Part 14: Homecoming
Coldness, despair, regret, and above all, hate. This was the nightmare of my new reality. The blackness surrounded me, oozed over me, threatened to crush me out of existence. But all it did was nibble away at my soul. Eventually it would consume me entirely, but how long would it take? How long has it been? Days, weeks, months, years, an eternity? I had no way of knowing. I was lost in a place where I could not be found, could not be saved. A place I could not escape.
Then pain. Pain so intense it felt like my soul would shatter at any moment. I was being pulled away from the blackness but it was refusing to let me go. The blackness had sunk its claws into my being to prevent losing the tasty morsel it had been feeding upon. Something tore, a thought of a scream echoed in my soul but without a voice no true sound issued forth. The claws had lost the battle and I felt most of myself rise out of the blackness into the light. A piece still lingered in the blackness, in the hate.
I awoke to blinding light, the sound of my scream tearing through my throat, and two Taru faces hovering over me. Where was I? Who was I? What has happened?
“He is back” said one of the Tarus.
“But at what cost?” said the other.
“Only time will tell” a third voice said. Once my eyes focused on this new voice I saw that it came from a towering Galka encased in black armor. He continued, “You have done well in finding him Kegnia. Now it is up to you to make him as whole as you can Kensu”.
“Thank you Zeid” I heard both Tarus say together. The one known as Kegnia shuddered as he continued “Without your guidance we would never have found his soul buried in all that evil.”
Before I could ask any questions Kensu started to cast arcana on me and I immediately felt drowsy. But before I slipped into a spelled state of unconsciousness, I felt the cold metal of a black sword lying next to me. I noticed that it was pulsing and recoiled in horror when I realized that it was pulsing to the beat of my heart. Then, nothingness….
“Norsalik”, I heard a voice call out the name but it meant nothing to me. “Norsalik, wake up.” I recognized the voice of the Taru referred to as Kensu.
I opened my eyes and looked up into his face. It seemed some how familiar as did the name he called me, but I did not know why or how. “Good, you’re awake. I was worried about keeping you asleep for so long”, Kensu said.
“How long?” I asked. “Where am I? Who are you? Who am I? What happened?”
Kensu frowned. “So many questions with so many not so easy answers. So, I will answer the easiest ones first.”
“I have kept you unconscious with Sleep arcana for seven days during which time I have tried to… repair you as best I can. Before that, well, you have been…away…for over a year. As for where, we are in the Tavnazian Safehold. As for who, I am Kensu, you are Norsalik, and my companion over there is Kegnia.”
“As for what happened”, he continued, “Well, that’s a bit more complicated. We will try to explain if you’re up to it right now. What do you remember?”
“Nothing. I remember nothing” I said. “The names you call me and yourselves are vaguely familiar but I don’t know why.”
Kensu glanced at Kegnia. The both had worried looks on their faces. Kensu sighed and began to explain what had transpired.
Apparently the three of us had been adventuring companions for many months. We had shared glory and defeat but had always weathered it together. They talked of our exploits and the trails I had faced since befriending them. I blanched as they told of the road I walked to becoming a Dark Knight and the hellish sword that I wielded. That sword now stood in a corner of the room but I could still feel it pulsing with every beat of my heart.
“Thank you” I said to them, “but that doesn’t explain the here and now and why I can’t remember any of this.”
They looked at each other nervously and then Kegnia explained, “We don’t know exactly what happened all we know is the outcome. When we defeated the Mammets and Bahamut escaped his bonds you started to scream. You plunged your sword into the ground and collapsed into a heap. We could not wake you so we brought you to the closest safe place, Tavnazian Safehold.”
Kensu continued, “For weeks we tried everything we could to rouse you but to no avail. When your sword started to beat in time with your heart, we sent for Zeid. What he had feared for you the most had come to pass. Your sword’s hate hunger has not yet been satiated and finally claimed your soul.”
I stared at the two of them and with barely a whisper asked, “What does it hate so much?”
“Your brother”, Kegnia answered. “It was your hate for your brother that gave your sword a purpose, and when you named it, you gave it life. It will never be satisfied until it has fed on your brother’s or your own soul.”
Horrified I turn my face away and asked, “Why do I hate my brother so?”
“That, you will have to rediscover on your own”, Kensu answered.
Over the next several weeks I regained my strength by training with a traveling Samurai master in the Safehold. During this time I learned about harmony and balance for my soul and vowed to never pick up the black sword again.
When I was strong enough to once again brave the wild, Kensu and Kegnia offered to stay with me. They said that we had been through a lot together and there was no reason to turn back now.
I could still not recall anything of my life past, beyond whispers of memories. It didn’t matter. It seemed like a life filled with pain and despair. The path before me offered hope, and for the time being, that was enough.
I asked the magistrate to put Mourning (Kensu had reminded me of the name I gave it) in the Safehold vault and told himthat no one was to go near the black sword. He said, “Not to worry Norsalik. Your sword will be safe until you return for it.”
I stared at him for a moment but didn’t answer before I turned and left the Safehold. I could still hear the pulsing of the sword as I entered Lufaise Meadows.