Althea shivvered when she felt Sephtis, instinctively shrank back before his presence. With a sob she forced herself to remember their plan, or at least a part of it and wished Max was here. She had counted on him, had relied on him, the hole in her chest opened wider and the took a step back. Mourn later. As he had told her. Sephtis now, mourning later. He suppressed his emotions, had put them away, but she didn't. And this was her mind, her emotions. She knew close to nothing about his powers, but she knew about her own, knew about the silent power resting in thoughts, in imagination, in emotions and in what you believed you were. Her mind, her emotions, her story.
She showed him the orphanage, the hunger, the fights between them about a piece of bread or a sip of water. The taunts of the other children, the cruelty they all so easily used to get what they wanted. Sorted the weak ones out, got stronger themselves. She skipped over this time, only showed him, because she needed him to understand what was to come, then moved forward to her training. How she had learned hemalurgy, how she had killed, how she had got up each morning, faced her live, faced her colleagues and their taunts, their annoyance when the efficiency she worked with was approved by those above them. She stopped by the strength it had started to cost her to get up each morning to go on, to manage, showed him the desperation, the emptyness slowly settling in her chest, domination her thoughts and her actions, until one day, she lifted her foot of the ground and took a step backwards.
The wind blew around her, caressing her face and body. It tore at her skirts, wiped her hair around. Rain fell from the sky, fell fast and hard, cold as ice. She barely felt the wind and the rain, the cold. She accepted them, they were part of everything around her, part of the scenery, as she herself was a part of the scenery. Slowly she sat down, looked out at the see. It would be quite the drop until she would hit she rocks below, until her body would shatter, and her blood mix with the waves. It would be alright she guessed. She would fly - and then she would land.
She lay back, looking up at the sky, ignoring the water, dropping into her eyes, letting her blink. It was a good night to go, a good night to end this. The storm would carry her away, take her where ever she belonged to. Althea looked at the sky, even with the clouds covering it, it was still beautiful, so far away. Shadows covered the ground around her, shifting their forms every now and then, depending on the light. Sometimes sharp, as if drawn with a ruler, sometimes soft, as a piece of cloth. She ignored them, continued to lay there, simply looking up. It took her a while to realize, that one of the shadows stepped towards her, that he confronted her, and yet, she ignored him. Let him kill her, it would only save her the time she needed to get up and throw herself from the cliff.
"You have given up."
he stated and she turned her head to look at him. A black shadowlike figure, a man it seemed.
she replied and then looked back at the sky.
"I have given up."
saying it loud sounded strange in her own ears. She had given up. She had fought her whole live, but now, now she had given up? She had. Her hand played with some dirt. There was no sense to go on, to go back to them. No sense to fight for every single step, to confront her colleagues day after day, to continue to live. She had no reason to go on. No reason to get up in the morning. And so she would get up tomorrow morning. Get up one last time. Take off her sunglasses and her hat, throw away her gloves. She would stand in the sunlight and then she would jump.
he asked, his voice was soft and comforting, resonating within her.
"There is no sense in going on anymore. No one cares if I am here or not, they won't realize I am gone, for a while. Not until they me to do something."
sitting up she looked at him. No human, he was a spren. Her mind displayed the answer and she shook her head.
"What are you?"
she inquired and he laughed.
"I could tell you. But then you can't find out on your own."
Althea thought about this for a moment, and then shook her head.
"I don't want to find it out on my own. The only thing I will do, is jump from the cliff and end this."
The spren stepped closer, kneeled down next to her.
"So you will choose your own weakness? You will choose death? You believe you have reached your destination?"
Althea looked at him, not quite understanding.
"I chose to die. I chose a way out."
He shook his head.
he accused her.
"You run away, like those cowards at the orphanage. You don't face your problems, your fears, instead you look for the easiest way out and follow it."
"I don't run away."
Althea protested and then realized, that he was right. And yet, fighting took so much strength, and she had none left. No reason to go on, to really follow through with it.
He tsked and shook his head again.
"You are weak. Stupid and weak."
The figure stood up and offered her a hand.
"It is your choice. You can jump off the cliff, you can run away and flee, or you can face what life throws at you and take my hand. Your choice."
She cut off the memory there, letting it hang between them for a moment. The desperation, the pain, the senselessness of her life. He had told her, he had no reason to live, and that was something she knew, she knew too well. Althea realized, she was shaking, she had never planed to confront this part of herself again, the emptiness threatening to eat her up, taking away everything she held dear, replacing it by nothing worth fighting for. Weakness and fear and a woman, that ran away from both. It took her a moment to collect herself, to free herself from this and then forced herself to go on.
The storm was replaced by her, her hand on Brashen's arm, walking through Shadesmar, quietly discussing the book the were reading. Content and joy filled her heart and she shared it, shared the light Brashen had lit, had nurtured until she had gotten up eager each morning, until she found joy in her life again. She showed him her enthusiasm when a difficult experiment went right after hundreds of times it had went wrong, her happiness when she got a promoted, when she climed up through the ranks. Her unwavering loyalty and how she put everything she had into a cause she belived in, supported those she believed in. She showed him her sister, the moment when she had learned that she wasn't alone, that she had someone left. And finally she seperated the pain from the pure joy in her heart when Max had hugged her, when he had comforted her. When she knew, that they would go on together. The way her heart had beaten faster, while her head had trouble to keep up with the situation.
Althea looked at his presence again and then sent him a last message. He had offered her two paths. Serve him, or go on and save him. She didn't answer his question, instead she extended a hand of her own. She had been at a point without a reason to go on, and someone had extended his hand. She had asked for death, had decided, that her journey was over, that she had reached her destination, and someone offered her a new way. Solace had asked her to kill him, several times, he had given himself up to heal Max. It all came down to Brashen's words. Giving up, choosing weakness, choosing an easy way out. Handing the responsibility to others. They, no it was she, he was gone, pain, again pain, heart breaking, soul shattering pain, could walk his path with him, his steps, she could help him fight back, find a way out as friends. Friends that trusted each other, told each other when they were being stupid, that could look into each other eyes and know, that the other one would support if neccessary and stop if neccessary. Friendship based on trust and honesty, on loyalty and opening up, on supporting each other, while also leaving the space to breathe. It was an offer for something they could create together, but never alone. An extended hand in the darkness.