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Unread 20th of July, 2004, 16:39
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Nightwing [GM]

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Ben quickly fled from the refectory as soon as he was out the door. He moved through the corridors of the citadel in a brisk walk, not quite running but being a little faster than he had to be. He could feel the warm wetness still running down his cheeks, knew that they were tears caused by the wound that always reopened itself whenever he did this. This was how it had always been. He would go to the family or associates inform them what had happened, and leave so as not to share in the grief.

Some of them hadn't recognized him, almost all the others had never seen or heard of him before. Rocky's family had simply told him they had never had a son. Gemound was the only person he'd met in many years that could actually remember his name, much less attach it to his face. He managed to get down the corridors to the side-entrance he'd come through originally. In the back of his mind, he knew that he was lucky he hadn't gotten lost, but it was little comfort.

Alone in the caves, just outside the citadel, Ben finally stopped and collapsed. He leaned on the craggy stone wall and slid down it, letting his backpack and shield fall off his back. The chain links of his shirt made a tinkle sound as he slid down, the physical manifestation of his tears falling into the pool of sadness around him. Finally sitting down again, he felt his sword - no. Rocky's sword - hit the ground and slid itself out of the loop on Ben's belt. It fell down beside the shield of the Dwarven race battling the underground terror. Rocky's sword and Dorndrum's shield, with Lisa's backpack to support them. Together in death like they were in life.

That thought of his friends, no his family, came to Ben unbidden and unwanted. It itself was not entirely unexpected though. What was unexpected was the images of the faces of them to come to his mind. Lisa's kind and smiling face, Rocky's award-winning if somewhat goofy grin, Dorndrum's gruff and usually drunken face, made comical because of his beard.

His back to the cavern wall, surrounded by the ghosts of his past, Ben's composure and resolve broke. He felt the wave of sadness come out of the well he had buried it in and overwhelm him, breaking free thanks to the crack that had formed in his defenses by the images of his dead friends. Placing his head in his arms h began to sob.

His wracking sobs echoed down the cavern, but Ben didn't notice or care. All he could see was the faces, all of their faces. Vincent, Jonathan, Turmahult, Aaron, so many others whose faces he could all remember, whose smiles and deaths were all fresh in his mind as if it was yesterday. He could still feel the warmth on his hands and legs, that sticky substance that was familiar but oh so strange at the same time.

"Are you alright?"

The voice, piercing through the images and sounds of his past, made Ben look up. The voice was strangely familiar, and looking up, Ben expected to see Rocky standing over him, his blonde hair and concerned smile still full of warmth. He also expected to see the redness on his hands, sticky from becoming dry and mixed with the ichors of other races.

He found neither. His hands were as clean as they had been, without a single splotch of red on them. Nor did he see Rocky's reassuring face, but the confused and concerned face of a younger man, blonde, with straw like, wavy hair and brown eyes. Blinking away the tears in his eyes, Ben recognized him as the mage he had first talked too, the one who had told him to wait in the library until dinner. He recalled him saying his name was Olyl. He was basically the equivalent of a trainee if Ben had sifted through the brief explanation Olyl had given him correctly.

Recognition dawned on the younger man's face as he saw Ben, and only then did Ben notice the man's robes. They were white for the most part, except for the seams the seams, which were red. Whether they had been dyed or stitched that way Ben wasn't sure. The robes were soaked through however, and the boy's hair was also sopping wet, his bangs hanging a few centimeters in front of his eyes.

"Say, I recognize you. You're that warrior who delivered that...message..." The boy's face fell, as he seemed to recall the message Ben had delivered. He stood there for a few seconds, then seemed to remember why he was here. "Anyways, I was kinda supposed to show you to your room for the night after dinner. Unfortunately, you sort of ran off before I could tell you. I almost thought I wasn't going to catch you, until I heard you crying down here..."

"So, um...yeah, do you think you could follow me?" Ben looked up and the young mage, who had extended his hand to him. Ben debated taking it. He hadn't really been planning on staying here, he felt more comfortable leaving as soon as he could. But this man had gone out of his way to be kind to Ben, or so it would seem. And he hadn't really gotten a chance to think about what he was going to do next. And sleeping outside wasn't really a good idea.

That and Gemound was still here. And she probably wanted to pump Ben for info. Still though, it had been a while since Ben had had a warm bed to sleep in, or a shave, or even a bath of some sort. All of those sounded really nice, plus Ben could always just leave early in the morning.

Reaching out and grabbing the young blonde's hand, Ben got back up to his feet. "Alright then, lead the way." He rubbed his eyes to get the last of his tears away, then began following Olyl to his chambers for the night.