Day 320 - Full Moon 9
Lanternon2 Oct 13th, 2019 185 Never
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- Day 320 - Full Moon 9
- There are twelve monsters out tonight.
- The number struck me as odd. I hadn't really thought about how many would, on average, go out looking for men, but I had assumed it would have been a larger number. Looking back on it, though, I can't honestly say that I'd ever thought about it before.
- I've taken to walking a circuit, going from one to the next. I don't need to do anything else. I just need to make sure that they see me, and that they see that I see them.
- I could probably scare them back to their homes.
- They're already scared enough, though. Half of them jump when they see me, like the troll that almost walked into me while rounding a corner. She's scared enough as she is – knowing what she knows about others who've died or been exiled doing what she's doing. Desperation drives her.
- I don't feel like exiling her. I don't feel like exiling any of them. Not anymore. I start down one of the alleys, then stop. The succubus freezes, as though my vision were based off of movement.
- I give it a look.
- Shaking my head, I move on to the next one. I start speaking the litany again as soon as I'm out of earshot.
- How much of it is learning about my order? About our history? How much of it was the words, and the powers of perception that they give? How much of it was just spending time around them?
- I don't know. The more I try to figure myself out the less I want to. I do what I do, and I'm content with that.
- I stop as a thirteenth steps out into the night, looking for someone. Anyone.
- I turn and start walking. She just got added to my circuit.
- As much as I dislike the exhaustion that follows, there is a wonderful quality to a walk in the moonlight. The whole world is lit up in that pale light, and everything takes on a tone of deep blue. It's quiet. Knowing what I know, of who is out and where, I can even finally call it peaceful.
- I wonder if I'm not a man perfectly at peace with the world, for what's possibly the first time in my life.
- The eyes in the dark meet mine before I spot them.
- They move closer, and I reach for my sword before I'm aware that I'm doing so.
- I stop. She doesn't.
- Metal scrapes against stone.
- We're both breathing heavily as we stop. Me from the sudden rush of adrenaline, and her from something else. She's sitting on my breastplate, staring down at me as realization dawns on her who and what I am. As I realize who and what she is.
- Shock slowly gives way to alarm as she realizes what she's done. She's assaulted a paladin, in full armor, wearing a shield. More than that, she's assaulted me.
- Meanwhile, I...
- Am I amused?
- I think I am.
- “Enjoying your stroll?”
- “I,” she starts, panic clear on her face. “I was just-”
- “Don't lie to me.”
- She takes a sharp, deep breath, and then deflates. Her eyes settle on a random cobble on the road, downcast and turned away from me. “Okay.”
- “Also, get off of me.”
- “Okay.” It takes her a moment before, slowly, she lifts herself to her feet. Her eyes don't leave that one cobble.
- Rather, her eyes are looking far beyond it.
- “What's going to happen to me?”
- Whatever dumb joke I'd felt like responding with dies in my throat. She's trembling. She's afraid of me, of what I'm going to do to her.
- I'd wanted that once, hadn't I?
- I'd wanted to hurt them. All of them. Or at least to scare them away.
- But they were running from a fear greater than that of pain or death. I could never have hoped to become something more horrifying than what she's fleeing. Not to her, at least. Not to any of them.
- And if I had, what would that have done?
- What would that have made me?
- She looks back at me. I can't tell if she believes me or not. I'm not good with that sort of thing. “Why?”
- “Because I'm free to act on my own discretion.”
- “That's, that's not what I meant.”
- “I know.”
- She's picking up steam, thinking about things and coming to a conclusion that she can't tolerate. “Then-”
- “Because I don't want to. Because I don't feel it's necessary. Because I'd be annoyed afterward. Take your pick.” I cast my gaze elsewhere, as though I'd expected to find an answer there. “If you'd found anyone else it would have just been another paladin in plainclothes. It's random luck that you found me instead.”
- After a moment's silence, I add “Go home.”
- She stares at me, and then the ground. There's confusion, or just indecision. Then she looks back to me, and as she opens her mouth a line of drool spills out. “I-”
- “Don't make me follow you around. I'll do it.” The look of confused uncertainty grows. “I'll just march around, loudly reciting training phrases.”
- “You wouldn't-”
- “Dignity demands decency,” I call out, probably waking at least a couple people in the neighborhood. She all but cringes at the sound.
- “Please don't.”
- “The trick is to shout from the diaphragm, not the throat,” I helpfully inform her before doing just that and informing the entire street “The pleasures of the body are finite, but the pleasures of the spirit are infinite!”
- She slowly lifts her hands. “Okay, I'll go home.”
- “Good idea.”
- "What will happen to the next girl?" Her voice is only barely loud enough to hear.
- "I'm not a hypocrite. You didn't get any special treatment."
- Slowly, ever so slowly she turns and walks back down the street.
- “I'll see you 'round breakfast time,” I call out, before returning to my route.
- I'm being gazed up at by the most excited-looking fey imaginable. “A moonlit stroll? Passionate declarations!?”
- Gods damn it, Cathyn.
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