Evening: the 18th of Wir, the month of Aryth, deep in the jungles of Xen’Drik
After a long and uneventful first shift watching over the camp, Pol taps Dadak to wake him for his turn. Dadak begins to don his armor as Pol sheds his in preparation for sleep. The jungle sounds, usually a cacophony of monkey shrieks and wind in the trees, is lower with the rising moons and the darkness of night. Three dark mounds stir lightly with the rise and fall of its sleeping occupant’s breathing – then Kreshton rolls over and opens his eyes. He struggles into his boots, gets up and approaches Pol.
Kreshton: Follower of Il-Yanneth, Pol, I think it is once again time for words with you. I would like the chance to ease your fears for my conduct several days back when I took the life of that grave robber outside of Amghawe’s Tomb. Since we are on this same adventure we must rely on each other to survive. I’ve come to respect you so I offer this explanation of my actions. Will you hear me?
Pol: Speak freely, Kreshton. But know this, I had come to the conclusion that he needed to die. We could not take him with us, we could not leave him to hamper or kill those that follow nor could we trust that he would leave things unmolested in our absence. It pains me that it came to this but I understand that sometimes these things must be done. My fear for you
was that I saw little to no remorse in your eyes once you had committed the deed.
Kreshton: First, I will agree that my actions were suspect. I did purposely wait until you were well into your meditations before I slit the man’s throat. My timing was an action worthy of the catfolk, Joffa – as a matter of fact, I do not believe he would have waited to act in the first place. I understand your fears that I may be emulating him. Do you see
that I am contrite?
Dada: Zzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzz. Grumble grumble….. Lip smack. Zzzzzzz.
Pol: Only you know how killing the man in cold blood affected you. I am only concerned from the standpoint that you come to enjoy such things; we have both known people who do. I think that our having this conversation proves that you are not callous in what you did. I will share with you that I am grateful for you doing what you did, I was not looking forward to having to kill him. It is the manner which disturbed me. Also, I am grateful that Joffa went his own way, that was my hope. He and I were heading toward a conflict because of his rash and chaotic actions. I will not tolerate a blatant disregard for life or lack of some moral discipline. He displayed both.
Kreshton: Just a moment… It seems our watchman has fallen asleep half way through putting on his armor! Wake, Princess! (smacks Dadak on the head). Pol, that lack of remorse you saw was… me putting a brave front. I must tell you that I was born to a life of luxury. But that life weighed heavily on me because I was all but ignored. Only my Uncle showed any interest in me. I grew up listening to his tales of his career as a military man and I grew to want to emulate him. He had told me of many orders he was given that he disagreed on but had to do. Duty. I saw the threat that the grave robber could become. My duty to our band is to protect all of us. Killing him would do that better than just driving him off to possibly return again. Still, from the first moment we had him bound and gagged, I stated my wish to end his threat. In fact, I had my blade still drawn, ready to pierce his side as he lay unconscious from our fight. I held my action at your request. Your intent to interrogate his was wise and now, looking back, I do not begrudge the time we spent.
Pol: You are a good man, Kreshton, one that will make your uncle proud. However, think about stepping out of his shadow and becoming your own man rather than what you think he wants you to be. We are here in wild Xen’drik, away from the controls placed on us prior. Do we have duties? Yes. But are we free to stretch and grow to become more than what our controllers want? Definitely! I am only just beginning to recognize this freedom, perhaps you will too.
Kreshton: Our first adventures, on Smuggler’s Shiv, began barely six months ago. I left Zilargo barely two months before that. I have still much to learn – and unlearn – as do we all. Hell, Dadak has mostly learned to speak common in all that time, we can understand every fifth word now! (Over his shoulder) Isn’t that right my friend? Pol, let me pledge to you now, although I feel closer to Joffa’s alignment in seeing the world, evil will never be a part of me. I feel that all men must do what their conscious directs them to do. I will not stand in their way. But, when it affects me, I will not stand for it when it turns to evil.
Dadak: (while releaving himself on the edge of camp) Yaaawnn. I only heard half the conversation, perhaps less, but let me say this. Though I could not kill that man, I am still glad it is done. He very nearly finished us and leaving him, even to wander the jungle in exil, may have brought about our ultimate end, and possibly an end to the party following us. No, I don’t like killing in cold blood, but he was a threat, and I don’t blame Kreshton for following through what should have been done in battle. In my village we chain our enemies to a pole and watch the wild animals eat them.. Har har. Yes, his end was merciful. And yes, I will sleep more easily with him gone. I don’t worry Kreshton is developing bad habits and will sleep with both eyes shutt (though Kailia will keep one open on him ora while. har har). Is that water Luke warm? I am thirsty.
Pol: That is good to hear. All we can do is be true to our nature. Kreshton, I appreciate this conversation and pledge to stand by you, and the rest of the group as well, through all of this. Let’s get some sleep, morning will be here before we know it.
Kreshton: A moment, first please, on a different subject, I wanted to talk to you about that ancient city we explored earlier. I have never seen the like. Nor have I heard anything about it from the traveling minstrels and bards that often came to perform at my parent’s residence. I guess that is not to be unexpected we are in the middle of Xen’Drik after all and few stories seem to …
somewhere… out in the darkness…