Sorrow & Joy
I looked onto the ocean
Willing my troubles away
Finding myself swept out to sea
With my troubles
My only comfort
Chapter 3: The Sorrow’s Joy
Rennie held onto Dan tightly, feeling much better after the lengthy and tearful confession. She sighed quietly “I have been carrying that in my mind for my entire life. For once I am free of it, I don’t need to fear the madness returning any more.” He kissed her soft cheek “Is that why you decided to call yourself Sorrow?” She shuddered at the touch “Part of the reason, yes. I just hate killing…” Rennie wiped the damp tears still on her face “That’s why I love you; you’re so caring… And snuggly soft!” Dan smiled “Aw! Stop it!.” She laughed.
The wind whipped at Dan’s face as he looked across the plain. “They have the advantage of numbers, I’m afraid.” Juliar said sadly “Our only advantage lies in these walls which, I am very glad to say, are well built.” He patted the weathered stones “You have two.” Dan cut in “What?” Juliar was puzzled by this, he had looked every where but he could not find anything other than the walls “You do have the walls but you also have Rennie.” Dan yawned “But she doesn’t like killing.” He pointed out “I know but she will see why there is a need and will understand that it’s innocent civilians or monsters.” Dan gave the approaching army a second glance. Rennie appeared from the stair well “Juliar, I found this book in your library.” She waved a black leather book “What is it?” He looked at the title but was unable to read the spidery script “It is a Book of the Dead. They are pure evil but… They contain the most powerful spells discovered by the necromancers who wrote them.” She joined them at the wall “But isn’t it dangerous?” Dan said, concern written in his eyes “Yes but the magic I know deals with single targets, their power diminishes rapidly when used against multiple enemies. Necromancy is capable of hitting many enemies with no reduction of strength.” Rennie explained “I have improvised with my current magic though and the results are promising. I can demonstrate if you like.” Juliar nodded “It should be safer to use the magic you already know.” She raised her paw, pointing at a patch on the floor “You might want to step back.” She warned “Water-lightning-spark” Rennie said softly, a drop of water flying from her hand. As it hit the stones it glowed bright blue and exploded violently; leaving a small scorch mark on the floor. Dan whistled “Hmm… An area effect spell, genius!” She blushed “Actually the water is separated into it’s components by the lightning and they are then ignited by the fire, resulting in a massive release of energy.” Juliar whispered to Dan “Did you understand that?” Rennie turned on him “I heard that!”
Hours later, hammering could be heard on the main gate as the trolls piled up mindlessly, howling at the frightened populous. Rennie stood in front of that gate with Dan nearby, preparing to meet the enemy onslaught. Cracks appeared in the gate, widening with each bone shattering crash. Finally, the gate gave way, the trolls shouting inhuman battle cries. Rennie calmly raised her arm “WIND STRIKE” She screamed at the advancing monsters, the spell sending a rushing wind to meet them. As it hit, many trolls imploded from the pressure, sending fountains of blood in all directions. A second wave of monsters advanced through the carnage. Rennie braced herself and unleashed a deafening “PLASMA BARRAGE” Sending huge bolts of plasma into the crowd of enemies; their shrieks loud as they melted in the heat. She followed up with a softly spoken but clearly audible by every one “Death…” closing her eyes, the surviving trolls immediately died, seeming with out reason. The rest of the trolls broke and ran, running as fast as they could. Only one remained, screaming mindlessly “Cowards! Damn trolls!” it looked back to the city “What have we here? A cute little Renamon.” It ran towards Rennie, brandishing a huge war hammer “DIE!” Her eyes went flat “Sunburst!” she shouted, lobbing a shining ball of fire at the attacking monster. It hit it’s mark, blasting Tolnamon backwards into the city wall. “What’s this? That is not your ability!” It spluttered “What’s wrong? You scared of a cute little Renamon, scum bag! Lightning Storm!” She returned, blasting out hundreds of lightning strikes at her opponent. It deflected them with ease “Ha! You can’t beat me, puny Renamon! DARK FIRE!” The Tolnamon throwing dark fireballs at Rennie, she easily dodged “SUNBEAM!” returning fire with an energy beam attack. The Tolnamon dodged but it’s arm was caught by the beam and blasted off by the power of her attack. “You’ll pay for this!” It shrieked. Rennie suddenly vanished, but phased back in behind the monster to deliver a heavy swipe to it’s head before vanishing again, only to hammer on it’s unprotected side. She continued flashing from one place to the next, striking heavily. Rennie appeared to trip the monster but it caught her by the neck “Prepare to die!” Dan bellowed and sliced at the Tolnamon’s last arm, his sword leaving a huge gash. Dan swung again “LIGHTNING STRIKE” and blasted it several meters with his attack, a crystal on his sword’s hilt turning dark as he caught Rennie. “You OK?” He panted, she smiled at his concern “Yes, I’m fine. Thanks for the help.” They were suddenly blast apart by a fireball from the Tolnamon “Pathetic!” It said in triumph. It’s eyes widened when it saw Rennie, still standing. “I’m ending this RIGHT NOW! FIRE DIAMOND STORM!” She unleashed her special ability with a twist; hundreds of bright red diamonds raced at her enemy who was too stunned to move. The attack hit with devastating force, each diamond exploding into fire on impact and burning her adversary. The Tolnamon rushed her and grabbed her by the waist. It began crushing her in it’s hand before suddenly tearing off her left side. Rennie’s blood fell from the gaping hole in a torrent, her internal organs slipped out. Dan got up just in time to see this. “No… Rennie… NO! YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!” He gave an inhuman roar and charged the animal that had just killed the only thing he had ever cared about. His sword raised, flashing as the light was reflected off it. He ran through the wreckage left by the intense fight and screamed out his battle cry “CRYSTAL BLADE!” His sword flashed with energy as he swung, the Tolnamon unable to defend itself quickly enough. The sword passed straight through the monster as if it wasn’t there, causing a massive wound. Dan swung again, and again. Unable to stop as he felt a huge rage pulsing through him. Rennie finally got released from Tolnamon’s iron grip and fell to the ground. Dan tried to rush to her but was knocked away by a huge blow to the face, flying away and crashing into a building. The Tolnamon gulped when it saw Dan get up without s scratch, he ran at the monster again but discarded his sword while he shrieked so loud that the monster covered it’s ears in pain “FURY!!!” He ran across the distance in the blink of an eye and delivered a huge blow, knocking Tolnamon away slightly, he laughed manically as he began swinging punches at the startled monster. He drew back “FURY!!!!!!!!!” and launched into a new attack, he knocked the Tolnamon down and began pummeling it into the ground. Cracks appeared in the cobbled street and nearby windows smashed as huge amounts of energy were released into this frenzied assault. Dan gave one final punch and shattered Tolnamon’s neck. It gurgled as it died “No… Defeated by a lowly human…”
Rennie got up with extreme difficulty and started to walk back to Dan but she swayed slightly and collapsed part way. “RENNIE!” he shouted in dismay, running over. He felt at her neck for a pulse, finding it with relief he listened to her chest, her breathing quiet but unsteady. “You scared me.” Dan picked up his sword and laid it across her “Revive…” He whispered to the blade. A white crystal near the very end of the hilt flashed and went out. Rennie’s wound immediately began to heal, disappearing completely. He picked her up “I won’t let you die…” And heard those words of a promise echoing from his memory. He smiled at her unconscious face and walked back to the palace. Awe struck eyes followed him.
The sun streamed through the window in a golden curtain; bathing the floor. Sitting just outside it’s warmth, Dan stared at the bed where Rennie was sleeping. “Still no change?” Juliar entered the room quietly “None at all; that fight must have really worn her out… I’m just glad I got to her in time.” Dan leaned back on his chair with a worried frown “This reminds me of how we met…” Juliar, looking interested, pulled up a chair “How did you meet her?” Dan scratched his cheek “It was one hundred and seventy five years ago; six soon though, we met somewhere around this time of year.” Juliar sat down, adjusting the chair “Must be hard to remember the details after so long.” Dan chuckled “You know; strangely enough, that day has never faded from my memory. Maybe because I wrote it down in my first journal, every last detail.” He went on to describe what happened.
“This is how I met her…” Dan began his narration…
It was fairly cloudy outside, hinting of rain, “Hahaha! Beat the rain this time!” Dan chuckled to the bar tender “Looks like you just made it in time today!” he said pointing out the window. It had started to rain. “That was close, thanks for letting me in, John!” John looked rather embarrassed “It’s no problem, anything for an old friend.” Dan laughed “Hey! Who are you calling old!” They laughed at the joke. “Cripes! What is that?” John pointed out the window again, Dan looked “I don’t know… It looks like it’s in trouble though!” Dan ran to see. He paused in the door way, “What kind of creature is this?” He stared at it. The yellow fur, fox-like appearance… “It’s hurt!” He worried. It was crawling through the mud, only using it’s left arm and leg. Dan ran to it picking it up in his arms, getting himself covered in mud, “I’ll get you out of this rain.” He hurried back to the tavern as it looked up at him in surprise. “Help me with the tables!” Dan said as he entered, trying to drag some tables together. John ran over to help “Is it alive?” he pushed three tables together “Yes, just.” Dan put it down on the tables, taking a few chair cushions to give it something soft to lie on. They both leaned over it, until it whispered “Thank you…” before passing out, they both fell back in surprise “It talks!” John exclaimed. Dan recovered fast “Wow! This is incredible!” John jumped up “I have to tell everyone! This is amazing!” Dan stopped him “Wait! Do you remember what happened when that dragon came here?” John thought about it “Yes, it was injured very badly. It behaved friendly as well… until the people got scared and killed it…” Dan nodded “We all know that dragons are far more intelligent than us, it even had better manners than most of the town folk.” John thought about it “This is obviously intelligent; it talked and, come to think of it…” Dan looked at his friend knowingly “Precisely. We can’t tell anyone, there is just too much of a risk that they will try to kill it!” He punched his palm “The loft! No one but me ever goes up there, that’ll make a perfect spot for it to rest up. What do you think, Dan?” Dan thought carefully, rubbing the back of his neck, “I can’t find anything wrong with it, sure. You get a bed up there I’ll carry her.” John looked very puzzled “Her?” Dan just pointed, they could see her breasts poking out of her fur, “Ah, I see.” He looked closer, blushing, “You could say she is almost human… Damn it! That was a disturbing thought!” Dan chuckled at his friend’s embarrassment “I know exactly what you are thinking!” John blushed even more “I’ll just go and get the bed, OK?” Dan laughed thoroughly “Oh, that’s rich!” His face became serious when he turned back to the female form lying on the tables, he carefully picked her up, “Right then, let’s get you upstairs.”
John was straightening the bed when Dan entered the loft “Hey, it’s quite nice up here.” John laughed “All thanks to that quick repair job you did last year!” Dan blushed “Oh, that was nothing. Besides I enjoyed it; besides sowing, there is nothing as relaxing as thatching a roof!” He kicked a large metal tub “Fill this up, John. She is absolutely covered with mud!” He picked up the tub “Be right back.” And went down the stairs. Dan sat on a chair, looking at the defenseless fox. John returned in a moment with the tub, accidentally spilling some of the water “Where shall I put it?” Dan pointed “Just there should do.” They jumped when a banging was hear downstairs “Oh shit! I forgot; I better go and open up!” John looked back halfway to the stairs “I’ll come back up later, OK?” Dan nodded and John left running.
Dan walked to the tub and put the fox down on the floor, stealing a pillow to prop up her head. He picked out the sponge in the tub, leaning back to her; he began wiping off the mud. It came off easily so he made good progress until he finished her upper body, looking down; he saw her legs were covered completely. He carefully separated her legs, blushing slightly, wiping off the mud; finishing the inside of her leg he couldn’t help glancing at her most private spot. He looked away, his face burning up severely. After a moment he continued, getting the mud off completely; he closed her legs “Sorry.” Dan said to her, not knowing exactly why. He picked her up again and gently put her down on the bed, pulling the sheets over her.
John opened the front door “Sorry guys, forgot what time it is!” He announced to the various patrons standing out in the rain. “S’OK, John.” The man in front said with a hearty laugh “Well don’t stand around, come in!” John chuckled to his customers. They all walked in, sitting down at the tables “OK, what you all after?” He called out “BEER!” John immediately obliged “Seventeen beers; coming up!” He filled their glasses, putting them on a huge tray. When he finished; he picked up the tray with one hand and started handing out their drinks. “Can I talk to you for a moment?” The last guy said quietly “Sure, what you after?” John sat down “What was that yellow thing?” He mumbled into John’s ear who though of an explanation “Oh, that. It was a fox; almost completely paralyzed. I put it out of it’s misery though.” The guy nodded in agreement “Poor thing.” John shook his head with a sad look “Quite a pity, isn’t it?”
The days rolled by very quickly but the fox remained comatose, Dan couldn’t help worrying about her so he remained close by whenever he could, John, feeling just as worried, checking to see if her condition had changed every morning before going to work. Then, suddenly, on the fifteenth day; her eyes opened; focusing on Dan. “Where am I?” She mumbled, making him jump “Your awake!” he beamed at her “Your in the Red Berry pub. I have to admit; you gave me quite a scare!” She scratched around her ear “How long was I out?” Dan’s face became serious “Fifteen days, and four hours to be precise.” She sat up, using her good arm, “That is a long time… Oh, I’m Rennie.” He smiled again “I’m Dan, pleased to meet you.” Just then, John came up the stairs “Dan, is there any change?” He spotted Rennie “Big change!” Dan chuckled at his friend “John, her name is Rennie. Rennie, this is John.” She nodded “Hi!” John blushed “Hello.” Dan and Rennie laughed.
Rennie’s recovery was quick, with the help of a short oak staff; she could walk well and did not have any problems. She was about to go downstairs for some fresh air when Dan stopped her “I’m sorry but it’s not a good idea for any one to see you.” She looked at him sadly “I thought everyone already knew I’m here, ah, no matter. I understand.” She sat back on the bed “Where are you from?” Dan asked “I’m from a small village, a very… very long way from here.” She sighed in response, Dan changed the subject quickly “I see… Um… Have you always been paralyzed?” He figured this should be a safe topic “No. That happened very recently; not three weeks ago. My spine got crushed by a damn tree.” She laughed at the ridiculous memory, “I take it fell on you then?” Dan found it amusing too “No, I got thrown against it; really hard.” He gasped “What? Did you get attacked by a troll or something?” Rennie considered her answer “No, I arrived near here through a weird portal; like a door way but completely black. I stepped into it and it spat me out. I was unlucky enough to crash into a tree. When I came to, it had vanished. What’s a troll anyway?” Dan looked startled “You don’t know what a troll is? Uh… Never mind.” He shrugged it off.
Later on, some hours after the sun had set; Dan thought that it would be a good idea for Rennie to go outside for a while. “Sounds good.” Was all she said when he mentioned it. They both came out of the pub and strolled down the street, going slowly on account of Rennie’s disability. “Ah. It’s good to be outside; pleasant night for it too.” She said with a broad grin “Yup. It’s cold though.” Dan shivered, Rennie just laughed “Not to me it isn’t!” He joined the merriment “Maybe but you’ve got all that fur and that’s cheating!” He elbowed her in the ribs jokingly “Just don’t knock me over Mr Comedy!” They both laughed. “Look out!” John yelled, running to them and waving his arms wildly but the warning came too late, an arrow buzzed out of nowhere and plunged into Rennie’s arm with a fleshy sounding impact. “No! Rennie!” Dan shouted, checking her wound as she fell to the ground; groaning in pain. It was bleeding badly so Dan tore a strip of fabric from his shirt; using it to stem the flow slightly. He searched the surroundings for the hidden assailant “Damn!” He kicked the dirt. “Let’s go! Who ever it was might come back!” John yelled in hysteria. Dan, snapping back to his senses, ran to Rennie “Are you alright?” he questioned in concern “Yeah. Ah… Hurts like hell though.” She tried to joke. Dan helped her up “Can you walk OK?” She grasped her staff “Yes. Good thing it’s my bad arm, huh?” Dan smiled “I guess. Come on; let me help.” He helped as they dashed back to the pub.
“Let’s get this arrow out! John, fetch a bucket of water, some towels, bandages and a small green bottle from my backpack… Hurry!” Dan said quickly “Stay with me… Hurry, John!” Rennie almost passed out but Dan’s touch to her cheek kept her conscious, just. He reached over to the arm with the arrow buried in it, accidentally brushing against her breast through the thick fur. Dan turned bright red “Sorry…” Pulling the injured arm towards him. She shivered at that touch “Oh… Do that again…” Dan’s blush deepened, realizing that she was in shock; not thinking rationally. John came back up with the requested items. “What is in that bottle? Dan?” John asked, wondering why Dan wouldn’t respond, “What? Ah! Pass it here!” He snatched the bottle from his startled friend “This may sting…” And poured some of the contents into the wound. She cried out in pain until the medicine began to work “What was that?” She questioned Dan “It’s my own mix of herbs and special fluids. It defeats infection and dulls pain, it’s strong though, can’t use too much.” He grabbed the arrow “You might want to look away.” She nodded, turning her head. Dan tightened his grip on the offending object and yanked it out; blood spraying from the now open wound. Amazingly, it did not hurt. Rennie could not even feel it, she looked back and watched Dan throw away the arrow, pressing a towel to the hole left in her with watery eyes.
The next day; John was tending to his customers, frowning often in worry. The man who talked to him fifteen days ago approached him and whispered “I saw who did it.” John looked up with a snap “What? Who? How did you know?” He hissed “Steady on, slow down. Let’s go somewhere quieter.” They left the bar; going to a back room. The man spoke seriously “Everyone knows it’s here, they just don’t have proof. The one that shot it, the jittery guy, went and told them. We were all invited; except you and Dan.” John groaned, slapping his head, “We have to get her out of here. Now!”
Dan was in the loft; “I should have paid more attention… How could I get so careless? Argh! Damn it!” He thumped the table “Who ever shot that arrow… I will personally kill them!” Rennie shook her head “I must leave here; if you and John are found defending me… The consequences will be horrible.” Dan stood up “You’re right… But you can’t survive without…” He chocked back his words “Without what? You! I can look after myself.” She retorted angrily “No you can’t! If I let you go now… You won’t last two weeks… Please, I can’t let you take that risk.” He begged her, wondering why he cared so much. Rennie sat back on the bed and sighed deeply “I know… But I must go.” Dan looked up at her. Amazingly, he found tears welling up in his eyes. Dan jumped up; his tears rolling down his face and hugged her tightly “I’ll go with you then… I won’t let you die!” Rennie was taken back by his sincerity and by a slight fluttering in her heart. They both thought, exactly in the same moment, “I can’t be falling for them… It’s impossible!” Rennie was unable to refuse his heart-felt request “OK… Well leave… Tonight. Before anything else can go wrong.” Dan was overjoyed “Thank you! Oh, I love you!” He said it before he could stop himself “Uh… Well… You know…” Rennie’s eyes softened “Just come here you big lump!” She returned the hug. They both looked into each others’ eyes fondly. Until they heard John crashing up the stairs “We have to get Rennie out of here! The whole damn village knows she is here now!” He looked at them for a second before they realized they were still hugging and released each other; Dan coughing quietly and Rennie blushing “Oh boy…” John said, putting his hand against his forehead again. Dan stood up “I’m getting her out of town as soon as the sun sets… I’ll be going with her.” John felt as if someone had stuck a knife in his belly “I think I’m going to be sick…” Rennie blushed at John’s extreme discomfort “I… I was crying; Dan comforted me…” looking at the floor, Dan went along “She was really upset…”
Dan looked out of the door, searching for any sign of movement “Quick! I can’t see anyone.” Rennie hobbled out, clutching her staff. Dan looked about nervously. He helped her walk down the street. He stopped “Rennie, stop.” She looked at him quizzically “There are several men hiding in that porch to our left.” He turned to the well concealed people “I can see you. Come out!” He commanded them. Rennie glimpsed a movement in a thick bush to her right and heard a quiet snap of a bow string, an arrow racing at Dan’s unprepared back. “No! Diamond Storm!” She shouted, hurling a handful of small white diamonds at the projectile, knocking it away. She swayed slightly and collapsed in exhaustion. “What the? No…” Dan exclaimed with sadness clearly evident in his voice. He turned on the archer in the bush “Are you happy now! What can she do, huh? What are you so afraid of?” His eyes suddenly went wild; madness flaring clearly. He started frothing at the mouth “I WILL KILL YOU ALL!” and ran to the porch in a killing frenzy. The people hiding there froze. Dan reached them, grabbing the first man, he picked him up by the neck and slammed him into the ground with massive force; the blood flowing from his broken head mute evidence of his death. The others tried to flee but without success; two dying in seconds, their necks broken. Dan jumped on his fourth victim and delivered a devastating blow; breaking his nose, the fragments forced up into his brain. The last one cowered against the hard wood of the rail. Dan grinned at him evilly. The shrieks cut off by a fountain of blood. Dan walked back to Rennie and roared at the sky before falling on her sobbing like a heart broken child “No… I can’t… Please, no… Rennie!” He dropped his face, putting his cheek against hers as his tears fell thickly. The archer looked on mutely at what he had done to Dan until he felt a sharp pain in his back and fell on his face; gurgling as his blood rushed out around the long knife buried in his back, John watching grimly. Dan picked up Rennie and ran out of the village running hard as he could, the tears flowing from his eyes making a sparkling trail on the ground.
Juliar sighed at the end of Dan’s woeful tale; Dan burying his head in his arms, silently crying.
To be continued…
More of Rennie’s and Dan’s past is revealed, the story of how they met finally told; but at what cost to Dan? Go to the Next Chapter to find out…