I awoke from strange dreams to a dark alleyway dimly illuminated by the night sky. Blurred memories swirling in front of my mind’s eye refused to focus and for a moment I couldn’t remember how I had ended up in this alleyway… or even where this alleyway was.
Fragments of memory came into view. There was a bald man… gems… a house… a dwarf… blood… fire… Arturia…
All at once the full memory snapped sharply into focus with painful clarity. I reeled inside my head as I felt every corner of my mind burn with such intensity that for another moment there was only the sensation of hot, searing, blinding clarity washing over my entire mental being. I drew in a sharp breath instinctually and tried to steady myself by grasping at the images and sensations of my immediate surroundings. The stone floor of the alley was hard and cool. The night breeze was warm and thick. A slight odor of smoke still lingered in the air. The stars above were shining brightly overhead in the cloudless sky. I was in the Shining District.
As I clung tighter to the present the raging inferno of mental fire subsided to a dull flame that moved to the back of my mind as it continued to burn steadily. I took in another deep breath and attempted to sit up only to now feel my body cry in protest as I became painfully aware of the injuries I had sustained.
My clothes were covered in blood, although most of it didn’t appear to be mine, and there was still an arrow sticking out of my left shoulder which was throbbing painfully in addition to the dull pain in my chin. I sensed that the last remnants of the effects of the hero’s feast had worn off in the time I had fallen asleep and all I could feel now was the soul crushing exhaustion that permeated every part of my body. It’s possible I may have pushed myself a little too hard this time… Sister would not have been happy about that.
Using Lawbringer I was able to prop myself up and hobble out of the alleyway into the street; still struggling to barely stay upright. As soon as I left the alley I felt a pair of hands grab Lawbringer and my bag and then put my arm over a narrow set of strong shoulders bracing me up as I walked. I looked up to see the face of a concerned pale-skinned teifling woman examining me with disbelief. There was just the slightest hint of a sweet-smelling perfume.
“…Petaline?” was all I could manage to say as she leaned me against the wall of a nearby building.
“What it the world have you been doing?” she said while further examining my injuries, “And who have you been fighting? You know, you really need to reconsider what your definition of fun is.”
At which point she pulled sharply on the arrow imbedded in my shoulder; removing it as a fresh pang of pain shot through my left arm and side of my chest. I winced as she examined the shattered glass tip.
“Have you been poisoned?” she said with an extra layer of concern entering her voice.
“I-… I don’t think so.” I said feeling the wound myself. It was shallow enough and would heal under Mythia’s hands with little trouble.
Looking at the arrow tip and then to me her face went from concerned to questioning to almost slightly amused in a matter of moments, “You really should stick to just stealing things if you’re in that much need of excitement,” she said with half of a sarcastic smile.
“Well there was some of that too…” I said remembering the gems and golden rope in my bag, “How did you find me?”
She looked a little sheepish for split second before regaining her usual casual attitude, “Don’t take this weirdly, but I had a dream about you and I don’t usually get those but it seemed important and… here you are.”
“I had a strange dream too…” I said still feeling the dull burning in the back of my mind. Another wave of exhaustion hit me and I steadied myself against the wall while trying to stay on my feet.
“Alright, alright, I told you not to be weird about it,” she said bruskly while grabbing me again and bracing me against her shoulders as we walked down the street to the nearest inn which was call the Blackthorn.
Before I could do anything, she gave some coins to the innkeeper and took me up a room where I was promptly placed on the bed.
“You should really get some sleep,” she said with tone of authority.
It didn’t take too much convincing. I got under the covers as another wave of fatigue hit me and I felt Petaline lay on top of the sheets on the other side of the bed. I had no more energy left for speaking.
I heard a voice from the other side of the bed before sleep could take me, “Goodnight… you nut…” with a slight chuckle.