Hello, dear readers. This is a simple informative update. Just wanted to let you know what to expect in the near future. I plan on releasing my next update on Friday. This may not occur, however, as I have obligations that I will have to tend to throughout the week. Nevertheless, I will at least attempt to compensate for this potential event by giving you another gift.
Tom grabbed the young woman and ran. When he finally found a sufficiently safe place, he and the girl stopped.
“Why did you save me!?” the girl screamed, ripping her arm out of Tom’s hand. “Did I ask you to save me?”
“Let me answer that question with a question of my own: did I ask your permission to save you?”
“No,” the girl spat.
“There you go,” Tom said, sitting on a nearby tree stump.
“You didn’t answer why you did it,” the girl bitterly reminded him, refusing to sit down herself.
“Right. I’ll gladly tell you why…on one condition: you tell me why you want to die.”
“Does it matter!?”
“Very much so. You think you’re the first person who’s tried to kill themselves on my watch? Ha! So how about it? Your story for mine?”
:”Fine,” the young woman conceded. “My whole family was killed by raiders. All of them! Dead! The raiders raped me, but left me alive! I don’t think they did it on purpose, but they did! Beaten, bloodied and barely breathing, but alive. I hate my life! I should’ve died there! I wish I had! Why didn’t you let me die!?”
“Well, sounds like there’s more to it than just survivor’s guilt, but I’ll indulge your curiosity. I saved you because you were in danger. Most people appreciate that. It seems I may have misjudged the situation. Nevertheless, even if I had known your motives, I would still have tried to save you. I value human life. Even if the person who owns it doesn’t. I would have saved you for the very belief that life is intrinsically valuable.”
“Well…you’re wrong…” the woman said pensively. “I’m not valuable at all. No one loves me. I’m just a used up husk that’s been cast aside.”
“Let me ask you one more thing.”
“Sure. What is it?”
“How did you survive?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why didn’t you bleed out, then and there?”
“A kindly traveler came by and restored me to health. Having nowhere else to go, I joined him on his travels. He became a surrogate father, I suppose. He left me behind, too, though. About a week ago, we were travelling through the forest. We were running low on food, so he and I separated to scavenge the forest. I was out for a couple of hours, but when I came back, he was gone.”
“Was his name Alphonse Redbark?”
“Yes…How did you know?”
“This is his,” Tom said, producing a simple pocket watch. “I found his cart and his…body in a small cave off into the woods a couple days ago. He didn’t leave you behind. He was attacked and killed by bandits. You were lucky not to be there when it happened.”
The girl took the watch and cradled it as if it were a precious artifact.
“Lucky!?” she screamed, tears welling up in her eyes. “Lucky! I’m not lucky! Twice now my only family has died, and you have the audacity to call me lucky! I hate my life! I just want to die! And you’ve robbed me of that, too!”
“Tell you what,” Tom said, keeping his composure, despite the emotional woman in front of him. “When I leave, when I go back home, you can do whatever you want. Go ahead and kill yourself when I’m gone, if you are so intent on it. But while I’m here, I will do everything in my power to prevent you from dying, either by your own hand or by another’s.”
“Fine. Won’t be long till you leave anyways. Everybody else leaves.”
Tom turned to the young woman and stared at her intensely.
“What’s your name?”
“Claire Lark. Why?”
“Well, Claire Lark, it’s true that I will have to leave soon, but it’s up to you whether you join me. You’re more than welcome to. Just don’t fall in love with me or anything like that. I’m in a committed relationship.”
“Why would I do that?” Claire asked insolently. “I don’t even plan on journeying with you.”
“Fall in love with me? It happens a lot when you run around randomly saving people. It’s kind of a nuisance, actually. Cleo still hasn’t quite gotten past it. Anyways, take this,” Tom said, handing over a piece of paper he quickly scribbled on. “That address is for the guild Wasserdrachen. If you feel like not ending your life, go there, tell them Tom sent you, and they’ll take good care of you. Now, if you’re not joining me, I might as well go now. Don’t worry, though. I’ll just be in the next town over. Still have a job to do.”
Tom picked up his pack and started to head out.
“Wait!” the young woman plead.
“Can you…can you take me to where Al is? I want to see him, even if he’s not with me anymore.”
When they finally arrived, a somber mood filled the air. After some nervous conversation, Claire looked through the wrecked cart and Alphonse’s body. After procuring some goods for travel and a few precious trinkets, Claire set about saying her final farewell to her adoptive father.
“Can we bury him?”
“Sure. It’s not the first time I’ve had to do it. But let’s do it quickly. I wouldn’t bank on those bandits not returning.”
After that was done, Tom and Claire said goodbye and parted ways. For a brief moment, Claire watched as her unwanted savior walked away, but then turned and walked in the opposite direction. She tossed the note he had given her off to the side of the road. After a few steps, however, she turned and picked it up.
“I won’t live long enough to cash it in, but it never hurts to be prepared.”