Monday, February 25, 2019

103 - “The Soothing Darkness” - DeFrantis - A Tale of Heroes

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DeFrantis hurried down the hallway toward the child’s voice, shaking the sleep from her head. The lantern she held wobbled back and forth, making shifting shadows before her. She reached out to steady herself on the wooden wall, and half-wondered why the corridor’s floor wasn’t undulating or stretching. She paused for a moment, squeezed her eyes shut, then looked again, seeing more clearly.

OK. The dream’s done, isn’t it? This is real, right? Marisee is still crying. DeFrantis lurched ahead, her walk getting more stable as she awakened. She must’ve had another nightmare, too. When will this be over?

It didn’t take DeFrantis long to reach the hallway of the orphanage wing. The first two doors were the dormitories. Boys on the left, girls on the right. She hurried to the right. The room was long and high, with about a half dozen small beds all along one side. Each was little more than a billowy blanket stuffed with straw spread on the floor, with pillows and blankets above. Wrapped into each one was a young girl. In one, halfway into the room, Marisee was sitting up, crying out. As soon as she saw DeFrantis’ face in the lanternlight, she stopped sobbing and began simply sniffling, wiping her face with her baggy white sleeve.

DeFrantis rushed to her bedside and reached over to hug and soothe Marisee. The girl was small, and frail, probably no older than 7 winters. Her nightdress was someone else’s larger shirt. “Did you have a nightmare?” DeFrantis felt the girl’s head nod against her shoulder, and felt her labored breathing. “It’s OK. I did, too.”

“It was h--horrible! It was a h--huge dragon, like that m--man said! It was going to eat--eat me up in one bite!” her voice trailed off into crying again.

DeFrantis held her close and stroked her hair. “It’s OK. You’re safe now. You’re safe.” Memories passed through her thoughts. Back in Twynne Rivers, there were many nights of frightening dreams. Childhood is full of them. She used to calm the children, and promise that she would always protect them. I can’t say that any more. I can’t always keep that promise. Tears swelled up in her own eyes. I can only promise to fight for you. For the moment, all she could say was a sweet shushing sound as she hugged and rocked the girl back and forth.

In between sobs, Marisee begged, “Can you make it dark?” This simple plea took DeFrantis back to those long nights of fear and sleeplessness in the city. They were usually when the storms would rage around whatever flimsy shelter they had found. Once they had settled into the old chapel, those nights had become less frequent. Maybe it was because it was strong and stable, or maybe because it was a chapel, but it was much easier for the children to sleep there. Still, there was one thing DeFrantis could do when the fright would not go away.

DeFrantis raised her head, closed her eyes, and focused her will. Slowly, the shadows along the wall, under the beds, and down the hall began to swirl and flow toward her. They gathered around the bed, coalescing on the child in her arms. She was quickly engulfed in shadow and darkness, a darkness DeFrantis knew well. She felt the shadow begin to absorb all of the fear, tension, and uncertainty from her, draining them all away. Marisee also relaxed in her arms and stopped crying as the cooling dark swept away her fears.

Within moments, DeFrantis felt the child’s breathing slow to an easy rate, and she knew Marisee was sleeping again. DeFrantis released the shadow, letting it subside, and the room was dim once more, dark, but lit from the lantern at the bedside.

She eased the girl back into the bed, drew up the blankets, and gently stroked her hair from her eyes. Smiling, DeFrantis stood, and picked up the lantern. She walked through the room once, quickly checked on the others, who slept soundly. Then, she returned to the hallway, lingering for only one last checkover at the doorway.


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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