The Choice

Beyond Dominia: The Role Playing Mill: The Choice

By Jaron on Tuesday, December 26, 2000 - 02:57 am:

(Merry X-Mas, everyone! I'll attempt to take advantage of what time I have here at home to catch up some stories and hopefully bring them to the closure I'll never get to once I get back to work, so enjoy! - Elrohir)

October 14, 794 - TR

He deserved death. Jaron shivered at the thought. It was an unconvincing argument, but his mind reeled at the implications and emotions it calculated in swift, sure fashion. The fluid decision he had made in that moment, the madness that enshrouded his mind had been final. With the strike of a poisoned -some could say cursed - blade, a common soldier upholding a law that even Jaron found purposeful found his blood staining his armor moments before he would find nothing ever after.

The dagger he still had in his possession, unwilling as he was to return it to Joerda, whom he had virtually shut out of his life, though she was in his safe-keeping. Why did he deserve death? {Soldier of fate, accursed is this blade that took your life,} he thought aloud. Joerda sensed it and looked up at him, nestled as she was in his arms as they rested beneath a hoary oak. He hadn't meant to broadcast the thought, but she had begun to grow accustomed to his method of communication, and was more attuned to it than she had been.

"Why do you think that, Jair?" she asked, pushing her shoulders closer to his chest to share his warmth in the chilly night.

{I don't know, Joerda. I can't get the man out of my head. I know he was doing his job, and I was acting the thief. I was in the wrong. I should have been the one to die. But I didn't. I killed him, and that scares me.}

"Why should it? You got back what was yours. Out in the wilderness, where we travel, our livelihood depends on the things we bring with us."

{The things we bring with us can be put to good or ill, as can all things. Without a doubt, the man has been found and a pursuit has been mounted. We are fugitives, Joerda, like it or not. I doubt our presence will be welcome in Justice Keep any time soon.}

Joerd sighed, exasperated. "But we're leaving this country. Who cares what legacy we leave behind?"

{It's not a legacy. It's a reputation. I feel...torn. Like I owe the man an apology for taking his life unjustly. He did not deserve the fate he received. I committed a crime, and my conscience has yet to forgive me.}

"If you cannot forgive yourself, do you think the guard would do the same?"

{No, I suppose not.} He shuddered, forcing empty air from his lungs like he was giving in, admitting defeat. {But...}

"What is it?" Joerda grew concerned. The tone present in the caress of his mind had turned very bitter, if one could not call it acrid.

{When I did it, I truly believed myself to be in the right. I acted on that belief in spite of the warnings of my mind.} His fists clenched. {I wanted him to die. I felt he had wronged me in some eerie, inconceivable fashion.}

Joerda reached up and caressed his cheek. He quivered involuntarily at her cold touch before wrapping his warm hands about hers, drawing the fingers away. Where they had been, he could still feel a ghostly presence. "Jair, it's alright to be confused. I can't even think what it's like to kill someone. It must be horrible for you to put yourself through this torment.

"You're a smart man." She smiled. "Put it behind you. You can't undo the past. Men have killed men in anger before. Some were right in doing so. People die who deserve life, and many live who should not. Does that make you any less a man, for doing something to uphold what you believe in?"

{Does that mean the man was supposed to die, or not, Joerda? I don't think you quite see my dilemma. I killed him in a fit of madness. I did it knowing I was in the wrong. But something happened that I didn't expect.}

"What was that?"

{I enjoyed it. Gods help me, I enjoyed every second of it, though even now I am revulsed by it. How do I convince myself one way or another? I am stuck, and afraid. Logic at war with emotion. I hate this torment even more, Joerda, I hate it.}

"You want counsel I cannot give. But I can feel and hear your guilt tearing you apart. Your actions are yours alone, and no one else can help you resolve this conflict you feel." She turned and looked into his eyes. "Jaron Githain, you flee from certain danger to unknown ones. Either of us may be forced to kill again, for reasons we can't foresee. Neither could we have guessed that our stay in Justice Keep would end as it did. Such is fate."

{You are wise. But my mind is not so easily repaired.}

She kissed him on the cheek and moved away. "Then I can't help you." She went to her bedroll and wrapped herself up in it. He sat there still, his arms folded upon his chest. "I think you torment yourself needlessly. But I will support anything you do. You can trust me."

{Trust, indeed. What is true? What is truth?}


Jaron stepped into a wilted, withering forest. Vacant eyes stared out at him from hollow bores in trees, and staccato shrieks punctuated the empty silence. She watched with a smile on her face as he approached. He was silent as always as he walked right up to her. Death may surround them, but her mind was on him alone. He gave a roguish grin as he began to undo her shirt. She stood for a moment in the thrill of emotion, then skirted away, running deeper into the forest.

"Come back!" He cried. His voice was as lovely as she could imagine. He ran after her, only to catch her moments later as she lay sprawled on her back in a pile of rotten leaves. She had undone the rest of her shirt, and he could see her bare flesh.

"Well?" She asked, beckoning to him. He knelt and kissed her lips, moving down her neck. "I love you, Jair," she whispered...


{No!} Jaron woke from sleep he hadn't intended to take. His arms were still folded across his chest, leaden now and numb both from cold and lack of blood flow. {What now are these improper thoughts that enter my mind?} Joerda was still deeply asleep, tightly wrapped in her bedroll.

He went over and looked into her starlit face, her twitching eyelids betraying her dreams. Her smile was wide. Jaron caressed her lips with his fingertips, crouched as he was. {So these are the thoughts you have of me? But you are troubled by something as well. Perhaps your love is misplaced, Joerda. I have no room for love.}

Leaving her to her sleep, he stood and stretched. {I am not blind. I know your feelings better than I know my own. Yet for as long as we've been together, we don't know each other well enough. Too long now have I shut you out as you have slowly come to love some ideal of me.}

Jaron went to his packs and pulled out the dagger. It was dull, the blood of the soldier still covered it with dark brown stains. He hadn't bothered to wipe it off, preferring until then that it remain to remind him of the evil deed he had done. Thrusting it into the loose soil, he worked it up and down a few times, then pulled it clear. The crusty blood was gone, and the silver blade glimmered once more, though it did not have the polished sheen normally visible.

Turning it over in his hands, he saw it now in a new light, a weapon that had done what it was meant to do, rather than a tool rusting unused. It was an awkward moment as he stared at the runes etched very finely down the center of its blade, leaving its edges bare and clean for cutting. Much akin it was to the lesson learned by a child told numerous times not to play with fire because it will burn, but unbelieving of the result until the hand is licked by flame. Only then was true appreciation for its power learned. Such was his revelation.

Carrying a tool of death, one can only expect to use it in that capacity. He saw that at last, a lesson learned by spilling blood. Sliding the dagger back in its sheathe, he lidded its cold gleam. Compared to the Oor-Taelian blade he had killed to get, the dagger was closer to him. Oor-Tael represented an ancient religion to him, people of great virtue and undying wisdom, whose valiant and storied tales lay intertwined with the annals of history. But it was dead and gone, and he was alone now.

Taking the sword and raising it high, he slashed down at a weathered stone with all his might. Had he the ability to scream in anger, he would have. So mightily were his thoughts and strengths bent upon the deed, that his powers lent their own shriek to the night air as the sword shattered into uncountable pieces with a shuddering crack.

{I reject Oor-Tael, and Gandalf my father. My past means nothing to me now. I make my own way, from now on.}


Joerda lay in the darkness, faint light barely reflecting off her nearly shut eyes. She stared at Jaron in the darkness, and watched the flash as he destroyed the sword. Tears came unbidden to her, and she bit her lip. His mind was in such turmoil. Normally he was so calm, so rational, so in control of his emotions and feelings, but now he was a bit disturbed by his actions, and it frightened her as much as it did him. She feared what this change would lead to.

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