Melody of the Lonely Lights

  The night was still on the outskirts of a city that once was. Tall walls that lay in a cascade of rocks. A master of puzzles could spend an evening putting the pieces together before having a glimpse of the truth of the past. A footstep comes out to bend the blades of grass in the light of a pale moon. There is something majestic, he thought, on how a the gentle light brushed against the grass like strokes of silver against the fur of a loyal cat. The aurora in the sky adds its colors of yellow, violet, and blues in flecks against the light. He blinked his eyes ever so slowly. For all the magic in this world this natural scene held just as much quiet wonder. He only wished that he could appreciate the awe without the pang or regret as he proceeded through the broken defenses and on to a street of shattered dreams.   On nights like this the former citizens are more lively. Paulo wasn't sure if Selune felt pity for these creatures, but her grace held the monsters at pay and docile when her light shone the brightest. Two tieflings brothers ran by the robed man as they play a game of tag. Their father and mother watch onward with somber joy. Those eyes of creatures neither alive nor dead, turn to the white haired man who can only bare the gaze more than seconds before looking away and continuing on through the streets.   Why did he come back? He felt compelled to as much as the sun is compelled to lend its light to the moon. The moon protects these creatures, even if the sun is unable to provide that protection. An invisible contributor to this small miracle. The boulevard was filled with these creatures, as broken as the lights that once held as lanterns at their doors.   The waves of the past began to roll over the wizard's mind as he found himself at a tavern. He remembers this place. That piano was the one he would play at the end of the day for the tavernkeeper. He told them it was an old melody he unearthed during an excavation. A spell of warding to protect the people of this town. So many were afraid after the first attack. It was all he could do to heal their broken souls.   A gloved hand runs over the piano in its current state. Broken. With a deep breath he exhales as the instrument begins to reconstruct itself to its former glory. It is an old thing, just like Paulo, but age has nothing to do with it when it isn't used properly. Left to waste in obscurity. The man sits. His eyes of blue close slowly as he plays that song and remembers.   The tavern was alive with prosperity. Adventurers flocked to seek treasures out in far islands and deep seas that left from the port. The only person that didn't look happy was a white-haired tiefling who was standing on his chair, crouched low into a fetal position to imitate sitting, and held his arms around his knees.   "He will show up," Paulo said, his voice filled with optimism and color back then before washed with the stoic white it is today. "Trust me, I've seen it." A finger taps to his eyes as small lines of white light streak across it.   An elf with black hair looks to the wizard and his Devil, "Is that wise?" Paulo looks to him. "To give him hope?"   "Hope?" the tiefling says unblinking with those sky blue eyes, "Is that what this is?"   Paulo shakes his head to the young Devil, "No. Well, yes, but its also faith and trust. Do you believe me when I say he will come back to us?"   "Yes," the tiefling says, rocking forward slightly.   "Then I'll do everything I can to find him," Paulo says in a soft smile as he reaches and puts a hand on the tiefling's shoulder, "but Gig, you have to consider looking less worried."   "But I am worried," Gig says, "I know what worry is. I worry he is eating enough. What if he doesn't something to play with and gets bored? He doesn't have his favorite blanket. What if he can't sleep?"   The elf can't help but laugh at that, "Paulo, you split a god and he cares about blankets?"   Paulo continues to massage Gig's shoulders to calm him, "Not a deity. And why is that surprising? Gig is a good..."   "Boy? Like your personal dog?" the elf interjects.   The wizard shoots a glare at the elf, "No. Person. All of these people are in their own way. They don't need you or the Elohimians passing judgement on them. To your standards. Why do you think you get to choose that?"   Gig says, "Who does get to choose that?" as he looks at the table.   The elf says with closed eyes and simple wisdom, "People with power." to which Paulo can't defend against that. The victors write history. They judge. "Which is why you are a threat to them, Gig," elf adds on sagely.   Paulo releases his grip and looks to the two of them, "Lets go for a walk. Ambassador, surely you can see that Gig is no threat to Elohim or Xan'theril."   The three leave the tavern to walk the streets. Brothers play tag in the street as a mother and father watch with easy hearts. They wave to Paulo, Gig, and the elf. Paulo waves back. Gig doesn't seem to notice, looking up to the sky. "One day we will go up there," he says to the midday sky.   "So you say," the elf replies, "but until then you are here on Arhor'ha." Paulo takes a deep breath as he wonders how long the ambassador will prod at this city of forgotten misfits. "And whats wrong with that?" the wizard asks the elf. The elf turns his head in dismissal.   "No, tell me, for all my intellect I can't understand it. Arhor'ha treats these people like they are some kind of disease. Yet look around you. They are happy, healthy. They have work which fufils them. Friends that share their lives with them. They contribute to the economic stability taking the hardest and most dangerous jobs. They have found an oasis against prejudice," Paulo says as the elf isn't getting it, "they survive. They belong. When you leave tomorrow, you tell your kings that."   The elf stops. A plaza. He looks up to the sky. "That won't be necessary. We know that you have seen this moment. You chose to ignore it and hope for a better outcome. A naive outcome. You are unable to do what is required. For what? Hope? There is no hope for these wretches. A parasite is destined to be excised."   Paulo looks at the elf as a sense of danger makes his champion senses stand on end. His eyes slowly slide upwards to see that there is an object in the sky descending like a falling star from the heavens. "Sun," Gig says as his arms stretch outwards to it slowly. Towards a ball of fire bent on destroying him and several blocks of his city. Constructing a ward around the three of them was all Paulo had the time to do.   Time froze in place moments before impact. Gig willed it so that he could think through the situation. The core of the shot burned like a ball of white fire close enough to touch. It was a new star that had fallen and that, too, was beautiful. For the longest time in this timeless museum, Gig set his blue eyes on that star lovingly. A slow blink as he wonders why it inspires him to such awe and wonder. What could move him so? Skilled hands of porcelain reach out over the contours of the heat as it burns away his skin. He sees it now. Something small. The form is torn and expanded until it fills the expanse of the shot itself. A ball of fire. A new star. Seared to the bone, Gig recovers a single thing from within the star. He can no longer feel the soft velvet white fur of the band in his hands. Blue eyes look up as time begins to return to its normal flow to drain back to a sense of reality.   In that moment half of Freeport is destroyed in white fire that burns without prejudice through all things. Standing at the epicenter, Gig holds onto a bunny headband with one ear clipped. His friend and his enemy both lay at his feet. "Gig," Paulo rasps in fragile concern, "thank the gods." His breathing is heavy and hopeful, "the ward held. You are okay."   "Ha," emits a sound Paulo has never heard from his friend, "Haha." The sage looks up to the great builder that sits at the center of his city in divine ashes. "Gig," Paulo asks as his heart runs cold in fear.   Two red eyes where blue once were that burn with the reality of a world that has no justice. Only divine comedy. "Hahahahahaha. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!" his laughter fills the streets where there are no orphans left to cry about their loss. Laughter that faded into the darkness as Paulo wondered 'What have I done?' before he loses consciousness.   The memory of that day fades away as the last note of the song finishes on the piano in a tavern that once was. It was not the last time that this city would suffer at the hands of hope. A series of lonely notes playing together until there is only silence left lingering to remember what was.   Paulo slowly opens his eyes. His hands draw away from the piano as it begins to crumble and decay back to its previous state. A man in white and gold surrounded by a crowd of ghosts that came to hear the melody yet all that hear it are left with a sense of collective loneliness in the pale moon light. He feels the tug of quiet need out of the world and fades into the light to provide the invisible support to another moon somewhere else.


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