Whether it be social, recreational, or professional, some of what represents me is here. Post a comment, or contact me at should you so desire.

The posts are in reverse chronological order, and are pegged by topic on the links to the left. For more of an introduction, please see the About this site page listed above.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Mark's Journal #5: The Passing of a Titan...

Mark’s Journal 10/23/09

I can barely write this. You must know what happened, but at times I find my hand shaking, unable to maintain control. The terror in my heart echoes the anger seething in my veins. If only to make myself feel better, I will continue.

The note, “PAYMENT IS DUE”, lead us to the bank of Portsmouth, known to be the largest in the New World. Seeing some activity on the roof, we circled the building and began our ascent. There we found Atlas and his family tied up, with the Man in Grey standing there, smiling. I can still remember every detail, from the light breeze that blew through my fur, to the number of buttons on their clothes, for that image, to this day, is burned into my mind. It is a weight in my heart that I have learned to bear.

Circling Atlas and his family, the Man in Grey tortured him, cutting into his flesh. As soon as we saw this, we charged. Without heed, without thought, we raced toward the Man in Grey. Or so we thought. Without so much as a pause in his actions, the Man in Grey erected a magical field of some sort, which prevented us from moving. If I have not mentioned it before, let me do so now: I hate magic. I respect those who wield it responsibly, but as a fighter, I cannot clearly understand it, and its negative effects always seem to outweigh the positive. Leviss and Avaron and Tori threw their magical abilities at the field. Bashing myself against it was as vain as I thought it would be, but other than waiting and watching, as Atlas was slowly tortured, there was nothing I could do. I mentioned before that Leviss had something of the Sight. He used it now to mentally pierce the field, or more accurately, to decipher a weakness that Avaron and Tori could focus on. Their efforts, when combined, were formidable, and I, waiting with a dagger in my hand, stood poised for attack. Spurring my allies on, the field cracked, and the crack widened. When I thought they could do no more, and the field was large enough, I threw the dagger. Flying end over end, it hit the Man in Grey hilt first, which was fine with me because I wanted him for myself. Knocking him back knocked out the field, and before anything else could happen, I charged.

It has taken me a long time to accept the fact that things happened for a reason. The gods have a plan for us all, and Atlas, above all others, knew this. He knew our actions would turn the city around, but he knew the sacrifices that must be made. He knew, because he made them himself. Before I could reach him, Atlas died. The Man in Grey stabbed him viciously and without hesitation. Time slowed. At that moment, among many other things, I thought it was the result of tragedy. When a disaster occurs, time’s flow is altered, and our perceptions increase. It is through discipline, and the will to act, that my friends and I have learned to harness this ‘extra time’, sometimes even being fortunate enough to save a life, or end an unjust one. I did neither. As Atlas’s life drained, everything stopped. Stuck in mid-swing, I could see that I appeared to be the only one aware of this. A blue insubstantial life force crawled out of Atlas, and formed before me. Here he was, seeming perfectly fine. He told me that he had stopped time because he did not have much left. He thanked me, and the others for what we’ve done, and hoped we carried on. Most importantly, he pleaded for his family. Crying, with a look torn between determination, and desperation, he made me promise to see his wife and child safe. Transfixed, stunned, frozen by Atlas in so many ways, I promised. There was nothing else I would do, I said. As he left, part of his life force broke off and made its way onto my shoulder. My armour, always a reminder of simpler times, now was reinforced by Atlas himself. With my left shoulder pauldron glowing, time resumed, and so did I. Crashing into the man in Grey, I did my best to finish him, there and then. Recovered, and unfrozen, Avaron, Tori, and Leviss joined the fight.

I believe that no enemy is unconquerable. Given time, strategy, will, and luck, weaknesses are revealed, and anyone can be taken down. Apparently, we only had luck on our side. Nothing we did even seemed to affect him, and it wasn’t until Jimmy showed up, that the day looked to end in any way other than death. Jimmy, turned out to be Ray, one of the Keepers, sent by P3TR to keep an eye on us. Transforming into a mightier form, he blasted us, Leviss, Avaron, Tori, Denise (Atlas’ wife), Atlas’ boy and I, clear off the roof, landing safely below at the foot of the bank. In what could only be assumed to be an epic battle, the Man in Grey landed beside us, charred, burnt, but still alive. Even after all that, I hesitated in killing him. Perhaps, I had a moment of weakness, perhaps I wanted to torture him, I don’t know, but it was Avaron’s attack that finished him.

Taking Atlas’ family to his brother’s house, we recuperated. After the first few days, most of our group had begun to move again. We weren’t weighed down as much, or, as I said earlier, I guess we learned how to carry the burden. Practicing my martial techniques was my best way to relax. Telling myself that there was nothing that could be done but learning, improving, and focusing for the foes ahead, kept me busy enough to not break down. Leviss, and Avaron also found solace in sparring. Avaron especially felt the need to relearn control. She knows, more than most of us that a loose mind is a dangerous one, and that justice cannot be served via rash or undisciplined action. Atlas’ boy did not seem to find peace. I have never witnessed such a determined, and yet vacant person. It was as if every piece of him were tearing itself apart from the inside, but holding it all together from the outside. But we could not stay. There was nothing we could do, and so we moved on. Leaving them with condolences and well-wishes, we went back to Portsmouth.

Dreben, now Commissioner Dreben, stood, with 1000 other people at the factory for Atlas’ funeral. Marching down the city toward the bridge, many people, we noticed, had a tiny stone in their hands. Arriving at the bridge, the ceremony began, with Dreben and Leviss saying some inspirational things about Atlas. At the end of this, mages were standing on both sides of the broken bridge and began magically rebuilding the bridge. Making it better looking than before, they took the rocks out of the hands of everyone, and in a swirl of magic, hope, and resolution, fashioned a tall, impressive looking statue of Atlas, facing out over the city. It was an amazing display of how every contribution counts and the result was so real I could feel Atlas’ presence once more. We collected some money after the service which we gave to Dreben, hoping to rebuild a temple in Atlas’ honour.

Dreben thanked us for our efforts, and gave us one last parting gift. It seems that before he died, Atlas gave Dreben a ring instructing him to give it to me. Not knowing its full meaning, but honoured, nonetheless, I took the ring, wearing it right away. I feel stronger while wearing it. I feel as if Atlas is right beside me, calming me with his quiet strength.

We decided to go to Aristaal, in search of new beginnings. The mages who rebuilt the bridge turned out to be from Aristaal, so we arranged to journey with them. It turns out the mages were better known as Geomancers, wizards whose expertise focused mainly on the manipulation of the earth itself. One of the students, named Drew, showed us a ritual that he had been practicing. It was a form of martial training that involved bending the world around him to his will, fighting off creatures of his mind, with his Geomancy skills. Intrigued, Tori questioned him about his methods, suggested working with nature as opposed to bending it. As interested as Drew was, the other wizards halted this interest warning that their art was one that needed focus and any slight temptation or hesitation could leave the world broken at their feet. On the plus side, Leviss and Tori were taught this ritual for future use.

On our way, we stopped in Fur-Lonn, Central City. Once there, Tori visited her family. She told me later how refreshing it was to be home, surrounded by familiar friends and family, not having to worry about otherworldly dangers, and embracing her natural surroundings. I went to the Temple of Erathis. After a quick reunion, I confessed my troubles, fears, and sins to Greg, the cleric. Absolving me of my sins, and praising me for my discipline, Greg told me that which I already knew: I had acted in the best interests of the greater good, and that time will heal my wounds as best they could. Gathering the rest of the temple around, I told them about Atlas, his contributions to Portsmouth, and how he kept a continued presence in the city, even when threatened by the mob. Some of the clerics, excited by this, vowed to leave and help Portsmouth in their efforts to erect a new temple.

After collecting some rations, and other supplies, we were on our way to Aristaal. The trip was uneventful, except that Leviss and Tori used their newly learned ritual to help all of us train our fighting skills. I hope that wherever we go, we are as prepared as possible.

With lightened hearts, focused minds, and a new-found respect for life, we left Portsmouth behind, hoping all the best for them and for us on the road ahead.   

No comments:

Post a Comment