The Long Goodbye

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#21 Post by Nomine » Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:08 pm

When Stoen asks me to come to the Lighthouse. I do not know what to expect; but somehow I am not surprised when it is Lumi and Anomen wearing full battle regalia, halfway through a "discussion." Anomen is trying to explain his past, wanting for somebody to say, "You are not to blame, you are not guilty of all these crimes." The trouble with that is that he would not believe it, even if somebody were to say it. Lumi ain't likely to be the one saying it; she is wielding her faith and tongue like a scalpel, rather than offering compassion. She is not wrong in cutting deep here. He is running out of time to figure out who he wants to be. In the past, there have been both mistakes and lies. If allowed to continue down the same meandering path, it would push people away from him and push him towards darkness.

So I listen, I watch, and my Moonshine washes away the taste of bitter ash from my mouth. The trouble is that evil acts stain your soul, even if you are forced by others to commit them. Such stains don't wash away easily. If he can figure what sort of man he wants to be. Then perhaps he can learn to live with them.
He tells me that I demand too much, I say to him that he should speak to Morrigan if he wants to know precisely how much I demand. He is wise enough to decline.

Lumi has moved over to Stoen, and I am struck by how tired she looks. This is not the first time she has been fighting for her sense of what is right, questioning if her faith has a place in Starlight. I demand much of her, Chit, Eileena, Syrawenn, Stoen, Tikal, and many more. It is a long list of demands, one that sooner or later will hold me accountable.
I am on the honest side tonight, using myself as an example; how I will never be a good person like Lumi, instead it is a moral code that keeps me from turning into a monster — challenging them to come up specific examples of such a code.
"Follow the light, can't be one" - I agree, it is not specific enough.
"Don't lie" - Ay, that could be one.
It is hard, and none of us can come up with three. So, I make a plan.
First, start on a list where he lists things about himself: imp as a friend, wears black, gives to the poor. To ask himself what each of those things says about him and if it fits with the person he wants to be. If he can, make a list known to somebody, a list sticks better if people can help hold us accountable. Then next Friday, or Sunday at the latest meet again, to reflect over ideas, and thoughts so far on what sort of man he wants to be, that Fioliea and Lumi both should be there.
Fioliea because she is calm, experienced, and he likes her.
Lumi because she is passionate, a good moral compass, and challenges us.

Then I leave.

On the stone people are talking about gathering up, centered around Eileena. I make my way, as well. There is much I need to say to her. We should have spent hours talking and getting to know each other again, but I have not made it important enough to happen, and that is on my shoulders.
It makes me glad to see that others gather around her, there is warmth in the company, people bond, and it will make all stronger tomorrow.
Morrigan puts her head on Rey's lap, demanding comfort and the healing that is in human contact.

I could join; it would change the dynamics between people.
Morrigan would jolt away from Rey, deny herself what she needs
Eileena would need me to say something
I would need me to say something

Tomorrow I need to be ready to sacrifice Starlighters, so we can stop one monster. Spending time in their warmth tonight will make it harder.
I take care of my own, so I walk away from them.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#22 Post by Nomine » Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:30 am

The dust has settled, rather literally as the mine has collapsed around us, trapping us.
It is not the first time, and no wonder that I came prepared for that spesific scenario. Taking stock, Tikal - Headwound, Tharina Legwound, Hearfang - several injuries, Morrigan -several injuries. The rest, scrapes and bruises. A matter for the healers to triage.

Morrigan was called up to fulfill her job; die for Starlight. The plan was to send her into a cluster of Fennewald's illusions fighting Tikal and Cheysa. Wreak havoc, expose the real one, then burn as both she and Fennewald were bathed in Elune's light. I will not deny that I am pleased that she obeyed the command without hesitation, nor that she survived.

I make a mental note that I had no hesitation when it came to killing what looked like Heartfang ran up to me, saying, "Tikal is dead."
I am chalking the lacking of hesitation due to my familiarity with both druids.

There has been next to no communication with the others. Nothing that can tell us if they fight, won, got injured, or worse. This is how it goes. We will learn about their fate at the other end. If there are no healers left for the strike team, this will have been a costly war for Starlight.

I call upon a last favor of mine, mine floor breaking into hundred pieces and tunneling dwarfs in strange machines lets us travel far away from this forsaken place.
As others move on, I stay behind. That the dwarfs came in the first place was the favor, the payment for the "rescue" still needs to be agreed upon. They are wise to humans promising to come back later "to settle the bill." More importantly, they have dealt with me before.

I do not know what the outcome were in the end, what the butcher's bill came to. At least the escape won't come back and haunt us.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#23 Post by Nomine » Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:56 pm

Reyhad tells me I need to take the time to make things right with Eileena, to give her a firm ground to stand on, to let her know that I still care for her. She is not the first one to say this, and she is not the first one to be right about it either. She got a good head on her shoulders, heart in the right place deserves more credit than she gets. Not sure why it comes as a surprise to her that I knew Morrigan sought comfort in her lap. Not when she came to me having noticed how I fail, people are strange sometimes. Not realizing how things are all the same, reflections.

I should have been home earlier, no denying that I could have been home earlier. When I walk through the door, I don´t know the status of Starlight; who is injured, who made it out with barely a scratch. I Trust Pol to have taken care of Lia, Chit let me know she ain´t a priority. Most of the others are a mystery.
Eileena is in bed, but I would not call what she does sleeping. It is the nightmare that makes her spring awake with my name on her lips, an honor I am not sure that I deserve.

I want to be honest with Eileena, I need to be honest with her, but I ain’t sure if I can. I have been using words like cards from a stacked deck for so many years, saying what is needed, what will make the person act like I need, as Starlight needs, what I think the person needs to hear then and there. Dealing the words, to make sure we survive the game.
By now, it is hard to know the words I am saying is what I feel, or what the con artist serves up because it is what she needs to hear. Our conversation mirrors the one I had with Anomen, “find out who you want to be,” how a past does not define who we will become - even if it marks us, and I don`t know if this is a coincidence and the truth, or artistry.

Know that I never stopped loving her, and I say as much. That is a simple, uncomplicated truth. There are years between us, both of us know that is a difficult thing to navigate. It`s a strange thing, there were so many women before her, and so very few after. Guess I got used to being married. Promise that I will let both of us slip away, spend some time getting used to each other again.

I know so very well what captivity does to the mind and soul of a person, even without using torture as a tool to make them break faster. I wielded that knowledge as a chirurgeon when I broke Sintyha of the Dark Embrace. It is because of this understanding that I never attacked Fennewald myself, leaving others to kill him. I would have made his death last.
Captivity has hollowed her out, held together by memories of what was before it, and the fear born from it. I am afraid that it can break her completely, a fear I think we share.

When Morrigan enters the scene, it is as both a relief and a host of complications rolled up in one very lonely woman. How do you tell somebody that you are happy they did not end up dying on your order but are glad they tried. Somebody has worked on her, making sure her injuries do not kill her. Eileena spends energy she does not have on putting the broken one back together again, but Morrigan leaves all the same.

When Eileena sinks back into a restless sleep, I remain.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#24 Post by Nomine » Fri Sep 27, 2019 4:52 pm

As Eileena sleeps restlessly, fighting inner demons and memories, I make notes.

Lia for noticing the first warlock and killing it - note to self, Anomen might take offense at the term "it", better find out its gender.
Heartfang for being a shield for others - and taking a bite out of our enemy, rather literally. She also dug Tikal among others out of the rubble.
Chit for going after one of the Fennewalds , playing a key role in making it safe for one team to go after another Fennewald.
Morrigan, for a razor-sharp focus, continuing the fight, despite broken ribs and a punctured lung. Also took out
Tahrina for the use of stink bombs on the pirates, good, safe distraction.
Chey for the sacrifice of Luthe 3.0, letting us know there were traps in place, and thus plan for it.
Pol and Tomu, for first the distraction and then getting a wounded Lia to safety.
Tikal being prepared and bringing a weapon made for killing souls, together with Chey and Morrigan, they killed Fennewald.
Stoen for that first tirage, and supplies of demon detection potions, the cupcakes mattered more than people give him credit for.

Then there is the team around Eileena, and the healers.
I know that Fio wore herself healing and keeping people alive.
Then the plan with Rey, Anomen, and Hayhurst.
Others did not have the chance to help, as life goes on even as we go to war. Outbreaks of blight must be cared for, soldiers to be healed, businesses to care for, not a weakness but sanity. Without something to return to, why fight at all.

Must make sure to have the full details so that credit can be given, where credit is due. Not least, because a fight is not won by those wielding steel alone, it takes a whole guild, from those that care and love, to those that bleed and die.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#25 Post by Nomine » Mon Sep 30, 2019 10:42 am

"Church of the Eternal Grace," the individual words themselves are not dangerous, rather lovely even. It is when you string them together and give them followers that they become dangerous.

Last night we scrambled to make sure that Rey was safe as she fled from them, they wanted her eyes. In their defence, we sent her to investigate, so it was not without reason. Tonight Morrigan tells us that they are burning a void elf alive. "For the grace, for the light." Just not for the light Starlight embraces.
I tell her to kill the void elf if she can, I do not need to see the faces of others to know that is not the words they wish for me to say. "Rescue her, do not let this happen." There is at least 13 of the Church there, and they will be expecting problems. Morrigan weighs perhaps 50 kilos, soaking wet, in full armour. Having a void being appearing in their midst, all death and destruction for a few seconds, then the Templars kill her. It would serve no purpose except fuelling their fire.

On the guild meeting, Rey makes a passionate plea, asking us to act, to work against these light touched cultists. Sadly for her, and those that feel like she does. I need to take the big picture into account, doing "good" and doing the right thing for Starlight, is not always the same.
We are not in a position, neither with manpower nor politically to confront them directly. Starlight's creed of protecting each other means that if one of us ends up in a fight against one of them, others must come to the rescue. This will escalate, and we will find ourselves in a conflict that we are not ready for. For now, we need to find others that feel like we do, that the Church is a problem, and we need to avoid direct conflict.

When I speak to Rey, the orders I give her are so very different from those I give Morrigan. I task Rey with meeting with the potential ally, to spend Starlight silver in inns; to learn who speaks out against them, others that are afraid - like us.
I tell Morrigan that she can act against them with the needed ruthlessness. That she needs to tell Starlight what she sees - their evil and ruthlessness, but that there is no need to let Starlight know of hers.
If there becomes a time for direct conflict with the Church, Starlight needs to have their fire stoked, to feel angry and justified.

Later, I speak to Anomen; he has done well and started to think of the "Anomen of tomorrow." Fio an Lumi both offer good insights. Lumi is right, though when she says she does not want to become his Pathfinder - that was not my intent, and the clarification is good. He needs to bear this heavy burden, but I want both him and Lumi to understand that despite their differences they can communicate and possibly offer each other something. This can not be done through me playing teacher, assigning them homework.

Chit wants to discuss triage and how Starlight can do it better. We need to be stronger in communication so that we can use those limited resources more effectively. There is the challenge of being able to heal people like Annie, Anomen, Morrigan, who burns rather than mends from the light. Not to mention, the problem of some who take the martyr route of "I am not as wounded as the next one, observe my stoicism." Communication, investigation and training are needed, Fio and Alaide have both started researching, so we are moving forward.

She reminds me of something else entirely. So many of my plans and thoughts exist only in my own head. I need to communicate more with other officers of Starlight; if I don't, I am not learning and drawing on their strengths.
"Strength in exploration, Strength in unity, Strength in Starlight."

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#26 Post by Nomine » Tue Oct 01, 2019 8:00 pm

Here is the thing, there is never enough time to what should have been said and done.
There is a role to play on the stage, one that comes with the tabard and the "Lord Protector" title.
At some point it became less about individuals and more about the whole.
Reckon I lost some of myself in that process.

People are keen to remind me of what I lost, Eileena and Heartfang most of all.
It is there in the space between words,
the time not given.

I know that druids are swords, each one a soldier
I know that healers are the lifeblood of every war.
I know that warlocks and monsters means desire for this art.
Like cards in a flesh and blood deck.

And that is what shaped this heart of mine.
Dealing my cards, until some can walk away from the game.
Safer and fewer than before.
The dealer stays behind.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#27 Post by Nomine » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 pm

Here is the thing, I know that Lumi ain't out to harm Morrigan, not like Heartfang, who would rip her to shreds and gnaw on the bones given half a chance. Lumi is surgical in her approach to such, she cleanses the world with one sharp flash of light, and then it would be over. There is no hatred behind her actions, and if there are any feelings behind them, it would be compassion.

Kaldorei and Dranei have both lost their worlds, their future, due to others being weak in their judgment; thinking they can control corruption. Not too mention, their personal experiences; from being kidnapped to having their faces cut open to the bone.
Being asked to accept anathema in your midst, with all that background, and being told to take it. That is asking them to make a personal sacrifice over and over. There is no easy way to make that right, no easy words to make it right.
I try anyhow. "It is a lot to ask, but we ask it anyway. Find yer own path, but know the sacrifice you make in walking with us. It is seen, is it heard and respected."

The night before the Hayhurst mission, Chit told me that Morrigan does not trust me anymore. She bore the marks of her last meeting with Morrigan all over her face, broken nose, cuts and bruises.
I could have taken those words to mean she is breaking free, no longer under my control, and tried to kill her. Instead, I brought her some leftover chicken skewers, cookie, to tell her that even if she did not come to our fire at the Lighthouse, she was not forgotten. Her home is quiet when I arrive, so rather than trespass, I leave it to be found by her.
She has put herself in harm's way for Starlight the last year. It is a sacrifice, too, and it should mean something.
Besides, Morrigan is not the only one. By my account, most women in Starlight trust my intent to do what is best for Starlight. They simply do not trust that I am able to see things clearly.

Starlight is in need of healing, we are growing fast, and it makes our flaws more visible. People are hurting themselves, turning inwards rather than towards others. Feeling they are not seen, not heard, not important. I am not saying it, perhaps I should have, missions like those tonight; chasing a Golden Ghost for Hayhurst. We need these jobs, were one of us asks for aid and others give it. Just as we need the nights around the fire, warmed by companionship.

Starlight also needs other leaders than me. I can't kindle warmth and compassion; I can make them bleed, which feels sharp, warm, right until your empty. Perhaps I have bleed myself dry, and maybe I should remember the song; "husband leads, a wife commands." Let somebody else take command, spend sometime listen to wisdom from others. I try to offer tokens of recognition; I tell Tikal to take Lia's place as a shield for others when she speaks of being ill-suited for that role, I go looking for Heartfang when she has been gone too long from the fight, I let Phillias know that none of the items; prayer book, diary, jewels leave the beach unless Lumi has given them the ok. Most of the token fall to the beach unseen, unheard, like a grain of sand. Reckon it is worth giving em, for the few times they are felt.

Afterward, I spend precious moment with Eileena. It is not enough.
Which is a good sign.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#28 Post by Nomine » Tue Oct 29, 2019 8:28 pm


When you have lived as many names as I have, sooner or later some of them are bound to catch up with you. Reckon things were looking up, Eileena and I figuring our way past a dictionary worth of words. Starlight tackling the pain that comes from being in the grey, having members that are pure white and inky black.

“Sabre, she has gotten herself captured Nomine. Unfortanly, SI:7 owes her no more indulgences, so that leaves you. She trained you didn`t she?”

I do not know the man speaking to me, it does not matter though. He knew all the right code words, he knows that I like my tea scalding hot. So damned hot that you cannot `t taste the sweet jasmin the service insist on serving. Not many knows that, for a long that was my little private secret. A little thing they did not know about me, a little thing that let me feel that despite all their spying, they did not know it all. Now, with Sabre, they can no longer afford me that luxury.

“Perhaps this would be a good job for one of your little “Starlighter`s.” Perhaps the black haired, all bones sort of girl. You know the one that looks mysteriously a lot like a supposedly dead cultist. Or one of the druids, is not one of them an escapee from a prison in Dalaran?”

He peers at me across gold rimmed glasses. It is not real gold of course, if it were it would have been smelted down to pay for the war`s. A gold coin don`t go far, not as it costs 15 000 silver to keep one regiment in the field for a month. But it is the dedication, the willingness to sacrifice that matters to the service. That is really what he asks, am I willing to send one of mine, to do the SI:7`s dirty work.
“None of them know how to break into a prison. Besides, with Stormwind being unsafe these days, they are needed for protection of mine. Even a florist of ours was robbed the other night. Cracked her pot and everything.”

He looks at me with a pained expression, one that pleases me.

“Very well, you and Sabre go a long way back. So it is only fitting.”

I nod in agreement and take my leave. There is no more to say and there is nothing he can do to help me; officially, we never met.
Officially SI:7 does not acknowledge that Sabre exists, or has ever existed. She was supposed to be dead, like so many others. Last time we met, she tried to kill me, it was not personal, she left me bleeding, I broke her nose. Nothing new for either of us. Never got around to finding out who sent her. If I am to hazard a guess, it was an average sort of man working for the service. It's never personal, just part of the job.

Five days later.

“Why don`t you save us a lot of trouble, starting with telling us who you really are.”
The man does not actually ask, he enjoys his trade and he hopes that I will not break this easily. There`s an axiom in the torture trade, that the anticipation of pain is far more powerful, therefore far more effective, than the pain itself. That is why nine out of ten break down when they see the torture instruments. When they start to imagine what they can do to them. A good craftsman will take notice of which tools your eyes fixate on, so that he can use them to stoke your imagination.

I glance up at the thin needles I have been deliberately staring at. “Sir, it is all a misunderstanding, truly, you must see that. I am Lord Hemmsford, son of the elder Hemmsford. The man, who seems to be an experienced hand at this trade, allows himself a thin smile. The Lord of the Manor, Lord Crawford; a rake thin man with a perpetual disappointed sort of expression, lets out a long sigh.

I hold out my handcuffed hands to the Lord. “Can`t we forgo the unnecessary formalities? Remove these and I will never speak of this unfortunate incident. I swear on my father's honor.”

For this lie they break one of my ribs and throw me back into the cells. They do not know who I am, only that I claim to be a dead noble. That I showed up two days ago and attempted to charm my way into a line of credit, as well as asked some questions about their soldiers, the defences of the castle. A blind fool could have pegged me for a spy, and not a good one at that. Easiest way to break into a prison: have somebody arrest you. I don`t know what she did to get thrown into one, but I gamble on spies and assassins going to the same part of the castle dungeon.
A broken rib was not entirely unexpected.

The cell is a good one, large enough that a full grown man can lie down without being all curled up. Iron bars so the guards can see all the prisoners without getting too close. Good iron too, not much rust on the bars.
When they carried me down here, I noticed a few other bodies in the cell. Not enough light to recognise Sabre`s grey hair.

Dinner is gruel, a slab of bacon and thin beer, served by a short grumpy sort of man. I try to bribe him to get me wine, he laughs me off and points out that any coin I would have had on me, would have been stripped off by now. Which is not true, but I don`t push the argument.

None of the other prisoners speak, I can hear them shift around, eat and sometimes cry.
So, I start to whistle, the tune is one that used to be a popular one with Stormwind`s soldiers, from many years ago. A song about soldiers going to war, with their love left behind, ending with the soldiers promising each other that they will bring letters back, but steal no kisses from another’s true love.

There are no others joining in and the cells grow still. My heart races and I wonder if she is not even here, if I have been set-up. Then the first three bars of the song is whistled back, ending with a hoarse cough. Could be her, could be somebody else.
I keep it up for a few more songs, but there is no more replies. I know that sooner rather than later Lord Crawford will return with his craftsman, most likely with a couple of guards in tow. Break a couple of bones, soften me up before the real torture.

I call out for the two guards, cursing, then begging and promising them gold, if only one of them could bring me a quill and paper. It takes a full hour before one of them gives up, sauntering over. I back away from him, deeper into the cell. He demands to see the gold, I plead, he turns away.
It’s a dance, ending with me holding out a gold coin, one that was hidden in my boot.
“It is all I got”
“It is all I got, you have to help me”

The coin is held out as a promise of my submission, a token of his victory. With hands cuffed, a boot in one hand, a coin in another, an old fake noble in borrowed feathers. There is nothing to fear from me.
He unlocks the cell, when he enters, I toss my boot at him.
Most humans will instinctively try to catch something tossed at them.
He is no different, and by the time he figures out that something is wrong, my hand is already driving his head back into the iron bars. It is a hard cracking sort of sound, perhaps he will wake again.
But there is no time to think about that. The other guard is already getting up, pulling his cudgel up with him. More muscle than fat on that one, used to delivering violence.
It does not matter.

I stagger over to the other cells, the rush of my blood blocking all other sounds. By tomorrow, if there is a tomorrow, I reckon my body will hurt too much. Won't be able to move faster than a crawl. But that's a problem for tomorrow's Nomine. Today's Nomine still has a job to do.

I unlock the cell, and she looks up at me. Hair is more grey than I remember, rings under her eyes, a nose that never got set straight. Her eyes got the merciless steel in them, age has not diminished it. Lips cracked, way she cradles her arm tells me that it's broken, or that she wants me to think it is.
“Did not expect that they would send you.”
“Sabre, reckon I love you.”

She startles, freezes at those words. I try to grab her head with my hands, driving a knee up into her face. Her “broken” arm is suddenly there, blocking most of my attack. Her teeth biting into my hand, drawing blood. I kick her shin again and again, as she hits my chest, my ribs. Her leg gives in first, and I get behind her.
It is hard to kill somebody when your hands are cuffed together, there is just enough length to get the chain around her throat.
She taught me to use emotions as weapons, to change the rules of the game midway through.

I hold her tightly, feeling the last breath, then the heat go out of her. On her dead body, I find a shank; a spoon that has been sharpened, given a killing edge. Don't understand why she did not use it against me, do not want to think about it.

Still have a prison to escape, broken ribs, far from home.
Job ain't over yet.
Rest is a problem for tomorrow's Nomine.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#29 Post by Nomine » Wed Oct 30, 2019 1:41 pm

A lifetime ago.

After months in the stockades, everything seemed impossibly clean and bright; the streets they dragged me through, fingernails without dirt, the menders’ bright blond hair and her quick smile. The smile was not for me, but I did not care, she said I would live and that's enough.
After a week of rest they sent her to me again, this time her fingers examined me thoroughly, fingers in my mouth - counting teeth, prodding my skin and flesh like a horse trader, making sure that the whipping had not ruined my back permanently. She deemed me “serviceable” and I was sent to meet my handler.

Raven hair, a smirk on her lips, sharp cheekbones and lean muscles. I wanted her from the first day, I needed to prove myself better than her. By the third day the mender came back, setting two of my broken fingers right. I had been fast enough to see Sabre move, just could not do anything to stop her. Got rather familiar with the mender over the next half year, her name was Charlie, father wanted a boy and was too stubborn to change the name. She turned out to be soft in all the right places, warm and methodical in a way I enjoyed.

Sabre never let me put a hand on her, unless it was her choice. She made me smart, stronger, after a year she deemed me good enough to join her team at missions. For the next two years, we bled, we fought, two of us died, but it was in the service of the alliance, so it was worth it.
Bullshit, it was worth it because it was done with good, strong people willing to teach each other.

Then the service cut me free, Sabre remained my handler and over the next ten years, we did what needed doing. She taught me the basics of seduction, noble women taught me the rest, I taught her how to scale a wall without a sound, how to pick the freshest apples. Was not a centimetre of her body that I did not know intimately, you learn a lot about a person when you are fighting side by side with them, patch them up afterwards or need to crawl through dark sewers together. Most of all, you learn that there are ways to care for somebody without fucking their brains out. Reckon it's close enough to love that nobody call tell the difference.

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Re: The Long Goodbye

#30 Post by Nomine » Fri Nov 01, 2019 8:34 pm

Bruised, battered, one dead guard, one unconscious one, a handful of weapons, none of them useful when it comes to fighting your way out of a castle. There are prisoners in some of the other cells, bundles of cloth that once were human. Imagine that they will keep their heads down. Torture and prison are quick to teach a person the value of not being noticed. I would not know how to break them out, ain't sure I know how to get myself free either.
Prison proves to be smartly built. The main door is barred from the other side, no keys for it on the guards, a small enchanted bell hanging on the wall that can be used to summon aid. No windows or sewers that would fit me. Given half a year, I should be able to lose a few rocks. Unfortunately, there will be a guard change before then.

That leaves Sabre as the solution.
She weighs less dead, than when she was alive. Reckon its the weight of her soul or sins departing that makes up for the difference. By that account, people will need to prepare ropes to anchor my body to the earth when my time comes. Fingers trace over the scar on her collarbone, and I stitched her up at that time. Remember how my fingers shook that time, all pumped up on adrenaline and fear. Can't remember what made it though, an arrow, or a sword. Happened on a job that went well, just the getaway that went to hell.
I use one of the guard's belt to fashion a noose. Promise myself to light a candle for her; then I stage her suicide.

She deserves better; I won't forget the sight anytime soon, painfully, truthfully. I strip the unconscious guard of his tabard, cloak, and boots. With my hands cuffed, everything takes twice as long as it should, so much of the uniform I can't even put on. The dead guard is pulled to Sabre's cell, leaving him sprawled in front of her, face broken to pieces.
At the end of the staging, just as I am to ring the bell. I notice that one of the other prisoners have crawled close to the iron bars. His eyes staring at me, a raspy voice calls me over.

"Get me out."
It takes him time to say those few words. Somebody has done a number on him. Half the face is bandaged, same for one of his left hand and right knee. Even in this state, it is easy to see that he is a big man, scars on his knuckles, cauliflower ears, a fighter.
"They will pay you in Stormwind if you rescue me."
I grab a bottle from the guard's table, holding it between the bars so he can drink. Nodding to him, my eyes driting over to Sabre's body.
"Pay you for her, too, did my job for me."
I tilt my head, looking at him, gripping the bottle so tightly that I fear it will break. "Somebody sent you to kill her?"
He nods, grinning at me. "Hired on as a guard, tried to sneak in."
His words come faster, easier after a little to drink.
"Gold rimmed glasses on the client?" I pause a little, looking at him, noticing the moment of recognition even if he doesn't reply.
Five breaths later, I pull Sabre's shank out of his ear, wiping it on his tunic, four strokes, two for each side.

Ain't leaving her shank behind, figure that I will have more use for it.

I ring the bell so hard that I rip it free from the wall, the castle guards come quick, not even a full minute later. Bursting into the room with drawn swords. I scream, "The prisoner, the prisoner, she is dying, get a mender."
They see her body hanging there, another guard lying on the floor, blood pooling around his head. Nobody notices as I slip outside, not before the door is shut and barred behind them. I can hear them hammering at the door, attacking it with swords. Without the bell, it will take time to get break free or raise the alarm — longer than it takes me to escape the castle.

A mender and a blacksmith cost me a gold piece each. But it makes me strong enough to get back to Stormwind, strong enough to be told that bad things have happened in my absence.
Stoen tells me that Rey has been reading people's minds, experience tells me that when from reading to tugging a little on thoughts, there is nearly no distance at all.
I ask him: Is she still alive?
He does not know, which tells me that the other officers in Starlight judge things more kindly than I do. Reckon that makes them better people.
I won't change their judgments, it would mean that Starlight and I die in the same breath. Strength in unity deserves better.

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