Saturday, April 18, 2009
Barraccus: The Way Back
The next few weeks were spent just keeping the death knight alive. Alanon kept searching for a spell that would bring him back from wherever his spirit seemed to have gone. He even had his fellow druids come to look at him, and some of the priests from the Temple of the Moon. Nothing they tried had any effect. Barraccus spent most of that time in a coma-like state, occasionally opening his eyes and becoming semi-alert. Riatha gave him broth and water during these relatively alert periods. Pitch came on the third day, but seeing his friend like that distressed him so much he soon went into the woods and didn’t return except to bring fresh meat home. Then Quae arrived at the end of the second week.
She stormed into the house and immediately found Alanon. “Why didn’t you tell me?!” she demanded, glaring at him. He looked back calmly. “What could you have done, Quae? I’ve had everyone I could think of come see him, and no one knows what is wrong with him,” he said. She shook her head and glared again. “Yes, you told everyone at the Enclave and Temple, but you never said anything to me! I had to hear about it from Kal!” she retorted. Her brother looked at her helplessly. “What could you do, Quae, that hasn’t been tried already? What difference would it make if you had been here from the start?” At that the anger drained from her, and she looked alarmingly close to tears. “I don’t know, but I’ll think of something,” she said softly. “I have to.”
Alanon was feeling confused now. “Quae, what’s wrong? Why are you getting so upset?”
Quae didn’t answer for a minute, turning away and looking up the stairs. Finally she said, “A few weeks ago, we had a big storm come through. I heard about it in Feralas, so I came back to make sure everything was alright. I was only here for a day when Barraccus came back too.” She turned back to Alanon. “You know those dreams he told you about? Well, he had a bad one while he was here. He woke me up because of it, and seemed really upset about it. I tried to comfort him, and, well,” she turned red, and dropped her gaze. “Things…happened.”
Alanon could see where this was going. “Quae, are you in love with him?” he asked gently. She looked at him from the corner of her eyes. “I don’t know. I think so.” Alanon sighed. At last he said, “Okay, come up and see what you can do.”
When she saw Barraccus lying deathlike on the bed, Quae looked close to tears again, but she was perfectly businesslike as she checked his vital signs, then cast a few spells. She sighed in frustration and shook her head, then looked up at Alanon. “I’m going to try to see where his spirit has gone, brother. Make sure nothing disturbs me please.” She sat next to the bed and settled into a trance.
Much later, when Alanon was about ready to wake her, she suddenly gave a loud groan, then opened her eyes and looked around. Alanon noted her pale face and brought her a cup of tea he had prepared. She took it gratefully, but after just a few sips she set it down. “I can’t reach him,” she said. “I think I’ve found him, but he’s not quite there. But I was able to see what did this to him.” She looked grim as she continued. “Alanon, those dreams he was having were of his family. They were all killed by some monstrous necromancer, and he was taken captive and turned into a death knight. He’s blaming himself. I don’t think he wants to live anymore.”
Alanon stared at her, then at Barraccus. “But is there anything you can do to help?” he asked. She gave a frustrated sigh. “I don’t know. If I could reach him perhaps…But it’s like he’s in some other world…” She tapered off, then suddenly turned to Alanon, grabbing his arm. “The Emerald Dream,” she said urgently. “Can you get me inside the Dream?” “Yes,” he replied. “But you’re not a druid, so it will be hard on you. It might be possible that Ysera will kick you out herself if she finds you.” “I’ll take that chance,” Quae said firmly. “Let’s try it now.”
Alanon stared at her in surprise. “Now? But you’re already tired, Quae. Are you sure you’re up to this?” She looked at him steadily, her gaze full of steely determination. “Do you think you can stop me?”
Barraccus floated in a world similar to the one he had left behind. Everything was covered with a green tint except for him, a little dark blot in the middle of the verdant landscape. He didn’t know where he was, but he didn’t care. The shock of his memory returning was too much. The fact that he had willingly become a death knight, a monster, shook him to the core, and on top of reliving his family’s deaths it was too much to bear. So he floated aimlessly.
He didn’t know how long he had been there when he became aware of another “blot” coming near him, this one almost pure white, a white that reminded him somehow of moonlight. It came right next to him, but he ignored it until he suddenly “heard” Quae’s voice.
Barraccus, you need to come back. Your body is dying.
He felt a shock at hearing her voice, and without thinking he replied No, please leave me here.
Barraccus, please, don’t do this. Why won’t you come back?
I…I left my family. I became a monster. Why should I come back to that? He wished she would go away. He didn’t want her to see him, or know all that he had done, but she wouldn’t let him be.
But we are your family now. What have we done that you want to leave us?
His voice was almost a sob. I betrayed my wife and my sons.
Barraccus, they were already dead. Her voice in his mind was gentle. There was nothing to betray.
I could have died with them!
Yes, you could have. But you’ve done so much good since you came to us. Would you have left all of that undone?
I became a monster!
You would have either way. I saw your memories and know what he said, and it was true. You were already turning. At least you were able to get away from him. As a ghoul it could have been much worse. And look at what you’ve done since Light’s Hope. You’re no more a monster than I am.
But… He was running out of arguments. Everything she said made sense, even through his grief. But I have nothing now. What do I have to live for if I do come back?
She was silent for a while, and he was afraid she would leave him. Then, softly, You have me.
Barraccus, I…I think I’m in love with you. Please, come back to us. Come back to me.
He didn’t know what to say. Before he could think of anything, another presence, this one green like the surrounding landscape, approached them, and Alanon’s voice came to both of them. Quae, you’re getting too weak. It’s time to go back. They both faded away, leaving him. Suddenly he cursed himself. He couldn’t leave them all like this; they had taken him in even though they hadn’t known anything about him. He thought he could see a faint trail of sorts, leading back toward where he sensed his body lay, and followed it.
Quae slowly came back to herself to find Alanon standing next to her, helping her stay upright. “I found him and talked to him, Alanon,” she said wearily. “Is there any change?” “No, not yet,” Alanon replied, but then Barraccus stirred, and they heard his weak voice, “Quae?” She sat upright, her wide eyes filling with tears, then with a sob she collapsed on top of him, hugging him tightly.
That's it for Barraccus' story. Hope you enjoyed it. :)
I'm still going to write about these guys. Right now Crison and I are working on collaborating again, we'll see how that turns out. And I have a couple ideas for Caelan and Alanon, too.
Til next time, Happy Hunting!