To gauge the distance.
The movements of the target.
What, if any, cover might interfere.
If it can be done quietly, quickly.
The breath drawn and held.
The steady flick of the fingers.
And the slipping away.
The thrill of melee
Being close enough to see their eyes, feel their breath.
To be face to face, to see the moment when death comes.
To have to think about guarding even more than attacking.
The blood rushing, the heart pounding.
Life is rarely better than when death is so close.
The world now saw how they had grown in wisdom. Their actions came without thought, a weakness in one bolstered by the ability of another.
Their smiles still came easy, though sometimes with a grimness.
Times when no words were spoken.
Others when none were needed.
They thought they knew all about each other, but so much more had been learned.
But names they had gained.
And the friendships held.
They stumbled into the room, door slamming as they slid down the walls. The one bed went unused in favor of the floor.
Hands were on hilts, a quick spell to surround them, a few ball bearings in front of the door.
A night to regain their strength and spells.
A lot longer to forget the day.
They went out on the road, five with more courage than experience.
They would make a name for themselves, and return home with coin and tales.
“We start with the next town over. Ask them what they need done and do it.”
“And if they have no worries, on to the next.”
“It shall take time, but it will be worth it.”
“It might be tough. But we will use our heads as well as our weapons.”
“For the good of all!”
Five so assured in themselves and each other.
The world smiled as it waited to teach them.
She had flashes, now and then,
When he was occupied.
Of the ones she had traveled with.
Lost someone with.
Had called friends.
Who last looked at her in anger and confusion.
Her mind was a haze most of the time,
His voice the only real sound then.
But their faces would surface
And she would let the tears fall.
She had never been sure this would happen.
Not this soon, not before she had the chance to be perfect.
But it was real and it was now.
She looked across the room at her husband and son.
She could see them for how they used to be as well as how much they had changed.
She wasn’t perfect.
And she wasn’t ready for it to be forever yet.
But they were together.
A family again.
Of them, only two knew the sea.
The sound of the waves and the feel of the sand.
To stand on the edge of the world and feel so small.
The shock of the coldness of the water.
Its strength and how easily it could move you.
The two of them watched the wonder in their friends’ faces.
So happy to share this experience with them.
She never expected to see him again.
Much less have the chance to hold him.
He stood so straight and stiff as he walked from the Raven Queen’s shadow.
She had to ask him to take off his mask.
His face was paler, more severe.
When she first hugged him, he just stood there.
Then she felt his arms come up around him and hold tight.
Her other side was with her.
They were a whole again.
She doesn’t mean to forget about Sprinkles.
But she didn’t have a pet growing up.
So she’s not used to having to remember feeding times.
And so much is happening now
And he’s so light and quiet.
But it’s not intentional and she takes the slow times to fuss over him.
And he is getting used to the adventuring life.