February 2018 | Epilogue (4 Febris 1018 Sunday)
“You WILL help and get them,” Shannon [Kathleen Burns] looked defiantly into Sabine’s eyes. The merriment of the Dance of Colors whirled around them. Sabine’s stomach turned. “Yes… I will,” she replied. Xanatos [Alex Pertgen] laid a kind hand on Sabine’s arm. “I’ll come with you.” He was instrumental in her freedom from Ionnes’s possession and was one of her biggest advocates. This consoled her. “And you have my help, as well, if you want it,” said a familiar voice from behind her. It was Rex [Mark Ion], another generous Guildsmen responsible for her return. “Hey! What are we doing?!” Piped up the cheery, musical voice of Tristan [Robert Park]. “Dance of Colors after-party? ...Xanadite style?” The tension roiling between Sabine and Shannon subsided for a moment as they both smiled at his suggestion. Shannon cleared her throat and regained her serious tone, “We’re freeing the remaining Tradesmen of the fight pits who are still imprisoned. Sabine has agreed to guide us there. We leave tomorrow afternoon.” Tristan nodded, “I’m in.”
And so the plans were set. And their mission was clear. But that night Sabine didn’t sleep. Was it the silence? Ionnes’s furious voice was no longer filling up her mind for the first time in 6 months. He knew everything about her since he had been pretending to be her for so long. He had access to every memory, every fear, every dark corner of her, and even the food she liked and her favorite song. Was it wrong to say she… missed being so known? “No! No! No!” Guilt, shame, remorse; wash, rinse, repeat. The morning came and she rose out of duty, ready to begin her first day of atonement.
Sabine stood in front of the Roasted Dragon Inn, waiting for Shannon, Xanatos, Rex, and Tristan as they said goodbye to their comrades gathering into their caravans to leave the Market Day. She absent-mindedly kicked the gravel to distract herself from her nerves. Knowing she’d soon look into the faces of those she had hurt… she kicked and kicked and kicked the stones.
“Um… what are you doing?” A gentle, inquisitive voice asked. Sabine looked up and saw Lydia [Valerie Fairchild]… but it was Wisteria who looked back at her with a puzzled look on her face.
“I’m, I…the rocks…” Sabine stammered lamely, caught off guard. Not a moment too soon, her party arrived. The three gentlemen greeted her with a smile, while Shannon frowned, all business. “Lead the way,” she said.
“I’d like Lydi--Wisteria to come,” Sabine said. “Of course, we could always use more Guildsmen to free the imprisoned,” replied Shannon, “You alright to join us, Wisteria?” Wisteria nodded, still giving Sabine a curious, searching look. The party of 6 started on their journey into the Forlornes.
Along the way to pass the time, the group started a discussion about what it means to be a Xanadite. “Well, of course Xanadites have more fun--” laughed Tristan. Xanatos shared his experiences when it came to worship, and even had Sabine blushing. Shannon recalled one version of Xanadu’s creation story, “As the story goes, Noctis sacrificed himself for the creation of Xanadu so that brother would not turn against brother, and that the Age of Order would last for eternity.” Rex, though not a Xanadite like his other 5 companions, showed a lively interest in the lore. Lydia--Wisteria--remained in silent rumination.
For the most part their journey was undeterred, though they did encounter the occasional hungry Cold beast. Finally, after weaving through miles of densely grown trees, Sabine stopped at a cave. They were standing in a deeply forested area, so canvased with tall, old evergreens that it made their midday journey appear like a shadowy twilight. “Here we are,” said Sabine, beginning to unlatch a ring of keys from her belt. Her hands shook. The unusually night-like afternoon and the chill in the air sent a eerie tingle down everyone’s spine. Rex lit a lantern, and the party entered the dark cave.
Something was wrong. Whenever Ionnes had possessed Sabine to come here, the pleading, tired voices of the prisoners was the first thing she heard. She waited for those voices, their curses, their prayers. In a panic, she stole the lantern from Rex’s hand and ran ahead with it to the captured Tradesmen’s cells. The warm light of the lantern cast down onto empty cells, doors swung open. Sabine’s eyes widened and she fell to her knees on the earthen floor. The rest of the party caught up to her and examined the dozen empty cells.
“Where are they?” Asked Shannon. “I don’t know…” Sabine replied softly. Shannon saw the devastated look on Sabine’s face and asked gently, “Are they somewhere else? Do you have more holding cells? Who else knew about them?” Sabine replied, “No more cells, I’m sorry, I don’t know…” she stared with unfocused eyes at the cell before her.
“Could this help?” Lydia/Wisteria’s gentle voice chimed in from the dark. She walked over to Sabine and held out a note. “It was tied to a cell.” Illuminated under the lantern light, Xanatos crouched down next to Sabine and read the note aloud: [Attached as Image]
Shannon was the first to speak, “Freya [Kat A Lindia]… I helped to dispel her subservience last night. She inspired me to come here with you, to save these Tradesmen.” Sabine still seemed to be in a daze. Xanatos spoke up in the dark cave, his words almost haunting, “She wasn’t looking for reconciliation when you dispelled her, Shannon. She was looking for revenge.” Shannon’s matter-of-fact response rang in Sabine’s ears: “Yeah, pretty obvious. She said she wanted to kill Sabine…”