Solo Guiding Light

Can a man devoted to death save the lives of those dear to him?

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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Guiding Light

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on October 3rd, 2018, 5:53 pm

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Fall 36, 518
20th Bell
The Dust Bed

A howl pierced the silence of the Dust Bed, sending Anja springing upright in his bedroll, heart thudding like a drum as adrenaline coursed through his veins. The man shot to his feet, instantly awake, and fumbled for his bastard sword before dashing shirtless out of his tent and towards the noise, a vial of soulmist clutched in his hand. The brightness of Leth illuminated the Dust Bed almost as brightly as Syna might have.

The rocky terrain surrounding Anja’s tent was still, and the Spiritist froze and scanned the area as tension and anxiety coursed through his muscles. Anja felt something bump against his shoulder and nearly jumped out of his skin before he recognized his strider companion’s pale white form. She let out a few low, nervous rumbles and Anja put out a hand against her shoulder to calm her. Once more, a howl pierced through the night. But now that his senses weren’t muddied by sleep, the Drykas could sense something strange about it. The howl did not sound like that of the wolves that roamed the Dust Bed. It was higher pitched and somehow more sorrowful.

Anja stepped barefoot across the rocky ground, trying to ignore the terrible sense of foreboding that radiated through his bones. As the spiritist drew closer to the edge of his warded camp, a mournful dirge of the newly dead came to his ears. This song was different from the usual machinations that thrummed through the Dust Bed. There was a persistence to it, and it filled Anja with dread. Leth’s light caught the silvery white form of a pale figure sitting patiently at the edge of Anja’s wards. The Spiritist would have liked to have been a coward then, to return to his tent and pretend he hadn’t seen that figure there. Waiting for him. But cowardice was not a thing that Anja’s fate would permit him. His Goddess, and his desire to aid the dead pushed him forward. The man took a deep breath and crossed the barrier.

Light sat on the cool rock of the Dust Bed as she always did, with a stubborn patience that refused to be denied. The monochrome dog’s form now blurred on the edges, and the rocky terrain of the Dust Bed could be seen through the soulmist that swirled through Light’s transparent form. Aside from that, she looked much as she always did, save for an ugly red wound shining bright against her neck.

“Oh my dear Light,” Anja whispered. The man couldn't keep the sorrow from his voice. “What happened to you?” Anja bent down beside the form of the stray, whom the Drykas had tended to these past weeks with a devotion and love that rivaled his work with ghosts. Anja had put his heart into her care. And now here she was. Death waited for no one.

Anja’s hand passed through Light’s form and a familiar, uncomfortable chill fell across his fingers. Anja ignored it. He craved her touch, even if her form no longer had substance. Anja’s fingers gently explored his friend’s cold form for a long moment, then the man uncorked the vial of soulmist in his hand and offered it to her. Light surged forward, mouth open, and hungrily absorbed the offered treat. Anja saw the soulmist in her body become more substantial, and when he raised his hand to her again, this time his touch was met with resistance. Anja stroked the dog’s head gently, and her eyes closed with pleasure.

“Why--- are you still here?” Anja whispered, his voice cracking slightly.

Light whined softly. Her eyes had a quality to them that spoke volumes without words. Persistently, she nudged his hand and the whine changed to a bark. Realization struck Anja like a thunderbolt and he straightened his form in a flash. “Where are the puppies?!”

Light let out a firm bark.

“Give me but a moment!” Anja said, and rushed back into his camp. Anja did not have the luxury of grieving at the moment. Right now, for once in his death stained existence, Anja had the purpose to care about lives that still remained. That this was what Light wanted; that this was a logical path to allowing the dog to pass on to her next life, almost didn't occur to the Eiyon. For him, all that mattered was the life of the children of the creature he had devoted himself to.

The Drykas threw on his clothes and sash in a rush and sheathed his Bastard Sword, as well as stowing his two remaining vials of soulmist. When he bolted back out of the tent, Maisa was waiting beside her yvas, staring at Anja intently. The man saddled her with a practiced hand, and mounted her in a hurry. Maisa carried Anja to the edge of the camp, where Light waited. “Show us where!” Anja said. Light needed no further encouragement. With a bark, the dog turned and headed down the path leading away from the Dust Bed.

(Words 837, Total 837)
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Anja Nightwatcher
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Guiding Light

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on October 9th, 2018, 9:53 pm

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Light moved with an intensity and focus that Anja had never seen in the dog before. Perhaps it was her new ghostly body that allowed her to move without tiring, or perhaps it was simply that her mission was too important for rest to even occur to her. Whatever the reason, even with Maisa at a trot the ethereal hound had no problem keeping her pace just ahead of the drykas and his strider.

As she led the pair down the winding hill of the Dust Bed, past craggy rocks and moss covered gravestones that had been so eroded with time that the names once carved upon their surfaces had been lost, Anja found himself consumed with his thoughts. Normally this was a pastime that Anja took great pleasure in, but on this night all that came of these swirling musings was anxiety.

Anja’s worry for Light’s children was the foremost concern of his mind of course. That was what was driving him forward, with the same kind of relentless persistentance
that he might exhibit when hunting a nuit. He had to save them. They were his responsibility. He had given himself to them as a guardian, and he couldn't let anything happen to them.

But then, underneath that, a secondary emotion flitted up through the man’s subconscious. It was a gnawing, hungry thing that clawed up his chest every time his eyes fell upon the ghostly dog trotting just ahead of them. Anja had thought that he accepted death. Death was natural in the grand order of things, just as natural as birth. All things died, and they did so at the whim of fate without any concern for anyone other than it’s own whimsical machinations. Death was a deliverance. It ended suffering, and pain. It was kind. And yet, if it was so kind, then why did Anja feel as if his heart had been torn in half?

He had made Light and her children his responsibility. He had done so without much thought. In the throes of his responsibility to Dira, Anja felt empty. You could show kindness to ghosts, but if one did their job right then afterwards there was nothing left. Death itself might be kind, but the true sorrow was left behind in those that remained. It was a lonely existence, and Anja felt empty. His new friends had eased that emptiness somewhat. There had been a balance found in caring for life just as he had cared for those who had died. It had given him hope, and a further purpose beyond that which Dira had given him. And yet, he had let Light die.

Anja pushed that guilt down deep into the back of his throat where he could try to ignore it, but it sat there, a cold and persistent lump that he could avoid but not entirely ignore. Maybe, just maybe, if he could save her puppies, then Light would be able to forgive him. But could he really forgive himself?

Whatever Anja might be feeling, Light made no notice of it. She was intense, focused. This was, Anja realized, her purpose in death. “What happened...?” Anja murmured under his breath. He felt Maisa tense up underneath him, and watched Light’s ears twitch. But other than that, only silence answered the man’s query. He would find out soon enough, he supposed.

(Words 561, Total 1398)
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Anja Nightwatcher
Ghost Hunter
 
Posts: 113
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Joined roleplay: February 15th, 2018, 3:26 pm
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Guiding Light

Postby Anja Nightwatcher on October 9th, 2018, 11:42 pm

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Light’s path led Anja and Maisa down the hill of the Dust Bed and into the dark and winding streets of Sunberth. Anja disliked venturing out during the night; although ghosts preferred nights, so too did cutthroats and thieves. Maisa, knowing this well, walked a wide berth around anyone who they happened across in the streets, and Anja himself was wise enough to keep his cowl up and his head down. Whether for this reason, or for the fact that Anja was being led by an ethereal white dog, the Spiritist was left alone.

Anja was unfamiliar with the area that Light led him into. The place was decrepit and falling apart. And the ghosts...my, death was thick here. Anja almost felt the need to hold his breath, not that it would matter as the scent still clung into his throat and the song echoed in his ears. Yes… a great many people had died here. Anja gestured to Maisa the sign for danger, and she snorted in agreement. The strider was even more wary tonight than she usually was. They could both feel the dangers looming in the darkness.

When Light finally came to a halt, it was before a fine looking establishment that was such a fine looking place is such a horrid section of town that it gave Anja cold shivers. At a glance the establishment appeared...well, nice. It was a stable, judging by the fences, and from the barking Anja heard inside, he judged it to be a kennel as well. Anja dismounted from Maisa and followed Light as she lead him around the back of the establishment with Maisa following tight at his back. Here there was a massive stable, and lingering around the courtyard lounged several well armed figures, leaning against doorframes and perched on fences. Eyes fell to Anja first, then a moment later to Maisa behind him.

“Oy, Hannah!” one of the men shouted. “You got a customer!”

A woman stepped out of the interior of the building, squinting at Anja in Leth’s dim light. She was, by all accounts, a beautiful woman. But there was something no nonsense and shrewd about her, as if she had seen a great many trials and been hardened by them. She was not someone to be taken lightly.

“You here to sell your horse?” she asked him, her eyes falling on Maisa. A sickening feeling rose in Anja’s chest and he shook his head quickly. “No, no. My name is Anja. Anja Nightwatcher. I work for Jebidiah at the Dust Bed. I heard you might be having a problem with ghosts.”

The woman’s eyes roamed across Maisa, something like greed floating in them. But at the mention of ghosts, the woman’s eyes widened in surprise and jerked back to Anja. “Shyke!” she said, clearly startled. “You work for the grave digger? How’d you know?”

Before Anja could respond, Light, who until then had been invisible, materialized and let out several savage rapid barks before vanishing once more. The woman jumped and yelped, putting a hand on her heart and in sync all the guards around the courtyard pulled out their weapons and advanced, looking around nervously.

“I can help you,” Anja said. “But I need to ask you some questions.”

The woman breathed out shakily, then slowly nodded. “Yeah...yeah you got it.” She waved at the guards, who frowned and sheathed their weapons. She gestured for two of them to follow, then headed inside, waving for Anja to join them. The Drykas hesitated and glanced to Maisa. She was staring down the remaining guards, who were watching her with great interest.

“I hope you understand that if my horse isn't here when I get back that I will be happy to leave the ghosts to you to deal with,” Anja said quietly.

The wan waved her hand. “Yeah, yeah,” she said. But Anja did not miss the pointed look that the woman gave the guards, nor the way they relaxed their guarded stances and returned to their posts.

Inside the establishment, the musky smell of horse and dog emanated from every corner. Anja glanced at the rows of kennels lining the walls, filled with dogs. Anja eyed them as he passed, but Anja had come to know every mark on the bodies of Light’s puppies and none of these were them. At the end of the corridor was a sort of office with a desk and chairs. The two guards took up places on either side of the door, while the woman plopped herself down into the chair at the desk with a sigh.

“I’m Hannah,” the woman said finally. “I run Killroy Kennels…” She struck Anja with another one of those shrewd looks. “How’re you going to help me get rid of the ghost?”

(Words 805, Total 2203)
User avatar
Anja Nightwatcher
Ghost Hunter
 
Posts: 113
Words: 129881
Joined roleplay: February 15th, 2018, 3:26 pm
Race: Human, Drykas
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
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