I wrote another quick thing. I'll toss my Tumblr post up here for simplicity...
Again, warning: language.
I wrote another thing inspired by the RPing Taff and I get up to in Guild Wars 2. I’m starting to try working with scenes from Caiden’s POV in a novel I’m writing, but it’s very... challenging for me, in more ways than one.
So, since we had some totally amazing RP moments going on today (not that we don’t always), I figured it might be good practice to try writing a fun little drabble from his POV of their camping tonight, just to try getting into his head and writing some thoughts and stuff.
It ended up being, um... a lot longer than I originally intended. This was gonna just be a super little thing, but I kind of got into it.
He couldn’t sleep. The hard rocks under his back – or under his side, or his stomach, however he tried to lay – should’ve been what kept him awake. But it wasn’t. Caiden had slept on harder things. Worse things. And he’d slept in filthier places – more dangerous places.
No, it wasn’t anything like that. It was her.
He rolled over again, daring to peer at Sadja as she lay, maybe asleep, on the other side of the precarious perch where they slept: the top of some largely crumbled ruins, on a little platform of stone that reached straight up to the sky. It offered a good view of the entire fen, plus it was almost high enough you couldn’t quite smell it so strong.
She’d picked the spot. They had been here before, even slept here before. Felt almost like a long time ago now, after all they had been through. Together. That was the most important part.
Or was it?
Caiden had plenty of partners in the past. Students, even, if that was really the word for them. People he’d mentored, anyway. Watched, helped, guarded, guided – even if he sometimes found himself kept on track by them more than the alternative. It was hard to think of them as “students,” considering how capable they had all been already. Including her. Especially her.
He was doing it again. Shifting in some vague discomfort with himself – or was it disappointment, or annoyance? – he turned over for perhaps the dozenth time tonight, looking out across the fen instead of at her. Caiden took a deep breath and then regretted it. Turned out you could still smell the swamp pretty strongly up here.
His fingers absently found his longbow – a recent acquisition, given he vastly preferred his sword and shield. A slime monster slid around not too far underneath him. The sound annoyed him, or at least it did right now, even as quiet as it was. It probably wouldn’t have at any other time.
So he took his bow in an unnecessarily iron grip, sat up, and reached for an arrow. Drawing it back, he squinted his eye – aiming with one eye was a bitch, it’d taken him years to get used to it – and loosed.
The arrow was enough to knock the ooze, now formed into a ridiculous little bouncing ball that made for a difficult target, straight off the edge of the ruins. It flew so he barely heard the splat, somewhere far below.
It didn’t help.
Caiden set his bow aside again, a guttural sigh rumbling in his chest. Now something was wrong with him, too. He was used to worrying, and used to far worse things, but he could push everything aside in the face of his mission. Once he’d learned to compartmentalize, he had even learned how to sleep again. He’d been able to sleep for years, despite the things in his head. The sights, the smells, the sounds – things he couldn’t forget. All he had been through, fought through. Things that still haunted him.
Including the people he used to worry about. Most of them were gone now, one way or another. Usually the worst ways. Ways he couldn’t save them from. Sometimes he had even had to watch.
And now she was flinging herself around like she almost wanted to be lost that way, too. The jokes were quiet. The teasing was gone. All the things he’d thought he hated but ended up enjoying. Getting used to.
And, at this point, missing. Everything from her telling him not to eat like the bottomless pit he was or not to get himself drunk, right down to berating his endless stoicism and discipline, to the point that he’d found himself being dragged out of his once-impenetrable shell, inch by inch, by a hook in his navel like she’d caught him on a fishing line.
He even missed hearing her laugh at him and rib him over getting an undead’s hammer straight to his sternum and being thrown flat on his ass, wind knocked out of his lungs. Pointing out, unnecessarily, that yes, that drake had, in fact, swallowed him whole. As if he hadn’t noticed. Thanks for the reminders now and then.
And yet all of it made getting the shit beaten out of him not seem so bad, as long as she was fighting by his side.
He probably ought to just back off and let her get over it. But when she was flying into berserk rages and running ahead without looking back, it became hard to let it go. When she nearly died fighting hordes of undead while he struggled somewhere a few feet away, poisoned and weak. Surrounded but distracted, glancing at her every few seconds, even with only the one eye to spare. All but ignoring the assorted jagged-toothed living dead bearing down on him, one thought on his mind: Get her back on her feet.
Now he lay here, staring up at the stars. His eyepatch itched, and he abruptly ripped it off his head and flung it over with his other gear. That wasn’t something he ever did, as self-conscious as he was of the gaping hole in his skull. But, right now, every damn thing annoyed him. Relief from any of it was better than none.
That, and maybe it felt nice to throw something. He wanted to destroy something, with his hands rather than shooting an arrow. But if Sadja was asleep, he wasn’t going to wake her.
All of it kept replaying in his head. Things she’d said. Things she hadn’t said. The silence that had lingered when there previously would have been none, because she would’ve broken it. He kept trying to figure it out. Driving himself crazy. It felt wrong. This should be the last thing on his mind, but it kept clawing its way back to the surface.
Perhaps the most absurd, uncharacteristic part of it all was the simple question that kept knocking against the walls of his skull: Is it me?
Something he was doing? Something he wasn’t doing? Was he giving himself too much credit, making himself too important? Was he completely blowing this all out of proportion? Was he just being a big damn idiot?
And where the hell had his discipline gone?
It used to define him, and now he felt like he’d managed to shunt it all into her and straight out of himself. Gone, at least where she was concerned. But what she had right now wasn’t really discipline, or she wouldn’t be charging headlong into battle… Not that he hadn’t done that his fair share of times.
He actually felt like doing it right now. Walking right down off the particular little formations of ruins that had allowed them to climb up here and finding something to punch. In the face. Hard.
Not helping curb that wrathful desire was the fact that that he still hated himself for not catching up to her in time to haul her up to their perch in his arms, or just over a wide shoulder if she kept fussing, after she’d hurt her leg. No, she’d walked on it instead. Climbed on it.
Something else shoved its way into the front of his mind. Another thing she’d said just a few hours ago, before sundown. “I’m not here to distract you.”
Caiden snorted. His gaze flicked down from the sky to watch another ooze try to make his way up the ruins toward them. Giving it no thought, he found his bow and another arrow, also knocking this one away from their excuse for a camp. Away from Sadja. Away from what he wanted to protect more than anything else. More than saving the world.
Not here to distract him…
It was a little late for that now.