This was written in what I call a flash story as it is really too short to be a short story. It was for a DnD character of mine in an attempt to explain his advancement into his paragon path. I wrote this for fun and an excerise in writing. It was not written with the intent to publish. Enjoy
Tegalad stumbled his way down the main dirt street of Barter’s Pass with his eyes firmly fixed on the ground. It was nearly sunset and the sunlight that once brought peace and harmony to the elf’s soul was rapidly fading away. A few of the townsfolk offered him greetings and thanked him for the brave work he had done to protect the town. He barely listened to them as he made his slow march through town. Was he exposing himself to the people’s well-wishes to make himself feel better? If so, it didn’t help much. It only further drove further his depression of what he had done.
The elf finally made his way to the outskirts of the town. He slowly looked back at the merry people as they lived their lives in the moment. Tegalad quickly turned his head away to keep from staring. Elves do not live in the moment. They never have and that is why they have lost so much while dreaming of the future and reliving the past.
His feet brought him to the edge of the Evergreen Forest and never paused as he slipped into the familiar embrace of nature. His mind was numb for the constant repeating memory of his master being slain. He wasn’t sure how long he had walked but we he finally came to a stop, he found himself standing at the edge of a small pool of water. The rising moon’s light was shining upon the reflective surface, giving off an ethereal glow. The elf tilted his head to one side as he stared at the water, too busy in his depression to notice the beauty.
“You should open your eyes,” said a melodic male voice.
Tegalad’s head snapped around and his body immediately crouched into a defensive position upon hearing the voice. With his hand hovering over the hand of his greatsword, he called out to the forest, “Who’s there?”
“What you should be asking is, ‘Why are you here?’” replied the voice as a figure stepped through the brush. Tegalad’s eyes widen and his body went slack at the sight of the elf before him. His father smiled kindly at him as he stepped to the edge of the pool, “Not possible? Surely, after what you have seen and done, you would realize that such things are possible.”
“But…you died,” stammered Tegalad as he fell to his knees at the opposite end of the pool.
“So that makes my presence impossible?” replied his father, still smiling. “Tell me son. Why are you here?”
Tegalad’s gaze immediately fell to the grass, “I…” he started but the words would not form. He gave a heavy sigh instead.
“Son, you must let go of the past. The only peace you need to make is with yourself, no other.”
“But the Bladesingers…my friends…they judge…” Tegalad began to reply but was cut off by his father.
“No! They are not you. Do not concern yourself with other people, groups or even the gods. They will sort themselves out,” he snapped at Tegalad with a commanding tone. After a moment of silence and his temper more calm, he continued. “If you can forgive yourself, the forgiveness of others will come in time.”
Still eying the ground, Tegalad shifted his sword off his back to the ground. “But I’ve tried to but the guilt is still there. My soul…it pains at the mere thought of what happened.”
“Then you haven’t tried hard enough,” his father said before stepping around the pond over to his son. He motioned to the pond with his hand. “Do you see the pond?” he asked.
Tegalad finally lifted his head and looked to the calm water. He then gave a light shrug, “Yes, there is a pond there.”
“Look into the pond.”
Tegalad made a big effort not to roll his eyes as he sighed and leaned forward to look into the pond. As he looked into the water, he saw his reflection peering back at him. He looked at it for several moments and then looked back at his father, “So what? It’s my reflection.” He said with an annoyed tone.
“Look again.” His father said while looking off into the forest.
Tegalad frowned and looked back at his reflection in the pond. The reflection was of him but torn and aged. His skin was blistered and cut and his hair was matted and partially cut off. His bloodshot eyes showed years of pain and torture. It was Tegalad, but one that had been eroded by failure and guilt.
Shocked by what he saw, Tegalad scrambled away from the water on his hands and knees and backed up against a tree, “Wha…what the hell?” he asked, his voice clearly showing the terror in his heart.
“That is your soul, son. Torn asunder by years of guilt.”
Tegalad looked back at the pond. “But…but how…” he said as he pointed at the water.
“How? Why? These questions are not important. It simply is,” his father said with a shrug. “You created a new way of harnessing magic. You did not ask how or why, you simply did,” he said and then motioned to the pond. “What is water?”
The elf’s eyebrows crunched together at the question. “Water represents life,” he said automatically as if quoting a book.
“Is that all?” retorted the father.
Tegalad pursed his lips and looked back at the pool of water, “Well…there are many things that go along with that like healing and purity.”
The father nodded his head in a sage-like manner. “Yes. Now, how did you discover the secret to circle dancing?”
Tegalad looked back to his father, “Well, since the stability of magic was broken, magic is ambient now. It is all around us and in everything. It was a matter of finding a way to create a focal point for that ambient energy so that I could shape it into something I wanted…basically.”
“So you shape magic to your will, to empower you and your surrounds to make you stronger, faster. You take on qualities from the energy focused by the circle.”
Tegalad nodded slowly. “More or less,” he replied slowly, not sure of where the conversation was going.
“Look again at the water,” said his father.
The circle dancer looked back at the water and the tortured self reflection. He looked hard, trying to find the hidden meaning of his father’s words. “Ambient magic… water… circle dancing… healing… empowering… focused… purity…” Tegalad muttered to himself as he stared. “Healing. Purity. Focused water internally may help in finding peace.”
Tegalad blinked a few times, “Of course! If I can accept my past and let go of the guilt. The water… the water can help heal my soul if I accept what happened…it all makes sense now.” He smiled and looked back to where his father was sitting but he was gone.
The elf blinked and looked around. “Father?” he called out. He looked back and saw that not even the grass had been disturbed. He then looked back at the water and his reflection. It was all normal. His tortured soul did not show itself.
The frowned for a moment, not sure of what just happened. He then pulled his gaze from the water and stood up. He disrobed and then entered the cold water until the water reached his waist. He then closed his eyes and focused on his training as a circle dancer. He began to pull on the energy around him, trying to bind it with the water. After minutes of concentration and shallow breathing, he finally gasped as the circle snapped shut and formed.
The elf smiled as he saw his circle surrounding him but instead of energy as it was before, it was of water.
Staring in amazement at what he had done, Tegalad gave a small smile and looked down to the water to see his own reflection. “Thanks dad,” he whispered.