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Feb 19

Chapter Twenty Four: Coping Mechanisms

Chapter Twenty Three: Restraint

My body gently shook as the wagon I was inside travelled through roads I couldn’t see. I was shoved into a cage held in the back, my prosthetic was taken, a sack was tied over my head. My arm and legs were bound and I was searched for any weapons. They found none, I didn’t fight back,I couldn’t. The poison they had given me had knocked me out long enough for them to take the necessary precautions, I awoke several hours later, in this predicament. I was in the darkness now, inside the rocking wagon, alone with my thoughts.

I released a nervous breath, realizing  this would be where I would learn everything. In the darkness of my own thoughts, the last fragments would be revealed to me. My eyes opened, suddenly I was no longer in the wagon, no longer hearing the sound of the creaking wheels rolling against the road. I was simply in an ocean of darkness, I was leaning back against something, someone. My instincts kicked in, spinning with my single arm launching me to my feet. I released quick, shallow, breaths and froze briefly when I saw the large white charr I knew so well. His ridiculous pointy hat bounced as he stood up and rounded to me. He smiled.

“Is that you?” I asked. “Or are you fake?”

“What’s the difference?” Asked Garfas.

”One is the charr I fell in love with,” I said. “The other a lie I’ve been telling myself for years.” The illusion changed, it became Mara.

“There is some truth in all lies,” said the illusion with Mara’s voice. “Deep within, we just have to look for it.”  The illusion became Fumus.

“You neglected the truth, though,” the illusion even had Fumus’ usual grin. “Or should I say, we?” I stood in silence, gaze revealing my nervousness but not wavering. The illusion became Thoc.

“It is time to accept what you became,” said Thoc. “And what you will become.”

“And it has to be now?” I asked. The illusion nodded.

“The journey has reached its conclusion, This part of it at least.” The illusion then became me, but younger version, yet the age in his eyes had seen so much pain, so much anguish, and it fed off of it. This was me, what I had become, what the death of Garfas had done to me.

“This will not be like other memories,” said my former self. “This last step will not be seen through your eyes, this vision was a gift from someone dear to you.” The illusion offered his hand to me, my gaze asked it what it meant, I wanted to know who had given me this final vision. But I already knew, we already knew. “Are you ready?” I took the illusion’s hand.

“Yes.”

***

Fireheart Rise, it was a garish sight. A land of scorched earth and ashes. The air smelled like standing next to a bonfire, thick with the scent of fumes that scratched at the throat as it went in. Thoc released a sigh.

I’m coming, Anavari.  He thought to himself. He took one step forward, boots grinding against the ashen soil. The next step was easier, then the next. Before he knew it he found himself walking through the blasted land. His rifle was ready should he encounter any flame legion, he knew that this was their land, but he wasn’t about to let that scare him off. He was on a mission, and the flame wasn’t going to take anything else from him.

It took several more hours of scanning the landscape before he settled on making camp for the day. He didn’t expect to find his friend right away, and staying out of sight from the nearby outposts was a priority if he was going to stay alive. From what he could tell he had snuck deep within enemy territory, thanks to Ash legion , which he now belonged to. It was a drastic change from the analytical and strategic approach of Iron, but fumus found a position for him where he would still be of use to his new warband. When he brought up that he wanted to search for his son, Fumus went as far as disguising it as a mission. He wanted to find Anavari as much as everyone else, well everyone that knew him.

They knew for a fact that he was alive, intelligence proved that. Scouts had spotted something striding through these lands. Entire battalions would disappear overnight, rumors of a dark creature hunting down others was a popular topic amongst the soldiers. No doubt it was Anavari. After months, they had finally found a lead. Thoc scanned the reports as he began to heat up some rations, the smell they gave out was a welcome change from the noxious scent of the land. He wasn’t too worried about anyone noticing the cooking, he was working with an iron legion hot plate, a design he had created even. Only a five percent chance of it breaking down.

Rations now heated, he began to eat, it wasn’t anything good by any stretch but it was something. He figured he would be able to eat something worth savoring when he ran out of rations and was forced to start hunting. It wasn’t going to be that hard, most charr had experience hunting and cooking meat, Thoc included.  The only problem would be—

What is that? Thoc dropped his plate, he reached for the rifle and began to load it. A bullet was in the chamber. He didn’t hear anything, he felt something, but not something physical. It was a sensation, something that crept up the spine, like the gaze of something hunting you down in a dark forest. The charr trembled as he felt the sensations sink into his very bones. It wasn’t something normal, something powerful was approaching. Then he saw something, off the corner of his eye. He couldn’t turn, however, too scared, too terrified. It was behind him.

“They’ll find you by the smell.”

That voice. Thoc spun, lowering his gun and saw him. He was enveloped by shadows, dark, twisting, and unnatural. They receded however, like feathers of a raven falling off of him and vanishing into nothingness. Anavari grinned at him, it wasn’t a normal grin though, Anavari didn’t smile like this. This was something so out of character for him, at least the charr that Thoc had known.  

“Anavari?” Asked Thoc, uncertainty filling his voice.

“I must say I didn’t expect to find you here of all places,” Anavari crossed his arms, still smiling. “Gather your things, I’ll take you some place much safer.”  Thoc wasted no time, believed his friend, and as far gone as he seemed he still seemed interested in his well being. He had everything packed in minutes, and with that he followed his friend to safety.   

Chapter Twenty Three: Restraint
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