A River Journey

“I have to go. You stay here with Alvor: someone has to guard the manse, and you’re in no condition to run.”

I let Ember keep an eye on everyone else while I find my armour, cinching the straps tightly. He starts to give me tactical advice.

“Jorek’s either going to run, or he’s going to die. The others are in Blue Sky: he’ll try to get to them, probably as quickly as possible.”

I stop paying attention for a moment as I breathe a prayer to the river, accepting her offer and pleading for haste. I grab Molten Judgement and slide its two halves into their sheaths.

“The enemy’s alone, as far as I can tell. Keep out of his range: dance like I know you can.”

Ember heaves to his feet, and his hand drops onto my shoulder, and I find the weight of it reassuring. He tears his eyes away from the wavering image set in the water over the wall.

“No luck.”

I find myself speaking the traditional response out of instinct, more than anything else: “Only will.”

No more words. I fly down the hallway, wrench open the hatch, and just before I launch myself into the river, I realize that Alvor had handed me Molten Judgement before I left. Its weight must have been so difficult for him.

I’m moving at incredible speed through the river, yet it’s not fast enough, and I can feel flames roiling under the surface of my skin. As my Essence gathers, I think of what I know of the target (admittedly not much) and the asset–

But you’re not like any asset, are you, Jorek? Every ounce of my training paints you as another target, another Anathema, another blight to be erased. With your help, with your friends’, I’ve rejected that training. I’ve remembered what my mother told me.

I’m on my way to repay that debt, and more than that, Jorek. I’ve got my new cause. I’ll see the people realize that a new age is upon us. I’ll see crowds chant your name.

I feel myself thrown from the river, and the old woman chastising me is only a flicker in the corner of my sight as I dash out into the open. Only a few hundred pounding steps and I can see you, Jorek, and I can see your friends, and I can see the target, and then Molten Judgement fills my hands.

I’m almost there, Jorek. This one is nothing: together, we can destroy him. One less enemy in our way.

I find myself shouting a wonderful threat, a promise, to see the one who threatens you crushed before our combined Essence and might.

I’ll prove myself! I’ll prove that I’ve seen Solars for what they truly are!

I’ll make you proud. I’ll show that your trust was–

“Believe… I understand… Manse’s lights, I….”

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