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#1Finn Mertens 

on Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:54 pm

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Night had always been the same in Baska. Cool air swept down from the north, traveling on paths that no eye could gleam. The grass bent to its pressure, but the fluidity in which it responded gave birth to a natural dance. Ripples seemed to form within the green turf, traveling outwards and illuminated by the pale glow of the moon. The sky was clear, any clouds long since swept away by the same invisible hand that now brushed its fingertips upon the earth. Within the depths of the midnight avarice, as hungry for more as it was expansive, one could trace the outlines of the galaxy, unfolding itself into unknown depths.

Luckily, ones mind needn't travel far for the story to begin. One of love. One of loss. The continuation of a tale thought over, and the birth of a story all its own. It was the return of one who had been sent on a journey, volunteered without his input for a job he'd never turn away. There had been whispers, carried through songs and on the lips of travelers escaping to Fiore. Word of a darkness spreading across the lands, of an evil long since put to rest who was soon to wake from its slumber. The details of it were few, without substance or fact to support its authenticity. Still, the fear it caused was very real, and if it were imagination, only a short travel would confirm it.

How desperately had he wished it to be the mumbling of travelers, spurned together during their journeys to give them a sense of purpose. If it had not been true, if he had not been so proud, could he have saved the parts of himself that were taken? If he had not stayed his tongue, if he could have only been so bold as accept the help of those who offered it readily, could this have been prevented? Weary eyes turned their way to his companion, the only person whose help had been accepted. Once golden fur was still stained crimson, streaked with mud and dirt. Grime had become a part of his coat, thick enough to need more than any rain would deal with.

And what of him? Clothes were tattered, armor barely hugging his frame. His sword was severely damage, teetering on the edge of death itself. His body had become a landscape, and across it were painted the evidence of battles fought, and battles lost. The compilation of damage showed itself, eagerly drawing the attention of any who so happened to be out. Wounds that had begun scarring, where arrows had nested. A deep pink that streaked across his chest, a reminder of how intimate his lungs had become with steel. His arms housed the scattered remnant of wounds, thick and thin, which would be permanently etched into his flesh.

If he had been so bold as to turn to his friends, could this have been avoided? It was not the damage to his body that weighed him down so, causing his steps to seem without aim and his eyes to look for more sustenance than what this city could give. It had been the mental anguish, suffered at the hands of that demon. A demon not in form, but in nature. A demon who numbered in the hundreds, whose agents spread death and which wormed into every fabric of society. An organization that had supposedly died in decades past, ready to make its resurgence. He had stopped it, that much was true. It would never hurt anyone ever again. Yet what of him? The atrocities he had seen, and the evils he could not stop, would be with him forever.

He was no hero. Not even close. If the good of Fiore had been at stake, if his driving force was to slay evil, things may have been different. He would be returning a hero, having paid the meager price of his soul. No, his reasoning was much more selfish. The livelihood of his friends at Blue Pegasus. The knowledge that any of them may have died, if not in the immediate future, than perhaps later on. The idea that the darkness would have spread to the one who he cared for most of all.

The one he never told of his departure.

It had been the most selfish act he'd ever committed. How could he though? Lock eyes with someone who valued his life more than he himself ever had, and tell them that he was gambling it all. And for what? For her to live on, not knowing of what was spreading towards her home? She would have refused. She'd have stopped him, and if she had, she'd have left open the door to one day be harmed by the very evil he left to stop.

The faintest of smiles pulled its way at his lips. A sick sense of joy, perhaps, the image of her face finding its way into his mind. Many things had faded and dulled in his journey. His sense of justice, certainly. Those whom he had left behind, their names fresh, whose frames he could no longer envision. Hers, however, was there. Engraved into his mind in a way that he would never let escape him. In the darkest of times, it had become his light. It kept him sane when all else had failed, and in that same vein it had saved Jake as well. By seeing his brother hold strong, he too could continue moving forward.

The doors of the chapel swung open, pushed upon by the bloody hands of a nearly broken man. The steeple before him reminded him of his departure. It was a building of worship where he had seen his guild master before his departure. In a sense of foreboding, perhaps, he had left her with a parting gift. His sword, forged by lives long lost and imbued with the power to brush away magic. "Take it. This sword held more power than I ever knew what to do with anyways. A sword fit for a guild master- But not for me." If the evil had existed, he thought, and if he was not enough to stop it, maybe she could. Maybe with her magic, intelligence, and his sword, leading the guild she could stop it. In a way, it would be as though he was saving them. And in that way, maybe it'd be as if he were saving Seira.

Now here he was. Walking forward within the house of Religion, devoted to beings far bigger than himself or his companion. His stride was strong now. He was not yet home, but he was closer. A reminder that he was not truly gone, at least not yet. There was more life to live, and whatever lay before him, nothing would amount to the atrocities he had faced. Jake had collapsed, laying upon a pew and letting the lingering embrace of slumber soothe him. Finn, however, allowed his legs to carry him to the massive statue to their God. Two pairs of lifeless eyes met one another, though one still held a spark of hope.

He stared at the form as long as he could, as if trying to gleam an answer from the silence. Finally, without warning, it seemed he had a response to the words never spoken. "You're gone too, aren't you?" Finn had never been religious, and he certainly hadn't started when on his travels. Still, there was a part of him that believed death was not the end. He was confident that the Church of Illumin was not the answer though. The places he traveled had held tens of churches just like this one, and in their ruins, he found no sign of their God.

Turning away from the statue, he made his way over to the seat where Jake slept and sat upon it. His brother, as if sensing the body heat, moved forward to rest his head on his brothers lap. A weak smile broke upon his lips, and a hand ruffled his older brothers hair. How life had changed in such a short time.

"We're home."

[Exit]

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