All The Warm Lives, part 6: Judgment Day

Most of Osanna’s dialog in this part was written by Derrick.

***

Zelia sat nervously among the gallery of the courtroom of the Pediment Building, where the Justice Court was preparing to meet regarding Glenn’s sentencing. She had never actually been inside this room before; she had been to the Pediment Building over a few minor infractions over the years, but none of them had ever warranted her going before the Justices.

The room itself looked more like a small arena than a courtroom. The chamber was circular and bowl-shaped. Zelia was currently seated among a row of other spectators in one of the rows of tiered benches that ran along the length of the wall of the room; the one in front of her was set a bit lower, and the one behind her a bit higher, so as to allow everyone a better look at what was happening in the center of the chamber. At the back of the room at ground level stood a pair of double doors that lead to the rest of the building, where other people were currently filing in and making their way up the rows of benches to find seats in the gallery around Zelia. At the opposite end of the floor of the chamber stood a long bench atop a raised dais, with thirteen individual chairs behind it, all currently empty. In the center of the room stood a second, smaller platform, large enough for a single person to stand upon but devoid of any furnishings.

Stop fidgeting,” Carmine said, glancing at her sister. “Just be glad you’re not the one on trial.”

What would I be on trial for?” Zelia demanded, giving her sister a sideways look with a frown.

I have no idea,” Carmine replied with a shrug, “but I don’t doubt there’s something.”

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The End Of The Beginning, part 6: Dawn

Twenty minutes later, Helena was knocking on the door of a small, upper story apartment located above a tavern in the Dockway district, along the shore of the Varisian Gulf. It was well past two in the morning, and the exhaustion of having been awake for over a day, combined with the activity of the last twenty-four hours, was starting to settle in. I blinked back fatigue, forcing myself to stay awake and alert; Gallahad’s guards were still looking for us, although it had been fairly easy to avoid them in the darkness. The Hellknights, on the other hand, once they got involved…

Helena rapped on the door again, and we heard shuffling on the other side. “This had better be good, Dris,” came an irritable, drowsy voice from within as we heard locks being unshuttered. “I told you, I’m not helping you clean up some gods-forsaken mess that they made downstairs–”

The door opened, and Zelia cut off abruptly as she and Helena stared at each other for a moment. “By the gods – Lena?” Zelia said, flinging the door open wide.

“Zellie!” Helena gasped, her face splitting into a smile for the first time since I’d seen her that night. I glanced down at the street as the two girls embraced, Zelia nearly knocking Helena over in the process.

“It’s really you!” the half-elf cried once they finally pulled apart. She was holding Helena by the shoulders, looking her up and down with a grin. “You put on some weight – it looks good on you!”

“I missed you, Zellie,” Helena said, smiling fondly at her friend. Continue reading

The End Of The Beginning, part 5: Daughter

It was a dizzying sensation, if you weren’t used to it, although I was – Bill, Xander, even Osanna and Naru had used teleportation magic enough times in our travels together that the feeling was almost second nature to me now. But I remembered the first few times we had traveled like this, and how unpleasant the after effects were – like being seasick, hungover, and having the flu all at once. “Take a few deep breaths,” I said as Helena doubled over next to me in the alleyway, gagging. “The sensation will pass pretty quickly.”

“What – what was –” she gasped, reaching out with one arm to steady herself against a nearby building.

“Dimension Door,” I replied. “Short range teleportation. I’m sorry I didn’t give you more warning.”

I could see her shaking slightly, and reached out to place a hand gently on her shoulder, but she pulled away from me, avoiding my gaze. I stared at her for a moment, feeling a mixture of hurt and anger and sadness – at her and at myself – before turning away. Continue reading

The End Of The Beginning, part 4: Wrath

The trip to Mordecai Gallahad’s estate – directions provided by Balthazar before I left his study some ten minutes ago – was brief. Being a member of the Council of Ushers like Balthazar made him one of Magnimar’s upperclass – as close to nobles as the city had – and thus he made his home in the upper district of Magnimar along with Balthazar.

Like the Balthazar estate, the Gallahad manor was a large, multi-storied building surrounded on all sides by a tall, brick wall. A single, wrought-iron gate, currently closed, sat facing the main street, a single sleepy-looking guard standing watch just inside the bars. It was late, but as I watched, invisible, from the top of the wall, I could still see some lights on from inside the manor itself. The grounds were quiet and devoid of activity, so after studying the layout of the estate for several minutes from my vantage point on top of the wall, I silently dropped down inside the grounds and made my way toward the building itself.

My heart thumped hard in my chest as I drew closer to the manor. Just like old times, right? Playing scout for the others? This should be easy compared to that, though – at least here there were no goblins or lamias or giants or Runelords trying to destroy us. One wrong move and I could have been beheaded or stepped on or disintegrated. That last one had happened, actually. Compared to all of that, having a couple of gate guards chase me through the city streets until I could find a place to hide seemed laughable. I would even gladly take a crossbow bolt to the shoulder over any number of horrors we had encountered over the last months. After all, something like that would be easy for Osanna to patch up.

I had certainly taken her for granted, hadn’t I. I had taken a lot of things for granted. Like the fact that Helena would just be waiting until I was done running around Varisia trying to stop a Runelord from coming back to power… Continue reading

Happy Birthday

So today is PJ’s birthday, which corresponds with Glenn’s birthday, so I’m posting something that happens on Helena’s birthday. No, that didn’t really make any sense to me either.

Anyway, if anyone ever wanted to know why Helena ran away from home, look no further. I wrote this pretty shortly after I finished Fallen; I was actually going to do a whole other novella about her and what she gets up to while Glenn is goofing off saving Varisia with the rest of the party, but I never finished it. But this particular bit is pretty good and stands on its own, and nobody’s ever gotten a chance to see anything from her perspective, so I thought I’d throw it up here. Enjoy! Continue reading