Aftermath (short story)

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This is a creative work set in the world of Elanthia, attributed to its original author(s). It does not necessarily represent the official lore of GemStone IV.

Title: Aftermath

Author: player of Charna Ja'Varrel'Kav

Darkness enveloped the curve of the track, both ahead and behind as the cart bounced its way through the tunnel. Sporadically the darkness would spiral away as a vein of ruby or sapphire was passed. Those moments were hated, invasive and filled with a light that she did not currently possess. No, the darkness of the track was her friend, her home.

She traveled in silence, not even her companion and best friend at her side. She needed the distance and solitude of this track. How many times had she passed through here? How many times was she seeking something at the other end? This time it wasn?t a person, a promise, or a weapon. This time it was to escape, to hide.

"They will come for me," she thought at one point yesterday as she laid in her bed of puma hides. "They will come and how can I stop them?"

She didn't have the answer, and deep inside she knew she would not fight them. She had destroyed what was theirs, what they wanted, what they craved.

A vein of diamond sprang to life before her eyes, its brilliant white hue momentarily blinding her. When her vision cleared they were there, each standing before her. She did not move, or cry out. She only gazed ahead of herself. No one spoke for long moments; the only noise that of the cart traveling across the track.

She spoke first, her voice quiet and uncertain.

"I knew tha' ye would each come."

Their silence greeted her words.

"Jist as I knew ye all would always do wha' ye had ta? do ta' meet yer goals, ye had ta' know tha? I too would do wha' I had ta'."

The silence grew.

"Ye each lose yer goal, an' I lose ah family." she told them, her eyes slipping over each of them.

"One o' two motha's," she said, her eyes slipping to the woman in blue whose last words to her were bitter and harsh.

"Ah father." she lifted her eyes briefly to the man encased in armor, but that blow hurt too much and she could not look at him overly long.

Unbidden, the tears she'd been fighting sprung to her eyes and formed a ruddy track down her dirty face. They tears dripped from her nose and chin.

"Sisters," she continued in a voice thick with emotions as her eyes sought out the woman who both had hair of white; one wrapped in tight braids and the other shorn short and close to the skull.

"Respected friends," tumbled her next words her eyes moving from the silent man in somber greys and blacks, to the giantess whose eyes and tongue never hid lies or thoughts, to the strong woman that had born a debt of life that blossomed into friendship, then once more over to the woman who had pinned her into a beautiful dress making her a woman.

"I had hoped," she said, her eyes at last turning to him. For all that they had talked or not talked, that she had sung and left unsung, his hatred of her was the worst to bear. She could not stop what had blossomed in her chest, she could not make it go away, and she had hoped when this was all over that there would be time, that she could finally be enough.

She smiled wryly, unable to finish the sentence, and unable to gaze at him any longer.

"But I guess tha' was tha' problem," she said quietly to her sandals. "I had hope 'nough fer e'ery'un but me."

Bringing her hands together, her wrists turned up, she offers herself to them.

Abruptly, the sound of the cart moving across the track halts and the greater silence of those around her nearly deafens her. She is shaken, but she takes it in silence. She is slapped, and a ragged sob slips from her lips.

"Lass!" a gruff voice yells inches from her face. "You dun fell asleep on the cart."

Blinking tear soaked lashes, she looks at the wrinkled face of the dwarf that is shaking her, then over his shoulder where they no longer stood.

"There's a lass," he says, releasing her once she had her feet beneath her.

Without a word she stepped upon the path that stretched before her, not bothering to wipe the tears from her eyes nor bothering to look back.

"I hope she's got some'un for her when she geets where she's going," he grumbled at the edge of her hearing.

"No," she thought to herself. "No, I killed that with a sickle when I saved the world."