Ladies in Hades and the Dyval Wears Prada
Story - Trent - Funeral Grief
Note: This story takes place after the majority of the events recorded in the adventure log There’s No Place Like Home, some time before the trip to Stonehenge is made.
A knock at the door interrupted Trent’s reverie. Trent used magic to view who was there and saw a waiting messenger. After verifying it wasn’t a creature metamorphosed in disguise Trent undid all the locks and wards on the door to open it. The messenger delivered to him a letter, which Trent only took after verifying it wasn’t magical. He tipped the messenger and re-sealed himself within his apartment.
Inside of an activated magical circle of protection Trent sat down in a chair, feeling about as safe as he could these days. He cleaned his hands and opened up the envelope to reveal the letter within. He took it out and read it:
Trent let the letter slip from his grasp and fall to the ground. He just sat there in stunned silence. He couldn’t believe that one of the Enclave had passed away. Was he responsible for her fate? For all their fates? Trent didn’t know, but there was a passage from the future journal which stuck out to him when he read it. He feared it applied to them, and now specifically to Nº Six. Although he didn’t need to, he pulled the future journal out and read the passage aloud: “I fear that one of my minds has already begun to waste away. She is so young, so innocent, and so ignorant. My meddling has sentenced her to a certain death… as it has to them all… eventually.”
Could Nº Six’s fate eventually befall them all? Could it befall Trent? Trent put aside the questions and the other puzzling passages of the journal and instead focused on the few memories he had of Nº Six – starting from her attempt to seduce him in the brothel in New Calgary, and going through until the last time he saw her, when he sent her and Nº Seven to the Coalition ‘Burbs.
The more Trent thought about things, the more upset he got. Why did the Enclave wait until NOW to contact him? Why didn’t they get in touch with him when she was dying? They had known he was here, in Lazlo. Trent could have done something – he wasn’t sure what, but he felt angry that they didn’t even give him that chance.
Trent spent the rest of the day and evening trying with little success to get back to any one of the projects he had been working on, but he couldn’t make his mind focus. His thoughts kept coming back to Nº Six, the rest of the Enclave, and that passage from the journal. Though truth be told, there was a second passage from the journal as well that seemed related, though it seemed more applicable to Trent than to the rest of the Enclave. Trent could call it up by memory: “My eighth mind lives. He is alive and well… secretly.”
The day and night passed and Trent dressed himself in appropriate attire for the funeral. He was still angry over being excluded though, and as he went to the address he found his anger rising. He struggled to keep a calm exterior as he travelled there. Once he arrived he strode into the funeral home briskly. Inside he saw the members of the Enclave expressing their grief in their own ways. Jescha was there, she and Nº Seven were sitting together, their cheeks wet with tears. Nº Three paced a small area of the room, breaking the hushed silence occasionally with a small cough. Nº One was over by Nº Three, talking to him in a quiet voice. Nº Five sat in a corner, his head bowed in silent contemplation. Trent ignored them all.
Trent walked by them all and right up to where Nº Six’s body lay in the casket. He could feel their stares as he did so but he didn’t turn to look at any of them. Not even Jescha. Standing in front of the lifeless body Trent felt the grief starting to overwhelm him, to push the anger down. The seven of them shared a bond almost no other being in the universe shared – and one of their own had died, leaving only six of them now. Trent heard the sound of someone walking up to him.
If it had been Jescha, coming up to talk with him, to comfort and take comfort in return from him, things would have gone much differently. How different Trent wasn’t sure, and he would never know. Instead, Nº One put his hand on Trent’s shoulder and said, “I’m glad you could make it Trent.”
Was there an undercurrent of sarcasm in his voice? Trent would never be 100% sure, but at that moment it sounded like there was – and that was all it took for Trent’s anger to well back up. Without warning Trent turned and decked him right in the face, forcing the shifter to step back in surprise. “Why didn’t you contact me sooner!” Trent yelled at him.
If everyone was staring just before, they were glaring holes right through him now. The crying stopped, the pacing stopped, and everyone shot Trent a look of immediate attention.
“Why?” Trent asked again, this time turning as he spoke to include the entire assemblage but mostly focusing on Jescha and Nº One. “Why did no one contact me when her condition worsened?” Trent clenched and unclenched his fists in anger and was breathing heavily.
Nº One held up his hand and spoke to Trent in response before any of the others had the chance to reply. “I will take the responsibility for that, Trent. She-” Trent cut him off by swinging at him again angrily, but this time Nº One was ready and not only blocked the punch but decked Trent in response. The two of them continued to brawl there, exchanging blows, right in front of the coffin which held Nº Six’s body. Neither mage was especially trained in fighting but they both had some experience and they used it.
Punch, Block, Punch, Kick, Block, Duck, Weave, Elbow, Knee, Block… At the rate it was going it was hard to say who would have been the victor. The fight only lasted a few moments – not even fifteen seconds – before the other members moved to separate them. Nº Five and Nº Three moved in to grab and pull Nº One back away. Nº Three started laughing at what was occurring as he went across the room towards them but the laugh turned into a small coughing fit that stopped him from coming any further. Nº Five stopped as well and looked at Nº Three with concern. Nº Seven moved in to restrain Trent while Jescha interposed herself between Nº One and Trent. As soon as Nº Seven laid a hand on Trent he turned and tried to take a swing at her.
The next thing Trent knew he was lying face down on the ground, with Nº Seven silently and sternly sitting on him, restraining the arm he used to swing at her painfully behind his back. He tried to struggle out of the hold but she put just the smallest amount of pressure on his arm and an explosion of pain shot through him, urging him to stop. Nº Three stopped coughing and shooed away Nº Five’s concern. Jescha stood in between Trent and Nº One, who was also on the floor, but he was not restrained. He seemed to be winded. He glanced over at Trent with a questioning expression.
Trent looked at Nº One’s face and the ridiculousness of what occurred just now suddenly hit him, draining away all his rage, leaving only the sorrow of the funeral mixed with the absurdity of their fight and how easily it was stopped by the two women. He broke out in laughter then, laughter mixed with crying over all of this. Nº One started laughing too, and stood up. He motioned for Nº Seven to let go of Trent and she did so, cautiously. Trent continued to lay there another minute or two until he got it all out of his system and he was composed again.
Nº One held out his hand to help Trent up. Trent took it and used the help to get to his feet. He wiped at his face, removing the tears and blood that were mixed on it. Nº One had already cleaned his own face up as well. They all stood there, silently staring at Trent, while Trent leaned on a nearby chair and finished composing himself.
“There was no warning, Trent,” Nº One told him finally, breaking the silence. “When Nº Seven left her that morning she was no worse than usual. But by the time Nº Seven returned to her later in the day Nº Six had passed on. Her loss saddens me, saddens us all, greatly.”
Trent turned from them and stared at the lifeless body of Nº Six in her casket. Her well-preserved body could have just as easily been sleeping, though the stillness of her body broke that illusion eventually. A thought crossed Trent’s mind then, a curious, daring thought that filled him with hope. He turned away from Nº Six’s body then and looked away, not daring to look at her any closer – it was important that what he knew now was all that he knew.
He turned to look at Nº Seven and asked her, “When did she pass away? How many days ago? Where?” Trent could barely contain his excitement over this idea which had come to him so he asked these questions a little more excitedly than he intended. Nº Seven looked questioningly over at Nº One and Nº Three, then back at Trent. She pulled out a small pad of paper and a writing utensil and wrote out the answers to Trent’s questions as best as she could. She ripped out the page but before handing it over to Trent gave a quick glance to the others. Then she handed it over to Trent who gladly accepted it, read what she had written and then put the paper away, satisfied.
“I’m sorry,” Trent said to them all after a moment, once he had forced himself to calm back down. “I… I am sorry for how I acted today. Her loss bothers me too.” With that the Enclave warily accepted Trent’s apology and together they all spent the rest of the time there in quiet discussion about Nº Six.
After the funeral and burial, Trent said goodbye to them but gave each of them a way to contact him in the future, should the need arise – just a simple object with a mystic alarm, that when they used it would reach across dimensions if necessary and let Trent know they were calling for him. Before he left Nº One came over to talk with him.
“Trent, before you leave, there is one other thing,” he said to Trent.
“All right, go ahead then,” Trent said to him with resignation. He then stood there openly, braced for the punch or kick that he felt was coming.
“No, Trent, we are even. I already got you back enough in that fight I was winning.” Nº One told Trent. “No, this is a message from my god Zurvan. Apparently in my service to him I am to be his messenger for this time. He has instructed me to tell you, and I quote, ‘Take utmost care when traveling the time streams as events beyond your ability to fathom are above the reach of prediction.’”
Trent stood there dumbfounded a moment. Then he said, “So that’s it? That’s what the mighty god Zurvan has to say? ‘Be careful when you time travel, because you can’t account for all the things you don’t know.’ Maybe I would know more if he told me more!”
“So it’s true then? You have travelled the time stream?” Nº One asked, ignoring Trent’s little tirade.
“By complete and utter accident, I assure you,” Trent said in response. “Time travel, as I’ve recently not only experienced but also read about, can cause a lot of problems…” Trent trailed off, wondering if he should continue talking about this to Nº One, or any of the Enclave for that matter.
“Oh?” Nº One said with mild surprise. “You have been educating yourself on the subject…?”
Trent sighed. How could he expect them to trust him, if he wouldn’t trust them? “Not in the way you think, Nº One. It’s… I found something when Jescha and I were in the ancient past. It was something very deliberately hidden, and hidden in such a way that only I would have been able to easily find it.”
Looking around, Trent made sure there was no-one else seemingly within earshot. Satisfied, Trent pulled out his own journal to show Nº One. “This is the journal of my travels that I keep. In the ancient past, I found an older, but otherwise identical looking journal.” With that pulled out the second journal he had on him, the future journal that he found in Hyrcania. This journal he handed over to Nº One.
“That journal was not written by me. The beginning entries are entirely different from my own. This was an alternate universe version of us, from the future who wrote it. It chronicles the life and times of this mage who frequently travelled in time, and follows him as he slowly loses his mind. By the end of the journal I’m not even sure if anything he wrote has any sense or meaning.”
“Nº Two didn’t tell me anything about this…” Nº One said quietly, reverently, as he held the journal in his hands.
“She didn’t know,” Trent told him. “I didn’t even really know what I had found when I discovered it. I only recently finished digesting its contents. I think… I’m not sure, but I think there’s passages in there that apply to you, me, the entire Enclave. Exactly how it all makes sense yet I’m not sure, but – I feel this is important for you and the rest of them to have. To at least read. Your experiences and memories of this other Trent are different than mine. In fact, I don’t even have any. I’ve never met him. But maybe there will be information within this journal that will make more sense to you than it does to me. Please, read it, and keep it safe. Above all else, keep it absolutely safe.”
Nº One was still staring at the journal, but at the end of Trent’s speech he placed it within a dimensional pocket of his own. “I will read this, and I will share it with the others. Thank you Trent.” Trent and Nº One shook hands and then parted ways. Trent considered going back to say goodbye to Jescha, but she had made it clear in their earlier discussions that she wanted some space. So he gave it to her. He walked away, deliberately not looking back. In his mind he replayed the information Nº Seven had provided to him, commiting it to memory. Just in case he ever got the chance again to act on that daring thought which had occured to him earlier.