Robin took a breath and held it as she descended into the canyon described by Xodius. She�d elected to take her gourd staff, but no other weapons or armor. Just a simple dress and her very dear straw hat.

 There are worse things than me in the world, Robin.


Ceera�s voice echoed in the silence. In her head. Always, forever. Over forty years of torment and she still wasn�t free. �Shut up, Ceera. I need to listen.�

At least stop handicapping yourself.


�I don�t need magic to take a walk.� Robin was out of sight of the Keep now. She paused, focusing inward, ensuring the chi she had used to block her own magic path ways were still in place. They were. She quickly withdrew her attention from the vile arcane and continued down the winding path.

You stupid�arrrggghh�I OWN you.


�Fel, I hope Xodius doesn�t have anyone as annoying as you in his head.� Robin kept walking, hearing only the occasional ramblings of her unwelcome observer. She couldn�t really hear the noise behind the silence because there wasn�t any silence.

You�re an ungrateful wretch, Robin.


�And you�re a sociopath. You won�t win this.�

No one wins this, Robin. You can�t save that creature. There are some powers I won�t even touch.


Robin frowned as Ceera�s voice hushed. Had she sounded�felt�genuinely�sad? Afraid? Still, she couldn�t stop.

——

The canyon was cold, Robin smiled, she�d spent the last several months secluded in the snowy mountains of Dun Morogh. The chill of the sea breeze wasn�t quite enough to daunt her this time. She kept on, passing by overturned mining carts, and occassionally catching the glint of a rusty pickaxe in the moonlight. A mining area, then. But why was everything abandoned? It was faintly familiar�had she read about it? Seen it through Star�s eyes? The tools looked dwarven�they weren�t a people to abandon anything lightly.

Something wasn�t right. She reached into her pocket and tugged on a pair of gloves.

You�re afraid.


The whisper was faint, Robin turned toward the mouth of an old mining cavern, it wasn�t deep. She could see the back from where she stood, though, faintly.

They�ll betray you.


Robin shivered, the air was colder, chilling. She�d left most of her armor behind�to experience the fear. The helplessness her fellow Templar was feeling. �Who will�?� The path was empty. No one nearby. No chi to sense.

EVERYONE.


Robin gathered chi into her fists, around her body, shielding herself for whatever might be coming. She slid into tiger stance without a second thought. The whispers increased, chanting in words she couldn�t comprehend.

They will lock you away. You will never be free.


Saronite. Saronite mine.

�The noise behind�the silence�.� Robin released the chi she�d been holding. There wasn�t a piece of armor in the world that could protect her from this. She had to get out.

————–

Blood coated the canyon. But she was falling. Falling…into the box. Robin screamed, reaching for the sides of the coffin to pull herself out. They were pushing her back. Different faces, flashing by�dozens of hands�the Templar tabard.


Liars. Betrayers.


�Please no�please no�� They held her. The lid began to close. �NOIDON�TWANTTOGO�NONONONO.�


Never free.


No tabard�bright pink hair. Ciera. Star. Her sister. Not real. Not real. Not real. �Not real. Wouldn�t hurt me. Wouldn�t ever hurt me.�  The world broke, screeching. Angry. The sky turned to blood. Not real. Not real. She kept her eyes locked on Ciera until it went dark.

——

Robin opened her eyes. She was lying in the grass just outside of Westguard Keep. How had she gotten there? She looked around. No gnome-sized coffin in sight.

Saronite. Old gods. Robin glanced back towards the hell she�d somehow escaped from and shakily go to her feet. Someone had saved her�


�I told you. There are worse things in this world than me.�


Ceera�? No. Couldn�t be.

One thing was certain, Robin didn�t know how to help Xodius. She wasn�t sure his wife could either. She�d only held together because the horrible thing had made an error. The gnome walked, defeated, back into the safety of the keep�s walls. She had a few letters to write. Nerves to calm and, exhaustion permitting, a hot bath.

Author Robin
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