The fire began dying down after it outlived its usefulness. Tobih was back to cleaning our weapons while Angel and I started packing away the things she had brought out for breakfast. We managed to finish our task quickly, but Tobih still worked away on his. The sunlight was still too weak to travel in so the two of us sat around him and watched as he went at my staff with his towel.
Things felt a little too silent so I spoke up. “So, what are the plans once we finish here and find Ragnvaldr?”
“That’s kind of what I wanted to ask you. You and Ragnvaldr seemed to have made some plans of your own for the future. I don’t know how far out those will happen. Me? I’m kind of afraid of how things will go when we finish here so I don’t know if I’d like to see those things…The wedding and everything, sooner or later, but I do want to see them.” Tobih spilled his thoughts out and it seemed so effortless. I know he had secrets he wanted to keep, but he was generally outspoken and I envied that about him.
“I’m not sure when it will happen either. I have to find Ragnvaldr first. That’s the number one priority.” I played around with the laces on my boots as I tried to think about what I wanted to do after we left all of this mess behind.
Tobih looked up at me, “I want to buy a place for the guild to call home. ” It must have been what I heard when I was awake. “Most of us are actually refugees so we don’t have a place to call home right now. We sleep in camps along the road or in the carriage sometimes. If I can find a building for it, we’ll finally have a place to put beds and to store belongings instead of having to toss them out when we had too many.
I think about it everyday. Sometime ago on our trip, I finally decided on it. The Refugees officially need a home.”
I smiled, “That’s very noble, Tobih. I want to help you. After Ragnvaldr and I find our home, of course.” Shuffling around in my spot, I tried to put my thoughts together into words as well as he had his, “I think that after Orr and after I find him, I want to go back to Divinity’s Reach. I left without saying anything so I need to tell my… caretakers.” I paused on that word. The longer I was out on this trip, I realized how much resentment I had in the way that they treated me. I was old enough to be out on my own and yet they had kept me pent-up inside like I was something to be embarrassed of. When I moved out I realized that I was my own person and not theirs to control… No matter what they saved me from. I could be grateful without being a prisoner. “I’m going to tell them that I am grateful to them for saving me, but that I’ll be leaving them now.”
“What about you, Angel?” I asked out of curiosity.
“I prefer not to make plans that far into the future. However, I was thinking about what Tobih said about getting a place for the guild to stay. I want to offer my house as a temporary residence until you can find a place in the trees or whatever.” She folded her arms, “Just don’t let them mess the place up and I’ll toss you if you go through my things again.”
Tobih reached over and patted her back before standing up, “I appreciate it. Maybe we’ll take you up on that. It would be nice to have a place to rest after this.” He handed my staff to me. It felt considerably smoother to the touch and was still warm from Tobih’s hands. “Good as new.”
“Thanks.” It felt a lot more responsive as I pooled my newfound energy into it. He had talked about the importance of treating it like part of my body and it seemed to have proven to be at least somewhat true.
We set off on our journey when the sun peeked out from behind the bare mountains and touched the land with pale light
It was often that I wondered if this really was the right decision or not. I was following everyone else’s orders again, but my heart said to go back. It didn’t feel right to keep progressing like this, no matter what anyone else wanted for me. I remained silent, keeping these worrying thoughts to myself because maybe I wasn’t in a good place to be making these decisions right now.
The morning was quiet with hardly any undead patrolling the roads. At least none that we had seen. It almost seemed as if the existence of the risen could have been just a nightmare.
“That, over there, is that a farmer?” Tobih pointed towards the direction the sun was rising from.
“And his bull. He must have been going to the market…” Angel added as I attempted to focus on the figures.
It was a grim reminder that I tried not to think too much about; these were once people. They once lived, maybe at the same time I did. An entire nation of people who, in one cataclysmic event decided upon by a singular person, drowned.
“Do you think the whole ones still remember who they are, even a bit?” She continued as we watched the risen with his undead bull make their way down the distant path.
“I don’t want to know.” I wanted desperately to remain blissfully ignorant to such thoughts. I faced away, hoping they would take it as a sign to continue walking.
Tobih turned around and stood next to me, “Why is that?”
I sighed, “If I kill them and they still had thoughts and actions from when they were living, wouldn’t it be just like killing the person? Would I want someone to kill me if I was in the same situation? Or is this just the dragon using their thoughts like it uses their bodies?”
He put his staff down, took my left hand with both of his and brought it level to our chests, “If the dragon controls me, I want you to end me. I don’t want to risk posing a threat to anyone, especially loved ones. If they’re anything like me, they don’t want to kill. If they’re like me, they would want you to release them.”
His words swayed me. I nodded to show I agreed with what he was saying.
“Keep your eye on the goal,” Angel, who was still watching the farmer and his bull, reminded me. “It isn’t good to dwell on such things.”