A conversation between Jon and Twitch in light of recent events.
Returning to the fortEdit
Jon was angry.
On the journey back to the fort from the tombstone he tried to channel his rage away, to find something, anything to distract him, but nothing could.
Once again his search had met with a dead end.
There was the question of how the marker had gotten there, who had made it and placed it and for what purpose. The most obvious answer was that someone was trying to draw him out. Who that someone was, well he had a few ideas in that regard, none of them good.
The frustration at another fruitless search also made him think about his current situation.
Why was he still in Sandpoint?
It had been, what…four months maybe?
Constantine had never stayed in one place for that long.
Perhaps it was time for him to move on, continue his search.
He had been on his own for so long, maybe…just maybe he should change that.
These people he associated with, they were all strong characters. Powerful…skilled…
Everyone he had ever been close to, everywhere he had put down roots, all had ended in disaster, but maybe this time…
Jon found himself coming to a decision.
It was time to open up to one of these people, but who?
The gnome? No, his…positive…outlook on anything and everything and willingness to offer unwanted and often not particularly helpful advice was not what the sorcerer needed.
Nor was the advise that Marius or Belor might offer.
Twitch then was his only choice. But the two of them had never really gotten along. Jon knew he could blame himself somewhat for that, the trick he had played on the half-elf at the Hagfish when they had first met. But then the Druid had (accidently) incited a mob of farmers into wanting to burn him to death, so really, they were even.
No, it was time to open up to someone, to build some bridges and Twitch was the obvious choice.
With the excitement surrounding the return of the scouts to the Fort over, Jon sought out Twitch. He found the druid on the outskirts of the group, near an outcropping of trees.
Typical he thought, but quickly squashed the thought. Truth be told, Jon was somewhat envious of the druids power, his wide range of spells and abilities. Jon might not have to rely on prayer or memorisation, but he lacked the druid’s versatility.
“May I bother you for a moment?” He asked.
Twitch looked up and nodded, indicating for the Sorcerer to sit.
There was silence for a moment.
“Thankyou for your assistance today,” Jon began, “I know that I haven’t been very forthcoming about my past or what we might be doing here…”
He fell silent again.
“It must be nice,” He spoke again after a moment, “Having something larger than yourself to believe in, to have…faith I guess?”
"My faith's not really that difficult to come by." Twitch responded "After all, the natural cycle of things will continue regardless of whether I'm here or not. My own part is obviously extremely brief in the greater scheme of things, and any difference I make will be fleeting. That doesn't mean, though, that I won't strive to maintain the natural order of things as best I can in the time I have. Perhaps," he says after a moment's thought "That is the most difficult part of my faith; striving to make an impact while at the same time essentially believing in one's own insignificance, and the fact that everything I do is ultimately both futile and unnecessary."
The sorcerer seemed a little taken aback not only by that response, but by Twitch's willingness to talk. He had expected more reticence from the druid. Taking advantage while the mood lasted, he pressed on.
"Still, there must be some reward in it. You’ve even put down roots,” Jon smirked, “Sorry, no pun intended, but you have settled yourself in Sandpoint. You plan to stay?”
"At this time, yes." the druid replied "I was sent to Sandpoint initially by a council of my peers, who felt something was amiss in the region, though they did not know what. Adopting the Whisperwood was but a short term endeavour, while I hoped there would be something more significant afoot that would allow me to make my mark on the world."
Twitch smiled wryly at the contradiction to his previous statements.
"And clearly, as the experiences we have shared prove, there is far more happening here than simply some farmers further eroding a forest. I certainly intend to see the conclusion of our business around there, if indeed that has not already happened with the vanquishing of Nualia and the Brotherhood. But even if that is the case, I think I will continue my other work in the Whisperwood. I have become quite fond of the region, and even the town of Sandpoint to some degree. I think that in striving to support nature I had lost sight a little at the place of humans and their ilk within it."
“Truth be told, this is the longest I have spent in a single place in…” he paused, thinking, “maybe two years?”
“Why is that?” the half elf asked.
“It is a long story,” Jon began, trying to fight the urge to revert to form, to be sarcastic and just leave, “That is actually what I wanted to talk to you about. There is a…wisdom about you, and right now, I need that.”
The sorcerer took a deep breath and began to explain.
“The grave, Zatanna, she was…the last person I let in. She was the daughter of my teacher and the last person I truly trusted,” He paused and shuddered as memories came flooding back, “I loved her…”
“What happened? I'm not sure that my wisdom extends to matters of the heart, but I'll give what advice I can, if you want it."
Jon began to talk of his childhood, growing up knowing nothing of his family history. He spoke of the first manifestation of his powers and the death of his sister. Of demanding answers from his father and learning of the curse on his families bloodline. He then explained about leaving home to find Zatara and meeting Zatanna. Learning to control his powers and exacting bloody vengeance on his sisters killers and his banishment by Zatara. Next he spoke of finding his childhood home a smoking cinder and returning to Zatara to find similar devastation, Zatara dead and Zatanna in hiding. Realising the danger, Jon and Zatanna fled.
“Despite my better judgement, after a year on the road, Zatanna convinced me to settle,” the sorcerer was fighting tears now, emotion raw in his throat, “I returned home one day to find similar devastation, but this time there was no corpse. I was convinced that Zatanna had survived. I’ve spent the last two years searching for any sign of her…”
“And you thought this grave might finally give you closure.” This was not a question.
“I will need to speak to the man who made the marker, but I can’t help but think that this might all just be a ploy to draw me out,” Jon speculated, “I just don’t know what to do any more. That Hell Knight back in Sandpoint said that something was looking for me and closing in. I may have spent too long in one place now…”
Speaking of his stalker closing in, Jon reflexively pulled a cigarette from the pocket of his coat and ignited it with the tiniest spark of his arcane power. As the foul smoke curled slowly into the air Twitch pulled away, screwing his face up in disgust.
“What is that you smoke?” the druid asked, clearly unimpressed with the pollutant invading his space.
“A herb I was told would help mask me from my pursuer. I’d have thought you’d know what it is, with your knowledge of plants.” The sorcerer reached into another pocket and pulled out a small packet of dried leaves, opening it to show the druid “Devil-weed, I think it was called, on account of it helping to obscure one’s presence from devils.”
Twitch took a pinch of the leaf and held it under his nose, before touching small amount on his tongue.
“Definitely devil-weed,” he said “Also commonly known as Infernal Blight, and sometimes Hell’s Bells when it flowers. I didn’t recognise it in those,” he gestured toward the cigarettes “As I’ve never smelled it burnt before.”
Twitch paused for a moment as if considering whether to say more, before continuing.
“It’s given those names because it is ‘devilishly’ hard to get rid of once it infests an area. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have any properties that actually affect devils.”
“So it’s useless?” Jon responded, incredulous.
“I think so, although I could be wrong.” The druid concedes. “People claim all sorts f properties for various plants; some even claim garlic will ward off vampires. Most such claims are myths designed to part fools from their coin. But perhaps some are true.”
Jon regarded the cigarette in his hand for a moment, then threw it down in disgust, ensuring he extinguished it completely under Twitch’s stern eye.
“Which makes it all the more likely that I’ve stayed too long.”
“You think it might be time to move on again?” Again, it was not a question.
“I think so,” He nodded staring down at his hand. A glow surrounded it. “For two years I have kept on the move, I have refused to get close to anyone, to make…friends…”
"It sounds to me like this is the perfect time not to move on." Twitch replied "For it seems the first time you have had any kind of lead on which to base your investigation. Perhaps the stone was put there to lure you out. But if whatever is after you is not prepared to come at you elsewhere, to me that just shows that it does not have the confidence to confront you around the rest of us- from what you have told me it is certainly not through any wish to minimise destruction.
“Perhaps it was even some type of message from this Zatanna herself, a marker showing that she is in fact not dead. I have no idea why she would not simply come forward if that were the case, but perhaps there is a reason."
Jon listened as the druid spoke, staring at his hand, the glow slowly intensifying as rage coupled with resolve built up inside him. Suddenly, he let fly with a bolt of eldritch power into the heavens.
“I am sick of running!”
"Then don't run. For the Hellknight to have come, this devil must be close. And if it did indeed leave that marker it is clearly not confident. Why not hunt it in return? Seek some knowledge on dealing with these creatures from the Hellknight, it seems that there you have an ally. And the rest of us. I would happily aid in sending such a creature away from this world, where it does not belong. Although," Twitch sais "Perhaps you should fill in the rest of our companions so that they not be caught unaware.
"And perhaps," the druid adds finally "Malfeshnekor could be useful. I don't know how much similarity there would be between he and the creature following you, but perhaps whatever would work in sending him away would work against it. I must admit that I have been unable to learn as much as I'd hoped about how to rid the world of the barghest. Perhaps with your background you could have more luck. If you wish, I will take you down there and remove my barriers when we return. At the least it will give you something else to pursue while awaiting further evidence of your lost love or the creature you believe responsible for her disappearance."
"Thankyou for your counsel, my...friend," Jon said, struggling to say the word, but for the first time in a very long time, truly meaning it. "I will talk to the others and...maybe I to will put down some roots in Sandpoint" He began to think of the Lighthouse, "for I fear that Nualia, the brotherhood, these events were only the beginning."