Terrouge E-zine Archives
A Fiction Tribute to Martin and Rose
"The night sky was arrayed in a lighted tapestry of stars, the full eye of the moon shining coldly down on the fringes of Mossflower. The steady, nearly silent beat of an owl's wings somewhere below seemed to be the only movement in the forest...save for the restless stirring of a sleeping mouse, huddled in a small clearing. The mouse was just barely inside the reaches of Mossflower, and he was of a type it had never sheltered before. A rust corroded sword hung loosely by his side, vibrated every so often by his active slumber. Hard lines were set into his fur, clenched even in rest. It would appear that here was a beast that never wept, never showed flagrant emotion, never felt fear, or sorrow. Yet, the mouse's sleep was obviously troubled...and one might wonder, what could bother a creature of such a warlike, untouched nature?....
Martin's paws trembled uncontrollably as they held the limp form of Rose. Her head hung at an unnatural angle, not the firm, yet almost playful set, it had once took, the pose he had known all too well. The eyes, once shining with intellegence, were closed now in the stillness of death. Her body was cold now, giving not even the illusion of life. He wished for that illusion...or even from a respite from this eternal torture. Always the same dream, always the same memory. The pleasant experiences, the joys he had shared with the tender, courageous female, had been erased, circumvented by this one image of horror and pain. This one nightmare that was the cruel and irrevocable truth.
"Rose..." he whispered, as he never had in reality, "Laterose, I am sorry...I could never be more sorry. I would rip out my heart and lay it next to Badrang's corpse if it would only bring you back. Oh, but I should have ripped it out when I was still a slave...then you would still live. What is my death to your life? You did not need me. It was I that needed you. You were my savior in the depths of despair and immenent death. You were the savior I could never deserve."
The tears came, as they always did, in a soul wrenching torrent that flowed down his cheeks, their transparency tinted red by the blood caked on his face. "I never had a chance to tell you how much you meant to me, my flower in the darkness. This terrible cause I had taken upon myself.... you followed me despite my obsession. And look what it has cost me, this cause!" He gazed behind him at the twisted and mutilated bodies of vermin and goodbeasts, shrouded by the ephirical mist of irreality...that was the only reality to Martin's tortured spirit.
"You do not belong here...you should never have come, never have known me. Where have I led you? Into this abyss where good and evil, just and cruel, are smeared together into a stain of death and hate. How could the weight of victory compare to this weight of slain, and your slaughter the heaviest of all on my heart?"
A cracked demonization of familiar laughter echoed throughout the battlefield of dreams. Something shimmered in the air before Martin, took faint shape as the faded form of his former tormentor, Badrang. The stoat appeared larger and more powerful than he ever had in life, seeming to tower far over Martin, who instinctively sheltered his dead from the specter. The vermin's voice was vibrant and resonant, as it mocked, "Martin the brave, Martin the Warrior. Martin the ignorant, Martin the vengeful, the bloodthirsty. You vowed my death and the destruction of Marshank...you have exacted your revenge and the gory freedom of your friends. Fool, did you not know that even us that you despise as moralless scum have the right to exact a price for over indulgence in the slashing crusade of right? I have exacted my price in the bodies of your charges, and more...oh, much more... What is the death of underlings compared to the death of the heart? I have destroyed the body of this pathetic maid, and in doing so, I have killed your soul. Your torment is my sustenence, my recompense. Fool warrior, you have won this one battle of your life, I have conquered the very essence of your being." The eerie laughter bored into his ears, but Martin did not respond. The defiant light in his eyes had been extinguished, if not outwardly, in the depths of the unconsious mind. He bent over the form in his arms, and begin to moan, rocking back and forth, cradling Rose as he might a dying child.
The cackling died away, and a warmth brushed his cheek. Slowly, reluctantly, he raised his eyes, to meet the lucid, gleaming ones of Rose. His arms were empty. Breathing out an incoherant expression of joy, he struggled to his feet, not daring to touch her frail, delicate form. Her body seemed formed of mist, transclusent, easily disturbed by the wind. As he watched, she grew more solid, the bloody landscape around him shifting rapidly. The somewhat somber greyish blue of Martin's childhood notion of the Dark Forest closed about him...and changed slightly from his former perceptions. A brightness infused everything, especially Rose herself. She extended her arms, and Martin's reservation broke. He rushed forward in an embrace, his tears flowing more freely than before, hers mingling with his. The moment seemed to last for an eternity, and Martin wished with all his being that it was not just a dream to fade upon the sunrise.
"It's not a dream, Martin, at least, not how you think it." Rose murmured, her head shaking slightly. "I...I am alright, Martin. And I will always love you." She withdrew from him somewhat, her paws firmly on his shoulders. "But I will not allow you to go on like this. My purpose in mortality is over, yours has only begun." Flashes of a shining blade and a building larger than any Martin had ever seen bewildered him for an instant before they were gone. "I wait for you at the Gates of the Dark Forest, Martin, but I never wanted you to waste your life pining over what is done, and what is really not all that permenant. Wander, my warrior, and exact justice as you have always done. You did not come into existance to save me, you have come to save the world. It was my job to save you." A small smile wreathed her features, "As you already know." She leaned forward into another embrace, briefer, but more healing even than the first. "Our love is eternal, Martin. Do not forget that, and do not forget me. And above all, do not forget yourself, or your destiny!" She began to dissapate as Martin felt a stirring toward awakening. His throat was loosened for an instant, and he cried out, "Rose! I...."
Sunlight played cruely on the temporarily softened features of the mouse. The almost invisible stain of a tear streak was swiftly evaporating on his jaw. The eyes opened reluctantly, almost painfully, and the mouse rose upright. He looked into the sky with a wistful expression, his paws limp at his sides with contemplation, and then he smiled, a strange, sad smile that only those who have lost one that means deeply to them can understand. Then his visage changed, returning to the stony, fearless face of a creature that has seen much, and will see much more before he lies to rest beneath the grass. "I am Martin the Warrior," he whispered, almost hissing the words, as he started his tread into the forest. He did not repeat the phrase audibly again, but one could almost imagine, that an unearthly, devoted echo was repeating his name as if in answer. -