Chromatic ArchKnight of RP
The fizzing of twin bottles filled the air, one opened with bright certainty, the other with carefully mimicked motions. The soldier raised hers to her lips, drinking deeply and happily. Ulum simply set theirs on the table and stared. Memories bubbled their surface; smoothness and fruitiness and a pinch of fizz. Every moment of everyone else’s enjoyment, delivered to them without the need to raise a finger. Their eyes, currently those of the healer that had rushed to their aid, dropped.
All this suffering, all these lessons in how to swim and how to create on a journey to become themselves, and they still only live the lives of others.
Ulum’s companion, for her part, took no notice.
“I’m tellin’ ya’ Ulum, I’ve seen it every year.” Jacklin took another deep sip of her juice. “All two of ‘em that I’ve watched. You get out there, you fight your hardest, and the Lords pick a dead man. Well, woman. Well, eyeless earth monster.”
A loud slam echoed through the Tavern. Ulum jumped, then realized with astonishment that the source had been themselves. Their fist had smashed down upon the table, causing their open bottle of Moglinberry Juice to shake precariously. They grabbed it and held it steady, gently pushing aside the healer’s memories of the decision to instead dive for an emotion.
The defiance of the Fatethief, directed towards the words the soldier spoke. The quiet rage of Sonder, molded into Ulum’s desire to correct the woman before them.
“A champion.” They whispered, some of the first words they’d spoken since Jacklin had met them at the exit and insisted Ulum join her for a celebratory meal. “Ribali is the Lord’s champion, not a monster.”
She was more than that still. She was teacher. Artist. Friend.
Jacklin smiled. “Alright, you got me there.” Another sip of her bottle. “Levanna though… now that woman was a monster. You’ll just have to trust me on that.”
The question had risen unbidden, with no memory to command it. A wish to know something, something that had no meaning, gave no direction. Curiosity… was that a new feeling? A self tried to rise from the lake, to claim the feeling from a memory long drowned. Ulum nudged it down, clinging happily to their own thought.
Jacklin responded instantly. “Because we’d already met, and you ran off before you could really introduce yourself! And you put on a show to rival my own, so I thought I outta show some appreciation! Besides, it’s not everyday you get to share a meal with yourself, right?”
Ah, but she wasn’t. “Then… let’s complete the scene.” Ulum smiled and hesitantly extended a hand, riding the curiosity further. The dive within the healer had been short, the worker’s memories kept away from Ulum’s lake by training and curtness. After all they had been through, and outside the storm of the scorching sands and bloodied blades, could they still remember how to swim?
Jacklin laughed, her voice ringing with mirth. “Yes. Let’s.” She grasped Ulum’s hand tightly, and they fell.
A deep breath in.
They tip forward, welcoming the water. It is time to learn. It is time to become. But they will not become. Not truly.
The figure sweeps beneath the surface, sunlight filtering through and dancing patterns across their wavering form. The current is gentler outside the tide of war. Calm. Loving. They stroke deeper, diving low until they find the surface beneath the surface. A perfect mirror of the lake above. They gaze at the face reflected in the pool. Jacklin. Paragon. Soldier.
They dip a hand within the pool, scooping this water beneath the water and drinking it in.
Scent. The savory waft of meat greets her nostrils, pleasant and warm. The crowd is loud, the food is good, and her curious new companion is taking their first steps within the cellar. She takes a bite of her meat and cheers louder than the rest.
The figure thinks back, vaguely remembering the loud whistle that pierced Cellar’s walls.
Desperation. The edge of the seat barely holding her up as she leans forwards. Her companion is dying, overwhelmed by a metallic foe pressing steel to their gut. A whisper under her breath. “Win. Live.”
The figure remembers the cellar ground beneath their feet, the scramble and the fear of lightning. To think, someone felt the same for them.
Sight. She gazes upon Ulum, taking their first steps upon the sand-covered arena. She cheers again, proud of her chosen champion.
They really did it, didn’t they? They…
Sound. A voice reaches her ears, soft and soothing, but full of meaning. “Remember that now and forever you are Paragon still.”
Paragon. Paragon Paragon Paragon.
Ulum is Paragon, but Ulum is not Jacklin. Which means…
They gaze at the reflection. Instead of eyes of gold, why not the green of their grotto’s grasses? Instead of hair of crimson, why not the blue of their Home? Instead of the wispy smoke across their arms, why not the rain they so love? Yes… they shall be Ribali. They shall create themselves with beauty, blood, and claws. Their form is still rigid; they cannot freely shape. But they can bend, mold, and change.
While the figure works, they whistle a tune they heard upon the sands. A song played by a Champion as she taught them what it means to create.
As she taught them how to become what they want to become.
Ulum opened their eyes, watching with delight as Jacklin gazed at them quizzically.
“Hm… are you suggesting I should dye my hair?”
A laugh to match her own chimed from Ulum’s lips. They ran a shimmering hand through their cerulean hair, admiring the raindrop tattoos along their arm. They had made this. At least for now, this was them. Them and no one else. “Absolutely not. I just like this look.”
“It suits me.”