“While I’m sure Moraine appreciates your constant prayers, Orrin, believe me when I tell you… again… that Fiona is going to be fine,” the redheaded cleric of Moraine said with a roll of her eyes as she looked at the white haired elf who’d been kneeling by her bedside for the past six hours. “Our healing magic was able to restore the majority of her injuries with no problems.” She walked over to Orrin and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder and smiled as he looked up at her hopefully. “The rest is up to her. She’s been going non-stop since we got to Lakeside… the poor girl probably just needs the rest.”
“Are you sure, Moreth? She’s slept so long…” Orrin asked worriedly as he turned to look at the healer. Fiona began tossing and muttering in her sleep, however, quickly regaining the worried Knight of the Lady’s attention.
He moved to sit by her side on the bed and gently moved her hair off her face as he cupped her cheek fondly. “Fiona… thank the Goddess that you are well.”
Fiona’s eyes flickered open as his soothing touch woke her from her nightmare, groaning as she took in the familiar white walls of the Enclave belonging to the Healers of Moraine. “Goddess… I just can’t get out of this town, can I?” she moaned.
“We love you too, Fiona,” Moreth replied sarcastically as she cleaned up the last of the herbal mixtures that they’d used to speed her healing. “Goddess be praised, it looks like we all managed to make it out of that mess on the docks without loss of life.”
“You caused me… us… no end of worry,” Orrin said with a half smile. “Please don’t do something like that again without me… it makes it rather difficult to protect you.”
Fiona smiled at the concerned knight and sat up to hug him. She sighed contentedly into his shoulder as she felt his arms wrap around her to hold her tightly to him in return. “Deal… neither of us goes off on dangerous missions without the other. That way we can protect each other.” A low grumble came from Fiona’s stomach and interrupted the peaceful moment. Fiona leaned back and with slightly pink cheeks laughed, “In the meanwhile, I’m starving. So what time of day is it now?”
“You managed to sleep through the morning bells… but you should still have time to get breakfast at the Blackbird Inn,” Moreth replied. “Now that you’re in good hands, I’m going to make sure everyone else is doing okay before I head there myself.”
Fiona’s expression grew serious as she looked to the healer. “Thank you for saving me, Moreth. Your skills and that of your kind have become invaluable in these dark times.”
“Indeed,” Orrin replied in agreement as he nodded at the healer. “We have much to thank the Goddess for.”
Moreth was stunned for a moment at the heartfelt words from the ranger. She had grown so used to her usual acerbic attitude that she momentarily didn’t know what to say. “… …you’re welcome… just doing what we do best. See you later, Fiona.”
“See you, Moreth.” Fiona turned back to the knight in her arms and rested her forehead against his with a smile. “Now about that breakfast…”
The Blackbird Inn was bustling with activity as people who had come from all over to see the Faire decided to also try out Mira’s famous cooking that day. Fiona waved a hand to her aunt as she stood behind the bar taking orders, but she was so busy all she could do was smile wearily in acknowledgment.
“I don’t envy her at all,” Fiona said as they quickly seized an empty booth in the corner. “Give me the open land any day compared to being bound behind a counter.” “We all must serve our parts,” Orrin answered with a small smile as he sat down.
“That reminds me,” Fiona said as she tapped the table with her finger and leaned toward him. “We need to talk …about the vision you and Errin were blessed with that sent you on your quest.” His eyes widened as she continued. “I can’t help but feel that it’s an important part of what’s going on, Orrin… and if I’m involved in it…I…I need to know what could happen.”
Her expression grew sad as her eyes fell to the tabletop and she started tracing the patterns in the wood with her finger. “There’s so much chaos and instability going on and I try to keep people safe and maintain the balance… but I can’t help but feel like all I’m accomplishing is pissing in the wind.”
Orrin reached over and took her hand in both of his, gently stroking the back of it with his thumbs. “Your part in this story is far from over, Fiona. I’ve seen it.” He took a deep breath and continued, “I could describe it, but perhaps it would be best if I showed you, instead.”
Fiona’s breath caught in her throat and she nodded in acceptance as she swallowed. “I’m ready.” She closed her eyes and breathed deep to help her relax as he revealed the vision that had been driving him for years.
She can feel the moldy dampness in the air and the tingling feeling of electricity prickling at her skin as she moves forward like a ghost over a cobblestone floor towards the sound of rushing air. As she moves closer she sees a deep gaping hole has formed in the ground, and the sound of rushing air is the sucking sound of it as it attempts to swallow all in it’s dark mass. Lightning crackles in the air around the opening, and she can’t help but feel that she’s seen this before.
Her thoughts are interrupted as the sound of people running toward her echo across the stones. As she peers into the darkness she’s surprised to see herself running towards the portal and stopping at the edge. Her other self looked back in fear and Fiona could now see a battered Errin and Orrin following her, but stopping short of where her other self stood. They turned around and faced the darkness with their swords drawn, and Fiona felt a chill go down her spine as she saw the darkness begin to move.
“Orrin!” her other self yelled in a panic as she drew her sword and reached out her hand toward him.
“You must go, Fiona!” he yelled. “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for my whole life!”
“No,” Fiona said as she broke contact and sat back in the booth heavily, tears forming in her eyes. “I can’t accept that, Orrin… I won’t leave without you and Errin.”
It took a moment for him to collect himself before he took her hand in his and spoke. “It is our part to play. I’ve felt I’ve known you for so long, Fiona… and in my heart I’ve known that I am meant to protect you from this evil. Your part is greater than you or I can know… and I thank the Goddess that she, and you, have seen me worthy to let me be a part of it.”
“What about our promise?” she asked desperately as a lone tear slid down her cheek. “We swore that we wouldn’t get into any more trouble without the other, right?”
Orrin smiled as he gently caressed her cheek and wiped the tear away with his thumb. “My dear lady…I will be by your side as long as the Goddess permits me.”
“She’ll have me to answer to if she thinks she can take you away from me that easily,” she said with a broken laugh as she reached up and took his hand in hers. “I promised Errin I would help her find her people and reclaim her birthright… and you promised to show me your home next summer.”
“Indeed I did,” he said with a smile as he squeezed her hand reassuringly. “Perhaps there is more to the story that we have yet to see.”
“Yeah… like the part where we all go together,” she said emphatically.
One of the waitresses finally came by with a pot of tea and a steaming cup of coffee, and Fiona took it eagerly, glad for the momentary distraction. She knew that vision was going to haunt her for many nights to come.
“I still don’t understand how you can drink that Dwarven concoction,” Orrin said in disbelief as he drank his tea.
Fiona held the steaming mug up to her nose with an appreciative smile. “It surprised me at first, I admit,” she replied, then took a careful sip, “but it grows on you. Besides, when we were in Barrow Hill the choices seemed down to it or the twin’s Elfwine, and I wasn’t going to deal with the repercussions of that drink while we were still in danger. If I wanted something at attention, I’d rather it be my mind.”
Orrin blushed and quickly focused on putting sugar in his tea. “Good to know.”
Fiona set her mug down and reached out her hand to cover his on the table. She was about to apologize for embarrassing the innocent knight when the comfortable atmosphere of the Inn was interrupted by the entrance of U, crazed cleric of Eris and sometimes travel companion, with a rather sleek and seductive looking blonde woman on his arm that sent a chill up her spine. For some reason, thoughts of a snake in a henhouse came to mind.
She squeezed Orrin’s hand as he turned to see the cleric and strange woman enter and whispered, “I’ll be right back.”
With a grit of her teeth she walked up to the cleric and affected her best smile that just couldn’t reach her eyes. As much as U had been helpful in her adventures in the past… she was still wary about his goals in Lakeside. “Greetings, U. It’s good to see that you’re in good health after that fiasco last night,” she said as she nodded to him.
He looked to the woman on his arm and smiled. “Indeed…the Goddess takes good care of those who please her.”
“My name is Fiona Shaw,” she said to the woman as she held out her hand in greeting.
“The pleasure is all mine, Fiona,” she replied in a lilting voice as she took Fiona’s hand in hers. “My name is Disnomia… and the good cleric here has been kind enough to show me around this quaint little town during my visit.” Her hand slid out of Fiona’s slowly and moved to point past her shoulder at the white haired elf gazing at them curiously from the booth. “And who might that lovely gentlemen be?”
Fiona looked over her shoulder as she discretely tried to wipe her hand on her breeches. “Him? Oh.. his name is TAKEN,” she said with quiet force as she looked unflinchingly at Disnomia.
“Indeed,” she said with a sly smile. “I’ll have to remember that.”
“Do,” Fiona replied succinctly as she crossed her arms over her chest.
“If you’ll excuse us, Fiona, we’re going to have breakfast before I continue the tour.” With a nod U led the woman to a table, but not without Fiona catching Disnomia winking over her shoulder at them first.
“Just great, “ Fiona muttered to herself as she returned to their table, the realization that she just told the Goddess of Discord to take a flying leap finally sinking into her stomach. She’d been doing her best to take U’s chaotic influence in stride… but walking into the Blackbird Inn with her on his arm has got to take the cake.
“Are you all right?” Orrin asked in concern as he observed the nervous expression on Fiona’s face. “Who was that strange woman?”
“Someone we all need to worry about… and do our best to stay away from,” she answered, picking up her coffee mug and setting it down again with a sigh. “What do you say we head back to the Enclave? I need to fill in Digger and Uncle John with what happened at the Docks… and who’s come to town.”
Orrin gazed at the two sitting across the room, their auras of Chaos so strong to the knight that he felt the hairs on his arms prickle. “Yes… I think that’s a good idea.”