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ChalybsAnimus
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re: The Comfort of the Storm

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Nighttime was the worst. In the deep, dark hours after the sun left the world, memories came as ghosts, haunting every corner with shadows in it. He would sit in the living room, in the chair he always sat in, and find himself staring at the chair she used to sit in. People thought him simple-minded, but the truth of it was that it would race then, flashing back at him memories of the meeting, stolen moments together, her laugh and her smile. Her death.

And each time, at the end of those moments, he would hurt all over again. It was so tempting, to take up the bottle maybe, and pour it over the pain, numbing it for at least the time being. He had been through a lot of physical pains in his life, but he would go back to any one of them than to spend another night in the house, haunted by her. But at the same time, he didn’t want to be anywhere else. It was home, even though, to him, it was haunted.

Off in the distance, he heard the rumbles of a storm, and one sharp crack that made him jump. It hadn’t startled him, but more… brought more memories.  He pushed himself up and out of the chair, heading for the front door. He couldn’t be in the house any longer right now, echoing as it was with ghosts of the past. He marched out, across their lawn, to the shared workshop they had.  He went in through his shop door, flinging it open and looking across the smithy.

And his eyes settled on the door to her workshop. He didn’t realize it, but the Lightforge slowly came to life, glowing on its own accord with a silvery-golden light.  He slowly walked towards her part of the shop, a shaking hand turning the knob and pushing the door open. The light poured from behind him, illuminating her workbench and chair, and his breath hitched hard in his lungs. He took a slow step in, an then another,  his ears echoing with memories of brighter times.

His eyes looked around the room, taking it all in again. He inhaled deeply, drinking in the smells of the place, and choking back the emotions that threatened to make him into someone he really wasn’t.  His hands slid over her tools, left on the table, a sort of braille for the mourning. He hated the fact that the memories tortured him, but at the same time, he wouldn’t have given them up for anything in the world. He could even hear her chastising him.

“Dearling, you am not to be crying more! Life is to live, and you have life left!”

He knew he should, but he just couldn’t. It was all still too fresh, and hurt too Light-damned much.

His head bowed just then, and he let out a ragged breath, closing his eyes for a long moment. He just let it wash over him and through him, fighting only against tears that wanted to come yet again. Not here, not in her place.  His right hand slid across the table top, as if searching for something to bring him solace.

And it was with a start that he felt the smooth facet of a gem and the snapping jolt of electricity bite into his hand.

His eyes popped open and he looked to the cause. There, under his hand, was a goodly sized blue gem of some sort. He wished he knew more about the gems, but it was a deep and gleaming blue, and as he looked, he saw something stir within it, like the crackles of lightning.  His breath caught in his body just then, and a trembling hand picked up the goodly-sized stone. It was a perfect circle, cabochon cut. He remembered how much time those would take her, meticulously forming the stone chip by chip. He stared at the stone as an idea formed in his mind. Moment by moment, bit by bit, it built itself in his mind.  With suddenness that would have startled him had he been paying attention, he spun on his heel and headed for the Lightforge.

Hours later, as a storm raged outside, Folcan finished the dished part of the center of the shield, the exact size of the stone he had found in her workshop. With a trembling hand, he set the stone into the indentation and carefully took the soft hammer up. With measured strikes he bent the spines over, setting the stone firmly in place in the center of the shield. The cupped part that would sit in to cover it and protect it sat nearby. But something had come to him. It needed one more thing, and he hoped, by the Light and the Elements that she had revered so much, that it would work.  The shield was Lightforged and Light-tempered, but it needed to be Storm-blessed.

Strapping the shield to his left arm, Folcan stepped out into the storm. It rained so hard he soaked to his underclothes almost immediately. The rains washed away the soot and sweat that covered him, and in the distance, thunder rumbled heavily. He looked up to the heavens and prayed to the Light that what he was about to do would work.  With hope, he raised the shield skyward and waited.

Lightning began almost immediately. He didn’t know the elements like Izarre had. But he knew they answered some call. Four brilliant strikes of lightning hammered home to the earth around him, the thunder booming loudly in his ears. He never wavered for a heartbeat. And then it truly happened.

With a sharp crack, one of the most brilliantly white spears of lightning Folcan had ever seen, or would ever see, struck the gem at the center of the shield on his arm. It drove him to his knees as the bolt stayed focused on the gem. His arm still raised above his head, now like a shield from the lightning, he used all of his strength to keep the shield aloft, the bolt like his own smithing hammer, trying to beat the shield down, and him with it. 

It could have been a minute, an hour, or all night, but after whatever time had passed, the lightning bolt abated, drank in by the stone at the center of the shield. With heaving breaths, Folcan tremblingly brought his feet back under himself, and stood. His muscles shook from the onslaught still.  But as he stood, he looked to the face of the shield and saw it miraculously unmarred. Instead, the gem shone near constantly with the brilliant blue-white glow of lightning strikes, and the channel around the center of the shield flowed with the energy of the storm. It had worked. He had now to just set the stone’s cover in place to protect it.

For the first time in a long time, Folcan felt like the woman he loved, the wife he had held so dearly, once again protected him as best she could.

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