Chapter IX Of My Current Campaign, Which Began A Year Ago, As Written/Retold By My Player Who Plays Vilven
So, they made their way West, in the direction of Warden. Grid took the front, Wiendle and Jaren walked side by side in the middle, which left Vilven to flank the group. It was about noon, the air was clear and the sun was bright, creating good visibility. Still, she looked over her shoulder every so often to make sure there was nothing behind or otherwise following them. It felt quite good to be perceived as some sort of protector, or even fighter, though it felt like playing a part most of the time. They had been travelling for three days, stopping only at night to make camp, and they had, surprisingly, not been confronted or attacked by anything. They spotted the occasional deer, and enjoyed the sights of the birds and squirrels who made their home in the beautiful, thick trees, but saw nothing of any real danger. Though Vilven was stunned at the beauty of the wildlife, the ease of their travelling put her on edge, not relieved as she probably should have been. It made her jumpy to think the danger could merely be hidden from them, playing them like fools.
Wiendle would innocently say, snuggling near Jaren in the warmth of the campfire, that it was royal luck that their journey had been so easy, or that it was a sign from the heavens that Jaren and Wiendle’s love was meant to be. As romantic as it sounded, Vilven wasn’t convinced, and even started to think Grid had over-dramatized most of the dangers. It even made her question his claims of the dragon Sabot living in lake Beaumont. However, Jaren could hardly speak to Grid about anything else but Sabot, though the conversation had very little substance, more like a man plagued with obsession, it did seem to confirm Grid’s assertions. Though there was so much conversation about the dragon, Vilven could still not discern why Sabot was there. It still struck her as odd a dragon would place itself in that lake in the first place. And Vilven couldn’t help but want to know the full story. Grid wouldn’t elaborate on the subject however, even when she directly asked, but she was determined, and told herself that at some point the whole truth would have to come out. So she tried her best to be patient.
Vilven was lost in her thoughts about tactics to trick Grid into revealing more information when a barley audible rustle came from behind her. She spun quickly, her eyes prepared, searching methodically for the source of the noise. Behind her a fawn stood frozen, staring up at her. Vilven relaxed her stance, Wiendle, however, got very excited. Wide eyed and with a loud gasp, the young princess jumped toward the small deer.
“Look, Jaren! It’s a baby!” She shouted.
The deer, surprised by Wiendle’s boisterous demeanor, took off in a sprint.
“Wait! Come back! I won’t hurt you!” Wiendle called out to the fawn. And with unexpected speed, she lifted her dress, and chased after it with a desperate expression, disappearing into the heavy forest.
Jaren, Grid, and Vilven, staring after the princess, were beside themselves with shock, and reacted more slowly than they normally would have.
Jaren, coming back to himself, responded first. Unsheathing his sword as he followed her with worry and annoyance. “Wiendle. Wiendle! Come back here.” He shouted roughly.
Vilven looked up at Grid with a smile, on the verge of full blown laughter. “Well, he is going to have his hands full, isn’t he. She seems to have a particular affinity to run away.” she said with both adoration and sarcasm.
Grid glanced back at her with amusement. “Well, I suppose love does conquer all. We best go after them.” He said, pouncing in their direction.
Vilven sighed with resignation, then jogged after him, wincing as her sore legs ached. She made sure to keep Grid in eye shot in front of her, but otherwise kept her pace as slow as she possibly could, a petty rebellion building inside her toward running.
Vilven tripped then, almost falling, but she was able to balance herself before it happened. In the process, however, she lost sight of Grid and the direction he went. In near panic, Vilven glanced around in front of her, unsure of where to go. Then she heard the loud, terrified cry of Wiendle toward her left. Without thought, anxiety making her stomach and throat tight, Vilven ran as fast as she could toward the princess’ voice.
Vilven entered the scene, halting at what she saw. To her left, Wiendle cowered behind Grid, her eyes full of fear. Grid was standing tall, his large bow tight in his paws. He had the bowstring pulled back as far as it could go, the arrow shaking in tension, aimed in front of him. Jaren, about fifteen feet before them, was flailing his sword toward six small creatures that were attacking him with short, sharp spears. They looked vaguely human, but they were very ugly and clad in clothes that seemed rather primitive. They danced around Jaren, grunting horridly as they stabbed at him. Though one was dead on the ground, Vilven could tell that they were too quick for Jaren, as they easily avoided his panicked slashes. And though Grid was skilled, she could tell it was too risky for him to shoot, as he could accidentally hit Jaren. And moving was impossible without endangering the princess, as she clung to him, sobbing uncontrollably.
Vilven watched helplessly, one of them stabbing Jaren in the stomach, right under his armour, making him cry out in pain. She was paralyzed, she couldn’t even bring herself to draw her weapons. Vilven watched, out of her body, and realized in that moment, dismayed, she wasn’t a protector at all. She felt so weak. She concluded then that Areiden was wrong to have chosen her. All she wanted was to be back in the Water Plane, where no one had to rely on her for their life. So she turned her back, in shame and in sadness, not wanting to watch her friends die, ready to walk away.
Then, in a rush of energy, she felt Areiden inside of her, a deep burning in her chest. She felt her water elemental race come to the surface. She heard Areiden’s voice, hardly audible in her mind, echoing as if she was in a large, cave. “Vilven….Don’t run away from your greatness…Embrace yourself….You must only believe…Your will is power…Your power is will…Let it run through you…Let me run through you…”
Vilven hypnotically turned back, the scene moving in slow motion now, all the physical sounds inaudible to her. Grid’s arrow released, hanging in the air longer than it should, as it penetrated the skull of one of the creatures. Jaren was nearly on the ground, very injured. Grid dropped his bow, it fell soundlessly, nearly gracefully. He ran forward, extending his arms, stretching just far enough to pull Jaren out of the attacks of the small, ugly men. Wiendle ran forward, each step hitting the floor silently, a rainbow almost following her frame, to help pull Jaren back. The creatures turned then, preparing to throw their spears at all three of them. Then, Vilven was overcome with energy, and she walked forward right into the cluster of the enemy.
Quicker than a thought, her eyes glowed a bright blue, and water blasted out of her body, turning into dark, tendrils, similar to that of an octopus, and wrapped around the creatures, enveloping them completely. She could feel the life drain out of them, though their screams of death were inaudible to her. As the tendrils slithered back into her body, the small, men fell to the ground, nothing but blue-black husks. Their bodies hollowed of all life. Vilven fell to her knees, the environment returning back to normal.
Jaren was laying now, going in and out of conscious. Grid and Wiendle, unsure of what they had seen, stared at Vilven, a mix of awe, disbelief, and horror on their faces. Though still in shock from what she had seen happen with Vilven, Wiendle was more shocked to see Jaren so hurt, and began to cry hysterically, falling next to him, pulling at his armour, trying to take it off. Grid, coming to his senses, looked down at the princess and her injured lover. He lowered to his knees, taking off his pack to pull out a long roll of bandages. He then took off Jaren’s armour carefully, to expose deep wounds all over his body. Wiendle began to cry out loudly in response, Grid looked at her, trying to console her, but his focus was mainly on wrapping Jaren’s injuries.
Vilven looked up, suddenly aware of where she was. She looked at the husks of the enemies she had defeated. She was somewhat emotionless, she felt almost nothing about what she had done. But she was sure she was just in shock, and that her true emotions would come forth with more distance. She shakily stood, dizzy but still able to keep her footing, to walk over to the three of her companions. When she was near, she fell back to her knees, pulling Wiendle into a deep embrace. Wiendle cried, full of pain, into her shoulder, muffling the sound. Grid looked thankfully at her.
But the truth was, Vilven needed the hug just as much as Wiendle did.