WARNING! Lengthy story!
This is 2766 words of rubbish that I made to express what grief feels like to my Dungeons & Dragons character, Trym... and to me as well. It's a long piece, and I just wanted to wanted to warn you of that so you are prepared to grab something to drink while you read!
Other stories to also read: Two Blades (another story about this same character!), Thank You For Loving Me, Annaka & Arden
Darkness enveloped the world like a dark blanket. Pale mists swirled from unseen places and wrapped themselves around a Halfling, whipping at her, making her blink her sharp green eyes as it tangled her long golden hair around her neck and face.
The mists whispered, their words jumbled and overlapping one another. Only a few words and names stood out to the Halfling. With each name she heard, she experienced pain, such pain that she could barely breathe or stand.
The mists hissed the name of her father, who she had lost so long ago, then the name of her first teacher, who had died only a few years ago.
Trym grabbed her head, her fingers groping at her scalp, pulling at her hair. She stumbled a few steps as her vision tilted one way, then the other, overcome by the throbbing pain.
The mists wiggled between her fingers, sinking into her ears. They whispered the name of her dearest cousin, a cleric who had suffered a fate worse than death before ultimately succumbing to death itself.
“Enough! Stop it!” Trym swiped at the mists as more pain pounded inside her skull.
The mists grew thicker around the Halfling, tugging, clawing, and biting at her before saying one final name.
Trym opened her eyes.
The mists repeated the name in a cruel, mocking tone. It was her mother’s name.
The dark world turned red in Trym’s eyes. Her hands clenched into fists. Her muscles grew taut and began to quake.
“I said…” She grit her teeth together and drew her arms in close to her chest, red light glowing in her fists, “ENOUGH!” She threw her arms open. An explosion of red light burst out from her entire body, burning the mists, making them shrivel and fall to the dark ground in liquid puddles. There, they twitched and writhed before standing up and taking on humanoid shapes.
One was a blue half-dragon. Trym barreled up to the beast and took a swing at him. Before her fists connected with him, he sneered and disappeared in a puff of smoke. She snarled like an animal and spun around, watching another mist rise up and take the shape of a cultist woman in purple robes. Trym charged the woman and jumped into the air, arms open, ready to grapple her and choke the life out of her. Just like the half-dragon, the woman smiled and disappeared, leaving Trym to fall to the ground, empty-handed.
“Awww… the little paladin can’t catch her quarry? Struggling to fit into your own armor, I see. What a pity.” A masculine voice sounded from the darkness. Trym vaguely remembered the voice, but could not place it. It stirred burning hatred inside her. “I know! The church has been too tough on you, expecting you to haul in fish that are too large, if you know what I mean. Let’s try something easier, shall we?”
One of the mists stood up and took on the form of a sour-faced old man Trym recognized as Nix Stonehill. How she disliked him! In fact, as she stared at him, she felt anger well up in her chest and turn to hatred. She opened her mouth, unleashing a bestial roar that turned into a burning wall of fire. The old man’s eyes went wide just before the wall slammed into him, punching him backward. He slammed into something, then crumbled into a smoldering heap on the floor where he did not move again.
Trym winced as more pain bit at her temples. Why had she done that? She didn’t really hate that crabby old man.
The voice laughed. “Well done! That was easy. Let’s try another one!”
Trym whirled around and watched as another mist took the form of a dwarf paladin she knew: Onthar Frume. Once again, anger welled up inside of Trym, this time turning into a burning rage. It boiled inside her, coursing through her veins, making the red world turn a shade darker. A dragon-like roar erupted from her mouth before she charged the paladin. With each step she took, she grew several feet taller until she was towering several feet over the dwarf.
Frume fell into a defensive crouch, raising a shield, but he could not stand against the monster Trym had become. She beat her giant fiery fists against him relentlessly, one right after the other, her knuckles ringing on his armor like a hammer on steel, the force of her blows crumbling his shield into scrap. Finally, he fell to the ground, arm broken. But Trym couldn’t stop herself. She beat him until he was little more than a bloodied pile of broken bones.
As he died, pain exploded in Trym’s chest, like a red hot sword piercing through her. She stumbled back and groped at her heart with a gasp. She stared at the broken paladin lying on the ground, terror rushing through her at the sight of what she’d done.
She didn’t hate Onthar! He was a decent dwarf that she respected. Why had she killed him?
The voice laughed. “Oh, that was fun! Feeling that energy rushing through you? The terror and excitement? Let’s try something a little more exciting!”
The darkness bent, then shifted, tendrils branching out from it. They pierced a twitching pool of mist and mixed together until they formed into an older man wearing the red robes of a wizard.
“Gaku…” Trym snarled, her hatred returning and coming to a full boil.
The wizard spread his hands with a smile. “Come and get me!” With that, he shifted into the form of the young boy, Connite, the smile remaining on his lips.
Trym stared at him, teeth grit, rage pulsing burning her insides. She clenched her fists, then unclenched them, her muscles quaking as she struggled with both the urge to kill and her sympathy for the boy. She knew it really wasn’t Connite, but it wasn’t right for her to murder him.
“Trym… don’t do it.” She turned her head and looked at Alvin, her monk friend. “Con is my friend.”
“Oh, come on! I’m right here! Poke me!” The wizard’s voice came from Connite’s mouth. “You know you want it.”
“Let’s think about this for a moment, Trym, before we do anything rash.” Aldrik, the dwarf cleric, appeared on her other side, raising his mace and shield defensively.
“Why does everything we do turn into such a mess? I don’t like this!” Robin walked up behind the cleric, folding her arms, staring disapprovingly at Trym.
“I mean, he’s a kid, Trym. We don’t actually kill kids, do we?” Kale hurried up to Alvin’s side, looking at the monk and shrugging, “I mean, do we?”
“How could you even begin to consider such a heinous thing? He’s just a boy!” Acodo appeared next to Robin, weaving his hands in preparation for a spell.
“This is low, even for you Shortstuff.” Trym’s good friend, Toralei, stepped up to Alvin’s side, folding her arms and narrowing a tiger-like glare at Trym.
“Your friends are noble, but so naïve,” the wizard crooned, “They mistook me in the caravan for a simple old wizard. Some actually thought me an ally when I spoke up in your defense once! You let me slip right through your fingers, because of your noble, lawful little friends. Now, I’m offering you a free shot.” Connite’s form smiled and spread his arms, “Come on! Give me your best! Anything has got to be better than what your mother or cousin gave me! They were a disappointment on so many levels.”
Something snapped inside Trym, unleashing an ocean of rage. She roared as the wizard laughed, then charged, not caring what innocent guise he took or who stood in her way.
“No Trym!” All of her friends converged on her at the same time, tangling themselves around her feet and slowing her down.
The wizard laughed as Trym grabbed her friends in her giant hands and hauled them into the air. She raised them above her head and aimed them at her enemy.
Suddenly, a bright flash of light pierced the darkness, blinding Trym. Searing pain bit at her muscles, making her drop to her knees and release the deadly hold she hand on her friends.
“That is enough, young lady!” A familiar feminine voice shouted.
A blast of harsh wind slammed into Trym, pelting her with rocks and sticks. She bowed low and covered her head, crying out.
As quickly as it came, the wind faded. The whispers of the mist were replaced by the songs of birds.
Trym opened her eyes and saw lush green grass under her. She sat up and blinked as the light of dawn burned her eyes. She sat in the middle of a small garden, under a beautiful mimosa tree. Surrounding the garden were rolling green hills filled with all manner of flowers and wildlife.
“Well I never! Did beating the pulp out of everyone make you feel any better?”
Trym stood and spun around, coming face-to-face with an older Halfling woman. Her curly honey hair glinted with traces of silver and her green eyes were narrowed at Trym accusingly.
“Well? What do you have to say for yourself?” She put her hands on her hips and tapped her bare foot on the ground.
A lump formed in Trym’s throat, her eyes stinging. “Momma?”
Her mother huffed and grabbed her apron, wiping her hands on it. “Trym, I taught you better manners than this. What did any of those people ever do to deserve such a temper tantrum?”
Trym glanced around herself, then back at her mother. “I… I...”
Her mother spiked an eyebrow, frown deepening. “The answer is nothing. You are just out of control.” She walked away to a bare patch in the garden, picking up a trowel and using it to dig a hole where she placed a petunia. “This isn’t the way I raised you!”
Trym clenched her fists, “If ya had yer way, I would be stuck in a cozy hole in the ground with a fat husband and a mess of wee ones runnin’ about while I tilled a garden and worked in the kitchen all tha live-long day!” She unclenched her hands and shuddered, realizing she had slipped into an old, pointless argument she used to have with her mother regularly.
Her mother sighed, “Stop using that ridicules Dwarfish accent! Just because you have dwarvin blood doesn’t mean you can talk like you crawled out of a dark hole in a mountainside! Speak properly.” She turned around to peer at Trym. “And the same goes for your manners lately. Whatever happened to good old fashion Halfling curtesy? The little folk don’t go around starting fights. They might finish them, but they never start them. You’ve been doing just the opposite. It’s downright improper and embarrassing.”
Trym felt her lip tremble. She glanced up and around, trying to bring herself under control, but all she could think about was how perfect the garden was and how much she missed her momma. Before she could stop it, cruel sobs tore past her throat and a torrent of tears flooded from her eyes.
Her mother’s eyes went wide with horror, “Trym! Trym darling, what is the matter?” She dropped her trowel and hurried up to her daughter, “Whatever could make my stoic paladin girl cry her eyes out?”
“I love you, momma. I never told you how much I loved you.” Trym covered her face with her hands as the sobs refused to show her mercy. “Only now do I realize how pointless my priorities were before. I wish I had spent more time with you in the garden. I wish I had listened to you talk during teatime, instead of arguing with you. I wish I had read more of the books you wanted me to read. I took you for granted!” Her mother wrapped her into a comforting embrace and guided her to a little bench where they both sat. She rubbed Trym's back and held her close until the sobbing had quieted some.
“There now, Dawnbringer. No sense in crying your heart out for spilled milk, eh?”
“You aren’t spilled milk! You’re my mother and I want you back!”
A sharp pinch in the elbow made Trym look at her mother, blinking the tears from her eyes just in time to see that warm, comforting smile she missed so much.
“Everyone passes on, Trym. You couldn’t keep me forever. Punishing those around you because you feel empty without your loved one is no way to live, and it’s downright selfish. You need to let me go.”
Trym wiped her sleeve across her dripping eyes. “I don’t want to. I never stopped to tell you how much I loved you. You were gone in the blink of an eye. I want to make it right.”
Her mother stroked a strand of Trym’s hair behind her ear. “You never made it wrong to have to make it right, sweet one. I never doubted that you loved me. Not once. I saw it in the quiet moments when you thought I wasn’t watching. Remember the time you secretly planted wild iris around my picket fence to make it pretty for my birthday? Or when you gave me your salary instead of using it to fix your armor? And that time you got me a new tea kettle when my old one was stolen? It was the little things that meant the most to me.”
“Oh. Well… I have to confess… the tea kettle wasn’t exactly new...” Trym sniffed and wiped her sleeve under her nose.
“For heaven’s sake, girl! Where is your handkerchief?” Her mother admonished as she pulled out her own lacy handkerchief and pressed it into Trym’s hand.
“What am I gonna do without you, momma?” Trym’s lip trembled as she spoke.
Her mother laughed softly, “Get your own handkerchief, I hope!”
Trym reached out and grabbed her mother’s warm hand, holding it tightly. “I feel lost without you.”
Her mother’s smile grew and she placed her hands on Trym’s cheeks. “All these years, as you’ve blazed your own trails, you’ve had your family right there with you. Now, you’ve finally set out on an adventure without your cousin tagging along or your mother coming to find you. You have to find support from others now, from friends, not family. Setting out on your own is a scary thing, and goodness knows that asking for help has never been your strength, but it’s about time you learned how to fly without me there to hold your kite strings.” She leaned forward and planted a lingering kiss on Trym’s forehead, “Now, close your eyes.”
Trym did as she was told, reaching out and resting her hands on her mother’s shoulders.
“I’m in a good place, Trym. I’m happy and safe. I love you and I am proud of you. Now, with this knowledge, I want you to go and show the world what I’ve always known: that you, my daughter, are amazing.”
Trym felt her mother slowly fade away from beneath her hands. “I love you, momma.”
She could feel the warm glow of her mother’s smile fill her heart, even as she woke to the dark ceiling of her room in the Yawning Portal Inn. She rolled over and saw her bard friend, Robin, sleeping peacefully on the other bed near the door.
Trym sat up, wiped the tears and sleep from her eyes, then wrapped her blanket around her shoulders and curled up at the head of her bed. She stared out the window beside her, watching as the pale light of dawn brightened outside world. Her mind wandered to those last precious moments she had with her mother. She wasn’t sure if it had been real, or only a dream, but it was exactly what she had needed. In her attempt to ignore the pain and deny her loss, she had taken her grief out on everyone around her and left her heart broken and empty. Now it was time to come to terms with the fact that she had lost someone dear and fill the empty space with the sweet memories. The process would hurt, but it would make her a better person.
Trym smiled as she thought about these things, peace filling her soul. As she crawled out of bed and dressed for the day, she remembered something her mother had once told her. It was something she had brushed aside, only now realizing the wisdom behind it: Death is not the end of life, but a part of it. It only becomes a tragedy if the living let it destroy what’s inside of them.
Author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion,she returns to this world just to play with her dog and blog about her fun.
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