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The World Turns


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Night, merciful after a long days trek, cloaked the buzzing wilderness between the gates of Amn and the troubled town of Trademeet. The stars shone, as they always would, bright and cold. They mirrored the diamonds in the parties treasure haul, that the strange Agataen thief was currently examining.

On nights like this, you can almost feel the gods watching. But of course the gods were always watching her.

If she was the sort to cry, she would have been. But too many tragedies, too many friends buried, these take their toll and eventually the tears don’t seem enough. All you could do was solider on. As it was, she was cleaning her weapons. For a while she had travelled with a priest of Helm, and while she ignored most of his pompous lectures, the one about cleaning her weaponry and keeping it in good condition, apparently a duty of the Helmites, made sense enough to her.

The thief had stopped counting their spoils and the party was retiring. It wasn’t her watch but she felt in no mood to sleep, in case the dreams came. So she waved the druid, one of her oldest friends on the days she would admit it as the woman had a nasty habit of assuming her own word was truth eternal, whose watch it should have been to bed.

As the fire died she looked at the sleeping figures of her companions. The theif, whom she did not trust, the red wizard whom she never had, the druid who was akin to her mother, if she had ever had a mother, and the strange bard who, in some little way, terrified her. It wasn’t what he was, gods, as if she could judge that. She’d have given anything to be something as simple as a part demon. But she hated his eyes, and the way he spoke of death as beauty. Death wasn’t beautiful; the body of the druid’s husband had proved that.

Someone missing...

She stood up, and scanned the camp for the sixth member of her party. Although he was hard to see if he didn’t want you too, he was genuinely not to be found. She stood up and called his name, once and then again when no reply was forthcoming. Suppressing the cold knot of fear that was forming in her stomach she picked up her sword. This was no night for friends to be missing, in the dark under unforgiving stars.

She pushed through the undergrowth, still calling, until she reached a stream. The slow running water reflected the stars.

And, for a second, something else.

She span around, sword at the ready, nicely sharp thanks to the clerics advice. The figure in the dark did not move.

“Who are you?†she shouted. “I warn you, if you’ve...†but the figure was upon her, and the sword clattered to the floor. In the light of the stars they stood, locked in a tableau of shocked silence. She narrowed her eyes.

“If you ever do that again I’ll...†but her sentence lost itself within the sudden kiss. When it ended she looked up into eyes that were full of stars.

“I apologise.†He said “But I needed to find something out.â€Â

“Oh?†her voice trembled, almost, but she was stronger than that, “And did you find it?â€Â

“Yes.†He drew her closer to himself, his faint smell of leather and fresh leaves filling her senses entirely, “You followed.â€Â

At this she drew away, angry for being tricked and for having her emotions read so easily.

“Of course I followed you! You were missing and gods know what could be in this forest...†She read the look he gave her, “The gods, and those who know forests, am I right?â€Â

“Yes.†He smiled a brief thing that was all the more spellbinding for its rarity. “And you do not, judging by the noise you were making. And†he looked down “The state of your cloak. Here.†He unfastened the clasps of her cloak and quickly wrapped his own around her. Then he sat by the stream and began to untangle the bottom form the briars that had snagged it. She stood and watched him for a while, then slowly moved to sit at his side.

“Why did you trick me?†She asked, staring at the stars that shone in the water. “You could have just asked. I was frightened; I thought you might have...†And suddenly he had her by the shoulders, eyes fixed on hers.

“I know. You have seen too many die, but know that I will never leave you, unless you wish it. I would have never left if I felt I could come to harm here, I would never do that to you. But that you followed, and I knew you would, I know your mind now as I know my own, that you followed means more than you could know.â€Â

She was shocked, from him this was an incredibly long speech, but she nodded. She had felt the bond growing too. Still...

“But what of...â€Â

“There is nothing left of her, I know this now, and I knew it as soon as I felt the bond growing between us. At first I didn’t want to believe, but now I know.†He looked down. “Am I wrong in thinking you feel the same way?†Now his eyes were dark again, and there was a hunted look behind those depths. She smiled.



“You are not wrong.â€Â

And the stars shone, and the world turned.

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