Anecdote XXXVIII. Life Goes On

Lask was busy in my early 20s. He formed an alkesh, killed a number of major Demons, befriended numerous others, and made a name for himself as an unorthodox yet deadly Darkslayer. Sometimes I wonder if he lived an entire life in the span of a few years. Things started picking up more after Falient found his way home. Things had a way of following Falient, or perhaps he had a way of finding them.

In particular, Falient became a rescuer of children and forsaken things. In a couple of years, he’d earned himself the moniker “Light of the Lost.” In late 2013, the entire island of Avigdell gave a great shudder, and a crescent-shaped piece of coast calved off to rest further out in the river, becoming a secondary island called Atorcoppen. This small moon-curved strip of land became Falient’s home, connected to Avigdell via bridge, which Lask could lock at night if Falient had “guests.”

Falient’s island quickly became a compound– his main house, a separate dormitory as he began collecting lost children like himself, an underground facility for housing Dark folk so as to not fry them in the Light sun aboveground, and eventually a schoolhouse. The school was Lask’s idea, as he found himself teaching more and more inhabitants of Falient’s island how to read and write. It all started with the first girl Falient rescued, Alannis. For reasons known only to children, she took a shine to Lask when she met him, and began following him everywhere. It wasn’t long until she wanted to join him in the Library. In order to appreciate the Library, though, one must know how to read.

Alannis was a voracious and eager pupil, and devoured any lessons and books Lask put in her hands. She woke in him a fondness for teaching, as well as a fondness for children he’d not yet entertained. It only took a matter of weeks before Alannis was calling him her word for “father,” and Lask didn’t seem to mind. Spirit children grew at irregular rates, but tended to age faster than human children. Lask found himself feeling bittersweet as Alannis began growing up in the span of months.

Lask’s island went from a quiet place of wind and lonely trees to a bustling a hub of young people, newly converted Dark folk, and all manner of people seeking to find their place in the strange new world. Lask always had an odd way of cleaving to old ways– he lived in a castle-like house, with nothing modern-looking at all, yet the Light fit a refrigerator into his kitchen, a radio in his workshop, and all manner of advanced weapons technologies on the island’s security perimeter. He never seemed surprised by new things, yet turned his nose up at anything too modern and disruptive to his strange aesthetic. Falient begged him for a motorcycle, but “not on my island, you won’t!”

On the mainland, Stefin was beginning to build. After a listless summer, and many talks with the converted Runner Belara, he moved the ruins of his castillo into the pines across the river from Avigdell. The Demon held secret dreams of restoring his empire, but said little of his ambitions then. For a while, the alkesh seemed to click along at a regular pace, slaying evildoers, rescuing innocents, and generally being annoying hero types. After a while, the Demons got tired of it.

Demons don’t like having their plans ruined. When a haughty Luminor shows up with his posse and burns your fortress to the ground, it tends to ruin your day. The alkesh made enemies. Fast. Some they dispatched, others lingered and conspired in their mutual hatred of Lask and his troublesome family.

For Lask, life became both an arms and intelligence race. He spent countless hours in his watchtower, forging lenses, calibrating the focuses, recording the readings of every friend and foe he knew. The more he gained, the more he feared to lose. By the time I was 24, Lask had learned to both gaze and walk through time. Many of his Luminari colleagues began giving him a wider berth, beginning to see him as some kind of mad scientist obsessed with time and the conversion of Darkness. No one ever knew what Lask saw, or what he did with that information, but as time passed, he became quieter, disappeared for longer hours, and his family began teasing him with the only partially-joking title of “Shady As Fuck.”

To this day, one never knows if one is talking to Today’s Lask. Sometimes he is visibly older or younger, but the age is gradual, and sometimes what Lask learns or see in the span of a few days can change his behaviors dramatically. I think he knew it would only be a matter of time before their enemies caught up with them.

In the summer of 2014, Falient began quietly begging Lask for a child. Falient had lost his first daughter, and though he loved his second, she was the product of his capture and rape. Falient longed to bring a child into the world on his own terms, and give one the opportunity to start life free of fear, and surrounded by love. Lask agreed, and in August, he welcomed his first child– a daughter, whom they called Charlotte. Falient adored her, and Lask loved her in his quiet way, but it was soon apparent far grimmer things were on Lask’s mind.

He made a lantern for his daughter when she was born– forged its beautiful gilded casing, the crimson glass– and placed in it a flame of his magical fire. He placed the lantern by her cradle the first night she slept, and told her, “As long as the fire burns, you will know I live, and for as long as I live, I will come back to you.”

Charlotte grew and held his words close in her mind. She was quick and discerning, even as a small child, and it served her well– for mere weeks after she was born, Lask fell into enemy hands and into a sleep, which no one knew how long it would last. It was only after the enemy struck, the alkesh found how carefully Lask had made his plans.

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