I Will Not Fear

Blaidrym watched the Outsider approach, and he was not afraid. As the battle raged around him, he felt only confidence that the threat would be eliminated. The weapons and magic danced around to the tune of his flute. He watched with awe as the power of the Landbond Stone blasted the creature into the nothingness where it belonged.

As Dreadrot arrived with his undead hordes, Blaidrym relished the coming destruction of the lich. There was no doubt they would win. Weapons smashed through skeletal bones, and motes of earth magic blasted them apart. Through it all he played on, channeling his eagerness and joy at the coming victory into the magical flute.

Then came the final word that the shard was falling apart, that everyone had to leave. That was okay. Blaidrym's sister and mother had evacuated weeks ago. The rest of his family would make it out just fine. The people would survive and thrive in a new land. Who knows, perhaps in the new land things would work out well enough he could actually be with his family once more, and with his loved.

He worked hard to keep the refugees flowing through the portals. It was a river to rival the Corsith made of all the races of Acarthia. The roads were becoming lined with broken wagons left for the occupants to continue on foot, or bits of furniture and other possessions the evacuees had decided wasn't actually as vital as they first thought. The occasional team of horses pulling an ornate wagon made Blaidrym smile. His efforts to organize a united Selunari evacuation had not worked out particularly well. But Blaidrym wasn't worried. Selunari were expert travelers and could get themselves out. And whether they ended up in Nydabeth or some other land, they would do well for themselves.

A murmur in the river caught his attention. Faces looked up, and hands pointed to the sky. Blaidrym followed the fingers to see what in normal times would be an absurd sight. A ship broke through the clouds, slowing as it approached the portal. He smiled. Now there was an adventure he absolutely wasn't going to miss out on. He dashed into his wagon and gathered the few possessions he couldn't be without.

As he stepped down from the wagon the last time, he patted the green-painted wood. It had been a good little house on wheels, but he couldn't take it with him. The other Selunari would take it with them. He nuzzled the noses of his horses, and gave them one last cube of sugar. This was a harder parting, but the sky called and he turned at last to hurry to where the ship hung over the amazed crowd.

"Permission to come aboard?" he called.

The appearance of a rope ladder dangling down to him was answer enough. He pulled himself up the ladder towards the deck. The gear that felt like so little now felt all too much. A third of the way up he paused to drink an endow. First, he carefully hefted the guitar over the rail onto the deck. Then came the mandolin. Then the fiddle. Then the second guitar. The other instruments were small enough to stay in his pack. When he finally came over the rail himself, Lagarde was looking at him with that mix of amusement and incredulity Blaidrym knew so well.


Lagarde just shook his head and turned back to the gathering of Acarthians around him. Blaidrym found himself a cabin and stashed his stuff out of the way. The magic flute, though, was coming with him. Not that he had a choice, he couldn't put it down.

Back on deck, he hooked a leg around the railing at the bow and gazed out over the land they were leaving behind. But his attention was mostly on the portal and the land beyond. He was excited to see what was ahead.

More out of habit than intention, Blaidrym put the flute to his lips and began to play. Were sea shanties appropriate when there was no sea? He decided it didn't matter, it was a ship, so ship songs it was.

The Salty Vixen began to move. He played on. The portal loomed around the ship, and the music quickened in pace. The moment Blaidrym left Acarthia, a sour note squealed from the flute and a tremor ran through it. A pop sounded, and his fingers felt the crack.

He stared at the flute in confusion; the magical artifact was supposed to be indestructible. It was still hole, but a thin crack now ran the length of the instrument.

And suddenly he was afraid. It struck him that he was leaving behind the only land he had ever known. He always told himself he was at home wherever he went, like any true Selunari. But Acarthia had been the land that had birthed him and housed his family. The fields through which he had run as a child, the roads that had carried his wagons and horses. They had been Acarthian fields, Acarthian lands, Acarthian roads.

All the fears that had been suppressed since he had first touched that flute came suddenly washing over him. The memory of the horrid outsider, and the way he so casually slaughtered those around him, made him want to run. The sight of the monstrous lich bearing down with his seemingly endless hordes made him want to cry.

He couldn’t contain himself. He stood and ran the length of the ship, not even noticing the looks from the crew. At the stern of the ship, Blaidrym joined the faces peering out at the vanishing land behind them. And he was terrified to go.

He was afraid of the unknown land to which they were heading. He was afraid that his friends and family would not escape. He was afraid that those that did escape would find no safe place to go. He was afraid that the friends who went on before would be gone forever.

But mostly Blaidrym was afraid that the failures that had defined him in Acarthia would follow him to the new land. He had tried to keep his family and love safe, and he had failed. He had tried to protect the warriors around him, and he had failed. He had tried to save the Dutchess’ son and stop a war, and had failed. He had tried to rescue a hostage, and had been captured and been forced to turn on his friends. He had tried to protect the Dutchess, and had instead watched helplessly as she died.

He was afraid he could do nothing but fail again and again.

“How ya doin’?”

Blaidrym turned at the sound of the cheerful voice. Ivy stood a few feet away, a smile on her face and her leaves trembling in the wind of their passage. He hadn’t seen her when he came on board, where had she been hiding?

He took a breath and prepared to lie and say he was all right. But he paused. Despite the difficulties, his mistakes, his failures, Ivy had always greeted him cheerfully and been happy to see him.

And she had not been the only one. Lagarde stood a little ways away. Always a brave companion and stalwart ally, even if he was a bit more chaotic these past few days. And now that he thought about it, there were many others, even if they were not there with him now.

Kathrine Elavir, Baroness, Dutches, and in his mind Queen, had been accepting and supporting and encouraging from the moment he had met her. Baron Morningtide had been a generous patron. Lord William of Shadyside, Emarric Argent, wherever they were now, had been so helpful. Talyn, Neysa, Quin, Cemmia, they were family now.

All the adventurers he had fought alongside over the years in Acarthia, they were all his family. Together, they had defeated liches, outsiders, tyrants, and more monsters then he could count. The outsiders had fallen. Dreadrot had fallen. All that had come before them had fallen. Surrounded by such people, what did Blaidrym really have to fear?

“Blaidrym?” Ivy asked again. “You okay?”

He nodded. “I will be.”

“How about some music?”

Blaidrym looked down at the flute and fingered the newly appeared crack. It wasn’t as bad as he thought at first, a hairline crack that hadn’t even gone all the way through. He lifted it to his lips and tested a couple notes. It sounded fine.

The music took them forward towards the new land. There would be uncertainties, there would be difficulties and hard times. But he knew now he didn’t have to be afraid.