“Hey guys, what’s up?” Chesed asked as he pulled a chair up to the tavern table where Ameiko and Da’Karu were sitting. He had been out scouting the areas outside of town with Shalelu, and they had just gotten back. It was almost uncomfortable staying in town. So many people staring… so many wanting to touch or be in the “hero presence”… It made Chesed a little sick.
He didn’t want to be hero worshiped. Back home, he would’ve just been considered an exceptional warrior, an elite fighter… not some god thing to look up to. Sandpoint was such a different atmosphere now with everything that had happened…
Chesed had always known the stares of townsfolk would make him uncomfortable if his scales showed. It was different, strange, weird. But to be revered and sickeningly worshiped… that was an even more uncomfortable feeling.
He knew exactly how Nualia felt now, and he didn’t want it.
Erin seemed to think otherwise though. The first moment they had come back to town the card reader had shoved Chesed at the crowd. Just… no… It was one thing to inspire hope in people, not be… yea…
Shalelu laid a hand over the rager’s own on the table. Chesed smiled at her, but his attention went straight to the loud squeak from across the table. Ameiko beamed at them from where she sat, bouncing in her seat with less than hidden excitement.
“I’m a dad…” Da’Karu stated quietly.
“Oh?” Shalelu looked at the rugged warrior as Ameiko snickered.
“Of four…. goblins…” the spear thrower finished his words with little enthusiasm.
A laugh escaped Chesed. Oh. “Vraxim couldn’t handle them?”
“Sara is taking care of them for Vraxim,” Ameiko added, “She took his offer to tutor at the orphanage. I think it’s a wonderful little opportunity. She really loves those kids…”
“Good,” Shalelu chuckled, “She deserves much better.”
Chesed scanned the room as the conversation continued about the orphanage improvements. They were almost all here. Where was Erin?
“Hey Ameiko,” Chesed looked at the tavern owner, “Where is Erin?”
“He said something about grabbing Tomlin and sending out wedding invitations.”
“What?” the statement confused the rager greatly. Shalelu seemed just as perplexed. “When did he leave?”
“Couple hours ago. Wouldn’t be surprised if Tomlin or Vraxim held him up in Magnimar or something,” Ameiko shrugged.
Oh. Chesed relaxed a little. That made sense…. but with Erin there was always ulterior motives. Always. What did he mean by- As if right on cue, a shout from the card reader sounded outside, “Hey Grumpyscales! Come out here!”
Chesed raised an eyebrow as he looked over at the open door. He didn’t know if he wanted to suddenly. It was Erin after all.
“Come on~~~! Usually he’s out here by now, oh Grumpyscales~!” Erin’s voice drifted over the threshold again.
“Go see what he wants,” Shalelu rolled her eyes, “Or he’ll never shut up.”
“Fine…” Chesed got up. He strode over to the open door. Erin was on the front steps, holding… Chesed’s sword? What the hell was the Harrower doing with it?
“What do you want?” Chesed asked as he stepped outside.
“You might want this,” Erin tossed the sheathed blade to him. Chesed caught it easily with an annoyed glare.
A flash of white caught his peripheral vision. Chesed turned and had a split second to register what was there. A full-covering helm tipped with silver wings on each side. A butterfly splayed across metallic blue metal. A green hued blade at the other end of a sapphire-pommeled sword.
Oh gods… He should have seen it coming, but he didn’t.
A loud crack split the area. Pain flared red through Chesed’s skull as the gemmed pommel connected with the side of his head. The rager staggered back into the door frame; his legs buckled as an armor-clad leg connected with the backs of his knees.
“Oo… That looks like it hurt…” Erin visibly winced.
Chesed hit the wooden front stoop and rolled to his back. A brief glance upward revealed his attacker. A towering full-plated woman loomed over him menacingly, death flaring brightly from her enraged blue gaze through the helmet slits. His older sister, Sera was here. And she wasn’t going to wait for words.
He wasn’t going to wait either. Death itself reached down for him, but Chesed rolled to the side. A metal boot caught him in the ribs and sent the rager tumbling down the stairs. Chesed twisted as he hit the dirt of the street and rolled up into a crouch. He tasted blood in his mouth. Great. The splitting pain from his head probably felt worse than it was. But gods…
“Stand and fight me, coward!” the roar came as wide, feathered wings opened. Erin ducked out of the way of the winged fighter as she launched off of the steps straight at Chesed.
“I’m not fighting you!” Chesed shouted back as he belted his sword. He could see a handful of openings in her fighting style, but he knew better. Sera always left opportune spots open just to turn a weapon back at her opponent.
As she closed the distance, Chesed raised his arms defensively. A brilliant light erupted from Sera’s being as she swung her greatsword down at him. Chesed blindly stepped to the side and felt the sweep of the blade clip his arm. A well-placed knee sent him tumbling again though. Damn…
Chesed hit the dirt once more and rolled. He felt the blade sweep wide above his head as Sera turned to pursue. The rager glanced up as he passed a bystander in the street. Tomlin’s confused and surprised expression greeted him. The halfing was reaching for his sword, but Chesed waved off the coming help. Lyssandra was there too.
…How many people had Erin gone to get!?
He needed to run. There was no point in having this fight continue within city limits. Too many people were already gathering in the windows and down the street. Someone else would get hurt in the rampage if it stayed here.
Desna help me…
“Do we help him?” he heard Da’Karu from by the tavern. The warrior already had a spear in hand. At least his friends weren’t going to back down. It was a small comfort and a big problem.
“Nah, he’s got this,” Erin replied.
But Chesed didn’t have time to go after the Harrower himself. He had a very pissed off angel on his tail to deal with first.
Another dive. Chesed twisted around as Sera flew at him again. He caught the blade with a palm and felt it slice deep into his skin as he shoved it to the side. As her full weight slammed into him, Chesed’s arm shot over her shoulder and wrapped around her neck. He caught his footing just long enough to pull his sister out of the air. They tumbled in a clatter of metal and bone.
He felt the fury blaze through his limbs as he locked Sera’s head under his arm. Wings stretched into the sky as he tried to contain the struggling warrior. Sera’s helmet clattered to the street as she fought the hold.
Arrows were notched. Chesed looked up to see frightened guardsmen coming down the street with bows drawn. Okay, here was definitely not the place to be now. A fist connected with Chesed’s chin and made him jerk backward, but his grip remained intact. He hauled Sera up from the ground and hooked an arm around her side as she let out an infuriated screech.
And then they were in the air. Chesed hauled them both into the sky with as much strength as he could muster. Sera fell still for a few moments as the weightlessness of flight hit her. Chesed just prayed the disorientation would last long enough to get them far away from the crowds.
He jerked his head to the side as she tried to connect a headbutt. He veered haphazardly toward a building wall and narrowly missed the corner. No… there was probably no stopping the rage any time soon. It would take time… Time he really didn’t have.
After a long few moments, Chesed dropped his sister in a grassy field southeast of Sandpoint. He landed as Sera regained her footing. She stood slowly as Chesed tracked a wide circle around her.
“You can stop now,” he stated quietly.
“You left us,” Sera growled back.
Chesed met her enraged gaze and shock hit him like a thunder wave. A long scar ran along the right side of Sera’s face, starting from her hairline and leaving a jagged line all the way down past her chin.
“What happened?” he couldn’t help the question, though he knew the answer. The giant attacks. Somewhere in all the chaos of Storval Plateau being taken over the blow had to have landed.
“You left!” Sera screeched. Chesed braced himself as she leapt off the ground. He sidestepped the greatsword as it swung at him.
“That’s not what I was asking, Sera,” Chesed responded. He tripped the other warrior and let her stumble to her knees. Her sword landed out of reach for the moment.
“The plateau… the village was attacked,” Sera responded between angry breaths. Chesed was about to approach when her voice grew louder once more, “And you weren’t there!”
The air was knocked out of Chesed’s lungs as Sera swept around, her wings clipping into his already bruised side. What a day to not have his armor on around town… Chesed may have kept his footing but it put him in direct line of Sera’s fist as it came at him.
Her fist connected with his face, but he wasn’t going to be daunted by the pain it sent streaking through his skull again. He struck back, catching a surprised Sera across the jaw. She fell backward and again Chesed circled around and away from the winged warrior.
“I’m aware I wasn’t there, but it wouldn’t have made a difference, Sera,” Chesed continued walking as he wiped blood from his face, “I would probably be dead now too if I hadn’t left.”
“You were off playing hero and chasing skirts while your family died…” she spat back. Her anger was starting to wear off, but his sister clung to it stubbornly, “You’re just like father…”
Chesed felt his own anger flare suddenly and way too intensely for his liking. He stepped forward as Sera moved to get up again and struck out at her. He punched her squarely across the face, “You will not compare me to him!”
It was a strange feeling, knowing he had actually willingly hit his sister for once. Chesed let Sera stay where she was as he paced in the grass. It felt wrong, but also.. needed. He grabbed Sera’s sword from the ground. He wouldn’t let his fury blindly guide his hand today, but still… He had control…. He had control…
“You left…” he heard the whisper, “And he went insane… Chesed…”
Chesed felt his own anger dissipate as he looked back at his sister. She was struggling to keep herself contained, but it wasn’t rage this time. It was… fear? Hurt? …Grief?
“We heard about the attacks to the north… Father redoubled the training in the village… We were so unprepared… and… he was so scared to lose another child… He evacuated everyone after the first strike hit the village…”
“Lyssandra informed me,” Chesed didn’t want to hear this. This was his older sister, the proud flyer and warrior of their village, not this… heartbroken thing in front of him… Lyssandra had told him about the evacuation, but not about the feelings behind it.
“Then she told you the village was ambushed as we tried to leave?” Sera questioned.
“No… she didn’t mention many details…” Chesed wasn’t sure if he should stay where he was or try to comfort his sister. He probably wouldn’t be welcomed very warmly…
“They wanted us all dead. I was struck down by a blade while Lyssandra gathered the others… and then father was there… He died… right in front of me… to save us.”
“I’m sorry,” Chesed couldn’t find any other words to say. They both knew it was meaningless, but he felt some sort of response was needed.
It wasn’t as commanding or forceful as it could have been, but there was the Sera he knew. Chesed looked at the sword in his hand before cautiously approaching the other warrior. Sera flinched away as he swung the sword and stabbed it into the ground in front of her. Did she really think he was going to hit her with it? Guess it wouldn’t have been a terrible shock… fists or swords, the Starfist way was: hit first, ask later.
“The past is done. The future is unknown. Live in the present Sera… and choose your own destiny now,” Chesed stated as he let go of the blade, “Either swing at me again and go back to the plateau, or sheath it and choose a new road. The choice is yours.”
He waited as his sister looked up from the ground. Her hardened gaze eyed the blade and the distance between them. Was she really calculating her chances? Chesed really hoped not. He was tired of fighting for the day.
A short laugh escaped his sister, catching Chesed off guard. She took the sword and leaned back, looking up at him from the ground. “You’ve grown… brother,” she stated quietly.
“Yea?” a hint of a smile broke across his face, “Well, fighting demons and cultists will do wonders I guess.”
“Demons?” Sera’s eyebrow raised at the word, “I don’t believe my little brother could handle more than a goblin when I last saw him…”
“Well… long story… I may have left out a lot when telling Lyssandra about my excursions…”
“Hey! Are you guys done killing each other yet?!” Chesed tensed as he heard Erin’s voice drift over the calm of the field.
He glanced over as the Harrower approached with Lyssandra following. She had tagged along… Probably to arbitrate if they weren’t done fighting yet.
She had come along… with Erin….
“Uh Chesed?” Erin stopped as the rager rounded on him.
“I told you to stay away from my sister!” Chesed growled menacingly.
“You said not to TOUCH her! Wait… that didn’t sound right… Chesed!?” the Harrower retreated as Chesed took off after him.
He wasn’t going to hurt him… much. Besides, he owed something for bringing the earlier beat down.
“Chesed!? Buddy! Seriously!?” Erin howled as they bee-lined back to town, “I’m sorry! I didn’t do anything I swear!”
He wouldn’t hurt him…. much.