Rhiallis: Call Me Rhiallis

      Today’s snippet, titled “Call Me Rhiallis”, is a piece I wrote about my PC in Mark’s Pathfinder Campaign.
      Be forewarned, there may be mature themes and naughty language below.
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      The scabbard at her hip felt as if it weighed a thousand pounds; a warm, insistent weight against her thigh. She pursed her lips for a moment, then spoke.
      “It is with a heavy heart and a sorrowful tongue that I relay this news to you,” she began, swallowing hard to keep the tears from welling in her golden eyes. Twelve officers sat in a circle in the Commander’s tent, plus James, who had become their senior, and most of the party as well. “Commander Graves is dead.”
      She expected chaos. Tears, at least. Pulling at their hair, rending their tabards in a show of grief and respect. Instead, twelve heads bowed in eerie unison as the officers began a ritualistic prayer for their fallen lady. By the end, there were moist cheeks all around, but still they remained composed. Dutiful. Stricken to silence, perhaps. Rhiallis wanted to scream at them, she wanted to sob and rail at the gods for taking one of the Crusades’ brightest lights so young, with so much of her mission unaccomplished.
      She wanted the freedom to grieve for an ally she valued, a mentor she looked up to, a friend she treasured. She wanted to curl her knees to her chest and cry until her eyes were dry and the pain had ebbed, if ever it would.
      Duty required that she did not. Graves would not fall apart, in my position. She would stand here and eulogize me and when all was done, even if she vowed in her heart of hearts to see me returned to the mortal coil, she would go on with the task at hand. She would do what must be done, no matter her heart. So must I.
      Rhiallis squared her shoulders. “Commander Graves is beyond our reach, but we must believe that she has passed into Iomedae’s realm for she has earned that reward.”
      Behind her, she heard the words shadow and can’t and resurrection, but she refused to acknowledge the truth in them. Better that the common men did not realize their charismatic hero was, like Mytra, vanquished utterly; that the hope for bringing her back to life had been quashed by the manner of her death.
      “We will mourn her as she deserves, once Drezen is retaken and Our Lady reigns freely over the city once more. But until then, we must remain resolute. We must stand fast and conquer the demons who have taken up residence and desecrated the city.”
      James nodded fiercely, meeting her gaze. Rhiallis felt her palms grow moist and she had to look away.
      “She would not have wanted it any other way,” Celeste said. “Well, except of course that she were here.”
      Someone chuckled and another cleared his throat, as if the brief moment of levity offended him.
      “Once we have regrouped, the seven of us-”
      “Eight,” Mira said, interrupting. “Irabeth is sending someone new, someone from her own entourage, I think.”
      Celeste paused for a long moment, then grunted. “All right. The eight of us will return to the Citadel, leaving you twelve to resume your duties. We cannot let anything prevent us from successfully liberating the city. That means we need you guys to be vigilant. Nothing in or out.”
      The officers nodded their assent.
      “Should we tell the men?” one of them asked. Rhiallis thought his name was something like Gangarion or Gangrian, but the others usually called him Gaga.
      “We brought her out with us, to be interred when we can return to Kenabres. By now, if there are not rumors flying, I would be shocked. It is best to tell the truth – we will celebrate her life by kicking some demon ass,” she channeled a bit of Graves’ candid vulgarity at the end, earning a few smiles. “Back to duty, now. When there is more news, we’ll assemble again.”
      The officers filed out in order of rank, as always, and a few moments later, the others began to depart as well. Mira hung back, but said nothing. Rhiallis wanted to comfort her somehow, but there were no words. After a long, awkward moment, she shook her head and left the Commander’s tent.
      Her own was pitched nearby, but she stalked past it. Though she had no clear destination in mind, it felt good to stretch her legs and she found herself heading toward the outer ring of the encampment. The sword at her side was weighing her down and she wanted to just release the buckle of her belt, let it slide into the mud and keep walking and never look back.
      Her hand slipped around the hilt. It was warm and perfectly matched to her grip. She would not be able to drop it now that it was back in her possession. A greedy piece of her heart had embraced it the moment she found it, and had lusted for its golden grace since the instant she passed it to Graves. Ashamed of herself, she was actually, disgustingly pleased that it had found its way back to her waist. This is only temporary, she told the sword, leaning her elbows upon a low stone wall, overlooking the courtyard. She’ll wield you again one day. You’re not meant for me, you’re not.
      “So, do I report to you now, Corweir?”
      Rhiallis started.
      James mirrored her position, brushing his elbow against hers as he did so. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
      “Its fine. I just- I just did not hear you approach.”
      “A stealthy paladin,” he smiled at her. She noticed that he had just one dimple, a deep one, that gave his smile a somewhat rogueish charm. “That would be something, wouldn’t it?”
      “I once met a paladin who worshipped Erastil. He carried a bow and wore leathers, rather than plate. He was a strange fellow.”
      James made a face, nodding. She could not read its meaning and was suddenly at a loss for words.
      “Anyway, I was wondering how that’s going to work now. Googenheim ((Editor’s Note: I made up a random surname for Celeste because while James would refer to people by their surnames, I could not find record of Celeste’s player actually giving her one)) took over the Silver Dragons when Snowblood died. Are you going to be taking over the Knights, now that Commander Graves is dead? Shit, does that sound totally insensitive? I just meant-”
      “No, I know. It is fine.” It isn’t, she thought, it really isn’t. “Yes, until such a time as Irabeth or the Queen say differently, or if somehow…”
      She did not complete the thought. Bringing Graves back would be a herculean task, if it were even possible at all. It did not bear dwelling on.
      Rhiallis cast a sharp look at him and James smiled once more, reaching over to cover her hand with his own for a moment.
      “I mean, not good that she fell – really. I respect Graves as much or more than any commanding officer I have ever served with. But good that it is you.” He paused quite deliberately and met her gaze again, dipping his chin to capture it. “I am really looking forward to serving under you.”
      Her heart began to race, cheeks flushing as if she were a naive country maiden once again. Her lips would not form words, her tongue thick as a slug in her mouth. She blinked once, twice.
      James squeezed her hand once and then removed his, stepping away. The heat between them remained and she felt as if she could not catch her breath.
      “I have to go – Athynacious wanted to see me about something. See you later, Corweir.”
      “…Rhiallis,” she breathed to his departing back, too softly for him to hear. “Call me Rhiallis.”
– – – – – – – – – – –
Signed, Josie
Note: Image is “King Jagiello Statue Central” by (Mulligand) from SXC.hu; edited by me

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