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Standing Vigil

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Standing Vigil

Post  Sarala on Sat Sep 06, 2014 4:03 pm

The sun was setting on the 11th of Erastus. Sarala could see it's dying rays reflecting muted pinks and purples across the sky. Soon all it's light would wink out and night would fall. The end of another day. She couldn't help but muse how the day could end with such brilliance and few seemed to notice, maybe because one expected night to fall at the end of the day. It would be a crime if the sun went down in the middle of the day. And if the sun went down and never came back up again the world would be thrown into chaos. Yet eventually, after a generation or so, all people would grow accustom to living in the night. How would they know any different?

But she would know, and she would never get used to it.

The sylph failed to notice her gracious host as she entered the room, so engrossed was she in her own thoughts. Sarala was still sitting where Wynnsaren had left her, on the edge of the bed next to the lifeless body of her brother. The empty shell waiting for life to return. It had been one day since they had popped into the oracle's chambers unannounced with Thad's body in tow. Wynn had assured them that she could bring their king back, she just needed a few items first. Expensive items. Zaistrun and Paido had left as soon as they could to acquire what was needed and hadn't returned yet. Thaddeus would have to wait a little longer.

The food that Wynnsaren had left by the bed hadn't been touched. Even the small glass of whiskey had been left alone. And despite the healing spells Wynn had cast on Sarala the day before the sylph still looked worse for wear.

Sarala was absentmindedly fiddling with loose fabric on the sleeve of Thad's shirt and noting to herself how pale his cheeks had become when she suddenly felt like someone was watching her. Wearily she lifted her head and met Wynnsaren's gaze.

"I'm sorry, Wynn," she mumbled. "I didn't hear you come in... Have you been here long?"
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Sarala

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Sep 06, 2014 4:36 pm

"Not long," the aasimar murmured softly, unwilling to disturb the somber scene any more than was truly necessary.

Leaning against the door frame of her room with Glas at her side, Wynnsaren had only just completed her usual Fireday routine. Necessarily visiting the usual places, writing the usual correspondence, talking to the usual people and making her usual rounds about the city with Glas. All while fully aware that their king's corpse lay slowly desiccating upon her bed in her tower. Even so, it seemed that no anxiety weighed upon her shoulders this evening and no worry saw it necessary to draw crease upon her brow, for she wore a finely-woven mantle of calm serenity and surety that unease could not hope to penetrate.

She pushed herself upright from her observational perch, and sent Glas up the stairs to the roof where he could enjoy munching on his prized auroch's bone without disturbing the sensibilities of the ladies below.

The comfortable chair that she had left by the bedside had presumably gone as untouched as the food even after all these hours, but instead of sitting in the seat herself, Wynn pulled over her wooden chair close to the sylph's side, trailing a gentle hand over Sarala's shoulders as she circled and sat. Close enough to lean on. . .or to catch her if she fell over out of sheer exhaustion. Whatever became necessary.

She sat for a moment, chin in her hand as she watched Thaddeus' youngest sister suffer. Silently bearing the weight of. . .pain surely. Guilt? Perhaps even the first true understanding of what losses will accompany such a long life if Fate grants her the full amount of allotted years.

Dipping her hand into the folds of her simple emerald dress, Wynn pulled out a copper piece. She flipped the coin over each of the fingers of her right hand before grasping it between her thumb and forefinger and offering it to Sarala.

"I hear this is the going rate for thoughts in these parts," she smiled fondly, "but I believe yours may fetch a much higher cost. If you desire, I am sure I can dig up a platinum piece around here somewhere. . ."

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Wynnsaren

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Sarala Medvyed

Post  Sarala on Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:50 pm

Sarala smiled wanly at Wynnsaren's clever attempt to draw her out. It had been done in kindness and much appreciated. "No need for the copper," she said simply. "I was only thinking of how quickly some things just cease to exist. How we take so many things for granted and don't even know it until they are gone...

"They are dark thoughts, and I don't really wish to burden you with them." Sarala twisted the cloth between her fingers desperately trying to feel anything other than the numbness that overwhelmed her. It felt like she had been taken out to open plain in the middle of a dark night and she was stuck there trying to make out the shapes in the distance. She could see a few feet in front of her, but the darkness was taking over her vision making everything a blur.

Sarala caught herself slipping back into the silent reverie. "I'm sorry, Wynn," she murmured apologetically. "I don't think I'm going to be the best company tonight." She stared blankly around the room until a thought reminded her of something she wanted to tell the oracle.

"I hope you understand how much this means to me, Wynnsaren. The fact that you are able to bring Thaddeus back to us... it is more than I can say. Thank you. I don't know what would have done if.. if this were the end." A tear slide down the sylph's cheek. Another one followed it. Then another, and another, until they joined in silent rivulets running down her face.

Some time passed before the silence was broken by a whisper. "Where is he, Wynnsaren?" Sarala's voice was pleading.

"Is he stuck inside there?" She motioned at the lifeless corpse. "Is he somewhere else? Is he in pain?

"Where is Thad, Wynn? Where is my brother right now?"
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Sarala

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Sep 06, 2014 9:22 pm

"Oh my dear girl. . ." With a sympathetic sigh she traded the previously offered copper for a handkerchief, and reached out to squeeze Sarala's knee. "Your brother is not here and he is not in pain. He is either waiting for us to call him back from the Boneyard or at this very moment laying out on some celestial field basking in the glorious light of his goddess.

"He will return to you. Be assured of that."

The unwavering gaze of her eyes just then and the strength and assurance of her voice, underscored Wynnsaren's confidence in that declaration more than mere words.

"Please understand that there is no need to thank me, for it is not my power that will bring him back, nor is it coincidence that the gods have so recently given me such magic. Thank them," she smiled. "They will hear.

"However." The aasimar arched a dark brow in her gently teasing manner, "if you truly wish to show your appreciation, perhaps you might eat a few bites." She motioned to the untouched plate. "Just a few. No one will be thanking me if they return to find you too weak from hunger to stand, most especially your brother."

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Wynnsaren

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Sarala Medvyed

Post  Sarala on Sun Sep 07, 2014 7:58 am

Sarala wondered at the oracle's confidence and how it was that she could be so assured in this situation. To the sylph there was so much about death that seemed unknowable. How much of the knowledge out there about death, and where people went was just a story meant the help the living sleep better at night? Was there really no pain involved? If so then why would anyone who was dead want to be living again?

"I know," she sniffed as she reached out to take the offered handkerchief. "I know we'll get him back. I mean, that's the whole reason he's here and not in a tomb somewhere with all of Novastasia in mourning."

While drying her eyes Sarala tried to clear the excess phlegm that had built up in the back of her throat. She struggled with it for a moment before giving in and reaching for the water that had been placed on that wretched tray of food.

"They are the only reason why I'm not overwhelmed in guilt over my selfishness right now. Novastasia, that is. They need their king. We need to bring him back, for them, not just for me."

She took another sip and concentrated on swallowing. "I can't help but wonder, though, what if he doesn't want to come back? How would we really know? If it is possible that he is basking in the glory of his goddess, Sarenrae, then why would he want to come back? Why...?

"It seems like the best thing for us... but is it the best for Thad? I don't know..." Sarala's shoulders sagged as she looked helplessly at her brother. She wanted to do the best thing for him and for the kingdom but she was faltering in her decision. She wondered if it would have been easier if they had never left home for the Stolen lands. If she had been just a bit more compliant than maybe none of this would have happened. Maybe they could have stayed happy in their old life, living according to the dictations of their society. But no, Thad would have faced trouble had they stayed in Brevoy, for they were now at war and he was a fighter. Who knows what might have happened to him had they remained as they were.
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Sarala

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Sun Sep 07, 2014 6:19 pm

Wynnsaren smiled warmly. "You know your brother. . . Doing the best thing for us, is the best thing for him. There is so much left undone. So many threats that yet stand against his kingdom. Do you believe that if given the chance to return and help put us on a better, more secure path, he would turn his back on the opportunity?

"I think, in your heart, you know the unequivocal answer."

She turned her attention to the mortal husk lying covered upon her bed, and an all-too-familiar weariness dulled the glow in her now luminous eyes.

"This will not always be the case however," the aasimar offered in little more than a whisper. "The chances of us living to old age in this violent lifestyle are slim, but if Fate and Fortune see us through, than we may well be here together again one day in such an unfortunate circumstance. We are never truly ready to lose those whom we love."

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Wynnsaren

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Sarala Medvyed

Post  Sarala on Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:36 pm

Sarala nodded. Yes, Thad would always come back, as long as he had something left to do. This was true. He was not one to willingly leave business unfinished. Would there ever be a day when Thad's work would be complete? She hoped that such a day would never come. Even so the burden of its eventuality weighed heavy on her heart.

"I don't know how you do it..." she whispered. "I know that you've lived longer than many already. How do you handle it? Losing the ones you are close to." Sarala gripped the bed's cover again as she tried to imagine what it would be like to deal with the onslaught of emotions brought on by grief over and over again. She thought of the death of her adopted parents. Each one had come with a different mixed bag of emotions. Her mother's death had brought a lot of anger and regret, her father's had left her feeling empty and insecure. On both occasions she had taken these emotions and buried them deep in the secret places of her heart, making certain they would never see the light of day.

And now, sitting at Thad's side, knowing that he would soon safely return, Sarala was still plagued with the emotions of grief. Looking at his pale face, and the strange mottled patterns on his skin left behind by the electrical burns, she couldn't help but feel sorrow and an unshakable guilt.

She reached up to brush an unruly lock of brown hair back into place as if doing so would subconsciously brush away some of her guilt. The touch of his cold skin startled her and she couldn't help but recoil from it. Drawing her hand awkwardly back to her lap she told herself to stop fidgeting. She bowed her head and shut her eyes against the pain of embarrassment. Her lips parted, as if to speak, but no sound came out. She closed them and tried again.

"I think..." she managed to mumble. "I think this was all my fault..."
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Sarala

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:42 pm

The aasimar pressed her lips together grimly. "You ask how I handle loss, my dear? Well, I have often handled it quite badly. Shamefully in truth." She sat back in the hard chair and let her eyes lose focus.

"I have railed against the gods. I have lashed out at friends. I have borne unnecessary guilt. I have shut myself away to avoid further pain. But you know what I have discovered through all of that?" Wynn leaned in and whispered. "It is all meaningless and selfish." With a deep sigh she took her former position. "All those things accomplished was to poison my memories of those I have loved. By doing so, I was cheating myself and hurting those around me.

"Now I have learned a new way that seems less destructive. Much more effective," she smiled. "I make the moments count. If I can help it, I never leave an argument unresolved and then when the gods see fit to take me elsewhere, or Fate sees fit to take a friend from this life, I only dwell on those points of joy and how my life has been enriched by knowing them.

Wynn's mouth quirked up slightly. "And yes, that is a lot easier said than done."

Silence descended, stretching out the moments as she watched the young sylph hover near the breaking point.

"Sometimes we misinterpret our grief as guilt, Sarala." Her soft voice filtered through the space between them. "Are you sure that is not what you are doing? I refuse to believe you would knowingly cause your brother harm."

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Wynnsaren

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Sarala Medvyed

Post  Sarala on Thu Sep 11, 2014 8:59 pm

"No," came the choked reply. Sarala struggled to contain her emotions as she relived the past few days. Reviewing her words and actions as if they had happened to someone else; criticizing and condemning every little word, she became her own judge and jury. So many what if's tormented her mind with the promise of success without lose. They were like baubles of happy lights dancing at the periphery of her vision making her sick to her stomach. She continued, her voice rising and falling with quavering uncertainty.

"I didn't mean for this to happen. I honestly didn't think Fort Drelev held that great a threat. That's why I pushed for it. Pushed to take care of it's... blight. But he didn't want to go. He didn't want to get mixed into their issues, their own personal business. To him they were a bit of a non-issue... no, that's not it, they were an issue, but one that could be dealt with on a later day...

"But then there were girls taken hostage, and drug rings, and mercenaries and giants killing towns folk for no real good reason.

"I didn't have to give him that information, though. I didn't have to tell him. I knew he didn't want to go. He didn't want to... didn't think it was his duty to judge them. I think he felt it wasn't his place. I could've just kept my mouth shut. But I didn't. I pushed. I fed him the right information at the right time. I told him what I knew he needed to hear. I lit the fire... and I knew right where to place it.

"If only I had known... known that the drug den was just a front for that stupid cult... maybe...." her words faltered as her voice became husky with feeling. Words played through her mind twisting themselves into a mockery of a oft repeated phrase.

Something ventured, something lost, something ventured, nothing gained.
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Sarala

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:01 pm

"Oh Sarala," Wynn reached over to take the sylph's hand in both of hers, "you could not have known. A thousand more Schmidts may not have been able to uncover the information on that insidious cult. Oft times we do not fully understand the scope of a situation until we are embroiled within it, and most unfortunately that proved to be the case to your detriment this time.

"I suppose it could be a debatable issue as to whether Novastasia should have gotten involved in Fort Drelev's troubles, but King Thaddeus made his own decision. You did not force his hand, nor could he be manipulated into taking action unless he believed it to be for the greater good. Ultimately lives were saved. When your brother is returned, then you will finish your business with the marauders and because of that, more lives will be saved."

Wynn chewed her lip a moment while she watched the pain flicker over Sarala's face. It was pointless to try and rationally remove an irrational guilt. As much as she wished to take the burden from the young girl's shoulders, it was clear that this was something she had to work through. Having Thaddeus back would be a great help. Sitting here next to his corpse was not doing anything but feeding that guilt.

"As soon as Lord Garess and Sir Paido return, and your brother is back to his usual healthsome self, then you will have the occasion to discuss these things with him personally. It will be healing for you to tell him," she smiled softly. "And likewise healthy for him to hear, though I know he would never hold you accountable for such unanticipated events."

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Wynnsaren

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Sarala Medvyed

Post  Sarala on Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:10 pm

Sarala looked up at Wynnsaren in helpless anxiety. Could it be possible that her brother's lifeless body was simply a result of unseen, unknowable circumstances? Not a result of her manipulative machinations? If it was so than things would be easier, but if not, well than how could she bear talking about it to Thad. It was enough that his worry and disappointment in her was growing with out her adding to it. This may end up being a burden she would have to bear alone.

This was all too much for the young sylph. The tears that had momentarily been held at bay stormed their gates once more, threatening to cut ravines in her cheeks. Her breath turned into halting gasps as she gave herself over to the sadness. Crying dulled the pain.

She began to wonder how many tears she had inside of her? Would this crying never end? What was the capacity of liquid in her body for such things? Would she become dry and shriveled once the last tear had been wrung from her eyes?

Some where beyond the aching pain in her heart Sarala found a sliver of hope. Hope that her own head was telling lies. Hope that Wynnsaren was right. And it was this hope that Sarala held tight to as she sobbed herself into a fitful sleep.
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