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21 Days for Adye's Flame

 
21 Days for Adye's Flame

Day One - Five Sentences

Erenith Ruan

1. Eren makes a living as a wandering bard.

2. Her only strong relationship is with her father.

3. Once an idealist, she no longer trusts in black-and-white truths.

4. Eren's natural compassion has not changed, despite her lack of faith in herself.

5. She is not at ease with her own attractiveness.

Day Two - Five Paragraphs

1. Eren makes a living as a wandering bard. She has all the elements needed to succeed - talent, creativity, and personal charisma. She enjoys music, and loves the heroic sagas best.

2. Her only strong relationship is with her father. Being on the road, she doesn't seek out lasting relationships, romantic or otherwise. Her father is the only person she keeps in correspondence, her mother being quite inaccessible.

3. Once an idealist, she no longer trusts in black-and-white truth. Since she has failed her former ideals so completely, it stands to reason she would no longer know what to believe in. On bad days, she reverts to having no philosophy at all.

4. Eren's natural compassion has not changed, despite her lack of faith in herself. She doesn't throw herself into situations anymore, but if she encounters a problem, she still feels compelled to help the weak. This can happen regardless of whatever bardic commitments she has made.

5. She is not at ease with her own attractiveness. This is something that has bothered her since she hit puberty - objectification is only more pronounced when she is also a hated half-breed. The fact that she is a lovely half-elf only makes her more of an object in the eyes of some.

Day Three - Five Contary Sentences

1. Eren makes a living as a wandering bard. She has all the elements needed to succeed - talent, creativity, and personal charisma. She enjoys music, and loves the heroic sagas best.

Yet she has little respect for her own profession, for she was a knight first.

2. Her only strong relationship is with her father. Being on the road, she doesn't seek out lasting relationships, romantic or otherwise. Her father is the only person she keeps in correspondence, her mother being quite inaccessible.

Or so she tells herself - the reality is that she is afraid to connect to anyone.

3. Once an idealist, she no longer trusts in black-and-white truth. Since she has failed her former ideals so completely, it stands to reason she would no longer know what to believe in. On bad days, she reverts to having no philosophy at all.

For all that, she can't keep her core beliefs buried in despair forever.

4. Eren's natural compassion has not changed, despite her lack of faith in herself. She doesn't throw herself into situations anymore, but if she encounters a problem, she still feels compelled to help the weak. This can happen regardless of whatever bardic commitments she has made.

In the end, that is going to be her downfall.

5. She is not at ease with her own attractiveness. This is something that has bothered her since she hit puberty - objectification is only more pronounced when she is also a hated half-breed. The fact that she is a lovely half-elf only makes her more of an object in the eyes of some.

And yet, she uses it as a tool to earn her keep, these days.

Day Four - Five More Little Paragraphs

1. Eren makes a living as a wandering bard. She has all the elements needed to succeed - talent, creativity, and personal charisma. She enjoys music, and loves the heroic sagas best.

Yet she has little respect for her own profession, for she was a knight first. Singing about great deeds of compassion and heroism seems so paltry compared to actually doing them. Although she knows she must never go back, she can't help but hold herself up to that lofty ideal - and then find herself falling quite short.

2. Her only strong relationship is with her father. Being on the road, she doesn't seek out lasting relationships, romantic or otherwise. Her father is the only person she keeps in correspondence, her mother being quite inaccessible.

Or so she tells herself - the reality is that she is afraid to connect to anyone. She had many close friends, and managed to betray them all in a moment of weakness. Who is she, to assume she has the right to form new friendships?

3. Once an idealist, she no longer trusts in black-and-white truth. Since she has failed her former ideals so completely, it stands to reason she would no longer know what to believe in. On bad days, she reverts to having no philosophy at all.

For all that, she can't keep her core beliefs buried in despair forever. She might be embittered by her own failure, but it has only shaken her belief in herself, not in the need for justice. That tends to shine through despite what she thinks.

4. Eren's natural compassion has not changed. She doesn't throw herself into situations anymore, but if she encounters a problem, she still feels compelled to help the weak. This can happen regardless of whatever bardic commitments she has made.

In the end, that is going to be her downfall. She can't help but get drawn back into all the conflicts she really ought to avoid - and therefore, really can't escape her past. That compassion is a good trait, but it is also a curse.

5. She is not at ease with her own attractiveness. This is something that has bothered her since she hit puberty - objectification is only more pronounced when she is also a hated half-breed. The fact that she is a lovely half-elf only makes her more sub-human to some, and that disturbs her immensely.

And yet, she uses it as a tool to earn her keep, these days. She knows how to protect herself from rapist intent, and she is certainly no whore no matter what they think, but she's learned plenty of more subtle tricks. In the end, she flaunts her attractiveness to ensure her popularity as a bard, and it works.

Day Five - New Kid in Town

Thaon Inisoldh

1. Thaon currently works as a mercenary, taking the dirty jobs if they further his goals. He tries to make sure every job he takes continues him on his path to destroying the Wolves. If he can make contacts, gather information, or at least store away money for the future, he will do so.

Sometimes he wonders, however, if he is doing the right thing. Since being dismissed from the Knights for his actions during the Wolves' "Trials" - and who can blame them? - he has had to strike out on his own. The Knights are the largest and most effective body for battling the wolves, if only they will let him help them...

2. He is a Utilitarian, willing to seem cruel if it is for the greater good. He will kill, or possibly torture, if it is necessary, and take the blame solely on himself. He does the harsher deeds to save others from having to do them, and carries the burden of them alone.

Despite his dark philosophy, he joined the Knights at the behest of Adye herself. Most Knights assume it is because of his inner drive to eradicate the Wolves' reign of terror, but the real answer is only known to Adye herself. Now that he is no longer part of the Knights, he is also unsure what she wants of him.

3. He keeps tight control of his emotions, especially love. He believes he cannot afford to indulge himself in a relationship, be it short or long-term. That, and deep down he doesn't really believe he deserves that kind of happiness.

Yet he is certainly not incapable of love. In the past, he has known and loved women - enough to know when he has to give them up for their own safety. Some days he still dreams of loving someone who can share in his life equally, someone he doesn't have to protect - however vain he may believe that dream to be.

4. Some, having endured despair and hardship their entire lives, become the monsters - Thaon instead chooses to fight them. Even before joining the Knights or sacrificing his honor at the "Trials," he opposed oppression in any way he could. It is the one drive that keeps him moving forward, the one thing he believes in.

The way in which he goes about this, however, is not kind to his soul or sense of self. He has chosen to take the hard route because soft decisions have always ended even more miserable, but it takes a toll. He knows some day there will be a reckoning.

5. During his time as a Knight, Thaon truly enjoyed the luxury of having a sense of humor. It took a long time for him to relax and open up enough for that, but he did. It gives a veneer of normalcy to his life, being able to joke around as if he's just like them.

His team of Flames might have thought him a regular (or as regular as any specially-trained operative can be) guy, but the best cameraderie made Thaon feel fake. He knew what he was there for, and it wasn't for the same things as the other knights. Sometimes he felt like he was Adye's secret assassin, doing the dirty jobs the other Knights didn't even know needed doing.

Day Six - When I Grow Up....

Erenith

Short-term: Keep herself fed and clothed comfortably, and seek out those in need of inspiration, doing her best to give them courage, one village at a time.

Long-term: She doesn't think she has any long-term goals, as she is forever wandering. But secretly she wants to somehow have closure with her past mistakes and be able to move on. She also wants the Wolves' scourge to end, but doesn't believe it her place to accomplish that anymore - her music and tales are the best contribution she thinks she has now.

Thaon

Short-term: convince the Knights they want him on their side again. If that won't work, he might have to become a Wolf again to infiltrate, and he really doesn't want to do that.

Long-term: This one's the most obvious: he wants the Wolves broken once and for all. Even knowing they probably can't be completely stamped out as long as Viyel favors them, he certainly wants the current, most brutal crop of them taken down. He hasn't even thought about goals after that; indeed, he suspects he won't outlive that victory anyway.

Day Seven - It's the Man, Keepin' Me Down...

Erenith: Her biggest problem is that she doesn't think she has any goals. She thinks she is content to wander aimlessly, upholding heroic ideals only in song and tale. Her dissatisfaction with herself is growing stronger as word of further Wolf predations reach her ears every day, but uncertainty and a mistrust of herself leads her to remain stagnant even while her innermost self wishes to act, and for redemption of some kind. Even her short-term goals of keeping herself fed and clothed and popular have been taking a dip due to her compulsive interferences when she sees trouble. This ought to be telling her something about herself, but so far she'd been pretty clueless.

Thaon: He knows exactly who is to blame for his failures: himself. He could blame the Wolves for being too strong and brutal, or the Knights for not listening to him, but in the end he feels it is his responsibility to accomplish his goals and if he isn't, then he must not be trying hard enough. This is all well and good, but no matter how carefully he chooses his jobs or eloquently he pleads his case to the Knights, circumstances don't always support him. His choices when imprisoned by the Wolves and his actions at their "Trials," while being the things that earned his life and freedom, are also the very things that keep him from the support he really needs. Added to that is the frustration that he knows he is doing Adye's will, but she is doing nothing to help his case with her own Knights.

Bieron Melisthon

Day 9 - Dear Susan...

The paper, although it had clearly once been very good quality, was crumpled and stained with multiple ink spots. Whole sentences and paragraphs had been blotted out, although not well. It was written, nonetheless, in the same clear hand of a good Bardic trainee – even in the most hastily scribbled parts. It seemed that even in extreme agitation – and the letter’s overall appearance certainly bespoke that – Erenith’s old habits could not be suppressed. It was incomplete, not even signed, and would no doubt have been consigned to the flames had he not managed to rescue it from her unconscious fingers.

Thaon,

Please forgive me for this intrusion, although surely you knew it was inevitable the moment you saw me. I don’t know what to say to you, for you probably hate the very memory of me, but I cannot help myself. I must know what happened.

You can imagine my shock at seeing you in the village today. It was like looking at a ghost. I thought you were dead. I thought everyone was. Years of not knowing, of only knowing that none of the Flames had managed to escape when I did, of knowing that I abandoned knowing only that there were no records of anyone ever leaving the Scarred Tree encampment alive, hearing only long afterward that all of my contingent had perished in the Wolves’ so-called games, so far as anyone could tell… and then I saw you, and knew you recognized me as well.

You’ve surely noticed I am no longer a Knight. I found I could not go back to them after my acts of cowardice at Scarred Tree. I can no longer be one. I don’t know what Second told you about what happened the morning before the attempted escape If you do not already know my reasons for this, suffice it to say I can no longer uphold Adye’s ideals as I once did.

I see that you also are no longer a Knight. You have been changed, and I did not expect to see you among the other merc

I know I do not deserve this. I am only begging it of you asking out of a pure selfish desire to know what happened. What happened to you, to Bieron, Midan, Wyl – gods, were there so few of us even then – Were the rumors untrue after all? Did all of you escape and I never knew? I hardly dare hope for that-

Day Ten - He Said, She Said

“Eren.”

“Wha…Oh. Oh gods. Thaon. I’m – did you read that?”

“You addressed it to me, so yes.”

“I – I was going to throw it away. Burn it. Augh, my head…”

“A whole bottle, Erenith? Do you drink like this every night? I don’t remember you –"

“No! That is, only when I see ghosts. I mean, when I saw you, and I didn’t know what to think, and I had to finish my set and pretend everything was all right, and you vanished with those mercenaries, and I couldn’t write this bedamned letter anyway…blessed Ad- gods. I’m babbling.”

“I think we should talk, but not here. You aren’t going to like what you hear, but a noisy tavern is one of the worse places I can think of to hear it. Are you sober?”

“Yes! Yes, I’m fine. Don’t treat me like a child, Thaon. I grew up a long time ago. I’m just…shocked, I guess. Outside. Let’s talk outside where I can clear my mind.”

“All right, I’m better now. They’re all dead. Aren’t they? They’re really, truly dead.”

“As far as I know, yes. Wyl and Midan, certainly. They died when they refused to fight the Adyans from Temis’s group. I’m sorry, I thought you’d rather know the straight truth right away…”

“I do. I do...thank you. It’s just, it’s one thing, knowing it in my head, and quite another to…did you see them die?”

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry, so sorry. If you knew – if Second told you what I did -"

“Erenith. Now is not the time to talk about what you think you did or did not do. All of us, every last one of us, were glad you got out. Einar most of all, I imagine – Afallon keep his soul.”
“…
And Bieron? You’ve said nothing about him – is there a chance he may yet live?”

“I don’t know. We both...survived until the end of the Games. After that… I escaped. Or they let me go, I’m not sure which. I can hardly remember it anymore. I’m not a knight anymore, Eren. They threw me out, after I told them what happened. No, that’s too harsh. I did not keep the faith, so they could no longer keep me. I bear them no ill will, but I need their help. Do you –“

“I left the Knights a long time ago. I’m sorry, Thaon. I too…I failed them, and now only have myself. Whatever you’re doing, I can’t help you. I’m just a bard.”

“I see. Well, I suppose I should have expected that. If the good gods and avatars made it easy to do the right thing, the world would be much less exciting, right? More pleasant, perhaps, but much less interesting, I’m sure.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m not blaming you, truly. I only blame myself. Be at peace, Erenith. And you should probably wash your face off before re-entering the tavern, hey?”




 

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