Yo. Here's a short, one-chapter story that will pluck your heartstrings, and hopefully change your life. It's set in the Incarnadine world of Firma (I think I posted the first chapter a while back for critique) and it's set 20 years in the past. Enjoy. ------- From Death to Life Bur Iegland, 20 years ago The Severis are a fascinating group of people. Particularly the ones who live in small communities, such as Bur Iegland, east of the Pteros’ Isle of Pryde. The Severis are much more pacifistic than most races in Firma, and it is rumoured when there is one severis being in danger, the whole island would rush out to help. Whether this is fact, or just a stereotype towards the green lizard-skinned race is unclear, though their faithfulness towards their friends and neighbours is not to be underestimated. One fateful day, approximately 20 years before a ship known as the Tormenta was stolen, and 13 years before the first Demon was sighted on Firma’s surface, two severis lovers were saying their last, tearful goodbyes. The male severis, known throughout the island as Archer, was lying on what was to become his deathbed, losing his grasp on the living world due to a long-suffering illness. The female was by his bedside, one hand holding her one true love’s, the other resting tenderly on the slightly bloated womb from her first four months of pregnancy. Her name was Orchid, and she did not want Archer to die, to leave her alone in the world with an unborn child to look after. “Be thankful for me,” he’d croak to her quietly, “My pain’s finally going to end. Please, be happy for at least that much.” Orchid tried to reply, but the lump in her throat choked every word she tried to say. Instead, she tightened her eyes, unable to grasp their final moments. They remained silent for a long time, perhaps in reality it was only a few minutes. Finally, Archer spoke; “Hey,” he whispered pensively, “we never did find a name for our child, did we?” The woman didn’t reply. She just listened to her partner as much as she could - deep down she knew she’d never get another chance to hear his voice again. “As my last wish, I want you to name him.” Archer’s eyes were closed, no more energy to keep them open. “Could you do that for me?” Through his eyelids, he could sense her faint nodding. He knew that she’d never let his last wish down. He knew no other on the island, no, in whole of Firma, would honour him as much as she did. Archer died a happy man that night, in his lover’s arms. His final action was twisting his mouth into a faint smile. ******* The very next morning, at first light, Orchid left her home and proceeded towards the forest in the north of the island, near the lake called Lufian Waeter. She found exactly what she was looking for - a wooden cabin, home of the local sage of the island. If there was anyone capable of bringing back her beloved, it would be him. A few moments later she was granted access. The inside of the cabin was ornately decorated, trinkets and objects from distant lands and diverse races adorned the walls. The sage himself sat himself down onto a wooden chair that rocked back on forth rhythmically, something most Severis would find unusual. He was seemingly older than most others on Bur Iegland, his ancient face and eyes always reminiscent of the days he had spent travelling all over Firma’s continents. His full name was Leaf of the Sun, named by his father, as all Severis are named. All but Orchid’s unborn child. Orchid was currently kneeling down before him. “Leaf of the Sun,” she begged, “There is a favour I need to ask you, it’s about-” “About your ill Archer, is it not?” the sage interrupted, “I can tell by your eyes, you’ve been crying. For this I can only assume he’s at peace now.” Orchid bowed her head, “Yes, that’s why I’m here. You’re the wisest man on the island, is there anything you can do to bring him back? Please, I can‘t imagine life with him!” If she hadn’t already ran out of tears the night before, she would have started crying now. Leaf of the Sun narrowed his deep-set eyes, “We’ve been through a similar conversation before, haven’t we? If I was unable to cure his illness, how would I be able to cure his demise?” “But you’ve travelled everywhere, Leaf, surely there’s something you can do! A potion, a spell from the sigils, anything!” “Again, we’ve gone through this…” the sage sighed. How could he how this poor woman that death is simply part of life itself? Then he had an idea… “Say, Orchid,” he began, “Archer was famous for his skill with his bow and arrows, was he not?” The female severis nodded - Archer’s father had named him accurately. “Here’s something you can do for me, then; bring me one of his arrows for each house on Bur Iegland that death has not visited upon, and we shall talk about his resurrection.” Without a word, she slowly left the cabin to attend to her given mission. Even if she had to knock on every door on the island, she would do it to see the one she loved again. ******* So there she was, knocking on every door on the island, having long conversations with friends and neighbours alike, asking them if there was anyone they loved who died in their home. She heard many sob stories from her visits across Bur Iegland, stories of loved ones dying in unfortunate accidents, of incurable sickness, in battles from many years ago, and the impacts from their families regarding these deaths. But there wasn’t a single house where anyone said “No death here, everyone we know is alive and kicking!” Her quest to find a deathless home took several days, and when she had finally checked the final house, said hello, spoke to them about each other’s losses and bade them farewell, she returned to her own home to rest. How could she possibly return to Leaf of the Sun’s home without a single one of Archer’s Orichal-tipped arrows? ******* “Ah, Orchid!” the sage said as he welcomed her back into his cabin the next morning, “I trust your search went well?” Orchid shook her head, and held out her empty hands, showing that there was not a single arrow in them. Since there was no homes without death’s impact, how could Leaf of the Sun bring Archer back- “Wait.” a thought had just occurred to her, “Did you know I would return with nothing before you sent me out?” Leaf of the Sun smiled, “Of course, I also knew that you weren’t the only person here suffering from a broken heart! I sent you on that task simply so you could witness this truth yourself.” It was then that she understood perfectly - Leaf of the Sun didn’t have the power to bring the diseased back to life, but he did make her understand that the pain she felt from Archer’s death was the same pain everyone else would feel, and had indeed felt, in their lives. “And that isn’t all,” continued Leaf, “Word spreads quickly around such a close community, Orchid. I can imagine many of them were already aware of the death of the greatest archery champion since Eye of the Beast back when even I was a child.” Orchid nodded, almost everyone in the island offered their condolences as soon as she knocked on their doors during her futile task. Deep down, she realised raising her child without a father would not be so hopeless. Not when everyone on the island was willing to help it grow up. Not when the island itself was willing to be it’s father. “Archer,” She whispered, knowing for certain that she’ll never hear his voice again, “his departure is this evening, isn’t it?” Leaf silently nodded. She held back any tears forming in her eyes - there would be time for crying during his departure. ******* After the sun’s setting that evening, at the harbour south of Bur Iegland, every torch was lit, causing the whole harbour to be bathed in their orange glow. A small, wooden ship containing Archer’s body was set for him to leave the life on his home island, and sail out towards the afterlife, where he would know rest. Almost very severis on the island was present, the few who didn’t already offer Orchid condolences the previous day before did so then. There was a low murmur of the crowd, as they all spoke with one another, sharing all of the good times they had with their friend, blessing the fact his recent illnesses were bothering him no longer, and sometimes walking over to his small floating coffin and paying their respects. Suddenly, the crowd’s chattering died down to silence as Orchid, followed by Leaf of the Sun, made their way towards the water’s edge. Leaf of the Sun turned to face everyone present, while Orchid kneeled down next to the coffin-sized boat, her hands covering her weeping eyes. It was time for Archer’s departure. “Men. Women. Children. All those individuals who have gathered here today,” Leaf called out, his voice echoing along the harbour, grabbing everyone’s attention, “Today is the day we bid farewell to our friend and neighbour, Archer, renowned for his accuracy with a bow throughout his life, and winner of most annual archery competitions. He was a man whose skills helped provide us with food over the years, whether he was hunting the many wild animals within our forests, or shooting down fruit from our high trees.” “There were also times he had helped us defend ourselves from outsider invasion over the years, namely the Avaritian Takeover battles. His bravery, among others on this island, helped ensure we were not taken from our homes and sent into slavery. Though it was not war that caused his demise, but an illness we simply could not cure. Though he shall leave us today, he will always be a part of this island simply because of the impact he has made here in his life.” “Now, Archer departs, his friends, his family, to find peace on the other side of life. May his spirit be guided to the bliss he truly deserves.” His speech at an end, the sage known as Leaf of the Sun pushed Archer’s coffin-ship away from the docks with Orchid, and watched it sail into the darkness, away from the torchlight. Every single severis there watched in silence, giving their old friend one final look. Just before the coffin disappeared, Orchid could hear a bird calling nearby. It wasn’t a seagull, no, it’s tone was too deep to be a seagull. It was the rare calling of a bird to almost exist in legend, a bird capable of creating comforting peace with a single call. A peace that Orchid wanted to keep with her from this day forward Then she remembered the name of such a bird. “Halcyon,” She said proudly, smiling through her tears, “Our child’s name will be Halcyon.” She placed her hand gently on her stomach, where she felt the familiar bulge of her womb. Halcyon. What a fine name for a child.