It was getting late. Hikari stood and stretched looking down at the still sleeping form of Tar Di. She lay near one of the many fires burning on the beach with her protector, Dallan Steelhand sitting beside her. The Knight of Tukin had made a valuable ally and someone Hikari found to be sensible and easy to speak to. He had sworn to keep Tar Di safe as thanks for Hikari rescuing him from the slave pits. She’d tried to express her gratitude on a couple of occasions but it seemed Dallan was not going to let his debt go that easily. She brushed a few stray locks back behind an ear feeling the lethargy that dragged at her from expending so much energy. But she still had so much to do and looked back down at tar Di.
Hikari was worried. Days since Tar Di had unleashed the chaos magic and yet she still would not wake. Day after day she’d channeled her own mystic energy into Tar Di to help pay for the debt incurred for such a spell as her apprentice had cast and still no change. She wanted to yell, to scream and rage in her frustration and show Tar Di that this was the least of the possible consequences to her using magic without understanding it. But she couldn’t do any of that. Honestly Hikari would be happy with just having Tar Di awake and herself again. But another day of channeling magic had not changed things.
She looked across the beach to where Taaj and Mandy sat close together and sighed. There was no point in deluding herself about that situation anymore and it was more than obvious that Taaj was not using Mandy for some scheme. After all he’d had plenty of opportunity in the confusion of the escape to take her away from all this. So why did she feel sad when she looked at Mandy? Her friend was happy, as happy as one could be spending most of her days repairing a ship and running from trouble. But still happy and Hikari should be happy for her too. She sighed and looked away.
Thalion and the others needed her to remain clearheaded and focused. They’d started another war and there was little time to dwell on what had been. Ships out there were searching for the Champion’s Fist and a veritable army was seeking them from inland. They’d not be completely seaworthy by the time they had to leave but their guest status depended on them not fighting this next group and they were going to honour that commitment. And to be focused she was hoping to make a connection to someone special.
Wrapping her cloak tight about her to ward off the chill, Hikari moved away from the fires and further down the beach. She spied a stocky form detach itself from near another fire and could only sigh. Thorbil had spotted her leaving. So much for a few moments alone.
“Going somewhere Mistress?” He gave her a bow and then fell into step beside her.
“Grotto,” Was all she said. He was only days old and had picked up a lot of tidbits here and there from the others and even some of the freed Dwarven slaves but in those few days he’d also picked up much from her. He was loyal to a fault and she could shout herself blue in face before he would be sent away and so she had changed tactics and spent time instructing Thorbil on her habits and tendencies and what she expected from him. Hikari had pushed hard to make certain that Thorbil knew that he could serve her as his own choice and he was free to leave or stay as he desired not because of some magical geas.
“Tomorrow we will continue to practice and train together along with Dallan, Taaj and a few others. If we are going to be effective we need to know what each of us does in combat so we don’t get in each other’s way.” The gentle sounds of the surf on the beach and the hum behind them of talk was relaxing in comparison to the days of running and fighting. Soon enough that would change again and Hikari didn’t want to lose anyone, not if she could keep it from happening.
“Aye Mistress. Shall I inform them of the drills?”
“After breakfast Thorbil.” The black haired dwarf nodded but said nothing more. Hikari wondered what it was like in Thorbil’s head. Was it an empty place that was filling with thoughts and ideas and information as they gave it to him? Or was it all there and the more they spoke and trained the more certain things came to the fore? Did he have as much trouble as she did in her own memories, as jumbled as they were? She shook her head to clear it of those circular thoughts for they all coped in their own way and Thorbil would manage. Maybe one day though he’d use her name instead of Mistress for everything.
Arriving at the grotto Thorbil took up position in front and Hikari moved inside. A few whispered words sent lights sancing into the small space and she settled down near a small tide pool crossing her legs and baring her right shoulder, the one with the tattoo dedicated to Pan. It was supposed to be magical somehow but Hikari had never learned how or even if it was. Not that it mattered when the gods had stopped speaking to her anyway. She took out the small pan-flute and started playing. She’d figured out much of it on her own and was not half bad anymore and filled the grotto with the haunting notes of the flute.
While she played she let the lights dance and focused her thoughts out and away hoping they would be carried to Pan and perhaps he would at least hear her even if he didn’t answer.
It’s a strange thing to have fought so hard to live, to defy destiny on more than one occasion in an effort to live my own life and not to dance to someone else’s tune only to now find myself feeling lost. I’m adrift and without focus beyond trying to save those I care about and just live. It should be enough helping Thalion and the others rescue and free slaves and bring evil men low. But I still feel like something is missing. Is this really to be my life? I spoke to the others about starting up a mercenary company of sorts, one designed to try and make Argyle a better and safer world to live in, not to just make war. But is it the right thing to be doing? Or am I going to only cause more pain and suffering to those who don’t deserve it?
Or maybe I’m just feeling lonely. This world is a harsh one and nothing is forever but it is made tougher by not having anyone to share it with. I’m not talking about friends or people I care about. I’ve got both. But I see people in love or those who have had love every day and wonder what it is like? It fortifies them and drives them to do things I hesitate at doing and even in the loss gives them something to keep close to their hearts. Miriel, Thalion, Aurelia even Mandy and maybe Flitt (he might just love eggs)? They know it. All I have is a faded and jumbled memory of a love that never came to be.
And then I wonder if the path I walk now, made by my own will and that of yours and Ymeri is the one I should be on. I know life has no guarantees and am more than acquainted with chance and chaos and how they affect things. But there has to be a reason I am me. A reason that I, Hikari exists beyond a reflection of my own will and a stubborn unwillingness to give up this life. Should I pursue making the company? Will Tar Di be ok? How are my pandas? Will I ever find someone? Is there a reason I am here at all beyond you not liking other gods meddling? Please, a little guidance would be a blessing right about now. And though I may not be who I was I am grateful to both you and Ymeri for all you’ve done and would not mind if you visited every once in a while even if it is just to mock me.
I promise to not be as dense as I was. Though that was the sword’s doing a few times so I can’t be blamed for that. And it was a good plan in theory to start with and as a soul returned to its body there was probably good reason for me to not really know I was dead before right? Right, well, thanks for listening Pan.
Hikari let the music and lights fade away and sat there for a long time in the dark just listening to the surf. Her duties were still waiting for her though and before too long she left the grotto once more with Thorbil close behind to take up her tasks again. Maybe tomorrow Tar Di would wake fully…