Demons & Shadows

Session 4 by Akhil

I died today. I know it. It was as if the 2 warring factions within had reached a permanent truce or, more accurately, one had ceded. Which one? Death drives my emotions (my instinct) and motivates me (my vengeance) but life sustains me (replenishes my mind and heals that which Death takes) and gives me purpose (heal others and education). The sensation is hard to describe. It was like floating in a hot bath, then sinking but not caring. Regardless, I am happy to have experienced it and grateful that I am able to write this entry from this side of the nether. Lest any forget, I am a proponent of controlled, experiential learning but not like that reckless manner. The experience brought life into perspective and helped me realize what really matters in life. Now it is just a matter of how to act. Alas, I am still relatively young and the question is: Is life too short to be chasing phantom wizards or too long to not chase and learn from the process? As of today, life is too short.

This past week I learned that my intuition is strong and usually correct. If I trust my eyes to interpret the material world or if I trust my friends over me, I will die short of finishing whatever it is that I must whilst on this surface. I MUST live and die by my instinct. It was my inner voice that first told me to reach for the healing potion at the Watch. It was my instinct that told me the coaching inn was fishy and restraint that kept me from my nightly ritual. Thankfully, I trusted my gut and locked the door. Without my instinct, our traveling funds would have been stolen or I would have been without mental reserves for the fight that evening. I must convince the rest of my instinct’s validity. Granted they are not 100% accurate but what are a few casualties along the way? The path beaten by any leader is littered with corpses of innocent bystanders caught in the wake. It is this wake that instills fear and keeps what could be an onslaught in check. Merely part of the process.

That is, I do not go out of my way to create this wake. It is a beneficial side effect. Although I try to save everyone, I cannot and am not disappointed as such. For example, I do my best to quickly tend to my friends. When they call for help, I do whatever is in my power to help. What I do not do is run away when my friends call for help. The last thing I remember after I called for help and before the blackness enraptured me was seeing Joe and Vaessen running away from me. Why—why did they run? I do not understand. Joe usually checks it to see how I am fairing like at the coaching inn. Vaessen—hmm, well he will be under probationary scrutiny: He stabs me in public, has the audacity to ask for healing, and then runs away when I ask for help. The flirt tends a tightrope poised upon a dangerous precipice. This experience has not and will not be inconsequential. Moreover, who was my savior—to what friend to I owe gratitude? What, who is this 9 year old stranger? WTF? Really, seriously, WTF? Which is the injury and which is the insult—what knocked me down and what followed up with a kick to the nuts?

Sigh, perhaps I am being overly critical. Such as I tend, but my anger should have direction. You must recall—I was abandoned by my birth parents, thrust into boarding school at a premature age where I made no friends, and then was chased from my homeland by the shadow hunters. Clearly, my sense of family, friendship, and duty is warped. I am at a loss. Furthermore, I grew up in a community which stood upon the pillars of Life and Nature wherein all had at minimum a rudimentary understanding of the healing process. This is a basic tenant of jungle survival. These tenants are different from those of the city—I can’t expect all my friends to have this skill set. We were assembled to have a mix of skills. Nevertheless, I should teach one either Joe or Friedlief the basics. The boy obviously has promise. Which brings me back to what matters—the youth. Kids matter. They are innocent, mean well, and their stupidity can be excused for a time. I should nurture his gift with one hand and shield him from Vasessen with the other. When I get to town, perhaps I will seek out the Whistler character and inquire about his lifestyle. A traveling teacher doesn’t sound like a bad gig. If that is not for me, or at least not for now, then I should start teaching healing and we should all go over what to do when in a straight line with 3 spellcasters in the vicinity. We all should have known better, I do the same thing. The road ahead is long, I have a lot of thinking to do, and I have neglected my knife for far too long.

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