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    Old Wounds, Old Friends (Character Job)

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    Ishtar Starborn

    Player -
    Lineage : Kohl's Plague
    Position : None
    Posts : 35
    Cosmic Coins : 0
    Dungeon Tokens : 0
    Experience : 150

    Character Sheet
    Character Name: Ishtar Starborn
    Primary Magic: Magic Circle
    Secondary Magic:

    Old Wounds, Old Friends (Character Job)

    Post by Ishtar Starborn on 1st August 2018, 11:34 pm

    Sloppy. Ishtar tossed the newspaper on the wooden table in disgust. Unprofessional. The headline on the paper was "Messy Murder in Capital Crocus," with a police artist's vague rendition of a man with white hair's face, as drawn by descriptions of the two daughters of the victim. At least he'd done that right. With a drawing like this, no one would suspect the murderer was him.

    All around the brooding Ishtar patrons of the bar laughed uproariously and swigged their beers, drunkenly singing tavern songs and hassling the harried-looking serving maids, the low-lit candles casting dim dancing shadows across all the walls. Halloween might have come early this year, one might think just by looking at the scene, if not for all the merriness and joy of the people inside-- except Ishtar.

    What was wrong with him? In a time long ago, he was feared, confident, a cold killer who could slip in and out of a place and murder a hundred people without being caught or seen. Now this-- a sloppy, cringing, uncertain coward. Ishtar felt a certain disgrace and shame that comes from having talent and losing it all to a spell and a vengeful goddess.

    Despite his hearty journey to drunkenness Ishtar felt a sudden fear at this belligerent thought and looked all around him, but no one was paying him any mind in his overshadowed corner booth. He sighed in relief and picked his newspaper back up. That was another thing-- Kersaidh had said nothing after the spell was ended. Ishtar had figured that he'd been released, but something felt odd about her silence. It was though she'd gone mute-- but that wasn't like her at all. Maybe it was because Ishtar was no longer a part of his guild. His heart drooped in sorrow as he remembered his friends in Dark Unicorn.

    He'd revisited the guild headquarters when he'd first been released from the Iced Shell. It was a wreck, destroyed by time and a century of poor maintenance. Knowing his guild would never allow the old mansion to fall into such disrepair was enough confirmation for Ishtar: his guild was dead. Sometimes, though, he couldn't help but hope that even one member had survived, that just one friend had lived through the centuries to see him home.

    Ishtar shook his head. But it was a foolish dream. They were dead; nothing more to be said.

    He felt a tap on his shoulder and looked up warily. A nervous-looking woman in a mail-woman's gown held a letter out to him. "Came in the mail, was told to get it straight to you," she squeaked. When Ishtar took the letter she practically fled the bar with more than a few gazes staring after her.

    Ishtar opened the letter and peered inside curiously. There was a folded piece of paper-- and a golden locket.

    He stood up so suddenly the table in front of him nearly tipped over, spilling food and beer on the ground. He caught the furniture before it, too, fell on the stones.

    "Oi!" The bartender barked at him. "You gonna clean up or what?"

    Ishtar threw a fistful of money on the table and, grabbing his swords and cloak, he dashed out of the pub.


      * * * * *


    Ishtar stood before the door of a small hovel on the edge of the woods. It had a thatched roof, creaking wooden boards for the walls, and no windows.

    Ishtar took a deep breath, and knocked.

    The door opened not a second after, and a man poked his head through the gap to peer at Ishtar. His browned face, smile lines and thick white beard would have made his face unrecognizable if it hadn't been for the radiant green eyes shining from within the wrinkles. "Ishtar," he croaked.

    Ishtar swallowed painfully. "Hello, Adrian," he said.

    The old man hooted in delight and threw the door open. "You're out!" he shouted, throwing arms thin as nettles but still wiry as a taut cord around Ishtar's waist. "You're finally out!" At one point he'd been a foot taller than Ishtar, but now the top of his head barely came to the white-haired man's chin.

    Ishtar carefully wrapped his arms around his old friend, eyes welling up with tears. "That's right, Adrian," he murmured. "I'm finally out."


      * * * * *


    "The house is a mess," Ishtar said, five minutes later sitting in a rickety old chair in front of the roaring fireplace.

    Adrian scowled at him from the kitchenette. "Come on, now, I clean up nicely, alright?" He carried over two mugs of steaming cherry cider, handing one to Ishtar before sitting with a soft thump in the opposite chair.

    Ishtar chuckled. "No, no, I meant the guild house. It's practically all decomposed at this point."

    Adrian's smile faded. "Yeah. After a while, I couldn't make myself get up in the morning just to clean it up and fix it all. Got too old for it. I didn't have the strength anymore."

    Ishtar leaned forward. "What happened, Adrian?" he asked none too gently. "I know it was a century ago, but my imprisonment felt like it lasted one day. It all feels so recent."

    Adrian stared in the fire for a bit, then said, "Well, after the goddess took you away, Kayla gathered us up in the guild house. Said she'd had enough, and taking you was the last straw for her. She wanted us to fight and get you out." The old man turned his intense gaze to Ishtar. "And we agreed. We all'd had enough and, well, it was you. Ishtar Starborn. 'Spect the lads and lasses would have done anything for you."

    Ishtar stared into his half-empty mug and took a sip of cider. "What happened then?" he asked quietly.

    Adrian sighed in the way only those who have lived far too long for their own good can and rocked himself back and forth. "We stormed the Fortress," he said, and shuddered. "Ice dragons and wolves, elementals and wyverns. It was a bloodbath, but mostly for them. We only lost the twins then."

    "The twins?" A brief image of two young elves, a boy and a girl with jet-black hair and pointed ears, flashed through Ishtar's mind. "Theo and Tenari?" His voice cracked a little. "But they were only twelve. What were they doing with you there?"

    Adrian nodded with half-closed eyes and rocked himself back and forth. "They wanted to fight, same as everyone. You know how Kayla was; wouldn't deny anyone the chance if they wanted it." A tear shimmered down his cheek. "It's probably what got everyone else through the fight. First you, then the twins; everyone would have killed themselves before giving up after that."

    Ishtar was quiet for a long while in remembrance of the elf children before speaking up again. "And Kersaidh?"

    Adrian hissed, whipping his head around and tensing as though for a fight before relaxing and settling back in his chair. "Sorry," he said, still a little afraid. "Old habits." He shook himself and continued in a stronger voice, "She wouldn't come out right away. We blew down the doors of the castle itself and she still wouldn't show her face. Only when we started in on Orion did she come out of her room." Adrian shuddered again, and this time an image flickered to life between the two men.

    The whole of Dark Unicorn, minus Ishtar and the twins, all gathered on a carpeted stairway made of ice in a grand hall made of the same frozen material, and at its front, Kayla, in all her rage and armored splendor, stood with her giant sword planted in the shoulder of a man ten feet tall had he been standing. She twisted the sword, and the man howled in pain.

    "Enough," a clear, quiet voice said, and all the wizards froze-- literally. A sheen of ice covered them all except Kayla and the fallen man, who was whimpering and weakly scrabbling at the sword. A woman appeared at the top of the stairs, and Ishtar's breath caught in his throat. Her.

    She looked just like Ishtar remembered: pale, radiant, clothed in a nearly-transparent dress of turquoise and ocean blue, hair wrapped in a messy braid atop her head adorned with crystals. Ishtar couldn't bare to look for long; he turned his head away and closed his eyes, trying to calm himself. It's okay, it's okay, she's not really here...

    But what if she was?

    When Ishtar dared to look back the image was gone and Adrian was breathing heavily. "Haven't summoned an image like that in a long time," he huffed. "Just give me a minute."

    When he'd gotten his breath back Adrian said, "So. Like you saw. We were getting in on Orion, and she came out and froze everyone."

    "Not Kayla," Ishtar said, still staring at the space between the two chairs where the image had been.

    Adrian grunted in agreement. "No, not her." Adrian shuddered again, this time with a suppressed sob. "And the goddess, she- she-" Adrian cleared his throat. "She went to Kayla- Kayla didn't move- and took the sword out of her hand, and pulled it out of Orion. God, his cries were painful to hear." Adrian shook his head. "And the goddess, she said- to Kayla, she said, 'Oh, Kayla. You really were meant for so much more.' And she ran her through."

    Ishtar gripped the arms of his chair, gritting his teeth as he tried not to picture his beloved guild leader run through with her own sword by that creature. Salty tears prickled his eyes, and Adrian bowed his head, tears of his own streaming down his face.

    "The spell broke on all of us," Adrian said thickly. "And we attacked her- we didn't know what else to do- and we killed her."

    "What?" Ishtar whipped his head up, tears flung in all directions. "You what?"

    "It wasn't easy," Adrian snorted humorlessly. "Almost everyone died to do it- we didn't have a god-slayer with us, after all. But we managed it. A guild of almost solely S-class wizards." Sorrow and despair cut through the incredulity in his voice like a knife.

    Ishtar couldn't believe it-- he wouldn't have believed it, if not for his unswerving trust in Adrian. He was finally, in more ways than one, finally free. At last. But it was bittersweet. Ishtar had been released only to find all but one of his friends dead and the world a strange place. He couldn't bear it, not any longer. He stood and put his mug aside. "I'm sorry," he choked. "I'm sorry, Adrian."

    The old man inclined his head, eyes filled with century-old regret and sorrow. "Do what you have to, Ishtar," he murmured.

    Ishtar turned and fled the house, pushing the door out and slamming it shut, already sobbing uncontrollably. His whole life, gone. Forever. It was never going to come back. It was never going to be the same. Nothing would be the same. He stumbled away from the cherry tree forest and fell to the ground some number of paces away, wailing, unseeing, in his loss.

    A soft whinny drew his gaze up. He couldn't see through the blurry film of tears covering his eyes, but something was walking towards him and pressed a soft muzzle against his head.

    Ishtar wiped his eyes and blinked up at the creature standing before him. It was a unicorn foal, coat as sable as night and a small horn protruding from its forehead, spiraling from black to white at the tip. Its fathomless eyes stared into Ishtar's and somehow comforted him, as though the wells of wisdom he looked into brought peace to him. He raised a hand and placed it on its head. "Hello," he whispered. The foal snorted softly, and Ishtar didn't feel quite so alone anymore.

    Word Count: 1987/500

      Current date/time is 17th October 2018, 2:21 pm