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The Burden

 
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:35 am    Post subject: The Burden Reply with quote

From: rorylaurent@aol.com (Rory Laurent)
Date: 18 Mar 2004 09:09:58 EST

Rory awoke with a start and a sharp intake of breath. Her clammy palms pushed her body into a sitting position in bed, leaning her back against the hard dark wood of the headboard. The pale early morning light from outside allowed her eyes to slowly focus in on the details of her bedroom. She reached up with the back of her palms to brush away the tears streaming down her cheeks.

A burning sensation in her eyes grew to a sharp intensity. She scrunched her light blue eyes closed tightly, gripping the bedsheets in tight fists as she struggled to silently wait for the burning to pass. It always did. She struggled through the pain by repeating in her mind that the pain would only last for a mere moment. As the burning intensity did begin to ebb, Rory slowly opened her eyes, allowing them to adjust again to the pale light before rolling over to make sure she hadn't woken Sartan.

Sar's sleeping form beside her in bed slowed her rapid breathing somewhat. The comfort of his presence would probably have been enough to help her fall back asleep had the dream not been so painful. She was growing used to these dreams. After all, they'd been coming now for two months. This one had something to do with Jaycy. It was fuzzy, unfortunately. The fuzzy dreams were the most troubling ones. How could she learn a lesson if she couldn't remember what the dream was about?

She untangled herself from the covers and slipped her legs off the side of the bed, tucking her feet into her fluffy yellow duck slippers. Tiptoeing the best she could in the bulky slippers, she moved out of the room and into the living area, closing the bedroom door behind her. The last thing she wanted to do was tell Sartan that the dreams were continuing or to elaborate on exactly how much pain they did cause when they came. She was hoping to delay that conversation for a while. However, Sar was the one man who saw right through her goofiness to the truth. She doubted she had much longer to figure out what was going on before he confronted her over the full truth.

A pain on her right arm drew her to a halt. Pushing up her short sleeve revealed two shallow cuts into her flesh. Rory frowned for a moment, more at the blood that had seeped out against the fabric of her T-shirt than at the cuts themselves. These physical mementos of the dreams were a bit more rare. Evidently the dream involving Jaycy had something to do with somebody receiving two horizontal gashes to the arm. Rory paused for a moment in the hope that that would jog a memory of the dream.

Since the Talon of Redwin Tournament, the dreams always seemed faint and hard to remember. Giving up on retrieving the memory, Rory rubbed her temples with her fingertips and plopped heavily onto the couch. The headache was a given with these dreams. However, at least they were allowing her to sleep some now. She had hoped that the creation of the Tournament would be enough to stop the dreams completely. Evidently, she was wrong.

Rory kicked her feet up on the other end of the couch, pondering those dreams as she wiggled her slippered feet, bopping the duck heads against one another. At least she was getting a fair amount of sleep again. Closing in on the tournament, it had been hard to fight off the effects of the lack of sleep -- most especially the paranoia and inability to concentrate. However, most of the effects of the dreams had eased. It was almost like the dreams weren't meant for her anymore. It was almost as if she was merely looking in on somebody else's dreams. But who else's dreams would The Burden be infiltrating? Who else would The Burden see as a target for its message?

Her feet came to a complete standstill as the answer dawned upon her. "PJ," Rory whispered softly into the darkness.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From: rorylaurent@aol.com (Rory Laurent)
Date: 20 Mar 2004 12:22:25 EST

"Your hair is a mess, Lorelai," Sharon Tasulan Laurent chided her daughter gently concerning the messy twist that held back Rory's locks as the knife in her hand expertly and swiftly chopped the carrots before her into bite-size pieces. Rory did not bother to tell her mother that it was the style. "..And you're skinny. Are you doing drugs?" she questioned as Rory's hand darted out to snatch a piece of carrot.

Rory scrunched her nose at the question. "I'm skinny so I must be doing drugs?"

Sharon huffed in reply, pushing the perfectly cut carrots to a pile on the edge of the cutting board before grabbing another. "Must you dress so ... provocatively?"

There it was. Rory knew it would be coming. There were many differences between Rory and her family; the most obvious being that Rory was almost a foot shorter than the rest of her family. A close second would be their style of dress. Rory, in her faded low-rise jeans and bright blue T-shirt emblazoned with a cartoon-style drawing of a pig and the name of her favorite restaurant "Bubba's BBQ", stood in glaring comparison to her mother's demure, ankle-length, full-skirted dress of a muted green fabric. The Laurents weren't modern people. They stuck to their traditional customs, living well outside RhyDin to remain in a traditional community.

"Lorelai!" her father's deep booming voice interrupted her escape plans. Immediately, he drew her into a tight bear hug.

"Hey, Dad," Rory managed to grunt out as his hug squeezed the wind right out of her. He released her with a mighty pat to the back. She braced herself enough not to be sent stumbling forward with the impact.

"Lorelai was just telling me that she'd like to bring home a man for dinner, Paul." Sharon's voice held an obvious tension.

Her father's green eyes drifted towards Rory, the smile on his face disappearing at the news. Rory allowed her parents to imagine the mohawked, motorcycle-riding nut that they expected her to bring home before speaking up to put their minds at ease. "His name is Sartan."

Her father's green eyes lit up once more. "As in the former Overlord? You met this man working as an official in the Arena?" It was the excitement in Paul Laurent's voice grabbed Sharon's attention, not the name. She didn't recognize the name but then she wasn't the dueling enthusiast that her husband was.

Rory popped another carrot in her mouth to help fight off a bright, glowing grin. She only nodded in response to her father's question.

He let out a mighty laugh, clapping his hands together heavily. Sharon didn't seem so convinced. One fist rested on her hip as she looked Rory over, the knife in her opposite hand did not do much to make her appear less foreboding. "I suppose we will see. I hope you dress more modestly in his presence. You won't attract anything but no-goods looking like that."

"Has he told you much about Dalamar? Lord Dalamar was the most interesting Overlord of all time," Paul began to ramble on at the same time as his wife. Rory's blue eyes darted between the two, attempting feverishly to keep up with both lines of thought.

"Have you been eating well?" Sharon continued to barrage her daughter with questions regarding her well-being.

"Lots of veggies, Ma." Rory drove home the point by popping another carrot piece into her mouth.

"Has he talked about the night?" Paul asked in a hushed whisper.

"He doesn't like to talk about it much, Dad. Please don't ask him about it. Please?" Rory frowned, keeping her eyes on her father. Paul only nodded, deep in thought regarding the night of the Dalamar vs. Eros challenge.

"You have giant circles under your eyes. Have you been getting enough rest?" Sharon continued to question, ignoring her husband's excitement over their daughter's potential suitor. She had returned her attention to the cutting board. The knife now expertly slicing through a potato.

"I've been having weird dreams about past events. It's kept me up," Rory babbled out, too distracted trying to come up with a way to persuade her father not to bring up the incident to realize that she had just offered up a good deal of information to her mother. As a rule of thumb, she tried to be as vague as possible with her mother.

The knife came to a halt. Rory did not notice it at first because her father was onto musing about Overlord Dalamar's relationship with his Barons. After a long moment of only her father's history lesson, her mother's voice broke in with a sense of urgency that drew both father and daughter's attention. "Paul, I sent Robert out to chop some wood. Would you go help him please?"

Paul Laurent looked between Rory and Sharon for a moment before offering a stunned nod. "Of course, dear." He drew a worn leather hide jacket over his broad back before starting out the door of the cottage, pulling the wooden door shut behind him. Rory's startled blue eyes turned back on her mother.

"Tell me about these dreams, Lorelai." Her mother's voice was commanding. Even though, she had placed the knife back down on the cutting board, the set look on her face made her appear even more intimidating.

"There's not much to tell, Ma. Just strange dreams. I must stop eating chocolate before bed," she said, flashing a bright disarming smile.

Sharon clasped her hands tightly, pressing her lips together in a thin line for a moment of thought and collection before repeating her request. "Tell me a bit about these dreams and I'll decide that."

Rory let out a resigned sigh, scratching absently at her cheek. "They are about the past of the Arena -- events that I wasn't there for. I check them out after the dream with historical records. They're always true. Sometimes they're crystal clear, sometimes they're fuzzy, sometimes I can barely remember them when I wake."

"Are they dreams or nightmares?" The tension in Sharon's voice was elevated a notch.

"Both. The ones about bad events are nightmares. I feel the pain of those involved. The good ones can be funny or joyous but I tend not to remember them as well. They give me a headache and make my eyes burn a bit," Rory replied quietly, her gaze on the floor. She was sure that her mother's next move would be to have her committed. Not only was her daughter a modern musician but a crazy modern musician. What would the neighbors think?

"You must go see your aunt after we eat," her mother stated firmly.

"But Ma--" Rory started in, tossing up her hands in frustration.

"No buts, Lorelai! There is no arguing about this. We're not going to discuss this anymore," Sharon's voice was tense. For a brief moment, Rory was exceedingly afraid that her mother was about to shed some tears so she nodded her consent.

"Now go make yourself useful and set the table," Sharon said, hiding the emotion in her voice as she turned back to the cutting board. Rory didn't argue. As her father always repeated with a wry chuckle, "There's no use arguing with a Tasulan woman."
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From: rorylaurent@aol.com (Rory Laurent)
Date: 20 Mar 2004 12:25:10 EST

There were answers behind the door. Rory wasn't even sure she wanted answers anymore. Her mother's inability to even make eye contact throughout dinner had heightened her apprehension.

Releasing a heavy sigh, Rory forced a fist up to rap sharply on the cottage door. She took a step off the front stoop to take in her aunt's small house. It was built in the same traditional style that her parents' home was. Unlike her parents, however, her aunt chose to live in the dense woods surrounding their tight-knit community. Tucked between two giant oaks and camouflaged by dilapidating ivy, the home was very much like her aunt -- a hidden gem.

The sound of a latch flipping caught Rory's attention and the door swung open. "Lorelai," the short woman before her spoke with a bright smile. Although she was dressed traditionally, she had a flare towards the eccentric. A multitude of small braids hung at her narrow shoulders with thin strands of bright fabric interwoven with her auburn hair. Her dress was ankle-length but a patchwork of bright fabrics.

Rory laughed brightly, her nervousness fading from her features as she moved in for a hug. "Hey, Aunt Sadie."

Sadie squeezed the young woman against her tightly. "I could be mistaken but I do believe this may be my long lost niece... I don't quite remember her name."

Rory took a step back, rolling her eyes at her aunt's dry tone. "I know, I know. I'm an awful niece and I should visit more often."

"Yes, yes, you should," Sadie spoke, a grin breaking through. "Come in, my dear. I feel we have a lot to discuss."

Rory's features twisted in confusion as she stepped into her aunt's home. "You knew I was coming?" Her gaze caught sight of a fresh pot of tea placed on the table in Sadie's sitting area. Two cups and saucers sat on either end.

Sadie motioned for Rory to sit as she did so on the opposite side of the table. "For many years I have spent my life counseling the women of this village. I'm there for them when they pick a mate, I'm there for them when they have children, I'm there if their husband or children pass on before them. I didn't choose the career, it chose me."

Rory settled into the chair, her blue eyes searching Sadie's face. "I don't understand."

"I have a gift. I'm a seer. I see the present. When I touch those women, I feel their pain, their emotions. I can help them work through it," Sadie said softly, pouring Rory a cup of steaming tea.

Their eyes met for a long moment before Rory chuckled, shaking her head. "Very funny, Sadie."

"You're having dreams. You don't know where they're coming from. They're about past events; past events that you didn't even witness," Sadie said, pouring herself a cup of tea. "Oh, and there's finally a man in your life -- a slightly older man." Rory stared blankly at her aunt, stunned by her accuracy. "Drink your tea, dear, before it gets cold."

The instruction went unheard. "But how? You said you have to touch the person. You didn't touch me," Rory protested.

"Sometimes I don't have to touch them. Sometimes it just comes to me. The gift of a Seer is inherently mysterious that way," Sadie replied gently. Her cup of tea went ignored as well.

"I just... I don't understand what all of this has to do with the dreams," Rory said, chewing lightly on her bottom lip.

"You have the gift as well, Ror. You're a Seer. I'm not sure how strong it is in you but your gift is obviously directed towards the past. It's in your genes. Your great-aunt saw the future -- a potentially devastating tool. I see the present. You, it seems, see the past. You always did get the highest marks in history," Sadie explained in the same tone as she would use when speaking with a woman who had just lost a child.

"I was sleeping with my teacher," Rory said with an exasperated sigh, tossing her hands up into the air.

"Lorelai! You were the woman! I saw a vision when I touched Mrs. Mulligan's hand of her husband having an affair but I couldn't see the woman's face! That man had kids. We'll talk about that later," Sadie frowned disapprovingly at her niece. "I know you're worried. I myself go to great lengths to hide my gift from those outside our family. Seers are dangerous. Their visions are often vague and rarely show the whole truth. We are rightly feared by the public and, often wrongly, persecuted by them," Sadie continued sadly.

"No, you don't understand my worries!" Rory fumed, shoving her chair out and quickly rising to her feet. Anger welled up inside her and erupted violently. "I reject the traditional lifestyle. I reject my parents' gods. I reject this horrible curse. I just want to be normal, not some magical nutcase!"

Sadie could not meet her niece's angry gaze. "I'm so sorry, dear. Your mother and I feared this day. We had hoped it would pass you."

The sympathetic response deflated Rory's anger. She dropped back into the chair, tired and dejected. "Take it away, Sadie. I don't want it. Take it away."

"I wish I could but it would be easier for me remove your eyes than take back the gift." Sadie's tone held a wry quality that went unnoticed by Rory in her preoccupation with the swirling emotions that had overwhelmed her regarding the new discovery.

"These dreams... I don't think it is completely your gift at work," Sadie interrupted the silence that had fallen over the pair suddenly.

"I feel... I feel as if they're somebody trying to teach me lessons -- lessons about the Arena's past. I feel the pain, hurt, or joy of whomever the dream is about," Rory spoke, rubbing her temples with her fingertips.

"Give me your hands. We will figure a way to stop them together," Sadie said reassuringly, holding her hands out palm up in the center of the table. Hesitantly, Rory placed her hands into her aunt's hands, carefully watching the woman's features.

A sharp gasp escaped Sadie's throat as her hands touched Rory's hands. "Gods, Ror. You're right. These dreams are from a different force, a powerful force." Sadie's light blue eyes quickly grew bloodshot. Rory knew of the burn that Sadie must be feeling from her eyes.

"Is it connected to Siera Redwin's dagger?" Rory asked, although a part of her already knew that any connection to the Redwin dirk and the dreams was unfounded. "Is it evil?" Her second question was much more pressing. She couldn't tell if the force intended to harm her or if the pain -- both physical and emotional -- was merely an unfortunate side effect.

"No, it is not connected to that dagger. The dreams are coming from a separate entity." Sadie's voice was strained. Her chest rose and fell rapidly as tears trickled down her cheeks. "Life cannot rarely be classified into good and evil. Most people are far too complex to be one or the other. This entity is far too complex as well."

"How do we stop it?" Rory asked, releasing a heavy sigh.

"Your dreams... You carry the pain of so many. I don't know how much longer I can hold on," Sadie coughed out. Rory's gaze was finally drawn away from her aunt's strained facial features to the spot of bright red blood spreading across the chest of Sadie's bodice.

"Let go, Sadie. Just let go," Rory begged frantically, attempting to pull her hands away from Sadie's grasp.

The elder woman's hands clutched tightly to Rory's, making it impossible to pull her hands away. "Just a moment longer. I want to find something useful."

"You already have. Please, Sadie, you're hurt," Rory pleaded. The loss of blood was taking its toll on Sadie. Rory managed to free her hands from the weakened woman's grasp. Sadie let out a disappointed cry as their hands parted.

In a weakened daze, Sadie pushed out of her chair and rose to stand. Rory quickly followed. Sadie only made it several steps towards the hearth before sinking to the wooden planks of the cottage floor. Her body tense with apprehension Rory quickly dropped to her knees beside the woman to get a closer look at the wound. "Aunt Sadie?" she asked in a hushed whisper.

"It's okay, Ror. I must tell you something ... before I go." Speaking was an obvious struggle at this point.

"You're not going anywhere. Save your strength. I'm going to get help," Rory stated firmly as she began to push herself to her feet.

A bloody hand reached out and snagged Rory's hand. "After I tell you this." Sadie's determined tone brought Rory to a halt. "I saw the man. You love him?"

"Absolutely," Rory replied. It seemed like an odd time to be gabbing about men but Sadie's timing had always been a bit off.

"You must let him go then," Sadie's words were sobering, her tone firm. Her unwavering blue eyes kept a strong hold on Rory's own blue eyes. "We cannot love. Eventually, he'll--" A coughing spell interrupted the rest of Sadie's warning.

"We'll argue over this later, Sadie. I'm going to get you help now. Just hang in there." She gave her aunt's hand a quick squeeze.

"Be strong, Ror. I love you." Sadie's words drew Rory to a halt at the door. Sadie's breathing was heavy, her eyelids drifted shut over her unsettling light blue eyes.

"I love you too, Sadie," Rory assured her aunt, fighting back the tears stinging her eyes as she quickly move out the door to find help for the dying woman.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From: rorylaurent@aol.com (Rory Laurent)
Date: 24 Mar 2004 23:46:52 EST

"Y'know this rug really doesn't go with the rest of the decor," Sartan said with a halfhearted smile, motioning towards a Persian rug at his feet in front of the hearth.

Rory allowed a smile at his attempt at humor. Sartan stepped over to her, dropping to a knee to meet her gaze more easily. "Can't this wait another day or two?"

"No," Rory stated firmly, shaking her head. "I know Sadie didn't want anybody to know she was a Seer but there must be something here -- a book, a guide, a journal. Something."

Sartan nodded slowly, his gaze remaining on her for a long moment before rising to his feet. "I'm going to go check that shed out back."

"Thanks, Sar." Rory sent him a thankful smile. He pressed a quick kiss to her forehead before exiting out the front door.

Rory's gaze returned to the Persian rug. It had been there as long as Rory could remember but Sar was right. It really didn't fit into Sadie's eclectic, comfortable style. With a sudden fierce intensity, Rory sprang to her feet and moved for the rug. She shoved the wooden ornate rocker on top of the rug over and kicked it up the rug with the toe of one of her boots, exposing several loose floor boards. Snagging the poker beside the hearth, Rory began prying up the floorboards. She dropped the poker carelessly off to the side as she found exactly what she'd been looking for -- a pair of worn leather-bound journals wrapped protectively in soft fabric.

Rory scooped up the pair of journals out of the hole, too excited by the find to replace the floorboards or rug. She dropped to the floor, anxiously flipping through the first journal. Sadie's small, tight handwriting filled the pages of the journal with details of her visions. Rory sighed heavily, shaking her head. There were years worth of entries. The task of finding something to help her seemed impossible. However, Sadie saw the present. She had seen Rory's dreams. She had known what she was struggling with. She must have seen that in the days leading up to her death. Rory flipped to the final entry from the day of Sadie's death intent on starting from the end. She didn't have to read very far.

Today's vision was disturbing to say the least. I saw Rory, I saw her dreams. The vision was too vague to give me many answers. Soon it will be time to have a talk with her. However, the vision made me nearly positive that Aunt Caroline's vision from the first day of May of her third year of journaling her visions was probably meant for Rory.

"Thank you," Rory said under her breath to Sadie. Her gaze fell on the second leather-bound journal. It was much more worn and Rory, careful of that, gently placed the journal into her lap. A loopy, beautiful script filled the pages. The journal had obviously been read many times as some of the pages had torn free of the leather binding. Finding the entry in question, Rory pursed her lips tightly as she studied its meaning.

"Lorelai?" Sartan's concerned tone drew her gaze. He was still standing in the doorway, looking over the tumbled furniture and hole in the floor.

"I found my answers, Sar. It's my great-aunt's journal. She saw the future. She saw me." Rory's her gaze slipping back to the book as she began to read a passage from it. "'I had a sudden vision today. It was one of my descendants -- a young woman with a rebellious spirit and a gift that focused on the past. She stumbles upon an interesting and powerful force that sees her gift as an opportunity to teach her about the tradition she is taking part in through dreams. The force overtakes her gift, dominates, and uses it for its own reasons,'" Rory read aloud.

Sartan closed the door behind him, moving closer to get a look at the journal. "That sounds pretty accurate."

"That's not all," Rory exclaimed before reading more from the journal. "'The woman attempts to pacify the force by creating a competition to honor the past. Unbenowst to her, the force sees the winner of this competition as a new target, believing that a winner of a competition honoring the past must know about the past in which the competition honors. This is the part of the vision that I find the most interesting. The force uses my descendant's gift as a springboard into the winner's dreams. Obviously, the power to give others visions is beyond a Seer. Therefore, it is using both the dominated gift -- of the vision of the past -- and it's own gift -- the ability to infiltrate dreams -- to accomplish this task.'"

"Okay. Yeah, most definitely you," Sar said with a frown, dropping to a knee beside her, peeking over her shoulder at the journal.

Rory didn't hear him. Her finger was drifting over the flowing script of the last paragraph. In a soft whisper, she read the final words, "'This is where my vision ends. I am kept from knowing how the young woman and the new targets will deal with the burden of these historical visions. However, I am left feeling that the key will be strength.'"

"It's too bad she couldn't see a way to stop it. We'll find a way," he said softly, a hand rubbing Rory's arm.

Silence fell over the pair; a crackling intense silence. Rory's fingers continued to drift over the script, emotions of the dreams welling up inside her. All of the dreams suddenly clicked. Her connection with the past cemented. The pain and the anger and the hurt of all those people in all those dreams mounted on top of one another. The force led her to her place in the scheme.

"We're not going to try," her words were cold and emotionless despite the flood of emotions flooding through her.

"What?" Sartan's question was full of bewilderment. He dropped to a seat on the floor, his gaze finding hers. "What are you talking about?"

Rory shoved herself to her feet in a moment of violent outburst. The book slid from her lap as she rose and dropped to the floor. "They didn't respect it! They should be burdened! I should be burdened! The burden is the teacher, I am the medium, and they are the students. I refuse to help them until they see the light," Rory raged.

Sartan stared blankly at her, attempting to understand where the moment of violent rage had come from. Rory's blue eyes burned intensely, quickly growing bloodshot. Her hand shoved the rocker out of her way, tipping it over on its side, as she stalked out of the house, slamming the door shut on her way out and leaving Sartan sitting amongst her mess stunned at the Rory's furious eruption.
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