Returning home in d...

Returning home in defeat.....  


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08/08/2017 4:19 PM  

Kelsar had rented a small house near the town while the architects discussed the best way to rebuild or even find a new location for the Keep and start again.  Jinks knew Kelsar was a smart elf and had money to spare.  He could afford a mansion had he wanted but she was unsurprised by the small house.  

He had nearly lost all his family in one brutal attack.  

A mansion would attract unwanted attention and he would want to keep them close.

Jinks stood in the hallway for a moment and then padded softly down to the second door on the right.  She knocked softly.

“Come in,” a muffled voice said softly.

Jinks walked through the door.  Kelsar was standing over a desk, looking at maps and drawings of the land.  He straightened up slightly when she walked in, “Report.”

Jinks hesitated for just a moment.  She hated speaking at the best of times and she carefully arranged her thoughts, “They do not know how organized the bandits were or why they attacked.  It could have been a bumbling accident of thieves or an organized attack against your household.  At this point, there is no way of knowing.  They are still looking through the burnt cinders for clues, Sir.”

Kelsar turned his head and glared at her, “I MEANT….my son, damn you.  I care nothing for the rest.”

She swallowed and looked at the ground, “I know what you meant.  We found a tracker after you were released.  We were able to establish that Twig was put on a cart and we followed it down a trail.  We lost the cart when it got to a main path into town.  The tracker said that he thinks there may have been a slave market nearby and I’m afraid….”

Kelsar rushed forward suddenly and grabbed Jinks by the throat and slammed her into the wall.  He drew his short sword quickly and brought it up to her throat, “Where were you??  You are our protector and you went wondering off! Where the hell did you go???”  

Her exhausted eyes met his.  

She had been enjoying herself when the news of the Keep's destruction had reached her.  

She had found an enormous lake and done some fishing.  She had found a new flower she had never seen before:  two dark blue petals with a yellow center and she had collected a couple pine cones for Kelsar’s sons, Michael and Twig (a nickname that Jinks actually called the boy for attacking her legs and occasionally knocking her over…she had said she had simply tripped over a small Twig and the name had stuck).  

The news had been a slap and she had demanded proof.  The noble named Stinn had provided proof of Kelsar’s Keep being razed to the ground and the family missing.  They had gone off immediately to rescue Kelsar and his family.  Luckily, a large mercenary of incredible fighting skill had joined them and they were able to find a cave with an evil ogre and humans.  

The ogre had laughed when Jinks demanded he release the caged prisoners.  She was used to being laughed at.  She was used to being considered a small human of small skill.  It was true anyways.  That is what she was but she would fight with everything and….she felt the blood begin to pound in her ears.  She smiled insanely.

Not just a barbarian, she thought, oh no….ogre…. Not just a barbarian.  A northern berserker.  A rager.  Ragers had tempers that did not allow them to ever stop.  

The ogre looked at her, his language mocking, “I will not give them up.  We’re not done torturing them.  They are such good sport for us.”

Jinks had screamed and charged at him.  She remembered very little of the battle, except that the mercenary and Stinn had saved her with their attacks and help.  The mercenary had taken on the ogre face-to-face while Jinks had hit him from the side, looking for small chinks in his armor and hitting as often as she could.  They had worn him down but her blood pounded and the rage roared in her ears.  The smell of the ogre's blood filled her nostrils and she sucked in more air, breathing the blood in as deeply as she could.

The ogre had knelt before the mercenary and was looking at him for mercy.

Jinks had walked up to him and placed her sword on the ogre’s neck.  She leaned over and whispered in his ear as the blood raged in her own veins, “The man who taught me mercy and compassion is the man you tortured and put in a cage.  He cannot help you and I would not listen to him even if he told me to show mercy now.”

It had taken three strokes to cut through all the tendons and gore to sever his head from his body.  

The rage had died down shortly after and she came back a bit to herself.  

Kelsar, his wife, Leisha, and his son, Michael, had been released.  Twig, the youngest son, was nowhere to be found.  She had spent three days and two nights, searching, patrolling, talking to slavers and rogues…anyone.  She would rest or eat and the guilt of rest would drive her up again and she would leave.  She followed every lead.  Walked as many roads and explored every cave and rogue’s den she heard of.  She had found not even a mention of Kelsar’s youngest son.  Kelsar would be waiting and she finally admitted her defeat and went to update him.

He slammed her into the wall, bringing her thoughts back to him, “Well…. answer….damn you!  You do not get to use your silent ways on me!  ANSWER!!”

Jinks was too tired to cry, too exhausted.  He pushed his fingers into her throat to hold her in place and she felt more than saw him shift his weight to allow for a slash across her windpipe.

She could take defeat.  She could take a beating.  She had fought enough in her life to know death but… It made her wince to know that no one could break her spirit except herself.  

Her grey eyes rested on Kelsar’s light brown eyes.  She was too tired to talk.  Too tired to answer.  

All she wanted to say was that she was ready and he could go ahead but she couldn’t even say that.  It took too much effort.  

No one could force her life, her fight, and her rage from her but she would give it to Kelsar.  If she did that, he would no longer have to look at the constant reminder of the person who failed him.

She simply closed her eyes and waited.  

When she opened them, Leisha was standing next to them both.  Her hand was on Kelsar’s sword arm and Leisha was staring calmly at her husband, “Will you murder the person who rescued us?  Does Michael matter so little to you now that you don’t remember you have a son who lived through this?  Jinks was never your servant or your bodyguard but your friend and your trainer….and yes…your protector at times.  It was always her choice to be so.  Do you want to kill this person now?  You have soldiers and servants but, husband, true friends are a rare thing in this world.”

Jinks opened her eyes and stared at Leisha.  Leisha smiled back at her.

She couldn’t think of anything to say.  She drew in a ragged breath.  Everything was sore.  Everything hurt.

She smiled at Leisha, “Tired.”

She closed her eyes and began to fall.

She couldn’t tell if she heard right but she thought she heard a sword clatter to the floor as an arm reached out and grabbed her.

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08/24/2017 8:52 AM  

Jinks was being carried.  Cradled.  It was just one person carrying her with one arm under her back and shoulders and the other arm under her knees.  

They carry small children like this, she thought, I should walk.....

Darkness again.  



Leisha opened the bedroom door and Kelsar followed her into the room, carrying Jinks.  Leisha absentmindedly fluffed a pillow as Kelsar laid the barbarian on the bed.  Leisha noticed that Jinks was smaller now and seemed less....intimidating.  She had never seen any sort of vulnerability or weakness but this exhaustion and pain had taken more from the barbarian than she had ever seen.  

Kelsar walked out of the room, stiff-legged and clearly upset.  More with himself than with Jinks, Leisha was sure of that.

A moment later, Kelsar was back with a healer, Sahl.  Sahl had been helping Kelsar as a healer and as a scholar with advice on the new Keep and finding new soldiers as well as healing the hearts and minds of the few survivors that had been forced to run away.  They had been friends for years and Sahl knew Jinks and Kelsar well.  

He followed Kelsar back down the hall to the bedroom, "Jinks is hurt?  How did that happen?  Ambush?"

Kelsar did not respond but simply opened the door and beckoned Sahl forward.  Sahl rushed forward, ignoring all else except his patient.

"Oh, Jinks," he sighed, taking her hand and feeling for her pulse, "Do you ever tire of being reckless and bad-tempered?  When will you realize that you are no longer young?"

The pulse was somewhat weak but steady and constant.  He opened an eye and it dilated and then focused on him.  She raised a hand weakly and tried to get him to let go.  He did and she instantly fell back to sleep and he doubted she would ever recall the interruption.

He let out a sigh of relief, "It's just fatigue and exhaustion is all.  She is not badly hurt.  She needs rest.  Her own body has shut itself down.  She has pushed herself too hard and this is the result.  She will be fine."

He paused and examined her neck, "She has a bruise.  Fingers.  Someone held her against her will, I would say.  This too will go away.  Did she escape from someone?"

Kelsar's face was bright red with shame and he looked away, "I did that."

Sahl paused.  He knew the troubles the family had suffered and he knew Jinks's temper.   

As if reading his thoughts, Kelsar went on, "She did nothing wrong.  I lost my temper and....hurt her."

Sahl considered what counsel to give and Kelsar looked at him, in misery.

"The only one who can forgive you is Jinks.  I can only advise that you leave me with my patient.  For my own part, Kelsar, I thought you a better person than that."

Kelsar walked to the door, "I did too."

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08/27/2017 12:15 PM  

Jinks felt something cold and slightly damp pressed against her forehead.  It felt wonderful and she focused on how cool it was.  The person holding it to her forehead pressed gently and she smiled slightly, opening her eyes.

Leisha smiled down at her, "Better?"

Jinks's smile faded and she looked away, 'How can you stand to look at me?  I failed you.  I..."

"You only fail when you give up and I have never known you to do that.  Not the barbarian, certainly not," Leisha answered with a hint of humor.

Leisha noticed that Jinks would not look at her but was swallowing constantly.  Leisha had cried and had no more tears left at the moment.  She realized that Jinks would need some time to cry and accept that Twig might be lost to them.

The barbarian turned back to Leisha and her eyes hardened slightly, "I will NEVER give up.  I will not stop looking.  I swear to you, lady, that I won't.  But if the worse has happened.  If I find proof of you want to hear it?"

It was Leisha's turn to look away, to think about it.  Did she really want to know?  

Leisha didn't look back but replied softly, "I have cried all the tears I can over not knowing.  I can cry more when I find out the truth.  Please Jinks....find out the truth."

Jinks swung her legs out of bed and realized suddenly that she was not dressed.  She quickly grabbed the covers and wrapped herself in them.  She mumbled an apology to Leisha.

"I didn't mean right this second," Leisha laughed, "Put some clothes on first!"

"I will!  It was NOT my idea to take them off!!" Jinks paused for a moment, "Uhm....who did take my clothes off?"

Leisha laughed so hard that her throat hurt.


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