Writing Prompt- 3rd March

What is true fear for your character?

Fear is relative. For Suiriane, pure terror was never a stranger. However, from Warden Captain to Whispers Agent- there was one thing she feared above all else. The memory of it plagued her.

“You’re, you’re c- court?” The word almost burned her throat as she said it. The Sister with the dark bark stood in the street, the sun poured between the buildings, painting the cobbles gold and warming the hard stone to an umber hue. The Sister did not look any different and at that distance Sui could detect no aura.

It mattered not. What did nightmare look like? All thorns and fangs? No, she knew that was not the case, that was why Sui was so afraid. The asuran turret on the roof had a good range, but she wanted to make sure and backed up against the door of the townhouse she called home.

The dark Sister taunted her, standing just out of shot. Called her a replacement. Stated that her friend and mentor did not really like her. Sylvana was lost and seeking a distraction. Suiriane was not valued by her, she was pitied.

Sui’s hands shook. She said nothing. Fear raked cold fingers up her spine and made her gut clench. A pain spasmed through her chest.

Sylvana’s former lover. Justicia. Taken, tortured, fallen. The guilt still ate at Sui’s mentor.  Yet, all Suriane could see that day, was a reflection of what she could have so easily become, and it terrified her.

Suddenly the street was gone and she was once more under her Mentor’s desk. Another memory. Days old and too afraid to even speak. A dream corrupted, pieces of a hunt remained that she could not understand. Faces she had known and held dear were now lost to her. She ached with the absence. The waking world was loud, bright and confusing. Most of all she was frightened of herself. Her twisted dream had given her a vision of what she could be.

Her Grove mentor had told her in gentle tones to see it as a warning. It may not be pleasant but she could make choices to avoid turning into what she dreaded. Easier said than done. Later Sui would learn, combat was not difficult for her. She would never be a true blade specialist, but she could hold her own. No, what came very easily was power. A gift for manipulating and directing chaos, inflicting pain, confusing thoughts and ensnaring the senses.

It was too much in the end. She left the Grove. Conflicted, jaded and alone. Unable to identify with her siblings, forever an outsider behind the smile. She left, seeking the familiar. Lion’s Arch had showed her how naïve her choice was. Suiriane had hated that city after, once cursing it to Sprout, wishing it would burn. Prophetic words as it turned out…

Not half a year later she would face Justicia again. There would be no convenient turret to save Sui from fighting. Using all her mother given talents Suiriane would best the Courtier and kill her. That was the day Sui broke her vow to Sylvana, and her Mentor’s ‘heart’ in the same blade thrust.

Even if she had known before that day how deeply wounded Sylvana would be- Sui knew she would still have driven the blade home. The whisper of darkness in her demanded an answer to the Courtiers challenge. It was not pride or honour, she simply wanted to spill sap.

Part of her liked it, and that, most of all, was more frightening than any Courtier threatening her on the streets of Divinity. That darkness had led her to make her great mistake. Had meant she had hurt those around her. All a symptom of the deep fear of what she could be.

Pain

((Wee warning, adult themes.))

The young woman spat at the feet of the man before her. Saliva, mixed with blood stained the reed covered floor. She grinned up at him, her split lip opening further. She could hardly see the man’s face, combination of dim lighting and one eye being swollen closed from the fist to the face the previous day.

“Aye, I deserved tha,” she admitted with a weak chuckle. “I sorry I called ye wife a fifty silva’ whore.”

The angry guard grunted and the clenched fist fell. Her grin widened, the pain- she was used to it. At least the workhouse had gifted her with a tolerance for it. This was nothing. Scrubbing floors with a broken knee, that hurt. Few punches to the face and guts, easy.

“Nah, she be a twenty silva’ whore, sorry. I was confused like and go the-“ the fist crashing into her sternum stopped the insult. Air rushed from her lungs and she sunk to the ground. She lay there, gasping like a landed fish. She curled round herself. Small as possible, protecting face and arms. The two kicks that followed landed on shins and shoulders.

Nothing to be concerned about. She judged that was enough. The guard was panting and his hand no doubt hurt.

She lay still.

A few inexpert curses were thrown her way and a leer that she would be ugly when her neck snapped in a few days. An ugly corpse among the others who had behaved. They would go to their deaths unmarked.

“Fucking lot of good being pretty is when ye be dead,” she thought. “Unless ye like ya lasses dead… which be fucked up.” She kept that thought to herself and the cell door slammed shut.

Min did not want to behave. She knew what happened to the ones who did. The docile ones who thought if they did as they were bid, and sucked whatever was shoved in their faces; then they would get out.

That rarely happened. Then there were those that were frightened and quiet. She heard their tears and what was done to them. It was not all the guards. Just the rotten few. She had identified them early and had gone out of her way to be obnoxious to them. She took the beatings. They were better than what they did to the other lasses.

Of course, she could not go too far, or might end up getting screwed as a punishment. No, she had to walk a fine line. Annoy them enough to be battered and not be prison candy. Though not so much that she got raped as a way to control her. She was not stupid. Most of knocking boots was about control, anyone that said different was deluded.

Love, tenderness- utter ogre shite. Someone wanted, someone gave and got stuff in return. Protection, respect, money. It was how things worked. Somewhere in the last few moons she had forgotten that. Let herself think she could be respected without having to offer anything. That people liked her, for just being her.

She should thank Garry if she ever saw him again. He’d been right. He was not her family; he was her employer. Things had blurred… food fights with captains and insulting customers… Bandit and the beach… Sylvia and dresses. She had taken it all to mean more than it had. Given her hope that she had finally found ‘her’ people.

Garry had shattered that to shit… and he had done her a favour in the end. She saw that now. A slum rat did not get to be respected or liked.

At the back of her mind she knew she was deliberately ignoring the weak link in her current thinking.

Bo.

He had followed her about like an adoring baby brother. She had wanted to take care of him. He was an idiot; he would not make it on his own. Turns out she was rusty. One failed pickpocket of a labourer and she was arrested. Bo fought to defend her and got a kicking for it. So did Bandit. She hoped they were okay. Her adoptive brother was stupid enough to shout her name multiple times during the arrest.

Records were checked. ‘Min’ was linked to ‘Minnie- Ann.’ Minnie- Ann was wanted for murder.

That had been a shock. Her eleven-year-old self, had acted in fear. Grabbed the first sharp object and- well. She knew she had cut him deep. She had not stuck around to see how deep. It was her chance. She had run.

Freedom was almost as bad as the workhouse, but at least she lived on her own terms. She had been passionately independent ever since. Until she was ‘employed’ in the Bones.

“I thought they liked me,” she muttered into her hands. “We got on well like-” She shook her head and her face throbbed in tandem with a different pain in her chest. A pain that was not caused by any physical blow.

She missed them.

Which was stupid.

A few tears forced their way down her face without her permission. Crying was pointless, but the tears still splattered onto the cold stone floor she was curled up upon.

She was not sure how long she lay there, feeling pathetic and yet still crying like a little girl. The rattle of carts on the street above and the chirp of birds, alerted her to the fact it was dawn.

 

“Happy Birthday Min,” she croaked to herself in the gloom. “T’will be tha last one ye see.”

The waiting game.

Ethan sat back, looking at the half elf upon the bed. His rickety chair was precariously balanced on two legs. His feet irreverently propped up on the bed beside Garrett’s hip.  The Captain was out, said she was going for food, but he was not sure if she had been telling the truth, or just needed a break from watching over her quartermaster.

The former mercenary ran a hand through his cropped hair. The memory of his sister cornering him in the tavern with a pair of shears in her hand and a determined gleam in her eye had him sighing loudly.

He had submitted to her whim, knowing she took comfort fussing over him. He remembered Sylvia’s sly comment about his hair colour and shook his head. Red had been raised in the same place as he, he had been certain before he saw her power. Living on a farm he had only gone to town on market days. He was better known in Altinova than Tarif. If they had met he did not remember.

He glanced back at Garrett. The Quartermaster’s chest was swelling and distorted, purple creeping over bronze skin as the bruising began to show.

The crew was in a sorry state if Ethan was the best healer on offer. He knew enough from watching the vigilantes in Olvia how to stop bleeding and prevent most wounds from becoming fatal.

Garrett’s injury was almost a mortal one. He had lost a lot of blood and if he moved too much broken bones risked shredding his wounded lungs further. At least he had not drowned in his own fluids. A swift knife to the chest cavity had stopped him dying. Ethan’s knife.

He listened as the man breathed. Still no rattle, that was good. No fever as yet and the last time he had checked his wounded sides the cuts had been clean and weeping clear fluid, another good sign. That however was the extent of his knowledge. He had some leaves the pirate could chew when he woke. They would ease the pain. Sylvia had been to the alchemist for potions too. Garrett had a good chance.

Ethan had been surprised when he had heard the half elf yell. It had not been an angry shout or battle cry. No this was the sound a wounded animal would make. It had shivered through him and before he knew it, he was turning to help the quartermaster. Not because he had to, or the Captain would wish him to, but because he felt compelled to do so.

He did not want to analyse why. It had happened; there was an end to it.

“You are one lucky bastard” he grumbled to the man on the bed. “After the shit you pulled in the brothel, I should have let you die”

Alright, he admitted he had found the brothel mildly amusing. It was not like he was inexperienced. It was just- any of those women could have been his sister. It was what she almost turned to. Crops failed, mother sick, him still a boy. The money she earnt at the tavern was not enough. He remembered watching her one night, head in her hands weeping- another bill delivered they could not pay. He remembered the quiet resolve that settled over her when the tears dried. He had not liked it. She was meant to smile, not have eyes hard as chips of jade.

In the end, she sold herself anyway. Not to a brothel, but to a man. She had deserved better. Leaving the place where she was understood must have been more than difficult. He turned his thoughts from her husband. That was over too, she was free.

He looked back down at the man on the bed. Sui liked this one and Garrett had vowed to look after Ethan because the sailor liked her in return; yet here Ethan was, saving his life. A’al had a sense of humour it seemed.

Yes, Garrett and his sister were friends. That he could cope with, but the half elf certainly did not deserve any more than that from her, though Ethan trusted Sui knew that. Still, he hesitated to contact her. They were in her largest trading hub. The Samara name was on the lips of trade princes. Use it and he could have a witch here or an alchemist. He could hire an entire brothel out to tend to Garrett’s every whim. Yet- that would connect his activities to Sui. They were supposed to hate each other. She the respectable one, he her wayward brother. It was a comfortable lie, gave him freedom and her protection.

The door rattled open and with a burst of sea air and sunlight the captain strolled in, loaf of bread under her arm. He grunted at her. He never knew what to say. It was not her rank or that he was intimidated, but she had a pair of very fine- legs. He could not help but admire. He was not stupid enough to make it obvious. He knew far too many men who thought with their libido first. He was pretty sure the Captain had killed enough of those and had no wish to add himself to the list. That other elf was fine too. All curves and cool professionalism. Made him want to tease and make her blush.  Did he have a thing for elves?

The Captain slumped down in the chair opposite and instead of scolding him for having his feet on the bed, copied his pose.

“No change?” she asked, looking at Garrett and not Ethan.

“No,” he responded, more sharply than he meant to. Silence settled on them. The creek of the Captain’s chair as she leant forward to place the bread on the table seemed over loud. Should he say something? His mind was unhelpfully blank.

“Ye saved his arse,” she whispered at last, sparing him his dilemma.

“Maybe,” he grunted hating the warm feeling that crept across his chest. “He still could die.”

The Captain pinned him with a fierce look, not at all diluted by the white strands of hair that had fallen from her bandanna and over her face.

“He won’t. Ye won’t let ‘im.”

It was an order if he ever heard one. She did not have to be specific. They both knew he could be doing more.

“Aye aye, Captain.” He breathed.

Moments later he was out in the sun, heading for a courier. It did not sit well with him, but he would have to involve her.  She would have to handle how to keep things quiet. Sui would manage, she always did. They were blood, after all. A little Mediahan bureaucracy stood no chance against that.

 

(With thanks to Rhea, for helping me make sure I had Yanna correct and to all who organised and who were at the event last night. Love and sloppy kisses to you all!)

The Olive Grove

((A little encounter for my characters in BDO which is where I’ve been RPing of late))

Ethan swatted away another questing mosquito, then with an annoyed grunt pulled at the wild herb beside him, inspecting it.

“Good enough,” he grumbled and smeared the mane grass over his exposed skin. If he did not smell like a person, then he was not worth eating.

He lent back against the gnarled trunk of the olive tree he sat under, glancing around the ancient grove that had somehow escaped the ruin of the city. The last time he had been under these trees he had been a boy. He sighed to himself, then looked up. The sky was deep black and studded with a myriad of stars. He had often slept outside growing up, just to get himself lost in the enormity of the Mediahn sky.

A rare smile tugged at his lips. He was used to his life taking odd turns, but the latest twist had his head spinning. He had not been anywhere near Altinova in some time. The feeling of nostalgia that struck him as he stepped off the boat had been a surprise. He had thought his memories of the city would be tainted.

No, he felt comfortable to be in Altinova. It had an openness that the cities of the west lacked. The likes of Calpheon made him feel trapped. All hard edges and grey stone.

What he had not felt comfortable on was that cursed ship. He frowned at the sky. How could they eat while the boat rolled and pitched so? He remembered seeing Garrett eating cheese and an echo of queasiness pulled at his innards. Bastard probably had done it on purpose.

Small wonder Boyd had hired him for a job and not come himself. The sea was vast and the boat was…not. Could giants sail? He was unsure. Would not a boat have to be customised?

He shook his head and ran a hand through his green hair. None of the crew even half trusted him. That was fine, he did not trust them either. If things got rough he knew he would be the one left for the guards to find. It would not be his first arrest, or the last. His Sister would see him right. She thought she owed him.

He would have to watch that Captain, she had given him a look that said if he breathed in a way she disliked then he would find himself filleted. The one in red was annoying, but he knew better than to judge her yet. Miss Hat was fun to tease, but having seen a vanishing staff when she was drunk he knew he had to step lightly there also. He was unsure what to make of Garrett, other than he had an eye for the lasses.

A snapping twig alerted him to the presence of another. The intruder was quickly identified without even needing to look away from the bejewelled sky. The scent of jasmine oil curled up his nostrils.

“Trading’s making you sloppy Sui,” he grunted. He should have known she would find him. In fact, he was surprised it had taken her so long. This was her market. She would be buying up stock to transport back to Heidel… Or that was what everyone thought. Unknown to most was what her main source of profit was, it certainly was not spices or furniture.

He worried about her sometimes, but she was smart; smarter than he was and she deserved her success. It was hard won.

She sat silently down beside him, looking up at the sky as he was. He could feel it in her, feel the background buzz in his ears. Familiar and alien all at the same time.

“When my contact at the docks said you had stepped off a boat I thought you had come for a visit,” she paused and her hand brushed against his briefly.

Guilt tore at his gut, though he did not move nor change expression. He grunted a reply and he felt her shrug in the darkness.

“Then, he described the others with you,” she paused again, choosing her words with care. “You will be careful?”

He nodded and that seemed to placate her. Her warm, lilting tones took him back to the stories she would read for him. Drowsiness rose up and he yawned.

“Are you… planning to spend the night out here?”

He nodded again. He did not want to look at her, he did not want to see her face. The sadness mixed with affection would be his undoing.

“I could… get you a room…” she spoke slowly, knowing she was stepping over the gap that must remain between them.

“No,” he cut her off sharply.

The silence stretched and his anger flared. He knew he was hurting her, but he was not a child anymore. She had to let him go. If anything, the debt between them should be driving her away. Yet, she remained. Their upbringing was still dictating how she acted, no matter how far she distanced herself from their childhood.

“Sorry,” she whispered into the darkness. The wind sighed through the leaves above them, making him feel like it was whistling through the gulf between them.

“They were talking about a trader and unregistered ships. This was your idea?” It was not really a question, more an accusation. He knew the answer, this had his sister’s fingerprints all over it.

She pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. The chill of the night was setting in and she shivered.

“I’m an investor,” she muttered. “It’s in my interests to see them do well. I will get a better…”

“Bollocks,” he grunted. Picking one of the cruder curses he had heard from a mercenary in Glish.

Again a long silence, he let it fester, knowing she would not be able to stay quiet. His patience was rewarded.

“I know what it is like to yearn for freedom,” she whispered at last. “To feel trapped by your choices, but know you could not have made better ones,” he could feel her eyes on him now. Deep green, like his own. “Existence is not the same as living. It’s for survival.”

He knew what she meant, how many years she had endured. In the end the solution had been simple. He shoved that particular memory back down where it belonged.

“So, you had to say something?” he grumbled. “Give them an idea?”

“Yes,” came the reply from the darkness.

“Might backfire.”

“I know.”

She stood, leathers creaking a little.

“These are not ‘good’ people Sui,” he pointed out.

“And we are?” she countered. Her tone was mild, but he felt as if she had punched him in the gut.

“People are people,” she continued. “We do the best we can with what we have. They are no different, we are no different. Half of Mediah is no different.” She took a step away. He had an urge to reach for her, to hold her close and tell her he would be fine. She could stop, she did not need to keep putting herself at risk. He forced himself to remain seated. He could not change her mind and did not deserve to offer her comfort.

“We do what we must for those we hold dear.”

He had no response for her.

She turned and was gone. Jasmine fading from the air gradually.

“Be safe, Sui,” the words left his mouth, but his voice failed him.

She would not have heard.

The young man found no rest that night under the boughs of the grove. Lost in memories of his older sister and how he now hardly recognised the woman she had become.

That, was his fault. He had made her what she was. His deeds had driven her to the path she now walked. Yet it was her stubbornness that had led to his need to act.

His sister was his mirror and yet his opposite. He was unsure they would ever be a true reflection of each other. Perhaps, in time, he would learn to accept her and not long for what they once were to each other.

Update- me

So…

Not posted up here in a while. Why? WORK ATE MY LIFE!

Not had much time to do anything but eat, sleep and work. Even my family have seen little of me. RP, writing and life in general have had to take a back seat.

However, I have lunch times, that golden 45 min of the day that I can close the door and do something not work related. I have even stopped eating lunch to squeeze out a few extra minutes so I can write.

Been picking at my novel for weeks, there is also another chapter of Indebted ready to go I just need to correct it.

I came to a decision on my novel. I am going to take the plunge and approach an agent… or twenty.

Am I scared? Bloody terrified. I write for fun not for the marketable value. To have a labour of love boiled down to cold hard economics… I can already visualise the multiple rejection letters. Still, something in me won’t drop the idea. Until I see ‘No, this is shit,’ in print then I guess it won’t go away.

I also took on another project for the experience. I am one of the writers on a Skyrim mod. Never written scripts before but I am getting used to the format. Recently had one of the quests I worked on voiced. I can’t quite describe it, hearing your words not only read but acted… I had to sit down for a moment, then get a strong cup of tea.

Four of the 11 main quests in so far and we are getting into the swing of things. I say “we” as there are three others like me and a lead writer who coordinates all our efforts and ensures we don’t screw up the lore or the characterisation.

Working with other writers is also very odd. I am so used to going my own way, getting directed and then have to edit and even delete something I have spent precious time putting together- GAH!

Keeps me humble however and it is very interesting getting almost instant feedback on an idea or proposed dialogue. It’s also very much a case of quality over quantity. Every sentence needs to advance the questline. Every word spoken has purpose.

So, that’s me for the time being. Busy busy.    

Guildwars Update

 To save you Enjin spam wall peeps here are the other screenies.

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Perhaps one day Adam

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We all know the dress is so so from the front, but from the back…

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Norn is prob my fav next to vari female.

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And Mhlau got a new staff from her mentor. Sapling does not really like it.

PINK?

Don’t tell her it is MADE for her. Gentle soul she is.

First Steps

45th Colossus 1327AE

So yes, ‘lost’ my other journal, so starting afresh. New journal for a new life. Nope I don’t believe that either.

Well… There I was, brooding away in my camp, (Yes it was brooding, I admit it. Monumentally unhelpful self-pity,) when who should happen by but Ellros.

He asked after me. Mother, I wanted to hug that little body, he looked like a strong breeze would blow him over.

In his own… rather colloquial way, he cut through the ‘crap’ as he put it and said he had a proposition for me. Really? To open negotiations so abruptly? Had I been still trading I would have been smelling a desperation. Ellros however has very tight control of his aura. Must be exhausting to repress that much without being soundless. I can never manage it for long myself. Or rather I have not needed to in Orr and I am out of practice.

The Risen do not mind if I am sad or angry. They just make me pay if I let the emotions overcome my judgment. Fighting them has done me more than good. I am now more skilled with weaponry than I have ever been. Physically I don’t think I have ever been in such peak condition.

All that time behind the desk as Prime. I got soft. Hunt changed that.

So, I was asked to join the order of Whispers. Better than the Priory at least.

I was not sure… part of me leapt at the chance. I would have something else to distract me, take me from the forest and all that I left behind. Ease my guilt as I was being of use again, not selfishly chasing after the urgings of the hunt.

Yes I know. Valliant and all that, it’s an honour… (Still can’t see it that way no matter how hard I try.)

Part of me backed away. Arren’s trial, I had been asked to be there. Sprout was getting herself into no end of trouble back in the forest. Rhass, Thekrin, Pepper, Clu, Dex, Aggy, Liu, Argyle, Ver… the list of names continued to reel on through my mind. I avoided thinking of the name that sprang first to mind. Thekrin has told me to let him go, to stop hurting myself.

Could I really commit to something that would cause me to let Arren down again by not being there for him? Could I say yes and not be available to any of my former people until I was on leave? My hunt however, the burden would be shared. I would not fight the risen alone when we returned from deployment.

I would have an excuse to stay away from the forest. He did not want me there.

He did not want me.

Ellros did.

That was it, before I knew it I was being told to get into Vigil gear and we would depart at first light.

I was puzzled as I was given the armour by the quartermaster… then I realised.

Ellros was trying to make me stand out less, blend into the crowd a little. My face is well known.

“Good luck with that,” I muttered as I put the armour on. “I’m a giant blue female sylvari with a white glow. Not many around like me.”

I shoved the helm on my head and grumbled. It crushed my bark. I pulled it back off, hoping I could get away without wearing it. Yes…part of me is still a little vain even now.

It was then when I was nearly hit by a dove flopping out the sky. The poor thing was exhausted and the little message canister it carried had been redirected several times. I’m not that hard to find, am I?

“I need to speak with you urgently. Can’t move much.”

It was from Sprout.

My sap stilled. I had only just filled out the paperwork. I was a member of the pact. I could not just dash off without permission. This was the choice I feared I may have to face and it had happened with the ink still wet on my documentation.

Karma is a bitch.

Still, I had made my decision and was willing to accept what that entailed. I went to Ellros who was talking to Explorer Larxas. (The two are on good terms it seems. Yes Lar is Priory but not a stuck up icicle like most of them.) I named no names but asked to go back to Caledon. Ellros was evidently not pleased, but I was granted permission.

Alright that rubbed a little. Granted permission… stupid ego. I am bottom of the ranks again. Suck it up!

I digress.

I rushed back to the forest, fearing the worst. Cathal was in chaos.

One warden in open revolt, another admitting nightmare connections. I almost wanted to start snapping out orders but I bit my tongue. It’s not my job anymore and to do so would be to disrespect and undermine Pepper. She has enough to deal with.

I found Sprout, she was injured but standing. I was not exactly in a good mood having run from the gate in the Grove. Not even Rhass’ aura brushing over mine lifted my glare. The sapling must have run off, I could not find him after.

It was not as I suspected. Sprout had information for me.

She had been attacked by a wolf and under Verruh’s order.

I thought I may fall apart right there. She continued that he was wearing a scrap of silk that came from my clothing… blue… the silk I had bought in DR with Sprout. I dug for details despite my legs having turned to mush. How was she still alive? She was no match for him.

He had spared her. Not followed through on the order.

Mother help me, I felt hope. Delicious and fragile hope. I had to leave, or risk weeping. I could not let them all know the extent of my involvement… how far I had let myself slip in his case.

I wrote many a letter that night, including one I left in the forest for him to find.

It’s not in me to give up… and that is more curse than blessing.

I have hope… where I did not before.

I returned to fort trinity tired. I will not be back in the forest again for quite some time. I thought that would be the end for a while.

Of course it was not. New day, new problems.

Ellros… It’s not his real name. So the boss is a liar. Good to know. I’ll keep an eye on him, see what else he gives away. I get the impression though that he is, struggling with something. Having talked to the others, they just recently lost their leader and she will be a tough act to follow.

That is so close to my own experience it is not even funny. When Niu died I battled both grief, the fact I was in charge and people were dependent on me.

It was frightening but I rose to the challenge, never thought I would, but I did.

Len looks like he is at that turning point. He needs support but I am not sure he is going to get it. His team is fragmented and some almost hostile to him. If they don’t have each other’s backs then internal conflict can bleed over into the field. I have seen it happen. Trust is key or how do you know the orders you follow will keep you alive?

I don’t want to overstep the mark, I am just starting out, but I tried to at least show Len that I did not hold a grudge for his little lie and I was willing to learn and be a dependable member of the team. I kept the conversation light, he does not need any more on his back right now.

Abigail is intriguing. A mage that uses her power to see the world around her. Blind since birth she feels the air. She seems one of the coldest to Len but seemed friendly enough speaking to me. We got onto the topic of betrayal. (I guess I joined the right order)… she asked me if I ever got used to it.

“No, it still stings and burns. That does not stop me trusting. I have seen those who close themselves off, even tried it myself. It does not work. You only end up hurting yourself and driving those who do care from you.”

That hurt me to say, but I’m not about to lie to those around me… not unless I am forced to. I slept poorly that night, had much to think of. Got up early to help out at the kitchens. That Charr is appreciative of the help, I can tell by the way he has not hit me with a meat cleaver.

Liu came to see me. I did not expect he would and it was nice to see him. As usual with a case such as his, he already knew what he needed to do, he just needed to see things from a distance to come to the decision himself. By the time we spoke alone he already had an answer, I simply made sure he had thought it through.

This is the third time I had aided him in a crisis. He was genuinely grateful, although I did nothing really. Still, he asked if he could ever repay me. The words were out my mouth before I could hold them back.

“There is a large wolf in the forest. Some call him Verruh’s wolf but that is not true. If you see him, treat him gently. He struggles as you do.”

Mother… I truly am a pathetic creature. When will this end? When will I stop thinking about him and worrying? I have no pride… Liu took my request back to the forest with him. There is nothing more I can do. The wolf has to decide. I can only hope he chooses wisely.

Mother, I never asked for anything before… but I ask this. Get him out of that forest and away from those who seek to corrupt and confuse him. If I had stayed then…

No I can’t think like that. Not anymore. What has happened has happened. I have a new path now. The old may cross it at times but my steps are my own.

If only freedom were not such a heavy burden to carry alone.

I have seen Thekrin and his group. Rhass is also with them. I may have let slip that I was in the wastes to Rhass. He would come out here anyway. Better he does so while I am here to keep an eye on him.

Thekrin was… odd.

Stuttering like a sapling, trying to hide his face. I did not know what was wrong at first. I’ve been away from the forest too long I guess. Time was that many a sapling looked at me that way. Later on he whispered in my ear…

“Sorry to be weird, but that armour… wow.”

I spoke with him and Tea, she is not sleeping well either… eventually it was just myself and the sap… Thekrin (really must stop calling him sapling.)

I put my arm round him as we spoke of our hunts. Again his words gave me pause.

“There might be those who make you question the choices you have made, make you feel ugly inside but not me, You’ll always be beautiful to me, Suiri”

Am I reading too much into this? I know he had a sapling crush on me before but that was months ago and he moved on.

Sooner I get out this armour the better.

A change

‘Don’t focus on any one thing. Let the sounds wash over you. Listen to it all, accept it all.’

The sapling under her hands seemed completely immersed, lost in the sounds of the forest. He knelt trustingly at her feet as she rested her hands over his red leaves. Hands that were  glowing with denial magic. He hardly knew her, yet had accepted her harsh assessment of him and seemed so lost after.

Even she could be altruistic at times it seemed. Perhaps her own sapling self was not as crushed as she liked to admit.  She dipped her voice to a low, lilting tone. Almost a whisper.

‘Now… I will guide you. Follow if that is your desire, if it is not… simply open your eyes and the trance will break.’

Thekrins eye’s remained shut “…Lead me….”

Stupid… she could have shoved any nightmare into his mind. He really trusted her… she felt the burden of responsibility settle onto her shoulders and repressed a sigh. She knew better than this. Being relied upon would chain her down. That was not something she could allow. Still, Anwesu was as good as her word. He wanted direction. She would point the way.

The dusk bloom gave a small nod, though Thekrin could not see her do so with his eyes closed.

‘Everything is darkness. Listen to the earth… it pulses beneath your hands, vibrant and alive. Your sap rises in time with this rhythm. You are part of it. Not a separate creature but part of the whole. Accept this.’

Thekrin seemed to take some time before answering.

“I accept this..”

A good start or this would not work at all. The mind was open but if he was not willing then she could do nothing.

‘Take a moment to feel it. Being told this is not enough. Reach out. Feel the life around you reaching back.’

Thekrin’s arms reached outward, fingers running along the dirt, digging his hands into the saturated soil before putting them back to his knees. Typical noon born response. She had meant mentally not physically. Still the action seemed to have deepened the trance he was in, so she refrained from a biting comment.

‘You are sylvari. The earth cherishes our kind. Feel secure in that when all around you fail or betray you. The mother will always love you; the earth will always accept you. Plant your roots deep. Visualise yourself drawing strength from the ground below.’

He moved deeper as he listened to her, now aware of very little but her quiet voice. Her tones whispering in the comforting blackness in his mind that smothered his other senses like a fur blanket.

“…I am Sylvari…I am not alone…” he whispered.

That was the sense of abandonment taken care of. He needed to rely on himself, not others. Now, to tackle something a little more entrenched and stubborn in his psyche.

‘Knowing yourself. This worries you deeply. You dislike some of what you have discovered and have acted in a way you find to be lacking. This means you wish to improve whom you are… but you need to do so for yourself. Other’s opinions do not matter. Confidence in you and your abilities will sweep all that away. Knowing whom you are overrides any misunderstandings or misconceptions. You will prove them all wrong and you will do so with quiet dignity and positive actions. You will feel better about yourself and ignore what others may think or feel. You will know your own quality.’

Thekrin’s hands dug into the ground again, he was having problems with this concept.

“I….must cast aside my fears and doubts…ignore those who doubt me…embrace who I am become…something better”

His struggles concerned her. That face was never meant to hold such a frown; new strategy.  She quickly took a different approach, less direct.

‘Try reflecting upon your values. What is the most important to you in life? What do you value? Where does your sense of right and wrong come from?’

He seemed to contemplate this. The mind under her hands glancing back over months and bringing up the ideals he had awoken with.

“Truth, honesty and loyalty…I loathe evil, the cruel and any who exploit others…my right and wrong come from no one but myself.”

Progress! She was thrilled. She found herself smoothing her hands over the leaves on his head. Anwesu spoke with warmth now, rather than cool detachment.

‘The values you have been thinking of are part of the core of who you are. If you are being true to your values, these core beliefs will drive your behaviour.

It feels good to behave in ways that are consistent with your values. Think about how your values can be a part of your day-to-day life. If you can embody everything you hold to be good and true, you will be just that.’

He smiled, still within the trance. Yes this one was always meant to smile.

“I will try with all my being to make sure of this.”

Anwesu nodded and stilled herself again. She had carried him so far but now he had to take a leap. The next exercise may be hard on him but his smile encouraged her to push the boundaries. Noon’s appreciated bold action did they not?

‘Now consider what else makes you who you are. Finding your authentic self involves learning who you truly are. The real you, the person you are meant to be. Your genuine self is the person you are at the core, the person you can be if nothing holds you back.’

She paused for a moment, trying to phrase carefully what she needed him to do. Best to visualise in the end perhaps. Give him a solid goal.

‘Imagine the person you believe yourself to be right now. Just picture yourself going about the things you usually do. Imagine that you are watching yourself…observing, going about your usual activities. What do you see?’

“I am walking along…the beach there is…a seagull attacking a crab. I run in trying to pry it away, but then I realise…if I  don’t let the seagull eat it will starve, it’s just trying to survive. I just want to solve the problem, make it so no one has to suffer”

His voice had a chill in it now. This was something that troubled him and she would need to deal with it before moving on that goal she wanted to build for him. She would be honest; he needed to face the harsh reality not be sheltered.

‘There is no solving this problem. Sometimes the world is cruel. Very often there is no ‘good’ side. There is simply survival. You need to accept that you can only do so much. That you cannot solve all the world’s difficulties. You can simply do your best and that is all. If you are true to yourself and your values then this will be something you will be able to understand. You are a good person, take comfort in that. Do what you can, when you can.’

“I understand but…must it be so harsh?”

She almost slapped him. How could he be so ridiculously naive? Was his dream all nectar and rainbows? Anwesu forced calm upon herself, lest her emotion be felt by him and the trance break. Time to form that goal and be done. She pulled nervously at a bloom on her head and winced as a petal came out. She really needed to stop that habit. The dusk bloom placed her hand back upon his head to join the other. No magic needed now. Thekrin was going to do this all on his own.

‘Life is harsh, but that does not mean you have to be. Whom you are is still very much in formation. Picture yourself again. Imagine watching…observe…now imagine you could strip away all the things that hold you back from your full potential. Imagine self-doubt dissolving…being replaced with confidence and quiet self-assurance. Picture this person before you, and imagine all the things that get in the way of success…such as circumstances, lack of understanding, lack of forgiveness, issues from the past…anything that is holding you back in any way at all.

See these problems dissolving…disappearing…going away…Now see yourself again. What is left? Who is this person when all those barriers are stripped away?’

This should be difficult but to her surprise he answered almost immediately. The noonborn knew who he wanted to be, he had known all along. He simply needed to be prompted to remember.

“I see…a brave, strong dependable person, someone who will bend but not break…he has fought hundreds of battles but he still remains light hearted and caring, loving to his allies but deadly to his enemies. He will fight for his beliefs and convictions and will ponder the consequences…that is who I see.”

She almost laughed. It was such a noonish response it could not be quantified. The mother was really enforcing the stereotype when she made this one. Still, he wished to be strong and happy. She could understand that much at least. Anwesu gave a smile she rarely showed anyone and closed her own eyes. Speaking without moving her lips, directly to the young, bright mind under her hands.

‘This person is you. The pure character that is left when there is nothing to get in the way of complete self-expression. Work towards him. Be him. Focus. This is where you want to be. The only one holding you back… is you.’

The mesmer blinked… and was gone. She did not go far. A small bush a few paces away hid her and she clamped down on her aura.

“I am such a dick…to myself…” he let out a rather weak chuckle as he said this. When there was no response he frowned then the bright blue eyes opened. Thekrin spent a moment looking at where she had stood. He reached forward and picked up the petal that had fallen from her head.

“Thanks Anwesu…” he said to himself as he stood.

From her hiding place Anwesu smiled and her orange eyes glowed.

‘Thank me later,’ she whispered to the leaves. ‘I just repaired your self-image.’

She watched him walk away.

‘You owe me… more than anyone. One day, you shall repay me.’

Now alone the dusk bloom steped out of the slimy leaves, giving the plant that sheltered her an affectionate pat.

‘Perhaps I will ask for his soul,’ she laughed to herself, not all that serious.

Souls were overrated and heavy things anyway.