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Passing On

Started by Rhonya, October 15, 2019, 02:59:59 PM

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((This happens the days Skint and Nakobu stayed a bit longer in Garadar, last week!))

The quiet was unnerving. Garadar had been so full. First Kosh’harg, the town playing host to all members of the Horde. Then we returned with many freed slaves a little while after, plus the clan itself was staying a few days more.
Now, some of the freed slaves had left to find their own path in live. Some still remained, settling in between the mag’har, getting used to daily life of a free orc.
The clan was gone for a few days now as well, ahead to the swamps. I’d seen them leave.
Nakobu was still with me, choosing to remain behind as well for a few days more. There was some business I had to take care of first.

I was sitting outside my tent when she came. A small figure, something you’d see moving from the corner of your eyes but if you turned your head, it’d be gone. I smiled. I had been waiting for this moment.
Very carefully, I loosened the bell from my belt and took out the cloth stuffing. I looked down at the beautiful item, running my finger over the rune.


Softly, I rang the bell. Once. And waited.
It didn’t take her long. In a moment she was in front of me, as if out of nowhere, reaching her small hands for the bell. She couldn’t touch it of course, but through the days I had spent with her, I learned she liked to pretend. So I held the bell for her, indulging in her fantasy.
The bell made her more clear to me. Drew her in, strengthening her hold with our world for a small while. Nakobu couldn’t see her. She’d been around him often, looking curiously at his clothes, his belt, pretending to pull on his beard and run away, silently giggling. I couldn’t hear her, but she made things clear to me by writing letters in the air.

Apparently her mother had taught her to read and write. Her mother, who was in Garadar now. Neza’s spirit had already appeared to me before we’d gone to Blade’s Edge, but as if by luck, we freed her mother shortly after. It had come to me to tell Tinith that her daughter had died, though. Nerves had been building a knot in my stomach though. It was all still so new to me after drinking the potion. Never before had I been in this position, having to tell someone their child was dead and I could see her.
I had told her a few days ago. She was hurt, of course. Shocked. Losing her child after being prisoner for so long, it was hard to accept. Yet, we’d come to an agreement. I would help her, I would aid Neza in finding peace. Moving on.

Neza moved around me, smiling, touching my cheek, my hair. I didn’t feel anything, of course.
“Hello, N-Neza. I have something p-planned for today. Will you come with me?” I spoke softly, looking at the ever moving shadows and wispy waves of smoke that made up the form of the small girl. She was most clear when she stood still, but she didn’t do that often.

Neza nodded at me, holding her hand out. I stuffed the bell again, hanging it back on my belt before pretending to grab her hand, just holding air. It was enough for her. I lead her towards one of the huts in the town, where Tinith was waiting for us inside.
Neza had seen her mother before of course, but she always turned very sad and usually disappeared not long after. I looked down at the girl.
“We’re going to see your mother. And I w-will talk to her.. for you. Do you think you can do that, N-neza?”
The orc girl nodded back up at me, but she looked sad either way.
I walked into the hut, greeting Tinith with a smile. “G-goodmorning,” I said softly while from the corners of my eyes, I saw Neza reluctantly following me inside.
Tinith turned around and looked me straight in the eyes. I tried to keep her gaze but I couldn’t, and looked away. Her brown eyes, always so full of hope whenever someone came in, hoping for good news from me. I’d have to break her heart, again.
“Goodmorning, Skint. Is there news? Do you want anything to eat?” she was already moving to grab me some food, but I shook my head a little in response.

“Tinith-.. w-we need to talk. I think I figured out how Neza d-died.”

The talk didn’t take long. Neza was there, standing in front of her mother, her hands positioned on her mothers lap as she was sitting on one of the crude chairs. Tinith looked confused and above all, angry. She was looking at me, not able to see her daughter.

I nodded.
“That’s what I understand from her. She’s afraid to talk of it, but she keeps pointing west and indicating something large. T-the only thing west of here is still the old ogre c-camp. Maybe she can lead us there, but I d-don’t think she’ll go without you.”
My eyes focused on the small form of Neza now, who had turned to look at me. She nodded silently to me before darting over and making the movement to grab my hand again. I looked back up towards Tinith. She was looking at my hand, half open as if holding something. She’d probably followed my gaze, which for her was staring at nothing. A look of longing was in her eyes and she smiled sadly before nodding in determination.

“Let’s go then.” She turned on her heels, grabbing a crude axe from the table behind her.

We made our way out of Garadar, Neza leading us. She was running back and forth, looking at a flower, a nice tree, dancing around her mother. But when we got more and more close to the Ogre camp, she stuck to her mother’s legs more and more, leading me by pointing the way.
Tinith spoke a few times during the walk. Asking me what Neza was doing. How we communicated. She never once doubted that I could see her. Never once asked me where or how I’d gotten these particular skills or how skilled I actually was with them. Which reassured me as well in turn.

Closer to the camp, we found it abandoned. Perhaps the large crowd of Kosh’harg and then the returning slaves had the Ogres move for a bit, so nearby Garadar wasn’t entirely safe of course for them to be. There were still some signs that there had been things here recently. Campfires not entirely washed away by rain yet, bundles in the huts, animal carcasses left behind. We stepped carefully either way.

Neza pretended to take my hand and lead me on into one of the larger huts. It was empty.
“Here? But there is nothing here…” Tiniths voice was soft, sad.
A noise made us all turn and the light in the hut dimmed as something massive stood in the doorway, blocking the sun from shining inside. Tinith instantly moved to stand in front of me, axe raised in both her hands. “Stay behind me, Skint!” She yelled as the Ogre stepped into the room, peering at us with beady little eyes.
“What you doing in my hut! I claimed, me, strongest!” he roared and without hesitation, attacked, holding a huge mace in one hand that was about twice my size.

I backed off. I had no weapons, nothing. But looking at Tinith standing there, I felt I had to do something. She was so weak still, so skinny from her long imprisonment, standing there with her axe lifted, her mouth a snarl as she avoided the massive mace coming down on the point where she’d been standing moments before. She was beautiful, so strong, so determined. But she couldn’t do this alone. I looked around, Neza nowhere to be seen.
Tinith managed to wound the ogre, a slash across the leg, but it only made him more mad. Roaring, he smashed the mace into one of the walls before bringing it down to Tinith again, smacking her to the side.
Damnit. I couldn’t just stand here doing nothing! But what could I do? My powers were gone. I’d broken the deal, I’d given back what I had. The Light-.. no, it didn’t work for me. Ever since that day, I had nearly entirely lost my faith in it.
Yet, there had been one thing I had done before.
Nodding to myself, I stepped forwards. The ogre was reaching for a hand to Tinith now, probably to try and end her.
“No! Come here then, you f-fat blob!” I cried, moving into the middle of the room. He turned, eyeing me with those emotionless eyes. And the club raised up…

I reached. Deep inside, something I had felt before. Something that had felt so good at the time. But also dangerous. A dark, spiky edge. I remembered. Auchindoun, the necromancer. How I had attacked it, not with soul magic but with something loosely connected to it, something tempting…
I reached for it again and let it burst forth from my hands. The club came down, but inches away from my face, it suddenly got blasted back by a dark, purple explosion.
It hit the ogre right in the face, making him fall. Tinith, looking surprised but alert, had just stood up again and wasted no time, jumping in with her axe to hack it straight into the fallen ogres neck.

She turned, and looked at me, eyes wide. She was silent, but I could see the surprise on her bloody face. What had I just done?
I could hardly answer that myself. There was no trace of the magic I’d used on my hands. Besides a light exhaustion and the fact it had just-.. felt good. So good..

Suddenly there was Neza, in front of me. She was pointing to the corner of the hut. Tinith walked up to me. Her nose looked broken, blood pouring down her face, but besides that she looked surprisingly fine. “Are you alright, Skint? I don’t know what you did, but.. Be careful.”
It was an odd warning and I just looked confused a moment before turning.
“Neza is pointing to here…” I changed the subject, walking to the corner. There, we found a bundle of furs, cloth and-..

Bones. Small bones, curled up in the corner. Neza looked down and tried to pick something up from them, something stuck in the skeletal hand, but when she couldn’t, she slowly faded from view, crying silently.
Tinith reached down, tears streaking her bloody face. “This-.. this was mine…” she spoke softly, lifting an amulet from the small hand. A carved bone circle with a hole in it, decorated with faded paint. Small wolves playing.
“I lost this the day I was taken, I remember.. Oh Neza, did you follow me? Did you try to find me…”
I didn’t know what to say. Tinith let out a wail, so full of anger, hurt and sorrow that I flinched. But after a moment she calmed.
“We’ll take her home. Give her the pyre she deserved all that time ago already, at the ancestral grounds.” Determined again, she very carefully wrapped the bones in one of the furs.
I couldn’t help but be amazed at her inner strength. Her determination, even after all the pain and loss and hurt, she didn’t give up, didn't break down.
“Let’s g-go back then…”

The ceremony was beautiful. I was asked to be there by Tinith. Some of the former slaves were there, supporting the female. One of the elder Shaman of Garadar lead the ritual. Neza was standing beside her mother through it all, her little arms around her mother’s legs. For a moment I saw Tiniths hand move to rest on Neza’s head, just an instant.
Maybe a trick of the light…
Neza turned. She gave me a smile and a small wave, before she walked away, towards the shining mountain of Oshu’gun, fading from view.

The day came that me and Nakobu had to follow the clan. We couldn’t stay any longer. I hadn’t told him yet what had happened, though I saw his worried looks often and how he had to hold himself back from asking. I needed some time to think it over first.
Tinith came to say goodbye, pressing the amulet in my hand.
“You helped me. And her. Thank you, Skint… I want you to have this. Maybe one day you can give it to your own daughter, if she is to come in the future. I have none to pass it on to anymore.” She spoke softly, with a small sad smile. I nodded quietly in return, keeping the amulet in my hands and later hung it around my neck.

They were still there. Flashes, shimmerings in the corners of my eyes. Many of them. I closed my eyes most of the way. Nakobu had told me there were paths coming up ahead I really did not want to see.
Not yet, at least. Maybe one day I’ll be strong enough.
To handle all of it.
"For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack."