August 17, 2019 interlude

Rhom closed his eyes a moment and brought the glass of bitter ale to his lips, the taste brought about by a less than enthusiastic barkeep that did not seem to clean the taps for his kegs very often. He took a breath, sat the glass down and opened his pale blue eyes once more.

“Theorne is a Hero. I don’t mean just some brave fool with a shiny sword but one of the kind where you can feel the capital H… You would be wise not to trust him implicitly. He isn’t dishonest, nor is he after money or power or fame or anything like that. But people around him get swept up in the currents he makes in this world and many meet their ends that way. Casualties of the story.”

There was a roar from the nearby gladiatorial arena, someone had just done something the audience had truly liked…but from this distance it was hard to make out who or what even with the announcer’s magically enhanced voice.

Rhom took the opportunity to have another sip, he wasn’t feeling a hundred percent. Siren was far enough away now and her hold over him was broken, but he could still feel the touch of her lips on his cheek and hear her voice as it had enthralled him by whatever natural power or woven enchantment she possessed. In only a scant few hours, she knew more about him than he would have ever even shared with a wife.

“He’s lived for centuries…off and on, the poor man can’t stay dead and it is the only thing he actually craves. Can you imagine that? Denied the afterlife you earned because a goddess keeps sending you back to the realm of the living to fight some new evil that has risen up? His friends.. his family…his wife all on the other side and here he is suffering in a mortal body time and again.” - From Jason’s Facebook group post

Shanasita blinked and tilted her head slightly. “It’s so different from what my mother would talk about when I was little. The Spider Queen always wanted more and more lives ended to be brought to her and her minions. But this Theorne guy and his goddess… She won’t let him stay there. It is sad.” The half elf looked away, but sipped on her own tea. Having grown up in Ember, she has learned what can go horribly, horribly wrong when overindulging in alcohol. Perhaps she’s gone too far in the other direction? At least she has when in a place that reminds her of Ember as much as The Pit does. “But the people swept up… they’re swept up not just in his narrative, but in their own. They wouldn’t have been swept up if they didn’t also want to be heroes, would they? Everyone who gets into that knows the risks. They made the choice.” She finally looks back to Rhom and nods. “We’ve all made that choice already, haven’t we?” She frowns down at her tea and adds, “Though it’s not that different from how I grew up. People in Ember don’t have a choice but to be thrown into that kind of danger.” - from Kevin’s Facebook group post

Rhom considered the words a moment, picking the flesh off a smoked turkey leg to banish the sour flavor of the ale. “When you look at some of those who fought beside him, it seems that they walked the path with him of their own accord. But stories like his are living things and bind others together so the tale is retold time and time again. That’s how stories feed.”

He opened the small tome that housed a portion of his thaumaturgical power and pictures made of moving ink began to glide across the pages. “How many times have you heard a story, a legend or fable and said to yourself that you think you’ve heard it before…but it was a tailor in this one and a cobbler in that one. In this one the wolf consumes the grandmother and the maiden but in another a wood cutter saves the girl before the wolf eats her. The same stories playing out over and over across generations and lands, making just enough changes to keep people thinking it is a new story.”

The images shift to a small boy cut down by his older brother…the body of a dieing baby dragon by his side…their blood mixing. “This is where the story should have started. Evil brother wants power, murders his father and brother. But behold the child is saved by the last spark of life of one of the dragons that lived alongside the royal family. He grows up and swears he will have vengeance for his father and the baby dragons that were slaughtered. The story should end with their final confrontation. But… that’s when something went wrong.” The ink characters showed Theorne and his allies facing Rhom Corsith in the nightmares created by the demon in a hotel that was designed to trap it’s guests. “My father should have been just a minor part of his story…he wanted Theorne dead. But the thing is this wasn’t the Theorne he wanted, and it was at the same time.”

An older and much more heavily scarred and tired Theorne with a different group of heroes were facing down the demon lord in the darkness of a Dwarven city buried deep beneath a mountain. “Centuries before he was even born Theorne was part of a group of heroes that defeated my father and altered history by saving this city from him. In the moment of their victory, Theorne revealed his name and told the demon to remember him. In that moment the story was fractured. Theorne’s story should have ended when he died killing the black dragon in the frozen wastelands of the north centuries after this fight. But he was alive centuries in the past and this was the first time Rhom Corsith had met him…but was the third and final time they have fought.” Rhom pinched the bridge of his nose, “The story is confused now, it can’t handle how complicated things got and so it is holding onto it’s key characters until it can try to resolve the plot. The story makes it so Sulis keeps Theorne alive and keeps trying to manipulate things so there is a final fight between warrior and demon.” - From Jason’s Facebook group post

Ruven sits back and listens to the conversation between his companions. He always wanted to be a hero. That is why he left the relative safety of his family’s leather goods industry. With all that had happened since arriving in Whitestone, he was beginning to question some of his life choices. He thought things would be cut and dry, black and white, and not so many shades of gray. Maybe another glass of wine would help him settle his thoughts. Probably not. - From Jonathan’s Facebook group post

The half elf’s ears droop slightly as she listens, then puts a hand to her forehead with a groan. “Time magic makes my head hurt,” she complains, then shakes her head perhaps a bit more vigorously than she should. She lets out a breath of air in a puff before saying, “So one’s final battle was the other’s first. Making it an endless loop of three battles.” She pauses a moment before saying, “I didn’t think Sulis was a goddess of stories, though. More… life and light? This sounds more like what one of the deities that bards follow would do.” Her ears perk slightly, and then she nods. “Or maybe that’s why it’s not going right? She’s going into someone else’s domain. She wants her chosen warrior’s story to make sense and is mucking it up instead of getting things completed… So why don’t they just meet up and…” She winces again. “Oh, right. Your father probably doesn’t want that.” - From Kevin’s Facebook group post