Adrie approaches Errich, carrying the book. “I.. I can’t look at this tonight, or dig into it. I’m still too…. I need to regain ‘energy’ that was expelled. Would you want a look at it?”
Errich looks at Adrie and then the book. " Do you think I’m allowed?"
“… Do you think I care?” She unfolds her bedroll beside him settling onto it with more of a thud than usual, and wince.
“Are you alright?”
“Depends on who you ask, but I’ll get better. Every time I light ‘er up, it takes it’s cost in flesh and blood.”
" Have you made any head way in the book?"
“Haven’t had the time since Rasmas tried. All my notes became useless, so I’m starting from scratch again, and then we were at that town… then unmade the town…”
“Right… I have to say I thought I would have deciphered more of this book by now. So much has happened since I acquired it.”
“A moment to sit is rare. Months to read, even more so.”
" I feel out of place here."
Adrie pauses, studying Errich. There is a space of a few moments before she asks “Why?”
“I thought we were doing something noble, something for good. But ever since we came to this future everyone has chosen a strange path with their own ends. Mine hasn’t changed”
“I will say that Rasmas and Harbek have basically stayed the same, Well let’s see, Grök is now the guild master and the 180 he has done makes my head hurt. I don’t know Heath or I should say he doesn’t know me. And what I still don’t get is where you sit in all this?”
“That’s a question I ask myself too, and I don’t know. I remember 500 years ago, but I remember other things too now. Am I a force of destruction here, reconciliation, or assistance? There is a block on my mind, Errich, and behind it could be someone else entirely. Until that day, I remain who I was.”
“I just hate the lies that we have all have been saying, to ourselves and to each other”
“Is a secret a lie?”
“I can’t answer that. But for me, if a secret is the difference between winning this war and not I’d spill it.”
“How do you know when it is?”
“We know what our job is right? Kill Breakers and stop Nessana. If that secret can help then why wouldn’t you tell it?”
“But how do you know when a secret would turn the tide of war, and in what direction? You have to have seen the venom towards Ghix – would that seem useful? Does the end justify the means? Perhaps we should be asking a soldier, or a fighter – I don’t know war.”
Errich thinks for a moment, choosing his next words. “I made a choice and lied to protect it. I got caught and now the whole guild wants me erased. Would I change my move if I knew what would happen. Maybe, but all I was thinking of when I made that deal was doing my job. Breakers…”
“What if tomorrow, there were no Breakers any more? If all you do is in the name of defeating the Breakers, what will you do when they are gone?”
“It doesn’t matter. If I take focus off of the mission to think about what happens when the mission is over, someone could die. I’ll cross that bridge if it ever comes.”
“Ya know, someone recently gave me some really good advice… ‘You need to stop carrying the world on your shoulders… you will not single-handedly be responsible for our downfall’. If I am not a monster of Ghix and won’t destroy the Crew, than Errich, you can think of yourself once in awhile.”
“I never thought that about you Adrie, I hope we can defeat our enemy. I’ll try to think of myself once and awhile.” Errich winks at Adrie
“Note, I never said you thought that of me… I think it of myself. Well, less now… but the voice is there.”
“I get that, it helps to focus at least for me it does. I hate that the guild thinks I betrayed them.”
“Well, Errich, this will be tough to hear… you did. It was in ignorance, but you did. It was without malice and only the best of intentions, but take it from a former prisoner who did something similar on a smaller scale – a betrayal is still a betrayal even with good intentions. Just embrace it, and move past.”
“You think I was ignorant in what I did? Did you know what the casks were?”
“We learned from Tessith. Did you know when you took one?”
“Of course not. I was under the impression they were some sort of guild magic involving recruiting or something.”
“That’s easy for you to say, I’m the one with a bomb around my neck.”
“Just because you can see your cage and guillotine, doesn’t mean another doesn’t have one…”
“We are not in the same boat Adrie. You may have an unknown past but at least you are not on deaths door. At any time Grök or anyone who has the code word can end my life.”
“And any day we could be killed in numerous, painful ways… it hasn’t been triggered yet. Would you prefer I talk to Grök, be your bodyguard/chaperone? Get you the freedom you were promised?”
“I don’t need a babysitter. Let me ask you something. When Grök lost the sword and then it was that sword that killed our former guild master did anyone bat an eye?”
“I know you don’t need a babysitter. And no, it did not appear that anyone was bothered by that. Which is why I found Tessith nominating Grök as the Most Honest a shock.”
“I thought that when Grök became leader that he wouldn’t bend for the others so quickly. I was wrong, I was wrong about a lot of things.”
“Is this where I should be your friend, or the voice that warned…”
“You can warn me all you want but you and Tal had your own plan going into that vote that you didn’t tell anyone else.”
Errich turns and sees Sorrel looking in their direction. “Do you have something you want to add?”
“The plan was made after Grök threw you to the wolves.” Adrie looks where Errich is looking, nodding to Sorrel.
“Even so. How can you judge us for our votes when you wasted yours on each other?”
“I did not vote, and Sin votes for Grök.”
“Only what I said at the time. Avoid politics. Vote for Markov”.
“And as for a plan… I did speak to you, and Sin, and Dacio, and I warned you all.”
“So when Talsinew nominated you, you lost your chance to vote, which means two votes that could have went somewhere else. You warned us but never said Tal was going to nominate you?”
“What is really bothering you, Errich? You yourself voted for Grök, and yet you blame your compatriots for how that’s turned out.”
“Sorrel, do you think Markov would have erased me?”
“I obtained his promise that he would not. Say what you will of Markov, but he is honourable.”
“I blame Grök for the bomb on my neck, I blame my compatriots for having double standards.”
“Grök was responsible for losing the weapon that our former guild master was killed with and no one said a thing and he received no punishment for that.”
“Oh, it was said. They didn’t care. There is a difference. "
“So my question is that what has happened since I gave the monkey king the cask?”
“There is a difference. Like killing someone in battle is different that deliberate murder. A mistake in battle, even a grievous one is different than an action taken in cold blood against the guild. And so far as I know, nothing has, which may well be why you are still alive.”
“What I did was not against the guild but to help with the fighting”
“That is not my call to make, but I suspect the point is, it wasn’t yours either. Is there any way you can look at this punishment as a blessing?”
”Not when Grök holds me to different standards”
“Ah, for you are holding him to your standards…”
“You would feel the same way”
“No. I would accept the consequences for actions that I took knowingly. If you didn’t think through your actions, that is no one’s fault but your own.”
“And I have taken the consequences of my actions. Ask Rasmas – he arrested me.” Adrie nods to Sorrel’s words.
“I accepted what I did, and I’ll take the punishment, but what I won’t do is sit back while Grök tells me I am safe and can continue with how I live while giving gold to Dacio to spy on my and keep tabs on me.”
“I understand that it’s difficult for you, knowing that your fate is in someone else’s hands, but as Adrie said earlier, that isn’t much different that it was before. Now your life is in the hands of your allies as well as your foes. As for Dacio, he gives the halfling gold to spy on all of us.”
Adrie looks to Sorrel, surprised. “That little asshole.”
“I would assume.”
“It is different now that Grök is leader, he has responsibilities. And we do each have our own agendas. This is why I didn’t want one of the Skeleton Crew taking over guild leadership.
“I just feel we are getting so far from our goal of destroying breakers. Now we are about to fight a full scale war. Unlike you Sorrel I have not fought in a war and dread it with every part of my being.
“You are not alone in that thought. We have been dragged into a war we shouldn’t be a part of, because Breakers are supposed to be on the other side of those gates.”
“I guess we shall see what tomorrow brings.”
“We can only hope. And perhaps, appeal to our individual gods. Do you find much comfort in Desiree these days, Errich?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t felt comfort for some time now.”
“I find much comfort in Summari. In knowing I have a purpose as her champion. Far be it from me to offer advice, but …. you may find this hard to believe, but I don’t like seeing a compatriot so unhappy.”
“I would love to move on and just continue doing what we are supposed to. But if this is the way it’s going to be from now on I may have to choose a different path.”
“Why? What are you not able to do right now? Sure you have the necklace bomb, but have you really been operating under the idea that we are not in any danger, and will never die?”
“Try doing your job with no thieves tools or short bow. I can’t cast anything above 6th level. I’ve been hindered. Of course we can die. But I’m somewhat responsible for healing the team.”
“Sometimes choosing a different path is the only way to survive, but you are of more use to the Crew than simply as a purveyor of high level magic.”
“The path I am talking about is how this guild is being thrown into this war.”
“I would still have my fists… my brains… my skills. Take away everything, Errich. I’d still have my body, my soul, and for all the potential of hiding a monster behind the block Sorrel found, I am still very capable. And so are you. You are more than the sum of your magic. If you don’t like the path we are walking… change it. You may have more allies than you believe.”
“I agree. This war is foolish, but I remain hopeful that we are not too late to prevent it.”
“Try it then. Next time you come up to a lock or even try not sneaking anymore and see how you do. I hope we can continue fighting breakers”
“I have. And we will.”
“I’m going to try and read some more of this book. Get some rest Adrie, you look tired.”
Errich stands and walks to the other end on the room and opens the book.
Sorrel glances at Adrie with a raised eyebrow.
Adrie shrugs, dropping her voice. “He has to want it too.”
“If it makes him feel better, there’s nothing to stop you from stabbing me in my sleep tonight. I’m going to sleep too well to see it coming anyway.”
Adrie snorts. “Except for being so wiped I don’t think I could raise the dagger. Sleep well, I’ll save it for another night.”
“I appreciate it. You’re going to have to tell me about those tattoos one of these days…”
“Which ones? I’m a sailor – I have a lot of them.”
“The magical ones, sailor.” Said with a smirk. ”But for now, I’ll say goodnight.”
“Be sure to ask me another night then. I’ll need to show you how I got them too.”
Zorus slips from the shadows, and touches his earring on his left fin, only Sorrel sees him, and just barely at that.