Moderator: General Discussion Moderators
Logan sat upon the bed of his room at the inn, checking his supply of ammo. He slid his bundles of dynamite underneath the bed. He opened the barrel of his shotgun and slid two shells down the barrels. He loaded a full drum of bullets into his Tommy Gun. If the battle was coming soon, he would want to be prepared for it immediately.
Upon returning to the inn, he received a key to the room where he would be staying for the night. “The finest room fit for a hero!” Geoffroy proudly told him when he handed over the key.
The room it turned out was the only with access to the balcony. Outside, he could see the moon in the sky surrounded by numerous clouds illuminated by its light. Other than a lit candle upon a small round table near the bed, the moonlight was the only light that held by total darkness in the room.
By now, the inn’s doors were locked for the night. Anyone wishing to enter had to knock and wait for the innkeeper to open the door. This was done to prevent anyone from breaking in and robbing the place.
He took a drink from his waterskin, making a mental note to fill it up in the morning. As he was putting the lid back on, there was a knock on the door.
“It’s probably just a maid,” he muttered to himself as he stood before the door and opened it. Outside, he was greeted by Anges’ smiling face.
“Hello Mr. Logan,” she said. “I trust you are finding your accommodations satisfactory?”
Her appearance now was unexpected but welcome to him.
“It is more than enough,” Logan replied. “I would have been satisfied with any other room.”
“Perhaps,” said Agnes, “but giving you our finest room is father’s way of showing his respect for a great hero like yourself.”
Despite feeling pride growing within himself at the mention of the word “hero”, Logan knew better than to let it get to his head. Those who did eventually lost all touch with reality, believing themselves to be above to everyone around them.
Curiosity stirred within him. “If I may ask, what brings you here?”
“Do you mind if I come in for a few minutes,” asked Agnes.
“I can make my own bed and fluff my own pillows,” said Logan. “Thanks anyway.” He wanted to get some sleep so he would be ready for the attack should it come in the morning.
“It’s not that,” said Anges. “But there is something very important that I want to do. May I come in?”
Logan stood aside from the door. “Not at all. If I may ask, what for?”
“Well,” Agnes began as she stepped in. “There is something else I want. I think we should talk.”
“Oh,” Logan said as he closed the door behind her, puzzled. “About what?”
Agnes stepped further into the room. “Logan, once again, I just wanted to thank you for what you’ve done earlier. You didn’t have to do what you did, but you are a true gentleman to have done so.”
Actually, I did have to do it. Logan wanted to tell her. Instead, he said, “Someone had to do the right thing.”
Realizing that his weapons were still on the bed, Logan carefully placed them under the bed, but not before he stripped them of the ammo he had loaded earlier. The last thing he wanted was for Agnes to accidentally fire one and hurt herself. He found himself thankful for having unloaded them.
His eyes caught Anges watching him in curiosity. “You’ve never seen weapons like these before?” he asked.
“Not in all my life,” said Agnes. She tilted her head. “What are they?”
“Guns,” Logan replied. “Consider them modern day versions of your people’s bows and crossbows where I come from. More powerful and destructive, their lead sprays are faster and much harder to avoid than arrows and bolts. The Scourge are highly trained in using them.”
Agnes stood by the doors leading to the balcony. She opened them and stepped out onto the balcony.
“Anges?” Logan queried in concern. What is she doing?
“What’s wrong?” he asked her coming to her side, stepping out into the moonlight and onto the balcony, rubbing her own arms with the opposite hands. He saw her looking out over the city streets, oblivious to his presence.
Days out in the desert are very warm. But at night, when the sun went down, so did the temperature. Compared to the heat during the day, being out in the desert at night was like being caught in a weak winter storm. What a difference the absence of the sun made!
Anges stood in silence for several moments before speaking.
“I just thought I would get one last night out on this balcony, enjoy a final view of the city and the surrounding desert and the night sky…in case I…” She struggles to get the words out.
Logan knew what she was afraid of what was to come.
“My father is very worried as well,” said Agnes. “He’s afraid that this inn started long ago by his great-grandfather will be destroyed when the Scourge attack. I am worried as well Mr. Logan. Very worried indeed!”
What’s the big deal? Logan wanted to ask her, but fear of offending her prevented him from doing so. “This inn must be very important to you if it’s been in your family for years.”
“It’s more than just where I work,” said Agnes. “It’s also where we lived. I was actually born in this very room where you are staying tonight.”
Logan found himself beginning to understand why she wanted to come here. If the inn were to be destroyed or if she were to die, this would be the last chance she would get to enjoy the moment.
“I’ve never really had a chance to socialize much and make friends,” said Agnes. “I’ve been working here since I was fifteen years old, when my mother died. I’m twenty-four years old now. By then, most other girls have been married for several years. Most girls are raised just to find a husband and raise a family. But I…”
She struggled to get the words out. Logan sensed that something was troubling her soul. People with something troubling on their minds often had a difficult time speaking clearly and had difficulty concentrating on their surroundings.
“I want so much more out of life than to just marry and raise a family someday.”
I knew someone just like that, Logan wanted to tell her. His thoughts filled themselves with images of Katrina the evening she defied Garibaldi at the cathedral.
Twenty-four. That’s the same age as myself and Katrina. I was older than her by just three months. I’ll be twenty-five next February. We would have been married by now.
“I often wonder if there is something I am missing out on in life,” said Agnes. “But what does it matter to you anyway? I’m probably boring you reflecting on myself.”
“Not at all,” Logan said fighting off his weariness. “Please go on.”
Agnes smiled at him. “I love working at this inn. You might say it’s…” She chuckled. “Inn my blood!”
The two shared a laugh.
Agnes’ smile however soon faded and she turned her gaze back out beyond the balcony. “The future however looks grim for everyone present, even me. If I die, or if this inn is destroyed, I’ll…”
“Agnes, nothing is going to happen to you, I swear it!” The words had come out of his mouth before he could stop himself.
She may look like Katrina, but she is nothing like Katrina. His mind scolded him for his impulsiveness. Friendship is the closest you will ever have with her, nothing more. And he forced himself to agree. It had been only about three months since Katrina died, much too soon to form other relationships with women, even if they would only be allowed to be just friends.
I mistook you for someone I used to know. He remembered telling her two months ago at the marriage of Edward and Minerva.
How long had it been the last time he and Katrina had been alone together? Underneath a beautiful night sky? Sharing with each other their hopes and dreams?
Agnes had now shared with Logan her fear and worry that she would not survive when the Scourge attacked. Obviously, word had already spread of the attacks on the other three kingdoms that formerly guarded one of the elemental blades. Few people would sleep soundly for days. It was only a matter of time when Arcanius was attacked. It was a certain possibility that they were marching through the desert toward the city at this moment.
“What I mean to say is,” he quickly corrected himself, “is that I will make certain that you and as many people as possible survive when the Scourge attack. And if possible, I will try to limit the devastation.”
“I know what you said before Logan,” she said facing him. Their eyes locked onto each other. There was no anger in her voice. Instead, she sounded grateful. A slight smile appeared across the corners of her lips. “We haven’t known each other for very long, yet already I feel as if I can trust you with my life. I know for certain this time.”
Logan found himself unable to look away. He suspected that there had been a time in her life when she had her trust betrayed by another. Yet, if only she knew of his dark past, or what could have been if he had indeed joined the Scourge in waging war on humanity rather than waging a one-man war in its defense.
“What do you mean by ‘for certain’?” he asked. “Had there been another whom you once trusted, only to betray you?”
“I…” Agnes struggled to get the words out. She turned away, her cheeks red with shame. Her hesitation only confirmed his suspicions.
“This other person,” he began. “Did you love him?”
“I…” Agnes once more struggled. She turned away and slowly headed back into the room of her birth. “I thought I did. But it was just my heart playing tricks on me.”
As he followed her back inside, Logan cursed himself for asking a personal question. “I apologize if I caused you to relive your pain.”
“No,” Anges said. “It’s alright. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to tell you.” She cleared her throat.
“He was the son of a local duke. Very handsome, all the young ladies admired him. Even I was infatuated with him.” She sat upon the bed. “For a time, we did court. I actually believed that we would marry and settle down. However, once he found out I was just the daughter of an innkeeper, he didn’t want anything more to do with me. He even abandoned me while we were out in the desert, not even caring if I had died at the hands of a small band of bandits.”
As she continued to speak, Logan felt her voice quivering with sorrow. He could tell she was on the verge of tears. He wanted to comfort and console her, but his heart, bound to Katrina’s memory, held him back like a chain.
“I waited days for him to come back and save me, but he never did. When I was finally rescued by a handful of brave guards, I learned that he was involved with another woman, one whom he later married. He hasn’t spoken to me or even looked at me since then, not even when he comes into the inn.”
Logan stared at her in astonishment. “He abandoned you to save his own skin?” His stomach knotted with disgust. “What a coward!” He practically spat out the last word like the poison of a snake’s tongue.
Had Katrina been in your shoes, I would have tried to rescue you. I would have risked my life for you. I would never abandon her to her fate.
Nevertheless, he had tried to save her and he had failed. The agony of his failure would remain with him until the end of his days.
“I find it strange,” he said sitting down on the bed, keeping a small distance away from her, “that you still find it easy to trust. Most other people in your shoes would not by so willing to jump back into the fire once they’ve been burned.”
Agnes wiped at her eyes. Logan could tell she was trying to fight back her tears. Obviously, she had lost the battle as one had begun to flow down beneath her eye like a tiny river.
“Do you wish to know why?” she asked. “Because I believe there is a good and bad side to everybody. With of course the obvious exceptions.”
She is probably thinking about Walter and the duke’s son.
“I believe this to be true,” he told her. “I too know people who are so vile, cruel, and despicable, that the good in them is buried too deep to emerge. Sometimes I wonder if it’s actually even there.” Like Revelin! I would also think of Garibaldi, but even in the end he showed remorse once his soul was restored after being betrayed by his master.
“Even Garibaldi had some good in him,” said Agnes. “From what I was told after the stories of his death spread, I was one of few who sympathized with him. To be betrayed by someone he trusted and then left for dead, a feeling I know all too well. Not very many people feel the same though. Although…”
She chuckled with one hand clasped over her mouth.
“What?” asked Logan. “What’s so funny?”
“I wouldn’t call it funny,” she said. “I would think of it as more amusing. Just a few weeks ago, some woman came here from Iconoclast, trying to gather signatures for a petition calling for Garibaldi’s pardon.”
“I doubt she got any,” said Logan. He doubted whether he would actually sign such a petetion.
“No,” Anges quickly corrected him. “She did get a few.”
Logan surmised that she had signed the petition.
“I too know what it is like to experience a major heartbreak,” said Logan. “Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t save her. It’s that one memory, that one experience, and that one incident that forever shaped the course my life has taken. It’s why I’ve dedicated my life to battling the Scourge.”
He made sure to leave out the details of his past.
Agnes locked her gaze upon him. “I suppose it’s not something you want to talk to me about?” she asked.
Logan shook his head. “It’s too painful for me to even think about it. Even to this day…”
Agnes placed a comforting hand upon his shoulder. “Logan…terrible memories can be a great weakness. Don’t let these memories destroy you.”
They sat in silence for several more moments before Agnes arose from the bed. “It’s getting late Mr. Logan. You must be very tired by now.”
“I could say the same for you,” said Logan.
“You should get some rest,” said Anges opening the door. “I must be going to bed now myself. I just hope I don’t never awaken.”
Logan had heard stories of people who died in their sleep, some the victims of murder, others of natural causes.
“Good night Mr. Logan,” Agnes smiled at him one last time.
Before he could tell her goodnight, she closed the door, leaving him to himself.
In his dreams, Logan found himself underneath a starlit sky, devoid of clouds. The full moon illuminated the ground all around him. A gentle breeze blew all around him. And then, a soft hand joined together with his, indicating that he was not alone in this beautiful place.
He turned to see a familiar beautiful woman emerge from the darkness and into the moonlight. At first, he believed her to be Agnes, but once he saw the color of her eyes and her hair, he realized that it was not who he first believed it to be. Her emerald eyes twinkled more beautifully than any of the stars in the sky and her chocolate brown hair was tied back in a single ponytail. Despite this being a dream, he found himself hardly able to contain his joy once he recognized his companion as his lost true love.
“Katrina!” his voice was a loud whisper as soft as the wind. Smiling, she placed her hands upon his shoulders as he placed his own around her waist. They pulled each other forward as if a powerful magnetic force was at work. They locked eyes with each other and their lips moved closer.
Suddenly, Katrina’s eyes widen with shock and surprise as a mysterious force pulled her away from his body. He reached out to her, calling her name, and tried to run after her, but his legs would not obey his spirit. He felt paralyzed with helplessness as he saw two robed figures appear, grabbing Katrina’s shoulders.
“Take the girl away,” Garibaldi’s voice commanded from nowhere. “Kill her now!”
“No!” he cried. “No! You can’t!”
“Logan!” Katrina cried out in terror. “Help me!”
Her captors suddenly merge and became a wooden stake with her arms tied behind her back, securing her for the execution squad. Seven Scourge soldiers materialize from nowhere several yards away, wielding shotguns and Tommy Guns. He recognized every single on of their faces. Whatever cruel force at work holding him back would still not release him. No matter how hard he tried, he could no break free. His eyes forced him to look helplessly ahead and bear witness.
Once more, Logan felt the stab of helplessness and powerlessness within his soul. Even if this was only just a dream, there was nothing he could do to save the woman he loved. His most horrific memory had come to life as if to taunt him.
“Fire!” Revelin’s familiar voice shouted.
“No!” Logan screamed as their weapons screamed lead all at once.
He shut his eyes to block out the slaughter as silent tears streamed down his face. The sounds of gunfire battered his eardrums.
“Logan!” a woman’s voice echoed in the air around him. “Logan, wake up!”
He opened his eyes to find himself back upon the bed in the inn. Even back in reality, the dream tugged at his soul and mind. However, something felt wrong. He could still hear the sounds of gunfire, even if not as loud as in the dream. But there was another sound: the cries and screams of civilians.
Once his vision cleared and adjusted to the light of the early morning, he was greeted by Agnes’ face. He thought of saying “good morning” to her, but once he saw the fear in her eyes, he immediately realized that something was wrong.
“Logan!” her voice quivered with fear. “They’re here!”
His eyes opened wide and he sat up in bed. “What! So soon?” Even though he had long come before them, the battle had begun without him already. He cursed himself for his failure to rise earlier.
She nodded. “They came without warning from the desert just as the sun appeared. The first line of our defense has been completely obliterated!”
By now, Logan had already climbed out of bed, working as fast as his alert body would handle. He pulled on his boots, applied the trench coat to his body, and placed the hat upon his head. Whatever force that held him back from saving Katrina in the dream had released him. Even if it had not, there was no way he would allow it to hold him back any longer. He grabbed his weapons from under the bed and quickly loaded his shotgun and Tommy Gun. His gut and blood pulsed with anger at the sounds of gunfire and civilians screaming in terror. It was time for him to be a one-man army once more.
“Oh my god!” Agnes cried backing away from a window. “They’re right outside the inn!”
Logan gazed out the window and saw the carnage below. The sight of several Scourge soldiers holding a few poor civilians at gunpoint caught his attention. Would they attack the inn next? Had the doors been barricaded to prevent their entry?
There was no way he was going to allow this carnage to continue. Not in the name of Katrina! He may had failed to save her, but he still had to save as many civilians as possible. And there was certainly no way he was going to let them harm Anges, Katrina’s near-perfect double.
“Agnes, stay inside where you will be safe!” Logan ordered her. “Get everyone to barricade the doors!” He took one dynamite stick from his trench coat and showed it to her. “If you see one of these, run! Don’t come anywhere near it or let anyone for that matter!”
He forced open the doors leading out to the balcony.
“Logan, please be careful!” Agnes said.
“Worry about me later Agnes,” he told her. “For now, you’ve got to worry about yourself, your father, your home, and everyone else!”
He shut the door and readied his weapons as the Scourge soldiers opened fire on the defenseless civilians, ignoring their cries and pleas for mercy.
“Who wants some?” he called out to the morning carnage. With a might battle cry, he catapulted himself off the platform to the street below.