Lately, I have taken to writing up portions from our D&D game into little vignettes, all in first person.
The first two are told from the point of view of my character, Silver. The second is the point of view of the NPC Paladin Lester, who is traveling with us (DM told me I got into Lester's head better than he did, which I consider high praise ).
Please note, I am not very good at writing in first person (I hate it as a general rule), so I'm also using these as a way to practice. If anyone has any advice or constructive critisim on how to do it better, please let me know
So, without further adue...
Why Girls Shouldn't Kiss
(or A Bad Day for Will Saves)
I never, ever want to go through something like that again. I wish I knew some sort of memory modifying spell so I could cast it on myself. That was awful. It was disgusting. And now Rifus won’t shut up about it. I suppose, all things considered, I should be grateful Tanc thinks fast on his feet, or I might still be stuck up there, with that – thing.
Telia looked, sounded, and acted like any normal teenaged half-elf. She was so pathetically grateful when we got her out of that hobgoblin prison; I don’t think any of us considered she might be a threat. It wasn’t until she and Rifus started wandering off together all day that anyone got suspicious. You might think it perfectly natural, she was young, Rifus is young – why wouldn’t they want to keep each other company? On the other hand, we’ve made our living being suspicious, and we’re all currently alive because of it. So tough. Tanc waited until Rifus and Telia had gone off again before talking to Lester, and asking him if he wouldn’t mind just checking if Telia might just happen to scan as evil. I admit, there was a part of me that was hoping she’d be fine. It’s been a long couple of weeks (and an even longer period of months before that), I think we’re overdue for rest. But no. The first words out of Lester’s mouth “I’ve noticed she seems to be avoiding me”. Great, even the paladin is suspicious. That just ramped my paranoia up a notch.
Still, they got back, and Rifus wasn’t sporting horns – on his head at least. Nera and I were sitting together, as we usually do. Hobgoblins aren’t fond of elves, and they’re not quite sure what to make of catfolk – like I said, we’re suspicious and it keeps us alive. I was watching Lester’s face, and I could see the exact moment he detected evil on her. His face scrunched up like he’d bitten something sour. I got up, ostensibly to get another drink, and if that just happened to take me past where Tanc and Lester were sitting – well, it’s a small inn. Lester glanced up at me as I went past – he must be the only human male who doesn’t watch me with that on his mind. He said something perfectly innocuous, so innocuous that I’ve forgotten it completely, and then murmured “she detects as evil. Extremely evil”.
“Don’t tell Rifus” I muttered, continuing to the bar and then back to my seat. I’ve had more experience with enchantments and their affects than any of the others, there’s no telling how someone will react if they’re under the influence of an enchanter. I should know, I am one. Of course, at that point the little witch made her move. I should have faked a headache and gone upstairs.
Even without Lester’s warning, I’d have known something was up the minute she started in on my accent. I’ve spent years trying to erase the sound of Domoth from my voice, and it is the one thing I simply cannot get rid of. It’s also the one thing everyone who knows me knows better than to comment on. So, point one – my hackles were already raised. Point two – she’d put her bloody foot in it, good and proper. But it wasn’t until she suggested I might like to be her ‘big sister’ instead that I really understood this wasn’t some little half-elf girl we were dealing with. I had no particular desire to be anyone’s sister, and I wasn’t shy about letting her know it. All she did then was suggest we go upstairs and talk about it some more. Even as I heard my voice saying “sure” and felt myself get up and go upstairs with her, my mind was screaming at me that this was wrong. This was wrong. This was very wrong and very bad. I’ve cast enough enchantment spells to recognise the effects of one when it’s used on me.
It seemed like such a good idea too, how could this little slip of a girl possibly be any threat? She wasn’t wearing the rags we’d found her in any more, but clothes were all she had. I was still wearing my bladed cloak, and I had my component pouch – she couldn’t possibly be a threat. As if my mind had suddenly split in two there was another voice hammering at the back of my mind, demanding shrilly that this was a bad idea. It wanted to know why I would willingly go upstairs with a girl I’d just been told was evil. The rest of my mind told it to shut up. And then we were in the room.
And then she turned to me, eyes wide, and lower lip trembling and she held out her arms to me “sister?”. And then she kissed me. And I went willingly into her arms. That foremost part of my mind was quite happy, what could be more natural than kissing one’s brand new sister. Hadn’t I always wanted a sister? Hadn’t I always thought that life on Domoth wouldn’t have been so bad, wouldn’t have driven me off the island, if I’d had siblings? The secondary part of my mind, rapidly being pushed into a smaller and smaller space, was screaming at the top of its metaphorical lungs. “Don’t do this! Don’t do this! Don’t do this!” stuck on repeat. Then a panicked “Don’t do it again!” as Telia beamed at me, and moved in again, closer this time.
And then her breath was hot and moist on my face. And then her lips had fastened over mine. And then her tongue was in my mouth, biting down on mine. And then she breathed in sharply. And then I felt pain. I felt something tug on my mind, it was pulled, ripped away and the tiny, terrified part of my mind started screaming. It knew that there were suddenly spells I couldn’t remember, abilities I had that I knew I could no longer do. The thought of trying to intimidate someone, or talk them around to my view was suddenly awful, I felt sure I would fail. And throughout it all, as I tasted blood in my mouth, and a horrid sickly sweet flavour on my tongue, the foremost part of my mind told me how perfectly natural and sensible this was. That I had a sister now, and why wouldn’t I do everything in my power to make her happy, to make her satisfied. I knew her story wasn’t that far-fetched. My kin are extremely xenophobic, I had heard stories and been around for some of them, the friends of my childhood, cast out because they bore a child who wasn’t fully elven. Perhaps, perhaps said this blissfully happy part of my mind, perhaps she was right after all. Perhaps she was my daughter, my child.
It couldn’t possibly be true! the other half of my mind – growing ever smaller, insisted. You’ve never… You’ve come close, I couldn’t deny that. Perhaps you simply forgot. Perhaps she is right. You spent a lot of time off Domoth, learning to dance. Maybe, just maybe… your mother always favoured you, maybe she tried to make you forget.
Then I went flying backwards as Tanc barrelled into the room, and slammed into Telia, knocking me aside and onto the floor. How had I not heard him? Tanc isn’t exactly subtle, and – had I locked the door? I wasn’t sure. One part of my mind screamed at me, insisted I get up and help my sister? Daughter? The other part of my mind simply screamed, pain and rage and fear all rolled into one. Before I could act on either impulse, Lester had stormed past, his face furious. His longsword was already in his hand, and he aimed the point at Telia’s throat, demanding she stop and give herself up. Rifus and Nera were hovering in the doorway, avoiding the splinters – we’d have to pay for that damage later. Neither of them did anything, they simply watched, eyes dark and concerned.
Telia paid no attention to either of them, she looked directly at me, and cried out in a tortured voice that I will never forget, though I long to. “Mother!” I scrambled to my feet, ignoring Lester’s angry growl and Nera’s sharp cry of “Silver, don’t!” I couldn’t hear anything but Telia sobbing as she writhed beneath Tanc’s strong grip. I couldn’t hear anything but the sound of my own heart pounding, and the two voices in my mind, both screaming “Help her!” “She’s evil!” “She’s your daughter!” “You don’t know that! She’s evil!” “She might be!” “She’s manipulating you!” “What if I’m wrong? What if she is? What if she’s right?” “She’s evil! Remember what Lester said!” “But what if? whatifwhatifwhatifwhatifwhatif?”
Pain and fear and confusion and anguish all slamming into the two halves of my mind, and my heart. Totally disoriented, I gave up on making sense of any of it and ran at Tanc
“Let her go!” I hardly recognised my own voice as I lunged, and completely missed. Tanc simply raised an elbow and fended me off. I grabbed at his tunic and started pulling, desperately, frantically. “Let her go! She might actually be my daughter!” I heard a whistle come from Rifus behind me, and a startled gasp from Nera. Tanc chanced a glance over his shoulder at me, I have no idea what he saw, but it was obvious he didn’t believe me. The smaller part of my mind, and growing ever smaller as it tried to flee against the force of Telia’s attacks pointed out that this was to be expected. I tried harder.
Then, Rifus was there. Nimbler than I am, he got his arms around Tanc’s shoulders and tried to prise him off. He might as well have tried to shift a boulder. Nothing moves Tanc unless he wants it to. Nera was still hovering in the doorway, and Rifus was yelling something at Tanc, who was ignoring him in his attempts to keep Telia pinned to the floor.
Chaos unravelled. Abruptly, her face changed, and she was no longer the sweet-faced half elf we rescued, that I was still trying to rescue apparently. Face and form changed, and all at once a succubus was there, face contorted in rage, swearing in a language I didn’t understand. Then, before anyone could act; she vanished. Tanc yelled, Rifus swore and unbalanced now, both of them fell flat on their faces. Lester’s sword point wavered, but he said nothing.
All I felt was pain. Pain in my head from where the two halves of my mind abruptly collided and the realisation of what had just happened started to intrude upon my consciousness. Pain in my rear as I too overbalanced and fell backwards, bounced off the edge of the bed and landed on the floor. The subconscious part of my mind was kind enough not to gloat as the rest of it caught up to reality. A headache was rapidly developing behind my left eye – presumably to match the one behind my right. I closed them both. Partly to combat the pain, and partly because I simply could not deal with the looks I knew I must be getting. What an utter fool I had made of myself.
“Silver?” Nera’s voice, concerned. “You have a daughter?” Rifus’ voice, curious. Then a thud and protest as, presumably, Tanc hit him. These people were – oddly enough, my friends, and I knew how they would react. I also knew how they would react if I continued to remain silent, which meant I had better find my voice, and fast.
“Nnnnmmphh” eloquent, very eloquent. I have never been able to think straight with a headache, and this one had taken up permanent residency behind my eyes. Pain lanced through my temples, bringing nausea with it, and I groaned. I heard the rustle of steel in leather as Lester sheathed his sword and the clink of armour as he knelt before me.
“Silver?” astonishing how a man that bit can sound so gentle. “Open your eyes.” That had to be the last thing I wanted to do, but I forced them open. “Ouch” I whispered, even the dim light from the candles in the room hurt. The headache and nausea ramped up a notch and I retched. The next instant, I felt Nera’s hands on my shoulders, holding tight, and Lester’s hand on my temple. Even that slightest of touches hurt and I involuntarily pulled away. “This wasn’t your idea, was it?” he inquired. Shrewd, very shrewd. Whatever could have given him that idea? “No. It most definitely wasn’t” there that sounded more like me. “Whatever gave you the impression I’d willingly go upstairs with a woman you just told us was ‘extremely evil’?” sarcasm, first, last and best defence. Or it would be if I didn’t feel like throwing up.
“Silver, I need to know what she did” that got my eyes open. I glared at him, “do not make me say it” I told him flatly “you saw.” “I know, but what did she do? What happened?” Oh. That’s what he meant. “I don’t know” honesty, how I hate it. “It hurt though. Still hurts. Felt like – ripping, pulling, she took parts of my mind. My-” I broke off and started swearing, “the last spells I learned, I’ve forgotten them. I’ve forgotten what they were called!” I could hear the rising panic in my voice, and hated myself for it. Lester ignored it. Wise man. “Ahhh. I think I know” and then his voice sounded, some type of spell I wasn’t sure I recognised, though part of me insisted I should know the intonations, the words, even if I couldn’t have cast it myself. What the hell had that hag done to me? I forced my eyes open again, Lester on his knees in front of me, looking pleased. Tanc hovering above him, looking worried. Rifus next to Tanc, looking curious. And Nera still behind me, still supporting me.
And then I knew. And the headache started to fade. And I remembered the spells I’d lost, the abilities I’d lost, the memories I’d lost. And myself, left with the memory I wished I could forget.
Don't Mess With Those Who Can Mess Back
(or Next Session is Going to Be Fun)
I’m just staring out into the darkness at the moment, wondering if there’s anything out there to see. It’s pitch black, but I can see in shades of grey out to where I think the tree line is. Shades of grey, except for that one spot. There, all I can see is white and silver waving at me. It undulates, only vaguely face-shaped, round like a child’s. White worms appear and disappear, whipping up around the face, curling around thin thin fingers. A child?
… A child with no face.
WHAM! The thunder is enough to rattle my ears, and the lightning bolt slams through the darkness with enough force to light the entire sky. A thud, and…
“Eeahh” I managed to choke off a squeal before it became a shout. I can feel bile rising in the back of my throat, all I can do is frantically swallow, and pray I don’t throw up. Another, softer thud, and something falls against my foot. Part of the tree, covered in – in… rain drenched leaves, glistening silver-white. Sometimes, I’m an idiot.
I can’t hear, or see anything in this storm. Which is just as well, because I’m not really paying attention – if something goes wrong, I can just blame the weather. If it really is the weather of course. Two chasms and one set of crucifixes later, I’m starting to doubt everything. Which is probably the whole point. I wouldn’t say we’re paranoid, but arriving at the point where Vijae should have been and finding an empty valley has us all on edge.
But it makes me think. Think of the way they used those people, just to stall us.
That poor little boy Tiero, and his sister. I can imagine the grief their mother must feel, how horrible it must be to lose a child. Those people didn’t deserve what they got; neither did the villagers in Goldtown – though thankfully we (well Nera) were quick enough there that no one got hurt. I am grateful for Lester’s skill in healing – that is one thing we sorely lack as a group. It was – impressive to watch him at night, moving amongst those most ill. Surprising really, a man that big with such gentleness, such compassion. I hope it doesn’t get him killed.
There was no real question or discussion about which way to go after that – nothing was going to get us anywhere near that little farming settlement again. Nothing.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful that I cannot dream – if I could, they would be bad dreams. Nightmares. I am 123 years old, I have seen a lot in my time. I have done a lot; but I have never seen anything that disturbed me as much as the things I have seen – and done, today.
None of us had any inkling that those men were plain merchants. We knew it was a set-up. Two wagons, overturned in the road – how could it be anything but? When Tanc snuck up and reported back that there were four men waiting in ambush, that was simply confirmation. It wasn’t until that fourth man, the one on the left-hand side of the road came shuffling out of the bushes and attacked Nera that I realised anything was wrong.
I’m not sentimental, I can’t afford to be. But even I wish we could go back in time and change what happened then. I knew, as soon as he appeared, that there was something wrong with the way he was moving. His hands jerked and his body stuttered like a puppet on a string. But it was his eyes that told the story. They were blank. Completely blank. Even as Rifus shot him (and honestly it’s Rifus, he wasn’t going to miss) I was trying to yell a warning. Even as he fell, I was marvelling at the skill of the spellcaster, and wondering if I could work out how it was done. Perhaps it’s not a nice thing to do to a person. Well, I’m not always a nice person.
I don’t know that it would have been so bad really – if not for the look of absolute horror on Lester’s face. Sometimes that man’s compassion gets the better of him. Next time something like this happens, I must remember – not to tell the paladin. It’s not his fault, and with blast-happy Rifus around, there wasn’t much he could have done. I can see him out of the corner of my eye; he isn’t asleep, just staring off into space. Funny that he hasn’t once blamed me. None of the others have any clue about body language, I’m the only one who had any chance of noticing anything, and I didn’t. Not until it was too late at least.
Lester insisted that we stay and bury them. It was a nice gesture, but I wonder if it wasn’t a mistake. These College of Elden people have been following us with scrying sensors for at least four or five days now. It’s dangerous to let them know too much about us. And knowing that we will allow compassion to get the better of us is dangerous.
There is one thing I never want to see again, in my life. The sight of myself on a crucifix. If that wasn’t bad enough, it took too much time to convince Tanc and Rifus that it wasn’t really us. I’ve never moved so fast in my life. Men aren’t my favourite people in the world, but to be crucified as part of some overall plot to fight us? No one deserves that. I can’t imagine how much pain they must have been in. Working together Lester and Rifus got them down, while we tried to hold the legs of those who had to wait.
Lester is staring out blankly at the storm. I wonder what he’s seeing. I wonder why I’m so busy watching him, instead of keeping my eyes open. Perhaps it’s because I can’t see or hear anything in this accursed rain anyway. Perhaps it’s because I know if this Elden bunch want to spy on us, nothing I can do is going to stop them. Perhaps it’s because I know all this is really our fault. Our pride. Our refusal. And now, not only have we possibly destroyed the lives of those farmers, but we’ve lost Methos, and we’ve lost Aspelli. This didn’t have anything to do with either of them.
I’m still not sure whether to shout at the sensor I’m sure is out there; or scream.
I don’t know what intent lay behind the events of today. But I suspect it has had the opposite affect to the one intended by the College of Elden mages. Nera’s on edge and nervous. And with the power that girl wields, it’s not a good idea to make her nervous. Tanc is so pissed he gave money to the group we pulled off the crucifixes. I’ve noticed that about Tanc, he’s a serious money-grubber – except when he’s ticked. And now he’s ticked. Rifus… well, I think Rifus is just mad that he keeps falling for the illusions. He’s so trigger-happy normally that it’s never a good idea to get in his way. Lester is seriously upset, and I – well, I am mad.
The others have made joking (and not-so-joking) references to the things I have said when trying to intimidate others, or get information out of them. I’ve seen the looks they’ve exchanged – wondering if even I would go that far. Wondering if what I’m suggesting we do is even possible. They’ve got no idea. I don’t approve of children being hurt or used. I don’t like others being abused in order to get at us. The College of Elden have no idea of what they’ve done. I am angry.
My breath comes out in soft sound, I am getting weary – it must be time to kick Rifus out here to watch. I head inside, and as I do, my gaze focuses on Lester. I realise I’ve been sitting watching him instead of watching the storm. I find that I simply don’t care. A few words to Rifus later and he takes his place at the edge of the cave, while I settle down in the spot he vacated. I can’t rest though. Now all I can see when I close my eyes is the haunted, grieving look in Lester’s. Paladins. They’re more trouble than they’re worth.
“You should sleep” I tell him quietly, sitting down on the rocky ground. “I dare say we’ll need you tomorrow.”
“If I could sleep I would not be myself” I sigh to myself, quietly – typical Lester. Still, it’s not his words that surprise me, it’s the quiet sigh, and the sudden realisation that in the bolt of lightning outside, I can see tears on his face. His compassion, his grief, makes me feel almost ashamed. Knowing he can’t see me in the darkness, I quietly tear a piece of fabric from the bottom of my skirt and wordlessly put it into his hands.
“Go to sleep” I say again, “morning will come soon enough.”
“I cannot sleep” somehow I’m not surprised
“I still have an arrow of sleep” the words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. I had intended to make him laugh, and had it been anyone other than Lester, I would have succeeded.
“Sorry” I whispered, I squeezed his hand in apology. I don’t know why I’m fighting it, I share his sense of responsibility, his sense of compassion, I too grieve over loss of life – for different reasons perhaps. And my attitude, my response, is definitely not the same.
“It shouldn’t have happened” I know that as well as anyone. “And we will see to it that it never happens again.” You could write that in stone. “Tomorrow. After we rest.”
“Yes” a whisper, barely audible, but he sounds different. “Yes. Tomorrow.”
We’re both quiet then, as Tanc mumbles something and turns over. Rifus is pacing at the entrance to the cave, Nera and Tanc both sleep. I rather suspect that Lester will be able to now as well.
“Go to sleep Lester.”
I sit in silence a while longer, listening as Lester’s breathing sounds slow and even as he falls asleep. I lean against my pack and let my own eyes close. Tomorrow will come soon enough. And then this College of Elden will realise something – don’t mess with those who can mess back.
A Paladin's Pain
(or The Same Story as Above, Told from the Paladin's Perspective)
May the Lord of Light forgive me.
Silver sits at the entrance to the cave, keeping watch. Around me, the others are asleep or resting. I find I cannot find that same peace. Every time I close my eyes, I see the same images. Those four poor souls whose lives we took. I see their faces, wooden in death, as we dig graves for them. I see the five men, crucified simply to bait us. I can only thank the Lord of Light that we were able to rescue four of them.
How I wish that we had been able to see the truth before lives had to be lost. If only Tanc had not been heard. If only Nera had been more temperate. If only Rifus was a little less accurate. I am sure they had the best of motives, concern for their friends. I am afraid I cannot acquit myself so easily. I have sworn myself to the protection of those less able than myself, those weaker, those vulnerable. In refusing the demands of this College of Elden, we have exposed numerous people to their depredations – all for the sake of what? What are they trying to do? Goad us into acting foolishly? Make us complacent? I cannot understand it.
If I cannot sleep, I should at least attempt to divine their purpose. But I cannot. As horrific as it was to see my own face on a crucifix, cruelly murdered, it was so much worse to realise that they were innocents. Men, seeking wealth, seeking adventure, cut down without a warning in order to do what? Something that I cannot ascertain.
Tanc was generous, offering them the funds they will surely require to get themselves out of this god-forsaken area. I find myself wishing we had simply acquiesced to their demands – irrational as they were. Surely then, this loss of life, this madness could have been averted. I do not know their names, but I will honour them and avenge them.
There is a slight noise as Silver makes her way past me to wake Rifus for his turn at watch. There is something in her eyes as she looks at me that makes me suspect she has been spending far more time watching me than watching the night. Perhaps I should say something about it – though with the storm raging outside, I doubt she could see or hear anything.
Rifus has gone to the front of the cave, and Silver makes few sounds as she settles herself for the rest of the night. Still she watches me; I can see in her eyes an acceptance of the past few days that I cannot find for myself. Despite all that has gone on, she has found a way to make her peace and move on. I both wish and do not wish that I could find the same acceptance.
There is the sound of rock clattering on rock as Silver comes over and joins me.
“You should sleep” she murmurs. “I dare say we’ll need you tomorrow.”
“If I could sleep I would not be myself” I reply, surprised – and yet not surprised, to find that there are tears in my eyes. There is the sound of tearing fabric, and then Silver takes my hand, turns it and presses something into it. A piece of cloth – for my tears.
“Go to sleep” she says again. “Morning will come soon enough.”
“I cannot sleep.” there is a pause,
“I still have an arrow of sleep.” It’s a funny joke, but I cannot find any laughter within myself.
“Sorry” a whisper, a small hand finds mine and squeezes it. “It shouldn’t have happened. And we will see to it that it never happens again. Tomorrow. After we rest.”
“Yes” I whisper, falling silent as Tanc grunts and turns in his sleep nearby. “Yes. Tomorrow.” I remember the scrap of fabric in my hand, and use it to wipe the tears that have run down my face. I should wonder where she got it from, but I am too tired.
“Go to sleep Lester” Silver’s voice again. She has not given me absolution, none but my god can give me that. But she has given me hope. I can feel myself falling asleep.
Lord of Light, I am sorry. Forgive me.