- Day 8
- Sleep comes slowly, and then it doesn't restore. Wakefulness comes and goes, barely recognizable between half-formed dreams. Morning comes too soon, ending the mindless and easily forgotten discomfort to replace it with a clear and lingering one. My mouth feels like it has been coated with something vile and my entire skull slowly seethes with pressure with each heartbeat.
- I practice my forms, but I can't get into them. My legs and arms move, but my muscles aren't tense and I constantly feel as though I'm off-center. Were I in front of anyone else I'd worry that I was embarrassing myself. It doesn't help that this sword is so unbalanced. The grip and blade both feel too long without counterbalancing the other. If I didn't know better I'd say that it was intentionally crafted to feel so strange, as I can think of no way this awkwardness could be achieved unintentionally.
- It cuts through a body as well as any other sword, though.
- I shower in silence.
- The water feels too hot, then too cold. No amount of fiddling with the knob makes it comfortable.
- I eat in silence.
- My oatmeal is just tasteless mush in my mouth.
- I'm sweating in the cool air.
- I know what this is. Everyone goes through it.
- It's nerves. Yesterday was the first time I'd ever fought one of the things, and even as pathetic as it was the fact remains that I was attacked by a monster. Of course my nerves will be shot for a few days; were it not for my shield and my skill I could have lost my freedom to some sickening abomination. I just need to get used to this. I just need to regain my focus.
- I open the sparse closet and see the two objects hanging therein. The hoodie that lets me hunt them, and the armor that forces them to remember. I stare at them both for a minute, suddenly realizing that I'm not sure what my uniform is anymore.
- No, that's not true. The seal pressed into the chest of one will always show me to stand amongst the order reclaimant. It is my strength and my will that I'll become what the paladins of old would have been. They were the first protectors of man, and I shall do whatever needs done to be a proper and righteous inheritor. I grab the armor that I will wear in the daylight to remind them.
- It takes me a moment the first time I see the thing to figure out what I'm looking at. It stands there, at the corner, talking to people as they pass. It stands there like it belongs there. The sign behind it helpfully informs me that "LOVE IS THE ONLY TRUTH (HEDON. 3:97)." It calls out to a man who passes by, urging him, "Don't wait, sir! You don't have to be alone!"
- I needed something to entertain myself with. I begin walking up to it. At first it smiles at the sight of me, and then it doesn't. Amazing how many times I've seen that reaction now.
- I stop before the thing, waiting to hear the doomsayer shout out its cult's spiel. It doesn't. For a moment it simply stands there, suddenly mute, waiting for me to do something other than stand still and stare at it. Another man walks past, and for a moment I can see the desire to continue its zealous claptrap again, but in the end it doesn't. Suddenly mute, the thing gathers up its signs and hurriedly scurries off back to whatever ruined temple its kind have taken over here.
- With a sigh of disappointment I continue on my way. I was looking forward to a little fun, but instead all I have is a need to ask around and find whether these dark priestesses have holed up in this poor, benighted city.
- "Look at this!" The pink-haired elf shouts as she holds a newspaper page up to point it at me. A picture of myself striding across the road covers the front page, along with large, bold text stating "VISIONS OF WAR" and "NEW PALADIN IN MIN WEARING INSTRUMENT OF DEATH."
- "Looks like a local paper. I'll have some of the fruit and honey bread from last time, and a coffee."
- I seat myself at what has become my usual table. The girl, meanwhile, fails to get me my dinner. Instead she simply stares at me in open wonder. "But there's a whole thing in here about you. And it's mean!" She shakes the paper again, as though the problem was that she hadn't fully emphasized it enough.
- "I'm sure."
- Finally, deflating, she lets her arm drop. The offending paper crumples loudly in impact, and then goes silent once more. She furrows her brow in seems to go deep in thought rather than acquiring my dinner. "Well, we should fix that," she finally states. This, at least, distracts me from being hungry. "Oh? And how are 'we' are going to 'fix that?"
- In hindsight, I should've known that asking that would only delay my meal even further. Her eyes take on an even more dire expression of intense thought and she covers her mouth with a loose fist. She thinks, and she tilts her head back and forth, and finally she stares at me. Finally, she takes a deep breath and offers "We could ask them nicely?"
- "I'd like my dinner now."
- The elf-girl drops the paper and stomps off to the kitchen, still fuming and muttering to herself. Occasionally she'll grow just loud enough for me to catch "not fair," or "big meanies," then return to her grumbling.
- When she returns with my food and an even more sour expression, I pause before I grab the first strawberry-covered slice and offer "It's not that big a deal. Really, it would be weirder if nobody said it."
- Her shoulders slump as she whines "Why'd it have to be you, though?"
- "Because I'm the one wearing the 'instrument of death?"
- "But you're so nice," she immediately answers.
- For a moment I just stare at her, surprised and confused and dismayed. I start to think of a rebuttal, but the answers are too many and all fitting and I can't decide on which one to actually say. She interrupts me before I start, looking sadly at me for the first time. "You are, though. I can tell." Her breath slows and, for a moment, her expression grows tired, her voice loses its chipperness, and she seems a great deal older than she looks. "You have a different nature than that. You have the heart of a man who protects."
- And then the moment passes, and she stares angrily at the paper and says "And they don't know you! They're just- just," she furrows her brow in thought. "Meanies."
- I take a bite of the hard bread and chew it, waiting for her to wander off to whatever or wherever else her mind and body will go. Soon enough both move on, talking about how pretty dragonflies are as one passes by a window and then disappearing into the kitchen.
- My dinner is better than usual. There are more blueberries. I like blueberries.
Lanternon2 Apr 16th, 2015 (edited) 956 Never
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