Adventuring through twisted time.
Nerissa couldn’t recall the last time she had seen Devon, after all he was always busy with Rogue work. She was busy making herb paste and growing pretty flowers for those who wish to visit her shop. Now she had a few interesting visits as of late but none of them being her rogue friend. Someone she was missing dearly in that moment. She pulled out her journal and started to fill in a new entry, on how she had saved the life of a fish girl who to be fair she had hurt in the first place. It was nighttime and her shop was close. So no one should be inside of it.
Yet when she heard what sounded like a creaking of her front door the Fae clutched her seed as she used her ability over the darkness to make herself blend in as if she was a shadow on the wall. She picked up the club she had been given by a villager and made her way into the shop part of her home. Her eyes landed on a fur covered being and out of fear she raised the club up and made herself visible “Why are you in my home!” she said as deep as her voice would go and brought the club down on the figure's shoulder.
Though regret filled her eyes the moment the fur fell to the ground and she came face to face with Devon. “Oh no I am so sorry.” She threw the club back hearing it break a pot behind her. As her tiny hands came to his shoulder. “Did I hurt you? Oh dear.” She frowned to herself as her fingers then moved to his face to make sure it was really him. A smile quickly took over her features. “You are really home!” In that moment she forgot about whacking his shoulders as she jumped into his arms and hugged his neck tightly.
“You have no idea how much I have been missing you!” She almost screamed before sliding back to her feet and then pulled him to where her room was and the only fire in the place was. “Sit warm yourself.” She said as she moved around to place a pot over the fire to make some warm water to make tea for them “Tell me what you have been doing. I have been writing all mine down to tell you.” She said picking up her journal.
Devon slid off his horse and sighed as he looked at the familiar building which made him grin. It was always good to be back in London, but more so when he got to see the people he cared about. The other Rogues had already gone back to the pub where most of them resided, but he wasn't much in the mood for the rounds of ale and boisterous debauchery that would come with it. It could wait a little longer. There was someone else he was missing and needed to see first. His eyes noticed the flickering light from a window which he knew would be the fireplace at the back of the shop, making him hopeful she was there.
He pulled his satchel from the mount and swung it over his shoulder before pushing the door open and stepping inside. It was dark in the shop which wasn't surprising, seeing as it was later in the night and Nerissa had closed up for the day. The place looked to still be in good shape which made him happy to see. Devon knew the fae wanted to fit in with humans as much as she could, though it made him sad at the same time that she would ever have to hide what she truly was when that was a gift all its own. Something he was glad she didn't have to keep hidden with him any longer.
Just as the Rogue was going to turn and call her name, he felt the blow from the darkness he did not see coming. "Ow!" The bag he held fell to the ground with a curse as he heard Nerissa's quick cry of an apology and something breaking as the weapon she held went flying. "No, I'm alri..." but he couldn't finish his reply as she jumped into him. Devon chuckled and held her with the one good arm he currently had, wrapping it around her small frame in a hug. "It's good to see you too, though I'd like to reconsider your customs on welcoming people."
Devon grabbed his belongings as she took hold of his hand and pulled him towards the back of the shop where she lived. The fire was welcoming as he sat down on the bed, grateful to be out of the colder night air then. "Well, we went up North to a large port where lots of trading is done." He rubbed his hands together in an effort to warm them and looked from the flames to her. "There was a slave trader that does business there so it seemed like a good opportunity to pay him and his dealings a visit. In the end, we sank the ship, but not before ensuring those goods were safely taken off." He could never abide anyone selling another into a life like that.
Reaching over, he opened his worn leather satchel to pull out a few smaller purses and winced from the pain. He rolled his shoulder and chuckled. "Remind me to always make an announcement at my arrival." Placing the bags into her lap, he nodded towards them. "For you. That arse had some other fine things on his ship besides the people he planned on selling including some spices and herbs from the east. I thought maybe you might like them for the shop or yourself." Devon pointed to the few pink and white flowers that he'd carefully wrapped in the torn fabric of one of his shirts. "They're called lotuses. I've never seen them before, but I thought you would like them." He watched Nerissa's eyes meticulously inspect what he'd brought her, making him smirk. "What about you? Staying out of trouble? Tell me about these writings."
Nerissa's hand moved to rest on his shoulder gently reaching with her other to tuck her hair behind her ear. “You told me to not let anyone get the best of me. Your words if I remember correctly where ‘If I come back and find you dead, I will have to bring you back and find out who did it so they could be dead.’ so really I was following your teachings.” she gave a gentle laugh from hers, “Also you came into the shop in the dead of night without calling out, I think you secretly were testing me.” She rubbed his arm softly though. “I didn’t think I could hit so hard.” She said more to herself.
Her focus on him as he spoke of the adventure he and his men took, “Well those people were lucky that you were able to get to them before they were cast off.” Nerissa frowned that was a part of human nature she wanted nothing to do with. “Did you manage to get the people to safety away from that horrible man after sinking his boat?” She asked as she looked down to the book for a moment nothing as exciting had happened to her, besides Kyan. She wondered if she should mention the run in or not. Though that was pulled from her mind the moment he mentioned having something for her. “Oh?” She asked as she held out her hand to take the lotus in her hand wide eyed. “It's so beautiful.” She took it as she looked over it. “It seems as if it grows best in a pond with plenty of sunlight. I may have to find one close, but for now.” She said as she moved to place it in a bowl with water. “Thank you for thinking of me when you had far more important things you were doing.”
She looked back to the journal, “Oh yes! Well nothing so exciting as saving a bunch of people from a horrible faith.” She opened the book and read over it for a moment. “Oh well I met a half fish woman who threatened to eat me because I injured her while trying to get some fish for their oil. I ended up helping her though and I believe we are going to be the best of friends. Then I saved a man from a bear attack!” She said reading one of the other pages. “Well really his wolf helped him and I just dragged him back to help him heal. He was a little strange. Really angry. But he said he would visit and his wolf was full of cuddles.” She read more and paused as she stared at the point with Kyan.
“Actually I don’t think I have done well to stay out of trouble Devon.” She looked at him with sad eyes. “ I may have snuck into the fae kingdom here for a plant, the villagers were catching ill and dying. I couldn’t sit by. Well I snuck into the kingdom and found myself getting caught. I escaped but just in case I thought you should know.” She said quietly. “Though he hates humans so I don’t think he would come into human cities to find me.” She touched the scar that she gained from their meeting. “He was a very scary man.”
Devon watched as her instincts took over when she handled the plant. She was always so in tune with nature around her. She had once said it was something that came naturally to her kind and it was very obvious in the way she knew just what to do when the lotus was presented to her. He was glad to make Nerissa smile. It was one of the only things he looked forward to when coming back home after seeing some of the horrible things others were going through. He'd do pretty much anything to make sure he could make her smile. It made all the bad in the world go away for a while when her bright innocence cut through the dark.
He leaned back against the wall and felt just how tired he was from the journey suddenly hit him now that he had finally stopped. The heat from the fire was only adding to his exhaustion, but he still focused on the fae as she excitedly recalled what she had been up to since he had been gone. It was a lot. Was he really gone that long that so much had happened to her? His head began to spin from it and he had more than a few questions about it all. Bear attack? Half fish woman? To think all he had to mostly deal with were the problems of the human world. It did concern him that she was venturing out from the town far enough where things like this were happening, but it wasn't like Devon could keep her locked away in her shop. If there was one thing he knew about Nerissa, it was her curious and venturing nature that made up a part of who she was, but it was in that that danger also presented itself. The next part she told him was proof of that.
"Nerissa..." he said quietly with a concerned sigh, sitting up and ignoring the heaviness of his lids that argued the action. "Is this the mad king? The one that wants you captured?" She didn't have to say it. Devon knew it had to have been. The fact that she had gotten away must have been some cleverness and luck on her part. His eyes glanced down to where she touched her stomach. "He hurt you, didn't he?" A new anger was now building which crashed over his concern for her. It wasn't at her, but at the idea that she could've been hurt or far worse and he wouldn't have had a clue. As far as he could tell, no matter how time passed, Nerissa was always going to be a target this king was after.
"What were you thinking?" Devon sat up and was now fully awake. "I know you want to help others, but putting yourself in danger like that is too risky. Especially by yourself." Another slow breath released from him in an effort to calm himself. He always feared it would be her good natured heart that would eventually be her downfall. "How did you even get away? I'm surprised he didn't kill you on sight from the way you described him before." This topic always seemed to darken her spirit, but he couldn't help but ask again. "Can you tell me?" Devon knew she would know what he was asking without the words, but he said them anyway. "You trust me, right? Tell me why he's after you. What happened?"
Nerissa innocents shined brightly to the point she didn’t even notice Devon watching and waiting for her reaction to the flower. So she just happily stared at it for a long moment taking in its beauty. She enjoyed Devon's returns, and not just for the little gifts he always seemed to bring her. She liked him being around, she felt safer and like she could be herself freely. It was always so nice. “Thank you for my lovely flower. You always seem to think of me while you are away dealing with much harsher things. I do hope I am not distracting you from saving people Sir Devon.” She smiled brightly at him as he got comfortable.
As she went on about her time when he was off being the hero he was, she closed the journal when it reached the point of Kyan and the subject she had yet to talk about with anyone. Her fingers ran along the binding of the journal as she let a sigh past her lips. She hated letting someone she thought so highly of down with her actions, she didn’t want him to see the side of her that haunted her to this very day. So as he spoke her full name in a concerning tone she just let her head hang slightly. “Yes this is the mad king, who wants me captured.” She said honestly as she fiddled her fingers together in that moment. “Yes he hurt me but it's just a scar now. I made my escape in the panic that I was going to die.” She said softer. “I manage to escape and make it to an empty cave to heal before making my way back home.”
“There were children dying Devon, Senseless death all over. I knew that he had this flower because it's from where I was. I knew it could help. So honestly I didn’t think.” She admitted as she finally looked up to him. “Well the getting in part was rather tricky. I had to wait for night fall and take in the guards rounding then use my darkness ability to sneak in without detection. Though if I hadn’t forgotten that there was a plant from here that was similar to the plant of my homeland I may not have been blinded and caught.” She was lost in the memory on how she could have done better before her eyes focused back on him. “Well he didn’t kill me cause he said that he wanted to show me what true hell was. Or I think that is what he said as he trailed a blade down my body. I was in a flee mood so it's hard to remember.”
She felt the sigh pass her lips as she looked away from him to the fire for a moment before her head snapped back to him. “I trust you with my life Devon.” She let out a sad sigh as she looked back to the fire. “I just am not ready for you to hate me and think I am the worst person in the world. I selfishly like having someone I am close to.” She stood up from where she was and moved next to him as she sat there beside him. “I…” she paused unsure how to go on with her words other than telling him the truth. She closed her eyes tightly as she let her hand reach out and rest on his. “Devon, I am not the innocent girl you think I am. I am the reason my whole clan is gone.” She choked out the words waiting for his hand to pull away from her.
Yet as the words escaped her lips she knew she owed him this much. To know how much danger he was in being close to her. “In the Ironspring line, if a female is born she is to be sacrificed to the Redwood mother oak on her eighteenth birthday. Well I was born and placed through the training any girl had gone through for that day so I am told. I was given everything I could ask for or want, and told I was to give my life for our clan to keep growing and prospering. It was the way.” She swallowed hard as she forced herself to get out the truth she had been hiding for so long.
“I was locked away in the castle among my family, so not risk hurting myself or growing attachments. So on my eighteenth birthday I was brought to the base of the mother redwood oak. I entered and another version of myself stood there telling me to swallow the seed and I would accept my place.” Her hand came to rest on the seed around her neck. “I took it, was about to swallow when I realized I wanted to live, so I fled. As I made my escape darkness came from the tree turning all of my people into these monsters that chased me. At some point I manage to gain the strength to trap my kingdom in a vine dome.” taking a shaky breath in she pulled her hand back making her hands rest in her lap palm up. “I understand if you hate me and wish to no longer be around me. I am selfish and evil. I killed my people all because I wanted to have a life.” Tears over took her eyes as she started to sob quietly.
Devon of course knew the reason she would risk her life would be for something so selfless as trying to save others. He supposed he was a bit of a hypocrite when it came to that. After all, he did risk his life everyday for what he believed in. Seeing others suffer at the hands of those in power was something he couldn't idly stand by for. If he knew such a plant existed to help the sick, he probably would've snuck into the fae kingdom somehow too. Well, not that he could. Nerissa had told him of the magical barriers in place to keep humans at bay. He would've told her to at least wait till he returned, but the Rogue wouldn't have been any help to her anyway and who knew how many more would've died. People who were suffering beyond what he could provide had always been hard to see, especially when it came to the ill.
However, hearing what this king did to her made him instantly angry. How anyone could possibly want to hurt Nerissa was beyond him, but it wasn't as if he could confront the fae who hid away in his kingdom. Devon would like to show the king what he could do with a blade as well. For now, Devon pushed away the anger and focused on her words. The hesitancy she showed was there as it always was when he asked about her past. At least she confirmed in trusting him, but her preemptive warning that he may think any different of her after the confession still held no weight for him.
He stayed silent and listened. The story was rather unbelievable, but that was the world around him now. The one he didn't know existed until not so long ago. The pain and anguish on Nerissa's face was more than he could stand and he hated that she carried such a weight. Something like that wasn't meant for a kind soul as hers; One who risked her life and went into the enemy's land just to help the lives of strangers who were sick.
Devon knelt down in front of her, taking her hand and wrapping it in his. "Nerissa," he began quietly as he looked up to her in an effort to catch her gaze, wiping a tear away from her cheek with his thumb. "I do not and can not hate you. Ever. I still see you as I've always seen you; A caring and selfless person. I don't know much about the fae and your world, but I know that asking someone to live all their life preparing and locked up, knowing they must sacrifice it for some notion of prosperity is too much to ask of anyone. Never having a chance to live your life and meet people and have new experiences? It's not right."
With a sigh, he sat down next to the hurting fae and wrapped and arm around her. "I can't imagine what that did to you once you left, but I'm sure there was a reason you chose to live that day. I'm not one to believe in fate, though circumstances lately says I need to rethink my beliefs, but I know that you being here now is not a mistake. The world needs you, Nerissa. You are a light in the dark. You've helped so many since that choice, including saving my dumb arse with a kiss I won't be forgetting any time soon." He nudged her softly with a smile in hopes to break through the heaviness she was feeling and after a moment presented a question. "Do you honestly know if they are all dead?" It was then Devon realized that was probably why the king of the fae wanted Nerissa captured. He wanted some form of justice for their kin. "I don't want you to keep running forever. Trust me, it's not a great life. What if we go back there? There must be something in the books there or I don't know... something that can tell us more about how this ritual idea started in the first place and if there is some truth behind it."
The tears at this point were unstoppable at this point and while most of the time she was good at sobbing quietly. This time she made small noises that expressed the sorrow in her soul. She would forever hold a secret hatred in her soul for being selfish and running. Yet she also couldn’t bring herself to regret it. She had met so many different people and seen the world, even saved people. How could she regret that. She also got to be a part of someone’s life that had become so important to her, his. She would only regret having him hate her.
So as he appeared in front of her, fuzzy by the tears she felt his large warm hand around hers. At his words she took in an uneasy hard breath trying to calm herself down. In a shaky voice she replied. “I never saw running away having the repercussions it had. I didn’t know it would turn them all into monsters. I just ran in fear. If I had known I would have gone through it. No matter how wrong it felt. I was told over and over again, that I am the reincarnation of the first Ironspring daughter offered to the gods. To keep the prosperity.” She pressed her face into his hand as it wiped away the tears. “I didn’t believe it till that day.”
As his arms wrapped around her, it was like a bubble of comfort she didn’t often feel being alone so often. “I don’t regret my choice to live, after all I got to meet and save you. The world needed you. I just…” she took a ragged breath in, “I sometimes wished I wasn’t born. I wouldn’t be so torn between living the life I have started the new home I have here with you and going home I left to face what I have done.” She listened to his words and felt the smile on her lips as she slowly moved her face to press it to his shoulder to hide the blush that burned away on her cheeks.
There was a quiet moment before hearing his next question. It was one she thought of often when sleep evaded her. “I don’t know.” She mumbled honestly as she composed herself before pulling back slightly to look at him. Her eyes ran over his face as she processed his idea. “I can’t have you going there. What if you get hurt? There is only me there and I am no great warrior against hundreds of monsters.” She said as she moved her hands to rest on his chest for a long quiet moment. “Life on the run hasn’t been that bad Devon. I have enjoyed the life I have created here. It will be sad to leave it.” She said with a heart breaking tone, as it was clear she was thinking of returning to where she once came.
“I was never allowed to the library, so you may have a point on a book explaining what the ritual was and why it was.” She turned from him as she thought on it. The idea of returning made her heart pound wildly for a moment, she felt as if she was going to throw up at the idea alone. “If nothing else I can do what I was supposed to do years ago.” She said as she pulled the seed out from her dress holding it in her palm. “Atone for my sins.” She said softly to the seed before looking to Devon once again. “Promise me something Devon? To find a happy life, when I am gone. Don’t leave this world without little Devon’s behind to be the good in the world.”
The more he learned of how Nerissa was meant to live, the more he didn't even like the idea of returning to save her people. Selfish, of course, but he wondered what would happen once she did. She was their princess after all. Devon couldn't imagine her parents being so willing to just let her leave her kingdom again. What would they think of her then? Her 'purpose' would still be to give her life for them to thrive even if they were to change them back from the monsters they'd become. He still wasn't going to allow that to happen. He was more concerned with finding a way out of this bondage she was trapped in before releasing whatever magic held her kind under its spell.
Devon noticed the shift in her emotions and then stared while she seemed to be resigning herself to a predestined fate she didn't believe they could get her out of. "No," he said quietly, looking to her in confusion as if her words were the most absurd thing he'd ever heard. She could've been speaking a foreign language. The Rogue stood and paced for a moment before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath to reel in his emotions. He turned to Nerissa with conviction in his tone, needing to make his previous response more impactful. "No." Devon raked a hand through his hair in frustration because he wanted her to fight and not give into what others wanted for her, but he knew that wouldn't be an easy task with how she was brought up and what had transpired because of her choices. "You weren't supposed to do anything except live your life for you. There's nothing sinful about that choice."
He let out another stressful breath and looked to the wall for a few moments of consideration before looking back to the fae. "You're right though," Devon began as he thought more about what was actually ahead of them. "It's just you and whatever is beyond the dome of magic you created. I'm just a human and I'm sure not much of a threat to whatever your people have turned into. Excalibur isn't exactly meant to be a delicate tool and probably won't be of much use to us going in there." It was times like these he wished he had even half of the power that some of these other magical beings in the world had. At least then he wouldn't feel so useless. Helpless.
The moment the idea came into his mind, he regretted it, but they needed help. He could only look at her in silence while the ludicrous plan formed in his mind. "The fae king.." he began slowly, hating the words as they slipped through his lips. "Perhaps he'll believe helping your kind will be more important than seeing to your death at his hands. The chance that your kingdom can be saved could change his mind, right? If we play to his ego, maybe we can form some type of alliance. We could use his power on our side. Killing you would mean there was never a chance to save your people and as far as I understand it, there aren't many of you all left in the world. He'll have to consider it at least. If he kills you on sight, your kingdom will be lost forever if he believes the only way to save them might be you and that seed. He thinks their dead, but they aren't. Just under a spell which can be broken like any magic, right?"
Devon sat back down next to the princess, leaning forward on his legs as he stared into the fire. "Feel free to say no to this, I just... don't want you to have to keep looking over your shoulder, always wondering if, no, when someone is coming for you." He turned his head to look at Nerissa then, seeing the thoughts spinning in her mind. "I also hope I'm not encouraging you into something worse either."
Atone for her sins, give her life, let her people find their way again. Her life wasn’t worth the many that had lost theirs was it? So as she thought about how to get home, crossing the ocean would be easier this time since she could get on a boat and not a log. She even wondered how she made it to England alone sometimes. Almost dying from starvation and lack of proper water. So when he said No she was pulled from her thoughts on what to do in her final days. Her eyes watched him pace the room and she was racked with confusion. As the louder more convincing No left him she sighed softly. “Devon.” She said softly as he spoke on how her choices were not sinful. “I am no better than the snobby royals you steal from all the time. I made a choice that hurt all of my people. Instead of sucking up and doing the duty to save my people.” She was doing the thing she didn’t want to do.
She was trying to push him away so she couldn’t be selfish anymore. So she would return home and accept the predestined fate she had been fighting against so hard at that point. She turned her face from him when he muttered that she was right. It would be fruitless for them to go there. They both would end up dead trying to keep the other safe. All Devon would do was keep her from doing what needed to be done. She let her eyes drift to his sword when he talked about it. “Excalibur? Do all humans name their weapons?” She asked, trying to lighten the mood even though she felt like she was going to be a river of tears still in a few moments.
Sitting in those moments of Silence her eyes studied his face, trying to remember every feature of his to get her through. Her eyes widened at his words though. Her brows pulled together at his thought process. The panic though already setting in, as if talking about the fae king too much would make him arrive. “He is mad. He won’t hear the reason. He will kill me on sight. We won’t be able to get close enough to him. Getting into his kingdom is no small feat, getting close to him without the guards killing us on sight is next to impossible.” She touched the scar the mad king left behind on her body already.
She looked at Devon with pleading eyes. “Please don’t make me go back to his kingdom. I won’t make it out alive this time. We will do this your way but not with him.” She almost whined out in a begging tone. “We will go together. I will find a way that doesn’t put us in the line of danger. But please don’t make me go back to him.” Her hands had taken hold of his arm. Clinging to him as her eyes closed tightly.
Devon could see the fear building in her as the idea of trying to get the fae king on their side completely terrified her. It wasn't as if he could argue his point any further than what he said. He had no idea what the king was like beyond Nerissa's words and that was enough for him to believe it was best to not have him involved, even though having another powerful ally with them would probably prove useful. He only wished he knew what else to do in order to make this voyage end with her people being saved and more importantly Nerissa coming out of it alive. Still with him. Hoping beyond hope that she would come back to England. It was a self-serving notion. It also felt impossible to say that out loud to her for reasons he wasn't quite ready to figure out.
He moved his arms around Nerissa's small frame and held her against his chest. "Okay, we won't go. I'm sorry," he soothed, but still wanting to have more than words with the king that had caused her such grief. Despite them not choosing to have his allegiance, it didn't mean Devon was keen on letting what Kyan had done to her go. Thistlemoon was a fortress, that he understood, but the Rogue wasn't going to let the king go on without consequences for what he'd done. Devon had no idea how he would exact some type of vengeance, but it wasn't far down the list of things he needed to see through.
Sighing, Devon looked to the flames that continued burning, giving him focus on what had to be done. Braving the ocean was something he wasn't familiar with at all. The longest he'd been at sea was to travel from short distanced ports to trade with the captains he knew wouldn't mind smuggling him and a couple of the other boys to make some coin. To cross the world was something entirely different. He had no clue how far this journey was and of course how difficult it would be to actually find a vessel doing it. No ship crossed farther than known lands and the ones exploring were far and few between and belonged to royals. In fact, the idea of something like traversing the world in such a way was mostly made by the idealistic monarchs that wanted more power.
The path ahead was disheartening, but that wasn't a foreign feeling to Devon. He'd find a way. "Tomorrow I'll head down to the docks and ask around to see how far we can get and then..." He left the rest unsaid. This was far beyond his current means and whatever the path that finally would be laid out to possibly get them passage, wasn't going to be a free one. All of the places he'd ever considered robbing that would actually make the Rogues a large sum of money was flipping through his mind. They were always the riskiest, but now there was a good enough reason to take that risk in order to see this through. There was so much to do and it would take time. Devon only hoped that Nerissa could stay hidden from the fae king's wrath just a little while longer.
His lids were getting heavy again. The shapes in the room were beginning to blur from his exhaustion and he was getting too comfortable with her in his arms. He began to pull away and cleared his throat, giving the princess a smile as he raked a hand through his hair. "I'm going to head back to the tavern. Maybe fall asleep in the water trough cause I'm sure I could use a bath." Devon smirked to her in hopes of raising her spirits. "I'll come tomorrow, okay?"