Reign of Winter

Conversations with Nadya

Feril:
“Nadya, before we came to Irrisen through the portal, you must understand that we had no idea of the significance of what we experienced.
It is with our sincerest regret and apologies that we have to let you know that we witnessed the passing of Thora’s spirit in to the realm of the Gods.”

Let her take it in, support her in her grief before trying to give her an avenue to move past her grief

“It seems the Queen and White Witches in their haste to invade other realms and to secure their power against the return of Baba Yaga have taken to using any means necessary, and Thora and the other children may be the first casualties in a War brewing for control of the world. I cannot understand your grief, or your pain, there can be no consolation for the loss of a child. I do understand the loss of family… I spent years running from that pain. I would beg you, if you have it in you, to harness that pain, that grief and rage, and help us. Help us to rally others to a cause that will see that no child is ever taken again. Let Thora be the banner under which we unite to free others from the Tyranny of the White Witches. Too long has fear dominated and darkened these lands. Let Thora be our guiding light, and together we can temper the pain into a cause that will bring freedom to all.”

Jack:
Later in the evening, perhaps as Nadya is sitting near the fire, and we are all sitting quietly, perhaps silently thinking on the day’s events and what comes before us, Jack would like to approach her. Kneeling in front of her, gently placing his hand on her forearm, he looks at her eyes, deeply, maybe seeing them streaked with tears and swollen, maybe filled with steely resolve. If she looks at all receptive, Jack asks her,

“May I share a story with you?”

If she declines, or does not seem in the mood, Jack leaves her be, perhaps retiring for the night. If she seems at all willing to hear his story, Jack goes into the following,

“When I was a child, I lost my family. There was a man, a man with power, but who wanted far more. He had raised an army, a manifestation of his greed, and gave others the choice to either bend the knee and kiss his ring, or be crushed. My village had existed for millennia, so it was probably of no surprise to anyone that we did not bend to his demands. This man probably even suspected we would resist, perhaps planning all along to make an example of us, for others who may think about standing against him.”

Jack stands, turning towards the fire, placing a hand on the hearth. His gaze turns to the fire, and continues,

“I lost my family that night. All of it. I watched my mother, sword in hand, cut down by a dozen soldiers. My father died as he tried to save my brother and sister from our house, as it burned to the ground. My aunts and uncles, my grandparents, my cousins, my little nieces and nephews. Every one of them died that night. I watched them bleed and burn."

“All of them.”

Jack stares at the hot embers, at the heart of the fire. Face stern, eyes locked on the embers.

“Of my blood, only I lived through that night.”

His gaze returns slowly to Nadya.

“I do not tell you this to inspire you towards revenge. For I sought no revenge against the men who took my family from me, or the man who ordered it. I know not of what happened to this man and his army and his empire, though I suspect that all three are now long dead and dust.”

“I do not tell you this to try and compare the pain of our losses, to diminish what you are feeling, or to even pretend to know the feelings you have right now. As I do not. I have never lost a child. I do not know your pain, and pray I never will."

“I tell you this because of what my loss did to me. And how close it came to consuming me.”

Jack returns his gaze to the fire.

“There’s a poem I wrote. Shortly after my family died. When I thought that I too, would also die.”

Staring at the fire, he recites the following,

It hovers here, a moon opaque,
obscuring all the paths I take.
No other living thing appears.
A moon opaque. . . It hovers here.

I follow on along a ledge;
above a swirling river’s edge.
In front of me, the chasm yawns.
Along a ledge, I follow on.

Now all is dim; it matters not.
My loved ones hearts I have not got.
No use in living without them.
It matters not. Now all is dim.

At peace I’ll be if I should fall
to murky water from this wall.
Oh, dark chasm, swallow me.
When I fall, at peace I’ll be.

Jack pauses.

“It was.. a few years later, when I added another verse.”

What of hope, is it no more?
Is it more than I can ask for?
But what is that I see, unless
A glimmer of light in the darkness

Jack kneels next to Nadya again, looking up into her eyes,

“Feril is right. It is when things are at their darkest, that finding the light is most important. Whatever, and wherever you may find that light. I let the darkness consume me, and I almost didn’t escape.”

Jack slowly stands, gently brushing his hand through her hair, and leaning in to touch his forehead against hers in what he hopes is interpreted to be a sign of support / protection / empathy. He moves towards the door, and quietly slips out into the night,

“I’m going for a walk.”


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Grifta

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