((WR - January 2021)) Free

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Growing up, Halime had always known it would one day be her responsibility to watch over her caravan. She the granddaughter of the caravan leader, after all, and with the ever present and tragic reality that she had lost her parents, she was the only one in the line to watch the caravan. It was a responsibility she shouldered with pride from a young age. She learned how to call upon the rains with Dede, she learned about what little politics existed within her caravan from Nene. She learned how to speak and hold herself with confidence and poise and yet, none of it mattered. It was all gone, destroyed within a puff of smoke and a stray lightning bolt on a particularly dry summer. Everything that had ever mattered to her in her short life disappeared before her very eyes, including her Nene and Dede. The little fox felt her entire world begin to close in on her, the flames engulfing her vision, when suddenly she felt the pull of strong arms around her waist.

And that was when she met him. When she opened her eyes, he was there, looking down at her with his dichromatic eyes. The most beautiful eyes she had ever seen. His hands were upon her cheeks, preparing to pry her jaw open (likely for mouth to mouth), even though she was clearly breathing normally. Her heart leapt out of her chest. Was this the man that had rescued her from the fires? Was this her hero?

That had been years ago, and yet the events of that day still weighed heavily upon Halime’s slender shoulders. Had she had a better grasp of the rain waters, could she have saved her caravan? Or maybe if she had been able to detect the fires quicker? She sits in contemplation amongst the open plains of Bastion, her feet digging into the grass. She sighs. The little fox flops down into the grass, spread eagle. She pulls out a few wads of paper from inside her shirt, tossing them aside in the grass with a frustrated grunt. For the last few years, she’d spent so much of her time trying to impress him. And yet, he never paid her any mind. She was nothing more than another face in the caravan, there was nothing special about her to him.

She flops down, rolling around in the golden grass like a child, her thoughts swimming in her head.

Duty. Responsibility. Honor. These had defined the little vulpera’s life for as long as she could remember. She had always pushed herself to fit into the mold Dede had left her. Stand strong. Stand proud. Speak clearly, speak firmly. Lead. She felt like she was finally on the right path to becoming a suitable leader but suddenly she had no guide, she had no mold to follow. She only had herself. But was she enough?

One mistake didn’t take away from the whole, right? She pulls out a handful of the grass, tossing it upon her face and blowing away the strands forcefully. It flies right back into her face, landing into her awaiting eyes and causing the little vulpera to scratch at her face angrily. Ugh. She couldn’t do anything right!

And like that, she cried.

She wasn’t sure for how long she had laid there, perfectly still in the grass, but it felt like both an eternity and only a moment had passed. The almost oppressive light bore down upon her, like the ceaseless summer she knew so familiarly from back home. The only thing missing was the burning heat. Bright green eyes turn upwards, staring at the open sky. A larion flew by, its wings spread open as it soared high above the vulpera. So carefree. So open. Weightless. She wished she could be like that, instead of anchored to her responsibilities, her emotions, her duty.

The girl picks herself up off the ground, taking a few cautious steps forward. She had nowhere to go. Sure, she had the Port. She had the company. But was that a home for her? Did they really want her there? Her eyes begin to sting again as she rubs at them frantically. That elf from the mess certainly didn’t. Nor did Rhuss or Hakipp. If she couldn’t even convince her family to like her, how could she convince anyone else? Try as she might to stop it, tears began to well up in her eyes again, falling down her little furred cheeks. Her steps are slow, struggling, like her feet were made of lead. Keep moving, stop standing around. Forward, not back. Forward, not in the same place. Always forward. She wasn’t sure where forward was, but she continued. This was how she always calmed herself, by walking. Moving. Wandering.

But it was also how she managed to get herself in the most precarious situations, as she stepped right off the edge of a large cliffside. Wind rushed past her, making her large ears flap like wings to keep up.

She finally felt weightless.

She finally felt free.




And then she didn’t. But she hadn’t hit the ground, she was still… weightless. She was still in the air. The sway of the wind had changed, her hair and ears flopping to behind her. She was still moving forwards but without that feeling of being trapped. She reaches down, hands grabbing hold of fur almost like her own, which startles her. What-? Who? She opened her eyes slowly, looking ahead of her and finding that same larion that had been flying overhead not too long ago.

Together, they fly. And they fly for ages, over the open plains of Bastion. The larion touches down upon the ground not too far away, setting her back down upon the solid pathway leading towards Aspirant’s Rest. At least the larion seemed to like her. She smiles, so big it made her cheeks hurt, as she reaches up and takes the large animal’s head in her hands, bringing it down for pets and affection. She certainly couldn’t leave now.

The words of the Kyrian ring in her head, like the ringing of their vespers throughout the entirety of Bastion, while she walked with her new friend along the road. To where? She didn’t know. But again, she walked forward. What was it they said? Not to let her past define her? She sighs, resolute. Those were the words she needed in that moment. She’d felt the weightlessness. She’d felt the freedom. And she knew. This was where she was needed. She’d made her decision.

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