2018-09-16: A Promise Renewed
- Cutscene: A Promise Renewed
- Cast: Mariel
- Where: Mariel's Home
- Date: September 16, 2018
- Summary: Mariel comes to a decision point in her life.
Mariel rarely got visitors to her home in the badlands.
It wasn't unheard of. Her little cabin wasn't really a secret so much as sufficiently out of the way that nobody really had a reason to go there; a home in a mountain valley that she'd been cultivating for over a human generation. She only lived in it for part of the year anyhow, preferring to travel to some of the smaller towns and provide care for places too small or poor to have a doctor of their own, and generally if people wanted to talk to her they did it then. Otherwise, once or twice a year she got someone desperately looking for a miracle cure who could not or would not wait, and once a decade or so someone trying to find a legendary Elw nobody else believed in, because rumours got around.
This week she'd had more visitors show up in one week than she usually got in a season.
Mariel had felt the awakening of Mother, even if she hadn't recognized what it was. Whatever Mother was doing to prevent people from contacting the Guardians had the effect of dampening her bond with Filgaia itself. Her connection with the dying world was rarely comfortable anymore, like a faintly sick sensation in a place no human language had a word for, deep inside. Having trouble coping with it was part of why the rest of the Elw had left in the first place.
Not having at it at all was worse. It was as if someone had kicked her legs out from under her and left her reeling; the one thing she could count on, steady even in its discomfort, was missing. And she was hiding from the Metal Demons, because she was weak; a single flower on a hill that any strong wind or heavy rain could uproot.
So she had been hiding away when the visitors came; Mariel hadn't left her house in a week and was behind on up-to-date information. She hadn't gotten the news that the Drifters that had vanished were now back, and she'd been taken by surprise when they appeared, especially given who some of them were.
She hadn't known that they'd found Elw teleporters on the Old Moon - Lunar, as the followers of Althena named it. She hadn't known that they'd seen a being that she had a name for, but had not believed existed and still did not want to: Obsession, the Sin, Clysmian. She hadn't even known that they'd found things the Elw had made and left on Filgaia that were still hurting people today, because nobody had told her before and she hadn't troubled to look herself.
But now she knew, or at least she'd been told.
Since they had left, Mariel had thought. A lot. She had spent the few days since her guests had come and gone in the lands around her cabin, where she often went to cultivate, but her mind was busy. One day, she had simply gone into the forest, sat on a tree that had fallen in a windstorm a few months back, and was alone with her thoughts for an entire afternoon. Then she made some other preparations: collecting what she could, creating tinctures and powders and oils, including some she rarely felt any need to make; packing; cleaning her cabin.
It was now bright and early in the morning, the sun just coming up, and it would be a pleasantly sunny autumn day. She took that as a good omen. Mariel walked across her cabin from her workbench to her small bed. Kneeling down, she reached under it, pulling out a narrow wooden case as long as a tall man's lower arm. It looked no different in design than many of the other wooden containers she'd made over the last few hundred years, but this one was special for what it held. She had always kept it as a reminder of her promise - not that she needed it - and the only memento of her brother she had been able to keep, mostly because nobody else had known she'd found it.
Mariel set it on her work table, now mostly cleared, and opened the catches.
Mariel was not wearing her gloves at the moment, and she rests her fingers on the object inside the case. It was nothing but a broken shard of metal, slightly twisted and with a jagged side where whatever the original object had been had shattered into fragments, resting wrapped in plain cloth to stop it rattling around. The cloth was old, she realized, and showing its age. How long had it been since she'd actually opened it up and replaced the wrapping? She'd have to get more.
"Brother..." Mariel falls silent for several seconds before she continues. "I swore... to do what was right, and to make amends for what was done. It was the least I could do, for you and for Filgaia. But now I wonder..."
Mariel trails off. It takes her a few moments to start up again. "I wonder what else you didn't tell me, and what else you saw in your quest. What else the Elw did, before, and who else that hurt. I need to know. And... I can't hide here anymore. It won't save me from the Metal Demons and it won't fix anything else. I know all you wanted was to keep me safe, but..."
She didn't finish, but she didn't need to.
Mariel slowly lifts her fingers from the metal fragment, looking down for a few more seconds before gently pulling a fold of cloth overtop of the shard and closing the case. She hesitates for a moment with where to put it before moving toward her travelling pack. It takes her twenty minutes to almost completely unpack it, nestle the wooden case into it near the bottom, and get everything else back in the pack without overflowing, but she feels better once she's done so. It needed to come with her. It wouldn't feel right if it didn't.
Mariel knows she's taking a risk. She won't be safe when she leaves her cabin. It's dangerous, and she's afraid - but if she's being honest, her cabin is not safe either. Not with Mother alive. Planting flowers might have been enough to hold back the desert, though she'd increasingly felt it was a hopeless task more than once. But with everything else... the return of the Metal Demons, the other remnants of the time of the Elw...
She needs to know, or she won't be able to tell if her brother's desperate plan and her own oath had meant anything at all.
Mariel pulls her travelling pack onto her back, and then her satchel full of herbal supplies over one shoulder. The unbalanced weight makes her sway for a moment before she gets everything straightened out, but once she has she heads for the door, stepping outside and into the bright morning.
She does not bother to lock the door behind her as she walks away from the cabin, down a rough path that leads past her flowers and her tangle and into the wilderness. The animals will get in no matter whether the door is locked or merely latched if she's away for long enough, and she didn't leave anything irreplacable behind.