The pain and suffering the members of the Legion, the pain in their faces and voices affected Morrelia deeply. These were the men and women who had dedicated their lives to defending the sapient races of the surface from the depredations of the Dungeon. They were the inheritors of a mission that originated since the Rending and had endured for thousands of years. To those battle hardened eyes, the annihilation of Liria represented more evidence of righteousness of their cause. It was hard for Morrelia to disagree with that sentiment, it was something she herself had believed her entire life. It was hard to deny, the monsters were responsible for this catastrophe. They brought death and destruction with them everywhere they went, and had done so since the moment they had breached the surface.
And yet, she had seen a different way. A monster who was prepared to cooperate with humans, who was prepared to bring other monsters along with their ideals. Coexistence was possible, she'd seen it with her own eyes. The very concept flew in the face of everything that she'd been taught. What everyone on the surface had been taught.
What did this mean? Who should she talk to? Who could she talk to? The people in the village were a little too enthusiastic to throw away the lessons of history and embrace a new way, not without good reason, but could they really trusted to see things clearly. Similarly the members of the Legion were too far slanted in their view. They were literally a monster exterminating army, unmatched in zeal and efficiency. Were they really the people to talk to about cooperating with a monster? Morrelia could imagine how it would go. The moment she spoke to Titus about what Anthony really was, they would drop all their plans, march south and exterminate every ant and human they found, pat themselves on the back and count it a job well done.
The thought of Enid cut down by her father's axe made her feel physically nauseous. It was pretty much inevitable that Isaac would die that way, but the others didn't deserve it.
"You look troubled, Morrelia. Care to share your thoughts?"
"Hi there," the younger woman smiled and came to sit down on the stone Morrelia was resting on.
It had been a cornerstone for the White Lion, well known tavern in this corner of the city. Not much remained of it now. One crumbled wall and the smashed remains of the once gleaming oak bar. Shards of glass lay scattered across the ground, the final remnants of the bottles the innkeeper, Gregor, had one taken such pride in.
"Feels a little strange to be trying to give advice to my own Senior," Myrrin admitted.
"I'm not your Senior. I'm someone who dropped out of training whereas you are a full Legionary. Under what definition could I possibly be considered Senior to you?"
Mirryn shrugged. It was hard to explain, especially to Morrelia's face, that she was so dominant and overbearing, so forceful in her personality, it was hard to think of her as anything but a superior.
"You've probably even outleveled me," Morrelia grimaced, "doing whatever it is you Legion types do in the deep."
"Surely not!" Myrrin protested, but secretly she thought she just might have. The slaughter she'd taken part in during the wave had catapulted her levels and stats to a height she had never dreamed of achieving.
The other woman's eyes narrowed, as if detecting the underlying truth, but she let it go.
"You'll be coming with us won't you?" Myrrin asked. "I've never been through a gate, I'd only heard of them. It'd be nice to have more people we know on the other side."
Her black leather armour creaked as Morrelia shifted uncomfortably.
"I'm still thinking about it. I'm just not certain."
"I understand. Things were pretty tense when you left."
"I said a lot of things that I came to regret."
"You were grieving, we all were."
"That doesn't make it okay."
"Time heals all wounds, so I'm told. Maybe you should trust in us more."
"Maybe I should," Morrelia admitted.
Myrrin leaned back and looked up at the sky.
"Seems like we won't get a chance to visit this village of yours. Runner came up an hour ago. They're going to send us through early. The commander has already issued the order to pack everything up and get back to marching. Alberton's furious. He wanted more time to comb through what was left of the archives."
"It would take weeks to excavate anything out of there! Garralosh caved the entire thing in!"
"The commander tried to tell him, but the old man is too stubborn when it comes to his precious books. I think we're going to see the Loremaster carried away over the shoulder of a centurion soon!"
"Save me from stubborn old men," Morrelia muttered.
"At the very least you'll come down and see us off, won't you? We've so much more to talk about, I don't want to have to wave you off in an hour."
"I can promise that much." Morrelia was reluctant to leave her father behind so soon, and it had been nice, catching up with old friends. "It'll be interesting for me, I've never seen the underground city."
"It's fairly interesting, to say the least!"
The two fell into a companionable silence. The only noise the occasional shout from a Legionary as they bustled about packing and securing their supplies for the journey back down into the deep. A gate was being opened at the fort below which would take them to the fabled Black Castle, founding headquarters of the Abyssal Legion. Despite her old life having being destroyed, Myrrin was excited to find out what this new chapter would bring.
"Come on then, lazy bones." Mirryn stood up. "You might as well come and help."
"I suppose I may as well," Morrelia grumbled as she stood and stretched out her tired muscles.
The two walked back toward the Dungeon entrance to find the officers busy running their rulers over the logistics of the march, chasing down every stray member of the expedition and confirming details with their own superiors. At the centre of it all stood Titus, barking orders where necessary but mainly being a silent pillar of calm in the centre of a storm of activity. We he spotted her coming he walked towards her without hesitation.
"Are you coming with us?" He asked without preamble.
"I'm coming to the gate." Morrelia stressed. "I haven't decided to join back up."
His face showed no emotion, but she knew he was happy to hear this news.
"Good then. Make sure you report to Tribune Aurilla, she's in charge of our headcount and food."
She almost snapped out a quick legionary salute, but managed to restrain herself at the last moment. Her father's eyes missed nothing and were laughing at her as he turned away.
"See if I ever salute you again, old man!" she fumed to herself before she went to gather her few belongings and weapons before seeking out the Tribune.
As they finished readying themselves, darkness had begun to fall over the ruins of the city. The villagers who had accompanied Morrelia north had begun the journey back, to report on what they had seen and bring word of the conditions in the Dungeon.
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