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Thread: Short Story- The Scars That Mark Us

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    Soulwalker Youkaiyami's Avatar
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    Default Short Story- The Scars That Mark Us

    He whipped around, his axes finding two more skeletal torsos in the ever growing horde, the battlecat taking down one more. Around them the din of war blocked out everything but the sound of the bahmi’s heart. They had been betrayed and the wall of Port Scion had fallen, allowing Alsbeth’s army to swarm into the bastion and overwhelm the citizens. Already Lorska had seen his father fall, the blind eth having no defenses, and he had lost track of his mother in the crowd... He wiped away a dampness he could not find the source of.

    Sword, pike, knife. He was never sure what had rend his gut that day, only feeling the cool air on parts of his body that should never see daylight. Bleeding on the cobblestone, the warrior blacked out before he had to suffer watching his cat fall too.

    But still that dampness stayed, matched by the grating of sandpaper.

    Lorska awoke to the inside of his tent and the large battlecat licking his face, doing his best to wake his partner.

    Are you alright?

    The warrior did not answer, simply taking the cat into an embrace that he hoped would cover the itching across the scar that marred his stomach.

    Answer me, please, before you get lost again.

    “I-I’m here. I just-” Lorska stopped as Pancakes resumed licking the sweat off his friend’s head and neck.

    Was it Port Scion?

    “Yes.... The same as always...Thank you. I hope I didn’t wake anyone.” The bahmi knew he more often than not yelled and screamed in his sleep when the nightmares struck, and hoped the others, HaKiale at least, did not worry. Pancakes knew better, and had once confronted Mizuki at one point when she demanded to know why Lorska had made such a racket. He did not lie to her, and the high elf went pale and apologetic at the explanation. Yes, they would most likely be awake, but they would understand.

    Does it still itch?

    “ Not so much anymore...” The scar that marked Lorska’s death blow was one thing that appeared no matter what the Life Technicians did. No glamour, soul healing, or cleric could mask the brutal mark. It had been a Paladin of Thedeor who had given him the best answer one night at a shared camp; Some wounds, some injuries, mindsets, were so life changing, so deeply ingrained into people, it marked their soul. He had only seen such things on Ascended so far, seeing as they could come back from the dead, but it seemed their souls were malleable to the courses of their life before and sometimes bore scars, tattoos, and the ilk no matter what they did.

    The Paladin himself had shown Lorska the vicious yet beautiful lightning scars that flooded his back, received as a child in a storm that claimed his family. He swore to battle against the dragons, Crucia in particular, and he saw those ever returning marks as a sign. Despite Lorska’s usual disdain for those who served the Vigil, he welcomed the explanation and actually enjoyed that night.

    Now he wished he was back at that fire and not lying down, his battlecat’s comforting weight on his chest, trying to get a hold of the tears that ran down his face. The scar had calmed, but the flashes of the day Port Scion fell still peeked into his mind. He wondered if HaKiale and Mizuki felt like this sometimes, hopeless, afraid, despite being Ascended. He had Pancakes, but the kelari and high elf were alone in their tents.

    Do you want to go outside? They’re awake. Pancakes had not chosen to share his acute hearing at the moment, but could hear the bahmi’s companions stoking the fire and starting tea. Lorska took a few more stuttering breaths before inching out to the fireside. Neither said anything, but HaKiale made an effort to sit with his knee touching the warrior’s and Mizuki was the one to hand him his cup.

    The silence was less strained than he thought it would be, and he was perfectly fine with that.

    ____________________________________


    He was embarrassed, shamed. Weeks, he had weeks to learn and he was at point zero. Sama looked down at the bound booklet. Nazsha had gotten pages she had written out bound so he could learn to read and he just couldn’t.

    She had said that his mind would be fixed as an Ascended, that the fact his mother drank when pregnant or that he had spent most of his teens down that same mead hole wouldn’t matter. They had new bodies, right? New flesh that didn’t care that clerics called him a mead baby, that wouldn’t bother with the fact as a mortal he had trouble learning....

    But here he was, no better.

    He even still had trouble pushing back his emotions. A part of him that had once endeared him to his wife was now threatening to make him cry like a child who had gotten in trouble at school.

    Ascension had not fixed him.

    The archer hoped it wasn’t light out yet, their plan to move out at dawn a constant reminder that he’d have to own up to failing on such a simple task.

    Maybe she doesn’t care, maybe.... Oh to the hells, of course she cares, you idiot. She’s your friend! She made that book for you to learn from!

    The eth curled up around the book and his pillow, sick to his stomach. What if his Ascension was broken? Could that happen? It was difficult to think about, not exactly knowing how the machine born were created in the first place.

    “Sama you bum, get up.” Nazsha’s staff poked him from behind the curtain of his tent. He couldn’t stay any longer, and decided to face his embarrassment no matter what.

    Nazsha had learned very early on that Sama had a terrible card face and couldn’t hide his thoughts very well. It came with the annoyance of his near unending happiness, but she could read him like a book.

    And she never saw a more dejected man on the face of Telara.

    “What in the sun’s name has gotten into you?”

    The man’s shoulders dipped further down and he nearly crumpled up the held book. “I-I, I can’t read the book.” the sentence was way too quiet for his ethian companion to hear and she had to ask after him again.

    “This damned book! I can’t read it, I can’t remember the words! I’m no better now than after this stupid Ascension!” He hadn’t meant to yell, but it was beyond frustrating.

    Nazsha looked from her friend to the the book, and back to him. “You still can’t...” Surely by becoming Ascended, Sama didn’t suffer from the damage done by his alcoholic mother anymore.

    “No.” The man’s pale eyes looked down in defeat. The necromancer was at a loss for words. She had been so sure that after his admission a week or so ago that he was illiterate, she had the solution. He was Ascended, an advanced fighter with a body that could survive gods and he couldn’t get beyond this?

    “Well, we’ll figure it out from here then. We've gotten this far and we can get further. Right now I want some breakfast, I know you can cook, and I promised the others you'd show them some mean pancakes.” She smiled and led the much easier looking Sama from the tents.

    They had bivouacked with a couple others including another archer, a paladin, and a cleric. They all politely ignored Sama’s outburst and welcomed the two to the fire with coffee and the start of breakfast makings for Sama to play with. While they waited, the paladin, one of Thedeor, struck up a conversation that ended in an epiphany. The lightning scars along his back were analogous to Sama’s trouble, or at least that’s what he saw. Souls scarred, from actual wounds or in his case, injuries of the mind. Sama would live, it would be frustrating, but hopefully the Vigil would make it clear their plan for the eth. The rogue didn’t exactly follow the gods, but he appreciated the words nevertheless.

    But for now, he had some mean pancakes to introduce these people to.
    Last edited by Youkaiyami; 09-26-2018 at 11:01 AM.

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