June 28, 2004
It was raining, again.
Seraphie shivered as the droplets soaked through her cloak and seemed to penetrate into her very bones. She hated the rain. She hated the way it made her feel, so helpless and alone, trapped in a life she could never understand.
Seraphie coughed, trying desperately to dispel memories of him - the strangely shy cleric she had met a few days before. The honest part of her wanted to remember, but a dark, traitorous facet of her soul wanted to deny that she felt anything towards the man. She was just another mage, a drop of water in an endless ocean. Why would he care about her?
But he did, at least in a friendly way, and that did nothing to help Seraphie's predicament. It only served to fuel the confusion burning her soul to ashes.
Venesia's voice came over the bloodline channel, cheerful and reassuring: "Hi, Seraphie!"
The moment of melancholy shattered, and she replied, "Hiya!" It made her happy to know her bloodline looked out for her. Avatar Venesia and Reena had unhesitatingly taken the young mage under their wing; right from the beginning, Seraphie had known she owed her very existence to them both.
"Hugs, Sera!" cried Reena, and Seraphie barely stifled a giggle. Nothing had changed, concerning her friends. They were still as lighthearted as the day she had met them.
"Is there anything you need?"
The mage shook her head, despite knowing they could not see her. "I'm fine, thanks."
She answered similar queries from her clan, moments later. A hint of a smile pulled at her lips. Her clan... they, too, aided her without complaint. The Knights of Infinity chorused their welcome every time she left Hotel Medievia. It was a good feeling, knowing people cared. Had she not felt so miserable already, the knowledge would have brought her happiness, like balm on a wound... but mere balm cannot heal a broken heart.
Or, she realized, a tormented one.
("Of course, for you, Milady...")
Her smile faded.
She stopped resting and clambered to her feet. Now was not the time to dwell on the impossible.
The downpour dwindled to a light, peaceful rain, and Seraphie decided to continue her journey. But where to go, now?
Someone poked her, suddenly, and the mage sucked in a frightened breath. She glanced around, only to find the room empty. How predictable. Slightly annoyed and very, very wary, she returned to her thoughts.
A wry voice at her ear whispered, "Hello, Seraphie."
Startled, she cast "detect invisibility," and peered around once more. Sure enough, before her stood her long-time friend, Crazto.
She glared coldly. "You know, you could announce your presence, once in a while."
"True. I could. But where's the fun in that?"
Seraphie sighed. Really, it was hopeless. There was hardly a point in arguing with him. She'd never get anywhere.
"Follow me," he said. She raised an eyebrow, and he amended, "If you want, you can follow me. I'm only trying to help you."
She forced a smile. "I know." This time, the mage stepped into formation behind him. Had she any other choice? Not that she had anything against adventuring with Crazto, it was just ... well, half the fun was complaining, first. She loved to give him a hard time.
Today, however, she was hardly in the mood. She had other things on her mind.
Or, to be more precise, she had other people on her mind. She hoped Crazto wouldn't notice. The last thing she wanted to do was spoil the fun for her ever-sardonic friend.
As she walked, she let her thoughts wander - but only for a brief moment, as her daydreams began to branch off into startling directions. Seraphie reined them in swiftly. Coughing to hide her discomfort, she forced her thoughts to be linear, concentrating only on the journey ahead and her companion's occasional witty comments.
The rain stopped eventually, but the gray clouds overhead foretold yet another shower.
Minutes passed, and soon Crazto was forced to leave. Strange. It was usually the other way around. Smiling, Seraphie bade him farewell, watching as he disappeared in a flash of light.
She remained standing for a long time, cold and alone, on the rain-soaked grass. A distant rumble of thunder jolted her to awareness. "Great. A storm." Mumbling several 'unladylike words,' she headed off in a random direction. "I'm going to get lost. I know it. And just in case I'm not aggravated enough, by then, let's throw a storm in for good measure." She pulled her pointed wizard's hat down over her forehead, a feeble shield for the impending sky's tears, and declared, "The forces of nature are out to get me."
As if in divine mockery, the rainfall resumed.
Despite her doubt, Seraphie found her way back to the City of Medievia, something that was - to her untrained abilities - incredibly difficult. A sigh of relief escaped her lips when she finally came upon the southern city entrance. She knew where to go from there.
"I am not lost," she murmured, more to herself than the commoners wandering around her. "Now, let's see if..." For the hundredth time, she checked to see if her cleric friend was around.
This time, Tynian had apparently just entered the realms of Medievia.
Why did he matter? It was hopeless, it was senseless, and she hated herself for the weak-in-the-knees feeling the thought of him brought. Already, she could feel her resolve melting. Any longer, and she would not be able to breathe without him.
She lowered herself to the soaking ground to rest. Quietly, she wished with all her soul that the echoes in her mind would stop, that she might have respite from the pain of memory, that she could just forget him...
Ignoring the burning sensation behind her eyes, Seraphie shivered and equipped a thicker, warmer cloak. The mage sneezed. She was probably going to get sick, if she remained outside in the damp, but who would care?
Tynian would care.
But if he cared, where was he?
The thought angered her. "No, I'm not like this," she hissed, her slender hands clenching into fists. "I'm not. I'm strong. I'm independent. I can live without him..." It was strange, how bitter the lie tasted on her tongue. "I'm strong. I'm independent. I can do this on my own. I... I don't need him."
Such was the thought that drove her to adventure, alone, in the dark forests south of Haven. She was soaked through with rain, but no longer did it matter. Seraphie wanted to prove to herself that she could do things on her own.
Her anger blinded her. She did not realize her perilous mistak e... until it was too late.
Something slashed her, hard, across the face, and she reeled back in pain. A hand flew to her cheek - she could feel the heat of dripping blood.
Seraphie fought down the scream, clawing its way up her throat. No. No, she wasn't going to let this happen. Not when frustration still boiled within her. Not with humiliation only a step away.
She could do this.
Not entirely sure who she was fighting, she whirled around, facing an unknown foe. Her teeth clenched. "You won't take me." Words of magic flew from her lips - the creature shrieked in pain. It was looking terrible, and yet...
Another vicious blow sent her flying back against a tree, gasping, unbidden tears flowing from her eyes. More heat; she felt it. More blood. Oh, gods.
She saw it, then. The crimson pool at her feet deepened, and she saw the brilliant stripes across her once-flawless skin. Her thought was unavoidable: "Am I going to die?"
A spell - the only spell she could remember in a mind fogged with agony - came to her, then. She rasped the words to, "burning hands," seconds before her knees buckled and she fell, trembling, to the ground. Though it was distant, she thought she heard her foe let loose a final moan before yielding to death.
She cursed herself. Despite how terrible her wounds, she could not heal them, for she was only a mage - something she should have considered before running off alone. And what for? To prove that her heart was wrong. To prove that she could be independent.
"Independent, indeed," she gasped, her eyes slipping out of focus.
"At least ... I'll die, all by ... myself." Seraphie willed a fragment
of strength to return, but it was hopeless, and she was still too weak to stand.
She knew she could not remain here. If another foe came around, and attacked
her without provocation ... it would truly be the end. She would not stand a
The iron taste of blood filled her mouth. Ah, she would die here anyway, she would drown in this crimson pool, she would choke on her own desperate, pathetic tears...
How odd. The voice, it sounded incredibly familiar - yet far too alarmed.
"Tynian...?" She was surprised; she could barely manage a whisper. A silhouette swam into her line of vision. She narrowed her eyes, hoping to get a glimpse of his face. Seraphie sighed in relief. It was him. Tynian. The one she could never forget, despite how hard she tried.
She fought to stand, afraid of showing even the most miniscule weakness, but he would have none of it.
"Lie still, Seraphie, I'm here."
He knelt beside her, speaking softly the words of magic and healing. With each rhythmic pronunciation, she felt strength return to her bones and blood seep back into her veins. Her wounds began to close. The unbearable pain she had felt earlier diminished, until only a dull ache throbbed throughout her body.
As he worked, he slipped in bits of idle conversation. "I've been looking for you ... for a while, now. How did you get yourself into this mess? You know ... you're not an easy person to find..."
So, he hadn't forgotten her. He had been looking for her, all along - because he cared enough to go out of his way and help a lonely mage. But why would he care? Why?
"Confusing yourself, once more," Seraphie chided softly, rolling her eyes, tuning out the sound of Tynian's healing at work. "I don't believe it. All these meaningless thoughts, all brought on by a simple rainshower." True enough. The rain had always seemed to fill her pool of memories to overflowing, until she could no longer ignore the thoughts buried in the dark recesses of her mind. But why did those simple thoughts ache so grievously?
She told herself, Because I'm a fool, always wanting what I can't have. And because I...
She knew the answer, but she did not dare admit it. It was terrifying enough for her to comprehend. And how would Tynian react, if she told him? Would he stumble away from her, disgusted? Would he simply stare? Or... maybe, would he...
Seraphie shook her head, fiercely, just as her full strength returned. She smiled up at her friend.
"Anytime," he replied, gently. Now, let's get you out of the rain. You're going to get sick."
She was about to protest ... but to emphasize the point, Seraphie sneezed. He raised an eyebrow. It was useless to deny it; he was right. Tynian held out his hand, and she gratefully took it, stumbling to her feet.
"Shall we go to the usual place, again, Milady?"
Barely suppressing a grin, she nodded. "Of course. It wouldn't do to spoil tradition." She followed her friend to Haven, then east to a comfortable tavern called, "The Dragon's Flagon."
She would tell him how she felt - later. For now, she merely wanted to enjoy his company and sip her favorite drink. Perhaps he would even tell her a story.
It was amusing, perhaps, but despite how the rain intensified upon their arrival at the tavern, the young mage no longer minded. Her memories were still and quiet, her anguish hushed - if only for a while.
Sitting there, next to her friend, Seraphie had never felt more content.
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