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Poor Judgment Is My Middle Name

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As Yllane lay dead on the ground, a swarm of purple Rhinodrake Megaliths milling about her fresh corpse, she thought to herself how badly she sucked at being a cleric.  A cleric is the one that's supposed to heal and revive others, not the one in need of constant reviving... or so the job description went.  Yllane guessed that she must be a special brand of failure.

She had plenty of time to dwell on her ever-constant failure, being dead and all--and squad-less, on top of that, with no one around to notice her predicament.  The Rhinodrakes (or any mob, actually) were never as easy as she expected them to be.  Who's brilliant idea again was it to go questing by her lonesome with low-grade equipment and pitiful attack power?  Oh, right.  It was hers.

She was just full of these astounding moments of common sense and practicality.

Considering she was dead on such an alarmingly frequent basis, Yllane thought she would start to get used to the experience.  But time and time again, her death always managed to unnerve her.  Momentary death always seemed to last far too long for comfort, even if Kaoriin was with her at the time and able to resurrect her immediately.  Not for the first time by a long shot, Yllane wished she had some sort of death calling card she could send out to the other woman.

A curious Rhinodrake came up to her and nudged her in the side to check for signs of life, rolling her body over in the opposite direction with her limbs splayed about her like a broken marionette.  If she were alive, she knew the awkward and unnatural angles would cause much discomfort in her joints.  Her head flopped over awkwardly to one side, her clipped hair falling over to cover her open lips, parted in a death's grimace.  It helped mitigate the horrible picture of her death, if only slightly; her glassy, lifeless eyes were still open wide in pain and shock.

Yllane's consciousness floated above her body, suspended as if tethered to her mortal vessel by an invisible string like some phantom balloon.  Souls were funny like that.  You won't completely separate from your dead body until you sever the cord yourself.  That's how ghosts are born--people who can't bear to let go and disperse back into the universe, who never cut their ties before their bodies start to rot away.  Then it becomes too late, and their cord has nothing to be cut from--so they roam eternally in the in-between barrier that separates the living world from the infinity beyond, dragging their damaged cords around them like shackles.

Contrary to ancient beliefs, or at least what she's read in history books, ghost aren't vengeful spirits full of spite and unresolved conflicts.  They are, in actuality, just scared people who held on a little too long.  During some of her longer deaths, before Kaoriin would have the chance to resurrect her, she would sometimes see one of these unfortunate souls wandering aimlessly around like a lost child.  She always felt so sad for them and was afraid she'd join their ranks one day--because she couldn't let go.

She didn't know if she'd ever be able to let go, because that would mean letting go of Kaoriin.  And she wasn't sure she was strong enough to do that, ever.

Even though the process was gradual over the span of many years, her realization that she actually loved the other woman came quite suddenly one day.  They were out questing together, completing a lucrative bounty hunt for a significant amount of coins (girls gotta eat, you know).  As per usual for the course, Yllane died because of the strength of the mobs, leaving poor Kaoriin alone to fend off the beasts by herself--of which she always managed to do a spectacular job.  Most of the time, Yllane was certain all she managed to do was be a burden upon the other woman.

After the mobs were taken care of, Kaoriin finally turned to her, chest heaving from exertion and skin flushed like a rose-colored tribute to valor.  Yllane watched from outside of her body as Kaoriin once again began the incantation for the resurrection spell, the words lyrical as they fell off her tongue, the magic rising around her in dazzling golden streams.  The tendrils of magic twisted around her like an embrace, alighting her skin with a breathtaking glow--and suddenly Yllane was struck by just how radiant Kaoriin looked.  She had watched the other cleric resurrect her innumerable times, yet it had never been such an awe-inspiring experience; usually, she was instead filled with shame and embarrassment at the constant necessity.  But somehow, this time seemed... different.  Significant.  Life-altering.

As she watched the magic surge outwards from the other woman and pour into her lifeless body, she only had one, singular thought in her mind: she loved Kaoriin.

From that point onward, Yllane thought of Kaoriin as essentially the knight in shining armor to her (ridiculous) damsel in distress.  But instead of a knight, she got a heavenly vision of slender legs and feathered wings.  In her opinion, she got a much better deal than the stereotype.  And Kaoriin was always there for her, no matter what; it was as if the other had some preternatural sense regarding her safety (or lack thereof).  Even if Yllane had mentioned nothing to her best friend about her questing endeavors, as was the case today, Kaoriin would eventually show up to her rescue regardless.  It only served to reinforce her silly notions that Kaoriin was her eternal savior.

Although Kaoriin had never failed her yet, it had been a significant time since she had just died.  She really hoped that Kaoriin magically appeared soon, before she accidentally wound up as a ghost waiting for her.  Although she wouldn't fault her if she stopped coming to her rescue; she'd be sick of her own bullshit after so long, too.

But as if on cue, right after Yllane pondered those very thoughts, she saw the distinctive swish of the other woman's colorful mount off in the distance.  Obviously, Kaoriin was dependable unlike herself.

In short time, Kaoriin had reached her, pulling her mount to an abrupt stop near her contorted corpse and leaping off its back in haste.  The smallest of sighs left her lips as her brows furrowed before she began the familiar incantation, those same lovely swirls of magic that Yllane adored so much rising around her.

Being resurrected feels a little bit like sinking into quicksand--or at least it does for her.  As the magic jumps from Kaoriin into her body, she suddenly feels like she is weighted down, as if souls could bear mass.  It feels heavy, like the invisible sand is trying to drag her down; and rightfully so, pulling her consciousness through the barrier and back into the mortal realm.  Perhaps it is passing through the barrier itself that creates that sensation.

The ones that follow are her least favorite, however--when she feels herself smacked violently back into her physical body, every single nerve and cell lighting up with shocking fire as their life force suddenly returns.  Her heart starts and stutters with sharp pain and her veins pump acid for an endlessly long moment before her starved lungs kick back to life, gasping down sweet oxygen with the most desperate sound known to mankind.

As much as dying hurts, she's of the opinion that coming back to life is doubly worse.

When the pain subsided and her consciousness fully merged once again with her body, her sight shifted to her actual eyes in a painfully slow process.  After being revived, your vision comes back to you as if in slow-motion, and you are inching your way out of a deep and dark tunnel, the barest touches of light filtering in through your visual field starting from a small point somewhere off center.  She attempted to blink the dryness out of her eyes after they had been frozen open in death for so long without much success, her tear glands apparently still nonfunctional.

As the world started to clear and the tears finally rushed across her painfully stinging eyes, Kaoriin's blurred face appeared above her as if it were a vision.  She couldn't see any of her features and could only recognize the distinctive shade of her blue hair, but she knew that the older woman was smiling down at her--that kind, exasperated smile that was reserved solely for her.  Her best friend was beyond chastising her for being unwise, oftentimes seemingly inviting the danger upon herself; she knew from years of experience that it was a moot point.

"Hey there," Kaoriin greeted softly, brushing away the hair covering her face.

In that moment, Yllane wanted to say so many things.  She wanted to tell Kaoriin that she's never felt such strong emotions before in her life, towards anyone, since the death of her parents; that she's the only person she wants to spend the rest of her life with, all of its numerous mini-deaths included; that Kaoriin is so beautiful, inside and outside and everything in between, and Yllane doesn't know how anyone so amazing can even exist, let alone be friends with someone as pathetic as she is.

But she says none of those things.  Instead, she tries to smile, her dry lips splitting from the gesture as her suddenly hyperactive lacrimal glands force tears down her temples and into her tangled hair.  Her voice is hoarse and cracking possibly more than her lips when she finally manages to speak.

"Hi, Kaoriin."