In the Absence of Light

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Chapter 11: Caravan

I walked back toward where the others were finishing buying food. Lyana turned toward me suddenly as I approached, throwing her black hair over her shoulder with the quickness of her movement, "Did you find a job?"

Her question was directed at Ollarin, not at me, but I decided to answer her and all of them anyway, "We are working for clothe merchant named Exentel. We will be staying at Seven Son's Inn, and we will be leaving in the morning."

It would use a fair amount of money to board all of us, but If we put all the men in one room and the women in another we would waste less money. Of course, I might get some resistance from Ollarin and Lyana, but hopefully they would see reason.

"Do you know where this in is?" I was surprised to hear Darin talking seeing as he hadn't said much recently, but he had a point.

"No, I was planning to ask a local how we might find our way to the inn our merchant friend recommended. Oh, and by the way, all women in one room and all men in another. No complaining." I turned away and walked off even though I could hear Lyana releasing a string of strong words in my direction. I walked over to a girl playing in the sand near the center of the market, "child, would you know how to get to the Seven Son's Inn?"

"Yup, how much you pay?" Of course the child wanted money. All children wanted money and this one looked like she could use it. Her skin was dirt encrusted and her hair was a dust covered brown. It was her bright blue eyes that still showed interest in life.

"One levian," I would be over paying her, but hopefully it would help keep her alive.

The girl nodded, "Follow me this a'way." She grabbed my armored hand and dragged me away from the market pulling me through an alley and onto a road in the city. She dragged me along the road before turning right onto another narrow road. She suddenly stopped and turned to look at me, "Here's your inn." The place looked busy and I just hoped we could get a room and stabling for our animals. I turned back toward the girl and placed an entire levian in her hand. She grabbed it and melted back into the shadows.

I went back to the others, "I found our inn," I called out as I approached them.

It was Tyva who answered me first, "let's go then. I am ready for some hot food." Murmurs of agreement were all I needed. I started leading the way toward the inn. Behind me I could hear the wagon creak as the horses started moving, and behind them the others horses were being lead.

We quickly made our way back to the three story inn. I went in while the others waited with the horses. Inside it was a mad house. A man in a long green cloak and green leggings with brown hair was standing near the door, "Are you looking for something m'Lady?"

"I am looking for the owner of this establishment. My friends and I would like to stay here for the night." The man looked like a hunter, but maybe he was from around the area and new the owner.

"I am the owner. I only have one room left, and any horses would have to go in the common paddock, I don't have any stalls left." He was watching me, probably trying to read me and see what type of person I was.

"That will do," I kept my face blank, stern one might say. It wasn't preferable, but what in life was? Death was the only thing that was preferable, and that wasn't an option. We would all stay in the room, on the floor if needed. It was a camp a place to stay. "I expect we will be charged for the room, not the number of people staying in it?"

"As long as you don't trash it and some of you don't mind sleeping on the floor," he seemed tired, as if he just wanted to get things over with. Was his place this crazy every night? Maybe he really didn't want to overcharge us.

"Deal. I expect my horses and wagon to be out there in the morning though. I have some extremely valuable horses." I wanted to make sure he wasn't planning on having the animals stolen. Maybe I would watch them tonight.

"I have a guard who watches the animals," his complete lack of inflection convinced me. When everyone went to sleep I would head out to watch the animals. I shook hands with the man and paid for the rooms and the paddock for the horses.

I didn't trust the man, but did I really trust anyone? Darin and Kyra. For some strange reason and in my own twisted way, I knew I could trust them. It was a gut feeling.

I went back out the simple wooden door that served as the entrance and back to my merry band of travelers waiting for me.

"We have one room and the horses are going in the paddock. Some of us will have to sleep on the floor. Don't worry about me though; I'm staying with the horses and the wagon tonight. I don't trust the innkeeper." I spoke up before any of them could ask questions. I could just feel their questions building.

I swear Lyana makes it her goal to cause me trouble. She opens her mouth and spews out filth way to often. There it was. Her mouth opened up, "Why do we all have to stay in one room? I want a bed. Why can't we find a place with less people? I am pregnant you know."

I had to clench my teeth from screaming, or hitting her, or doing something. Every last nerve in my body just wanted to kill her. Yes, I wanted to kill her. Is something wrong with that? No wait, I don't want to kill her. I am a decent law abiding person who doesn't kill people. Wrong. I was exiled from the city. I wasn't killing her for Kyra and Tyva's sake. That was it. That was why I was standing there staring at her. Damn her. Damn her and her evil loud mouth.

I spoke through clenched teeth with my hands balled into fists at my side, "That is why you get to sleep on the bed. This is the place we are staying, and that is final. I already paid the bill."

Her filthy self-righteous mouth opened again, "Well then, why don't we go ahead and separate. We will be on our merry way, and you can continue on without worrying about us."

Was the woman a complete idiot, "Two of your fellow brigands are injured and under my partner's care and you don't have money. If you want to go beg on the streets in your condition, go have fun."

That shut her up. The others just starred at us. They all seemed to be coming out of shock. Ollarin suddenly moved toward his wife and Darin toward me, "Dyrana, I'm impressed. You didn't try to kill her."

Of course he expected that out of me. Of course he expected me to kill her. "She's pregnant and Kyra would bitch at me."

Behind me I could hear Ollarin, "Lyana, what was that about?"

"She killed them. How can you ignore the fact that she killed them?" Her voice was bitter and harsh. I killed them, they attacked me. So what? Did she think the world was perfect and wonderful without death? The world was about death and destruction. It was about who was on top and who bowed down to who. It was about accepting or throwing off the chains of understood society, and if you chose to fight, you had to expect fighting and death. I accepted it. I knew what was coming. I was going to cause a blood bath. Maybe she didn't realize that playing at bandit meant you were throwing off the chains of society and begging death to come knocking on your door.

"Come on Dy, let's go put the horses up," I focused back on Darin who was standing in front of me. I wish I could focus on more than one thing at once. I had no idea what Darin had been saying to me.

"Alright," I turned away from him and went to where Gegarat and Varadill were waiting for me. I stripped the equipment they were carrying off and threw it in the wagon before leading them to the paddock. I firmly ordered both of them to play nice and enforced my order with some of my personal energy.

After I released my two mounts I turned to see Darin releasing the last of three horses. Apparently he was looking after Chrisin and Kyra's horses as well as his own.

"They are taking Zireana and Falarin into the room," Darin knew the answer to my question before I even asked. He hadn't even looked over at me.

"I hadn't said anything."

"You didn't need to. I know you well enough to know that you would be curious, and you would want to know why I was taking care of other people's horses." Darin knew the old me. Darin knew the little girl that thought she knew what love was and what her life would be like.

"You don't know me anymore Darin," he didn't say anything, but his lip turned upward in the beginning of an infuriating smile. It was as if he knew something that I didn't.

"I was thinking we could work on unarmed combat stuff in the room while the others eat. That way we won't draw extra attention," sometimes he had an intelligent streak, but only sometimes.

"Sounds good," I grabbed my pack on the way past the wagon and headed up to the room.

There were four beds in the room, and Zireana and Falarin were already on two of the beds. Falarin was awake so I asked, "Mind if we move the beds to the side and do some combat practice up here. I don't want others around here seeing us practice."

He croaked, coughed, and then in a raspy voice, "Sure... n't ump e. e urts." His words were hard to understand, but I could understand enough to know that he didn't mind.

We quickly shoved the empty beds to one side of the room, and then carefully we worked together to move Zireana and Fallarin to the other side where they would be safe.

"We've done a couple day of straight drills, do you want to try a fight?" I worked on taking off my armor so that the movements of the fight would be unconstrained and I pulled my long black hair up into a tight bun.

Darin was also taking off his armor, though he seemed slower at it than I was, "Sure. Wouldn't hurt for me to get the crap beaten out of me before my first day on the job."

"I'll pull my punches and go easy on you. I just want to see how you are progressing, and this will give you some idea of how you are doing." I could feel the anticipation of a good fight rising up through my body, my muscles tensing as the adrenaline flowed into them. I would go easy on him, but I would still enjoy this fight.

"Sure thing Dy. You'll just let me win. For some reason that doesn't sound very feasible." I couldn't help myself, I laughed.

He scowled at my laughter, and then suddenly joined in. We were both laughing at the thought of how ridiculous the thought of me letting someone else win sounded. The absurdity of his statement did make me realize I would have to be gentle with him though. I would have to win giving him minimal damage. It might be a slight challenge, but nothing that I couldn't handle. When my laughter died down and I could breathe again I finally answered, "I didn't say you would win, just that I won't damage you in the process of ME winning."

"Whatever you say Dy, whatever you say." With that he lunged at me trying to take me by surprise with a punch toward my head, but setting himself off balance. I ducked under his punch and knocked him off balance, catching him before he could hit the floor.

"You forgot your footing in your hurry to hit at me. Start again as soon as you touch the floor," I lowered him to the floor, and the second he touched the ground he wrapped his arm up between my arm and body, and used his body and the ground as a lever to roll me onto the floor. I broke his grip as I rolled and rolled away from him using the momentum to spring up off the ground and stand. He was still stumbling to get up. I walked over and gently pushed him back against the ground with my foot.

"Dead again. I could break your back right now. Next lesson we will work on methods of standing up quickly. For now back on your feet." I took my foot off of him and let him stand up. This time he focused on standing correctly and bringing his arms up into a defensive position. I smiled in approval and nodded my head. He was finally starting to think and allow my training to sink in. This time he waited for me to throw the first punch, which was slow due to me trying to control it so I wouldn't hit him too hard. He ducked and my punch just grazed his head. If I moved as fast as I could it would've hit him hard, but this wasn't instinctual for him yet. He threw a punch back which I blocked. We continued blocking and throwing punches, more in a practice rhythm than in the unpredictability of a fight.

Finally I was tired of the gentle and carefully thrown punches. I ducked under a punch and rammed him with my hip under his own using my weight to pull him down over my hip. Instead of throwing him like I would normally at the end of that move, I pulled the move and flipped him onto the ground. I straddled him, which he used to his advantage to roll me over as I trained him, but I did a move I hadn't taught him and used the momentum from his move to continue the roll and bring myself to his side with my arm over his throat.

"And we're done. I think you did pretty well, though you pulled your punches. You should have hit me harder. I'm not breakable unlike you." I stood up and allowed him to get up. I could see he was already tired, and though I had worked up a nice sweat, I wasn't tired. In fact, I felt let down that I hadn't gotten the fight I wanted. He still needed more training.

"Hey Dy...?

His voice held the want to ask a question, as if something was bothering his mind, "Yes?"

"Could I tell you a story? It's something I learned as a voice, a story that we told every year, and I am almost certain the women do not tell it, or if they do they tell it in another way." His voice was hesitant, as if he was doing something he really probably shouldn't be.

"Sure. I wouldn't mind hearing a little of the men's lore, and what is a voice?" I needed to wash-up, but I could wait. I sat down on one of the empty beds, and Darin sat down next to me.

"Well, I am the voice of the darkest Lord, the match to your Lady. I simply am a body he can speak through when he feels a need to speak to the humans on this earth. Each Lord has a voice, and while that voice lives, he is the only voice. I am the only one allowed to be his voice. Every year, we would hold vigil, and the each lord would speak his part in the story of the separation. Each Lord would tell the story of how his beloved other half turned away from him."

To me it sounded like a load of bullshit. The women turned on the Lords? From what little I knew of it the men had betrayed the women. I wouldn't interrupt though. Darin looked lost in thought as he sat there and starred at the wall.

"The women had all been acting strange after the fight between the twin Lords and their Ladies. The women were whispering about us behind our backs and acting secretive. Looks of love were becoming looks of suspicion. One by one we confronted them, and each Lord of light and darkness has his own story of how his Lady turned on him screaming of his betrayal. It isn't my place to tell their stories, it is but my place to tell my own story.'

'I didn't want to confront my dear passionate Zedi. She didn't always listen to reason, and I was afraid she wouldn't give me a chance to speak. I was afraid of my own temper that might lash out to meet hers. Just as we loved strongly, when we fought we fought with more furry than the furry of war, fire, quake, or tornado. Our argument was feared amongst the Lords for the other dark arguments had been violent enough, and the light arguments had been cold.'

'I avoided her. I avoided my dearest one out of fear. All the others had their arguments, and I avoided mine by avoiding Zedi, but eventually she came after me, demanding to know why the men thought they were better than the woman. All her sisters were telling her about how horrid their men were, about how they had each been betrayed. I never betrayed her. I should have talked to her right away. I had given her time for her anger to build up against me. I was stupid.'

'She came at me screaming. She came at me blaming me for something I had no clue about. My confusion made her angrier. She thought I was lying, that I was faking confusion. My own anger roared up inside me, and that I regret more than anything else in my life. I regret the fact that I yelled at her, I regret my anger, my passion, my fury. I screamed at her that I had no talving clue what she was talking about. I roared that she was an idiot to listen to the rumors. I told her that I would never betray her, and that her sark security in herself, her belief that she was better than me made her think that I would betray her. I told her I would never betray her, and that she was an idiot, that she had betrayed my own trust by coming screaming at me. I was such a fool. Such and idiot. Such a temperamental fool.'

'Somehow she took my words to mean that I thought I was better than her. That I planned on forcing her to be under my rule, to not be free to be herself. I have no idea why she thought this. I heard her saying these things. I have no clue what I yelled in return. I couldn't have controlled her wild beautiful fury if I wanted to, but we were equals, and we were equal in anger.'

'I have cursed myself since that day. She acts as if she cares not a bit for me now. She claims she has no love. She claims to be death incarnate. She doesn't even seem to remember me, as if I am simply that male, a lower being. She did to me what she said I would do to her. I was hoping that I could talk to her. Please Dy, let me talk to her."

We were there listening. We weren't sure at what point our curiosity sparked and we joined together, but we had listened to the whole story. "Zacinelsikaydan, you betrayed us. You lost our trust that day."

We had actually erased the memories from our minds along with our feelings for him. The twins constantly reminded us of his betrayal since we had erased the memories. We didn't truly remember what had happened but we wouldn't let him fool us. We knew it was him speaking. He was there, talking through his voice.

"Why do you insist I betrayed you? I never meant to. I don't know why you think I betrayed you. I just told you how much of a full I was for yelling back at you," he was pleading with me, begging me to listen, but I knew he was lying, manipulating me.

"We have no love. We burned it away. You can't win us back with pretty words and false apologies. There is nothing to win back. There is no heart in our cold dark soul for you to love. You betrayed us, and now you will pay the price for eternity." We turned away from him and separated.

I gasped as the Lady left me again. I turned in time to see Darin collapsing to the floor, and I grabbed him and carefully laid him on the bed.

He opened his eyes slowly, as if waking up from a nap, "Did he tell you the story. He told me he wanted to tell it to you."

"Yeah, I heard the story. Zedigivikonola didn't like it though."

"I didn't think she would, but he demanded that I let him tell the story. Who was I to deny him? I am his voice after all."

"Yes, let's get this room back to normal and then we can wash-up," I stood up and waited for Darin to stand up. We moved the beds back to where they were previously, and then we walked over to where Falarin and Zireana were sleeping.

Falarin wasn't asleep though. He was sitting up, holding his side, staring at us. "You have power Dy, but remember, love conquers all." His voice was much clearer than when he spoke earlier. "I knew you were powerful when we met, but I didn't understand you cold heart, now I do. Don't let the twins win. Don't let them rule this world. They built your precious city. Remember, love conquers all." He smiled and allowed himself to sink back onto his bed where he passed out before I could question him.

"That scowl doesn't look very pretty on you, you know," I swiped at him and he ducked while laughing.

"Come on. Let's move the invalids back," We carried their beds back to their original positions.

"I'll bring up some water to wash with," I turned and left the room. Falarin was right in one respect. The twins had created an imperfect system. I didn't know if they created the city of the gods or not, but the city needed to be destroyed. I was incapable of love, but I could forgive Falarin for not knowing this. He hadn't known me very long.

I went down to the kitchen and waited for a bucket of water to be heated up slightly. I grabbed a cleaning cloth on my way out and dropped a bar of the strong cleaning soap used in the kitchen into the water. I carried the water back up to the room and put it behind the screen where the chamber pot was. I grabbed my spare pair of clothing out of my pack and went behind the screen to scrub myself off with the quickly cooling water. After I finished I left Darin to his bath, bought some bread from the kitchen, and walked out to the paddock where the horses were and where I would be spending my night.

I set up a warning system around all of our things and the horses that would wake me if anyone tried to take our stuff, and then I went to sleep against the paddock fence. I woke up multiple times in the night because the horses touched each other, but otherwise the night was quiet. The inn was a good place to stay.

I got up early and started packing. Before long Kyra was there helping me, "You should take it easy on Darin."

"What are you talking about?" now Kyra was giving me cryptic messages too.

"He loves you, just as Chrisin loves me. I know you cannot love, and I cannot bring myself to love just one person. We are both lost causes, but I allow Chrisin to think that my love of everyone is focused slightly more on him. If he wants I will even have his children. I could not bring myself to hurt him. You give Darin hope and then dash his heart against a rock every day." Kyra was harnessing up the brigand's wagon horses.

"I think it's more cruel to pretend to love someone then to make sure they know you don't love them at all. I have never led Darin on. I've always let him know exactly what he means to me, he is a good sparring partner."

We were ready to go when the other brought the packs down from the room. After our gear was loaded, Zireana and Falarin were carefully moved to the wagon. Falarin was awake, but quiet, and I would swear he winked at me as if he knew a secret of mine that he was keeping for me.

We made our way back to the merchant from the day before. The man was carefully holding a dancing stallion. The horse had a powerful and yet delicate build, and his body was a light dapple grey with a black mane and tale. He was beautiful, and every movement spoke of killer with fire under his feet.

Lords and Ladies almighty he was gorgeous. "He's too spirited and young to be a good caravan horse. I thought you might like him."

I nodded consent without looking away from the beautiful dished face. "Zentas. I will name you death, and your fire will rain death down upon my enemies. Yes, beautiful?"

I rubbed his pretty head and took his rein. "The rest of the caravan is ready to go. Your civilians can fall in at the rear, but I expect you to be riding along the main part of the caravan."

I nodded and mounted up onto Zentas just as he exploded into the air, and came down dancing on his feet. He would be a fun ride!

"The thrill of danger always attracts you doesn't it? Are you looking to get yourself killed?" I could tell the snarky comment was Kyra's without even looking. She was always disapproving when things were fun.

"I'm just looking to have fun. Can't a girl have some fun?" I turned Zentas toward her horse trying to keep him happy and moving. If I stopped moving he was likely to blow his top. It was important to show the merchant that I was good with horses, that I could be a good guard.

"If the fun involves trying to kill yourself then I don't really think it sounds like fun," Kyra obviously needed to experience an adrenaline rush to understand what she was missing. She was so wrapped up in her healing that she didn't even seem to do exiting things that got the blood pumped up and moving. Maybe once she would have with me, but that was before she forgot her childhood life.

"Fight a battle to the death and then tell me that the feeling of adrenaline coursing through your veins is not amazing." I gave Zentas a little rein and a nudge with my calf. He happily stepped forward into the trot allowing me to leave Kyra before she annoyed me too much.

We circled around the slow moving wagons many time during the day, and we were organized into watches for the nights before being released to either our watches or sleep. My watch was a morning watch, and interestingly enough, Darin just happened to have watch at the same time, and just happened to be my partner.

We went to the back of the wagons where our companions were making camp. Smoke rose in a dense cloud up from the fire under the stew pot into the cooling night air. I couldn't see any steam coming from the pot, so it hadn't been on the fire long. The horses were picketed next to the wagon. I used my energy to search around the encampment, see everything normal, and set it so that the abnormal would alert me. Lyana was tending the stew pot. The Gonar and Nyltar were listening to Tyva telling a story. Both of them were curled up next to her. Nyltar looked ready to sleep on her shoulder and Gonar sat next to her, but made a point of not actually touching her. He liked her. He was infatuated with an idea he didn't understand. An idea that didn't exist.

I didn't sit down. The others were sitting down, but I couldn't. I gave Zentas a pat as I left him with the other horses and walked into the woods. We needed meat, and I would bring in something for the stew pot. It gave me a reason to be alone with me thoughts. I felt a Darin following me. I wouldn't have peace of mind till I waited for him.

"Aren't you training me tonight?" He had no sense of how to be quiet, to stalk like a jaguar, to be a creature of the night.

"Consider it your night off. I want some fresh meat for the stew pot." I didn't need to turn to see him, his energy was its own pattern, messing with the energy field around me. Since when did I notice the energy field around me?

"You need to think don't you? Remember this while you think. Remember our love before it was burned from you. I don't care who you are now, and what you have done to yourself, I still love you. Can you find it in yourself to heal? To heal the wounds of time, the wounds self-inflicted. If you can't remember, how do you know that I lie? Maybe I am telling the truth, and the twins have deceived you using your own beautiful spirit." I felt him turning away and I spun around to look at him.

It was the Dark Lord staring back at me, at us, "We know..."

"Just think," he interrupted us, and then he was gone, Darin was standing there staring at us. Without a word he turned and stomped his way out of the forest. I made my way farther into the forest. Kyra entered the forest and not long after that Chrisin entered. He ran and caught up with her. I climbed up into a nearby maple tree and waited.

"Kyra, why do you always run from me? We were meant to be together. Can't you see it from how well we work together? We are a flawless team, we know how the other operates." Chrisn was panting slightly when he caught up to her, begging her in his voice to stop. She did. She turned to face him, unable to actually sense him. Her focus was not for finding people around her.

"Chrisin, I love just as much as I love the next person. I never love just one person. I love everyone around me. You know this. I've told you this." Kyra's voice was pleading with him, begging him not to make her hurt him. She was begging him to not ask her to love him more than any other man.

"Could you pretend Kyra? Could you pretend that you love me, that there is more here than just the love you feel for every person around you. That this is something special?" He asked anyway, and where I would have laughed and blown him off, Kyra couldn't ever hurt someone.

"Yes. Yes I could pretend. I could pretend that something exists that doesn't actually, that I love you more than life itself. I could pretend that this lie exists; I could even build a life with you around this lie, but I have no real truth. The Lady of Light, she rebuilds us in her image when we host her. If our hair is not pale white-blonde, our eyes not ice blue, our skin not flawless and pale, it is when she is finished with us. She takes away all memories of a previous life, and leaves us with a simple truth, the love of everyone. We know only how to love, no matter what a person does to us; we can only love them and try to heal them. Our mind is filled with the knowledge of healing, of curing, of loving. I am her creation, but if you asked, I could not deny you. I would build a lie so you will not be hurt." My poor innocent partner.

She would destroy herself on this lie. She would hate herself for lying, for pretending, but she would continue to hold it to spare his feelings. At that moment I hated him. I couldn't help myself but to hate him. I wanted to rush out and save her from what she was about to do to herself, but I couldn't. I had to let her live her own life her own way. I am not sure how I knew this, but the knowledge came to me. This same knowledge told me it was for the best, that her children would be great, that the lie she built would one day help the world heal, and though she would suffer for it; I could not help her.

"Will You? Will you build that lie for me Kyra? Loving you and not having my love returned, it hurts me. I just want you to love me back," that manipulating lying bastard. I couldn't do anything. I had to stay put. I had to let things run their course.

"Of course I love you Chrisin. How could I not love you? It was all a test. I do love you. It is no lie, I love you," and she embraced him, tears streaming out of her eyes as if she was joyful, but I knew the truth. She was crying because she was embracing a lie. She couldn't let herself wound him, even if the wound was not physical. I was the only one she could hurt. I was the only who could crack her absolute love and make her mad.

I watched as they went back to the camp hand in hand; Chrisin delighted in the knowledge that Kyra loved him, and Kyra horrified by the lie she professed. She would learn to live with her lie. She would have to learn.

They left and I climbed back down the tree. I really did need to bring some meat back for the stew pot. I sensed a squirrel not too far away, and carefully pulled out a throwing dagger. Precision was the key with throwing daggers. I had to plan, to carefully see how my hand position and aim would affect where the dagger would end up.

The squirrel moved into range, I caulked my wrist, and threw the dagger. It buried itself deep in the squirrel, going through ribs and guts, all the way through the squirrel. It would do.

Sometimes a lie is necessary. Did the twins think that way? Had they lied to me? Had I erased my memory in a fit of passion just to have the twins replace it with lies. If that was the case, I owed it to Darin and Zacinelsikaydan to make it up, to destroy the twins. I had to bring down the city. The city that was the corrupt center of power for a corrupt society. Bring down a pillar of the tower and the tower falls.

It was then that I realized how I was thinking, as if I was the goddess. As if my power and hers were the same. As if we were one?

Were we one? Was I just a mortal projection of her, of... myself? Suddenly the sense of the energy of life around me disappeared. It was gone as if I had not just been able to access the energy of life everywhere around me.

How were the gods and goddesses created? How did we come to exist? We were the projection of infinite energy separated out into a rainbow. We created the alphabet out of who were to bring focus and clarity to our creations. Each creation we imbued with a portion of our energy and the ability to replenish it when depleted. Our children the humans. The world was quite a place, and we were responsible.

I was standing in the forest. Zedigrivikonola, I guess that would be myself the Dark Lady aspect, had answered my question. The ability to sense that energy, to see the gift of the gods and goddesses, that was the ability of a god or goddess.

I had to get back to the camp before the stew was finished. My mortal body needed sustenance other than thoughts and ponderings about the origin of the human creature. Also, I wouldn't mind some meat in my stew.

No one noticed when I came out of the forest. I walked quietly up to Lyana and put the squirrel next to her. She jumped slightly when I started to talk, "I brought some meat for the pot. It's not much but it will add some protein to our meal."

She stared at me blankly for a second, looked down at the squirrel, and then looked back up at me, "Thanks."

I nodded in reply, and made my way over to where Darin was sitting, "I will destroy the city, not because I know the truth or not, but because if the twins lied to me, if you are telling the truth, I owe it to you to destroy the twins, the city, and what it stood for. This cannot change what I did to myself. Nothing can change who I have become, and nothing can bring love back to me, but I owe you this."

"I don't want this, I don't need this. I just want your love." His voice was pleading, his eyes were half awake, half still dreaming.

"This is all I can give you, I am sorry, but I will bring down what was created on lie," except for Kyra's relationship, but he didn't need to know that.

"Then I will be happy that you are doing the most you can. I wish, I wish we could change it, that you could love again, but I think I understand what you are telling me." His hope wasn't dashed. I could see that. If anything he thought he had more of a chance now. Poor fool. I gave up. If he wouldn't listen, he wouldn't listen.

I sat down and waited in silence for my part of the diner stew. I didn't know how much farther we had to go, how much longer we had to travel, but I knew that there were four or five more cities before the End of the Road, and from there we would head into the mountains. It was a long journey, but I had faith. Faith that we would see it through to the end, and that I would hold to my promise.

I went to sleep on a full stomach and this knowledge, the knowledge of my purpose.

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