“What is weakness, Sebastian?” The question asked so long ago now echoed within the confines of the young man’s mind. All he could see was the watery blue light of a pair of eyes that pierced into his very core. His hand was steady on the hilt of his sword, one slight movement and that light would extinguish, disappear forever from the world. One single move; why hadn’t he made it yet? What was wrong with him?
The assassin girl hadn’t flinched, her eyes weren’t searching for a way out, or wandering to where her daggers had fallen. Her eyes were fixed on his, daring him, challenging him, mocking him. He was standing over her with a sword ready to pierce through her heart, but he was weak, he was defeated. So what was weakness, really? What defined strength after all? It had been a long battle, he had the wounds to prove it, the girl was no regular foe; no assassin was, and he knew that from the very beginning. He had earned that victory, but it felt so worthless. Against his better judgement Bastian closed his eyes, for just one moment, as if expecting them to never open again. He could almost hear Gerald shouting at him to never lose sight of an assassin: Not for any reason. He opened his eyes. She was still there. She hadn’t used his moment of distraction to her own advantage, she hadn’t moved, what was she trying to do to him?
Bastian had been told countless times before that in the moments before you die your whole life flashes before your eyes and you can see past and present as if they were one… You can see all that was, all that is, and all that would never come to be: Eternity in a flash of white light before your world disappears into the black void of death. This was something similar, but different entirely. Bastian’s mind wandered away to home, to his brothers and sisters, to Sarah and her question; he never did quite answer her question. They were waiting for him, wondering what had gone wrong, and he was standing there frozen, unsure if he was being merciful or weak, or if there was even a difference. His next breath came in an outburst as though even that was now a battle in his mind. His hand remained steady on the hilt of the sword.
It was an endless loop. A vicious cycle that the young hunter found himself struggling to break from. This was what he trained for, this was what had kept him alive through the agony of losing his family, this was all he was and without it he was nothing. Hunting down these killers one by one and being good at it had been the one thing to keep him sane. “Come back with your blade covered in blood or don’t come back at all.” Theron’s words to him before they parted ways that morning. It never occurred to either one of them that such a thing could even be possible. What would his friend think of him now? What would he say? He couldn’t possibly face him after this. Bastian’s wielding hand twitched slightly and the assassin girl tensed in response; that had been her first and only reaction to the predicament she seemed to find herself in. If she was anywhere near as frightened as he, she was much better at hiding it. Her breaths were calm and steady, her eyes were still persistently fixed on him, her expression was of someone who had accepted fate completely; whatever it may be. There was strength within those eyes unlike anything the young man had ever seen.
After what Bastian thought was a very long time, but couldn’t possibly have been more than a couple of minutes, he retreated, sheathing his blade and turning his back to the fallen assassin girl. If she was smarter than him she would stab him in the back and end this now, it didn’t matter, Bastian had nowhere to go. Not anymore.
As he walked away the young hunter could her the movement behind him, the assassin had picked herself up, retrieved her weapons… Bastian slowed his pace slightly, waiting for the cold steel to pierce through his flesh.
Bastian stopped walking altogether at the young woman’s call, slowly he turned around to see that she was still staring at him, daggers sheathed at her belt. “What?” His reply came in an impolite mumble as though he was fighting his own decision to exchange words with a sworn enemy.
“Do you have somewhere to go?” She questioned simply, not minding his tone.
“I… No, I guess not.” Bastian replied, his eyes inspecting the girl before him now with more care. She was almost as tall as he was, long red hair now free from the confines of her hooded cloak, the blue of her eyes reminded him of the small creek that flowed near his childhood home: deep and clear. He felt a sudden warmth creeping up the back of his neck and it forced him to look away. They shouldn’t be doing this, it was unbelievably reckless to even be standing there if the others had started to look for him. He wanted to say that it didn’t matter, he wanted to walk away, but she had already moved the conversation along without him.
“Come with me then.” She offered.
“That would never work.” Bastian retorted, a chuckle escaping him as if he hoped she was joking.
“You already spared my life. I already spared yours. We’re in on it already, like it or not. I mean, we can start over, but I think you know well the outcome won’t change. You have nothing to lose, so why not?”
“What is your name?” Bastian questioned, not answering her question and shaking his head as though trying to keep it from creeping into his mind.
“Daniela. Call me Dani, I like it better.” She seemed to hold back a smile as she answered, holding out her hand. “And who are you?”
“Sebastian. Bastian, if you rather.” The hunter introduced himself, reluctantly reaching out and giving the girl’s hand a brief shake.
“Sebastian…” Dani repeated in a soft mumble. “Hmm… That’s not the prettiest of names, but I guess it suits you.” She stated, turning and starting to walk away. “Come on, we want to get there before they feel the need to come find me.”
“And then what?” He asked, rushing his footsteps to catch up with her.
“Then I’ll lie through my teeth, you’ll keep your mouth shut as tightly as possible and we’ll both pray to all the Gods no one bothers to ask any more questions.” She answered, her tone a lot calmer than her actual words.
“Comforting.” Sebastian mumbled.
The walk was silent. Usually Bastian enjoyed silent moments, but in this situation silence was not exactly his friend. His inner voice was spewing insults and profanities, his eyes repeatedly searching his new companion for signs to convince him that she was the same as those faceless shadows he saw in his nightmares. He couldn’t find them; or he simply didn’t want to see.
“It’s alright. Let us through.”
Dani was clearing his entrance into the encampment, no hunter had ever gone near that place and lived to tell. It wasn’t just engulfed by the surrounding forests in such a way that the trails leading up to the camp were incredibly difficult to notice, but every inch of the forest surrounding the territory of the assassins was under constant watch at all times. The more they approached the encampment the more it became clear to him that the only reason he was allowed to breathe the air in that section of the forest was the girl’s company.
“This girl is their future. If you take that away, it puts a dent in their armor big enough for us to destroy them completely. You cannot fail this mission, Boy.”
“Gerald, leave Bastian alone, he’ll do just fine.” Johanna scolded the older man as he glared at Bastian severely as if to put emphasis on his words. “You’ll do just fine, sweetie.” She reassured him with a warm smile. “Just be careful out there, okay?”
Bastian’s thoughts were filled with guilt, but he couldn’t turn back now, something deep in his soul was drawn to this girl. Maybe it was curiosity for her actions, her mercy, and whatever reasons may be behind them. He might as well be walking right into a trap of some sort, but somehow he felt that he was safe in her company. At the same time he knew well enough that nothing good could come of this.
This is a little something I wrote of how Crys’ parents met in the RP world (novel’s version of events differs greatly).
I’ve gotten used to writing these flashbacks always from Bastian’s POV, because my two favorite things about Dani is how emotional she is and how little she shows it. She was rarely outwardly warm, she never showed herself vulnerable if she could help it, her displays of emotion were always very subtle. Showing her through Bastian’s eyes highlights those aspects of her personality, he was very observant and from the beginning very much intrigued by her.
The deal here, as you can probably tell, is that he was an assassin hunter and he was tasked with killing her. They were young; both of them. I believe Bastian was only sixteen, Dani seventeen. After he spared her Dani brought him home with her and lied about who he was, claiming he’d helped her fight off her attacker. That lie stuck for over twenty years. Only after Bastian’s death it was discovered who he was and the extent of the consequences suffered from that decision. They shared leadership of the Wolfpack and a happy marriage for just about that long.
Bastian’s death was what set Shadows of The Enlightened into motion and what drove Crys for most of the RP. She was very close to her father and also the one who found him murdered, brought his body home for burial and broke the news to her mother. Dani died ‘offscreen’ some time before SOP started in circumstances better discussed on a post of its own.
Now I only get to write them in flashbacks and most of them can’t really be used since they don’t involve anyone who is alive to be remembering the scene. I write them because I enjoy writing these two so much.