I am in my temple writing this entry. This is the last of three entries that summarize a short trip to the north to accompany my friends while they try to stop the goblins. We all returned safely, but we had some difficult times. Our druid and ranger friends each lost an animal pet. And we sustained injuries but were able to heal afterwards. I wrote about the trip there, and the way we destroyed the goblin army, so I will continue with our travel back, after the shape changer had intruded our camp one evening, which left a lasting effect on my dreams...
Sleep consists of short moments of my eyes being shut, at best. The pain I feel is not a physical pain, but a pain in my mind, caused by a choice I made. I feel I must tell the group about it, especially Trevor.
The next night, we make camp, and I place my bedroll over a small lump that I didn't notice until I am too tired to move. One nagging root under my bed roll turns into movements of many roots. I toss and turn, trying to find a flat spot. I doze off, but soon, the root returns, nagging, trying my patience. I wake to see roots and vines stretching out in every direction, like a spiders web. They reach out to cover me, and to Trevor, to Brute, Kull, Ohm Uri, and Boomtuck, to hold all of us motionless in our sleep. And I see myself walking amongst them. Now I switch views, as I am the one walking amongst them. I have a blade in my hand. I turn and see my other self, as I was before, covered in roots, but my arm is raised, ready to strike. I open my eyes with a start. It seems like a dream. My pillow is wet from my tears.
I look around, and see Brute on watch, and the campfire strangely illuminates the evil shape changer that invaded our group a few nights ago. Its motionless body begins to twitch, and then, in the shadows, I see a woman who animates the dead shape changer and it sets about to its killing. I open my eyes again with another start. My pillow is now a soaking wet. I see Trevor this time, walking amongst the group as they sleep, holding a dagger, and my decision to attack him slices through my mind. I wake again. The camp looks normal, this time. The Trevor that I know looks at me with that kind look I saw before, the one where he promised to keep my secret. That alone calms me.
When morning comes, I am very tired. We break camp, and load the carts with our equipment. Food is bearable. We head south on the road back to the crossroads, and not long we see refugees, heading north, many of them. I must admit that I just want to get back to the city. For once I can understand Trevor and his view of the wastelands, to get back to a warm bath and make myself clean again. We all hail the travelers, but not in a unified fashion, Trevor and I simultaneously speak, but not the same message, and things go from tired and fatigued to worse.
A fellow steps up, introduces himself as brother Daniel and without going into detail, he uses what I say to his own benefit. He is not rational, he irritates and incites the crowd. He reins chaos right upon us, and for our petty reasons to be individual and without a designated leader that can tell the truth, we almost hand over the keys of victory. To quiet this brother, I remember a technique used by one of my teachers when there was an unruly student, and they stopped and listened. So I, summoning the courage and with some help of the Light, command brother Daniel to be quiet. The evil and malice of this stranger proves stronger and my effect is lost.
Brute wastes no time, and sets a huge blow to the instigator, but he dissolves into a puddle of water. "An illusion," is murmured by Trevor, it is nice to have an illusionalogist in one's pocket. This means the real controller is hiding in the crowd somewhere. I call upon the Light to expose the stranger, and the Light has guided me well, for all but one drops in a large circle and the real instigator is left standing. I reach for my scarlet bolt but the jostling of the cart causes the ray to go astray. But I call out to the others to take him down.
Trevor steers the cart, wanting to get closer to the stranger. Possessed people grapple us, and several get crushed under the cart. I hear bones snapping and the anguish screams but we must press on to the one responsible or more innocents will be hurt. One possessed innocent grabs my arm to pull me off the cart. I hold fast and instead, hoist him into the cart. I find my sorceress energy, and radiate my presence through my touch to his arm to break the avatar's charm. I ask him if he would help us. He agrees. That felt fantastic, and I want to effect a mass, next.
Soon, Brute has stopped the avatar's charm, by delivering a chop with his executioner, and thus the fight is over. The innocents are free from the charm and I move about helping all of the injured. I remember at the priory, I was summoned to treat the wounds of a man who was punished. I was forbidden to call upon the Light to heal, but I tended to the wounds the best I could using bandages and salves to keep infection out. This is what I could do now. I set about to stop the bleeding and to set bones. I had Brute, Trevor and the others make splints to help with the breaks. By the time I finished with the injured, the chaos avatar had died. People had condemned us just moments ago for destroying their town, and are now praising us.
But, for all it seemed I managed to definitely be Bob's heroine. Bob is the one I hoisted into the cart, after he tried to pull me off. I asked him to help, and he would help for a few moments, then stop and move back to me, standing behind and being quiet. This annoys Trevor, and he looks at me like it is my fault.
The next day, many refugees go north, to salvage what they can from the town or the docks. But most head south. We return with our way towards Aden. We press on, traveling all day since we have a late start. With night approaching early the pathway is dark, yet, Trevor and I illuminate the way so we can see the road ahead. Bob has been quietly with us the entire day, almost unnoticed. I thought that Bob would get tired of being with us, like Merity did, and leave. He stayed. Trevor becomes very annoyed.
This evening, Brute decides to review the items we took from the chaos avatar. And that brought up the issue with Trevor holding the magic items. I felt that with the last incident of the ring, that the items should be with someone else, specifically one that would not use them, myself included. Trevor has a weak willpower, and I didn't want a curse to fall on him. Our rule should be that until the true nature of the items are found, they should not be used, for they may cause more harm than good.
When I countered the avatar's charm on Bob, it left a long lasting impression. Sorcery is tricky and it may give unintended consequences. When we were at the crossroads, and in the middle of the night, Bob starts singing. We all wake to this, and the words are definitely meant for me. He does have a nice voice, and I wish Trevor's voice was nice, too. But other rude sleepers wake and yell vulgar sayings, Trevor's voice being the loudest amongst them. I created this problem, so I must fix it. I go to Bob and ask if he will be quiet, I emphasize to do it for me, as a friend. And finally he is quiet and the others can sleep, but my nightmares continue. In the morning, I continue to explain at great lengths that he must stay behind, and that he must find his family and friends, they might be worried for him. Someone jokes that I broke Bob's heart, for when we leave, Bob is still there, looking at us until we are out of sight. How insensitive people can be. Trevor moans a sigh of relief and adds that even I felt Bob was creepy after a while.
During the next day, I want to break this routine of nightmares and gloom, and so, I think of positive things. I remember Trevor stating that he cares for me, but he didn't mention it at all on this trip. I seek Brute to have a talk with Trevor. Brute was able to get through to him before, so maybe he can again. That evening, Brute, quite surprisingly and without using any discretion, confronts Trevor and me, and then declares that the rest give us privacy. Nothing like putting me on the spot.
While Brute and the others leave, it reminds me of how the audience leaves for food during a mushy love scene in an amphitheater. Then the uncomfortable quiet follows. I must tell him about the shape changer and how I attacked the back of Trevor - I felt that he must know. I don't have a chance; I am caught in his spell. Trevor, with his magic, makes himself dashing before my eyes and with a wide sweep, lays his cloak out on the ground and offers for us to sit. He has such flair. I follow along and we sit, like a royal couple having a picnic on a grassy riverbank. I didn't think he cares that much. This is spiraling out of control. I thought that Trevor would have been apologetic, stating that he didn't really mean his statement back at the carnival and he would want to remain friends. But quite the opposite, Trevor proposes, rather bluntly, that he wants to court me. I might have agreed in my confusion because I am a bit surprised. Instead of stating that I must check with Priest Lore if it is possible, I am caught in the moment and suggest an outing, Trevor agrees and adds, "Without the Brute!"
Finally, I break from the spell, and change the conversation to Veronica and how Brute treated her. And then Trevor hints that they had a rumble or tumble. Totally taken by surprise at this, I press the situation a bit farther than I should. I clarify with him, exactly what is meant by "a rumble and a tumble" - to lay as lovers? This is not what I thought Brute did and why does Trevor think of that? We call Brute to our talk, and I want to know if this is true. Brute did not deny and explains that he stated she is a nice person, and it happened. My concern is with Veronica and that she was not forced, or if she becomes with child, then Brute must be a proper father. Brute assures me that he would, if that even happens. But I am not sure how Priest Lore would view this act without a sacred blessing. Brute seems confused as to how his name is in our conversation and realizing our moment is over, he calls all back to camp.
I move off to my bedroll, as I am swimming in thoughts and emotions. In one fell swoop, Trevor reveals not only his feelings for me, but the intensity of them, his plans for a future with me, and that he is such a gentleman and a romantic. I rest on my bedroll, thinking is this possible? Why did I make Brute talk to Trevor? I brought this upon myself. Is Trevor sincere? Can this work? What will Priest Lore think or allow? And most importantly, will I loose favor of the Light? I dose off to an uneasy slumber.
Suddenly, I wake and look up. I see Keith, a friend I knew from years ago, a sorcerer that rivals Trevor's skills, but the last I heard was that he perished. Brute seems a little upset that Keith got past by his defenses, but I let Brute know I am ok. Keith smiles at me. I speak. "How did you find me? You haven't changed a bit since I last saw you." I sit up and continue, "Things are different now. It is good that you didn't perish, but I want to know how you survived. Wait, let me wake the others."
At this point, I stand and turn towards Trevor where he was sleeping, but he is not there. Did he use the ring? I turn back to Keith, but it is not Keith, it is Trevor. I ask, "Did you use magic to trick me, to look like Keith and see my reaction?" And then a woman with red hair approaches. She circles him as I stand and watch. She caresses Trevor, no, she mocks me by healing Trevor like I heal others, only she injures. Just like the shape changer, she becomes Miranda, the witch! I move to help Trevor, then the witch grabs him, wraps her arms about him, and pulls him from me. I run and another set of arms reach out to him, and I press harder one more time, a surge to catch and set the captive free. Yet a third pair of arms come from the witch and embrace him and pull, faster still. I scream out for Trevor, and cry as I collapse from the run and wake up from the dream. I look around, and there is Trevor on the night watch. It is only a dream. I roll within my bedroll, and realize I am in a cold sweat. The nightmares continue.
I think back to when I was younger, and of the fun Keith and I had, it was an innocent fun. It was a fantasy, too, like the way the dream started. Trevor is eyeing me in the moonlight, more confident knowing that he made his move. Now there are more items we must talk about. Yes, he finally says it. And the whole group knows it. But is this what I want?
Next morning, we all wake to drops of rain. It is damp and gives me a chill in this late autumn morning. I pull my hood over my head and tuck my hair in. A little more time to still be dry, for this rain will last all day. By the time we eat and pack the cart, the rain has soaked our clothes, weighting them. And the heavy cart turns the road into muddy ruts. We press on all day, slipping and falling in the mud, progressing slowly and stopping only briefly. The city gates are about to close and we are the last to pass through this night.
When we get to the city, the group goes separate ways. Brute apparently has a feather bed to check on, and the rest may go to a tavern or to Broderick's house. Trevor accompanies me to my temple. I petition the night watchman to let me stay. And he agrees, but will not allow Trevor, understandably, and he is fine with that. I can now make my plans to be a part of this family, and to perform my duties.
I turn to Trevor, thinking about all that we have been through, but see what a mess he is. I must be a mess, too. Only in contrast to the watchman do I notice. However, I see past the dirt, grime, battle and rain soaked clothes and see a fine smile behind those muddy checks. I want to give him a hug but, that would start a bad rumor - not the way to begin my stay here. Instead, I formally thank him, and ask if he will be fine. He reassures me. I have a pain, knowing that we will be apart. How can this hurt? But I must stay here. This is where I belong. How much easier this would be if I were just a sorceress, and not on the path to be a priestess. My people must see me as divine and on a pedestal; I must be the example that they must strive to be. Will I see Trevor again, yes, I will, but as a suitor? He will most likely forget about what he said, and I will not be required to break another heart.
I cover a tear in my eye, turn, and walk into my new home.