, considering she has been stuck in that none-too-clean room for days. I think you should go and get cleaned up, and take her out.”, she offered.

“It is a bit late for a walk and the slums aren’t exactly scenic.”, frowned Udoorin.

“I was thinking more along the lines of Heaven Park, then the slums, Sir Udoorin. The area is heavily patrolled due to that, Gar Thalot you seek, so it should be safe.

It is a beautiful night, dear Udoorin, and the princess could use some much-needed attention and care, wouldn’t you agree? I hear the park itself is quite charming at nights, with many paths, ponds, benches, and fresh air.”, she said brightly.

“You.. you really think she would like that?”, asked the young man, with an embarrassed tone.

“Like? No, boy.. She would love it. She is part-elf from High Woods, after all. She does not show it, for your benefit, but I am sure she misses the woods. Inshala goes there all the time. Sleeps there sometimes too. Oh, and remember not to take your axes with you.. They would totally ruin the mood. Take your father’s sword instead..”, replied.

“Oww..”, young Udoorin said, with a ‘dawning’ voice. “Well, I should probably hurry along then. Need to get cleaned up. The stink of the last inn will require quite a bit of scrubbing to wash off..”

“Don’t dawdle, Sir Udoorin. She tends to sleep early when she has nothing to do..”

Young Udoorin thanked the ‘angelic’ girl with the ‘crown’ and politely excused himself and took off, with a haste that would have rivaled any decent charge!

This event triggers the story:
Geleceğin Adımları

✱ ✱ ✱

A FEW MONTHS AGO ONE EVENING,
IN THE BEAUTIFUL GROVE
WHERE THE RUINS OF THEMALSAR ONCE WAS.

LADY!” screamed Aager in panic and there were so much pain, loss, devastation, and desperation in that scream. A scream that cut right through the peaceful night and echoed in the grove. A pain that begged for help.. and for life!

“Make way!”, Lady Magella’s gruff voice was heard outside the tent and the she-dwarf parted the flaps and pushed her way inside, followed closely by the young paladin girl, Moira Hooman. The tent was only so big, hence the others could wait outside with sick worry for they knew, Aager never screamed. Not even when he had been cursed horribly by Themalsar himself, just a few days ago, and had very nearly died. Laila and Bremorel’s heads pushed through the flaps as Gnine, Lorna, Merisoul, and Udoorin waited outside.

“She.. she just stopped..”, shrieked the man in dark clothes as he held the little, skinny girl, Inshala, in his arms. “She just stopped breathing.. SHE IS NOT BREATHING!

Lady knelt down next to him and felt for the skinny girl’s pulse.

“Help her.. PLEASE.. WHATEVER THE PRICE, I SHALL PAY!“, he cried desperately.

“I don’t charge to save my children, boy. You should know that by now.”, scowled Lady, but there were tears in her eyes. “She has no pulse. Foolish girl.. She gave her all to burry that mad dog’s temple into the ground and raise this grove. And now she has nothing left. Her heart gave out.”

“Ow my Dear Heavens!”, the stricken voice of Lorna was heard from outside.

“Lady, can’t you do something?”, asked Liala with a horrified expression.

“Anything?”, asked Bremorel reflecting her cousin’s voice.

“The power of your faith will heal her, My Lady.”, said Moira with a nearly broken voice.

Lady did not say anything.

She closed her eyes, silently murmured a prayer, and repeated it over and over, and slowly reached out to the skinny little girl and released her prayer..

..and nothing happened.

Her shoulders slumped.

For she had expected this.

“She is still not breathing..”, said Aager in a scared whisper. “Why? Why will you not fix her, Lady? Is it because of some wrong I did you?”

“I.. I can not heal her, boy.. She is not wounded!”, said Lady as quiet tears rolled down her eyes. “I am so sorry.”

Aager just stared at Lady and there was nothing..

..absolutely nothing in those eyes.

Whatever he had ever felt, or may have felt, ever in his life, was just..

..gone!

“No.”, said Moira from behind Lady. “Inshala is a fighter. She does not give up. She never gives up. All she needs is some help.”

The young, comly paladin woman raised both hands into the air in plea and whispered.

“Dear Heavens. Hear my voice. This little girl gave everything she had to remove a vile and evil woe that plagued these lands for centuries. SAVE HER. I BEG OF YOU! SHE DESERVES LIFE AND LOVE. SHE DESERVES A FAMILY. A FATHER AND MOTHER. SHE DESERVES SISTERS AND AUNTS AND UNCLES AND GRANDS.. SAVE HER, AND I GIVE MY MOST SOLEMN OATH, THAT I SHALL GIVE HER THE REST!

And the tent suddenly was awash with bright, golden light.

Moira laid her hands on the skinny girl and gave her everything she had; her sincerity, her love, and her tears..

..yet the skinny girl still did not move, nor did she breathe.

“No.. Nooo..”, wept Moira as she crumbed on her knees.

And outside, Gnine looked thunderstruck.

Udoorin’s face was drawn and tears ran shamelessly down his eyes as he held the princess crying openly into his embrace.

Laila and Bremorel just stared at the unmoving form of the skinny little Inshala, pale, and gone, yet seemingly sleeping in Aager’s arms.

“Why?”, asked Aager silently. “Why give her to me, then take her back so soon? Why blame her for my sins?”

And there were little words to describe his silent wrath.

“Don’t.”, a voice whispered.

“I believe I must.”, said Merisoul back and there was no voice in her reply..

..only the shape of the reply echoed in her mind.

“You owe these Mortals nothing.”, said the voice.

“Owe?”, she asked. “Who shall pay, if no one is willing?”

“Doesn’t have to be you.”, said the voice, with the slightest trace of a plea.

“Didn’t have to be her. Yet that little girl did. And now she is dead. And should I do nothing when I can do something, her death shall be on my head.”

“Why, though?”, asked the voice.

“Because she was so afraid of me, yet she was the first to accept and adopt me, and in the face of death, did she do so.. And like me, she understands so little of love, yet unlike me, she has a chance to find it. I shall make sure she attains that potential.

“But.. but you will die! Don’t do this..”, the voice now begged.

“It is an acceptable risk. I am young and healthy. There’s a chance I can be brought back. She has none.”, Merisoul whispered back.

“He will not accept this. You know that right? Your bargain was that you commit yourself in the path of danger to save others, but never with the deliberate intention of taking your own life!”, pleaded the voice desperately.

“I do not intend to deliberately take my own life. I intend to deliberately trade it with her death, for a heart must beat to love..”, said Merisoul..

..and stepped into the tent.

This event triggers the events and the emotional breakdowns and rises of Aager and Inshala in the story:
Day One” (from days four to nine)..
and leads to “Hiçbiri..”

✱ ✱ ✱

A FEW MINUTES AGO,
ON TOP OF THE WESTERN BATTLEMENTS
OF THE GREAT ARASHKAN CITY.

After weeks in this city, I forgot how much I missed the outdoors and the woods.”, murmured Laila Wolvesbane, as she toyed with the handle of her beautifully carved elven longbow. “It is so quiet up here. One could see the stars so clearly.”

“I suppose so.”, Merisoul said. “A bit on the boring side though. Don’t you think?”

“Boring is good. I like boring.”, said Liala sternly, as she carefully scanned the walls. “We do not want any excitement tonight. If we get caught, this will leave a black mark on my record that will never come off. Collaborating with a known rebellion and helping incite his revolt! Would go excellent in my CV; Laila Wolvesbane: helps thieves, cut-throats, thugs, and insurgents! I would have trouble finding a job at a sanitary dig post!”

“I doubt.”, said Merisoul. “You are smart, observant, can see relevant details no one else can, always cool-headed even under pressure, can shoot threads though needles from 600 yards, and boldly pretty. Love your bangs, by the way.. No.. No one will put you to a sanitary dig post if it is what I think it is.”

Laila was startled a bit.

True, that she had never really chatted with this peculiar, or perhaps ‘quaint’ girl and that was the politest way she could readily define her.. as opposed to weird, off, creepy, odd, mad, and happily insane!

What had startled her was, the girl, Merisoul sounded.. well.. down to earth!

Something very much unlike her usual self.

“Mind I ask you something?”, Merisoul asked, further surprising Laila.

Merisoul never asked if she could ask.

She just said things.

Whatever that crossed her mind.

“I suppose..”, replied Laila, carefully.

“Who is D.D. Dexter?”..

..aaaand she was back to weird, creepy, off, and odd, again.

How in the blazes did she even know about D.D. Dexter, let alone relate him to her?

“I am guessing you already know, who he is.”, Laila said.

“I do.”, she replied. “But more importantly, do you?”

Laila cocked an eyebrow at the pretty girl with the angelic face, crowning horns, and raven wings.

“Saw him trice.”, said the succubi half-born, quietly.

“The first time was just before the celebrations and the dancing began, back at your Serenity Home, arguing with his friend, Thomas, so he would divert your cousin Bremorel. I am guessing his plan was to get you alone, so he could brave up to ask you for a dance. The plan worked, more or less, though young Thomas was arguing with your D.D. Dexter more for show, really.. I could practically see how he yearned for your cousin. Yearned and feared her. He was actually trembling when he went up to her. It was so adorable. I am guessing he would have slopped into a puddle and oozed all the way back to his temple in dejected embarrassment had she said, no. To be fair, he did ooze all the way back to his temple in dejected embarrassment at the end, even though she’d said, yes, the way she man-handled the poor boy.

The second time was when the two of you were singing together at the festivities and I must say, you two have beautiful voices and they blend very well. ‘Seamlessly’, I believe the word is.. His, slightly raspy and masculine, yours, contralto, as the Mortals call it.

And the last time, when we were leaving the town, two days later. He was hiding in the bushes, watching you go. He looked.. sad. ‘Forlorn’, to be more precise.”

Laila was a private sort of girl and D.D. Dexter was not someone she wanted to share with anyone. Certainly not as a ‘pass-time’ topic.

“I still don’t hear any significant question in any of that.”, she said, seeking verbal room to maneuver herself and the odd girl away from the current conversation, and the potentials it carried.

“Ahh.. My bad.”, said Merisoul Xyrotwu. “Though my question is a rather simple one, really.”

“Ow?”, asked Laila, not quite sure she wanted to hear it.

“What’s the holdup?”

This event triggers the story:
“The Marshal and The Bard”
(a work for the distant future..)


arashkan şehri dungeons and dragons duygusal groups karakter analizi komedi modül role play serenity the plot thickens tundra walkers Whispers; A Cabal

Quiet In The Library

Quiet In The Library

Timeline:

Arcantonic and Brom slip silently into the night to do somethings that might very well break the prophecy they were sent for.

Adamant that she must do what she set out to do, Brom has little choice but to help accompany the ‘cute little demon’ of a gnomic girl.

 

This story takes place on the same night as
“Benim gitmem lazım.”
The Returning of Shal -ah Galad
Geleceğin Adımları
“Not Yets” and POV’s (18+)
and right after
Between The Blinds.

 

 

THAT. WAS. AWSOOOOOME!“, Tonic half shrieked, half cackled with manic fervent and triumphant hysteria. “I can’t believe she held me.. No!.. She hugged me! The Riverin of High Woods, The Princess of Bari Na-ammen, the daughter of Ri Grandaleren and Rise Nadine Graciousward.. THE FUTURE QUEEN OF THE HIGH ELVES, Alor’Nadien ne Feymist herself, my twin sister by adoption, no less, and she hugged me! Oww my Gosh, she smelled so nice.. So warm.. And you know what? I think I will go visit her again, once this is all over. Just for more of that!”

“Girl.. She offered you the throne of Bari Na-Ammen, literally, and all you can think of is her hugs? I’ll be the first one to admit, she is a beauty, par to Wraiven, but really, now.. Your priorities are a tad eschewed.”, Brom said with a bemused tone.

“Look here, you little hobbit!”, she said pointing a tiny finger at him. “This here is the hair of a Princess. And not just any princes, but that of Alor’Nadien ne, herself! And not just a snippet, either. She gave me a whooooole strand!”

 

Her tiny finger, the one she was pointing at Brom, was nearly all black! Because her fingers were so small, and the Princess truly had had very long hair, flowing nearly all the way down to her feet. She had enlaced the hair around and around her finger until it had all but covered it.

And now, the little gnomic girl was skipping and hopping like she was the proud owner of one of the rarest wonders in the kingdom..

..which, she was!

 

“You are such a dork, Tonic.”, Brom smiled. “..And a fangirl!”

 

The two had left the huge Dorin guy and the beautiful, graceful, and pretty princess behind and were heading to their next, and hopefully, last stop for the evening; to the Great Arashkan Library.

Why was every officious building in the city named ‘Great’, Brom had wondered.

The Great Arashkan Courthouse, The Great Arashkan Library, The Great Arashkan Arena, The Great Spires, The Great First Lord Princeps Palace.. It wasn’t like there was another city just over the hill with a courthouse, a library, an arena, some spires nor another first lord that one would confuse, now, was there?

Or perhaps there was some ‘baby’ Arashkan courthouses, libraries, arenas, spires, and first lord palaces and hence, the ‘great’ ones had real and practical significance.

Brom couldn’t imagine a conversation where some stranger would ask; “Excuse me, mate, where’s the First Lord’s Palace?”, and get a reply, “Which one? I mean, we have so many!”.

Brom suspected, that conversation would devolve into something like;

“The ‘great’ one..”

“Yea, okay, but which one? We have a lot of ‘great’ first lords in Arashkan. You’ll have to be a bit more specific, mate!”

“How many First Lord’s do you have, in this city?”

“19,876 by the last count. We had a new First Lord spawn just the other day!”

 

Apparently, Brom’s live imagination was at play again!

 

But there was, however, some truth in his creative perception. All these ‘greats’ didn’t make the city anymore endearing.. Only pompous! No one, it seemed, was near-honestly humble like hobbits in this world. Hobbits lived in nice, quiet, rolling hills. They didn’t build giant monuments, nor put awesome statues to impress others. Seemed a little like too much work for no gain at all. Hobbits made their homes in the hills and.. well.. they lived in them.. Happily too!

The near-honestly was because hobbits were just unenthusiastically lazy to be bothered by such frivolities!

Elves, humans, gnomes, dwarves.. none of them ever seemed satisfied with what they already had. Always they would thrive for more..

..and still, be unhappy.

Just how stupid was that?

 

“Brom.”, Tonic said sternly. “I know what she offered. Think of my history. I know what power is. I lived with my uncle for years. And I know what power can do to you. My uncle.. He had power. Lots and lots of it. Even his demons feared him and it really is hard to instill fear in a demon. And look what it brought him. Banishment to the depths of hell he is never coming back from. It is possible he is still alive. And burning perpetually there.. And Heavens willing, he should burn for more, and then some.”

“I.. can’t say I admire his disposition. But why? Why did Nadine banish him and not just kill him and be done with? Death seems kinda more permanent, don’t you think?”, asked Brom a bit taken aback by the little gnomic girl’s savage tone.

“No. Death is not always thus permanent. Not for guys like my uncle..”, she replied, her tone much more subdued now than just a moment before.

“Ow? How do you mean?”

“My uncle, Arcanton.. He made many deals with many beings.. Outsiders.. Creatures that do not belong to our plane of existence. Planes where time and space get distorted. You literally can’t kill those creatures, Brom. You can only banish them from your own reality and hope some fool will not summon them back.. At least not in your lifetime!”, Tonic said quietly.

“Hmm.. So Arcanton made deals with things out of our plane of existence. But so did Wraiven, come to think of it, did she not? I mean, The Raven Queen doesn’t exactly belong to our plane of existence either, you know.”, Brom said carefully.

“Seressa did not make deals with the Raven Queen, Brom. Not in the sense that my uncle did. My pairs soul is her own. And belongs only to her. I doubt under any circumstance would she give up her soul to anyone.. or anything! Seressa is bonded with the Raven Queen via a pact. She does her bidding in return for her queen sharing a part of her power and knowledge with her. It is sort of a mutually beneficial agreement between two parties. She can, if she wanted, dissolve that bond. Yes, she will lose the Raven Queen’s favor and the power she imparts to her, but the fact remains; she can end the bond..”, Tonic tried to explain.

“So she can.. But I still don’t see the difference.”, said Brom as he squinted into the night.

“The difference is, unless you got more balls than brains, you literally can’t break the deals you make with Outsiders. Once the deal is done, your soul is on the market! It’s ‘Going.. Going.. Going.. Gone!’“, she said seriously.

“Well, that sucks.. I suppose. I like it that Seressa is free. I like her free. And she should always be free. Social rhetorics do her enough injustice and chain her as it is. She doesn’t need any more constraints.”, Brom said quietly.

 

The two walked on for some time in companionable silence. As it turned out, they ended up going the longest possible way around, taking the streets between the Officers District and Heaven Park, behind the Archery Military Camp, and by the Lights Temple. For some reason, the First Lords Palace and the streets surrounding it seemed to be teaming with burly, scowling patrols and neither Brom nor Tonic needed any complications or altercations with the city’s law enforcement’s that late, that night.

 

“Don’t.”, Brom said finally.

“Don’t what?”, asked Tonic, a bit surprised.

“Don’t ask the question you have been meaning to ask all night, Miss Tonic.”, he said with a destitute voice.

“Actually, I wasn’t going to ask anything.. And you really don’t need to ‘Miss’ me you know. Every time you say ‘Miss Tonic’, it sounds like ‘I miss Tonic!’ in my head, and that’s just weird.. and creepy!”, she said.

“Well, now. That is weird.. And creepy..”, mused Brom, but it seemed his mind was elsewhere.

“I did wonder though..”, Tonic began.

“And that.. is what I meant when I said, ‘don’t’!”, Brom frowned.

“You know. It isn’t fair you get to do all these psychoanalysis on me and then fend me off when I want to ask you some personal questions.”, she sniffed.

“I am not the one with the accumulated issues, Miss— Tonic.”, replied Brom, but there was no heat nor beration in his voice.

“So only people with decent backgrounds get to analyze others, then?”, asked Tonic mildly.

“No.. There just isn’t anything there to analyze.”, Brom replied allusively.

“Ahh.. I see.. So it’s perfectly alright if I did ask you a few personal questions, then?”, said Tonic with a victorious smirk.

“What? No.. How did you even get to that conclusion, girl?”, replied the hobbit feeling exasperated.

“Using awesome logic!”, smirked Tonic again.

“Using logic..”, snorted Brom. “You are not going to let this go, are you, girl?”

“Nope.”, replied Tonic happily. “So.. What do you see in Seressa?”

“Thought I already told you that. Just this evening. At least twice.”, frowned Brom.

“Yes, and no. Your description of her was a bit.. too intimate and heartfelt.. One could argue it’d make an excellent book cover, let’s say.”, said Tonic tentatively.

“I don’t know what kind of books you are into, girl, but I would suggest you read something that has actual literature in them.”, Brom scowled now.

“So you don’t like her, then?”, she blurted.

“Now why wouldn’t I like her? I mean, what is there not to like?”, replied Brom honestly.

“So you do like her..”

“Ow. My. Gosh, girl. You are going to push this in your direction whatever I say!”, exclaimed Brom, waving his hands.

“I just want you to give me an honest, and straight answer. Is that too much to ask? I mean, we are friends, right?”, persisted the gnomic girl.

“Just because we are friends, that doesn’t mean we share everything..”, said Brom exasperated.

“But you said, ‘We suffer. We mourn. We sing and we celebrate.. We do. And what we do, we share!‘. Your words, not mine.”

 

Brom ‘hoo boy’ed.

The little demon was persistent.. and she stuck on him..

..like a tick!

 

“That is possibly the worst misuse of a friendly conversation, Miss Tonic!”, Brom said angrily. “But I will tell you, just to get you off my back!”

“Yeshh!”, Tonic fisted her hand into the air. “Victory!”

 

“When I see your pair.. No.. When I see Wraiven, I sometimes wish I was a taller man. And better looking, perhaps. ‘Cooler’, so to speak. Maybe a bit more muscular.. You know, the type girls like to ogle at.

 

I love everything about her and she sees me only as something that she can, perhaps, cute into her coin purse. Not that I would mind being pursed by her, but that will still not make her see me in the light that I would rather have her see me.. If that makes any kind of sense to you.

 

We are so impossibly different, yet she makes me simply not care. Which is the core of the problem. She doesn’t see me that way, period. I mean, what am I to her, really, but a bushy little hobbit?”, said Brom then fell silent. This night had offered him many wonders. Just not the ones he would have wished for.

 

Tonic stared at the back of the hobbit as they once more fell silent.

She had been surprised by this unscrupulous hobbit a few too many times this evening. But this last bit gave her a whole new insight about him because he hadn’t been staring at her pair for the simple visual pleasure of having ogled at a very beautiful, proportionately curvy, comely buxom, life inducingly vibrant, deservingly exhilarating, darkly mysterious, and honestly alluring figure, counter-underlined by some macho male animal instinct, but for something more. Something that was intimate. Something that had real depth.

Tonic suddenly felt angry and jealous.

For all her pretense otherwise, she didn’t feel like sharing her pair with anyone, even though she had taken her pair a bit too much for granted.

Then she felt shame.

The hobbit —No! Not the hobbit.. ‘Brom’, had done nothing but give his best to help a cranky, cantankerous, contrary, grumpy and surly little girl his all, and not just that evening, but carefully, every day, ever since they had met. And for some reason, Tonic didn’t think he’d done any of it to gain favor with her pair, by proxy. For all his seeming indifference towards everything, lack of base enthusiasm, exasperation level of sloth, and blatantly unscrupulous attitudes, he was smart, cunning, always seemed to show unsolicited kindness, and he was loyal, educated, and well-spoken, even though he hadn’t been to an academy such as Melshieve and thus far, he’d more than pulled his weight in fights.

Much better than she had!

Hells bells, he’d also played that lyre like a siren! She remembered all the times she’d thought he was just staring at her pair’s butt, while he had persistently claimed he was composing a song.. in his mind!

And he had been telling the truth all along.

‘The Endless White’.

The tune he had played, back at the inn that very evening was something that was simply ‘mad’..

..and Tonic had loved it!

And now she didn’t want to share her pair with him?

Like her pair was hers to give or not..

Just how arrogant was that?

 

“Yes.”, inner Tonic said. “You really are selfish, you know.”

“Whose side are you anyway?”, blazed Tonic but her heart hadn’t really been in it. She’d flared more out of ‘muscle reflex’ than true intent.

“Does it matter? It was you, who wanted to try ‘this way for some..’, wasn’t it? Now you want to quit? I wasn’t aware it would be this short. Must have missed the memo. Had I known you’d be this fickle, I wouldn’t have fought against it so hard, knowing you’d come around on the morrow..”, inner Tonic said, and she didn’t even bother with the sarcasm.

Tonic shut up.

From the inside!

 

No. The hobbit was not just ogling at a very beautiful, proportionately curvy, comely buxom, life-inducingly vibrant, deservingly exhilarating, darkly mysterious, and honestly alluring figure.

Brom was staring at the heart of all that and desolately knew, he could never have it.

The ogling was just his way of fooling those around him..

..and himself.

 

“You could tell her.”, she braved mutely.

 

“To what end? There’s nothing neither of us can do about it, particularly if she doesn’t see me that way. If I tell her, all I will get is either the basic ‘You are my friend’, talk or the infamous ‘But I love you like a brother’, talk, which I would rather forgo and Heavens forbid, will never happen. However Seressa sees me, I never want her to love me like a ‘brother’..”, replied Brom, and not without a good dose of bitter disgust.

 

“So you are going to do nothing?”, asked Tonic incredulously.

 

“I never claimed to be a brave man, Tonic. As a matter of fact, I did say I was a coward, this very evening, I might add. Being refused by someone as awesome as Wraiven is not something I ever want to experience. I’d rather just ogle and make sure she sees me doing it.”, he said quietly.

 

“Make sure she sees you? Why? That doesn’t make sense.”, said Tonic befuddled.

“I don’t like sneak-peaking at her. Feels wrong. Feels like cheating.. Feels immoral —and yes, I am fully aware of the monumentally depraved irony there. That doesn’t change the way I feel, though.”, said Brom, frowning a bit.

 

“But.. but you are suffering and she doesn’t even know!”, bewailed Tonic.

“What’s got you so riled. It’s my problem. I’d rather look at that beautiful and wonderful, and beautifully wonderful girl with the impossible dream of a ‘chance’, than never to be able to look at her again when I get refused or be declared as ‘loved like a brother’!”, said Brom, gruffly.

Tonic ran up to Brom and stopped right in front of him and looked him in the eyes.

“That’s.. That’s just wrong, Brom.. and sad..”, she said with brimming eyes.

“Well. I am a sad sort of man. I got a problem, and I am using the cowardly way out. Nobody is feeling bad and no one is getting hurt..”, he said flatly.

“Accept you.”, she said quietly.

“Yea, well. There you have it. Chew on that psychoanalysis if you will, Miss Tonic.”, said Brom, brushed past the gnomic girl and with determined steps, started towards The Great Arashkan Library..

✱ ✱ ✱

Tell me again.”, said Brom with a mute, stoic voice. “What do I say to this Tinker-guy, again? And how in the blazes am I even going to get up to that window anyway? It must be at least fifty-five feet up there. Probably more, since this is a library. They would require higher ceilings to store all the books.”

 

Brom didn’t feel well. He had never wanted to divulge his feelings about the very tall, very dark girl to anyone. And certainly not to Tonic. Not because he thought she couldn’t keep the knowledge to herself, but perhaps, and because, he thought, she would keep it to herself.

“Damit.”, he thought. “Why now? Why tonight, of all nights?”

Had it been the tune he’d played to the audience that evening?

The one he’d named a tad grandly as; The Endless White.

He knew he should have named it just The White... or even White... but white was just too generic.

Or perhaps it was the song he’d sang after that; Time.

In all honesty, Brom Bumblebrim knew, he just knew, it wasn’t him, who’d written that song. Unlike any other song he had written, this one had ‘come’ to him.. and in the most literal sense possible. Word by word, the song had written itself in his mind and heart during his two-year sojourn from Bowling Hills, all the way to Shakehands.. Which is when he’d met Cora. But tonight had been the first time he had actually put it on display, so to speak. And now, the song was out..

..and out of its ‘time’, Brom thought with a sardonic inner snort.

Or perhaps it was because of having met an angelic being.. or seen that dark, the very sinister-looking man he’d ended up feeling ‘distaste’ at best, then getting all his emotions totally eroded when he saw the same, sinister man looking at the sweet little skinny girl the way he had. And the look she had given him had been emotionally ruinous all by itself for Brom.

He was a bard, damit, and love was the bread and butter for all bards.. But the thing between those two.. he found he couldn’t define it..

..because he could not comprehend it.

It had been so.. nubile in its beauty..

So primevally intense.

There had been no decorum to it. Only base, raw, savage, and somehow, awe-inspiringly tender and desperately lonely longing in the look the two, very unlikely man and girl, were giving one another.

And they were giving it in a sense that was singularly unique! It made other people’s love seem like they were merely and briefly lending their hearts to others, while those two had already and literally given theirs.

So much so that what beat in one, was actually the heart of the other..

 

What man, woman —or bard— could truly comprehend that?

 

The intermixed irony that was put under the broad beam of a bright spotlight was not lost on Brom at all;

One, inhumane human, and one, infinitely humane, inhuman!

It was likely that very destitution the two had, that’d sparked the fire that had previously been a mere and happy little kindle..

..into searing pain.

 

“Damit!”

 

Tonic gave Brom an even look.

Whether she surmised what was really going through the hobbit’s mind, she kept it to herself.

For now, at least.

Which was a grace, all by itself.

 

“I have seen you climb walls before, Brom. That cloak of yours will more than suffice. If you want, though, I can give you a potion that will make you climb pretty much any surface. Another for you to pass through any gap, or to safely float down. I can send a rope all the way up there.. The window is in range.”, she listed methodically. “I suppose, if you want, I can bring out Mechaber. He can give you a fifteen feet head-start sort of a jump. But I haven’t really had the opportunity to field test that. And I can’t promise a quiet landing. Likely, it will bring a lot of patrols upon us. I am guessing you’d rather avoid that.”

“I am guessing, you would rather avoid that!”, scowled Brom.

“Yes. Yes, I would.. Very much.. The technology behind Mechaber is not out yet, and I would rather it didn’t. Not yet, and not until it’s perfected and certainly not until I install the self-destruct unit in it.”, she said seriously.

“The self— what?”, asked Brom incredulously.

“Self-destruct unit.. You didn’t think I would artifice something as dangerous and deadly as Mechaber and then hand it over to the irresponsible humankind, or have it stolen, now did you? I designed it. I must make sure it never falls into wrong hands..”, Tonic said like she was paraphrasing from a blood-signed doctrine!

“Ooookay.. Good, we got that cleared, then.”, Brom said.

“Mechaber is serious business, Brom. Nothing to joke about. The fact that you have seen it, let alone know about it is a sign of how much Seressa trusts you because if it were up to me, you’d have never seen, nor heard mention of it.. Well.. not for some time, anyway.”

“Ooookay.. Good to know where we stand too, then.”, Brom said with the same tone.

Tonic scowled.

“Look, just because you like someone, doesn’t mean you hand over the nuclear launch codes to them, alright!”, she said with an exasperated voice.

“The what lunch codes?”

“Never mind.”, said Tonic. “Read it in some silly futuristic sci-fi book.”

“Psychic-what? What are you talking about, girl? Just what the hell kind of books are you reading?”, Brom asked.

“Look, the story begins when a pretty Erossian spy falls in love with a mad and delusional Camerican nuclear scientist—”, the gnomic girl promptly began..

“Tonic!.. It’s late. I am tired and in all sorts of ways.. Let’s just get this over with, shall we? I am sure Cora and your pair have noticed we have been too quiet by now and gone to your room to check and see as to why! I think the story about some mad psychic-whatsit can wait, don’t you?”

“Right..”, said Tonic and blushed a bit. “Just tell him what I told you. Don’t loiter. Don’t chit-chat. Get in. Tell him. Get out. And..”

Brom cocked one eyebrow.

“And?”

“..And, thank you. I made you do things tonight you would rather not have done.. At least not with me, nor for me.. So.. Thank you..”, she said with a small voice.

“You are welcome, Miss Tonic. And no, I wouldn’t have done any of this, not tonight, not ever, but not because of you. I just wouldn’t have done them because I would rather have taken a light snack, cleaned and tuned my lyre, and then went to sleep. Thanks to you, it is unlikely I will find any light snacks nor find the time to neither clean nor tune my lyre. And because it’s nearly the end of the night, I will not be getting any sleep either..”, Brom said.

Tonic frowned.. and felt a bit.. hurt..

“But I did do all the things I would rather have not, and I am now a better man for it.. All because of you.. So.. Thank you!”, he added with a smile.

Tonic’s eyes teared.

“Go.. Now.. Or I shall call you an ass and totally ruin the moment, Brom Bumblebrim!”, she sniffled.

 

Brom smirked, turned around, pulled his magic cloak around him..

..and started climbing up the side of The Great Arashkan Library like some odd lizard or possibly, an arachnid!

✱ ✱ ✱

Who is there?”, a slightly tenoric male voice whispered harshly in the darkness.

“It is I, The Ghost of Silent Hills Past, Present, and Future!”, spoke Brom, with a hoarse, hollow voice as he produced a very high, very eerie, screaming tune from his lyre.

 

The poor antic instrument wept at her misuse.

 

Brom had found the ‘Tinker-guy’ with relative ease. The gnome was taller than Tonic but while the gnomic girl was proportionally slim, this gnome, the possible great, great, great-something grandson of Prince Gordigon was a bit on the stocky side. Though he looked quite young and robust and had keen, intelligent, and pursuing eyes.

Brom had thought of a dozen different ways of approaching the gnome, including stepping up to him and saying, “Hallo there, matie. Got somin te tell yer! Go there them Silent ‘ills an’ grab what’s there fer yer self and be quik ’bout tit! And while at tit, quit mawnin’ ’bout things ‘cuz non wuz yer falt! But I’d suggis yer watch yer arse cuz sum fellers wantsit!”

And now he was gnawing his knuckles, hiding a few rows, behind and above him, stuck on the ceiling!

 

“Whot?”, the gnome, Tinker-guy, said in a baffled and spooked voice.. And one of his hands formed claws as a huge ball of fire appeared in it!

 

“Ow crap!”, thought Brom. “A trigger happy fireballer!.. We are in a bloody library, damit! Who uses a fire hall in a library? That is a universal reason for contempt, almost akin to speaking aloud in a theater! Doesn’t he know there’s a special kind of hell for people like that? And this idiot is the heir to Silent Hills?”

He produced his own Wand of Ice, just in case the fool actually did fire his ball and he had to put out the fires!

 

And just then, they heard a monotonous, matronly voice echo.

 

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, OR YOU WILL BE FINED! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

 

“What the..”, said the gnome, Tinker-guy.

Brom snickered. Ow, this was going to be fun!

“It is I, The Ghost of Silent Hills Past, Present, and Future!”, he repeated, with the same hoarse, hollow voice.

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 50 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“And I have come to give you tidings from the beyond, young Tinker-guy!”, hallowed Brom.

The gnome, Tinker-guy, cocked an eyebrow, his face puzzled.

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 100 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“What the hell?”, the Tinker-guy said.

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 150 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

Brom snickered, some more. If Tonic caught him doing this, she’d have his hide, and then some!

“You shall go to Silent Hills.. There you will find your kin..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 200 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“You must reclaim your heritage..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 250 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“Ow. My. Gosh!”, exclaimed the Tinker-guy. “Can you please stop?!”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 300 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“No. I can’t!”, moaned Brom.

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 350 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“For I..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 400 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“..am the Ghost of Silent..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 450 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“..Hills, Past..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 500 CREDITS! YOU ARE NOW BARRED FROM THE LIBRARY FOR A WEEK. PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“..Present and Future!”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 550 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“Stop!”, cried the gnome!

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 600 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“And you shall do my bidding..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 650 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“Stop. Just stop!”, shrieked the Tinker-guy in desperation.

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 700 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“No. I can’t..”, repeated Brom, his eyes shut, his face flushed and he had started doing strange, snorting, bubbling noises.

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 750 CREDITS! YOU ARE NOW BARRED FROM THE LIBRARY FOR A MONTH. PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“You shall go to Silent Hills, and into the Demon Fog to reclaim your birthright..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 800 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“You must also know, young Tinker-guy..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 850 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“Stop! You are going to get me permanently..”, cried the gnome.

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 900 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

Brom could hardly breathe by now.

“..what befell you in the past..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 950 CREDITS! PLEASE BE ADVISED; YOU ARE NOW APPROACHING CONDEMN LIMIT. PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“..was not of your doing!”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 1000 CREDITS! YOU ARE NOW BANNED FROM THE GREAT ARASHKAN LIBRARY. PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“Whot?”, exclaimed the gnome and there appeared a haunted expression on his face. A face that bespoke of shame, self-loathing, relief, pain lived, and pain endured..

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 1100 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“Those who put your heritage into desolation sent their minions to slay ye and yer line..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 1200 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

The gnome’s face paled. He tried to speak, but words utterly failed him.

“..to ensure, none would ever bring ‘voice’ to Silent Hills..”

And now, Brom wasn’t snickering anymore.

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 1300 CREDITS! PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“Hence an evil plan they hatched.. A heinous plan.. And they brought down your home and buried you, and yours..”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 1400 CREDITS! PLEASE PLEASE BE ADVISED; YOU ARE NOW APPROACHING CIVIL RIGHTS LIMIT. STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

Tears appeared in the Tinkey-guy’s eyes and ran down shamelessly.

“My mother? My father? My brothers and sisters by the dozen? Terrah Doodlebellz? All my friends? My neighbors? —They all died because of me?”

“QUIET IN THE LIBRARY, 1500 CREDITS! THE CIVIC GUARDS ARE ON THEIR WAY. PLEASE STOP BY THE CASHIER FOR THE PAYMENT AND WAIT FOR DETENTION! THANK YOU AND HAVE A NICE DAY.”

“Nay, young Tinkerdome. They all died because someone slew them. They all died to kill your line. Make their sacrifice worth the world, young Tinkerdome..

Reclaim your Heritage.

 

Reclaim your Hills.

 

Reclaim your Kingdom.

 

Reclaim your Throne.

 

Reclaim your Destiny.

 

Reclaim your People.

 

And be a King!

 

And with a job well done, Brom Bumblebrim silently climbed down the ceiling.

Quite as a mouse, he brushed past the devastated Prince Gnine Tinkerdome, the great, great, great-something grandson of Prince Gordigon, got out the window, and skimmed down the walls of The Great Arashkan Library..

✱ ✱ ✱

WHAT DID YOU DO?!“, nearly shrieked Tonic in panic as she grabbed the hobbit and started running back the way they came. “The place is suddenly crawling with civic law enforcement!”

They ran past the Lights Temple, along the Archery Military Camp, and cut through the street between Heaven Park and Officers District.

“I said, just talk to him, say the things, and get out!”, spluttered the gnomic girl.

“Which is pretty much what I did, girl!”, panted Brom, his face flushed and he truly felt tired, both physically and emotionally. And he was scratching the upper end of one leg, near the buttock, just where he couldn’t see.

“What is the matter with you?”, Tonic asked, her eyes wild now.

“I got bit.. Again!..”, spat Brom, and mumbled to himself, “This is the last time I fall for a cute face!”, as they heard someone shout “HALT!“, from behind them.

“Whot?”

“Never.. mind.. Not a story.. for now..”, Brom said with a harsh scowl.

RUN, THEN!“, hissed Tonic.WE CAN’T GET CAUGHT DAMIT! OW. MY. GOSH!

Aaaand the gnomic girl was about to get hit with a full-blown panic now!

Something neither of them needed at that very moment.

“Calm.. down.. girl!”, said Brom harshly, as he huffed, and puffed.

 

The marching footsteps were getting closer.

HALT! HALT I SAY! HALT IN THE NAME OF THE FIRST LORD!“, repeated the same voice from behind, but much closer now, than before.

 

“Can.. you.. disappear?”, Tonic gasped as she ran next to Brom.

“Umm.. Yes.. But only myself!”, breathed Brom heavily.

“Ok, then.. Go.. Shoo! Vanish! Scram!”, she said.

“NO! Not.. leaving you.. Not happening..!”, Brom breathed.

“I can.. take care of.. myself.. damit!”, snarled Tonic.

“Together.. or not.. happening.. I.. never want to.. face a Wraiven.. with you.. missing!”, he gasped.

“Damit!”, she said, produced two vials with green, vaporish something in them, and a tightly packed clay sphere out of her artificer’s satchel. “Here, drink this in ten!”, she said and handed one of the vials to Brom, as she tossed the clay sphere behind her.

“You know, disintegrating civic guards is not a good idea, Tonic..”, Brom said lightly.

There was a stunning bang, and the civic guards on their heels dropped to their knees and slumbered face down.

“Neat..”, admired Brom.

“Won’t keep them down for long. Now shut up and drink! The effects of this potion should last about an hour, possibly more. I am usually generous —or heavy-handed— with ingredients, depending on your point of view.. Meet you at the inn.”, she said and topped her own vial.. and suddenly, Tonic fell apart!

“I like you, Brom Bumblebrim.”, she said in a warbling, escaping, gaseous, and fading voice. “If you are so bent on martyring alone, I shall abide by your wishes. But you shouldn’t decide for Wraiven without bothering to ask her. That truly is cowardly. And not really any different than all the other animals out there who only see the pinks and never wonder what’s in it.. I made that mistake and it cost me—”

Whatever it had cost Arcantonic, she couldn’t say.

Her form drifted away in a hazy wisp of smoke!

 

Brom scowled after the now gone gnomic girl.

“Inserting the last word right before the disappearing act.. Cheap, Miss Tonic. Very cheap! Well, I am warning you now, girl, there’s a whole slew of pain coming your way..”, he said darkly and drank his own vial..

 

It was the strangest sensation he had ever felt.

It was like his whole body was flying apart into tiny, dust-sized bits! He felt the hair on his bushy head rise on their ends, accept he had no hair left either. Every part of him just.. puffed into smoke, and he got carried off with the slightest wind.

Now all he had to do was somehow steer himself in the general direction of the inn, preferably away from the scores of civic guards.

✱ ✱ ✱

Had a good evening, did you?” asked Cora as she stood in the hallway up the stairs to their rooms in the inn.

Her arms were crossed.

She was scowling at the little hobbit.

And her lips had that pout again.

Brom was smart enough not to comment on how cute Cora looked when she pouted.

Or rather, when she pouted while she was angry!

“Ummm.. Had a good evening yourself, did you?”, replied Brom, as he peered into their room.

 

The room was a wreck!

Everything, including bits of the floorboards, the windows, the window sills, the curtains, the flower pots, the walls, the feather bed, the nightstand, the lamps.. were either broken to bits or were cracked beyond repair. Feathers from the bed matres and the former pillows floated about and covered everywhere while food crumbs, empty and broken plates, bowls, and further cracked mugs and bottles were tossed and scattered haphazardly.

“This is not mere destruction.”, thought Brom in awe. “This is very nearly art! I could literally write an epic on this!”

 

“What did you do, Brom Bumblebrim?”, she fumed from her nose as she loomed over the hobbit, glaring down at him with her glacial blue eyes.

“Again with the ultimatum name use! What is it with my name and ultimatums, girl?”, asked Brom, frowning a bit. “And, I could ask you the same thing, Cora Sleet!.. What did you two do here?”

“We had a girls night. What does it look like? Seressa said we had to wreck the room at the end, so we did.. Was fun like I never had in my life!”, she replied seriously.

“And did you wear pinks too? I know for a fact, neither of you had pajamas!”, smirked Brom.

 

Cora’s eyes blazed and her face pinked.. just a little.. Barely visible, really, and if Brom hadn’t known the barbarian girl for as long as he had, he would have totally missed it.

 

“So.. how did you like it? The pinks, I mean..”, he asked blandly, and secretly kicked himself for having missed perhaps the only chance he would have ever gotten to see a Cora Sleet in Seressa’s mini pinks!

“It was a bit drafty but otherwise comfy!”, she replied with a straight face.

“Any chance for me to—?”, he asked.

“Never happen!”, Cora replied and now she really was scowling. “WHAT. DID. YOU. DO. BROM? We left you so you can calm Tonic. Not make her cry more!”

Brom sighed. He’d really wanted this to be kept between himself and the gnomic girl. Just to preserve her dignity, if nothing else. He didn’t want the cute little demon, as she at times became, to be seen as a ‘break down’ or a ‘cry baby’ and hence, an unreliable ‘loose end’, but there was no going around Cora when she got stubborn as she did now.

“Best way is to pull at it fast and sharp, and get it over with.”, he thought, took a deep breath, and spoke his piece.

 

“Before, she was crying for dubious and barely justifiable reasons.. I, on the other hand, gave her a genuine reason, so now, she is crying for real!”, said Brom and sure as he was a short, bushy-haired hobbit, his voice was now quite low, unsophisticated, and kind. “I am sorry Cora, but the current storm is inevitable. Once it blows, however, she will be done. She will then thank me because she will be feeling much, much better, and be stronger for it!”

 

Cora looked down at the hobbit. But the ice in her glacials were gone and she was looking at him, not with her looming glare, but with the one that said..

‘You and I..’

‘We are equals.’

 

“Something happened.”, she murmured softly.

“No.. Maybe..”, Brom replied evasively.

“Must I drag it out of you, my friend?”, she said with part annoyance, part amusement, and part.. wonder, perhaps?

“I’d rather you didn’t. This one isn’t about me, Cora.. Please.. Let this one go..”, he said without looking up at her.

“Grilled you, did she? Alright, then, go.. You look beat. Missed me in pinks, though.”, she smirked.

“Yea. Missed a lot in pinks tonight.”, he mumbled quietly and left for his room.

✱ ✱ ✱

Tonic, luv..”, said Seressa softly. “Do tell me what’s wrong. It pains me to see you thus.”

Seressa had silently entered the room they had planned on staying that evening like a whisper. She had skimmed the wooden floor, went over to the large, feather bed, scooped up her pair, and cuddled her in her arms.

And like a broken little girl, Tonic had clung onto her very tall, very dark pair and shook violently as she’d wept.

“Tell me, luv. I am your pair. We share.. Share me your hurt.. Please..”, she’d said into her ear.

Arcantonic Palecog clung to pair, spluttering with uncontrollable manic and desperate tears, unable to form words.

“He saved him.. He brought him back!”, was the only thing Seressa could discern out of her.

As to who had saved whom, or brought who back, Tonic’s comprehensibility had ended there.

Clutching something in one hand, she’d wept and wept until she’d slumbered right there in her pairs arms like a cotton doll, as the exhausting venture of the night, unbeknownst to her pair, had finally caught up to her.

Seressa had hugged her pair to her heart’s content, long, long past her slumber with all the love and compassion she could muster, then sighed, “My little luv. You mean the world to me. Please understand that.. And never cry. Be happy!“.

She got up, and lightly limped as she carried her pair, and slowly put her into her bed.

“Hmm..”, she frowned. “I could have sworn I had taken her shoes off before..”

Being careful with the left one, she unlaced her little, cup-sized boots, took them off, and put them down near the bed.

Then she went to the wardrobe and pulled down a heavy quilt and covered her pair with it. Tonic looked more like a sad little kitten, curled up the way she had. Even smaller, the way she slept in a feather bed six times her size and eight times her length.

Seressa walked up to the window and pulled the curtains and closed them. The sun would dawn soon and her pair needed sleep. So did she, for that matter.

The very tall, very dark girl wondered if her pair would mind if she curled right next to her. The feather bed was certainly big enough and the idea appealed to her.

It had been one hell of a night. If she’d known girls nights was this much fun, she’d have patronized Tonic into one, years ago. She did feel a bit guilty though. Her pair had been stuck here and crying all night while she and Cora had partied like there was no tomorrow. Seressa felt like she’d abandoned her pair at a moment of her dire need.

Then she inevitably smiled.

Damn, that barbarian girl knew how to party, though!

She thought she would also have to find a proper way to thank the hobbit, Brom, as well, for keeping Tonic company while she and Cora had dismantled a goodly part of the inn. Seressa loved her pair, but she was not totally blind to her shortcomings, either. She didn’t need to bet to guess her pair had probably made the hobbit’s life miserable during his stay with her.

 

Tonic sighed in her sleep and lost grip of the thing in her clutch. It rolled off the bed and dropped on the floor.

Seressa looked down and frowned.

It was a very, very old, tattered, and crumbled scroll now.

And it looked vaguely.. familiar somehow.

Seressa had a very good memory for things; what people said, their faces, and objects she’d seen, which was why she’d rarely bothered taking any notes back at the academy. She could recite the things her tutors and professors had said almost verbatim, and identify an innumerable variety of objects and readily label them.

It sure had drawn the envy of many of the other students to no end. Seressa had given them a good lesson on ‘humanity’ that being pretty and somewhat ‘silly’ and ‘honestly vain’, didn’t equivalate to ‘stupid’.

Seressa liked feeling ‘pretty’ and ‘beautiful’, and ‘pretty beautiful’, damit..

So, there!

 

Deep down, though, she knew her appearance was mere ointment for the blunt void she felt at never to have felt the love she desperately wanted. The love she wanted had to emanate from a man like the heat from the core of an oven. Like it had to be something that was tangible.

The only problem with that was, the oven was there, men just weren’t emanating the fire.

Only.. temperamental and ephemeral sparks..

Men, it seemed, were definitely into her. And that’s about it. They were never interested in what went through her mind, nor her heart. And none of them wanted a dark, lumbering klutz of a girl with horns, a tail, and a fetish for pinks looming over them for a mate. Only as a plaything, at best..

A curio.

Might as well be an obsidian doll!

Which is what she was now.

She didn’t mind the ‘play’ part. She was very nearly sure it’d be fun. But it was the ‘thing’ that turned the whole idea stale. She just refused to be a ‘thing’ for anyone.

And no one worthy should be seeing her as a thing anyway, right?

She’d gone after the pretty ones. When that failed, she’d gone after the smart ones.. Apparently, whether they were pretty or smart, neither equivalated to ‘heart’, where men were concerned.

But then, what did? What did really equivalate to a heart?

Seressa felt bitterly cheated in life.

And sorely confused.

She was given all these amenities.

They just weren’t of any use..

She perpetually felt like she was a beautiful flower who only attracted pests and wasps, but never the bumblebee..

 

She sighed, and silently she reached down and picked up the rather worn scroll and carefully, tenderly, even, she unrolled it, and with a shocked expression, she read the very old and tattered scroll that had somehow been preserved through centuries, persevered against impossible odds, and had traveled all the way from the depths of Ritual Forest, through a bloody, demon-infested war zone, to here, to find its way back to her pair..

 

“Dear, dear Bumblebrim..”, Seressa said softly with brimming eyes, and a curvy little smile, as she finally figured the ‘who’ in ‘whom’, and remembered too, when and where she had seen the old scroll before; some relative eight hundred years ago, when they were waiting for Tonic, and the Prince Gordigon had given this letter, rolled into a scroll, carelessly laced, but not cased, in the hopes that the ‘courier’ herself would read it!

“I have no idea how you did it, but you have given back my pair a life, and a world of joy.. Thank you, for you are truly, and inexplicably amazing, luv.”

 


arashkan şehri dungeons and dragons duygusal groups karakter analizi modül role play serenity The Great Arashkan the plot thickens Whispers; A Cabal

Geleceğin Adımları

Geleceğin Adımları

Timeline:

Grup bir yandan Gar Thalot’u ararken, bir yandan Lilly Venom olayını hazmetmeye çalışır. Nevarki günler grubun bazıları için oldukça sıkıcı geçmektedir; Anglenna, Lorna, Udoorin ve Laila gibi.. Ancak başkalarının aksine bazıları can sıkıntılarını daha sessiz ve sakin bir şekilde geçirmeyi tercih ederler..

 

Bu hikaye,
Benim gitmem lazım.
ile aynı gece yer alır..

 

 

Prenses Alor’Nadien ne Feymist, az evvel camdan süzülerek çıkan kıza biraz gıpta ile bakar ve nadiren olduğu gibi, onun kadar özgür olmaya can atar.. Nadiren olmasının sebebi, Prenses Alor’Nadien ne’nin asla sorumluluklarından kaçan yada sakınan biri olmayışındandır. Ama bazen çekiyor insanın canı işte. Bu bir prenses dahi olsa..

Büyük Arashkan Şehrine geleli iki haftadan fazla olmuştur ve bunların birisini sefil arenada geçirmiş olması, aslında hoşuna bile gitmiştir prensesin. Dışarıdan bakıldığında prenses fevkalade nazik, eğitimli, kültürlü, zarif, ince, düşünceli, anlayışlı, sevgi dolu, iyimser, sessiz, dramdan pek haz almayan, tam anlamıyla hanımefendi bir asilzadedir. Pek az kişinin bildiği ise bu listede olmayan ‘özellik’leridir; fevkalade inatçı, dik kafalı, boş oturmaya gelemeyen ve..

..işin işte bu son ikisinin varlığını göstermiş olması onun canının sıkılmış olmasına sebep olmuştur. Boş oturmaya gelemeyen, ve..

Prenses, ‘ve..’nin tam olarak neye tekabül ettiğine daha bir isim koyamaz zira kendisi de emin değildir. Ve bunu hayatında sadece bir defa hissetmiştir; arenada o devasa yaratıkla savaşırken, küçük, sevgili Inshala’nın çağırdığı muazzam ‘canlı’ ağacın yaratığı devirmesinden sonra, sevgili Udoorin’in attığı nara.. Evet o naradan sonra bir an delirmişçesine kendisi de yaratığa saldırmış, hatta hayatında hiç hissetmediği bir heyecanla  kedisi de bir ‘nara’ atmıştı! Her ne kadar kendi attığı şeye ‘nara’ denemeyeceğini her koşul altında itiraf edebilse de, bir şey atmıştı işte..

Udoorin’den sonra İzci Onbaşı Laila’da nara atmıştı ve onunkisi gerçek bir nara idi; vahşi, iç titreten, içinde bir ölüm fermanın yazılı olduğu bir nara!

Kendisininkine ise en iyi ihtimalle ‘cılız bir çığlık’ denebilirdi!

 

Prensese göre kişi her zaman, etrafındakilere olduğu kadar kendisine de dürüst olmalıydı ve bu önemliydi.

Her ne kadar utanç verici olsa da!

 

Bir de ‘Görenler ne demiştir?’, meselesi vardı tabii..

 

‘Koskoca Bari Na-ammen prensesi, vahşi bir barbar gibi çığlık atıyordu!’

Prensesin barbarlara karşı herhangi bir husumeti yada onları küçük görmesi gibi bir derdi yoktu. Her kültürün kendisine özel ‘halleri’ vardı nihayetinde. Sorun, kendisinin içine doğduğu kültürde ‘nara atma’ diye bir şeyin olmayışıydı..

Dahası, prensesin gerçekte dert ettiği şey bu da değildi. O narayı attıktan sonra hissettikleriydi..

 

Prenses, hafif uzanmış olduğu, pek de temiz olmayan hanın, çok da hoş kokmayan yatağında, şimdi bile yüzünün kızardığını hisseder. Neyse ki High Spires Efendisi Philius kendisinin bu handa kaldığını öğrenmiş, ve onun en son Arashkan’a gelişinden, kitapları ne kadar sevdiğini hatırlamış ve ona okuması için bir düzine kitap göndermişti.

Prenses için kitaplar çok fonksiyonlu şeylerdi. Bariz olanları dışında, kızarmış yüzleri saklamak için de ideal birer araç olmalarıydı!

 

Prenses derin bir iç çeker. Günlerdir bu Gar Thalot denen adamı aramaktaydılar. Ancak işin arama kısmının çoğu, şehrin karanlık yer altı örgütlerini içermekteydi ve babası Ri Grandaleren ile arası ne kadar açılmış olsa da, ailesinin adını yerlerde süründürmek gibi de bir niyeti yoktu. Dolayısıyla işin bu kısmı genç Darly Dor’a, Efendi Aager’e, İzci Onbaşı Laila’ya, Efendi Gnine’a ve sevgili Udoorin’e kalmıştı. Küçük Inshala’nın da gitmesine gerek yoktu onlarla ama kız Efendi Aager nereye giderse o da onunla gidiyordu. Sevgili Merisoul ise istediği yere zaten gidiyor, kimseye de hesap vermiyordu. Bu da kendisinin, kuzeni Anglenna’nın ve Lady Magella’nın handa tıkılıp kalmaları anlamına geliyordu..

Bunun anlamı da, asla tahammül edemediği boş boş oturması anlamına tekabül ediyordu..

 

Alor’Nadien ne, Lady ile konuşmak istemişti biraz, özellikle Serenity Home ve halkı, çevresi, sorunları, eksiklikleri ve bu konuda kendisinin elinden neler gelebileceği ile ilgili.. Ancak arena sonrasında ona bir haller olmuştu.

Dwarf kız neredeyse her gün sabahtan akşama kadar kaldıkları odanın bir köşesine geçilmiş, ya meditasyona girmiş, yada gözleri kapalı bir şekilde derin düşüncelere dalmıştı. Taki iki gün önce geçirdiği ürkütücü cinnet haline kadar.. O günden beri ise neredeyse hiç konuşmamış, sevgili Inshala’nın ağlamaklı zorlamalarıyla çok az da olsa bir şeyler yemiş ve tekrar kendi düşüncelerine dalmıştı..

 

Aslına bakılırsa sevgili kuzeni ve ablasında da bir haller vardı..

Arenadan beri..

Yüzünde her zaman ki gergin hali eksikti. Dudaklarını ince birer çizgi haline de getirmiyordu.

Ve saçları da bazen örülü bile olmuyordu —ki Alor’Nadien ne onu hatırladığı hiçbir geçmişte ablasının ‘mükemmel’ dışı haline şahit olmamıştı. Şimdi ise o da zamanının çoğunu ya elflere özgü trans halinde, yada kendisine hayalet görmüş gibi bir ifadeyle bakar buluyordu.

Arenada bir şeyler olmuştu sanki..

 

Prenses Alor’Nadien ne Feymist yavaşça doğrulur. Zarif bir şekilde kalkar, üstünü düzeltir ve kuzeninin önüne çömelir. Kuzeni High Lady Anglenna’nın gözleri anında açılır ve önünde çömelmiş halde duran küçük prensesine bakar ve bir an.. sadece çok kısa bir an yüzü gerilir, ama bu gerginlik eski halindeki gerginlik değildir..

..ve yine o ‘hayalet gömüş’ ifade oluşur yüzünde.

 

“Ablam..”, der Alor’Nadien ne sessizce ve bu ifadenin ağzından çıkmasıyla High Lady Anglenna’nın tüm yüz hatları değişir.. Odadaki tek ışık kaynağı olan iğreti gece lambasının ışığı, High Lady’nin gözlerinde oynaşmaya başlar.

“..Ne oldu size? Canınızı sıkan bir şey mi var? Daha ben küçük bir kızken size her şeyimi anlatırdım. Lütfen. Siz de bana anlatınız. Sadece mutluluklar paylaşılmaz. Ben sizin kadar bilge değilim. Ama sessiz bir dinleyiciyimdir.”

High Lady Anglenna’nın yüz ifadesi daha da burkulur. Zapt edemediği, titrek bir sesle cevap verir prensese.

“Bari Na-ammen Prensesi kimsenin önünde eğilmez, kimsenin önünde de yere çömelmez.. Lütfen ayağa kalkın..”

“Ablam..”, diye itiraz etmeye kalkar Alor’Nadien ne.

“Prenses Alor’Nadien ne. Lütfen..”, diye ısrarla rica eder Anglenna.

Alor’Nadien ne derin, vazgeçmiş bir nefes verir ve ayağa kalkar. Sorusunu tekrarlayıp tekrarlamamak konusunda bir an kararsız kalır ama ablasının yüzündeki ifadeyi değerlendirdiğinde bundan vazgeçer.

Ve zaten o anda iri bir el, olabildiğince nazik bir şekilde kapılarını tıklatır.

✱ ✱ ✱

İyi akşamlar, Haş Teyze..”, der Udoorin biraz ıkınarak, kapıyı açan High Lady Anglenna’ya. “Mümkün ise Lady Lorna ile görüşmek isterim. Kendisi müsaitse.. Değilse sorun değil. Başka zaman da gelebilirim.”

High Lady Anglenna sessizce başını prensese doğru çevirir ve onun cevabını bekler. Prensesin yüzü belli belirsiz pembeleşir, sessiz yürüyüşüyle kapıya gelir, koridorda bekleyen genç adama bakar ve ister istemez gülümser.

“Sevgili Udoorin. Sizin için bu saatte ne yapabiliriz?”, diye sorar.

“Umm.. Aslında ben sizin için bir şeyler yapmayı ummuştum. Günlerdir handa tıkılmış durumdasınız. Belki.. Belki biraz temiz hava almak istersiniz ve bunun için de benim size eşlik etmeme izin verirsiniz.. diye düşünmüştüm. Yani.. Mümkünse.. Lütfen?”, diye oldukça başarılı başlayan teklifi, kızarmış bir yüzle bitirir Udoorin.

“Tabii ki. Bize biraz müsaade ederseniz, üstüme bir şal alayım. Havalar biraz soğudu.”, diye mutlu bir cevap verir genç adama ve hemen içeri döner, muhteşem bir hızla üstündeki kırışmış elbiseyi çıkartır, yerine oldukça sade görünümlü olmakla beraber, fevkalade zevkle işlenmiş, zarif, salınımlı, tek yanı yırtmaçlı, koyu mor bir etekli elbiseyi geçirir, onun üstüne de silik bej renkli bir şal atar ve kapıya yönelir.

High Lady Anglenna bir an itiraz edecek gibi olur ama sonra vaz geçer zira Prenses kararını vermiştir.

Genç adam, prensesini koluna alır, gizleyemediği bir mutlulukla handan beraber ayrılırlar.

High Lady Anglenna derin, esef dolu bir nefes verir.

“Genç, aşık, kör ve silahsız.. Daha geçen hafta arenada değil miydik biz?”, diye söylenir ama bunu tam olarak kızmış biri gibi ifade etmez.

Kendisi de sırtına uzun, sade bir pelerin alır, ve an itibariyle gözü yanındaki çocuk dışında hiçbir şeyi görmeyen prensesinin arkasından, ve dikkat çekmeyecek bir mesafeden onları takip eder..

✱ ✱ ✱

Damdan bir çift göz, handan ayrılan ikiliyi takip eder. “Hele şükür yaa.. Her şeyi benim mi yapmam gerekiyor?”, diye söylenir yumuşak sesiyle gözlerin sahibi.. ve istemsizce küçük ellerinden birini yumru yaparken diğerini ise göğsüne, kalbinin olduğu yere götürür.

“Başkalarının özel hayatları neden seni bu kadar ilgilendiriyor?”, diye sorar genç, yakışıklı bir ses onun arkasından. “Muhteşem bir prenses.. ve bir hödük! Sanırım küçükken buna benzer bir hikaye okumuştum. Ama onda hödük yerine bi ogre vardı.. yada bi troll.. pek hatırlayamadım şimdi! Elfler onu asla kabul etmezler.. Bunu biliyorsun, değil mi?”

“Ahmaklık insanlara özel bir vasıf değil..”, der diğeri burnunu küçümseyen bir ifadeyle çekerek. “..yada yarı elflere!”, diye de acı bir şekilde ekler.

“Aaa.. biz yarı elfler ahmaklığı çok iyi beceririz. Mesleki koşullarımız arasındandır!”, diye sırıtarak, ve en az yanındaki kadar acı bir sesle cevap verir genç, yakışıklı sesin sahibi.

“Ayrıca onların işlerine burnumu sokmadım. Sadece genç Udoorin’e, sevgili prensesinin günlerdir vasıfsız, pis bir handa tıkılıp kaldığını ve bundan dolayı kendisinin temiz havaya ihtiyacı olabileceğini hatırlattım, o kadar. Ama o benimle prensesin ‘güvenliği’ ile ilgili tartışmaya kalktı. Ben de ona kendisi gibi güçlü bir delikanlı prensesini koruyamayacak kadar aciz ise, sevgili Lorna ile hiç uğraşmamasını, gidip kendisine ‘güvenliği’ ile uğraşmak zorunda kalmayacağı bir köylü kızı bulmasını önerdim.”, der yumuşak sesin sahibi, kızmış bir şekilde. “Ama sanırım o son kısmını söylemesem de olurmuş gibime geliyor çünkü bana pek de hoş olmayan bazı bakışlar attı!”

 

İkisi de sessizce, birbirlerine meylederek yürüyen çiftin gözden kayboluşunu seyreder.

 

“Bu.. bu kendini horlayan hicvin, kendini avutma şeklin mi, Darly Dor?”, diye kaşları çatılır yumuşak sesin sahibi.

 

“Kendimi avutmak için bir sebep göremiyorum, Soul.. Yediğim haltın faturasını her gün yaşıyorum ve ödediğimde ne hissedeceğimi, ne hissetmem gerektiğini bile bilmiyorum. Ama ‘avuntu’ bunların arasında yer almıyor..”, diye sessizce cevap verir Darly Dor.

 

“Güttüğün yolda anneni de, babanı da ne kadar üzeceğini hiç düşündün mü peki? Yada başkalarını..”, diye sessizce sorar Merisoul.

“Annem.. Ona yaptıklarımdan ve yapacaklarımdan dolayı da, ona yaşattıklarım, ve yaşatacaklarımdan dolayı da asla kendimi affetmeyeceğim. Nevarki olan çoktan oldu. Olacaklar da olmalı. Yoksa onu hayatta bırakmayacaklar var. Babam ise, geçmişte olduğu gibi eğlenmek için kendisine bir başka sosyete hizmetçisi daha bulacaktır eminim..”

“Bundan emin misin? Halbuki seninle konuşurken bana çok samimi ve pişman birisi gibi gelmişti.. Geçmişte yaptığı hatayı, senin küçükken şahit olduğun ve evini terk etmene sebep olan şeyi annene itiraf ettiğini, annenin de onu çoktan affettiğini söylesem, bu düşüncelerini nasıl etkiler?”, diye sorar Merisoul, sessiz ve hüzünlü bir sesle.

“Bunun olmuş olmasını pek mümkün göremiyorum.”, der Darly, omuzlarını silkerek.

 

Darly Dor, babasını affetse de bunun hiçbir şeyi düzeltmeyeceğinin de, evine de artık dönemeyeceğinin de farkındadır. Ama kızın bunu kendisine söylemiş olmasını sadece.. ‘merhametli’ bir davranış olarak değerlendirir ve bir yandan da ister istemez bu uhrevi güzellikteki kanatlı kıza tekrar hayret eder. Ama asıl, kızın ‘kapasitesini’ kullanarak onun bütün itirazlarını, bütün mantığını, bütün kinlerini ve Felisia Fremier’e karşı hissettiklerini, dahası, onun ölümüyle peyda olan utanç, kahır ve öç alma hislerini de alaşağı edebileceğini bilmesine rağmen, bunu yapmamış olmasına hayret eder..

 

“Neden benimle uğraşıyorsun ki? Ben kayıp bir vakıayım..”, der Darly, söylediği şeyi tam olarak kabullenmiş biri gibi.

“Kayıp vakıalar sadece yeterince aramadığımız insanlardır..”, der aynı yumuşak, sessiz haliyle.

Merisoul, gözlerinde oluşan yaşları silerek ekler.

“..Çünkü sen aptal bir çocuksun!”, diye de hışmeder, kanatlarını gerer ve kendisini damdan aşağı salar.. Kısa bir süre içinde de karanlıkta kaybolur.

Darly acı bir şekilde ‘fırk’lar ve kendi kendine mırıldanır.

“Ben aptal ötesi biriyim, sevgili Merisoul Xyrotwu.. Ve sen benden çok daha iyisini hak ediyorsun.”

✱ ✱ ✱

Merisoul Xyrotwu süzülür, ve neredeyse High Lady Anglenna’nın tepesine konar! Onun, o şapşal Udoorin ve bir şapşalı bile etkileme özürlü Prensesin ardından takip edişini hanın damından seyretmiş, sonrada bu şirret kadınla bir daha konuşmaya karar vermişti.. Rezil şeyle en son karşılaşmaları ona pek kıymetli isimlerinden birine mal olmuştu ve onun takibe aldığı iki genç sevgilinin arasını bozmasına engel olacaksa, bir kaç isminden daha feragat etmeye razıydı..

High Lady Anglenna istemsizce irkilir ve hemen dibinde beliren ‘şeyi’ oracıkta yakıp kül etmekten kıl payı kendisine mani olur..

“Sana engel olmayayım.”, der Merisoul. “Beni yakmaya can atıyorsun zaten. Sana şimdi bile harika bir fırsat verdim!”

“Genç Merisoul!”, diye burnundan solur Anglenna, küt küt atan kalbini sakinleştirmeye çalışırken. “Seni yakıp kül etmek istediğimde, kimsenin beni ‘kötü bahanelerimden’ ötürü suçlamasını istemiyorum..”

“Onur..”, der Merisoul burnunu çekerek. ‘..sende olan bir şey değil. Neden şimdi böyle bir ayrıntıya takılasın ki?”

 

High Lady Anglenna, gözlerini kapatır, derin bir nefes alır ve sakinleşir. Gecenin bu saatinde bu garip kızla tartışmak gibi bir niyeti yoktur zira prensesi genç bir çocukla yalnızdır ve ikisi de kendilerince becerikli olsalar da onun için önlenmiş bir savaş her zaman kazanılmış bir savaştan daha iyidir; birinde kimse ölmemiştir!

 

“Genç Merisoul. Beni pek tanımıyorsunuz. Bugüne kadar sadece bir defa, ve oldukça kötü koşullar altında konuşmuş olmamız dışında bu ikinci defa birbirimizi muhatap alışımız..”, der Anglenna soğuk bir şekilde. “..Ben acımasız ve kalpsiz birisi olabilirim, ancak onursuz değilim. Lütfen sözlerinizi sakınarak kullanınız..”

“Burada ne işiniz var o zaman? Neden bir High Lady gecenin bir saatinde iki kişiyi takip eder ki?”, diye merakla sorar Merisoul.

 

High Lady Anglenna yine gözlerini kapatır ve sanki içinden sayıyor gibi bir hali vardır.. Yada ‘bunu yapabilirsin, bunu yapabilirsin..’, diye tekrarlıyor gibi.. Neden sonra tüm varlığı ile yanındaki şeye döner ve onun gözlerinin içine bakarak konuşur..

 

“Onları takip ediyorum çünkü ikisinin de dikkatleri dağınık, üstlerinde zırhları yok ve genç Udoorin’in taşıdığı tek silah, babasının ona verdiği kılıcı. Genç Udoorin, pekte ‘kılıç ustası’ biri sayılmaz, zira onun kılıç kullandığını hiç görmedim.. Prenses ise glavyesini büyü ile yanına çağırdığı için bu konuda daha avantajlı olmakla beraber, kendisinin de üzerine herhangi bir zırh yok ve daha bir kaç gün önce bir ahma— bir hatadan dolayı herkes arenada yeterince zorluk yaşadı.”, der yüzeysel bir sükunetle.

 

Merisoul hayretle önünde duran High Lady’ye bakar. “İlginç..”, der. “..Doğruyu söylüyorsun. Yada söylediğin yalana gerçekten inanıyorsun! Ama beni neden bir ‘şey’ olarak düşündüğünü anlayamıyorum. Hayatımda birçok defa hakaretlere muhatap bırakıldım.. Üç yaşımdayken beni içi fosseptik dolu bir çukura attılar ve o çukurda beni bıraktılar. Tekrar gün yüzü gördüğümde on yaşımdaydım. O süre zarfında her gün üstüme bir şeyler döküldü ve her türlü hakareti duydum.. Onlar bana ‘şey’ diye hitap ederlerdi..”, der samimi, ve donuk bir sesle..

 

High Lady Anglenna ise bir eli ağzında, hayret, dehşet ve.. utançla önündeki şeye.. hayır, önündeki ‘varlığa’ bakar.

 

“Ad Ara..”, diye fısıldar neden sonra ve bu ismin, önünde duran varlığın üstündeki etkisini görür; Merisoul Xyrotwu olduğu yerden doğrulur, kanatları gerilir, bir an, çok kısa bir an kızın ayakları yerden kesilir ve kız, sanki içsel bir ışıkla aydınlanır.. sonra tekrar söner, yere konar ve kanatları arkasında katlanır..

“O.. O ismi sana aleni bir şekilde kullanasın diye vermemiştim!”, diye korkuyla tıslar Merisoul.

 

“Bu senin adın. Ve ben de onu aleni bir şekilde kullanmadım. Seni bir ‘şey’ olarak değerlendirmemden haklı olarak alındın. Bende seni gerçek adınla onurlandırdım..”, der Anglenna ama az önce gördüğü ‘mucize’, elf kızın zihnine kazınmıştır zira o kısacık anda gördüğü, önünde duran kız değil, bambaşka bir ‘varlıktır’!

“Beni, geçmişimi, yaşadıklarımı, size ve başkalarına yaşattıklarımı anlamanızı yada şahsıma anlayış göstermenizi istemeyeceğim.. Ancak sizden özürlerimi de eksik etmeyeceğim, genç Merisoul. Şimdi, müsaadenizle korumam gereken bir Riserin, ve potansiyel bir de Riverin’im var!”, der ve gözden neredeyse kaybolmakta olan Prenses Alor’Nadien ne ve genç Udoorin Shieldheart’ın tekrar peşine takılır..

✱ ✱ ✱

Lady Lorna nasıllar bugün?”, diye biraz çekingen bir şekilde sorar Udoorin. Sevdiği bu kızla birkaç gün doğru dürüst konuşamayınca, Udoorin’in zihni kötü bir şekilde resetleniyor gibidir. Bu da bir anda onunla ilk karşılaştıkları zamanlarda olduğu gibi hitap etmeye başlamasına sebep olmaktadır. Her ne kadar bu hali komik ve şirin olsa da, Prensesi çileden de çıkarır..

“Lady Lorna iyiler. Efendi Udoorin’in günü nasıl geçti acaba?”, diye kendisi de çok az hicveder bir dille cevap verir ve elini nazikçe koluna yasladığı adamın kasıldığını hisseder.. ve utanır. “Özür dilerim Dorin.”, der sessizce. “Bütün gün dışarıda, kötü hanlarda bu Gar Talot hakkında bir şeyler öğrenmek umuduyla zaman geçirmek zorunda kalmanın üstüne, bir de benim nazımı çekiyorsun.”

“Lütfen.. Lorna.. Çektiğim senin nazın olsun. Seve seve.. Bir prensesin bu kadarcık nazı olmayacak mı şimdi?”, diye biraz rahatlamaya çalışır Udoorin. “Ama sizinle.. seninle bir otuz yıl geçireyim ve iki gün görmeyeyim, sanıyorum bu durum tekrarlanır.”

“Bunu bir otuz yıl sonra konuşabiliriz.”, diye gülümser Alor’Nadien ne. “Bana gününü anlatır mısın?”

Udoorin’in tedirginliği bir anda tiksintiye dönüşür.

“İnsanların sabahtan akşama kadar bir handa içki içip kağıt oynamalarını hiç anlayamamışımdır.”, diye sinir olmuş bir sesle konuşur Udoorin. “Serenity Home’da herkesin her zaman yapacak bir işi vardır. Yoksa da ‘Gönüllü Vardiyaya’ dahil edilirler.. Belki dışarıdan biraz zorbaca gibi gelebilir ama sorun çıkartan işsiz tiplerden yoktur bizde hiç. Ve herkes kasabası için bir şekilde katkıda bulunur. Bu şekilde hem herkesin ortak bir amacı olmuş olurlar, hem bir şeyler yapmış olmanın mutluluğunu yaşamış olurlar, hem de kendilerinden daha büyük, ama parçasını oluşturdukları bir şeyi de etkilemiş olurlar..”

“Bu.. harika bir fikir.. Kimin fikriydi bu?”, diye Prenses sorar merakla, zira devlet işleri iyi bildiği bir alandır.

“Hmm.. pek emin değilim. Serenity Home’un geçmişi oldukça eskilere gidiyor. Sanırım 7100’lerde kuruldu. Bu da neredeyse beş yüz yıl ediyor.. ‘Gönüllü Vardiya’ gibi bazı şeylerin kanunlaştırılması, Arthandos amca.. umm.. Arthandos Yuleman belediye başkanı seçildikten sonra gerçekleşti. Ama gerçek anlamda yerleşmesi, babamın Aager’i Serenity Home’a getirmesinden sonra oldu. O adamın kırdığı ilk kafa benimkisiydi. Ama kesinlikle sonuncusu olmadı. Bazıları ‘Gönüllü Vardiya’ olayını hiç ciddiye almıyorlardı. Aager onlara üst üste gece baskınları yapıp kafalarını kırınca, birden standartlarımız yükseldi!”, der Udoorin mutlu bir şekilde.

“Efendi Aager. Ondan biraz çekiniyor gibisin. Ve Lady Magella’dan da.”, diye sorar Alor’Nadien ne, zira yanında yürüyen, elini teslim ettiği bu genç adamın geçmişi onu her zaman etkilemiştir.

“Lady Magella ben doğduğumda ordaydı.. Sanırım kafam biraz büyük olduğu için doğum esnasında biraz zorluk çıkarmışım.. Bana ebelik yaptı desem isabetli olur. Kendisi Scowling Hills’den bize katılmasıyla bir çok doğumda bulundu. Serenity Home’da herkes ondan mantıklı bir şekilde çekinir..”, diye hafif gülümseyerek anlatır Udoorin.

“Umm.. Aager’e gelince.. Aager çekinilmesi gereken biri, Lorna. O.. o geldiğindeki halini hatırlıyorum. Hayatımda onun kadar disiplinli, işi ve görevleri dışında hiçbir şeyle ilgilenmeyen, acımasız birisiyle tanışmadım. Beni kaç defa odunla dövdüğünü hatırlamıyorum bile. Ama geriye dönüp baktığımda, o zamanlar ben tam bir ahmaktım. Annemin hastalanıp ölmesinden sonra hiçbir şeyle ilgilenmeyen, tamamen umarsız, başıboş bir çocuktum. Orada burada kavga çıkartmaktan başka yaptığım bir şey yoktu.”, der genç adam ve yanındaki kızdan dolayı utanır. “Bunları duymak istediğinden emin değilim. Gençken bir aptaldım, Lorna.”

“Hepimizin gençliğimizde yaptığı yanlışlarımız vardır, sevgili Dorin. Önemli olan, daha sonra yapmayı tercih ettiğimiz şeylerdir.”, diye cevap verir sessizce Prenses.

“Senin böyle şeyler yapmış olabileceğini düşünemiyorum..”, der Udoorin.

“Babasını, Ri’sini inkar edip evden, hayır, saraydan kaçmış bir kızım ben, sevgili Dorin. Sanıyorum bu bütün yapmış olabileceklerini geçer diye düşünüyorum.”, diye buruk bir şekilde gülümser Lorna.

“Ama sana haksızlık edildi. Başkalarına verilen haklar, sana tanınmadı!”, diye hışmeder Udoorin.

“Ve ben de başkaları değilim, sevgili Udoorin. Ben bir prensesim. Bir Riverin. Krallar, kraliçeler, prensler, prensesler, lordlar, high lady’ler.. Bizlerin farklı standartları vardır.”, der genç prenses ve Udoorin’in onu haklı gösterme çabasını nazikçe reddeder.

 

İkisi de bir süre sessizce yürürler.

 

Neden sonra genç prenses, “Özellikle gittiğimiz bir yer var mı?”, diye sorar yanındaki adama.

“Heaven Parkı. Inshala hanımdan duyduğum kadarıyla bankları, güzel bahçeleri ve havuzları varmış. Ben.. ben bu şehre pek ısınamadım açıkçası. Bazıları Arashkan dendiğinde gözleri fal taşı gibi açılır. Yaşadıklarımıza bakılırsa, burada oturmak için bir sebep göremiyorum. Serenity Home’un yaşam standartları çok daha iyi, insanları da çok daha nazik. Evet, bizim kasabamız çok daha küçük, ama.. bilmem.. burası benim istediğim yer değil.. Saçmalıyorsam lütfen beni uyarmanı isterim Lorna!”, diye yüzü kızarmış bir şekilde susar Udoorin.

“Sevgili Udoorin.”, der Lorna. “Bu benim bu şehre üçüncü gelişim. İlki, iş dolayısıyla babam tarafından buraya gönderilişimdi. İkincisi, saraydan ayrıldığımdaydı ve sadece gerekli yollukları almak için girdim bu şehre, ve tanıyan birileri çıkar diye hemen ayrıldım. Bu üçüncü gelişim. Benim yarım bir insan olmasına rağmen, burası da benim evim olamaz.”

Udoorin’in içi biraz rahatlar.

 

Beraber Heaven Parka varırlar ve parkın içine dağılmış, örme taş patikalardan birini takip ederler.

 

“Dorin.”, der ciddi bir sesle Lorna.

“Efendim.” der biraz çekingen bir şekilde Udoorin zira bu, yanında yürüyen güzel kızın ilk defa kendisine ‘sevgili’ yada ‘efendi’ kullanmaksızın hitap edişidir.

“Bu güne kadar hiç yaşımı dile getirmedin.”, der biraz tedirgin sesle.

“Umm.. Ben pek de ‘centilmen’ biri sayılmam, Lorna. Ama bir bayana yaşı sorulmaz‘ı da bilirim!”, der aynı çekingen sesle.

“Ama senin.. senin bende bir.. niyetin yok mu?”, diye biraz kırılmış bir ifadeyle sorar Prenses.

“Bana müsaade ettiğin sürece..”, diye son derece özlü bir şekilde cevap verir genç adam.

“Niyetli insanlar birbirlerine yaşlarını sormazlar mı?”, diye biraz içi rahatlamış, biraz da şaşırmış bir şekilde sorar kız.

 

“Benim yaşım on sekiz. Aramızda on yaş fark var. Benden daha bilgesin. Daha güzelsin. Daha akıllısın. Paha biçilmezsin ve daha gençsin.”, diye aynı özlü ve samimi sesiyle, hiç sektirmeden cevap verir Udoorin.

 

Prenses Alor’Nadien ne, duyduğu şeyin bir yerlerinde ciddi bir mantık hatası olduğunun farkındadır ama neresindedir, çıkaramaz bir türlü. En azından bir matematik hatası olduğundan kesin olarak emindir.

 

“Ben.. pek.. anlayamadım..”, diye itiraf eder. “..Senden nasıl hem on yaş büyük, hem de daha genç oluyorum ki?”

Udoorin ona doğru döner, ve gülümser.

“Sevginin matematiği olmaz ki, Leydi Lorna..”

Prenses Alor’Nadien ne ‘fırk’lar!

 

“Annem, babamdan yaşça daha büyüktü.”, der Udoorin. “Ama babamın yanında hep on altı yaşındaki bir genç kız gibi davranırdı. O zamanlar buna bir anlam veremezdim ve aptalın teki olduğum için de bunu saçma bulurdum..”

Annesinden her bahsettiğinde olduğu gibi, Udoorin’in gözleri dolar ve sesi boğuklaşır.

“Daha sonra.. çok daha sonra.. o öldükten sonra, ve ancak babamın davranışlarındaki değişimi gördükten sonra anladım. Annemin öyle davranmasının sebebi, babamın ona olan sevgisindenmiş.. Babam, kendisinden yaşça daha büyük olmasına rağmen bir şekilde anneme, olduğundan çok daha genç bir kızmış gibi hissettirmesindenmiş.. Ne kadar saçma..

..ve muhteşem bir şey, değil mi?

Sanırdım ki annemin ölümü sadece beni etkiledi.. Meğer asıl babamı vurmuş ve o bana bunu asla hissettirmedi bile.”

 

“Bu.. Bu hayatımda duyduğum en hüzünlü.. ve harika şey!”, diye hayretle ünler Lorna ve farkında olmadan dolmuş gözlerini siler.

 

“Aager’den neden çekindiğimi sormuştun bana.. Çok sevdiklerini kaybedenlerden her zaman çekinilmesi gerektiğini öğrendim ben ondan. Eminim bana öğretmek istediği şey bu değildi, ama benzer şeyleri yaşamış tanıdığım herkeste aynı davranışları gördüm.. Aager, Laila, Bremorel, babam, Thomas, Inshala ve Merisoul, ve hatta Haş Teyze! Aager sadece uç bir noktayı temsil ediyor o kadar. Ama Aager’in geldiği Drashan’ın kendisi de bir uç nokta, düşünülecek olursa..”, diye sessizce konuşur Udoorin.

 

“Özür dilerim, sevgili Dorin. Geçmişini hatırlatarak seni üzdüm..”, der Lorna dolu gözlerle.

“Senin hatırlatmış olman güzel, bir açıdan. Beni nasıl tanıyacaksın ki?”, diye mutlu görünmeye çalışır Udoorin.

 

Gerçekte Udoorin’in niyeti, deli gibi sevdiği bu kızla parkta dolaşıp onu kahkahalarla güldürmekti. Şu işe bakın ki becerebildiği tek şey onu ağlatmak olmuştu.

 

“Seni üzdüm.”, der Udoorin, tekil bir sesle.

“Sadece mutluluklar paylaşılmaz.”, der Lorna ve gülümser genç adama.

“Asıl benim merak ettiğim ise..”, der Udoorin. “..bir gün, bir şekilde babanla aranın düzelmesi halinde, beni kabul edecek mi? Ve şunu da baştan söyleyeyim, ondan hiçbir şey istemiyorum. Senin.. seninle olduğum sürece mutluyum.”

“Babam ya bizi beraber kabul edecek, yada durumumuzda bir değişiklik olmayacak.”, der Lorna yumuşak.. ve dik kafalı bir şekilde. “Ama şunu da baştan söyleyeyim, sevgili Dorin, kabul etmesi durumunda, üstlenmen gerekecek bir çok sorumlulukların da olacak. Asilzadeler, tekil şahıslar değillerdir, sevgili Dorin. Bizler halka mal edilmiş kişileriz. Bu bizlere bazı özerklikler verir. Ama bunlar sadece sorumluluklarımızı daha rahat yerine getirebilmemiz içindir. Ben sorumluluklarımdan kaçmak için ayrılmadım High Woods’dan. Babamın sorumluluklarına engel olmamak için ayrıldım..”

 

Udoorin’in duydukları karşısında biraz canı sıkılır.

Öyle görünüyordu ki genç adam her bir köşeyi döndüğünde karşısına o veya bu şekilde yeni bir takım ‘sorumluluk’lar yığılıyordu! Babasının ‘şerif’liğinden kaçarken, ‘dolu’ya mı tutulacaktı yoksa?

Genç Udoorin kara kara bunları düşünürken, biraz ileride büyük bir çatırtı duyar ve düşüncelerinden sıyrılır. Bir eliyle yanındaki kızı belinden tutar ve arkasına alır, diğeriyle de istemsizce omzunun üstüne uzanır ama orada olmasına alıştığı baltasını kavrayamayınca bu sefer belindeki, babasının kılıcına yönelir.

Udoorin sessizce içinden küfreder..

 

“Orada.. Yaklaşık elli yarda önünde ve çok hafif solunda.”, diye tarif eder hemen arkasında duran genç kız.

“Sensiz ne yapardım bilemiyorum Lorna. Geçen gece Lady çıldırdığında olaya el koyuşun ve idare edişin.. söyleyemedim sana o zaman ama, MUHTEŞEMDİN!”, der Udoorin karanlıkta sırıtarak.

Lorna’nın yüzü ‘muhteşem’ bir şekilde kızarır. Gerçekte olaylar olurken soğuk kanlı oluşu kendisi için bir çaba meselesi değil, yılların getirdiği ve üstlendiği sorumlulukların onda oluşturduğu bir ‘hal’ idi.

Ama yine de Dorin’in bunu fark edip ‘muhteşem’ bulması da, bir kızı mutlu etmesi için de yeterli olmuştu.

“Te.. Teşekkür ederim sevgili Dorin, çok naziksin.”, diye cevap verir küçük bir sesle.

 

Lorna’nın tarif ettiği yerden başka bazı çıtırtılar daha gelir ve ikisi de derin bir homurtu duyarlar.

“Burası bir şehir parkı! Bu kadar büyük ne yaşıyor olabilir ki? Şehir yetkilileri açısından son derece sorumsuzca bir tutum bu..”, diye homurdanır Udoorin ve yanında prensesiyle beraber sessizce ilerlemeye başlarlar. Neden sonra Lorna, “Eğil!”, diye tıslar ve ikisi de yere çömelirler.

“Ne görüyorsun?”, diye sorar Udoorin..

“Umm.. koca bir.. ‘ağaç’.. ama hareket ediyor. Üstünde uyuyan küçük bir çocuk var ve ağaç, dibinde duran biriyle tartışıyor!”, der Lorna tamamen afallamış bir şekilde.

Udoorin’in taktik zekası bir anda devreye girer.

“Buradan gitmemiz lazım!”, diye fısıldar Lorna’ya.

“Neden? Ne oldu?”, diye hayretle sorar prenses.

“Sonra.. Önce uzaklaşalım!”, diye ısrar eder Udoorin ve kız itiraz edemeden onu belinden kaptığı gibi tüyer!

 

Udoorin ancak dakikalar sonra durur ve utanmış bir şekilde, yüzü kıpkırmızı olan prensesi yere indirir.

“Bundan dolayı senden çok, ama çok özür dilerim Lorna..”, diye afallar.

“Şimdi, ‘sonra’ oldu mu?”, diye sorar Lorna, hafif kaşları çatılı bir şekilde.

“Umm.. Evet, sanırım oldu..”, diye utanarak cevap verir Udoorin.

“Neler oluyor, Dorin?”, diye sorar Lorna. Ama sesinde özellikle bir iğneleme tonu yoktur.

“Umm.. o ağaç, gerçekte bir ağaç değil. Arenadaki ağacı hatırlıyorsun değil mi? Inshala’nın çağırdığı?”

“Evet, hatırlıyorum. Yakın zamanda da unutabileceğimi de pek sanmıyorum.”

“Bu ağaç, o ağaç işte. Ve üstündeki ‘çocuk’, bizim küçük, sevgili Inshala’mız, ağaç ile tartışan da Aager! İnanılır gibi değil. O ağaç her zaman burada mıydı? Dahası, onu ta buradan mı arenaya çağırdı? Kızcağızın neden günlerdir yorgun göründüğü anlaşılıyor..”

Lorna kaşlarını çatar ve düşünür ama neden Dorin’in kaçar gibi kendisini de kapıp.. ‘kaçtığını’ anlayamaz.

“Aslında kaçmadım!”, der Udoorin hızlı bir şekilde, kızın dile getirmediği şeyi anlamış gibi. “Sadece taktik bir geri çekilme yaptım o kadar..”

“Sevgili Dorin!”, der Lorna.. ve burnundan solur. “.. Hala hiçbir şey anlayabilmiş değilim!”

 

“Ahh.. Umm.. Hayatta en nefret ettiğim şeylerden biri benimle dalga geçilmesidir. Bir başka şey ise utandırılmaktır. Son bir şey ise, yalnız olmak istediğim kişiyle yalnız bırakılmamamdır! Aager’in bizi görmüş olması, bana yapılmasından hiç hazzetmediğim bu üç şeyi de ona yapmış olmamız anlamına geleceği için ayrıldım oradan. Aager ve Inshala’nın, şahitlere ihtiyaç duymaksızın zor bir ilişkileri var zaten.

İşin içine bir de Lilly Venom’u.. onun kız kardeşini, Lady’nin kafayı çizirtip onun kız kardeşini öldürmeye çalışmasını, Gar Talot’u arama işini, arena ve sonrasını da hesaba katarsak, sanırım bizim varlığımıza ihtiyaç duymaksızın sevdiği kızla rahatça konuşup dertleşebildiği bir ortama dalmamız.. bilmem.. bana doğru gibi gelmedi!”, diye kötü bir şekilde anlatmaya çalışır derdini genç adam.

 

Lorna uzun bir süre önünde utanmış gence bakar.. Hayretle!

 

“Sen o ürkütücü adama düşkünsün!”, diye ünler birden Lorna.

“Ben mi.. yoo.. yani.. mümkün değil.. sadece.. bilmem!.. Erkekler kendi aralarında böyle şeyler söylemezler, Lorna..”, diye daha da utanır Udoorin.

“Çok özür dilerim sevgili Dorin. Seni utandırmak istememiştim.. Sadece, ısrarla beni şaşırtmana hayret ediyorum, o kadar..”, diye mutlu bir şekilde gülümser prenses. “İstersen bu taraftan gidelim o zaman. Orada bir havuz ve sanırım etrafında oturacak yerler var.”

“Tabii.. nasıl istersen..”, diye yüzü kızarmış bir sesle mırıldanır Udoorin.

 

Genç Udoorin, prensesiyle birlikte havuza gelirler. Gece olması dolayısıyla havuzun içindeki su kapkaradır, ancak havuz oldukça büyük oluşundan, parkın bu kısmı geceyi, yıldızları ve ayı görebilmektedir.

İki gençte gövdesi geniş bir ağaca sırtlarını verirler ve korunun, havuzun, gecenin, kurbağaların, böceklerin, yakınlardaki bir baykuşun.. ve birbirlerinin nefeslerini dinlerler.

Lorna birden istemsizce titrer.

“Üşüdün mü?”, diye sorar Udoorin. “Hay aksi. Hiç aklıma yedek bir şeyler almak gelmedi. Özür dilerim.”

“Kusur bende, sevgili Dorin. Mevsime uygun giyinmedim.. Ama yedeklere de gerek olduğunu sanmıyorum.”, der farkındalıklı bir sessizlikle.

“Ama üşüyorsun..”, der Udoorin.

 

“Evet.”, diye kabul eder Lorna aynı sesle. “Ama duyduğum kadarıyla birbirini sevenler, birbirlerini ısıtırlarmış..”

 

Udoorin bir an, yanında oturan genç asilzadenin kendisinden ne istediğini anlamaz..

..ama neyse ki bu sadece ‘bir an’la sınırlı kalır.

 

Sesini çıkarmadan kollarını açar, kendisine doğru yaslanan kızı sarar ve beraber korunun, havuzun, gecenin, kurbağaların, böceklerin, yakınlardaki bir baykuşun.. ve birbirlerinin nefeslerini dinlerler.

✱ ✱ ✱

Genç Merisoul!”, diye gergin bir ses tıslar gecenin oldukça geç bir saatinde. Herhangi bir cevap gelmeyince gergin ses kendisini yineler, ama biraz daha keskin bir hışımla.

“Lady Merisoul..”

“‘Lady’ seviyesine güncellendiğime göre biri benden bir şeyler istiyor olmalı!”, diye bir cevap gelir gecenin soğuk karanlığından ve High Lady Anglenna başını kaldırdığında, hanın damından sarkan kızı, yarı açılmış kuzguni kanatlarını, daha çok bir tacı andıran siyah yada koyu mor boynuzlarını ve hem boynuzları, hemde sahibinin yüzünü çerçeveleyen bal renkli, düz, uzun saçlarını görür.

Anglenna’ya göre kız, elf standartlarından o kadar farklıdır ki, farkın kendisinin tarifi bile oldukça zordur. Nevarki kızın güzelliği tartışılmazdır, ve bugüne kadar gördüğü hiçbir elf, bu kız kadar.. yada bu kız gibi ‘uhrevi’ bir güzelliğe de sahip olamamıştır.

“Korkarım yardımınıza ihtiyacım olacak.”, der Anglenna zorlukla, ve başıyla sol omzundan aşağı öylesine sarkık duran hareketsiz kolunu işaret eder.

Merisoul kendisini aşağı atar gibi bırakır ve High Lady’nin yanına konar.

“Nooldu sana böyle? Kumrular yarım saat önce döndüler. O şapşal çocuğun yüzündeki ifadeye bakılırsa sanıyorum mutlu bir akşam geçirmiş olmalılar. Prensesine sarılmasına bakılırsa, oldukça mutlu bir akşam!”

“Bir.. bir hanımefendi böyle şeyleri konuşmaz..”, der Anglenna, gergin ifadesiyle.

“Neyse ki ben ne bir ‘leydiyim’, ne de bir ‘hanımefendi’.. Ne olduğunu bana anlatacak mısın?”, diye High Lady’nin omzuna dokunur..

..ve dokunmasıyla, Anglenna’nın sıkılmış dişleri arasından boğuk bir inleme kaçar.

“Omzun ezilmiş ve kırılmış..”, der ve High Lady’nin solmuş yüzüne sırıtır. “Biliyor musun, hep senin bu pahalı elbiselerini parçalamak istemişimdir!”, diye ekler ve ani bir hareketle elf kızın elbisesini omuz dikişlerinden söker!

“..Kolundaki morluklara bakılırsa, onun da en az üç yerinde çatlak var. Diğer elinle göğsünü tutuşuna bakılırsa, kırık kaburgalar, duruşuna bakılırsa, sırtında bana göstermediğin en az bir darbe, ve sanırım kalçanda da bi sorun var.. Ne yaptın sen? Kendini bir yaban domuzu sürüsünün önüne mi attın? Bu kendini öldürtmek için kötü bir tercih, zira başaramazsan.. Eh.. Bu hale gelirsin işte!”

“Eline düştüm ve beni iyileştirmene ihtiyacım var!”, diye inler High Lady sıkılmış gözleri arasından acı yaşlar dökülürken.

“Neden Lady Magella’ya gitmiyorsun? Yada küçük Inshala’ya? Lady seni beleşe tamir eder. Aslına bakılırsa Inshala’da.. Ama ona gidersen bundan sonra o kıza, olduğu insan gibi davranman gerekir ki, bu da o kadar büyük bir kayıp sayılmaz senin için..”, der Merisoul.

“İkisine de.. gidemem..”, diye cevap verir Anglenna, acı içerisinde.

 

Merisoul’un bal renkli kaşlarından biri kalkar.

 

“Neden?”, diye sorar açık bir merakla.

“Birincisi, küçük Inshala burada değil, Heaven Parkında.. Efendi Aager’le birlikte kırılmış bir şeyleri onarmaya çalışıyorlar! Lady’ye de gidemem çünkü.. Çünkü ona gidersem Prenses bu halimi görür!”, diye zorlukla konuşur Anglenna.

“Görsün.. Seni ilk defa yaralanmış görmüyor ki. Ne oldu? Onları takip ettiğinden haberdar olmasını mı istemiyorsun yoksa? Sana bunun iyi bir fikir olmadığını ima etmeye çalışmıştım sanırım. Hem de daha bu gece!”

“Hayır, genç Merisoul. Onun üzülmesini istemiyorum..”, diye sessizce inler high elf asilzade..

 

Merisoul ‘fırk’lar!

 

“Bu senden duyabileceğim en muhteşem yala— doğru olsa gerek!”, diye ünler succubi melezi. “Sen gerçekten samimisin..”

“Bunun için sana ne borçlanacağım, küçük iblis?”, diye diş gıcırdatır Anglenna, artık kapadığı gözleriyle ekşittiği suratı, acısının sınıra ulaştığını göstermektedir.

 

“Aaa.. Acı.. Bunun ne olduğunu daha bildiğini sanmıyorum. Ama bu gece küçük sürprizler ve mutluluklarla dolu gibi görünüyor!”, der bir başka ses ve Anglenna sesin içinde hissettiği kini algılar ve gözlerini açar.

Merisoul’un arkasında o çocuk durmaktadır.. Dar—bişey! Ahmak Philius’un piçi!..

..ve adamın suratındaki katışıksız nefreti, ve elindeki uzun hançeri fark eder.

 

“Sevgili Soul, müsaadenle bu zevki bana bırakırsan pek mutlu olacağım..”, diye kindar bir fısıltıyla tıslar Darly Dor.

“DARLY!”, diye kamçı gibi emir verir Merisoul ve Darly olduğu yerde çakılır. “Sana maşa olmakla ilgili söylediklerimi bu kadar mı çabuk unuttun?”

“Çok kısa bir anlığına daha maşa kalabilirim..”, diye dişlerini gıcırdatır Darly vahşi bir ifadeyle.

“Senin.. Philius’un piçi olman dışında.. kim olduğunu.. bilmiyorum.. Benimle ne alıp veremediğini de.. bilmiyorum..”, diye zorlukla konuşur High Lady.

“Hayatın o kadar çok arkadaşlarla mı dolu ki can sıkıntısından kendine düşman arıyorsun, dişi elf!”, diye nahoş bir üslupla konuşur Merisoul. “Dahası, aşağılamaya çalıştığın o çocuk, Efendi Philius’un eşinden olma öz evladı ve adı da resmi kayıtlarda mevcut. Bunun da anlamı, teknik olarak bu çocuğun asilzadelik mertebesi seninkiyle aynı! Yanlış biliyor olabilirim ama kendisine yaptığın bu hakaret, ya onun kabul edeceği bir haraç ödemeni, ya da teke tek bir düello da onunla karşılaşmanı gerektirir! Şimdi, ikiniz de daha fazla ‘bana’ borçlanmak istemiyorsanız bu saçmalığa hemen bir son vereceksiniz. Şansını zorlamak isteyen varsa, lütfen, sizlere engel olmayayım. Ama şunu da söyleyeyim, ben haraç kabul etmem, düellolarla da uğraşmam. Benim fiyatım ‘ruhlarınız’dır!”

 

High Lady’de, Darly Dor’da susarlar.

 

“Darly, bıçağını koy yerine ve kendinden geçmek üzere olan High Lady’yi kucakla ve onu dama çıkarmama yardım et.”, diye emreder Merisoul.

“Asla! Bu şirret yılana—”, diye nefret dolu bir ifadeyle başlar Darly..

“—Anneni daha ne kadar utandıracaksın Darlius?”, diye tıslar Merisoul!

 

Darly sessizce Anglenna’ya yaklaşır, kırık omzunu kendisine sabitleyecek şekilde tutar, seri bir hareketle uzun boylu high elf kızı kucaklayıp kaldırır.

Anglenna’dan bir inleme duyulur.

“Kes sesini şirret yılan!”, diye neredeyse tükürür Darly.

“Seni.. gerçekten tanımıyorum.. benim ne yaptığımı düşünüyorsan da.. yapmadım.. benim bir yaptırım.. gücüm yok.”, diye acı dolu bir inleme daha duyulur High Lady’den sonra elf kız kendinden geçer.

“İşte bu yüzden sana ‘piyonlarla uğraşan maşa’ olma demiştim, ama sen biraz kalın kafalı çıktın. Babanın.. Philius’un evinde senin bir yaptırım gücün var mı? Kaçmamış olsaydın bile..”

 

Darly, istemsizce uzun boylu elf kadını biraz daha rahat edeceği şekilde kavrar.

 

“Hayır. Olmazdı. O gücü ancak Ri bana verebilirdi. Tıpkı babama verdiği gibi.”

“Anglenna da sadece bir maşa! Annesinin küçük, süslü, söz dinleyen, şirin maşası.. Bunu gerçekten anladığında, bir sonraki adım için gel bana, ama daha önce değil.. Şimdi, uzat kızı şuraya. Bu damda bi dükkan açmadığımız kaldı!”

 

“İyi misin?”, diye sorar Merisoul yorgun bir şekilde.

“Kolum acımıyor, rahat nefes alabiliyorum, kalçamda da sadece küçük bir sızı var o kadar.”, diye derin bir nefes alır High Lady Anglenna uzandığı yerden.

“Sırtından bunu çıkardım..”, der succubi melezi ve High Lady’ye yaklaşık üç karış uzunluğunda, baş parmak kalınlığında iki ucu da sivri bir ‘çivi’ gösterir. “Sanıyorum bunlardan bir tane daha önce görmüştüm.. Two-Day Woods’dan geçerken bize yapılan baskında!”

“Çocuk nerede?”, diye sorar Anglenna.

“Ehemmiyet sıralamanda ciddi sorunların var senin, kızım!”, der Merisoul hafif sırıtarak.

“Onun benim hakkımda bu denli yanlış şeyler düşünmesini istemen.”, der Anglenna donuk bir şekilde.

“Çevrendekilerin senin hakkında ‘yanlış’ düşüncelerin olabileceğine inanmakta zorluk çekiyorum..”, diye hicveder Merisoul. “..acaba neden?”

“Sana ne borçlandım?”, diye sorar High Lady usanmış bir sesle..

“Biliyor musun, ben bu iyilik denen şeysinin ne olduğunu ancak hayal meyal anlıyorum, ama senin HİÇBİR fikrin yok!”, der succubi melezi acı bir şekilde.

 

High Lady Anglenna uzandığı yerden tepesinde duran uhrevi güzellikteki kızı, koyu yeşil gözleriyle uzun bir an süzer. Neden sonra ona anlaşılması zor bir sesle konuşur.

 

“Bir asır ve yetmiş sekiz yıl.. Ve ben hala çukurdayım, genç Merisoul!”


Ri: elvish for a king.

Rise: elvish for a queen.

Riverin: elvish for the prince (usually used for the likely future Ri).

Riserin: elvish for the princess (usually used for the likely future Rise).

arashkan şehri dungeons and dragons duygusal groups karakter analizi modül role play serenity The Great Arashkan the plot thickens Whispers; A Cabal

“Benim gitmem lazım.”

Timeline:

Lilly Venom, yeni bir kontrat için Arashkan’dan ayrılmaya karar verir. Aldığı bu iş onun için son derce zor, ve muhtemelen de ölümcül olacaktır. Bildiğini sandığı dünyası tamamen yıkılmış olan genç, acımasız katil, çıkışı yapmayı bildiği tek şeyde bulur.

Belki de bu şekilde bir türlü üzerinde atamadığı kin ve nefretinden kurtulacaktır.

Bu hikaye, “Lilly Venom: İş Teklifi” ve
The Returning of Shal -ah Galad” hikayelerinden
birkaç gün sonra yer alır..

 

 

Ben sizi yalnız bırakayım..”, der Inshala ve yavaşça ayağa kalkar.

“Kal, git, otur, dinle, sus, konuş.. Fark etmez..”, der karanlık bir suratla Lilly Venom ve açık pencerenin yanından ayrılır.

“Neler oluyor Lilly? Beni neden çağırdın?”, diye yorgun bir sesle konuşur Aager, kapının önünde. “Konuşmak istediğin son kişi benmişim gibi her geldiğimde, arkanın bana dönük olduğundan emin oluyorsun —ki bu da bana güvendiğin için değil. Aslına bakılırsa bana nedenli az güvendiğini düşünürsek, gerçekten benimle konuşmamak için gösterdiğin çaba biraz çocukça..”

Lilly Venom’un yüzü biraz daha gerilir.

“Seninle konuşmak istemediğim için olabilir mi?”, diye huysuzca cevap verir Lilly.

“Sen de pek muhabbet kuşu sayılmazsın.. Ama çağırdın. Ve ben de buradayım..”, der Aager soğuk bir üslupla.

“Benim gitmem lazım.”, der Lilly sessizce.

 

Aager durur. Bu anın geleceğini, kızı arenadan hana taşıdığında biliyor olması, yine de gerçekleşmesine hazırlamamıştır. Bu kadar erken değil..

Ve salakça bir umutla kız kardeşine sarılmayı, ona.. ona, kız kardeşini ne kadar özlediğini, ve kız kardeşinin hayatta olduğundan ne denli mutlu olduğunu söylemeyi ummuştu.. salakça!

 

“Benden izin mi alıyorsun?”, diye sorar Aager.

 

Ve bir anda Lilly Venom’un gözleri harlanır.

 

“İzin mi? İZİN Mİ? SENDEN İZİN Mİ ALACA—”, diye tıslamayla başlayan ifadesi, vahşi bir çığlıkla biter.

“—FERRA!”, diye sert, kırbaç şaklaması gibi bir sesle kızın sözünü keser Aager. “İstersen ikimizin de daha sonra pişman olacağı o cümleni bitirme!”

 

Lilly susar.

Geçmişte birilerinin ona çenesini kapamasını söylemesi, azımsanmayacak kadar çok defa olmuştur. Çenesine yumruk atarak onu susturan da hiç az olmamıştır ama hiç biri karşılıklı bir ‘iyilik’ için bunu yapmamıştı.

Kim birisine, tehditsiz bir şekilde kendisinin hayrı için susmasını söyler ki?

 

..Bir ağabey?

 

Lilly Venom, acı bir şekilde ‘fırk’lar.

“Bana abilik taslamak için biraz geç değil mi?”, diye aynı acı sesle konuşur.

“Sana abilik taslamam için bu gerekiyorsa, yaparım. Ama başına gelen her şeyden ben mesulmüşüm gibi davranmana da bir anlam veremiyorum..

Sen.. Inshala’mı öldürmeye çalıştın Lilly.. Her şeyinle bana saldırmış olsaydın, bunu mutlulukla karşılar, aynı mutlulukla da kanamaya razıydım. Ama sen, bir masumu işin içine dahil ettin ve senden nefret etmemem için, yıllarca aradığım kız kardeşim olman yeter sebep mi, bir türlü buna karar veremiyorum..

Dolayısıyla sana ‘ağabeylik’ taslamam, başlı başına anlamsız bir durum..”, der Aager, sakin, bir o kadar da ölü bir ifadeyle.

“O zaman senin için de, benim için de en iyisi bu..”, diye cevap verir Lilly.

“Bunun için biraz erken değil mi? Kal biraz. Diğerleriyle tanış..”, diye sessizce önerir Aager ve kapının önünden ayrılır. Sakin adımlarla Inshala’nın yanına gelir ve elini küçük, sıskası çıkmış kıza uzatır.

Inshala kendisine uzatılan kart, nasırlı eli gülümseyerek alır.

“Bunun herhangi bir faydası olacağını sanmıyorum. Arkadaşlarından biri bir şerifin oğlu. Biri bir izci. Bir diğeri de tapınak muhafızı. İkisi ise asilzade.. İşin özü, arkadaşlarının neredeyse tamamı için ya bir hedef, ya bir suçluyum.. ya da beni rapor etmekle yükümlü oldukları bir katilim.”, der kız.

“Evet.”, diye aynı soğuk ifadesiyle onaylar Aager. “Saydığın kişiler için ben de aynı kişiydim. Birçok kişi için ise Inshala da bir ‘av’ idi.. Aslına bakılırsa hala öyle..”

“Söylesene, bu soğuk tavırlarının ne kadar sinir bozucu olduğunu biliyor musun?”, diye dişlerini gıcırdatır Lilly.

“Söylesene, bu huysuz tavırlarının ne kadar çocukça olduğunu biliyor musun?”, der ve odaya girdiğinden beri ilk defa sırıtır karalar içindeki adam.

“Aager.. Lütfen.. Onun kalması gerektiğine ikna etmemiz gerekiyor, gitmesine değil.”, diye mutsuz bir ifadeyle söylenir Inshala.

“Aaa.. Aranızda böyle bir karar aldınız demek!”, diye yüzünde çirkin bir ifade belirir Lilly’nin.

“Aramızda böyle bir karar mı aldık, güzelim?”, diye sorar Aager hayretle Inshala’ya. “Aldıysak, bir daha bana hatırlatır mısın, biz neden böyle bir karar aldık ki?”

“Ama Aager.. Sen.. Sen de onun kalmasını çok istiyorsun.. Bunu ikimiz de biliyoruz. Neden bunu söylemiyorsun ona? Evet, söylemesi biraz zor gibi. Ama söyle ve daha sonra pişman olma.”, diye neredeyse mızmızlanır küçük kız.

Lilly Venom acımasızca ‘fırk’lar.

“Sana inanamıyorum.. Meşhur Aager Fogstep, küçük, sıskası çıkmış bir kızın mızmızıyla mı hareket ediyor?”

“Meşhur olduğumu bilmiyordum.”, der Aager.

“Öyle deme..”, diye acı bir şekilde hicveder Lilly. “Drashan kesicileri arasında bir efsanesin sen; En çok kesici öldüren hırsız! Kendi aramızda, seni en sonunda kimin öldüreceği üzerine bir bahis bile vardı..”

“Standartlarınız benimle sınırlı idiyse, gerçekten kesiciler acınası bir güruhmuş!”, diye, Lilly’den bile daha acımasızca bir şekilde cevap verir Aager. “Ama kalmanı tercih ederim!”

 

Lilly Venom, önündeki adamın tokat gibi söyledi ifadeyle en son eklediği dileği arasında şaşıp kalır ve yüzünde çarpılmış bir ifade belirir.

 

Inshala, Aager’in elini sıkar ve karalar içindeki adam ona bakınca kızın yüzünde gördüğü üzgün ifadeden dolayı utanır.

“Kal..”, der Aager ve bunu söylerken kendi yüzündeki soğuk ifadeyi bastırır. Yavaşça açık pencereye döner, ellerini pencerenin pervazına dayar, temiz, derin bir nefes alır ve sessizce, “..lütfen!”, diye ekler.

Lilly ise ona şaşkın bir ifadeyle bakakalır..

..ve içinden geçirir;

‘Bana ‘Arkası dönük konuşan adam’ olayı mı yaptı bu şimdi? İnanamıyorum buna!’

Aager pencereden ayrılır, kendi eline, bir şeye karar veriyormuş gibi bakar, sonra onu kıza, Lilly Venom’a uzatır.

Lilly Venom ise, az önceki şaşkın ifadesinin devamı kabilinde, hayretle kendisine uzatılan ele bakar.

Bir süre öylece ele, ve sahibine bakar.. ve yanlış kararı verir.

“Senin elini sıkacağımı düşünüyorsan—”, diye huysuzca başlar.

“—Aklımın ucundan bile geçmedi..”, diye bitirir Aager. “Ama tebeşiri rica edeceğim!”

Lilly’nin yüzü kızarır.. ve ağabeyi olan adama utanarak elinde sakladığı tebeşiri bırakır..

 

“Aager? Neler oluyor?”, diye hiçbir şey anlamış bir ifadeyle her ikisine de bakar Inshala.

Aager bir süre gülmemek için büzüştürdüğü dudaklarıyla, önündeki bozulmuş kıza bakar. ‘Tam, küçük kız kardeşini muzırlık yaparken yakalamış bir abi-kardeş gibiyiz!’, diye geçir içinden.

“Kuş beyinli kız kardeşim, kendisinden bile daha salak olan Darly ile, her ikisinden de daha ahmakça bir şeyler yapmayı planlıyorlar.. Olan bu!”, der Aager.

“Ne yaptığımız seni ilgilendirmez. Benim abim deği—”, der ve durur.

“Aslına bakılırsa, tam olarak oyum.”, diye cevap verir Aager, mutlu bir şekilde. “Şu işe bak.. Gün gelecek, Lilly Venom ile abi kardeş gibi didişeceğim aklımın ucundan bile geçmezdi.”

“Tebeşir sende kalabilir. Ben kararımı verdim.”, der keskin bir şekilde Lilly.

“Ne.. neden bahsediyor bu Aager?”, diye sorar Inshala.

“Ben mi söyleyeyim, sen mi anlatmak istersin?”, diye sorar Aager, kız kardeşine.

Lilly omuzlarını silker.

“Sen anlat. Sana inanır nasıl olsa.”, der kız ve gidip yatağına oturur.

Aager derin bir nefes alır, ve iki kuş beyinlinin yapayı planladıklarını düşündüğü şeyi anlatmaya başlar..

..ama Inshala araya girer.

“Anlatma..”, der mutsuz bir şekilde.

Lilly acı bir şekilde ‘hıh’lar.

“Ne güzel. Küçük kızın bilmek bile istemiyor..”, diye söylenir.

“Bilmemin sana bir faydası olacak mı, abla?”, diye sorar üzgün bir şekilde Inshala.

Lilly tekrar omuzlarını silker.

“Bilmesen daha iyi olur. Senin için..”

“Sizi.. ikinizi de anlamıyorum.”, der küçük kız.

Abi-kardeş, ikisi de Inshala’ya bakarlar.

 

“İkinize de hayatta neredeyse hiç kimseye verilmemiş bir fırsat verildi. Birbirinden koparılmış iki kardeş, birbirleriyle buluşturuldular, birbirlerini öldürmeye çalışan iki azılı düşman, düşman kalmak için sebepleri ortadan kaldırıldı ve ikinizin haline bak.”, diye yumruklarını sıkmış, kaşlarını çatmış, dolu gözlerle ikisine de tıslaya ağlaya bağırır!

“Benim annem beni doğurduğu için taşlanarak öldürüldü. Beni de ormana, vahşi hayvanlar parçalasın diye bıraktılar. İki gün sonra yaşlı bir adam beni bulmamış olsaydı, ben de ölmüş olurdum. On altı yaşıma kadar kimsem olmadı. Olan tek kişiyi ise bir gece birileri gelip öldürdü. Yalnız doğdum, ve yine yalnız kaldım. Hayatımda hiç yaşıtım, arkadaşım, akranım, dostum, akrabam, sırdaşım, kardeşim, ablam, amcam, yada ağabeyim olmadı ve sizin şu halinize bakın.. İkinizden de bu kadar çocukça davranış beklemezdim. Görüyorum ki ‘insanlar’, büyüdükçe aptallaşıyorlar. Peki beni neden taşlayıp kırbaçladınız ki o zaman? Halbuki o zaman bir büyük bile değildim, bir çocuktum. İkinizi tekrar barıştırmak için elimden gelen her şeyi yaptım ve ikiniz de bunu bozmak için elinizden geleni ardınıza koymadınız. İkiniz de aptalsınız!”, diye kırık bir sesle bağırır, bir anda avuç kadar bir baykuşa dönüşür ve camdan fırlayıp kaçar!

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Uzun, kötürüm bir sessizlik çöker odaya. Aager, pencereden fırlayan küçük baykuşun gece karanlığında kayboluşunu seyreder, ve omuzları çöker. Bu.. niyetleri arasında hiç olmayan bir şeyken, kötü bir şekilde başına gelmiş bir durumdur.

Lilly ise utanmış bir ifadeyle dudaklarını büzüştürür. Bir yandan küçük baykuşun kaçtığı pencereye, bir yandan da bir erkeğin yüzünde hiç görmediği ifadelerin oynaştığı Aager’e bakar.

“Umm.. bunu istememiştim. İnan bana..”, der kız neden sonra.

“Ne istemiştin, peki?”, diye sorar Aager boğuk bir sesle.

“Gitmek istiyordum o kadar.”

“O kadar mı? Ben ise sana sarılmak bile istemiştim..”, diye hala pencereden dışarı bakmaya devam eder Aager.

“Bana sarılmak mı? İkimiz de, bana sarılmaya kalkman halinde benim seni bıçaklayacağımı biliyoruz.”, der Lilly.

“Senden hiçbir talebim olmadı Lilly. Bana hiçbir şey borçlu değilsin. Geçmişte karşılıklı bir şekilde birbirimizi öldürmeye çalışmamız dışında da senden sevdiklerini almadım.”, der Aager sessizce.

“Öldürdüğün onca kesici—”

“—de sadece birer kesiciydi o kadar. Kesicilerin kendi aralarında böyle özel bir bağ olduğunu bilmezdim. Yanılıyor muyum?”

“Yok zaten.. Ama bu bir prensip meselesi..”, diye inat eder Lilly.

Inshala’nın ayrılmasından sonra ilk defa kız kardeşine döner Aager.

“Lütfen Lilly. İkimizde kesiciler arasında böyle bir prensibin olmadığını biliyoruz. Hayatımda sevdiğim çok az kişi oldu. Annemin hayal meyal hatırladığım hatırası, kaçırttığımız o kız ve sen.. Lütfen.. lütfen işi gereksiz yere yokuşa sürme. Kal biraz. Hiçbir şey olmasa bile bunu ona borçlusun.”, diye sakince konuşur Aager.

Lilly uzun bir süre sessizce önünde duran adama bakar.

“Öyle olsun bakalım. Ama bunu onun için yapacağım.. Garip kız arkadaşın beni etkilemeyi başardı.”

“Hayır. Bunu onun için yapma. Ve saçma sapan bir şey söylemeden önce, hayır, benim için de yapma..”, der Aager. “Bunu kendin için yap. Çünkü onun istediği buydu. Bu ve onun ablası olmandı. O kız herkese ya abi, yada abla diye hitap eder. Çünkü anladığı nezaket bunu gerektiriyor.. Ama onun gerçek ablası olabilecek tek kişi sensin.”

“Ben abla olmak için kötü bir bahaneyim..”, der Lilly.

“O zaman iyi bir sebep olmak için biraz çaba sarf et..”, der Aager kaşlarını çatarak. “Onu öldürmeye çalıştın, ama o seni ablası olarak görmeyi seçti. Senin rahat etmen için günlerce uğraştı, odanı temizledi, elbiselerini yıkadı..”

“Saçlarımı bile ördü!”, diye ekler Lilly. “Ben onu tehdit ettim ama o umursamadı bile. Ikına ıkına elinde koca bi kova dolusu sıcak suyla geldi, saçlarımı garip kokulu sabunlarıyla yıkadı, kuruladı, uzun uzun taradı, sonra da iki saat örmekle uğraştı.. Ve neden bunları yaptı bilmiyorum bile..”

“Yakışmış sana..”, diye itiraf eder Aager. “Nedeni ise.. Temiz ve titiz biri kendisi. Onun sayesinde grupta üstü başı yırtık yada pis kokan kimse yok. Ki buna Udoorin ve ben de dahiliz.. Sanırım geçmişiyle ilgili bir durum. O kızı bulduğumuzda.. Aslına bakılırsa o bizi buldu. Bizi fena halde, tek başına pusuya düşürdü ve bizi yerle bir etti.. Aramızda bir paladin olmasaydı, sanıyorum bizi yıldırımlarıyla yerin dibine geçirmiş olurdu. Herkes beni korkusuz, soğuk biri olarak bilir. Ama o gece Inshala’nın bize yaptığı baskında korktuğum kadar pek az korkmuşluğum oldu hayatımda..”

Lilly’nin bir kaşı, pek de inanmamış gibi kalkar.

“O kız..”, der Aager. “..bizden önce, bir düzine Orken’e pusu kurdu ve onları tamamen, ama tamamen yok etti!.. Orkenlerden geri kalan tek şey, kurumuş, yanmış, yada koca sarmaşıklarla ıslak birer havlu gibi sıkılıp suları çıkarılmış ‘bi şeyler’ kalmıştı!”

“Bunu ona söylemene hiç gerek yoku, Aager Fogstep. Benden korktuğu için ablam olmasını istemiyorum!”, diye Inshala’nın, fena halde bozulmuş sesini duyar zihninde Aager.

“Özür dilerim Inshala. Bu gece gerçekten bir aptal gibi davrandım ve senin beklentilerinden eksik kaldım. Ama onun, senin haline bakıp ciddiye almaması üzerine de bir ilişkiniz olması da doğru değil.. Yaşın küçük olabilir. Ama bundan dolayı seni ‘eksik’ sanıyor olması, sağlıklı değil..”, diye cevap verir Aager.

Ama Aager’e karşı bir cevap gelmez..

Aager zihninde sadece kızgın bir sessizlik hisseder. Omuzları biraz daha çöker.

“Seni üzdüğüm için tahmin edemeyeceğin kadar üzgünüm..”, diye yine gönderir düşüncesini..

Ama sessizlik inat eder.

Aager, Lilly’ye odaklanır.

“Eee? Nasıl devam etmek istersin?”, diye sorar kıza.

“Bunu bana mı soruyorsun?”, diye hicveder Lilly.

“Belli ki bizim halletmemiz gerekecek..”, der Aager omuzlarını silkerek. “..arabulucumuzu üzdük ve onu kaçırttık.”

“Onunla nasıl.. ‘arkadaş’ oldun?”, diye sorar Lilly.

“Bu.. bu biraz özel bir konu..”, diye cevap verir Aager sessizce.

“Peki.. Öyle olsun bakalım. Ablası olmamı istiyorsun ama bana nasıl tanıştığınızı bile anlatmak istemiyorsun. Bu bana ‘hiç bi şey’ karşılığında ‘bi şey’ istemek gibi geldi biraz.”, der Lilly ve işi yine çirkefliğe götürür.

Aager gözlerini kısar ve önünde, keyifle sırıtan kıza bakar.

Sonra derin bir nefes alır, arkasını pencerenin yanındaki duvara verecek şekilde yere oturur, başını yere eğer ve ‘kız kardeşine’, üzüp kaçırttığı kızla ilk defa tanışmasını anlatır.

 

Ama hayır..

Onunla ilk defa karşılaşması olarak, ormanda küçük kızın onlara yaptığı baskını tekrar anlatmaz. Zaten onunla gerçek ‘ilk’ karşılaşması bu değildir.

Onunla Themalsar’da yaşadıklarını anlatır, ama ilk karşılaşması bu da değildir.

Yıllar önce, ‘Bane’s Song’ Operasyonunda onun varlığını sezdiği an da değildir Aager’in ilk defa o küçük, sıskası çıkmış kızla tanışması.

Themalsar çıkışı, kızın bu hale gelmesine sebep olan şey ve bunu takip eden ve çadırda geçirdikleri on günlük ölüm kalım mücadelesi de değildir bu ürkütücü adamın gerçekte Inshala ile ilk tanışması.

Aager Fogstep’in, Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane ile ilk ve gerçek tanışması, gerçekte Ogre Prinsh’i öldürmelerinden hemen sonra, hiç beklenmedik bir şekilde olmuştur; dev, acımasız yaratığı öldürmelerinden sonra, yaratığın hazinesinde Aager bir iksir bulmuştur.

Aager bu iksiri içmesiyle, etrafındaki herkesin duygularını, kısa bir süreliğine dahi olsa, bir anda ‘duymaya’ başlamıştır. Herkesten o veya bu şekilde bazı duygular sezmiş, ama bulundukları odanın bir köşesine sinmiş küçük yaratıktan o kadar çok ve o kadar yoğun duygu fırtınası almıştır ki, bu Aager’in iç dünyasını sarsmıştır.

Aager hayatında hiç bu kadar çok ‘korku’, ‘dehşet’, ‘kafa karışıklığı’, ‘merak’, ‘panik’, ‘gıpta’, ‘utanç’, ‘sevgi özlemi’ ve ‘yalnızlık hissi’ ile karşılaşmamıştır.

Çok kısa bir süreliğine Aager, kızın hayatı boyunca devamlı hissettiği bu ürkütücü duygu fırtınasını yaşamış, ve farkında olmadan, kendi içinde hiç olmadığını sandığı bir duygu filizlenivermişti;

Acıma..

 

Evet. Aager Fogstep’in, Inshala ‘la Fey’ Frostmane ile ilk ve gerçek tanışması, bu olmuştu. Gerisi ise boşlukların doldurulması olmuştu, o kadar.

 

Ve Aager, ‘kız kardeşine’ en derin, en kırılgan yanını gösteriverir..

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Lilly Venom, uzun bir süre sesini çıkarmadan ‘ağabeyinin’ anlattığı garip, akıl almaz hikayeyi dinler. İçindeki inatçı yanı önünde, acımasızca bir dürüstlükle iç dünyasını döken adama parmağı ile işaret edip gülmesini telkin etmektedir ama nedense Lilly bunu yapmaz.. İşin açıkçası, Lilly bunu yapamaz. Çünkü bir anlığına önünde duran adam ‘meşhur’ Aager Fogstep değil, çok, çok eskiden bildiği ve kıl payı hatırlayabildiği Varr Sama‘dır..

Ve Lilly Venom onu, bacaklarını kendisine çekmiş, kollarını dizlerine sarmış bir şekilde, Ferra Ferrea olarak dinler.

Aager hikayesini uzun duraksamalarla, ve oldukça beceriksiz bir şekilde anlatmıştır.

Bitirdiğinde, “İşte böyle oldu..”, der mekanik bir sesle.

 

Lilly oluşan sessizliği bozmak istemez ama bunu yapmak zorunda olduğunun da farkındadır.

 

“Annem..”, der en sonunda. “Onu en son gördüğümüzde sana bir şey demişti.. Bunu hatırlıyor musun?”

Aager başını kaldırmaz ama kaşlarını çatar ve düşünür. Gerçekte annesinin yüzünü bile hatırlamaz. Ondan kalanlar sadece kopuk bazı hisleri içeren seslerden ibarettir. Nevarki Inshala’sı ona, büyük bir şefkatle en eski anılarını hatırlatmıştır.

“Kız.. kız kardeşimin bana emanet olduğuyla ilgili bir şeyler söylemişti.. sanırım. Çok oldu ve arada kafaya yenmiş çok fazla darbe var. Hoghart sağ olsun..”, der ve tekrar anılarına yoğunlaşır.

“Sanırım, melek değil, bir iblis olmamla alakalı çocukça bir şeyler söylemiştim.. hatırlayamadığım o kadar çok şey var ki.”

Lilly Venom’un da omuzları çöker..

“‘Ben melek değilim. Ben iblisim.. Burada melek yok anne..’, annemi en son gördüğümüzde ona söylediğin şey buydu..”, der kız, solgun bir yüzle ve gerçekten, GERÇEKTEN önünde duran adamın ağabeyi olduğunu kabul eder..

Aager muallak bir şekilde başını onaylar.

“Olabilir. Dediğim gibi, Hoghart pek de çocuklardan hoşlanan biri değildi ve bunu bana dört yıl boyunca her gün hatırlattı. Sanıyorum ki vücudumda kırmadığı yerimi bırakmamıştı.”

“Sen ağabeyimsin Aager Fogstep..”, der Lilly aniden.

Aager başını kaldırır.

“Sen de kız kardeşimsin. Bu gerçek her şeyi silmek için yeterli olur mu bilmiyorum. Ama ben seninle dürüst olmak niyetindeyim. Aslına bakılırsa, hiçbir geçmişte seninle dürüst oluşum dışında başka bir şekilde olmadım. Sen de öyle ol ve kal.. Bunun üzerine bir şeyler kurarız. Yeni bir şeyler, zira eskilerin üzerine kurabileceğimiz pek de bir şey yok.”

Lilly adamdan gözlerini ayırmadan bakar.

Adam ‘yorgun’ gibidir. Daha doğrusu, ‘bıkkın’.. yada ‘bitmiş’ bir hali vardır.

“O kızı gerçekten seviyorsun!”, diye ünler bir anda.

“O kızı gerçekten seviyorum..”, diye katışıksız bir şekilde cevap verir Aager.

Sonra yavaşça ayağa kalkar.

“Lilly Venom. Bugüne kadar muhteşem bir düşman, paha biçilmez, eşsiz bir hasımdın. Bundan sonra sadece kız kardeşim olman beni mutlu etmek için yeterli olacaktır..”, der Aager. Kısa bir and durur, ve sırıtarak ekler, “Yada mutsuz.. duyduğum kadarıyla kız kardeşler hep abilerinin başkalarına bela olurlarmış!”

Aager Fogstep, tekrar elini kız kardeşine uzatır.

“Sana sarılmak isterim ama sanırım bunun için biraz daha beklemem gerekecek. Şimdilik elini sıkmam yeterli olur gibime geliyor.. Barış, kabilinde.”

Lilly Venom, ağabeyine elini uzatmadan önce uzun bir süre çekimser kalır.

Neden sonra o da elini ona doğru uzatır.

 

Aager Fogstep ve Lilly Venom el sıkışırlar.

 

Aager sıktığı ele bakar.

“Biraz yemek yesen iyi olur. Sıskan çıkmış!”, deyi verir.

Lilly Venom ona bön bön bakar. “Sen ciddi misin? Üzerinden daha bir dakika bile geçmedi ve sen bana ‘uyuz abi’ olayı mı yapmaya kalkıyorsun?”, diye söylenir.

Aager omuzlarını silker.

“Geciktirmekte bir fayda görmüyorum.”, der sırıtarak. Sonra derin bir nefes alır. “Şimdi gidip gece karanlığında saklanan küçük bir baykuşu bulup onun gönlünü almam lazım..”, der.

 

Ağabey Aager, kapıya yönelir. Kapıya ulaştığında, eli kapının kulpunda durur.

“Bana ‘Arkası dönük konuşan adam’ olayını tekar yaparsan, seninle bir daha konuşmam, ona göre!”, der Lilly, ‘fırk’layarak!

“Neden? Artık böyle yapılmıyor mu?.”, diye sorar Aager hafif alınmış bir şekilde.

“Sakın.. Sakın haa!.”, diye uyarır Lilly ama bunun abisi üzerinde pek etkisi olmaz..

Aager arkasına bakmadan sorar;

“Anglenna mı, Angrellen mi..?”

 

Lilly Venom derin, esef dolu bir nefes verir, ama yine de söyler.

 

“Politika asla sevdiğim bir şey olmamıştır.”, der Aager ve başını kız kardeşine doğru çevirir. “Ama sonuçlarını temizlemekle uğraşmak zorunda kaldığım zamanlar oldu. Dikkatli ol kız kardeşim. Almayı kabul ettiğin kontrat, ölümcül bir kontrat. Ama sanırım uzun vade de gerekli bir kontrat. Sana bol şans diliyorum, kız kardeşim.. Darly’ye söyle. Yaptığı salaklıklardan dolayı onun kaçmasına bir kere izin verdim. Ama sana bir şey olursa, onu öldüreceğimi bilsin.”

 

 

✱ ✱ ✱

 

 

Aager handan ayrılır. Gecenin bir saatinde, Arashkan’ın boş sokaklarında sessizce dolanır. Arashkan Adalet Sarayını ve Tüccarlar Mahallesini arkasında bırakır. Sokak lambalarının aydınlattığı gecede sislerin arasında, Birinci Lord Princeps Kaladin’in sarayını görür ama ilgilendiği yer orası değildir ve Aager yoluna devam eder.

Yaklaşık bir saatlik bir yürüyüşten sonra hedefine varır; Heaven Parkı.. High Spires dışında ‘orman’ denebilecek tek yer burasıdır ve Spires’ın aksine, bu park halka açıktır.

Aager parkın derinliklerine kadar yürür ve en sonunda, yaprakları olmayan, kurumuş, koca bir ağacın dibine gelir ve başını kaldırıp yukarı bakar.

Ve orada, uzun, yamuk dalların üstünde küçük bir şeklin uyumakta olduğunu görür.

 

“Snare.. Hanımınızla konuşmam lazım. Kendisine geldiğimi bildirebilir misin?”, diye ağaca söyler!

Ağaç onu kale almaz.

“Snare.. Lütfen. Onunla konuşmam lazım..”, diye rica eder Aager.

‘Snare’, ağır bir şekilde Aager’e döner, hanımını uyandırmayacak şekilde eğilir ve önünde duran adama fena pis bir bakış atar..

“O kadar kızgın bana, hı?”, der Aager.

Ağaç homurdanır.

“Anlıyorum.”, der Aager ve yan ağacın dibine çöreklenir, sırtını da çöreklendiği ağaca verip gözlerini kapatır. “Sorun değil. Beni affedinceye kadar bende burada beklerim..”

 

Aradan bir süre geçer.

 

“Ayakları yumru mu?”, diye beklenmedik bir şekilde sorar Aager.

Ağaçtan biraz aklı karışmış bir onay homurtusu gelir.

“Bende öyle düşünmüştüm..”, der Aager. “Ayakları yumru çünkü üstü örtülü değil ve üşüyor.. Hanımının üstü açık uyuduğunda üşüdüğünün farkındasın değil mi, Snare? Bunu asla sana söylemez çünkü üzüleceğini düşünür ve o seni asla üzmek istemez..”, der gözleri kapalı bir şekilde.

 

Ağaçtan ‘tedirgin’ bir çıtırtı duyulur, ve sonra kızmış bir şekilde tepesindeki dallarında uyuyan küçük şeyi alır, ve yavaşça onu Aager’in kucağına bırakır, büyük bir homurtuyla ve alınmış bir şekilde ‘hıf’lar, sonra da tekrar gerçek bir ağaç gibi kıpırdamadan öylece durur.

 

“Teşekkür ederim, Snare.”, der Aager ciddi bir şekilde, sonra kucağına bırakılan küçük şeye bakar.

‘Küçük şey’ ise uyanmış, çatık kaşlarla ona bakmaktadır.

“Onu kandırdın!”, der Inshala hışımla Aager’in zihninde.

“Ona doğruyu söyledim. Eylül sonundayız ve havalar artık soğudu. Gece dışarıda uyumamalısın.”, diye cevabını gönderir Aager.

“Sana çok kızgınım Aager Fogstep. Hem de çok!”

“Biliyorum. Bu yüzden buradayım. Özrümü kabul edersin umuduyla geldim..”

“Özrünü tabii ki kabul edeceğim çünkü seninim. Ama hala kızgınım!”

Aager ister istemez gülümser.

“Peki. Bana ne kadar kızgın kalmayı düşünüyorsun? On dakika daha yeterli olur mu?”

“Çok kısa!”

“Yirmi?”

“Çok kısa!”

“Hmm.. Otuz?”

“Hala çok kısa..”

“Sıkı pazarlıkçısınız küçük hanım. Benim de korumam gereken bir şöhretim var ama. Lilly’ye göre ‘meşhur’muşum.. Lütfen bunu da hesaba katınız.. Otuz iki dakika.. son teklifim!”

Küçük kız alt dudağını pörtletir.

“Aaa.. birisi hileye başvurmaya karar verdi demek..”

“Bu hile değil, Aager Fogstep!”

“Öyle olsun bakalım küçük hanım. Otuz dört dakika..”

“Dudak pörtletmemin ederi sadece iki dakika mı?”

“Dudak pörtletmeniz paha biçilmez küçük hanım. Ama ben sizin sessizliğinize daha fazla katlanabileceğimi sanmıyorum, o kadar..”

“Yaaa.. şimdi de sen hile yapıyorsun ama ki!”

“Otuz dört dakika o zaman. Şimdi başladı..”

“Ama ben hazır değildim!”

“O zaman şarkı söyle. Uzun zamandır hiçbir şey mırıldanmıyorsun. Belki kızgınlığın daha çabuk biter.”

“Şarkı mı? Ben şarkı söylemem ki.. Sesim hiç güzel değil!”

“Bu konuda size katılamayacağım genç bayan.. Şölen gecesi dans ederken mırıldandığın bir şey vardı..”

“O.. o mu? O hoşuna mı gitti?”

“Inshala.. Hayatımda duyduğum en güzel şeydi o..”

Kız tekrar alt dudağını pörtletir.

Aager kart, nasırlı bir parmağı ile nazikçe kızın pörtlettiği alt dudağına dokunur..

..ve dokunmasıyla kızın zihninden kendisine yıldırım çarpması gibi bir his sıçrar ve Aager’in gözleri kararır.

“Ne..?”, diye afallar Aager.

ÇOK ÖZÜR DİLERİM! ÇOK ÖZÜR DİLERİM! ÇOK ÖZÜR DİLERİM!“, diye panic içerisinde inler kız.

“Ne oldu öyle?!”, diye hayret eder Aager ve kendisine gelir.

“Bu bazen engel olamadığım bir şey.. Çok özür dilerim ki! Sen.. Sana yakın olduğumda içimdeki fırtına ko.. kontrolümden çıkıyor bazen..”

“Nasıl..?”, diye hayretle sorar Aager.

“Ben.. ben bir insan değilim, Aager Fogstep.. Yarım, başka bi şey..”, der kız boynuzlarını işaret ederek. “O mırıldandığım şeyi sakinleşmek için söylüyorum..”

“Çok üzgünüm. Ve çok özür dilerim. Seni korkutmak istememiştim.”, diye anca duyulur, küçük bir sesle konuşur kız. “Ama sen yanımdayken çok zorlanıyorum. Olmadığın zaman ise oturup ağlayasım geliyor. Lütfen beni istemeye devam et!”

 

Aager, içinde bir şeylerin burkulduğunu hisseder.

Zira hiçbir şart altında bu küçük, sıskası çıkmış, saf, güzel, muhteşem kız, ‘lütfen beni istemeye devam et’, dedirtilmeyi hak etmez.

“Lütfen sen beni istemeye devam et, Inshala Frostmane Fogstep!”, der sessizce. “Bu aramızdaki sessiz vaat olsun.”

 

 

Aager uyandığında sabah olmuştur.

Aager cıvıl cıvıl öten kuşların sesine uyanır..

Hangi ara uyuya kaldığını hatırlayamaz ama kendisini Heaven Parkında, yerde uzanmış, başını da sıska dizlerinin üstüne almış, muhtemelen ağlamaktan şişmiş gözlerle saatlerce başında durmuş, takati bitince de olduğu yerde, kendisine doğru kapaklanmış kızın ters yüz olmuş, uyuyan yüzüyle burun buruna bulur..

..ve hatırlar.

“Ben tam bir aptalım ve başıma ne geldiyse bundan geldi hep!”, diye söylenir, zira kıza söylediği en son şeyden dolayı kızın attığı mutlu çığlık, kendi zihninin her bir köşesinde sekerek yankılanmış ve kendisini alaşağı etmiştir.

Utanç içerisindeki kız da dizlerini onun başına yastık etmiş, saatlerce yaptığı şeyden dolayı utanç içerisinde ağlamış, sonra ipi kopmuş bir kukla gibi oturduğu yerde öne doğru, Aager’in üstüne kapaklanıvermişti..

Evet. Kız sadece saf, güzel ve muhteşem değildir. Aynı zamanda da katışıksızdır.

 

Aager sessiz ve hecesiz bir hareketle, bir anda kızla yer değiştirir ama onun başını dizlerine yaslamakla yetinmez.

Kızın tamamını kendisine yaslar, yumru olmuş küçük ayaklarını avuçlarının içine alır ve bir yandan bu ‘déjà vu’ların tekrarını dilerken, bir yandan da hicvederek mırıldanır;

“Ah şu ölümlüler ne kadar ahmak varlıklar..!”

 

 


“Ah şu ölümlüler ne kadar ahmak varlıklar..!” — William Shakespeare’in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” oyunundan; “oh Lord what fools these mortals be!”

 

 

 
 
dungeons and dragons duygusal groups karakter analizi komedi modül role play the plot thickens tundra walkers Whispers; A Cabal

Sending Stone;  
The One That Matters

Sending Stone;
The One That Matters

Timeline:

Due to her severe injuries, Seressa Wraiven is left behind, hiding in a storm pit with her pair, Arcantonic Palecog, also left behind to watch over her.

 

This story is the continuation of
Secrets of the Raven Queen
and takes place around the same time as
Giving the Thief

 

 

What will happen if that Son of Krash comes?”, Tonic whispered as she lay on her belly, next to her pair in the stretcher in the snow illuminated storm pit.

“That.. never occurred to me..”, admitted Seressa with a pained and tired voice.

“I mean, he could come right now and crash into those two. He could blow the whole thing.. He doesn’t look exactly like the cordial type to me. And I doubt Cora will say ‘Morning..’ and move along like they were some old acquaintances who bumped into each other in a Sparducks line!”, said Tonic.

“Can’t imagine you waiting in a Sparducks line, girl!”, said Seressa, going for a smile but failing.

“Why not?”, asked Tonic, as she started drawing doodles in the snow.

“Seems a bit too posh for you..”

“Hah!”, barked the gnomic girl. “Shows how little you know of me. Didn’t read that in my files you burglarized?”

“Ow, my dear, I know every place you went on a regular basis.”

“Well, miss know-it-all, as a matter of fact, I did go to Sparducks.. Just not regularly. And yes, I did find it a bit too posh for my taste. But I did indulge myself with their cranberry tea and cinnamon rolls.. every once in a while.”, said Tonic wistfully. “Pretty much the only thing I missed about the academy, really.”

Then she snorted in mirth.

“What?”, asked her pair.

“Just imagined Cora standing in a Sparducks line waiting to give her order with her scowling face and her ginormous sword; ‘A latte with extra chill, please!’

Seressa laughed with pain.

“My dear, if Cora went into a Sparducks, I don’t think there’d be a line..”

Tonic squeaked a laugh of her own as she drew more doodles into the snow while waving her legs.

“Oww..”, said Seressa after a while. “Owww, why didn’t I think of that before..?”

“Whot?”

“Your Sending Stones..”

 

There was a brief, strained pause.

 

“Umm.. What about them?”, Tonic asked carefully.

“We could have given one of them to Cora.. or Brom.. So if Son of Krash came, we could have sent them a warning via the Sending Stones.. Damn.. Why didn’t we think of that?”, berated Seressa.

“Ummm.. That wouldn’t have worked Seressa.”, said Tonic, her voice a bit tight.

“What? Why not? Seems like a perfect solution.”, said Seressa a bit confused.

“I.. I don’t have its pair anymore..”, Tonic admitted in a whisper.

“Ow? How come? Did you lose it?”

“No.. Not really..”, said Tonic, her voice sort of trailed off.

 

There was another pause..

 

“I am confused, luv..”, said Seressa, with a totally baffled voice.

“I.. I gave it to someone..”, whispered Tonic a bit shamefully.

“I don’t understand.. I am hurting in too many places, luv. Help me out here.”

“If you must know..”, blazed Tonic quietly, “I gave it to that Gordigon boy..”

“Ooookay..”, said Seressa. “But I still don’t understand..”

Then her voice softened.

“Luv.. Sending Stones work over distance only.. We are centuries apart from him.. Why would you give it to him?”

“Look we.. we chatted a bit, alright? I mean, after I brained him with my wrench, I felt sorry. So on the way to that Ogre’s Foot, I.. we.. sort of snuck out into woods and talked.. Just talked, that’s all! And then, because it was likely we’d separate eventually, I gave him the pair of my Sending Stone. And yes, I am aware we are centuries apart but it made sense, then..”

YOU DATED PRINCE GORDIGON TINKERDOME BEHIND MY BACK? I AM VERY, VERY WROTH WITH YOU ARCANTONIC PALECOG!“, hissed Seressa.

“You.. you are?”, Tonic asked, her voice truly strained now.

“Ow, my dear, dear Tonic..”, smiled the very tall, very dark Seressa as tears of joy appeared in her luminous eyes. “I am so, so happy for you.”

“You.. you are?”, said Tonic, quite astonished.

“Of course, luv. Now tell me.. Did you kiss?”

 

A very hot pause filled the storm pit.

Tonic looked down and noticed there were a few too many heart-shaped doodles drawn in the snow!

 

“Wow, girl.. He was that good, eh?”, whooped Seressa while her pair blushed furiously.

“I liked it.”, she mumbled in a small voice. “Made me tingle at.. Well, I didn’t even know I could tingle there.. Or anywhere!”

“Tell me..”, Seressa said happily. “But only if it’s alright with you. If you feel comfortable about it..”

“There’s nothing comfortable about any of this..”, Tonic blushed, some more. “But who else am I going to share it with but you, girl!”

She paused for a moment as if favoring, or perhaps, savoring a particular memory..

“We were talking. Well, I was talking really, about non-combustion engines, of all things.. I feel like an idiot now.. And he just stood there like a concussed fool, just staring at me. As it turns out, he was, actually listening to everything I was saying too because I tested him then and there and he recited everything I said verbatim! I was like, ‘Wow, even I couldn’t repeat myself like that.’

Then he reached out and.. sort of touched my bangs and brushed them behind my ears, one at a time, and said I had very pretty ears!”

“Seems like he was as stupefied as you were..”, said Seressa with glee. “I am impressed, girl. You destroyed a prince with an artificers wrench, then burned him with non-combustion engines and a pair of bunny ears.. You are a natural zinger!”

“I don’t have bunny ears!”, protested Tonic.

“You have lovely ears with the same difference, luv. Back to your story, then?”

“Well.. Then this.. this tingling thing came over me and..”, she said and stopped.

“And..?”, asked Seressa with eager happiness.

“I don’t really remember. I think I might have jumped him!”, she mumbled.

“Yessss!”, hissed Seressa. “That’s my girl!”

“Did I do right? I mean, he is a prince, after all. I am sure he has dozens of girls who’d want to throw themselves on him. I feel so stupid.”

“What did he do, when you jumped him?”, asked Seressa.

“He held my hands.. My dirty hands and asked me if I was sure, and if this was something I wanted.. I.. I don’t know what came over me, Seressa. I just couldn’t stop.. He looked so.. pretty.. and yummy!”, Tonic said with a small, ashamed voice.

“Baby girl, the fact that he asked you that very question, proved he respected you.. Not just as a girl, but as a person. Men seldom care for the feelings of women, nor care enough to ask what we want, luv. They just want what they want. Which is pretty base, in a primal sense.. Come to think of it, so are women, but that’s another matter.. Girl, I believe the boy genuinely cared for you and truly wanted you..”

“You.. you really think so?”, asked Tonic a bit dubiously.

“I know so, luv. I know so..”

“How do you mean?”, asked Tonic.

“Because NOBODY has ever asked me that question.. I am beautiful. This I know. And this, they see.. And all they want is that beautiful. Never once, however, did anyone wonder what was underneath the beautiful nor did anyone bother to ask what I felt, liked, or wanted..”, she answered calmly.

“Oww.. I am sorry, Seressa.. Hells bells, I feel like a gloating idiot now..”

“No, girl, this is your moment, not mine. Tell me how it felt.. Tell me everything..”

 

Tonic told her.


bounty hunters dungeons and dragons endless watch groups karakter analizi modül role play serenity tarihçe the plot thickens tundra walkers Whispers; A Cabal

The Pit (18+) / Çukur

The Pit (18+) /  Çukur

Timeline:

The final war between Good and Evil draws near.

In the end, however, whoever has planned the furthest and deepest, shall win.

And evil plans are seldom simple.

 

In this cycle, the mind behind everything is cunning, far-sighted, and encompassing. If the mortals and their allies can not undo the knots binding them with these plans, they shall perish. And when they perish, so shall this world and it will become another feeding ground for the demons where mortals will be bred for the sole purpose of being food for a very horrific banquet!

They shall be born,
slaughtered,
and be fed upon,
in an endless, gruesome cycle.

 

This story takes place some twenty years ago,
and crosses path with another story;
A Bard’s Tale VII, “1598. yıl”

 

 

How is the gate going? Are our engineers making any progress?”, the uncanny voice asked.

The uncanny, beautiful and masculine voice..

The voice was followed only by a short pause that could barely hide the fear of retribution.

“I am afraid not, my Liege. Whatever that fool Arcanton did with his colossal miscalculations, our mortal engineers have yet been unable to find..”, replied a thick, sultry, comely woman’s voice. “..The numbers are extremely delicate and hard to read.. Not to mention, coded! The paranoid midget coded everything he did. Deciphering them all is both time and life-consuming..”

 

Another pause was heard, followed by a deep, deadly sign.

The illustrious, very woman-like demon flinched.

 

“We must get that demon gate up and running. At current rate, we can only push so many minions through it at once, and all they provide is entertainment for the mortals..”, the beautiful, masculine voice said.

“Yes, my Liege.”, agreed the thick, feminine voice.

“But then, they are also keeping the said mortals pinned at the Demon Plains.. Otherwise, they would all coalesce at the Demon Wall and push The Damned Legion all the way through the Demons End, Fiend Pits, and on to the Citadel of Gullem —does the old fool still live, by the way?”

“Yes, my Liege, he still lives..”, signed the thick, luster, feminine voice.

“Bother..”, breathed the masculine one with unhidden contempt. “I was really hoping he’d croak. Rather irksome when mortals stay past their grave time, is it not?”

“Perhaps we can arrange a decent send-off for him, my Liege?”, the feminine voice asked hopefully and more than eagerly.

“Ow no, my dear Irine. When I want him offed, I certainly do not wish any decency in his demise. In fact, I have a special cage prepared just for his soul, down in my guest quarters. But until then, he is performing an excellent service by petrifying where he sits while terrifying the mortals and keeping them busy at Demon Wall..”

 

The masculine voice gave an unearthly chuckle.

 

“Demon Plains, Demon Wall, The Damned Legion, Demons End, Fiend Pits.. Mortals can be so unimaginative. You would think they would avoid naming their world with things that which they avoid!”

“They are fools, my Liege. That they name what they fear, with what they fear, makes us stronger..”, smiled the very feminine demon.

“Indeed, they are.. Irine.. Indeed, they are..”, the beautiful, masculine voice said lazily. “What of our ‘Seeds of Dissension’ project coming along?”

Irine, the illustrious, comely demon clapped her hands in delight.

“We are making excellent progress on that front, my Liege. This batch of ‘seeds’ has produced an exceptionally beautiful and promising progeny. She is filled with hate and spite and despite her young age, she loathes mortals and is incapable of comprehending mortal love.”, she gloated..

“Soon, she will be ready to be pulled out of her pit. She will then be put to conditioning. Then her real training will begin; on seduction, magic, and combat. We shall than unleash her upon her former tormentors. And once she has shed their blood, there will be no turning back for her.

“Her former tormentors..”, said the masculine voice. “It’s a pity they must die..”

“They are mortals, my Liege. Fools and easy to replace. They shall have fully performed their part only by dying at the hands of our ‘seeds'”, Irine sneered.

“Fools, yes… but devout fools. Wasting them seems like.. wasting them.. It appears mortals do not lack for fools, and neither do we..”, said the beautiful voice with little effort to veil the menace in it.

 

Irine froze.

 

“You have great expectations from this seed, then?”, asked the handsome voice, skimming over his unveiled threat.

“Yes.. yes, my Liege. She will become a great asset to your plans..”, agreed Irine, her voice unable to hide the tremor that clutched it.

“Hmm.. and perhaps my BRIDE.. If she performs as you have promised..”, smiled the masculine voice.

 

Irine froze again, but not of fear this time.

She froze and her face darkened with lust and black hatred..

 

“Come now, Irine.. I am well aware of your desires.. and your appetites.. But I am afraid you would make a poor bride..”

“My.. my Liege.. I would wish nothing less, and nothing more; to be at your side as your bride has been my only, deepest, darkest desire.. This too, I am sure you are aware..”, she said with such lusty longing, that her breasts heaved with hoarse, heavy expirations and tremors of unbidden delights zagged and throbbed through her whole body as her dark, penetrating eyes bore into her master.

“Yes. Your deepest, darkest desires have been long noted. But I am afraid you have too many ideas and ideals petrified in you. So much so that I would have to break you, for you can no longer be bent. It would be a shame to do that; to break you.. Then I would have to burn you down to the core to remold you to my liking.. Too much effort for too little gain.. Not to mention, the loss of one of my greatest and most illustrious concubines..”, the handsome voice smiled.

 

Irine slumped as her life long wish was crushed, quiet cruelly before her eyes as she awakened to the one, ‘unbending’ fact that forever she would be her masters ‘greatest and most illustrious’ whore..

 

“Do not despair, my lovely Irine..”, said the masculine voice. “For you are more than a mere concubine. You have nearly a great and cunning mind as your great and cunning curves!”

“Now, you shall take this ‘exceptional progeny’ you so seem to pride upon, under your wings, and personally see to her training. I want her educated in all mortal and non-mortal aspects.. I want her to know what drives us, and what drives mortals. I want her to see into us and into mortal hearts. When she speaks, her voice must be heard by our kind and followed by mortals with mindless lust. And because she will also be half-mortal, she will be unbanishable.. She will roam the mortal earth like a plague. Where she goes, death, destruction, and dissension shall follow..”

 

The beautiful, masculine voice paused.

And when he spoke again, there was power in his reverberating words..

“Make it so, Irine. For this is a task I shall trust no one but you. When she is ready, you shall bring her to me. Know this also, Irine, that her accomplishments and successes shall be yours to claim. This then, shall be your solace.. But so shall her failures..”, and this time, the beautiful, masculine voice did not bother veiling his threat.

 

Irine started shivering with true fear.

“And see if our greatest failure, Themalsar has been able to find Pricentines’ Light..”

“If we can get that weapon, Pricentine himself would be vulnerable. And as long as he lacks his precious sword, he is nothing! Nothing but a shame to his own kind; an angel who has let his soul blade go missing.. Do inform our dear Themalsar that his time is long overdue and if he is not successful in this, one endeavor, remind him I have his blood, his hair, and quite a few parts of his skin.. Remind him that I could do to him, what I let him do to that elf whore he was so riled about..

We have their Ad Ara here.. We must rid of Priceptine as well.. Speaking of which, I believe I have another 12 o’clock appointment with my dear ‘Dara.. I adore ruining an Archangel’s lunch hours, though I doubt she has any appetite left in her.”

 

Irine shuddered..

 

And with that, the great throne room shivered as one of the greatest minds of the demonic horde, Kardax’Trakxa “The Face”, gave a chuckle..

..not the maniacal evil boss cackle, just a chuckle.

 

“I believe that will be all for today, Irine.”, said “The Face”.

“Yes, my Liege..”, bowed Irine and departed, a smolder of a look on her face..

✱ ✱ ✱

The Face” sighed, rose from his massive, scarcely adorned thrown, and glided to the great table nearby. Unlike his predecessor, “The Face”, found little taste in flamboyance and grandeur. He had destroyed so many of his competitors and enemies alike by his ‘nondescript’ glamour. For him, everything he showed, was something they learned.. A ‘something’ they would certainly use against him.

The irony that he would be known as “The Face” was not lost.. or perhaps lost that he still, with mechanical precision and determination, had grinded down every enemy, every obstacle, and every challenge he’d faced..

He sat down and took the notes of the day into the black-bound, rather unostentatious book lying open on the great table.

The book was old, shredded at the sides, and very nearly as old as he’d been a mere demon squad leader. Into that book, he’d written down his ideas, his plans —long term or short, it didn’t matter, certain critical rituals, the details to his trademark spells, small, minute details he’d noticed about anyone or anything, and even little drawings morals called ‘doodles’. It was the one object, mortals or otherwise, would probably give their souls to get their hands on.

 

“The Face” smiled.

 

Too bad mortals gave their soul anyway, and for so much less..

Too bad mortals and quite a number of immortals would lose their souls if they even set eyes on the old book..

 

Before rising for his daily routine of going down into the dungeons to feed upon the agonies of a certain Archangel, he noted down a few more notes about what he would do, and accomplish, and the advantages of actually taking a half-mortal for a bride. For “The Face”, the mortality aspect of a potential bride was not really an issue but a matter of practical inconvenience. What mattered was the quality of devastation they could accomplish, rather than the quantity of years they would spend together.

Irine was many things and had more than her share of faults. But she was always accurate on her assessments and if this ‘seed’ was anything she’d hoped for, a pure and molded succubus half-blood would make an excellent bride, indeed..

 

“The Face” smiled once more as he caressed his book, the KARDAX CHRONICLES, rose from the table and departed to tear what little flesh was left on the Archangel, locked down in the dungeons..

✱ ✱ ✱

Kısılmış gözleri ve sıkılmış dişleri arasından, zorlukla zaptedebildiği duygularının oynaştığı solgun yüzü gerilir ve kısık bir sesle sorar Anglenna.

“Nereden biliyorsun bunları?”

Succubi melezi bir süre ona bakar ve sonra, ancak duyulur bir sesle cevap verir.

“KARDAX GÜNLÜKLERİ..”

 

(Excerpt from: “Eski Efendim, Sahibim ve Çok Daha Fazlası..”)


Irine the Erinyes Concubine; (pronounced as ‘Ai Rie Né’, a word that derives from ‘irin’, meaning ‘fester/pus’) a more powerful version of the succubi demons. She was also ‘Auntie’ Irine for Merisoul Xyrotwu, the same demon whom the Serenity Group encountered during their final fight against Themalsar. She was a vicious and cunning adversary who nearly slaughtered through the companions and broke Moria Alicia Jean Hooman’s arm by sheer strength.

She was finally slain with the combined power of the group and a half-ton Inshala Frostmane when she inadvertently dropped on her in her gigantic scorpion form!

 

The ‘elf whore’ referred to, is the Ranger Marshal Selendenien Sindarin of Bari Na-ammen, who caused the first Themalsar War to stretch over four years. She was slain by Themalsar himself when he used a little known spell called Malocchio, a trademark death curse of Kardax’Trakxa “The Face”. She was the youngest sister of High Lady Angrellen and Ri Grandaleren.

 

Lyrics to the song; “Devil, Devil” by MILCK

Devil, devil
Clever Devil, Devil
How quickly they do sell their souls
For the feast and the promise of gold
But devil that won’t be me

Devil, Devil
Bones of metal, metal
You torture saints with a single glance
Make them think, they ever stood a chance

Do not try me Devil, Devil
Cannot buy me Devil, Devil
You won’t make a fool of me, oh no
What makes you so special, special
To think I would ever settle
For that devious dance between you and me, Devil, Devil

Rebel, rebel call me rebel, rebel
I walk the plank, not a tear in my eye
I won’t go down your blushing bride
Under the water I’ll be sharpening my knife

Do not try me Devil, Devil
Cannot buy me Devil, Devil
You won’t make a fool of me, oh no
What makes you so special, special
To think I would ever settle
For that devious dance between you and me, Devil, Devil

You take the shape of
Everything that I’m drawn to
You take the shape of
Everything that I’m drawn to
But your eyes
Are dead and red
Red as rust

Do not try me Devil, Devil
Cannot buy me Devil, Devil
You won’t make a fool of me, oh no
What makes you so special, special
To think I would ever settle
For that devious dance between you and me, Devil, Devil

arashkan şehri dungeons and dragons duygusal groups karakter analizi komedi role play serenity the plot thickens

Lilly Venom: İş Teklifi

Lilly Venom: İş Teklifi

Timeline:

Lilly Venom için dünya üç gün önce tamamen değişmiştir.

Ortada ya ciddi bir yalanlı dolambaçlı bir ‘oyun’ oynamaktadır, ya da gerçekten işler göründüğü kadar saçma salaktır ve kendisi, yıllarca öldürmek için aradığı adamın kız kardeşidir.

 

Bu hikaye, “Birthright (18+)” ın ikinci yarısından bir gün sonra yer alır..

 

Lilly Venom gecenin derin karanlığında gözlerini açar. Devamlı ölüm tehlikesiyle burun buruna yaşadığı hayatı onda derin, içsel bazı sezilerin gelişmesine sebep olmuştur. Genç, keskin hatlı kızın bu sezileri o kadar derinlemesine işlemiştir ki, onun için bu artık içgüdü haline gelmiştir.

Battaniyesinin altında elleri yavaşça hareket eder. Biri yastığının altında, diğeri ise yattığı iğreti yatakla duvar arasına sakladığı bıçaklara gider ve onları göğüslerine doğru çeker. Sonra ağır, hecesiz bir hareketle pencerenin diğer yanına süzülür ve bekler. Bu şekilde hem pencere, hem de bulunduğu odanın kapısını aynı anda görebilmektedir..

 

..ancak sesini duymadığı, sadece iç güdülerinin onu uyandırdığı saldırı bir türlü gelmez.

 

‘Demek işini biliyorsun..”, diye geçirir içinden Lilly Venom. ‘Benim seni fark ettiğimi anladın ve durum değerlendirmesi yapmaya karar verdin.. ama gerçekte sadece iki seçeneğin var; ya hemen içeri dalıp şansını deneyeceksin, yada kendi sabrını benimkisiyle sınayacaksın. Hangimiz önce sıkılırsak..’

Lilly Venom gülümser ve keskin hatlı yüzü bir anda beklenmedik bir güzelliğe ulaşır. ‘Ama benim sabrımdan önce senin zamanın tükenecek çünkü ben burada rekorumu sınayabilirim; 84 saat. Bu rekorum Endless Watch Lordu Trimdel Kandara’nın hayatına mal olmuştu. Senin ise güneşin doğması kadar vaktin var. Damda dolaşan o kanatlı iblis yada sevgili ağabeyim seni daha önce bulmazsa tabii..’, diye geçirir içinden..

 

..ve beklediği ‘çıt’ sesi gelir.

 

Lilly Venom’un omuzları, kolları, omurgası ve uzun, ince bacakları gerilir. Bıçaklarını ise, ancak elleri nefes alacak kadar sıkar..

 

..ama ‘çıt’ın devamı gelmez ve beklediği gibi dışarıdaki her kimse yine içeri dalmaz!

 

Lilly Venom hafif terlemeye başalar.

‘Lanet olsun’, diye harlar içinden. ‘Ne istiyorsun? Beni öldüreceksen gel dene. Bir kızı tavlamanın daha kolay yolları olduğundan eminim..’

 

Ve bir anda Lilly olaya ayılır.

Bıçaklarını daha ‘rahat’ bir pozisyona indirir ve seslenir.

“Çık dışarı! Derdin beni kesmek ise bunu bu gece yapamayacaksın ve bunu sen de biliyorsun..”, diye burnundan solur.

Dışarıdan kısa bir sessizlik gelir.

“Teknik olarak ben zaten dışarıdayım. Bundan daha fazla dışarı çıkamam!”, der hafif sırıtıyormuş izlenimi veren, yakışıklı bir ses. “Bununla beraber, sizden kusuruma bakmamanızı rica ediyorum, Lilly hanım. Ama kesicilerle hırsızlar arasında yerleşik bir protokol yok. Benim varlığımdan emin oluncaya kadar beklemeyi tercih ettim.”

“Kapıyı tıklatmayı denemelisin. Bu genelde işe yarıyor.”, diye tersler Lilly.

“Onun eğlencesi nerede ki? Sen ve ben.. Bizler kapı çalmayız..”, der aynı sırıtışla pencerenin dışından gelen ses.

“Ne istiyorsun?”, diye şimdiden bıkmış bir sesle sorar kız. Son günlerde yaşadıkları ve öğrendikleri, ondan sosyal sabır namına pek az şey bırakmıştır ve canı sıkılmış bi salakla gecesini öldürmek gibi bir niyeti de yoktur..

 

Dışarıdan gelen ses sonra biraz alınmış gibi tekrar konuşur.

 

“Öyle olsun bakalım.”, der ve karalar içinde bir kol pencereden içeri uzanır. Kolun ucundaki elde uzun, ince bir hançer belirir ama daha fazla girmez. El yavaşça açılır ve hançer doğal ağırlığı ile ahşap yere saplanır.

“Bu ne?”, diye gerilir Lilly.

“Bu.. biz hırsızlar arasında ‘barış içinde geldim’ anlamına gelir. Bir hançerimizi yere bırakır, diğer hançerimizi ise kendimize saklarız. Diğer hırsızda aynını yapar. Bu şekilde iki hırsızda hem niyetini, hem de kazanma şansını yarı yarıya indirmiş olur. Bir nevi iyi niyet göstergesi olarak. Ama siz bir kesicisiniz ve bu da oldukça müstesna bir durum zira bugüne kadar karşılaştığım hiçbir kesiciyi hayatta bırakmadım.”, der kolun sahibi ciddi bir ‘neşe’yle.

“Benden bıçaklarımdan birisini terk etmemi bekliyorsan, bence dışarıda uzun bir gece geçireceksin..”, diye hırlar Lilly.

“Hiç gereği yok.”, der dışarıdaki ses. “Bu, onurlu hırsızlar arasındaki bir iyi niyet göstergesidir. Kesiciler onur nedir bilmezler, onu tanımazlar ve bu onlar için düşmanlarındaki bir zayıflıktır sadece..”

“Bana ahlak dersi vermek için yanlış mesleği seçmişsin..”, diye horlar Lilly dışardaki sesin sahibini.

“Aaa.. Hayır, Lilly hanım.. Ben ahlak dersi verecek kadar edepli biri değilim. Ama onuru gördüğüm yerde de tanırım. Bir kesicide ‘onur’ varsa, zaten o bir kesici değil, bir asker olur. Aklı da varsa, ‘hırsız’ olur. Ama buraya sizinle kesiciler ve sayısız kusurları üzerine uzun, felsefi bir konuşma yapmak için gelmedim. İçeri giriyorum. Lütfen beni bıçaklamayın. Bunu yaparsanız ben de sizi bıçaklamak zorunda kalırım ve bu da sizin ahmak ağabeyini biraz üzerdi sanırım!”, diye sakin bir sesle hicveder sesin sahibi.

✱ ✱ ✱

Karalar içinde bir adam, dansöz kadar kıvrak bir hareketle yanlamasına pencereden içeri süzülür ve içeri girer girmez bir adım sola ve geriye, Lilly Venom’u görecek şekilde, kılıç mesafesinde durur. Ya bilinçli ya da hasbelkader, içeri giren yabancı kesici kızı pencere ile duvar arasında kıstırmış olarak durur ve Lilly Venom farkında olmadan kendisini bulduğu bu durumdan hiç hoşlanmaz zira birden kaçacak yeri kalmamıştır.

Adam bir süre sırtını duvara yaslamış kızı sessizce süzer. Sonra ağır hareketlerle ellerini önüne, boş avuçları görünür şekilde açar ve ağır adımlarla sağına doğru çekilir. Bu şekilde bilinçli olarak Lilly için bir ‘kaçış’ yeri açmış olur ve Lilly köşedeki yerinden ayrılınca kendisi de ellerini tekrar indirir.

“Biraz dramdan hoşlanıyoruz galiba?”, diye hırlar çatık kaşlarla Lilly.

“Dram hayatın özüdür, Lilly hanım.”, der adam ama sanki maskesinin altından sırıtıyor gibidir.

“Karalar biraz abartı olmuş. Dramdan da hiç hoşlanmam. Gırtlağı kesilmiş olmasına rağmen bir türlü ölmeyi reddeden müşteri gibidir; tepinir, döner, kıvranır, etrafı batırır ama bir türlü ölmez. En sonunda onu defalarca bıçaklamaz zorunda kalırsın ve senin de üstün başın batmış olur..!”, diye tiksintiyle konuşur.

“Iyk!.. Bu biraz mide bulandırıcı oldu. Başına gelmiş biri gibi söylediniz..”, der adam.

“Tahmin edebileceğinden fazla..”, diye imalı bir tehditte bulunur Lilly.

“Açıkçası, Lilly Venom, ben oturup biraz muhabbet ederiz diye umuyordum ama görüyorum ki siz tahmin ettiğimden daha pragmatik biriymişsiniz. Bu bakımdan ağabeyinizle benzerliğiniz gerçekten hayret verici.”, der adam ciddi bir sesle.

 

Karanlıkta Lilly Venom’un gözleri kısılır.

“Maskeyi de, kapüşonu da çıkarabilirsin Darly Dor!”, diye küçümseyen bir sesle hırlar..

“Tüh!”, diye ‘fırk’lar Darly Dor ve başından kapüşonunu, yüzünden de maskesini söker. “Zevksiz bir denemeydi zaten.”

“Ağabeyinizin standartlarını tartışmak istemem ama biraz düşük olduğunu söylemeliyim. O küçük kızın buna nasıl katlandığını düşünemiyorum bile..”

“Neden kurtardın onu arenada o zaman? Ben ikisini de halletmek üzereydim. Bu şekilde kendi avından da olmuş oldun.”, diye tiksintiyle bakar kız önünde duran adama.

“Boyun borcu..”, diye açıklamaya çalışır Darly kısaca, ama nedense bu yeterli gelmez. “..ve minnet. Ve kendim dahi anlamasam da, sanırım o kızın bir şekilde önemli olduğunu düşündüğüm için.. Hayatımda sevdiğim sadece iki kadın oldu. Biri annem, diğeri ise.. başka biri. Kutsal gördüğüm ise sadece prenses idi. Ama o kız.. Daha doğmamış on binlerce çocuk, o kızın Temalsar’da yaptıklarından dolayı ölmeyecekler.. Böylesi saf ve temiz kalpli biri daha uzun yıllar yaşamalı diye düşündüm.”

 

Lilly Venom uzun bir süre sessizce önünde duran yakışıklı genci süzer ve geçen son birkaç günde ‘o küçük’ kızla arasında geçen konuşmaları değerlendirir..

..ve hiçbir sonuca varamaz.

Sanki kız kendisinin tam olarak bilmediği bir dilde konuşmuş, çok önemli ve çok elzem şeyler söylemişti ona ama nedense Lilly söylenenleri duymuş, ancak duyduğu şeylerin tekabülü olan içeriklerden mahrum olduğundan dolayı anlamamıştı..

 

“O kız.. Onda bir şeyler eksik..”, der Lilly en sonunda.

“Evet..”, der Darly. “..ve ben bunun ne olduğunu tam olarak biliyorum. Şayet bıçaklarınızı indirirseniz, size de söylerim. Bu birçok şeyi anlamanızı sağlayacaktır.

“Hah!..”, diye horlayan bir sesle ünler Lilly. “..O kadar kolay bir av değilim ben, Darly Dor.”

Darly omuzlarını silker.

“Siz ‘av’ değilsiniz..”, der genç adam sessizce.

 

Lilly Venom kaşlarını çatar, gözlerini kısar ve dudaklarını büzüştürür. Ama içinde bulunduğu durum itibariyle bıçaklarını gergin ve hazırda tutmasının da bir anlamı olmadığını görür.

Kızın kaşları, gözleri ve dudakları gevşer ve bu şekilde keskin güzelliği bir daha ortaya çıkar.

 

“Peki..”, der kız. “Söyle bakalım. Ama bu salakça bir espri ise, bu konuşma burada biter.”

“Hiçbir zaman güldürmeyecek esprilerle uğraşmamışımdır. Kadınlar aptal erkeklerden hoşlanmazlar ve onlara ‘salakça espri’ yapmak, gerçekte kadınlara nasıl baktığınızın bir göstergesidir. Ve kadınlar bunu da anlar.. Ama asıl sizin bilmek istediğiniz şeyin cevabı ise bu değil.”, der Darly düşünceli bir şekilde.

“O kızdaki eksik olan şey; ÖNYARGI!”

Lilly Venom, Darly’ye hayretle bakar ve tam buna bir şeyler söyleyecekken, genç adam araya girer.

“Daha açık ifade etmem gerekirse; TOPLUMSAL ÖNYARGI..”

Lilly durur ve tekrar kaşlarını çatar.

“Aranızda neler geçti bilmiyorum. Ama şimdi bir de bunların hepsini, mutlak anlamda  ‘TOPLUMSAL ÖNYARGISI‘ olmayan birisinin söylemiş olduğu gözüyle bakın. Birden her şey yerine oturacaktır..”, der Darly gizleyemediği bir hayranlıkla. “..ve o küçük, sıskası çıkmış kıza ‘saf’ ve ‘temiz’ derken ne anlatmaya çalıştığımı da çok daha iyi anlayacaksın. Aynı şekilde sanırım Aager gibi bi herge— her nasıl oluyor da böylesi ürkütücü bir bağlılık hissedebiliyor.. Açıkçası ben de bunu anlayamıyorum çünkü ben o adama karşı önyargılıyım!

Ben o kızın Themalsar öncesi halini de biliyorum ve asla onu benden daha küçük diye düşünmezdim. Evet, davranışlarında o zaman da bi gariplik vardı. Ama olgun ve dolgun bir kadının davranışları gibi görünüyordu. Onun hepi topu on altı yaşında küçük bir kız olduğunu öğrendiğimde, bir çok şey de yerine oturmuş oldu. Bunu söylerken de beni yanlış anlamayın. Onun saflığının yaşıyla bir alakası yok. Yaşı sadece bahanesi.. en azından bizler gibi saflığımızı çoktan kaybetmiş ‘yetişkinler’ için..”

 

Lilly Venom daha da uzun bir süre sessizce son birkaç günü değerlendirir ama gardını indirmez, gözlerini de önünde duran adamdan ayırmaz.

 

“Sizi düşüncelerinizden alıkoymak istemem..”, der Darly neden sonra, “..ancak bu gece buraya gelmemin sebebi o küçük kız değil.”

Lilly Venom tekrar önündeki yakışıklı gence odaklanır ama beklemeyi tercih eder.

“Bu gece size bir iş teklifinde bulunmak için geldim.”, der Darly sakince.

Lilly Venom ‘fırk’lar.

“İş teklifi mi? Ciddi olamazsın..”

Sessizce bekleme sırası sanki Darly’ye geçmiştir. Genç hırsız sesini çıkarmadan önünde, ‘hazır ol’ ile ‘rahat’ arasında duran kıza bakar.

“Benim ne iş yaptığımı biliyorsun değil mi?”

Darly sessiz kalmaya devam eder.

“Sen ciddisin..”, der Lilly Venom en sonunda.

“Kesicilerden ne kadar nefret ettiğimi düşünürseniz, evet.”, der Darly, haşin bir sesle fısıldayarak.

 

Kız tekrar sessizliğe bürünür zira bu işin içinde bir bit yeniği olduğunu hisseder.

 

“Felishia Fremier kim?”, diye aniden ve beklenmedik bir şekilde sorar Lilly Venom.

Darly çok kısa bir an tökezler ama Lilly bunu fark eder.

“Onun kim olduğunun senin açından bir önemi yok.”, der kısık bir sesle.

“Sana katılmıyorum. Konu itibariyle beni tamamen ilgilendiriyor gibime geliyor. Arenada seni öldürmek üzereyken gözü dolmuş bir şekilde onun adını anıyordun!”, der Lilly ve işi çirkefliğe vurur.

“Sizde de ‘annem..’ diye ağlıyordunuz bayılmadan önce ama ben bunun lafını etmediğim gibi yüzünüze de vurmadım hiç.”, der Darly, yüzünde çirkin bir ifadeyle.

 

Lilly Venom tökezler bu sefer.

 

“Annem öldü. Yıllar önce..”, diye hırlar.

“Felishia Fremier’de..”, der Darly kısaca.

“Öyle olsun bakalım Darly Dor. Hedef kim ve bunun için ne vermeyi düşünüyorsun?”

 

Darly söyler.

 

“Sen.. Sen aklını mı kaçırdın?”, diye hayretle genç adama bakar Lilly Venom.

“..Çok uzun yıllar önce!”, der genç hırsız.

“Bu fevkalade zor ve tehlikeli bir hedef.. Ne vereceksin karşılığında?”

“Aager Fogstep’le ödeşme fırsatı!”

 

Lilly Venom fal taşı gibi açılmış gözlerle bakar gence.

 

“Koşullar değişti. Onu.. Onu istesem de öldüremem artık.”, der Lilly Venom sessizce.

Darly Dor, bir kaşı kalkmış bir şekilde kesici kıza bakar.

“Öldürmek mi? Gökler adına siz kesicilere ne içiriyorlar böyle? ‘ÖDEŞMEK‘, dedim, ‘ÖLDÜRMEK’ değil!”

“Neyi ödeşeceğim onunla?”, diye kızarmış bir yüzle hırlar Lilly Venom.

“Sizi arenada terk edebilirdi. Sizi kendisi öldürebilirdi. Sizi çıkarıp şerife teslim edebilirdi. Sizi Kelle Avcıları Ofisine bırakıp 15,000 altını tahsil edebilirdi. Hayret aşkına, siz hayatta onun sevdiği, sevebildiği tek şeye, o küçük kıza saldırdınız ve onu öldürmeye çalıştınız.. Ben olsam sizi bulabildiğim en derin çukura diri diri gömerdim ve bunu da önce kollarınızı ve bacaklarınızı kırdıktan sonra yapardım!”

 

Lilly Venom’un yüzü çirkinleşir.

 

“Neyseki sayemde kıza bir şey olmadı. Bu da açık bir şekilde bana borçlu olduğunuz anlamına geliyor.”, diye sırıtır Darly.

✱ ✱ ✱

Mantığındaki boşlukları tartışmayacağım bile Darly Dor!”, diye hırlar Lilly Venom. “Ama bu iş tek kişilik bir iş değil.”

“Biliyorum. En azından bir ‘yem’e ihtiyacın olacak.”, diye onaylar Darly.

“Var mı elinde, sonu kati bir ölümle biteceğini bilen bir salak?”, horlar Lilly.

“Var bi tane.”, der genç hırsız.

“Kimmiş bu salak?”

“Kim olduğunun bir önemi var mı.?”, diye sorar sakince.

“Var tabii. Son anda cayıp işi batırmayacağını nereden bileceğim?”, diye bir ahmağa laf anlatmaya çalışan birisinin sonu gelmiş sabrı ile konuşur kız.

“Kendisini yakinen tanıyorum. Caymayacaktır.”, der Darly aynı sükunetle.

KİM?”, diye şiddetle tıslar Lilly artık!

Darly omuzlarını silker.

“Ben..”

 

Lilly Venom’un hiddeti bir anda şok olmuş bir hayrete dönüşür ve ağzı açık kalmış bir şekilde genç adama bakar.

 

“Ödeme noktasında, bu ‘işi’ yapman halinde bana olan ‘borcunuzu’ tam olarak kapanmış olarak kabul edeceğim. Kendi güvenliğiniz için ise, bunu da size vereceğim. Bu şekilde sizin peşinizden gelme ihtimalleri de pek olmayacak.”, der ve kıza oldukça uzun olduğu anlaşılan, ikinci hamur bir papirüs rulosu uzatır.

Kız temkinli bir şekilde ruloyu alır ve hafif pencereye dönerek bağını çözer. Oda karanlıktır ancak Arashkan zengin bir şehirdir ve sık aralıklarla dizilmiş sokak lambalarıyla aydınlatılmıştır.

Lilly Venom’un ruloyu baştan sona kadar okuması yine de uzun sürer. Bitirdiğinde onu tekrar rulo halinde sarar ve geri Darly’ye uzatır.

“Bu, taşıyanı için ölüm fermanından başka bir şey değil.”, der kız kati bir sesle.

“Çok doğru. Ama sadece bir ahmak için.. Siz bana bir ahmaktan çok daha zeki biri gibi geldiniz. Yoksa bana yanıldığımı mı söylüyorsunuz, Lilly hanım?”, diye sırıtır Darly önündeki kıza..

..ve ruloyu geri almaz.

“Bu.. Bu sulu, ıslak ve yapışkan tavırların gerçekten kızlar üzerinde işe yarıyor mu?”, diye tiksintiyle bakar kız Darly’ye.

“Tahmin edemeyeceğiniz kadar..”, diye omuzlarını silker Darly. “..Eee? İşi alacak mısınız?”

 

Lilly son bir defa daha bu genç, yakışıklı hırsızı süzer.

“Sen gördüğüm en büyük ahmaksın!”, diye samimi bir şekilde ifade eder aklından geçenleri Lilly. “..Bu işi yaparım. Ama bana kabul edebileceğim, dürüstçe bir sebep ver.”

“Sizin için neyin kabul edilebilir olduğunu bilmiyorum. Ama dürüstçe bir sebep sunabilirim. Bu işi benimle yapmanızı istiyorum çünkü kısa bir süre önce biri bana piyonlarla uğraşan bir ‘maşa’ değil, en azından fili öldüren bir ‘mızrak’ olmamı söyledi..”, der Darly sessizce ve kıza cebinden çıkardığı, parmak uzunluğunda beyaz bir tebeşir uzatır.

“Kabul etmeniz halinde, pencerenizin altındaki pervaza bir çizik atın. Kabul etmezseniz, tebeşir sizde kalabilir ve bana olan borcunuzu ödeyebilmeniz için, size için de uygun olan başka bir şey düşünürüz.”

“Ne..? Bu kadar mı? Tehdit filan yok mu?”, diye kuşkuyla bakar Lilly, önündeki adama.

“Neyin tehditini yapacağım? Bana olan borcunuz, bir ‘onur’ borcu. Bu kelimeyi anlamıyorsanız, hiçbir tehditin faydası olmayacaktır. Şayet anlıyorsanız, tehdite gerek kalmayacaktır.. Ve ben bayanları tehdit etmem. Ayıptır!”, der Darly ve geldiği gibi pencereye yönelir. Bir elini dışarı salar ve seri bir hareketle çıktığı pencereden kaybolur.

✱ ✱ ✱

Ne dedi?”, diye sorar damda bekleyen kişi.

“Bi şey demedi.”, der Darly sakince.

“Ne yani. Meşhur Darly Dor bir kızı etkileyemedi mi yoksa?”, diye sorar diğer kişi.

“Bu işi ‘Meşhur’ Darly Dor olarak yapmak niyetinde değilim. Ve işin öç kısmı bana ait olsa da, bunu kendim için olduğu kadar ‘onun’ için de yapıyorum.”, diye sessizce cevap verir Darly.

Diğer kişi tam olarak hayretle olmasa da, biraz şaşırmış olarak bakar Darly’ye.

“Bu işi ‘onun’ için yapmıyorsun Dary..”, der diğer kişi. “..O öldü. Onun için artık hiçbir şey yapamazsın.”

“O zaman buna ölümcül adalet de diyebiliriz. Fark etmez. Biz ölümlülere özel bir şey bu. Bu da anlaman gereken değil, kabul etmen gereken şeyler arasında.. Bu olmazsa, her sevdiği öldürülenin sevmesi için de, adalet araması için de bir sebebi kalmaz. Sevenin elinden sevilenin alınmasının mutlaka bir faturası olmalı ki, bunu bir daha yapmayı düşünen kişi, yapmadan önce biraz düşünsün diye..”, der Darly.

“Buna gerçekten inanıyor musun Darly Dor?”, diye sorar diğer kişi merakla.

“Evet. Yada hayır. Dediğim gibi, neye inandığımın benim için bile hiçbir anlamı yok. Aslına bakılırsa, bir anlam yüklemeye çalışmamın da bir gereğini hissetmiyorum. Ben sadece sorumlunun, bunun faturasını en pahalı bir şekilde ödemesini istiyorum, o kadar. Bu hayatta gördüğü ve bildiği en son şey, bu olmalı. Bunun için o kıza ihtiyacım var. Onu arenada gördüm. Bu işi o yapabilir.”, diye inanmış bir fısıltıyla konuşur Darly.

“Ama kabul edeceğini düşünüyorum..”, diye devam eder genç hırsız. “..Arenada olanlardan dolayı ‘bana borçlu’ olduğu fikri sana aitti ve paha biçilmezdi!”

 

Diğer kişi bir süre sessizce damda oturmuş, geceyi seyreden adama bakar.

 

“Arkanda bırakacaklarını pek düşünmüyorsun sanırım.”, der en sonunda.

“Arkamda annem dışında kimseyi bırakmıyorum. Onu da son bir defa görmek için uğrayacağım zamanı gelince.”

“Görüyorum ki seni düşünenleri göremeyecek hale gelmişsin.”, diye üzgün bir şekilde söylenir diğer kişi.

“Özür dilerim. Seni üzmek istememiştim. Ama sana karşı her zaman dürüst olmaya çalıştım. Ben.. ben kırılmış bir adamım. Bunu biliyorum ve bu konuda yapabileceğim hiçbir şey de yok. Benim geleceğim, onun öcünü almakla sınırlı ve bundan daha ilerisi yok. Sana da herhangi bir vaatte bulunmadım çünkü bu doğru olmazdı.”

“Son anda dürüst olmaya mı karar verdin Darly Dor?”, diye sorar diğer kişi.

Darly omuzlarını silker ve damın üzerinde uzanır.

“Sadece önemli olduklarını düşündüklerime.. Ama bunun dışında sana benden istediğini veremem.. Dediğim gibi.. ben saplantılı, kırık bir adamım..”, der Darly.

“İstesem seni şuracıkta benim yapabilirim..”, der diğeri.

“Biliyorum ve neden yapmadığını merak etmiyor değilim.. Ama yapmamanı isterdim. En azından bu iş bitinceye kadar. Sonra, ben hala hayattaysam, bana ne yapmayı düşünüyorsan yap. Geride bir şey bırakma yeter, Soul!”


arashkan şehri dungeons and dragons duygusal groups karakter analizi komedi role play serenity

Wrath of Magella

Wrath of Magella

Timeline:

Lilly Venom’un bazı gerçeklere ayılma zamanı gelmiştir.

Aager Fogstep, uzun yıllar aradığı, ancak bir yangında feci bir şekilde can verdiğini sandığı kız kardeşini grubun diğer üyeleri ile tanıştırmaya karar verir.

Herkes tedirgin ve temkinlidir zira Aager’in kendisi gibi, kız kardeşi de Drashan doğumludur ve fevkalade tehlikelidir.

Gnine ağzından kaçırdığı kadarıyla da ‘hafif kaçık’tır!

Aager tanışma faslının çok da mutlu gerçekleşeceğini düşünmese de, asgari medeni koşullar altında geçeceği umudunu taşımaktadır.

 

Kız kardeşine karşı gazap, hiç beklemediği birisinden gelecektir.

 

Bu hikaye, “Ondan işte..” den birkaç gün önce başlar..

 

 

DÖRT GÜN ÖNCE..

Lady Magella gördüğü rüyanın etkisiyle uyanır. Lady, gördüğü rüyanın etkisiyle dağlanmış gibi uyanır.. Kırılmış gibi hissettiği ruhu, kerpiç gibi olmuş yüzüne yansımıştır. Titreyen elleriyle yüzünü ovalayıp ayılmaya, kendine gelmeye çalışır ancak bunun herhangi bir etkisi olmaz. Ruhunun en derinliklerine kadar işlemiş olan rüyada kendisini ve hayatının en önemli anlarını yaşadığı sevgililerini düşünür; beraber ekmek kırıp kanadığı gençleri.. Evet, bu gençler Lady Magella’nın hayatında bildiği tek sevgilileridir.. Bu gençler onun hayatıdır ve çocuklarıdır. Bu gençler onun tapınağıdır ve gördüğü rüya ile gerçekte tapınağının da yıkılışına şahit olmuştur.

“Inshala.. Küçük bebeğim.. Nasıl kıydım sana..”, diye kasılmış, zapt edemediği bir hıçkırık kaçar boğazından ve karanlık odada zorlukla seçebildiği, yerde kedi yavrusu gibi kıvrılmış bir şekilde uyumakta olan küçük kıza yönelir.

Küçük kız uyurken bir topak olmuş ve bu haliyle bütün güzelliğini.. ve saflığını sergiliyor gibidir. Yüzü uyanıkken varamadığı bir huzura ulaşmış, derin, hafif zorlanarak aldığı nefesi, darmadağınık bir şekilde etrafa saçılmış uzun, ipeksi saçları, tiril tiril olmuş battaniyesinden dışarı kurtulup soğuktan yumru haline getirdiği minik ayakları ve sıskası çıkmış vücudunun acınası kıvrımlarıyla daha çok bir toplama kampından yeni kurtarılmış bir mülteciyi andırmaktadır —ki kızın gerçekte halide budur; bu dünyada doğuştan bir mülteci..

Gördüğü bu manzara Lady’nin sadece daha kötü hissetmesine sebep olur. Yavaşça eğilir, kızı yerden kaldırıp kucağına alır ve bu onun için hiç de zor olmaz zira küçük kızın yükü anca içi pamukla doldurulmuş oyuncak bir bebek kadar ya vardır, ya yoktur..

 

..ve buna ayılması, Lady’nin kırılmasına sebep olan son nokta olur.

✱ ✱ ✱

Öylece duruyor. Saatlerdir ona sımsıkı sarılmış, öylece duruyor.”, diye boğuk bir sesle açıklamaya çalışır Lorna. Genç, güzel kız üstüne doğru düzgün bir şeyler alamadan, Laila ile bu ürkütücü manzarayı seyretmektedir.

Kızın üstünde sadece kalçalarına kadar inen, kenarları dantelli silik eflatun bir kombinezon vardır. Laila’nın da üstünde uzun gömleği dışında bir şey yoktur.. Ve o da tırsmış bir ifadeyle hemen ilerisindeki manzarayı seyretmektedir.

Aralarında makul görünen sadece High Lady Anglenna’dır. Elf kadın sanki hiç kıpırdamadan ayakta uyumuştur zira kıyafetleri her zamanki ‘mükemmel’ haliyle üstündedir. ‘Belki’ uyumuş olabileceğine dair tek ip ucu saçlarıdır..

Anglenna’nın her daim bakımlı ve görünmez hizmetçileri tarafından imtina ile örülmüş topuzu eksiktir. Kadının platin sarısı saçları hafif dağınık bir şekilde yüzünü çerçevelemiş, oradan da omuzlarına ve sırtına dökülmüştür. Kadının her zamanki kibirli, küçümseyen ifadesi de yüzünden eksiktir.

High Lady Anglenna’nın yüzü olağan dışı bir şekilde gerilmiş, gözleri çökmüş ve dudakları ise rengini tamamen kaybetmiş, olanları herkesin üstünden seyretmektedir.

Bu haliyle, daha önce kendisinde görülmemiş bir sıcaklığa, içtenliğe ve güzelliğe ulaşmıştır.

Bir başka ayrıntı da, High Lady Anglenna, Lorna’nın hemen arkasındadır ve iki eli de, her an onu geri çekecekmiş gibi kuzeninin omuzlarındadır..

 

Aager Fogstep bütün bu ayrıntıları fark eder ve özlü bir sonuca varır; bu gece burada görünenin dışında, görünmeyen başka bir şeyler daha olmuştur.

 

Udoorin odaya girer. Beraberinde getirdiği battaniyelerden birisini, “Afedersin Haş Teyze.”, diyerek onun yanından Lorna’nın omuzlarını ve gerisini örter..

Sonra ikinci bir battaniyeyi ‘Haş Teyze’nin omuzlarına yerleştirir.

Anglenna hayret ve şaşkınlıkla bu iri, kaba görünümlü çocuğa bakar.. ve ona gülümser..

 

High Lady Anglenna.. Gülümser!

 

Belli ki bu gecenin getirdiği tek garip ve ürkütücü şey, bu ölü saatte herkesin uyanmasına sebep olan şey değildir..

 

“Teşekkür ederim delikanlı. Çok naziksin..”, der Anglenna.

“Umm.. Bi şey değil..”, diye yüzü kızarır Udoorin’in, sonra Laila’ya ‘pıst’lar ve kalan son battaniyeyi ona doğru atar!

Laila hiç sektirmeden battaniyeyi yakalar ama gözleri kısılır. “Demek öyle..”, diye burnundan solur. “..mesaj alınmıştır ‘delikanlı’!”

“Ne?”, diye şaşırmış bir şekilde ona bakar Udoorin.

“Nesini sana daha sonra gösteririm ben..”, diye tıslar Laila.

“Neler oluyor?”, diye Gnine girer odaya. Saçı başı darmadağınık olmuş cüce belli ki yanlış bir açıyla uyumuştur çünkü suratının bir yanında zemin desenleri mevcuttur. Sonra o da loş odanın diğer ucundaki manzarayı görür be hayretle bakakalır.

“Lady?”, diye fısıldar ve bir anda beş ayrı kişinin “Şşşşt!”iyle muhatap olur.

‘Şşşşt’lemeyen bir tek Lorna olmuştur çünkü Lorna kimseyi öylece susturan biri değildir.

✱ ✱ ✱

Ne zaman oldu bu?”, diye fısıldar Aager.

“Ağlama seslerine ayıldım.”, der Anglenna. “Trans halindeydim ve hıçkırıkları duyunca kuzenimi uyandırdım. O da izciyi uyandırdı..”

 

Aager, nüansları yakalamak konusunda her zaman iyi olmuştu. Nevarki yakaladığı bu küçük ayrıntıların ne anlama gelebileceğine ayılmak ise ayrı bir bilgelik seviyesi gerektirir. Aager’de eksik olan bu bilgelik değil, doğru sonuca varabilmesi için gerekli bilgi eksikliğidir..

An itibariyle fark ettiği ‘nüans’, bu kibirli kadının ilk defa Prenses Lorna için ‘kuzenim’ ifadesini kullanmış oluşudur. Yakaladığı diğer bir nüans ise bu kadının Laila’dan bahsederken de ilk defa yüzünde ve sesinde oluşan o kindar vurgunun eksikliğidir.

Evet, kadın Laila’ya adıyla hitap etmemişti ama ondan ‘izci’ diye bahsetmesi, bir sebepten dolayı kadının sadece Lorna’ya karşı değil, Laila’ya karşı tutumunda da muazzam bir bakış açısı değişikliğinin gerçekleşmiş olduğunun göstergesiydi..

Aager bu bulgularını umursamazlık etmez. Sadece anlık olarak bir kenara koyar.

“Darly nerde?”, diye sorar sessizce.

“Bilmem?”, diye cevap verir Udoorin. “Bir iki saat önce birden irkilerek uyandı. Onun ani hareketine de ben uyandım. Tek gördüğüm, garip sesler çıkartarak kendisini camdan dışarı atığıydı.. Sonra damdan ağlama sesleri geldi..”

“Gidip kontrol et salak naapıyor diye..”, der Aager.

“Gerek yok..”, diye omuzlarını silker iri genç. “..Merisoul yanında. Onun damda ne yaptığını, yada hangi ara oraya çıktığını ise bilmiyorum.”

“Huh..”, diye bir ses çıkartır Aager. Sonra uzun bir süre burada olma sebebini izler.

 

Ve yavaşça herkesin ilgi odağı olan kişiye yaklaşır..

✱ ✱ ✱

Hepsi benim suçum.. Lorna’nin ölmesi.. O hanım hanım kız ilk defa benim Udoorin’ime hayat getirdi.. İlk defa çocuğuma bir hedef verdi.. ve ben onun ölmesine göz yumdum.. Ve benim küçük bebeğim. Daha ilk karşılaşmamızda onun bana teslim edilmiş bir yetim olduğunu bilmeme rağmen ona göz kulak olamadım. Deli kız atalarımızın yaşamasına göz yumduğu bir şerri temizlemek için bedenini verdi. Ardında bu küçük cesedini bırakacak fedakarlığı yaptı. Ama ben onu başkarına terk ettim.. Sonra da kendi ellerimle öldürdüm onu..”, diye anca duyulur bir fısıltıyla inler Lady.

 

Lady Magella..

Her zaman vakarlı duruşu, bükülmez inancı ve koruyucu, şefkat dolu, iyileştirici eliyle herkesi hayatta tutmayı başarmış bu dağ kadar sabit dwarf kızdan bir gecede eser kalmamış gibidir, kucağındaki sımsıkı sarıldığı küçük kızla bir ileri, bir geri sallanır ve kırık fokurtularla ağlar..

 

“Beceriksiz!”, der bir ses Magella’ya.

“Hep arkada. Hep pısırık. Hep ezik!”

“O kızı sen öldürdün. Ve bunu sadece pısırıklığın ve beceriksizliğinle yapmadın. Onu bu atıl ve uyuşuk duruşunla öldürdün.”

“O küçük kızın bile senden daha sağlam bir omurgası vardı. O, şerri temizlemiş olmakla yetinmedi. O, şerrin Themalsar’da tekrar iltihaplanmasına kati olarak son verdi. O, kesilmiş bir kolu senin yapmaya çalıştığın gibi yara bandıyla kapatmadı. Onu aldı.. VE ONU DAĞLADI!

“En başta gerekli önlemleri; ciğerlerindeki nefesinle, bileğinin gücüyle, çelik gürzünün ağırlığı ile ezmiş olsaydın, bunların hepsi önlenmiş olabilirdi.”

“Sen gerçekten dwarfların yüz karasısın.”

“İnancın da, temsil ettiğin ‘hayat’ da, mumu bitmiş bir fitil kadar sönük!”

“Sen, ‘sonuçları’ teselli edip avutmakla yetinen, ve bununla da kendini kandıran bir ahmaksın..”

“Hayatın gerçeklerinden kopmuş, isimsiz bir sarhoştan farkın kalmamış acınası bir ahmak!”

“Sonuçları teselli etmek yaşlı, eli tutmayan kadınların işidir.. GERÇEK ADALETİ ARAYANLARIN DEĞİL!”

“Kendine sorman gereken şey, buna nasıl göz yumduğun değil, NEDEN GÖZ YUMDUĞUN!”

“Gerçek Lady, BENİM BİLDİĞİM LADY, böyle bir şeye asla müsaade etmezdi. Ben onu hatırlıyorum.. Yıllar önce onun, küçük kız kardeşine musallat olan o adama neler yaptığını.. Çok iyi hatırlıyorum çünkü bu bizim en mutlu anlarımızdan biriydi.. Benim bildiğim Lady, TEK HAMLEDE O ŞEREFSİZİN NESLİNİ KURUTMUŞTU!”

“Şu haline bak.. Hayatımda senin kadar acınası bir şey görmedin..”

“Sen bitmişsin..”

“Sen artık sadece ilgilenilmesi gereken bir ‘SONUÇSUN!'”

✱ ✱ ✱

Abla?”, diye hafif korkmuş bir ifadeyle Lady’ye bakar Inshala.

Arenada yaşadıkları, özellikle sonunda çağırdığı dev ağaç ‘Snare’, belli ki kızın zaten sıskası çıkmış bedenini, görünenden çok daha fazla yormuştur. Kız gündüzleri olabildiğince neşeli ve enerji dolu görünmeye çalışsa da, gece başını yere koyduğu anda kendinden tamamen geçmesi, onun gerçek halini göstermekteydi.

Küçük kız uyandığında kendisini mengene gibi tutmuş kolların arasında bulmuş, önce ne olduğunu anlamamış, daha bi kıvrılıp tekrar uyumuştu!

 

Inshala hayatında hiç sıcak bir kucakta uyumamıştı..

 

Sonra, çok daha sonra, biraz daha kendine geldiğinde, sıcak kucağın sandığı kişiye değil, bir başkasına ait olduğuna ayılmıştı çünkü sandığı kişi kendisini hiç bu kadar sıkarak tutmamıştı. ‘O’ kendisine hep, her an kırılacakmış gibi sarılan biriydi..

Tamam, kendisi de eski mukavemetinin olmadığının açık bir şekilde farkındaydı ama, ‘dokunsa kırılacak’ kadar da acınası değildi yani..

Inshala defalarca bunu ‘ona’ söylemiş olsa da, bunun onda pek az etkisi olmuştu.

Kız gözleri açtığında kendisini Lady’nin kucağında bulmuştu..

..ve bu onu biraz korkutmuştu.

“Ne yaptım bu defa acaba?”, diye geçirmişti içinden zira hatırladığı son şey, ‘Aş Teyze’ dışında odadaki herkese; Lorna ablası, Laila ablası ve Lady ablasına sarılmış, sarılırken hepsine teker teker, ‘Seni seviyorum abla’, demiş, sonra da bi köşede sızıp kalmıştı.. O kadar!

Hatırladığı en son şey buydu işte..

Merisoul ablasına da sarılmak istemişti çünkü ellerini onun kanatlarındaki tüylerin arasında gezdirmeye bayılıyordu. Ama arenadan beri o gecelerini damda geçirmeyi tercih ediyor gibiydi.

 

“Ne oldu abla?”, diye yineler küçük kız.

 

Gerçekte Inshala, ablası Lady’den korkmaz. Çünkü o korkmasını gerektirecek biri değildir. Sadece bazen, çok nadiren, arada bir, bir şeylere kızdığında biraz ürkütücü olabilmekteydi. Lady abla sadece bir sefer kendisine azar çekmişti bugüne kadar ama o zaman da Aager yanında olduğu için ikisi de azarı paylaşmışlardı..

Lady abla genelde ya Gnine abiye, ya Udoorin abiye, ya da Laila ablaya azar çeken biriydi.

Gnine’a, içtiği o dumanlı çubuktan yada o imkansız ve hayret verici fikirlerinden dolayı, Udoorin abiye ondan yapmasını istediği, ancak bazı konularda Udoorin abisinin fazla temkinli oluşundan, ve Laila ablaya ise, her şeye itiraz edişinden dolayı..

Lady abla Merisoul ablaya da azar çekmeye kalmıştı.. Bİ SEFER..

Nevarki succubi melezinin verdiği cevaplar, daha da kötüsü, ortaya koyduğu sebepler o kadar uçuk, kaçık ve mantık ötesi olmuştur ki, o olaydan sonra Lady abla mevzu Merisoul ablası olunca ona, varlığından haberdar olunan ancak hiç bahsedilmeyen akraba muamelesi yapmaya karar vermiş gibiydi..

..biraz Inshala’nın akrabaları gibi; hiç bahsedilmeyen.. Ama zaten onun hiç akrabası yoktu ki!

 

“Sen.. sen iyi misin, abla? Böyle de çok sıcacık oluyormuş. Üstümü yine açtım sanırım. Ayaklarım buz gibi olmuş..”, diye hafif tırsmış bir şekilde söylenir küçük kız.

Lady’den bir ses gelmeyince, Inshala devam eder.

“Söz bir yere gitmeyeceğim. Beklenmedik bir şeyler yapmamak için de elimden geleni yapacağım. İnan ki.. Hatta istersen yapmadan önce yapacaklarımı sana söyleye de bilirim. Örneğin bugün sabahtan akşama kadar yan odada olacağım. Misafirimizin durumu nedir, ona bakacağım..”

Lady’den hala bir ses çıkmayınca, kız gözlerini kapatır ve uyuma taklidi yapar.

 

“A.. Ager Fogstep.. İmdat?”, diye yankılanır kızın sesi Aager’in zihninde.

“Ummm..”, diye karşılık verir Aager.

“Ne.. Neler oluyor? Lady ablamın nesi var? Yanlış bi şeyler mi yedi acaba? Yoksa ben mi farkında olmadan bi şeyler yaptım?”, diye dertlenir biraz küçük kız.

“Sanmıyorum..”, diye cevap verir Aager düşünceli bir şekilde. “..hepimiz aynı şeyi yedik. Sana ‘kaç kurtar canını’, diyesim geliyor!”

“AAGER FOGSTEP!”, diye ünler Inshala.

“İnan bilmiyorum sorunun ne olduğunu. Tamam, arenadan sonra biraz fazla durağanladı Lady ama.. hepimiz biraz yorulmuştuk.”, der Aager kaşlarını hafif çatarak.

“Benim için sorun değil aslında..”, diye teskin eder Inshala. “Gürzünün sapı biraz batıyor sırtıma ama onun dışında burası sıcacık. Lady ablanın bu kadar sıcak olduğunu ve beni kucağına alacağını daha önce bilseydim kendim isterdim ondan ki!”

Aager istemsizce ‘fırk’lar.

“Hatırlıyor musun? Sizin Serenity Home’a dönüşünüzde bir şölen verilmişti de sende o akşam yanıma gelmiştin.. Sonra beraber dans etmiştik ve ben farkında olmadan uykuya dalmıştım.. Ertesi sabah uyandığımda ne kadar utanmıştım bilemezsin.. Yer yarılsa da içine girsem, diye düşünmüştüm. Kim ayakta dans ederken uyuya dalar ki?, diye kızın utanmış düşüncelerini duyar Aager.

“Sanıyorum, ‘yer yarılsa da içine girsen’ kısmını zaten o ay gerçekleştirmiştin. Ayda birden fazla ‘yer yarılma – içine girme’ olayı kabul etmiyoruz, Inshala hanım!, der Aager yarı şaka, ama diğer yarısı ise hiç de şaka olmayan, sessiz bir seziyle.

Inshala düşüncesizce söylediği bu laftan dolayı kendisine kızar..

“Ö.. Özür dilerim. Öyle demek istememiştim. Seni üzdüm..”, diye fısıldar Aager’in zihninde.

“Biliyorum..”, diye cevap verir Aager. “..ben özür dilerim. Şölen gecesinden bahsediyordun..”

“E.. evet.. Uyandığımda senin arkamda olduğunu fark etmiştim. Sırtımı kendine yaslamış, pelerinini bana sarmıştın.. Ve bütün gece hiç uyumamıştın..”, diye fısıldar küçük kız.

“Evet.. Bana yaslanmış olmandan dolayı ne kadar büyük bir keyif almış olduğumu anlatamam. Kollarımın arasındaydın, sırtını bana vermiştin ve o kadar sıcaktın ki.. Ve uyurken o kadar huzurlu görünüyordun ki, bütün gece seni seyretmekten kendimi alamamıştım. Bunu itiraf etmek için pek de doğru bir zaman sayılmaz ama, o gece boyunca büyülenmiş gibi saçlarını kokladım. Ve benim için o gecenin tek hayal kırıklığı gün doğumuydu.. İnsanlar genelde benden hoş olmayan şeyler yapmamı ister ve bu konuda bana güvenirler. Ama asla bana sırtlarını dönmezler ve asla bana yaslanmazlar.”, der Aager sakince.

“Neyse ki ben insan değilim!”, der kız mutlu bir şekilde!

“…”

“Ama o gece için bir dileğim daha olsaydı ne olurdu biliyor musun, Aager Fogstep?”

“Ne olurdu?”

“Senin de uyumuş olman.”, der kız anca hissedilir bir hayıflanmayla..

Aager’in zihni kızın bu ‘dileği’ karşısında tıkanır ve biraz yutkunur zira bu küçük, sıskası çıkmış kızın her hali, bildiği hiç bir norm’a, hiç bir alışkanlığa ve hiç bir ‘bildiğine’ uymadığı gibi kendisini en çok etkileyen özelliklerinden biri, onun öylece söylediği, basit gibi görünen ifadelerinin, nasıl olup da bir çok anlam içerebildiği olmuştu..

Aager kızın bu ‘dileği’ hakkında an itibariyle herhangi bir yorum yapmamayı tercih eder.

‘Zihinsel boğazı’ temizler ve devam eder.

“..Diğer dileğin neydi?”

“Diğer dileğim oldu zaten ki.. Benim.. benim saçlarımı çözüp gerçek halimi görmen.. ve yine de bunun senin için sorun olmamasıydı!”, der Inshala, içinde çocukça bir mutluğu gizleyen bir seziyle..

✱ ✱ ✱

Lady’nin gözleri odaklanır.

Ve başını önüne eğdiğinde, kollarında sımsıkı tuttuğu kızı fark eder.

Inshala ona bakar ve gülümser.

“Bize geri döndün mü abla?”

“Daha değil..”, diye kurumuş bir ses kaçar Lady’nin boğazından.

Sonra yavaşça, kucağında Inshala olduğu halde ayağa kalkar.

Udoorin’den büyük bir rahatlama sesi duyulur.

“Oh.. Geldi kendisine çok şükür..”

“Bir daha kimse senin canını yakmayacak.”, der L