Again and again, his mind forced those memories forward. Each danced at the forefront of his thoughts, a cruel caricature depicting his attempts at valor and heroism. Even so distorted, there was no mistaking the stark terror that rent the air of victory and celebration when those unlucky few saw the tendrils snake out from his back. It all happened so fast, there wasn't even a time to shout a warning or scream in abject horror. Those closest were simply struck down as the enervating strikes claimed soul after innocent soul.
In a perverse sense of irony, it was in that moment when he should have been incapable of feeling anything for his wretched self that Ehoron had felt the most alive in weeks. Though the oily mass that continued to slaughter around him could not be considered truly apart of his body, he nevertheless felt everything through it; the icy water that began to fall, the softness of cloth and flesh sundered violently. Every beating of his heart fanned a flame in the very core of his being that loudly declared himself to be a living being, even as so many died horrible deaths around him.
And just as quickly as it had started, it was over. The dark mass receded into his body and the surviving people were left to flee for their lives.
The hollowness that followed was all-encompassing; he felt neither the rain nor winds as they wiped around him. The agonized moans of the dying did not stir a feeling; only a faint feeling of regret panged his heart, and just barely at that. It was a cruel occurrence made more frequent in recent months. Every time he attempted to be a hero for the people, helping others who desperately needed help and whom he could help with his mage abilities, it seemed to turn out disastrously.
Movement from the corner of one eye caught his attention, although Ehoron still could not muster the strength or energy to move his head and get a proper look at them. Instead, he simply laid there in a puddle of mud and waited for the end. Rather than an unobstructed view of the sky, he got a young woman with heterochromatic eyes, two-tone hair, and a look of surprising concern. There was something in her eyes, a showing of genuine concern, that shook the bars of apathy that held Ehoron's heart and he forced himself slowly, painfully, to sit up.
Before he could bring himself to say anything, there was abruptly a shirt thrown over his head. He simply sat there in the rain and mud, staring at the dark interior of a shirt. He could feel a small hand hold the shirt to his head as if to shield him from the rain or perhaps an attempt to clean his head of the muck he all but wallowed in. It was fruitless, and utterly absurd gesture to do.
In that single action, there was such an innocence, a pure and unselfish desire to help in any way no matter how small, that Ehoron could not help but smile. For a brief moment, Ehoron did not feel afraid of his own existence; he was not terrified at the prospect of another day still alive to bring ruin and misfortune to others. It did not last, of course; such happiness and reprieves were fleeting. But it was enough to help him regain his senses and sense of self.
He turned and slowly pulled part of the shirt away from his face to get a good look at the girl. The first thing he noticed was the almost expectant look on her face; not as if she was expecting something in return for this token of generosity, but rather a look that said she was waiting for him to either move or say something. It was then, as he started considering what he might say that he noticed that her clothes, if they could be called clothes and not rags, were hardly cut to her figure. In fact, they did not look remotely fit for her, more as they belonged to someone else and she was simply wearing them.
"Thank you," he finally said with an evenness in his voice he didn't feel in his chest. "I appreciate it." Exactly what he appreciated, he didn't elaborate on. Instead, he stood up slowly careful not to teeter over and knock her to the ground. Briefly, his eyes turned to the village. Even through the rain, he could smell their terror. It rolled off the buildings in great waves, thick enough to cut with a blade. They were utterly afraid of him now, and he couldn't muster any energy to try and blame them. It was wholly deserved in this case.
"You should get back inside. Wouldn't want you to catch a cold." Ehoron spoke with a small smile that didn't quite reach his eyes as he adjusted his coat and wiped away some large clumps of mud that stubbornly clung to him. He wasn't quite sure himself what he was going to do now; staying in the village was certainly out of the question. Crossing his arms over his chest, he stood there in the rain and quietly mused to his next course of action.
PWC: 1,311 / 1,500
TWC: 2,061 / 3,000