Wow. A wonderfully painful and joyous event. I want to write about it, but I also don't want to deprive staff of PEL-ery goodness, so I'm going to write this as...third person? (I can't remember if it's supposed to be third-person omnipotent or something else. Good grief.) So, Numina staff, know that lots of sentences describing your brilliant awesomeness is coming your way SOON.
Warning: If you like to read GOOD writing, this might not be the place. :)
Originally, this was going to encompass the entire event, but there's just no way. So this entry covers Friday night to the wee hours of Saturday morning.( Read more...Collapse )
Zara rushed along with the town and the other members of the Tranquil into the battle, but it went wrong so quickly. She had stepped forward to pull an injured friend back to safety, and realized it was not a friend, but a dead Shade creature. Blows came down on her arms and back, and it was done. It was too dark for her friends to see her, Zara realized as her spirit began to pull away. She was just another silhouette in the black that was the Shade. Zara blinked softly, and found herself in Death's realm, surrounded by candles and facing the large book. Azari Roshin
, she wrote in her childish scrawl--she had never really been taught to write well.
"Again?" The solemn voice behind her said.
Zara turned and nodded. "Yes."
"Come forward, then, and tell me what you've learned."
Zara took a step and passed through the filmy barrier between her and Death. "I've learned that hurting someone for things in the past is not the same as helping someone to find a future."
"Why not?" A hint of amusement colored Death's voice.
"Revenge...it's endless...pouring away water that you'll never get back."
"Like an abyss?" Even more amusement.
The Abyss. Heat bloomed in Zara's face. The Abyss, Death's child, the one who would consume all and still be hungry. The Abyss had no friends, but Zara had friends, and the Abyss was one of them. On a humid night over a year ago, with battle raging all around them, the Abyss had appeared to Zara and asked her what she really wanted. Zara hesitated, and then the words spilled out, truth that had never been spoken until then."I want the death of the man who stole my childhood. I want him to feel pain, to suffer, to know what it's like to lose things that should shape who you are. And, even if I hurt him, if I see him dead at my feet, I will never get it back, never. It's gone. I want it back and it's impossible. I want him dead for that."
Something lit up in her eyes, and the Abyss nodded in understanding. "I shall see you again," she promised.
The memory faded and Zara looked at Death. "Yes. Like an Abyss."
"You serve my child still?"
"I made a deal with her. I will honor it somehow. I promised her that."
"You must be careful," Death warned her. "Two of my children have claims on you now."
"Two?" Zara was shocked.
"You haven't forgotten all of the lessons you've learned, have you?" Now Death was definitely amused.
"No..." she replied.
"Then return. You still have purpose here." The chill of winter air touched her as she realized she was outside of Death's gate once again. She was alone--the battle still raged. Who was the second?
Zara walked slowly to the tavern, to wait and reassure her family that she was all right.
Later that night she was running, running behind the spirit of the Scarecrow, hoping that he would lead her to a vision that would save the life of her teacher. Thorne had been gone for months now, his last words to her coming out of a desperate astral message that told her they were chasing him, and that Zara and his other apprentices were to "be careful and safe." No words, no sign since then. Even the other ArchMages were concerned--they had been weathering attacks of their own. The Scarecrow was anything but direct--he took them up and down, a crazy zigzag pattern, his thoughts as wild as his running. Finally he sat down in exhaustion, and pointed ahead to glowing lights. Zara was gasping for air, worn out by the run, but managed to stagger forward and see--
Her teacher Thorne, chained to a table, his eyes closed, three people bending over him, one with a large hunchback.
"That's a bear alchemist
," Professor Higginbotham said from behind her. Zara ignored his statement in favor of trying to hear what they were saying in the vision.
"...harvest...the power...soon..." the bear alchemist was saying.
"This is from today," Higginbotham said, and this time Zara turned to him in a whirl. "Today? You mean there's a chance we can find him?"
"A chance, yes," he said, gently pulling her away.
"Is he dead?"
"That I don't know, Zara. Come away. It's only a vision, there's nothing you can do for him right now."
As they walked back, Higginbotham reassured Zara that he thought he could find the components for a ritual, but the reassurances were interspersed with horrified comments about "a BEAR alchemist...a bear ALCHEMIST!! WHY, when there are so many types of magic, would you DRINK IT? There is so much more you could do...I HATE bears...this is the WORST!"
Zara went back and sat in her Sanctum, letting the energy in her refresh slowly. In the light of the candles, she opened the little chest that held her few possessions. The chest itself hadn't been a possession until a year ago when...Thorne...had taken her back to the glass factory and a another slave had handed it to her, asking her to take it, since "he wouldn't be around much longer."
Zara smiled quietly. They had rescued him after all, so tortured that he didn't remember his own name. He was in Pyredown now, with Ellimere. She said he was well, and that was all Zara could know.
Back to the box. A tiny bottle of crystal, and some wooden coins--gifts from the Brother's holiday. They hadn't turned to gold, but they were still precious. She removed Nuri's music box carefully. Nuri had given it to her last summer, to "remind her that there were beautiful things in the world."
Zara's other possession was around her neck, and rarely left there. A tiny silver prayer box on a chain, given to Zara by Alastair's sister--after she told Zara that Alastair had been killed. The box opened, and there was something inside, but Zara couldn't tell what it was, nor could any of the other Mages she asked. It was enough that it came from him.
She turned the crank on the music box, and let the notes lull her to sleep.