Bree awoke with a thousand thoughts coursing through her mind.
She was a man. She was a woman. She was a human. She was a janni. She was weak. She was strong. She was dead.
No, she was alive. She had to be alive.
Through the torrent of thoughts flowed events. Creatures made of flesh and flame roared, and cursed her name as she cast them to the earth. A woman fluid as the rivers themselves smiled at her, in pride. An armour-clad man swung his sword at a woman, killing her. Chains fell to the ground.
Bree was sure these things should mean something to her. Or should they? Whatever the case, they came too fast. She couldn’t sort them out. Emotions and events tumbled over her, a senseless jumble filled with both too much emotion, and none at all.
Past and present existed all at once, in a single, constant moment.
Trevvis hugged her. She died. Her mother died. She was born.
“hard time, Bree?” someone was saying.
“I miss you.” said another.
“… accept your service with pride.”
“Rise, Tem – “
“You’re all piss and vinegar.”
The voices swirled around her, a vortex of voices she couldn’t sort out.
“Yes,” she mumbled. Or did she? “Hard time.”
And still the voices assaulted her.
She couldn’t make sense of them.
She couldn’t contain them.
They spoke to her.
“I need to be alone,” someone said. Was it her, or just another of the voices?
“I tried.” someone answered.
“Santon!” cried another.
“Be safe,” answered her mother.
“Live well,” Norn gasped.
“It was all for you, Nefeshti,” she sighed.
No! Bree cried. Or did she?
Get out of my head!
Someone let go of her hand.
“Alright, Star Flower.”
Trevvis? Where was Trevvis?
The voices dimmed. The memories faded, some diminishing and others vanishing completely.
Bree opened her eyes. She was alone. She clutched a scimitar. Mold covered her right hand – the one that held it – in patchy clumps from her fingertips to her elbow. It didn’t feel strange at all. She frowned. She was pretty sure it should.
The blade was cool to her touch and filled her with a sense of calm. It was a brilliant, wet-looking silvery steel from the tip of its blade to the end of its pommel. A sort of swirling, green design decorated the blade. It’s handle was wrapped in a light blue leather that was soft as silk.
Bree looked upon the scimitar and smiled. It’s name was Tempest and somehow, without knowing it, she had been searching for it her whole life. With it clutched in her hands she felt complete. Whole.
But, how could that be?
It was not a blade that she needed to be whole, but family. And certainly not this blade. She had never seen it before. But, she had. It was hers. She had used it for hundreds of years to hold the evils of the Brazen Peaks at bay. She had –
No. She had not. She was a runaway from Taldor. A refugee from Andoran.
Bree frowned and sheathed the scimitar. The mold receded from her arm, disappearing. She reached for her copper tankard and poured some wine from her water skin into it.
“Please, Cayden Cailean, Drunken Lord, Lucky Drunk, hear my prayers.” she pleaded. She raised her mug to the ceiling. “Help me.”
She tried to sort through the memories.
A calm washed over her. It helped her find herself amid the tumbled events that resided in her mind. She smiled. She could do this. Her lord was helping her. It was only a matter of time before –
“Want some company?”
Bree was jolted from her prayers with a jump. The voices overtook her.
Trevvis stood before her, cautious. He had a pained look in his eyes.
“I… No…” she mumbled.
Trevvis frowned. “I see.”
“No, I…” Bree paused, raising her hands to her head. “I need to be alone for now.” She tried to hold on to the present, desperate to keep herself. Why was it so hard?
Trevvis nodded. “I’ll just be around then, I guess.”
Bree shook her head. “No. Yes. No!”
Trevvis backed away, confused.
“I need to pray,” she managed to stutter. “To concentrate.”
“Okay, Star Flower. Okay.”
And then he was gone again, and Bree was alone. She frowned as she tried to fight her way through the emotions coursing through her. She clutched her holy symbol tightly to her chest.
Why would he leave her? Couldn’t he see she needed him?
Bree desperately tried to concentrate.
Who was she? Who did she need?
Someone sat behind her and wrapped their arms around her.
“It’s okay, Bree.”
Bree? Bree. She was Bree.
Bree nodded. They were here. She was here. She raised her tankard and prayed.
“Help me, my Lord. Please.”