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Beginnings (AKA Berry has Too Many Feelings)

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So it turns out sometimes I write stuff because I have a lot of feelings and I don't know what else to do with them. This is the topic where I will share the oneshots resulting from that. Some of these will pretty much be pure fluff, like this first one, and later I have some angst ones where I explore some what-ifs for the games, and who knows what else I will write in the name of being overly emotional. 

I've been wanting to start a topic for these for awhile but 1. I am slow, and 2. I had a hard time figuring out what in Aia to call it XD I went with Beginnings because pretty much anything I can write will at least have a beginning. I mean, hopefully, right? And the stuff I've already written deals with either the beginning of something (like this first thing I'm going to share) or with the tragedy of missed beginnings. So close enough, I tried, hopefully I don't ever write anything that absolutely cannot fit under this title and ruin my own plans.

I'm going to keep a contents list on this first post, like I do for Silly Aveyond Shorts, because we all know otherwise I will get lost:)

Intentions (8/28/2018)

Wild (9/6/2018)

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This first oneshot was written as pure fluff for a friend who loves Te'ijalahad. Galahad is a bit OOC in it because, fluff, but it always makes me smile anyway. I am a sap, there is a wedding, it is inevitable. I thought about including this in my Silly collection because it is humorous, but it just isn't quite that humorous. Also, I always use the pet names I used in "Softly" in In Pieces for all my stuff, canon-compliant or not like this oneshot, so if you haven't read that, the bat's name is Serpent Spawn, and it belongs to Te'ijal.

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Intentions

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Rhen had not begun the day with any intention of sitting through a wedding. Her plans had been to shop for new armor— she had dents and nicks in her shield and her boots were rather worn. And while she was at it she'd intended to ask around to see if anyone knew where she might find a demon, and possibly also a band of fairies. The fairy kettle had been here so it was possible— that's what she kept telling herself, anyway.

The universe itself, actually, had seemed to be preparing for an uneventful day. When Rhen had finally gotten all her companions out the door the sky was overcast like usual, and the streets were as bustling as they normally were, which meant hardly at all. Nobody was buying anything blue or borrowing anything significant— well, Te'ijal had borrowed Galahad's soul some time ago, and she wore that around her neck very proudly, but somehow Rhen thought that wasn't exactly what the old wedding rhyme meant.

So really there had been no warning, every sign had pointed to the sheer impossibility of anything exceptional happening that day in Thais. If it had been Clearwater all exceptional events would have been cancelled in advance in order to avoid the misfortune bound to follow anything that dared to occur under such an ill-omened sky.

But Rhen had realized long ago that Thais was not Clearwater, and anyway, perhaps it should have tipped her off when the priest's name was Gray.

But it didn't, of course, so instead she found herself standing there with her mouth hanging open when Te'ijal took the holy man up on his offer and turned to Galahad with her usual blood-chilling smile. "Galahad, my tasty tidbit, would you like to earn your freedom?"

Galahad, predictably, proclaimed that he would never bargain with serpent spawn (and Rhen ducked before remembering the bat was back in Sedona), and with all his usual eloquence he told the vampress to hand over his soul or die.

This made Te'ijal laugh, of course, and before Rhen knew it Galahad had bargained with serpent spawn, and the paladin was being ushered to the front of the room while Te'ijal was being ushered out of the room and Rhen was being shown to a seat— she was not dressed for a ceremony like this, she hadn't even had a chance to buy new boots yet and she hadn't washed this pair since— it had been a while, that's all she would admit.

Elini took the chair on one side of her and crossed her ankles and looked very proper and pretty and as though she had been practicing to be surprised like this her whole life. And Dameon sat on Rhen's other side, and glanced towards her with his eyebrows raised and his mouth open slightly, making a little o. He was just as unprepared as her, then. She reached over and slipped her hand into his and thought that it was nice to at least be lost with someone.

His cheeks turned pink, like she hadn't held his hand a hundred times before, and slowly his long fingers closed over her clumsy ones. Then, her face did this embarrassing thing where a stupid smile flitted across it and her cheeks felt warm, and she tried to pretend it wasn't happening and she looked towards Galahad instead.

Galahad was also pink, but in a rather different way. His mouth was turned down in a frown at least as deep as the Eldredth, and he stared ahead with all the stoic resolve of a knight about to meet his dragon— which was really pretty much exactly what was happening, Rhen supposed.

The priest stood behind him, and signalled to someone sitting behind the organ— Rhen hadn't realized there was anyone behind the organ, but whoever it was began playing and the door Te'ijal had been ushered through opened again and Galahad ground his teeth.

Then he saw her.

Was he actually crying? Maybe it was time to intervene. Rhen almost stood to say something but Dameon leaned towards her and she paused and he whispered almost reverently, "This is the first time I've seen him smile."

She looked again— the paladin was smiling, and the world was stopping and Te'ijal was floating down the aisle— literally floating, because she was a vampire. She was radiant, even though she was still wearing the same clothes with those clumsy patches from when that Nemesis had caught her off guard. Rhen was caught off guard this time, and she settled back into her seat and stared.

Te'ijal reached the front and Galahad seemed to remember himself and scowled and looked away from her. But he also took her hand— stiffly, like he'd never done anything quite that crazy in his life, which he probably hadn't. Te'ijal grinned and her fangs glistened and she looked impressively not terrifying. Just— happy.

"Gentle lords and ladies, and ruffians," the priest began, with a quick glance over their worn armor and dirty faces, "the agreement having been made before our eyes on this very day, we gather now to join this fair— uh— vampress and noble knight in unholy matrimony, by the—" he coughed, " the blessing of the goddess."

Rhen had been to one or two weddings in Clearwater, when she was small, and she supposed the introduction might have gone somewhat vaguely more or less like that.

"Sir Knight," the priest continued, "dost thou come today to enter into this blasphemous union of thine own free will and choice?"

Galahad scowled at him. "Aye, priest!"

"Very good. Vampress, dost thou come—"

"Aye!" Te'ijal declared, smiling widely. Galahad glanced at her again and those hard lines around his mouth twitched.

"Ah— excellent!" the priest said. "Then as you have both pledged your troth to be married this day, I call upon the sun and moon to bless this union. If any one has any reason to object, by the Goddess's Law or the laws of Thais; let them speak now, or else henceforth and forever hold their peace."

Rhen shuffled her feet, and behind her Pirate John coughed awkwardly. She looked at Dameon and he shrugged, and that pretty much summed it up. It was the first time she had seen the man smile...

"There being no objection to this marriage let us continue. Do you, Sir Knight, take unto thyself as wife this— uh—"

"Creature of the night," Galahad supplied.

"Creature of the night," the priest continued, nodding, "and swear unto her before the Mother of All and these witnesses to be her protector, defender, and champion? To honor and support her, in sickness and in health, in times of light and of darkness, to cherish her above all other treasures, with all thy worldly powers, so long as ye both shall live?"

Rhen stared. In times of light and of darkness— who could make that kind of promise?

She found that she was holding her breath, and she let it out and Dameon's hand tightened around hers, and Galahad clenched his jaw.

"I do."

The priest didn't even blink. "And do you, vampress, take unto thyself as husband this noble knight, and pledge unto him before the Mother of All and these witnesses to honor, obey, and cherish him? To cleave unto him, in sickness and in health, in fair and in foul, in times of light and of darkness, to be his one true and lasting counselor and solace, with all thy worldly and otherworldly powers, so long as ye both shall live?"

"I do!" Te'ijal trilled.

The priest looked vaguely amused, but not half as amused as Te'ijal, and he declared with all the drama that might be expected, "Then by the power vested in me, I pronounce you wed! You may now kiss the— er— bride."

And Galahad did kiss the bride, so quickly Rhen almost didn't believe she had seen it, but the stunned look on Te'ijal's face was proof enough—

In times of light and of darkness— if anyone could intend to keep such a promise, surely it was the vampress and the paladin.

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Wild

Hi, have some angst. I think some aspects of Rhen's character can only really be fully explored by looking at the choices she didn't take. I actually look at all of the non-canon endings for all of the games this way, I think they highlight some of the fears and flaws the characters have which we might not notice otherwise, and they make a statement about who the character is not, but I think I might be the only one who takes analysis this far, heh. I just really love Aveyond. So anyway here is an exploration of what the "choose to go back to Thais but bail and go to Clearwater" option means for Rhen. Notes at the end in a spoiler box to avoid... spoilers, even though really everything is pretty straightforward.

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"You are too wild," she had told him, and she'd meant it. He was unstable, she couldn't trust him, so she left him standing in the village square, while she ran off with Danny to reclaim the normal life she was supposed to have, the life she wanted.

And he had gone on to Thais, like he said he would. She knew because of the address on his letter. One letter, years later, when she thought she had nearly forgotten everything. It seemed almost ridiculous.

She refused to read it at first. She hid it in every corner of the house, trying to forget it but unable to throw it away. She couldn't explain why. She had told Danny it was from one of the druids— it was almost true. Danny had only nodded distractedly, and headed out to explore the caves again.

As a mapmaker, he was always looking for new things. Rhen wanted only to hide, to cling to the familiar, to never open her eyes or her heart to anything different, ever again.

But the letter, it haunted her. It reminded her of his dark brown eyes, staring into her, and his soft voice echoed in her head every time she shoved it into another hiding place— But I thought you loved me.

And she had thought she loved marionbells, and apples littering the ground, and Ma and Pa— she did love those things. They made her smile.

But it was the sunrise that made her cry.

So one early morning, as she watched the light slowly spread over the mountains, she finally opened the letter— Are you ready, Rhen?— and she read it, hoping maybe now she could forget, maybe now she could move past this. Maybe, finally, she could find peace.

Rhen, it began, and she could hear the way he said it, slowly, quietly, without any malice at all.

He told her about Thais. It was not so desolate anymore. They were rebuilding. They had blasted through the mountains and opened up a dock, there were travelers again. There were even farming villages. There was even an apple orchard.

He told her about the people. They were not angry at her. They wished her luck in all her endeavors. They hoped she had found the freedom her mother never had. They hoped she was happy.

Happy. That's all she had wanted, wasn't it? To smile again, and not worry about what happened in the rest of the world. Why wasn't she smiling?

He told her, in broken, scattered sentences, what he was doing. The Priestesses had opened a hospital, like the one in Dirkon, but without rats. He worked there with them, and the sick and injured came to their doors, every day, unfailingly. There is always more suffering.

He did what he could for them. Sometimes, it was not enough. I hope they can find peace.

She was not sure there was any of that left to be had.

I am sorry I could not be stable for you. I hope you are safe now. I hope you are happy.

She was safe. Nothing could get to her here. And she was happy, except when she remembered.

I am sorry for what you have lost.

Lost— she could only lose herself. The rest, she had never had.

I would restore it if I had a way.

But nothing could be done, she had been around the world and never found a cure for loss.

I love you. The words were written shakily, crossed out three times only to be written again— I love you, still, as I promised. I hope this is not painful for you. It hurts to write. It hurts more to leave it unsaid. I am not as brave as you.

Brave. She had not thought of that word for a long time. Bravery was for questers, for people who didn't know what would come next, where they would go, what they would do. Bravery was not for quiet villages, or the people who hid from the world in them. It was not for her. Bravery was wild. She was tame. Or— maybe she was only caged, locked in her own fears. She was happy, sometimes. But like a captive bird, her wings were clipped.

You do not need to reply. I know you want to forget. I never can.

He had signed his name, and her eyes ran over the letters again and again.

Dameon.

She was the wild one, wild but chained to her doubts. He was tame, but she had taken him into the wilderness and left him lost there.

She could not undo it. She only hoped his gentle heart would lead him somewhere full of light.

_________________________________________________________


Spoiler

I made Danny a mapmaker because he loved adventuring and going new places (ex I think a huge part of his going to find Rhen in the first place was really a desire for adventure; this was his first chance and he took it. And then he pretty much immediately ditched her and went to Sedona, so like... he definitely loves exploring. I love the idea of him realizing he doesn't need an excuse to see the world in the canon and other non-Clearwater endings, I like to picture him just traveling everywhere and seeing everything, but now I guess I am explaining things that aren't even in this oneshot so I'll rant more later). This really makes him ending up with Rhen so tragic to me because they both want what the other can't give, and they don't know it, they don't listen to each other or even seem to really know each other, just this idea of each other they have in their heads and neither idea is true. And if they were just a little braver they could have had everything, but instead T.T

And Dameon only really knows how to heal, and he had all this newfound compassion that he wouldn't know what to do with, so of course he would go into healing. Also, there is a priestess hospital in AV3 so I figured I'd reference it. And I couldn't imagine him going back to Aveyond, since he would be mortal now, but I could imagine him finishing what Rhen started. So to Thais he went.

As you can tell I have a lot of thoughts about this so if you'd like to read my lengthy rant I'd love to chat, have a nice day, go find something fluffy

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@Scrivener of the Gods Thanks! And you should write how want, essay-style is good for some things, but if you have strong feelings and they aren't hurting anyone, writing is the place to express them, I think. It's always cathartic for me, and sometimes you learn about yourself:)

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Hello, more angst, sorry. I wrote this one about a year ago I think, when I was replaying AV1 (I'm pretty much always replaying av1 haha) and I was at the final battle and my roommate was watching, and she asked what would happen if I didn't have the fairy dust. So I told her and she told me I should write it so… I did. And it is dramatic and I am sharing it anyway, you're welcome.

The longer italicized phrases are a story by themselves (and they make more sense on fanfiction.net cuz I used them in the summary but wleajgwe oh well). If I was a better writer you would understand, but I am still learning so you will just have to deal with this, and I am sorry.

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"It always began with a change. There was always a choice, there was always a war. There was always a fall. In the end it was death-"

The End

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It always began with a change.

He had gone to Ahriman, it had really happened, it wasn't a dream— it was a nightmare, a waking nightmare like the ones Talia had warned them about. And then— he'd offered her a choice, a real choice, after all this time, but it wasn't one she could take, she couldn't join him, she couldn't join that— that— thing, standing beside him with a too-satisfied smile, if it could be called a smile—

She couldn't join him, but oh! He couldn't really be asking her to fight him, he couldn't mean it.

"Come back to me," she pleaded, tears stinging her eyes— she had not expected to cry here, she had thought she would only bleed.

He stared back at her, white-faced, and when he spoke it was with a dead voice, not like the one she knew. "I belong to Ahriman now."

"Ahriman is evil!" she cried again. "He is using you! Why can't you see it?"

Ahriman's laugh was worse than his sneer. "It is pointless to resist, child. Join us or perish."

"Dameon," she said, not because he wasn't already looking at her but because she wanted to call back the man she knew, the man who spoke softly and carefully and who listened quietly when she needed him— "Please."

"No," Ahriman said sharply, grabbing Dameon's arm with one of his bony, claw-like hands. "Very well then, sword singer. I see you have made your choice. It is time to end this. Sun Priest, take her now!"

Dameon looked at her with wide dark eyes, his mouth open in that little o shape she had become so familiar with, and his chest shaking—

"Strike her!" the demon hissed again, his eyes flashing now and his gruesome mouth twisting into a snarl.

"Master… please," Dameon said in that same dead voice, "she is innocent. She is only confused. The oracle—"

"Wretch! How dare you disobey me?" Ahriman rasped. "Do as I say! Fight her!"

Dameon was fighting, something in himself, some dark power assaulting his mind— he let out a strangled grunt, clenching his jaw, and then he doubled over and clutched at his head—

"Kill her!"

Rhen was trembling and Dameon was falling to his knees— "No," he gasped. "No, no—"

"Traitor!" Ahriman bellowed, shaking the whole cave— "Coward! You will never be all your father was!"

He raised his twisted staff over Dameon's bowed head and swung down—

"No!"

The Sword of Shadows met the dark staff, and Rhen had chosen to fight the demon— it was her decision, after all, fate had no power in this place.

There was always a choice, there was always a war.

She swung and he dodged, she thrust and he knocked her sword aside and sparks jumped from their weapons like all the stars of heaven were falling around them. And she danced, the song of the battle was written in her beating heart and the words were the clashing and clanging of a blade drawn to defend the defenseless— she had known the music all her life.

The others twirled into the action— Elini and Lars and Te'ijal and Galahad and John and even Marge. Dameon kneeled still on the ground, fighting another battle, the ancient war of truth and error, light and dark, good and evil—

If only it could be so simple, if only he could see clearly which was which—

In the darkness everyone is blind.

Ahriman shot a spell and she twirled out of the way, she sliced and caught his hood in her blade— he wrenched himself free with an awful screech, and he shot at Elini and then Galahad and then—

Then—

Her sword was singing and she felt the shift in the rhythm, this was not her battle to win; like the ancient sun priests who forged agea, and the fairy guardians of the dreamworld, she, too, was fated to fall before the rising darkness, she, too, would die for defying the natural succession of order to chaos, day to night, life to death.

There was always a fall.

The sword of shadows was blasted out of her hands, and she watched it skid away. She had made her choice, she did not regret it, even as the demon raised his staff to point it at her and she knew the song was ending. She had fought for her parents, all of them, and for Eddy, and Tiny and the people of Dirkon and of Thais and—

Last of all, she fought for Dameon, whether he accepted her or not. She could not regret defending someone who had meant so much to her, and as the spell sped towards her she thought of dark eyes and warm hands and she wished for light—

Light—

Light.

The room was suddenly filling with light, exploding with it, and Rhen was blind and there was screaming, and screaming, Ahriman was screaming, and somehow Rhen was alive still and—

When it cleared Dameon was standing, his body shaking but his gaze steady.

"No!" Ahriman howled. "You belong to me! Do as I say! Kill the girl, she is of no worth to us now!"

Rhen stared at Dameon, and he stared at Ahriman, and said in his quiet, even voice, "She is the chosen one."

"Fool!" Ahriman roared. "She will destroy us! Do you think she will take you back after your betrayal?"

But Dameon only swallowed, and breathed softly, "I will accept the consequences."

Ahriman shrieked, and the ground was quaking and he was raising his staff— "Wretched traitor!" — and Dameon was crying out and stepping back under the force of the spell, and Ahriman was cackling—

Rhen's hands searched for the hilt of her sword, and somehow Te'ijal had found it and was passing it to her and Rhen took it and ran and yelled, she raised the blade high over her head and then brought it down—

The impact was violent, a tremor ran through her sword and up her arm and through her entire self, Ahriman was frozen with his hands still in the air, his laugh still etched on his face— it was gruesome to watch, how the sword sucked him in and glowed red in the demonic blood, and Rhen knew now why the Oracle called it cursed— she was going to be sick, but the demon was gone—

"We— we did it," she panted in disbelief, turning to stare at the others

Dameon stared back, his mouth slightly open, his body still shaking.

She dropped the cursed blade and stumbled to him— she had thought he was lost— he was safe, he was safe—

She buried her face in his chest, stained scarlet where the spell had hit him—

"Rhen—" he gasped softly as her forehead pressed into his collarbone. "I— I am a traitor."

She wrapped her arms around his waist, pulled him closer—

"I am wretched."

She tried to say something but her breaths were coming in quick little gasps—

His hands settled uncertainly on her back, and he traced warm, soothing circles. "I deserve death."

And then the whole world was trembling, and rocks were falling all around them—.

"Come on, everyone!" Lars shouted. "Let's get out of here! This place is collapsing!"

But instead she collapsed against Dameon's chest, and he picked her up and carried her and her sword through the crumbling caverns. He sent up an earth shield and the rocks bounced off it and he tightened his jaw but he didn't flinch, and— they came at last to the end of the caves and burst into the sunlight— the sunlight, it was still there, after everything.

Dameon gently set her on her feet, and then he kneeled in the sand in front of her and held her sword out towards her.

"Rhen," he said, in that same dead voice from before. "Take what is yours. Take my life. I cannot be trusted."

She reached out and traced the bones of his face, where the tears would have fallen if he had any left. "You came back to me," she said.

He took a careful, shaking breath. "He wasn't supposed to hurt anyone."

"Your life belongs to me now," she realized, as she took her sword from him.

He bowed his head, ready for the blow that would finish everything.

In the end it was death—

But she sheathed the cursed blade, and tilted his chin up so that he had to look at her.

"I choose to set you free. Your mind is yours." She brushed his hair behind his ear and looked into those dark eyes, glittering in the light. "Let your gentle heart guide it."

— or forgiveness.

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