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Sophia of Mourom


Once, many years ago, in the city then known as Tanom...

"Did you ever think it would end like this?"

"No."

"I'm dying."

"So you are," Sophia said, fighting off the sob that threatened to escape from her throat. She pulled the cloak of her hood back, sitting down next to the dying man, grasping his hands between hers, familiar lines on his scarred hands finding familiar, almost forgotten places on her own hands, a remnant of happier times that filled the druid with memories and despair.

The artificer laughed, a weak wheezing laughter, a pained, sad smile playing across his pale face, "You should have let me go, you should have stayed in your forest, I would saved them, I would have saved all of them, I would have saved you."

"You left me no choice, old friend, you strayed too far."

"No!" The artificer roared with unexpected strength, before his words were lost to another bout of coughing, his voice falling to a barely above a whisper as he wiped the fresh blood from his lips, "I was doing the right thing, I was doing what those frightened old cowards should have done all along!"

"You were always too arrogant, too brash, too willing to sacrifice the innocent if it served a higher purpose..."

Sophia could see the artificers features harden, his eyes suddenly dark, not out of fear or malice, but out of fear, "If you had seen what I have seen, you would know that this was the only way. There is a darkness coming, an evil that devours all that it encounters, it will encase this world in ice, and shatter it into a thousand pieces."

"Enough, Walter, you won't last much longer, let us part ways as friends."

"After all of this? You were always such a hopeless fool, Sophia."

"We have fought enough, we have spilled enough blood for a lifetime, and we have slain more friends than I care to remember. Let this end."

Walter of Eldeen sighed loudly, the fight having lost since left him, and he shook his head sadly in a well-practiced motion as he studied Sophia,"You know they're not going to let you go, you're the enemy now, the monster hiding in her woods."

"I know."

"So, much for a heroine's reward, eh?"

"The balance has been restored, that is all that matters."

"Sophia."

"Yes?"

"I'm so cold."

"I know."





Presently.

Sophia awoke to a stirring next to her. A thousand years of relived memories crashed across her mind, echoing painfully with each passing moment. A life of servitude, repaid most cruelly, first by death at the end of a royal sword and then by unceasing dreams, wicked dreams, tortuous dreams that allowed no hope and no change, filled her with a newfound bitterness. A bitterness made all the worse by each cruel repetition of her life, each failure growing larger, each mistake becoming more salient, and each loss, so painfully clear, becoming so much harder to bear. Making no move to rise or open her eyes, Sophia wiped away the tears that came unbidden, carefully containing the flame of anger that filled her heart. Before the darkness could take hold of her, before the anger overwhelmed her, she felt the familiar touch of a wet nose gently bumping against her cheek and a heavy paw softly brushing against her skin.

Running a hand gently through her animal companion's fur, Sophia slowly sat up, a hand on her chest finding neither blood nor the wound that ended her life, much to the druid's surprise. Picking Sir Thomas up, Sophia buried her damp face in his fur, pulling him tight, and trying her best to forget.

When she finally opened her eyes, Sophia found herself among strangers, some seemed vaguely familiar, though she could not quite place them, and she was sure she had never met them before. Taking a deep breath, she put Sir Thomas down, watching as the badger shook himself, drying his fur in a fell swoop, and managing a smile as he bounded forward, death being no great obstacle in his mind. Rising to her feet with a deep breath, Sophia cautiously studied the party, strange as it was, some of the strangers bore familiar garbs, but others looked to be from foreign lands, lands that had very different ideas about what proper dress meant.

A strange feeling filled the Green Sage as gaze shifted from the strangers to the landscape and then the burned village. There was a wrongness to the grim scene, no natural flames would leave such burns, and she felt a growing sense of alarm, a gnawing feeling that told her to run, to seek shelter, and to hide. But most of all, she felt a growing need to burn what little rubble remained, to cleanse the land of whatever foul magic had caused the devastation she saw, and to bury the desecrated bodies far beneath the earth.

Sophia was brought away from her grave thoughts by the low barking of Sir Thomas, who stood at the feet of a young woman, the current object of his cheerful investigation, the badger knight studiously and unabashedly sniffing at her leather boots. The young woman, was wearing a a thin knee-high dress of a style Sophia could not place and an equally-thin shawl of a similarly novel appearance, clothes that were barely suited for high summer much less a cold winter's day. Sophia could see her shivering and felt a pang of sympathy, she remembered more than one day spent in the wilds, left at the mercy of the elements far from shelter or help.

With a deft movement of her hands, Sophia removed the enchanted cloak she wore, and slowly stepped closer to the young woman. Holding the cloak carefully in front of her, as if worried she would spook the poor girl, Sophia spoke softly, "Here, put this on, you will not last long in this cold without it."




Addendum:

Sir Thomas


Awakening from his long slumber, Sir Thomas opened his beady badger eyes, and sprung to his feet with a well-practiced and to a badger extremely dramatic leap. He had always known that death would not claim him so easily, no, badgers did not die, not the heroic ones at least, and certainly not the ones destined to defeat great evils.

Casting a cursory glance at the squires he found gathered around him, Sir Thomas could not help but feel a bit disappointed, there were precious few knights among the present company, at least if their quaint manner of dress was anything to go by. Still, pauper knights were better than no knights, even if it so happened that none of them had a proper suit of armor.

Finding that his companion was slow to rise, Sir Thomas nudged her with his graceful nose, gently pawing at her with his powerful paw. No sooner had she awoken than she had picked him up and smothered him with hug, that while welcome, almost caused him to let out a loud growl of surprise.

Finally released, he shook out the strange drops of moisture that had accumulated in his fur, springing forward to examine the still mysterious strangers with the unmitigated cheerfulness of an unstoppable force of badgerness.

Beginning his investigations of the group, Sir Thomas carefully studied the boots of a young woman, a shivering thing that stood not far from Sophia. There was something familiar about her scent, it reminded him of home, but it was not quite the same scent, it was different somehow, as if it had changed slightly since he had last walked through his glorious kingdom. He let out a soft bark, at last noticing that the young pup wasn't wearing so much as a jacket. Having long studied human beings, on his own and in his travels with Sophia, Sir Thomas knew that the poor, fur-less creatures did not deal well with cold or rain. Unless of course they were wrapped in several layers, like some strange form of caterpillars, cocooned in fur or cloth.

Turning towards Sophia, he offered a slight tilt of his head, a sign of his great confusion. Surely, there were more knights waiting for him to lead them into battle?
Back in a proper big city! Will post later today after some sleep!

Great IC stuff so far. :3
Finally caught up with life, should have a post later today, lovely posts so far!
I'm out of town until Tuesday evening, so I probably won't have time or be sober enough to post until Wednesday afternoon. ^^

Super excited to see an IC post though!
All I know about FF is that it involves a lot of androgynous men, fantastic anime hair, and swords the size of small trucks, so I'm afraid I can only modestly contribute to any related banter.
Moved my CS to the CS page.

I too foresee a great friendship developing between the thief and the beat cop turned detective. :D


Just watch out for gentrification, NYC is increasingly droll these days. ;)
To avoid going through the thread, I'm posting a finalized CS here (classically last minute).



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