I can’t lie to myself any more.
She died to save me.
Why did she do that?
I suppose I should go back, recount the events, come to terms with what I did.
She was so beautiful, that day when we left her home. Walking out into the sunlight, the beams glistening around her, like the halo she deserved. A smile crept on my face, I was happy, I had a partner, to come with me out in the harsh world. And okay, maybe we didn’t fully understand each other, but we understood each other enough to enjoy each other’s company.
The goblins had all been nice to me, Grosa especially. It inspired me, I had to help them and with Grosa’s help, I felt I could achieve a new goal. And I achieved that goal, bringing a form of peace between the village and goblin warren. Perhaps one day I will tell you the tale of how I managed to achieve that, but that’s not important right now. The point to take is that we left the area leaving a peaceful resolution between them and a new forming of cultures had begun there. We could leave and know they would be fine. Perhaps even something to return to one day.
It felt like it was time to leave, taking a hefty swig of a delightful local brandy I heaved my gear upon my back. Taking in a final look at the villagers and the goblins figuring out land plans for a new layout for the goblins to take residents. I couldn’t help but smile watching both races miming to each other as their only method of conversing. It was like watching them play games for peace. But the road ahead was calling me. I turned and there she was, packed and ready, once again I knew she wouldn’t be leaving my side, I must admit that I felt joy knowing that.
I gestured to her that it was time to go, and she gave me a thumbs up with a great grin upon her face. Together we walked down the road, neither of us really knowing where we were headed, but that’s the way I liked it and I guess she didn’t care so long as she was with me.
Together we travelled for months, solving problems for commoners in exchange for coin, food or shelter. Though most were dubious of Grosa, they soon trusted her as long as she was with me. I admit in hindsight it took me far too long to realise that we should have tried to learn each other’s languages. But we were so natural together, it really wasn’t necessary. Though I take pride in teaching her how to use here nimble nature to its full potential, the ways of the monk were almost made for her. And she found a grace I could never capture, each step like that of a dance, exactly how I was supposed to do.
Truth be told there were many a time I would get her to practice just so I could admire her form, And when we spared, we connected deeper, we grew to understand how each other moved and how our very souls were presented by every minuscule adjustment. It was a dance, a game, a playful exchange that bound us closer. It made us stronger, more in sync and closer in general. I wish that I had a better grasp of language as a whole to truly express how it made me feel.
I watched over her, to begin with, but it didn’t take long before I felt she was able to take on bigger things and harder tasks. We became such a duo the world has never seen. I watched her progress and improve. Constantly getting faster more nimble and more precise. And when we fought together, properly together. It was like the world would freeze, and we were alone again dancing our dance to the beat of the world. Whilst I would take on one foe, face to face, she would climb up me like a climbing frame and throw herself over the enemy gaining advantage to their weaker side. We even invented our own special move, “The flurry of kicks”. I still giggle about it too this day, we would hold hands and I would spin us around as she would kick the heads in of all enemies who chose to charge a little too fast. She always loved that one… I could tell be the twinkle in her eye… and the way she would look at me smiling as we did it… and how she always made sure to come in for a hug straight after.
I miss her hugs.
Never content to hug me at the waist, she would jump and grab me around the neck and just dangle until I hugged back… She was light, but the way she felt… the way she would nuzzle in…
I’m getting sidetracked, please allow me to continue.
So we had been travelling, fighting for the better part of a year, to say we were close would be an understatement.
We had just saved a village from a rather annoying trouble maker who had been holding their children for ransom. Well, we found his hideout and managed to take him out easily, honestly too easily, if anything he only had scare tactics. But the point is that we won the day and saved the kids. Of course, the villagers were happy and so were the kids, we earned some coin and a nice meal for the night. But as we began to leave one of the kids ran up to Grosa with a book, insisting that she should take it. She did, of course, in fact, there seemed to be something about the cover that really spoke to her. It had a picture of two warriors walking into the sunset. I can’t remember the title, but that didn’t matter to her anyway.
That night after we had eaten and drunk our fill, I sat down by the side of the fire. Grosa began rumbling through her travel pouch, searching for a moment before pulling out the book. With a fresh excitement in her eyes, she ran it over to me.
“What’s this?” I mimed, having not fully paid attention when it had been given to her.
“A child gave me this as thanks. What is it?” She mimed back.
“It’s a story. Written down to pass on.” As I told her this, I reminded myself a fact I really shouldn’t have forgotten. Her clan never learned common, they didn’t write books, though they might have written things down, never like this.
“What does it say?” She asked, with an excitement I hadn’t seen before.
I got a thought, a thought that was once again far too late to be happy about getting but none the less this was when I thought it.
“It is hard to mime. Would you like to learn to read it yourself?” I asked. Really not knowing what her response might be.
Well, I had barely finished miming before I was tackled by one of her classic hug attacks as she nodded frantically.
The process was long but very satisfying. First I taught her how to speak common, I thought it made more sense, that way I could explain how letters and words worked. It took time, but she was a fast learner. And though I would giggle when she got a word wrong here and there, she never lost confidence and was always understandable when she spoke. Not long after that, I began to teach her how to read and write. Apparently, this wasn’t as easy for her, but she persisted and slowly got the hang of it. But she didn’t mind, because each night as we lay by the campfire, I would read the book aloud and she would snuggle up and listen and fall asleep upon my chest. She was so cute like that. Once again I don’t remember the book, but the story was a wild adventure-romance story, of two adventurers taking on the world due to stigma placed against them.
We read it many times, and it wasn’t long fore she began reading it by herself. It was always nice seeing her read away, watching her lips slowly mouthing each word as she went. Then she would glance above and look at me deep in my eyes for a moment before seeming almost embarrassed and diving back into the book.
In truth, there seemed to be one section that she seemed to prefer, I would catch her reading it. But she would try to hide it, but the wear and tear of the book tell no lies.
“Can I ask you something?” Grosa asked as she shyly approached.
“Of course. What’s up?” I replied as ignorant as I have always been.
“Why have we not, consecrated our marriage?” She almost whispered, perhaps she was scared, I don’t know but her usual confidence was gone.
I was confused, I didn’t know what she was talking about. “What do you mean marriage?”
Grosa was taken aback, the look on her face told me everything, the look of fear, a dash of realisation that our years of travel together and our marriage had no relation. A sense of sadness enveloped her and drew her to the ground.
“How didn’t you know?” she said shaking, “The marriage festival my kin put together. You accepted my hand!”
I remember that I had, yes as a part of the party as I thought it was, one of the goblins put her hand in mine and gestured if I wanted to take it. I had thought it nothing more than to dance or for her to show me around. But of course, it made sense now. And I couldn’t be any more ashamed.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know,” I said. “I didn’t know it was a marriage.”
Grosa slumped to the floor in tears, words failing to help her. I walked to her side, I placed a hand on her shoulder, she shrugged it off immediately. I hadn’t realised how important this was to her.
“So I mean nothing to you?” she said through her tears.
I don’t know what possessed me, but I picked her up and brought her to my eye level. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. True I didn’t know we were married, but that doesn’t mean you mean nothing to me, don’t you dare say that again.” I pulled her into my embrace. “You mean the world to me, a partner in a world where I didn’t think I could have one. The relief to my cursed existence.” I pulled her in front of me wiped away a tear from her eye. “And if its what you want, let consecrate our marriage as you say,” I whispered before I laid a kiss upon her sweet lips.
Swinging her arms tight around my neck and we kissed deeply.
That night, alone under the stars by the gentle heat of the fire and sounds of nature providing a chorus in the background. We revealed ourselves to each other and lost all fear of our hidden parts, for why should we hide what is so beautiful, shy of daily standards. That evening we explored each other with shy intrigue at first and with passionate vigour by the end. Enjoying a night together in euphoria and a soul-bonding the like I had never experienced before, nor would I experience it again.
I don’t know if what I felt that night was love, nor do I know if I loved her. Love itself is so hard to explain or indeed to understand. It goes from one extreme to another in use. I don’t know what love is, but what I did know… I wanted her to be happy… I wanted her to live a long life… I wanted… her.
That night I stared up at the night’s sky as she lay upon my bare chest, at peace just listening to her breath. When it dawned on me, well actually he dawned on me.
“Ah, the cute couple.” Gauli’s voice rumbled through my head, my curse my reason for being alone, the reason why I had to stay alone. “She’s a cute one isn’t she?” He teased. “How did she taste? I want a turn.”
That was it, I got up, making sure that she would stay resting. I drifted over to my bag and delved quickly for my drink.
“Oh come on, Riardon, give me a moment won’t you? I just want to talk.” Gauli tried to plead, but landing entirely upon deaf ears as I drank heavily upon my bottle. “Fine, until next time.” his voice trailed away. As I gazed through the dark, to her.
No, I couldn’t put her through this… What if it happened again? She would be right in the middle of it. No, no, no, NO! I wouldn’t allow it, I couldn’t allow it.
Another drink from my bottle as I thought things over and I made up my mind.
I grabbed her book and some charcoal from the fire and scrawled her a note for her to find in the morning.
My Dear Grosa,
You have no idea how hard it is for me to do this to you. But you are in danger as long as you are with me. I won’t be able to protect you forever, but I can protect you now by leaving before danger finds you. I have a danger that follows me and I intend to be rid of him as soon as I know how. I have no intention of him laying a finger upon you.
So promise me, head back to your home, live and wait for me. I promise you that I will return after the deed is done.
I leave with you my staff, may it protect you as it has done me and see you safe for when I return. When we can finally be together for the rest of our days.
Be safe my Grosa.
Laying both the book and my staff by her side, I made off and headed out in the direction that felt best to me.
I won’t lie, I was lonely. I missed her immediately but I knew it would be better for her, I just to keep doing my quest. My real reason for always being on the move. I would go out again and seek out some way of being rid of my curse once and for all… no matter the cost.
And now I had a new motivation to inspire me further. I will do it for her, so we can be together without fear.
For a couple of months I kept going, doing as I had always done. Seek out the knowledge, find the whispers and find their sources. And hide your true intents through drinks and good deeds. But it was harder now, Grosa always on my mind. I swear I even saw her every now and again, but then again I was under the influence of the booze. They must have been figments of my mind, or at least that is what I would tell myself.
Finally, though, I heard the rumour of a special ring that would remove a curse with a simple incantation. Owned by the founder of this quiet village, but he had taken it to his grave. I was told its location, so I could pay my respects of course. That night I would acquire that ring, I would finally gain my freedom from this curse.
That night, I crept like a thief to the grave mound. I moved to its doorway, as I tried the door, it opened. It was a village I thought to myself, I guess they don’t worry about thieves as much as towns. I moved inside and over to his casket. With great effort, I forced open the lid to see nothing inside. I was taken completely by surprise, I obviously hadn’t paid enough attention, as the door closed behind me and was locked tight. Then heat slowly began to grow around me. Not only was this a trap it was a death trap, even if I managed to get out, but they would also be waiting for me… whoever they were. This place was to be my tomb.
But then outside there was a commotion, a fight had ensued. I rushed to the door and tried desperately to see out but with no luck, until thunk! An axe crashed through the door, I looked through the gap and there I saw her dancing, jumping from enemy to enemy in that manner I adored so long ago. I would have been happy if it wasn’t for the sake that she was here. And she was in danger because of me.
“NO!” I screamed as I grabbed the axe and begun beating down the door.
She was being ganged up on, her surprise advantage was destroyed. They were taking over the fight, if I wasn’t quick she would be dead before I had a chance to save her. My fury growing, my determination building as I tore through the door, blackness wrapping around me. I leapt into battle and took out these scum one by one. I was in time, She was OK, beat up but alive…
That last scoundrel, the prick I didn’t get to in time, he saw Grosa see me, he saw a chance and he took it. As our eyes met I saw his blade thrust forth through her chest.
He never saw me coming. The rest is a blur, but I know that I took his eyes with my bare hands, used his own teeth to remove his tongue and bit his ears off before I heard her.
“Riardon,” Grosa called, I snapped from my rage and I went to her side.
“You’re going to be OK,” I said as I looked her over. I knew she should be but I needed to get her healed fast and I couldn’t trust the bastards from the village if they had anything to do with
There was only one place I trusted wholly, she just had to survive until then. I did my best to stabilise her, and then went to the village and acquired a horse and cart from the village. Then I raced that horse faster than it has ever had to run. I forced it to bound far beyond what I think even a horse would think is possible. Within a fortnight we arrived back to a place we both didn’t recognise but knew we safe.
The village where goblin and man lived in peace. Grosa was still alive but in bad shape, but I placed her into the hands of the doctors. They promised to do their best, I asked them to do better. After a few days of impatient waiting I was told that she would be alright, but not the adventurer any more. Apparently any more stress could be the end of her. I took the leaders aside, I told them everything I could, I told them to protect her and ensure she didn’t come for me again. I told them I would return. This time before I left I said goodbye properly, sharing a final kiss.
Just before I made my way out of the village, I was stopped by the chief that married me, he handed me the staff I had gifted to Grosa. He told me she said that I would need it, and to come back alive. And that was when I took my leave.
I know what you are thinking.
But she didn’t die?
That’s what I thought as well until we were on our way to Syndra Silvane. When I felt one of the dead come to my side. It wasn’t until I turned to see what was there that I saw her. My Grosa hugging my arm walking alongside me, nuzzling into me like she used to do. I haven’t been able to bear to even talk to her, but I can see that blood around the wound. Something was too much for
her, she died due to the injury where she tried to save me.
I tried desperately to close off my mind from the pain, ignore, forget anything.
Sadly I refused to believe she died, I refused to believe that she was anything but a figment of my imagination. But you can only fool yourself for so long.
Especially when she is literally always by my side.
I’m sorry Grosa.
I… I think… I know… I love you.