zweihander: (Default)
celene ([personal profile] zweihander) wrote2015-07-23 04:42 pm
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Caroline Cassandra Clark could have done nothing there. Let someone else answer the call. But the threat of the phantom, she knew, was too real. So she let herself be burned. The patrons had owed her many times over, and she wouldn't let it go unpaid. Everyone she'd killed couldn't have been in vain. No matter what, nobody would have been cut down without reason. Caroline would protect Amfluss until it was nothing but rubble if she knew she had to. The town, its citizens, her friends, the clergy; she would protect everyone. And she'd head out on some escapades, if she had the time. See the world, all it had to offer at once. Caroline Cassandra Clark could have done anything there.

And then the darkness crept in.

She woke up. She was holding Khalil's hand and hadn't even remembered falling asleep. She was pretty sure nobody else had noticed she was awake yet, and that was kind of the way she liked it. The lamp was still on, so no doubt Jami was still reading about something. Khalil's exhausted breaths brought some reassurance after the nightmare she'd had that was already fading away, but she wasn't sure it would be gone for long. Things like that stick with you. She remembered, and she wished she hadn't, because that thing that had trapped her had happened so close to her mother's death that her father must have fallen ill with worry and stress. Losing everything you thought you'd had such a close hold on... she wished she could have remembered how she'd reacted when she got back. But it was the same every time, wasn't it? Ever since her first little adventure into the domain of Da Wei, she'd come rushing home and hugged her dad and let him know that she was okay and alive and mostly unharmed.

This would be the first time she hadn't been home at night in what felt like an eternity. She hoped her dad would understand. She was a growing girl, and maybe he thought she was getting up to no good with her friends, or maybe he thought she was getting up to something that she'd once thought was exclusively good with just one of her friends, or maybe he didn't think much about it at all and had just come to accept that there would be a day that Caroline wouldn't come home. For one reason or another.

She looked to the window of the treehouse and thought she saw the silhouettes of Maria and Rana, but couldn't be sure without moving her head and drawing attention to herself. Better mark this one down in the notes, huh? Five teenagers kill an old insane Fae Lord and his legions of skeletons, plunder his tomb, and then come to their childhood home away from home and break down in each other's arms, not entirely metaphorically. Definitely something they'd need to keep a written record of, especially if their memories were so unreliable as they had just been proven. Were the circumstances better, she might have written a song about it.

She thought of the cloak on her back and what it had come to mean for her. Simpler times. Times when things made sense. It used to be something that she wore every day, and then something she avoided wearing out of spite, and then a crucial part of her performing ensemble, and finally just something she liked too much to stop wearing, not entirely independent of its sentimental value. And she kept wearing it even though she suspected she'd begin growing out of it soon and would probably require a new one. If she wanted a new one at all. Ha, how silly would she look if she never got it replaced? The reverse of Khalil in those oversized, stolen robes from when they had fought the demon and...

Caroline fought back a shiver. Maybe it would be better to think of things in the here and now, and not the atrocities weighing on her soul. Mr. Herne had been there tonight, even kind enough to advise her while fighting back-to-back, and the things he had told her about fighting out of necessity still echoed in her head. But how much of this was necessary, truly? She hadn't wanted to fight the Fae Lord, but in his madness, he attacked them first, and the choice was made. She turned her attention to the weight of Khalil against her side and let the thought die there.

Tomorrow, they'd recover. They'd do their best to pretend tonight never happened. Jami would faceplant into the dirt, Caroline would train with that up-and-coming pink-haired swordswoman, Khalil would study more magic if he woke up before the next moonrise at all, Maria would help out in the shop, Rana would pretend she hadn't just had a personal encounter with the creature plaguing their minds, and everything would be the normal, fun times that they had always been growing up. Hey, if Caroline wanted to fight back against her dreams, she might as well replace them with something equally unattainable.

Getting back to sleep would be hard-fought, but she'd never have to fight quite as hard as her friends. And hadn't that always been true.