((This was actually written at the very beginning of the ashes plot, but I'm reposting it as a journal to keep them all together outside of the storyline. But I think reposting it now that everything is all over kinda makes it resonate with an even more somber tune.))
Cause and Effect
“Kill him.” Mit’suama’s voice rang with an uncharacteristic demanding that managed to make itself audible over the agonized shrieks that tore from Aeronn’s throat.
“Kill him.” The order was repeated, and while the druid had heard it, he chose to ignore it, much as he had the first time it was issued. D’Arsano didn’t know if she had spoken a third time, or if her voice and its cold, uncaring tone was only echoing through his mind. But it made him grit his teeth, and focus all of his frustration into the magic frothing from his fingertips. The screams of the man beneath his hands finally became little more than involuntary whimpers as that healing magic lulled him into a forced slumber.
Aside from those soft whines, an eerie hush had fallen over the room. It was only then D’Arsano registered that his wife was still there. The priestess had ceased her crying, but the look of shock and utter despair had not left her face, accented by a raw red tingeing the purple of her skin beneath her eyes. He felt a part of himself begin to wither, then. Such a thing should not be replacing her smile. Oh, how he hated it.
“Kill him.” Mit’suama sliced the air once more, drawing his attention back to the task at hand, “You know what he carries, bound to that arm.”
“No,” the protest was nearly growled as it left D’Arsano’s throat. The energy flowing from his hands gave a sudden and fleeting surge. He felt his sister’s eyes boring through his skull. It was maddening.
“And if you don’t, you put everyone in this village in danger,” the warden’s voice was low, dripping with something he could only place as contempt.
He heard Lasheya choke back another wave of sobs.
Aeronn groaned, before falling silent.
There was so much blood. Goddess, there was so much blood.
“NO!” the druid roared. His voice resonated through the room, and shook the empty marble halls. “I’m a druid, damnit! My job is to preserve life, not end it!” The look he shot in the warden’s direction was venomous, punctuated crisply with bared teeth.
The memory was painfully clear. That day, he fought to save his wife’s brother, despite the demon sealed in his right arm, the very demon who nearly destroyed all of them. And that same day, he lost his baby sister. It was that day she severed their ties, the ones that had been fraying since her impulsive decision to become a warden.
All because of a choice he made. He suffered the consequences.
And he remembered the time that followed, perforated with Aeronn’s screams in the dead of night, and the terrors that came with them. He watched the paranoia envelop a man who once stood tall, and almost proud. But now he stooped, and shook, crying “Why? Why didn’t you just let it kill me?”
And Lasheya asked him why her brother had to suffer like this.
All because of a choice he made.
He chose to take in a young girl, feral and scared, fleeing from the wardens’ den that threatened to break her very being. And then he could only stand there as she was torn away from him, screaming to save her from the woman he had once known as sister.
All because of a choice he made.
Though in the years that followed, he watched that broken girl fix a broken man. Together, in their fragmented pieces, he watched Chrissinne and Aeronn become whole in each other. All because he had fought to preserve their lives at every turn.
It all came crashing down as Aeronn’s hold on the demon began to deteriorate, and it swallowed him. It was slow, and agonizingly cruel to watch it consume him, twist him into something so unrecognizable, so vile. Chrissinne crumbled into pieces once more, the moment she took his life. And there was D’Arsano, scrambling to gather them all and press them back into place.
Again, there was suffering, because of a choice he made.
It all seemed to repeat, again and again. Cause and effect. Choice and consequence.
By the time the Druids of the Flame began their rise to power, D’Arsano was all too familiar with the notion that every choice had its consequence. He knew to see it through.
Every choice he made had its consequence. Guilt was a ghost that would never cease to haunt him, even though he knew they had to make choices, too.