“Callindra stop picking on the locals.” Cronos’s voice came from the doorway. Even though he was younger than her, he had grown a lot in the last year and looked several years her senior. He wasn’t wearing his twin bastard swords and looked strange without them.
“What can I get for you sir?” The barkeep was bravely attempting to do his job, and Cronos looked slightly more normal. Especially since the sleeves of his shirt covered the tattoos that proclaimed him a powerful mage.
“Fruit juice, or water if you don’t have juice and some bread. Callindra isn’t it a little early for the hard stuff? Why not just have an ale, save the falling off your chair for later.” His voice sounded harsh, but she could hear the concern.
“You must be Cronos?” One of the strangers was still standing uncertainly, holding his glass of whisky and looking at him with a confused expression on his face.
“These gentlemen are looking for The Brotherhood of Steel.” Vilhylm said, “I have invited them to return on the morrow to discuss whatever business they wish.”
“I’ve told them they have to drink to the memory of things lost.” Said Callindra. She pulled a withered and dried crown of woven plant stems from her hair. It did not come loose easily, but she disregarded the pain, tearing hair from her scalp without flinching.
“I waited a for her.” Tears began coursing down her cheeks, “I wanted so badly to believe that a Goddess was truly immortal. She showed me the power of putting others before yourself and inspired me like only one other has. Then she died. Because of me. Just like Glarian did. Just like Tryst did. Because I’m too weak.”
“Stop the whining, since when did my sister become a sniveling little girl?” Cronos said, “I don’t remember you asking anyone for help. You are cheapening the sacrifices of those who CHOSE to make them because THEY believed you would pick up the torch of their cause.”
“This has gone on long enough Callindra.” Vilhylm said, “It’s time to let go of your sorrow and move forward. There is work to be done.”
“I don’t care.” She said, picking up her glass again. Vilhylm knocked it from her hand with a lightning fast maneuver that she hadn’t anticipated.
“I’m not going to let you do this to yourself anymore. It has been months since I saw you practice.” He towered over her, rage burning behind his eyes. “You’re less than useless like this, you disgrace the memory of your master!”
“You want to trust me?” Callindra’s voice rose, “You want to rely on ME? After what’s happened you want ME watching your back?” Unnoticed by her, the winds began to blow about the room for the first time in a year. “I am not strong enough to watch your back brother, find someone else.”
“There is no one else.” Vilhylm looked at the floor, a grimace on his face. “Even if there was, I they couldn’t replace you.”
“What are you going to do? Beat it out of me?” She grabbed the bottle and took a drink.
“If I must.” Vilhylm took her by surprise, grabbing her by the shirt and bodily throwing her out the door of the tavern. Shadowsliver’s chain rattled after, finally reaching its limit and jerking the sword through the air toward her.
Callindra tumbled into the street, staggering to her feet just in time for Shadowsliver’s edge to cut deep into her shoulder. A whirlwind began to form around her as the pent-up rage at her loved ones for dying, at her inability to do anything to stop it and the world for allowing her to survive was released in an uncontrolled torrent as she pulled the sword from the deep wound it had carved into her body.
“What do you want from me?” She shouted at the sky, at the world, “WHAT MORE CAN YOU ASK OF ME?” Thunder rumbled in the distance, her hair began to stand on end from the static charge in the air. “What more can I POSSIBLY give to you?”
The hair that once had Brightstar flowers twining through it showing the blessings of Jorda now tangled around her as the wind began to pick up. “Gods curse it!” Callindra had been so proud of that hair, but now like everything else it was getting in her way. She held her hair in a lose bundle with one hand and cut it off with one smooth stroke of her sword.
Outside of town, coruscating bolts of lightning struck the earth and overhead dark clouds billowed. Wind whirled around her, rattling the shutters of nearby buildings and picking up plumes of dust. Cronos stepped outside, Vilhylm close behind him.
“Callindra you need to stop this, it’s dangerous!” Cronos said, looking nervously at the sky.
“YOU are the ones who wanted this. YOU trusted me, this is on YOUR heads!” Callindra said, “I wanted to GIVE UP but you are forcing me, FORCING ME back into the world. You want me to use the power again?” She raised Shadowsliver above her head. “FINE I’ll turn it loose.”
A bolt of incandescent electricity lanced from the heavens, slammed into the tip of her sword and ran through her into the ground. The crack of thunder shattered windows and knocked her brothers off their feet. Callindra stood in the center of the madness, lightning swarming around her like a mass of serpents while a whirlwind kicked up dust and debris.
“You want to trust THIS to watch your back?” She shouted in a voice that made the lightning strike sound like a whisper.
Vilhylm had picked himself up and walked unsteadily through the chaos towards her. Without hesitation, he folded his sister into a crushing embrace, disregarding the electricity that scorched his flesh. “Callindra, I’ve already lost one of my brothers. I refuse to lose my sister too. Yes. More than anything else I want you to be by my side for this fight.”
The lightning scattered and she burst into tears, leaning on his shoulder and crying like a child who had lost everything. With those tears, rain began to fall. The first rain that had fallen here in almost a year. Even after the storm had passed, breezes once again began to blow. Something had changed. It was something small, but nothing comes into the world large.
On the outskirts of town, a dry brittle circlet of vines fell from the whirling winds above. A seed pod fell, the rain beating it into the soil. A bright green sprout sprang up as though it had been waiting for this moment. Curiously enough, the plant that began to grow looked more like a tree than a vine; its small trefoil leaves waved defiantly against the wind. Despite all the destruction that had been visited on the land, life refused to be defeated.