Torched By Midnight

The Landing beckoned me from somewhere in the past. Feeling the weight of memory upon my soul, I could not help but step through the gates.

Even though the music was a bright ballad, it was a struggle to feel it within my very soul. What was warm, was too warm, what was familiar, scratched and tore at memories long protected by their own walls. My feet made their own way upon streets that somehow knew me. Not just the cobblestones, but the names written on them, they were all searing knives of memory.

There were places I would not let my feet turn, so intense the heat there.  Sometimes a street caught me unawares, without any defense. I would see the street sign and stumble, falling precariously too close to to embers I did not dare inflame.

The song I heard was all around me now, and became my Piper. Blindly lured forward into the raging inferno that waited for me, my feet trudged on while my mind reeled in fragmented scenes played out in the dancing flames. The healer. A death. A laugh. A cottage. A hunt. The bard. The rogue. The ranger. The bardess. The priest. So fast they came at me.

A kiss. A ring. The dark mage. I gasped aloud.

I knew I was trapped. I needed to be rescued. I called out names instinctively. Just as surely, I knew there would be no answer.  Stairs called my name. My feet answered without hesitation. But it turned out that was not the way out as the flames grew more threatening. This was the way in.

The deeper, intense heart of the fire lay before me, beyond the arch. I could see precious things about to be consumed. I ran in. Into the blaze. “Reann, send someone to rescue me!”

I could not breathe, the heat was unbearable. All I heard was the roar of the fire, it drowned out even the old song. I reached for figurines to my left. As my hand closed around one, I felt a hot burning pain. I dropped the smouldering figurine, surprised by the burn; my hand throbbed. I despaired of any rescue, I despaired of any relief. The pain cut through everything and became a focus of searing clarity.

Then my father’s words came unbidden to my ears, “The flame takes none but the willing, little lass. Remember that.”

In that moment, I knew if there was going to be a rescue from this, I would have to do it myself. Sobbing with loss, with love, with grief, with pain, I tried to crawl out. The flames laughed at me. With a renewed effort, I summoned my last bit of will and put one elbow before the other, pulling myself out as if it were a grueling arm wrestle with Doom.

They say you can’t go home again. I might be a new believer, even when I am now a ghost myself.

Author: GSBardess Past

She contributes from her retirement to share memories of GS3 and GS2 with us.

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