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|Rosa, 105 - Midday, hr 6|
They could have been happy if their surroundings had let them, but Quarr seemed to be determined to destroy everything. My son, Trisa. My sister and my son. Suddenly, all that spoke out of her brother's eyes when they spotted her was blatant hate and whenever they met, he either ignored her or said the most terrible words somebody had ever spoken to her. Two young girls, children, left because you wanted something between your legs, my son.
Not even Larkin's and her sons could escape Quarr's behavior because he ignored them purposefully, only paying attention to Cala, but not a single time to Davin or Leiard. She had never imagined that Quarr would be capable of such cruelty, even less after all they had gone through together. You left Elek and your daughter for Tasir, you abandoned them for him, you ruined your own family and now you are here, in mine. He knew her weakest spots, knew how he could hurt her the most and used this knowledge without hesitation.
At first, her brother's behavior left her in desperation and made her cry again like she had done too often in the last years. Two families you ruined now. But after he told her that she deserved death, she just had enough. Finally she agreed with him that they were no family any longer, that he was her brother no more and she swore to herself that she wouldn't let him make her cry ever again because he wasn't worth her tears. This heartless man whose death she had mourned so much would not take the last rest of her dignity away and she would not let him destroy the love she and Larkin felt for each other.
Larkin defended her against his father all the time, even far enough to make both him and Quarr put their armor on during one of the arguments. It seems, Elisa, I lost my son, to my sister. And she finally wasn't willing to watch this madness any longer and wouldn't continue to let Larkin fight her fights, but nevertheless gave in to Larkin's plea to let him start a last attempt to talk some sense into his father, though she was already convinced that this venture couldn't have any success.
But when Quarr and Larkin stepped out of the forge again after a conversation lasting for hours, Larkin actually seemed to have managed to change something in Quarr's behavior. "Trisa... Can... can I have a word with you, please?" It surprised her to see Quarr's hanging shoulders, no less than the fact surprised her that he now wanted to speak with her, but whatever he was going to tell her, she wasn't willing to forget what he had said so easily. Remembering the promise she had given herself, she straightened her back and followed her brother into the forge with her head held high, trying to hide her limping from him and intent on locking her weak spots away from that man in front of her she didn't know any longer.
She remained lingering near the entrance, keeping her posture as upright as possible and lifting her chin in determination while he had stepped deeper into the room to sit on a granite box, both of them only enlightened by the red glow of the furnace. With bitter satisfaction, she noticed that her newfound strength seemed to astonish him when he raised his brows at her posture before speaking to her quietly. "Trisa, my sister. I want to apologise, or start to apologise for my actions."
No apology could ever make up for what he had said, so she just returned his glance, her voice and face void of any emotion. "Now I am suddenly your sister again?" "You have never stopped being my sister, Trisa. Regardless of how I acted and what I said." Suddenly the words started to burst out of him and he slowly stood up while speaking. "From when you abandoned me to my despair when Vallo died, when you just fled the room... I never looked at you the same way." These words shocked her and quickly drove her determination away, letting her shoulders sink down. So all of this wasn't about Larkin and her, but about the past. "I was close to killing myself, Trisa, and you were the only family member to even hug me... then you left, fled from that room as if it was a horrible thing to comfort me."
He had never showed her any clue of his feelings during all this time and the insight how much she had hurt him felt like a hit into her stomach. So all of this was her fault after all, not his. She had never meant to abandon him, had given him all the comfort she could in that single embrace before the only thing she had been able to do had been leaving the room. Her condition had been miserable already at the time after all the deaths in their family and she hadn't been able to hold herself upright, even less give somebody else the strength to do so. When she had given way to her tears after leaving the house, her desperate outburst could only have made everything worse for Quarr and Connor, so she had tried to hide it from them.
Her attempt to explain this to him failed terribly and the new feeling of guilt broke the defense against the hurt he caused her, letting each of his words directly reach her heart again. "From then I only saw you as selfish and meddling... when you left Elek and your daughter, when you treated me like a murderer when I arrived here, protected Velas because you thought me some revenge drunk junkie. When I came back after Tasir killed me, I saw you pregnant, I had no idea you loved him and him you. All I saw was my sister in my family now, with my son, and I saw Elek and your daughter."
The conversation became more heated with every word they spoke, the hurt feelings causing anger to emerge and letting both of them yell accusations at each other, trying to defend their own actions until they finally seemed to have freed themselves of their anger. Quarr's voice sounded quiet again, rough as he spoke to her. "Have you died, Trisa? There is a moment when everything you wished you could have said, every sorry, every I love you... every grudge or burden forgotten. There was much I wanted to say, and one of them was an apology for you, that I had held a selfish grudge from when you left me to despair. I never got to say that, Trisa, twice."
His words touched her and in the remembrance of the terrible moments when she had seen him die twice, first killed by Kenna, then by Tasir, she felt the tears in her eyes emerge that she had sworn never to cry again. With every sentence, his voice sounded softer than before. "I hate myself for what I said to you, for how it hurt that which I have always wanted to protect." When she wiped over her cheeks to get rid of the tears that shouldn't be there, her hand trembled in a feeling she couldn't identify at first. And then she realized what it was, that after all both of them had said to each other, after all the ways in which they had hurt each other, she still loved her brother deeply.
As she tried to speak again, her voice was thin and unstable and her eyes were glistening with wetness while watching him. "Has it... Has it never come to your mind that you maybe misunderstood everything I did completely? That I could not be that evil person you seemed to see in me?" Losing the control over her voice almost completely, all she could produce was a whisper. "When he killed you, it was as if he had also killed me."
Quarr seemed to be no less affected by the situation than herself and wiped his arm over his eyes with a quiet sigh. "It seems I have misunderstood a lot, Trisa. And again, I never thought you evil." His reply let her close her eyes for a moment and not having moved from the spot, she still stood close to the exit, her fingers grabbing the door frame tightly while she hesitated to speak. "But... it sounded so much as if you did."
Then all she wanted to do was to apologize. "I am sorry that I made you feel like that the day when I wanted to prevent something terrible between you and Velas. I already told you that, but maybe I should have done more often. And I am sorry that there was no strength left in me to comfort you when Velas murdered Vallo. I should have been there for you." He seemed to feel the same, quickly interrupting her flow of excuses with his own. "As I should have been there for you when... Tasir was gone. I shouldn't have kept your actions in the past against you, Trisa, I never meant to... I just never let it go. It just came and blew up, inside the house."
Barely able to suppress a sob, a stifled sound escaped her lips. "I... I have sworn to myself not to let you make me cry again", she whispered hoarsely which brought a thin smile onto his face despite the tears on his own cheeks. "I saw you wiping your eyes." When another sob emerged from her throat, she hated herself for all the crying that already seemed to be her reaction to everything and spoke her thoughts out loud. "I... I am much too weak to be a Stoneshaper, I always have been."
Quarr shook his head determinedly. "No... Who after so much can find happiness with my son? To not give up is the very meaning of being strong." His eyes searched hers and she leaned against the door frame heavily, now having all forgotten about her formerly upright posture. "How... could we let this happen to us, Quarr? How could we let it come so far?"
He finally covered the few steps between them to first lightly touch her arm, then pull her into a gentle embrace. "Anger won over love and reason for those few hours. I love you, Trisa, without a doubt."
They could have been happy if her fate hadn't been a different one.
|Rosa, 105 - Midday, hr 7|
It figured that they would decide to stay, but that he would continue to mess it all up for them.
Despite the outburts of a pup towards himself and Anisa a few days before, they had remained fairly happy, and the mood had been playful. She wanted more pups with him, and even though she said it didn't matter now, he still saw the importance in her having more like their girl pups. He had wanted her to have more with Connor first, and told her such even after she had said she wasn't worrying about that anymore.
Maybe if he had waited like he originally intended, and let them have the time to, she wouldn't have had to get hurt again. She wouldn't be there in that house, almost time to have pups, with an empty and flat belly. It had been a moment of fun and carelessness, happiness after so long. I must have done it wrong, he thought. I should have done it right, so she wouldn't be hurting right now. She still thought it was her fault, but he didn't see how it could have been at all. Connor would have done it right, his thoughts continue on though he doesn't dare to show them to her.
He only holds her, the only way he knows how, while her tears drown them both.
|Losse, 106 - Midday, hr 7|
"When the pups popped out, I was sort of happy. Except, they look like Connor and Tobar's hurt by it. I can tell. Who made up this rule that you've gotta have 2 bondmates? Why don't boys have pups?
I love Tobar the most. Him and rani, and Tamir, too make me so, so happy. I don't like when they're hurt.
That's why sometimes, I'm not over nice to Anisa. Because she hurts Tobar lots... and lots."
Those were the thoughts I had, being so young, seeing the things I saw. Again, the birth of pups was so beautiful. So, so beautiful and I enjoyed watching them breathe in life and open their bleary newborn eyes to the world, but I could never, even at such a tender age, get that nagging out of my heart -- that I loved Tobar so, so much, and hated to see him hurt, that I was never outward in my kindness to Anisa or Tobar.
The way their relationship was strained made me not want to bond, even with Tamir. Afterall, how could those pups be all three of theirs if they looked so much like Connor?
Only time would tell.
|Losse, 106 - Afternoon, hr 9|
She sat under the statue of Sekah inside the temple, a charred piece of wood in one hand, parchment on the ground before her. She wrote feverishly, the lines quickly forming words that she desperately tried to keep clear, legible. Her mind raced, her heart hurt - she had to get out of Nefarka and fast.
The tip of the charred stick snapped, marring a small spot on the parchment. When she wiped it away, more letters smeared. Confused, she lifted the page to let any remaining bits of wood fall away; but, the dim light in the temple gave way to a glistening on the page. She frowned, knowing there was nothing she could do to hide the imperfections caused by her tears.
She growled, angry at herself for succumbing to her emotions so easily. She fought them her entire childhood, to be a good girl, a strong girl, a daughter her parents would be proud of, to never let her feelings hurt anyone even if her feelings caused her sadness...what made this any different?
"Because you already hurt someone, you stupid girl..." she scolded herself. "...honesty be damned. Ignorance is bliss."
She looked up to the statue with an angry glare, eyes flashing with hurt and confusion. "Was this what you meant? Is this what was supposed to be? Is this what you wanted?!"
She hung her head with a shuddering sigh. The stick found paper again and she pressed on, focusing, needing to get everything she could written before he found her...
...if he was even looking.
"Your people need you, Rupi..." she mumbled to herself as she wrote, her voice harsh and unforgiving. "No...I cannot stay here...the damage is done...I cannot face any of them..."
It wasn't until she got to the last part of the letter that the tears fell freely, her sobs making the words jumbled and difficult to read:
"...one more thing...tell Weruit, my beloved brother...there are no words to express my sorrow for what I did to him, however unintentional it was...and that I love him with all my soul. Do not ask him what this means...I do not wish for it to spread further and cause more grief. He is, and has always been, my best friend."
Finishing the letter to her great-grandfather, her eyes darted over the page, not really reading what she had said and instead seeing if it was real. Part of her wished it to be a bad dream, prayed for it to be just a dream...
"You finally get a moment to talk to him after so many years, and look what you do..."
She clutched the twig in her hand, snapping it in two; and, with a blood-curdling scream, she threw it against the marble wall before sinking to her knees.
She gasped suddenly, as if the breath had been kicked from her lungs, quickly getting to her feet and collecting her things. "Leave...go...now...get out of here..." Her mind was blank, only her body going through the motions of what needed to be done - finding her sleeping great-grandfather in the mine, slipping the note into his hand, running out...checking on Sylpha...wishing to say more to Lala...Mother...Father...all of them...
No. She needed to go. He was not outside. He would not see her leave. He would never know where she went. He could forget her words, forget her, if she was not there.
Darting from shadow to shadow of the tents and buildings that made up her long time home, she raced into the desert under the cover of night.
"I will return one day...though how ever many years that might be, I am not sure...I love you all. I will make you proud."
|Kuile, 106 - Evening, hr 11|
Margalit entered in the granary silently, her head lowered. Sucking in a breath of air she lifted her crossbow and pointed it at her brother, Etzem.
"Etzem" she spoke. "You killed Koli..you were the only one here in here when he disppeared..his clothes are still there on the ground..,I shudder to think what happened to his body.."
She took out a bolt and set it in the mechanisms of her crossbow. Raising it, her finger on the trigger.
"You've always dreamed so much, but now..now I'm going to let you dream forever."
And with that, the bolt was released, into her brothers throat. As he fell, he lot out a bloody gurgle and was dead.
|Urnu, 106 - Evening, hr 12|
She sat on the edge of the cliffs. Her eyes watching the sunset to the far off vast waters of the west. It shone brightly on the water, spreading out into almost a liquid gold.
It had been a couple days since she had killed her brother Etzem for killing her son Koli. Lorel upon entering had been furious. While always quiet, Etzem was always hers in a way. And with a few more words, Lorel, her sister who raised her when the Witch cast her and her brothers aside-left her.
It was awhile before Margalit rose to take herself outside. She could barely see Lorel's figure to the distant southwest, leaving Farcliffs in the clear blue waters which surrounded it.
It was there that she sat and said nothing. The children of Lorel and her own spoke, but Margalit did not hear their words. Even Teo came out, sweet Teo who had brought her happiness where she thought she'd never had it.
She raised her hands and looked at them as if they were not her own.
'What strange feeling courses through my body?' she wondered in her mind. This feeling that had prevailed in her mind since she had returned from her trip. This strange sense of foreboding with the edge of hate..it rose in her.
And it was then she knew to herself what it was. The spirit..the essense of the Witch. Her mother's blood coursing through her. She wondered, was it the scrolls in the bag beside her? Theu had been left in Frog Fort, untouched by the people there since the Witch had written them and she had taken them with her to put in a tower she planned to call the Conservitorium. But..it would not be..she knew. As the realization came to her, she knew what she had to do..to protect her and those around her.
With the quiet dignity of someone ready to face the executioner, she rose and turned around. As Lorel's and her own children conversed silently amoungst themselves, she caught Teo's gaze.
She gave him a small sad smile and then with a step back, cast herself onto the rocks and waves below Farcliffs.
|Urnu, 106 - Evening, hr 12|
I am struck dumb by what has just happened. Margalit, the happiest part of my life, is gone now. Thrown herself off the cliffs she loved so much.
Over the past few days, it had seemed as if she was possessed in some way; she clearly wasn't herself. I wanted her gone, yes, but only because I wanted the old Margalit back. Not this.
I was silent for many days; however... I need to press on. This city was important to her, and I will finish what I started. If the city doesn't live on, then at least the people will. I need to take care of our children, as best as I am able.
Krai protect us.
|Gurtha, 106 - Sunrise, hr 5|
I followed the Aelleri, which left the Stoneshaper Mountain after our
arrival. When I found him I noticed he had some wounds. To care
for them I gave him my mineral water and some poppy cream.
His name is Torad and seems to be interested in all kinds of ore and in
smithery. He made me think of Arandur, who also had spent a lot of
time in the mine.
Torad wondered about me not having armor. Indeed I could use some,
but traveling must be even more exhausting in these things.
He told me about an Aellri village on the mountain. I think he was refering
to the same village as Kanor. I think I will travel there soon. Maybe it is
where I come from. It has been a long time, but maybe someone
recognizes me or my name. It is one of the few things I still can remember.
I warned him about Moonglade and hope he isn't afraid of all the Moonkin
he will see.
When I said goodbye I also told him, he should visit Heart Heaven one day.
|Gurtha, 106 - Afternoon, hr 9|
Ayla and the Leviathan
One day, a long time ago, when your Mamma mamma was still a little girl, she traveled to Pearl Beach for the first time with her Mamma Rose and Diran. I might have told you but I can't remember. Since that Garrack hit me on the head I seem to forget things. But there are other things I remember clear as day, and though they seem to be incredible, I'm sure they happened, so real and vivid they are. It seems so long ago now and much has happened since then.
I was swimming out by the Coral Reef looking for pearls. Have I told you how much I loved them? I named my first daughter after them. She was a strange child. But that is another story. This is the story of how I swam past the Coral Reef. And so I did. I wandered over to the other side and saw that the water was very deep there and I couldn't touch the bottom, no, even the tallest trees in the jungle would sink down and never be seen again. But I was a brave little girl and maybe a bit foolish then. I swam farther and farther and soon I felt the current start to pull me even farther out and though I was very strong for my age I couldn't seem to swim out of it. I heard this deep loud moaning and up ahead saw this huge gaping mouth! I tried to turn to swim away with all my might but it was no use! I was sucked into the giant mouth along with Dolphins, Sharks, Sea Turtles and drifting logs! I clung to one of those logs managing to climb on it, riding it as it surged down a long dark tunnel.
It seems like that tunnel went on forever. That happens when you're young. Time is slower. Why it felt like we walked for years and years just to get to Pearl Beach that first time. Now it just takes not quite a day. I'm sure it did then too. But in my childs mind time was slower and so it was as I clung to the log, I felt like the tunnel was endless and I would spend my long life there when up ahead there was a light. I sped towards that light as it grew ever brighter until finally a great archway appeared and I rode the log over a great fall of water. Sharks and Dolphins and Sea Turtles careened over alongside me. I landed with a great splash in a large lake.
Coughing and sputtering as I surfaced again I looked around me and on the shore of the lake was a small hut made of bones. Curious, I angled the log towards it and paddled with my hands. I noticed a young Sea Turtle swimming besides me blinking with worry. I had never seen Sea Turtles before, having lived in the jungle all my short life. I glanced at it briefly, but my surroundings captivated my attention. High up above me was a pink and pulsating sky, where dark red veins wound and tangled and the most enchanting sparkles of green and purple luminescence. If I squinted my eyes I could see that Starfish, Sea Anemones, Barnacles and Mussels clung there. There were Islands jutting out of the water. Shiny and slimy, these were too covered in Starfish and Anemones. I could see Stone Crabs clicking on the shores. As the log washed up I scooted off, the young Sea Turtle following, and I sloshed through the murky waters to the slippery strand. I must have fallen a few times before I learned how to walk on the slimy ground. I was sure once I heard a little laugh, but looked all around me and saw no one except the small turtle blinking up at me. Now that I think about it, most likely it was him. I didn't know then what I know now, that Sea Turtles can speak. I slipped and slid my way over to the Bone Hut and gripping a large rib, I peeked into the entrance.
The Turtle stuck his head out as far as it could from its shell and hissed at the creature. For I didn't think it was a Noljen. We Noljeni are very beautiful and our breath certainly does not smell! At the turtles hiss the creature stepped back and bowed, then knelt on the floor. I watched the interaction most curiously. I pulled my knees to my chest and wrapped my arms around them, shivering from fear, certainly it wasn't cold. It was very hot actually. The turtle pulled its head back a bit and its former placid expression, with its large blinking eyes, replaced the fierce face I had just seen. Not many will see that expression on a Sea Turtle, as they are peaceable creatures and rarely use it. The creature slowly stood up and he was shivering as I was. He swallowed nervously and bowed his head to me. "What can I do for you Miss?" he stammered "I am Bulbo guardian of the Leviathans Belly."
I glanced at the Sea Turtle and it just looked back at me with its wet dark eyes. I cleared my throat and lifted my jaw "I am the Noljeni Girl Ayla! Daughter of Rose and Amrod!" I cleared my dry throat again "You will show us out of this smelly place at once Bulbo!"
Nodding, he rose to his full height which was taller than your Granapa Myran and he is very tall a giant among Noljeni. His gaunt body was pale, almost translucent as he turned and waved a long fingered clawed hand to beckon us to follow him. Follow him we did along the slippery ground to the shore of the island, where a raft of bones was sitting at the edge of the murky water. He pointed to the raft with a long bony finger and we got on, the Turtle and I. He pushed us off into the mix and the current took us off and away. We sailed in our precarious raft into another tunnel that got narrower as it went. Soon I was lying on my belly, the roof of the tunnel just over my head, the turtle tucked under my arm as we raced along. I must say it was a most unpleasant journey, the stench of that tunnel was worse than even that of Garrack! And he smelled like the worst swamp you could ever imagine!
|Gurtha, 106 - Evening, hr 10|
Broden was new at that "dying" thing, so he had no idea why he felt so strange. After all, he had never hunted, nor raised a hand to harm another (except for the one time that Damien tried to hurt him), he wasn't asleep, and he was full... what other way was there to die? As Zosime stood by, hugging him closely, frantically realizing what was coming much more quickly than he did, Broden grew more confused. His speech started to slur, and his strength gave out. So, he did what he knew best, what was instinctive. He cooked. Fish, of course. Not any weird fish, because there weren't any left: just freshwater fish, from the lake. Was he pregnant? Was, was it... oh what was it... Broden's mind tried to race, but it was too groggy even for... for... for that...
|Gurtha, 106 - Evening, hr 10|
Mother and Da have fallen ill, none of Reed's medications seem to have any effect. They both think that they will be Returned soon, and seemed to be at peace with that fact. Asher, on the other hand is determined that they will bet getter somehow and is angry at their preparedness to leave us. Mother is passing on the responsibility of Warden on to him, and Da has passed on the mantle of Guardian to Reed.
I am trying my best to let the peace of the Moon fill me through this so I can be supportive of our parents, no matter what path they tread down. But then a piece of my heart was ripped from me...
I've been searching for Dios since mother fell ill, and could not find him anywhere. Asher decided to search for himself and found him in the mines.... dead and mauled. My twin, my closest friend... my Dios. Gone forever.....
I can't fathom life without him. Not more scuffles as he protects his younger sisters from Rown's outbursts. No more random presents as he finds new things to create. No more meat jerky. No more snuggling on cold nights. No more Dios.
I was prepared to see our parents leave, they were unafraid and ready. But this is so sudden, and now I just feel an aching emptiness inside...
|Lasse, 106 - Before dawn, hr 2|
Well, I guess this really is the end, 52 years, 31 children and a colony later, that gods have decided that my life should end. I feel like I should've done more, but I know I have done so much already. My poor children, they all seem so sad to watch me go, but I know they will do better after I leave. As I watch them become the future, I am glad to fade into the past and let them go.
They will grieve, and nothing I can say will stop them from doing so, but I hope that after the pain fades. They will look back and celebrate my life and all that I did with it. Striving to do just as much, if not more with theirs.
|Lasse, 106 - Afternoon, hr 8|
She looked out over the lake as she rested against the tree, her eyes taking it all in for what would be the final time. Next to her was the one who was always there for her. He too had the same quiet serenity as he looked out over the lake.
"I do hope that we'll get to see the moon on the lake once more..like so many years before" she spoke. The man beside her nodded silently.
As the sun set slowly it cast magnificent rays of light through the tree's and onto the clear blue sheet of water. It paled in however to the beauty of the moon as it rose silently over the tree tops, making it's way across the blanket of stars silently.
In the distance the constant roar of a great waterfall could be heard, sending ripples out to the lake. At first they would be large and powerful, but slowly they would diminish as they went out until they were just gone.
And as she and the man beside her looked out and saw the moon shining on the surface of that lake, they died peacefully.
Their spirits, however, would live on forever in the spirit world with every other whom had been Returned.
|Losse, 107 - Sunrise, hr 5|
They're dead. Mother, father, and Dios before them.
Mother had started making writing things before she died. She wanted to teach all the children to read and write because she said she would die. I thought she was wrong, but then the next day she and father could hardly walk. I still thought they were wrong, that Reed could save them.
But it was me who was wrong. Everybody will die. I will die, and that's scary.
I think the children would have been less sad about it if Dios hadn't been killed by bats right before. Mother and father were too weak to comfort them about that. And I'm not good at comforting.
I'm not good at being Warden either. I can't read or write, so these books mean nothing to me. It should have been Reed or Cita, but Cita is most likely dead by now and Reed has to do father's job.
I wonder if he wanted to be in charge. Maybe he didn't try as hard to save them because he knew he'd take over when they died. He said he was sorry, that he didn't know how to fix it, but I don't know if I believe him.
It doesn't matter, though. I need him because he knows things. He's the only one who can read and write, except what mother started teaching to Elza. He knows how to make babies too, even if his always end up dreaming.
When these children are old enough, they'll need to know about that. Rown will need to be a father, because, without Dios, the girls have nobody else their age.
I wish they weren't dead. We still needed them, all three of them. I thought we'd gotten past death after Rufus, but after a good few years, we're back to it again. And it's worse this time.
May their spirits find peace and Return once again to the realm of the spirits.
|Kuile, 107 - Afternoon, hr 9|
When she died, she was surrounded by the people who loved her.
It happened all of a sudden, right after a completely pointless argument with Faerlin about how to raise the children that had made her run into the limestone house to hide. She was speaking to Ruby, her eyes fixed on the girl's when an unexpected weakness came over her body, draining all of its strength and letting her sink backwards.
Not understanding what was happening, all she could do was stare into Ruby's eyes in disbelief until she recognized the feeling within her because she had felt it once before, lying on the ground beneath the claws of the frost wyrm. It was the Great Spirit's call, pulling her towards his halls.
But she couldn't believe this should be happening now that she had only just found her place with Larkin and their sons. Not now. She couldn't just leave them alone. Not now. This was much too early, she should have given Larkin decades full of happiness. This just couldn't be true.
Barely noticing how Ruby rushed out of the room, she heard the loud thud of the door, followed by Larkin entering the house and pronouncing her name with a hint of panic his voice had never born before. The next thing she felt was Larkin catching her right before she would have hit the ground.
Her vision started to blur and distorted his face right above hers, but she was still able to make out the tears in his eyes. She felt her life fade away quickly and was still unable to think clearly in her shock about how the Great Spirit could be cruel enough to take the future away she and Larkin had gone through so much for. The only thing that came to her mind was to tell him how much she loved him and ask him to tell Elek and Ennea and her father that she was sorry.
Many faces stared down on her with widened eyes full of tears and she couldn't bear how much sadness she brought once again over the people she loved. Shaken by a coughing fit, she closed her eyes and silently sent the most intent and honest plea to the Great Spirit she had ever formulated in her head before, desperately begging to let her stay with the love of her life and their babies.
Larkin's tears dropped onto her forehead when the drain of her strength abruptly came to a halt and her eye-sight returned. She couldn't explain to him why she was sure that this was only a temporary gift by the Great Spirit, but she was convinced it wouldn't last long.
In the desperate longing for each other, for a shared future and for the life they should have lived together, Larkin carried her outside into the setting sun. The last rays of light warmed her skin, letting her enjoy nature's beauty for a last time while the brook sent soothing purling sounds in their direction.
He placed her on the ground next to the small stream, far away from the mine entrance and hidden behind the forest's vegetation. The tips of her fingers felt the softness of the grass blades beneath her, the gentle breeze playing with her black hair tinted in red by the evening light.
Their lips met and despite her weakness, she felt how her desire for his closeness flared up and her mind clenched to the distraught hope that she could ease the sadness she brought over everyone, but most of all over Larkin, by leaving the people she loved not only with death, but also with life.
He held her close, each of his movements as cautious as if he was afraid to break her now frail form, the silk of her clothes gliding over her skin as softly as his lips and the tips of his fingers. His eyes soaked up the sight of her eagerly, the knowledge this would be the last time darkening them while their bodies united a last time in the moment the daylight eclipsed.
She passed out right afterwards, not hearing the buzzing of the still active insects around her and not noticing how Larkin covered her weak body with her silk clothes again before carrying her back into the mine, his steps heavy and his cheeks moistened by silent tears.
The time before the birth went by in a condition half asleep in complete exhaustion and half awake, Larkin never leaving her side. Vehement contractions drove all of her sleepiness away for some painful hours until four new small, breathing forms were lying next to her fading body. Sapphirine Stoutheart. Azura Stoutheart. Tanek Stoutheart. Vada Stoutheart.
After the struggle of giving birth in her bad condition, the sickness caused her overstrained body to sink into unconsciousness, unable to see the life she had just brought into this world. Larkin's whisper when he dabbed the sweat from her forehead didn't reach her. Rest now. Save your strength.
When she woke up again, the sadness in the cavern almost seemed to drown her and it pained her to look into the tormented faces of her loved ones. Never before had she seen Quarr's face so tearstained, all of the strength he normally conveyed seemingly gone as if it had never existed in the feeling of guilt that let his whole posture appear slouched. I have ruined so much happiness that should have been yours...
The sight of each pair of wet eyes, each sob of the children increased her pain and she sent another desperate silent plea to the Spirit to let her stay, but it remained unanswered. Elisa's tears dripped down onto the mattress she was lying on. You are my soulkin, Trisa... In her attempt to soothe everyone as much as she was able to, she directed last words to each of them, trying to wash away all feelings of guilt about the past arguments she had had with Anisa, Quarr and Faerlin.
As her eyes finally met Larkin's, there were no words left for both of them and they could only stare at each other in several long moments of silence, the desperation in their eyes mixing. His body was grasped by a sudden shivering and his hand clenched hers as if it could keep her from leaving him. I can't say goodbye to you. As her cold fingers wound around his, an abrupt fear of what was lying in front of her emerged within her, even though she had visited the halls' doors once before. You... not have to say it. Just... stay with me.
A single tear dropped from the end of his nose onto their entwined hands and his sob sounded loud in the suddenly silent cavern. For every second the spirit will allow me. She used the strength she had left to sit up a bit and bring her face close to his, letting their noses touch and spreading the wetness between the tips of them before their lips melted for a last desperate kiss of longing.
It took her several attempts to remove the silver ring that Mira had given her so long ago, her fingers not having much feeling any longer in their coldness. But finally she succeeded, gently pulling Larkin's hand closer to slip the delicate ring over his little finger. Please... be strong. For... our children.
His hand clenched and unclenched around the ring, the fingers of his other hand curled in her hair. In a tired, broken voice his lips finally managed to push words past them. But I'm not strong. I'm not... I ... His voice broke and his jaw pressed closed. The hopeless look in his eyes became shaded with desperation and he whispered the same sentence repeatedly. I love you... I love you.
She leaned forwards to him, her body sinking against his torso in a sudden weakness. Nevertheless, she accomplished to make their lips touch again and whispered against his, barely able to let her mouth produce words any longer: You are. Have you... forgotten how you... saved me? You are... the strongest stoneshaper I know. As her lips brushed further over his, she closed her eyes. I... love you so much.
Please don't... He stopped speaking as her lips pressed against his, holding her close to his body and leaning his forehead against hers, his body racked with soundless sobbing. When her eyes flickered open, they remained dull and unfocused, not seeing any longer, but she was already beyond the stage of fear.
Her lips were still close enough to his to brush over them with every whispered word as she repeated the sentences he himself had told her once before when she had been kneeling in Tasir's grave. Remember... I will be waiting for you, even... in a hundred years from now. A quiet cough left her mouth, shaking her. Real love never goes away. Her body slumped down in his arms, her lips gliding over his a last time while she fell down and blew her last breath into his mouth.
Larkin's words of despondency towards the relentless cavern ceiling, followed by quiet sobbing didn't reach her any longer. But I love you...
She had died in the arms of the man who loved her.
|Rosa, 107 - Midnight, hr 1|
I have been travelling and my feet are sore. I am not in pain, though I managed to subdue a straggling pair of wolves, some birds and some field rodents that were nosing their way into what little of my food supply I had brought along with me to the open grass.
I followed the crest of the hill and dug out the milky white stone we use for our knives for some of the more clever children to use, the first few processions of days. The bones kept me company as they used to do for Tale.
Then, as I was following a big creature with stiff, curly locks of hair, hunting it for its flanks of juicy meat, it led me to a large hole in the earth that was full of a glittering black stone. I took as many pieces as I have fingers. The stone is tough and beautiful, brilliant like the night sky and with a reflection akin to water.
This discovery will surely make Kis proud.
|Rosa, 107 - Afternoon, hr 8|
She wasn't ready for death until the very end. How it embraced her, and gave her a sense of comfort. It was a feeling she had not ever felt before. She was finally able to pass her troubles to somebody else, she was finally free.
So long, Nefarka.
|Lote, 107 - Midnight, hr 1|
When his mou fell asleep, his di made a new bed for her out of rocks. The smashing of the hammer against the stone had awoken the young child, though his mou still slumbered undisturbed. Then, his di put his mou into the stone bed and took it away, saying that they couldn't see the boy's mou-mou again for a very long time because his mou-mou had to rest in the other tunnel.
The boy did not understand as he sat beside the stone bed, his dark eyes straining to pierce through the stone. She could rest back with the others, on the big, comfortable bed with the blankets, and she could stay with him. He wanted her to stay with him all the more because of the strangeness the others had caught, the strangeness that made them cry and cast the look, which was part sadness and affection and part something else, towards his mou, that had made his di pull the struggling boy away from the stone bed earlier.
His mou was strange too, sometimes - he thought that he had seen something like the look on her face when she saw the red that had come from her mouth on her fingers, and her voice had become harsh and rasping of late, like she had a stone stuck in her throat. He didn't mind much her strangeness, because she would hug him close and rub his back, calming somewhat the uneasiness. She always understood what he meant when he was upset, even when the words and sounds didn't work as they should.
Others came and spoke to the boy, but none of them were his mou. After a while, he stopped looking up so quickly at the sound of footsteps.
Nisa, who looked like his aunty but wasn't, said she couldn't find her di. He wouldn't come, like the boy's mou would not come. She told him about tired. Tired. He tasted the strange new word and knew that his mou was like that, a little.
Nisa left when his di came, and his di put him on the stone bed. He couldn't see inside of it, but the lid had his mou's face on it, as though it were a blanket that she was hiding underneath. But blankets were soft and comfortable to lie and sleep upon, and the lid was stone.
His di spoke about the halls and his mou, and how she was here-but-not. Then his di left, tears in his eyes, and the boy simply sat there, waiting and thinking.
And for a time, there was silence.
|Lote, 107 - Afternoon, hr 8|
Nolja was too much for Emerald. All the sad faces, the plague's victims, her dead parents, and Fenrod's request for an early death created a dark world, and a place she never wanted to see again. So, she had abandoned Nolan there, unable to stand another minute. Did it bother him? she asked herself several times on the way home.
"Welcome back." Eli said cautiously.
Emerald was startled by the kind voice, her own mind busy with troubles. "Oh. Hi." She mumbled.
"Are you alright?" He moved closer.
"It's not fair." Emerald frowned, as she plopped onto the ground and stroked the small silk pouch. It was her mama's, and inside it was held a special emerald. The very one that indirectly chose the girl's name.
Eli sighed lightly. "I understand... I'm sorry for you, and everybody else."
Somehow, Eli had gotten her to talk. To say things she wouldn't, no, couldn't say around her sisters. Angry things. Because, Eli was there for her, and not an adult in her eyes, but somebody to see eye to eye. Everybody else was so old, and they expected her to agree on so many things. But with Eli, things were simple. You didn't have to walk around on your toes. He just understood, and accepted. Emerald had almost completely forgotten her bad mood. Then, she remembered something.
"Uhm, Eli? Rose talked to me for mama, she gave me mama's last words for me and all, I guess. She said that I, uh, I gotta be honest about my feelings." A nervous smile. "So I just wanted you to know that I really, really like you. I mean, at first, it was just like admiration and stuff. But
|Elen, 107 - Afternoon, hr 9|
Mother, father, it's too much! I can't handle this!
First that bat person showed up and started threatening us, but especially me. He says he wants to keep moving, but it doesn't seem that way to me. I think he just wants us all dead. I tried to let him kill me too. If nothing else, that would cause Reed to deal with him. He isn't paying much attention to this thing pointing an arrow at me.
You shouldn't have made him Guardian, father. He dreams too much. But then I'm dreaming now, aren't I? Maybe I shouldn't be Warden, either.
No, I won't wake up! Not yet! I'm safe here. You dreamed a lot too, mother. Like when you dreamed about Skyreach, before we went.
Oh, no, there's more! After that thing came Cita, and then her son Arandur. I told you he was strange like Cothero, but you didn't believe me. Now it looks like he's going to make children with a Stoneshaper! But first he and the Stoneshaper have come here to Moonglade. He's shown her where it is, no doubt so she can lead all the others to come attack and kill us all. Reed won't protect us if that happens. He'll offer them food, talk a bit, then go back to working on his healing stuff.
Because of all this madness, I don't even get to talk to Cita. I need to talk to her. I can only hope that she stays after all the Otherkin leave. I'm calling Arandur Otherkin. I won't Return him, not if he lives with Stoneshapers.
You made those twins Otherkin, mother, so I know I'm allowed to do that.
Yes, I know I need to learn how to read and write. Maybe Cita can teach me, for real this time. I'm sure she's a better teacher than Reed.
The rules? Huh, that might work. I can write them all down once I can write. And I can make that the punishment, becoming Otherkin. If it's written down, nobody can forget it. I'd need to include Reed in the decisions, though.
I don't trust him. I know you did, since you put him in charge, but he doesn't listen to me, and like I said, he wanted to feed the winged one. He didn't think of using your bow you gave him, father. He should have just shot these Otherkin and been done with it.
It's nice to talk to you both again. I'm sorry I didn't believe you when you said you were dying. I don't know if your spirits are really here talking to me or if it's all just a dream, but I don't think I would have thought of writing the rules.
Where are you going? I'm not waking up yet! I won't let you leave me again, father!
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