(closed to Shinsou Van Osiris)
The road was nearly silent, muted completely by the ambient noise of steadily beating rain. Storm felt his shoulders sag as the rain pulled down at his leather overcoat, adding heft to his somewhat slight frame. The bright moonlight had been displaced completely by the cloud cover, and he held a palm open before his face as he rode. A bright orb of white and blue spun lazily before his hand, a beacon of light shining before his mighty horse. Attila marched steadily, eyes using the light to seek deepened puddles and potential footfalls. So too did Shinsou ride alongside him.
Rain was cleansing; it would wash the whiskey off his breath and dirt and salt from his skin. It was also penetrating, and he felt his dress shirt begin to tack to his chest like a large white elastic. He’d be wet through lunch in the morning if the sun rose to drive off the clouds; all day tomorrow if the cloud cover remained steadfast. In either event, there would be four or five hours before the sun rose and took battle to the clouds. The night was owned by the incessant rain.
“There’s a freeing luxury to saturation…” He switched hands, his right palm growing tired of suspending the magical lamplight, taking the reigns for the great beast below him instead. “You only get so wet, and then the rain can no longer burden you.” A smile spread across his face as the metaphor rung through to him.
“Money, power, women… none of them ever saturate. We’ll always want MORE. ‘Enough’ becomes only how much the next richest man has, and once your wealth brings you to that point, you’ll always find yourself in the company of even richer and more powerful men.” Feeling old and sagely, the wizard paused from philosophizing. His traveling partner seemed far more altruistic in his goals; had Van Osiris been listening, it’s unlikely he’d even have understood what Storm Veritas was getting at.
Is he a “good man”? Can I trust him? Are those related? Does taking down the Council make me a better man, or a worse one?
The raven-haired soldier filled his periphery, marching with stoicism atop his own stallion. Shinsou was Telgradian, a powerful alien that carried himself with a certain nobility, in spite of the darkness lingering inside him. It wasn’t an altogether foreign concept to Storm. He was also very knowledgeable, strategic, and wise beyond his years.
“Evil… evil saturates.” Storm was uncertain as to whether Shin was listening or not. The wizard’s thoughts needn’t be private, even if he was being quiet. “Once you cross the line, the people will ALWAYS see the darkness first. I can keep you in the white if that’s where you’ll want to live; there’s no turning back once you become the villain.”
Trust me, kid. You’ll never be welcome back into the Ivory Tower once your hands get the wrong color blood on them.
His thoughts fluttered as the two rode, his moral burden weighing on him. The mage had once been a wholly evil thing; a true hedonist that sought only the tangible and discrete targets. Karuka had changed him for the better, Taische more so. They had walked the line of good faithfully, showing compassion and care for him and others. They were also strong, and smart, and powerful.
And now they’re f*cking gone. Apparitions, into the great ether of Althanas. Perhaps this land just swallows the good.
His eyes steeled behind the falling torrents, nostrils full of the refreshing scent of ozone. Althanas was a cruel, unfair place, and required a person of power, judgment, and wisdom to rule it. Shinsou wasn’t all of these things; Storm wasn’t either. Perhaps collectively they would fill the gaps and make the land richer. Perhaps not.
Perhaps they would be a better solution for the people than the corrupt Council of the Brotherhood, who orchestrated chaos to allow for anonymity and profit. The road to Whitevale was dark and clouded, and would be capped on the end with blood and bedlam.