The night before the adventure, Bard dreamt of a fate where he picked up the sword and tried to fight his way into heroism, fulfilling his fate through blood and pain.
The night after the adventure, he dreamt of a world of colors and sounds beyond his imagination. Filled with wonderful music, and shining with every color he could perceive. A chorus of joy and love spread to every corner of the world, with people just happy to be alive, and part of such a harmonious planet.
As he flew over land and sea and mountain, taking in the sights, Bard started singing the Earthsong. At once, the earth and water themselves started dancing to the tune. He had never felt such joy as he looked over this new world; it was perfect, incredible, wonderful. He felt connected to all. He could sense all the cheer and elation in every living being.
He admired the world he had helped saved from oblivion. The view was simply incredible from this broom. Miriam was taking them higher and higher through the clouds, entering the sky and seeing it cycle through every color of the rainbow. Higher still, Miriam made them soar until the night stars were twinkling right beside them.
The spectacle was beyond words, beyond lyrics; nothing could convey just how beautiful it was. The new world was just as amazing and hopeful as he would dare to believe. It was just… perfect.
“...it’s really something.” Was all Miriam said, her default scowl gone. Her expression was much softer. Almost… smiling.
“It’s the best! It’s just what it’s supposed to be!” He responded as they sailed through the starry sky. He wanted to shout with excitement and glee, but… what could he possibly say?
“Hey, Bard?” Miriam said, in an almost hesitant tone.
“What is it, Miriam?” He asked back. Miriam remained silent for a second, mulling over what words to say.
And then the early bird woke him up, ending the dream.
The bard stared blankly at the ceiling, his mind still reeling from the dream, as he gently rubbed his eyes and sat up in bed. He’d been so tired from all the greeting and travelling from last night that he’d forgotten to even change his clothes. Last night he’d just taken off his hat and then dropped like a stone onto the mattress.
The birdsong caught his ear again, and Bard turned over to look at a lovely bird sitting on his windowsill. He wasn’t sure what kind of bird it was… he’d never seen those colors on one before. Still, it sung a lovely song. He listened to it for a few seconds, and followed along and sung to its notes. It was perfect. The two were singing in harmony, the bird chirping notes and the bard following along happily.
The bird seemed to bounce happily in response, before gently flying away. Bard watched it disappear into the colorful sky with a smile on his face. Despite how amazing his dream had been… the world was surely just as beautiful, maybe even more.
Still… he couldn’t help but wonder what Miriam was about to say… but that wasn’t important now. What was important was that it was a brand new day! And he ready to go ahead and take it on!
As soon as he stood up, however, he felt his legs complaining, feeling sore. Right, he spent the last several weeks walking more than he probably had done in years. While Bard was on the adventure, it was easier to ignore the fact that he wasn’t used to exercise this intense. But now that he was home, and he’d succeeded in his mission… his body seemed to demand its due rest. Maybe today he’d just take it easy and stay in Langtree, and not go out any further out until his legs were ready.
Miriam and him had agreed to see each other soon, though she had said that she’d rather wait at least one day. Not just to rest like he was going to, but also to spend the day with grandma Saphy. Even if Saphy was still okay after keeping the monsters at bay, and got to spend time with her while he climbed Ichor Mountain, she said she wanted to have a quiet day at home with her after the restless adventure.
“I just… wanna be with her for a bit. She cares about me, and I care about her, too. And it’d be nice to catch up on things while the world isn’t ending and we don’t have to race around all the time.” He remembered her words as he finally stood up and started stretching, feeling his bones and muscles readjusting. He wanted to see her, he always did, but he’d be okay for now. He’d have more energy to hang out with her tomorrow anyway, after getting some rest.
Feet still a bit sore, Bard slowly walked across his house, and out the door. He breathed in the fresh morning air, feeling the coolness refreshing his body, and the subtle perfume of flowers giving the atmosphere a ever so faint sweetness to it. The bright sun warmed his body and shone on the grass and trees with a faint glow, and a soft breeze blew the loose leaves with a gentle rustling sound. The day was beautiful, and colorful, and just as wonderful as ever.
He breathed in the refreshing and cool morning air as the subtle perfume of flowers left the atmosphere with a lingering sweetness. Shining above, the sun warmed his body and painted the surrounding foliage. The glow highlighted the loose leaves which fluttered with a gentle rustling sound thanks to the soft breeze.
Despite the wonderful world around him, Bard could not be distracted from something very important: breakfast. His stomach grumbled at the thought, as he realized about how hungry he was. Time to get going!
And so he merrily went to town, singing along the way. He recalled songs he’d heard and learned in his journeys, some simple, some intricate, some from distant lands, and even a few that borrowed one or two ideas and passages from Overseer songs - either way, the locals could clearly hear him coming even before he could be seen.
A familiar voice, a reassuring one to the townsfolk. He might’ve been gone as the world slowly crumbled, but he came back at the very end to restore it again. And to be its home once again, to have yet another morning graced by his tones and melodies, it seemed to confirm to them again that everything was right once more. He was back, and everything was well again.
It was proving to be an unexpected socially busy day for him. Despite having greeted and talked to everyone in Langtree last evening when Miriam brought him back home, it seemed as though everyone still wanted to chat with him. Bard couldn’t say no, of course, he was happy to hear what they had to say. And they all had so much to talk about… recollecting how Langtree had decayed over weeks, as monsters steadily came and settled, and spirits flew by all the time, still making those spooky noises that ruined their sleep.
He was glad everyone was thanking him, and giving him small gifts (especially food - he hadn’t had such a generous lunch in a long time!) and even some saying how they always knew he’d turn out to be something special. And yet, it was all a bit… overwhelming. He began to feel a little enclosed, going from house to house to be someone’s guest all the time. As the day continued, he couldn’t help but wonder what every other place he’d gone to looked like now… he recalled his dream, and how exciting it was to see the whole world, an opportunity that was unthinkable to him just weeks ago...
But his mind returned back to the ground, and he kept on his usual goofy smile, and kindly replying to their words. People were sharing their happiness and gratefulness, and he’d dutifully return the gesture, by being a kind, polite, and friendly guest. At the very least, he spent most of it sitting and letting his leg muscles recover, as he got caught up with people and their lives.
It felt a bit strange… he’d known them for so long, but he’d never spent so much time away from them until this adventure. They were still the same people, but they had changed in small ways. Coming back home after a long leave, and everything was slightly different, even if it was all still warm and welcoming. Perhaps he’d gotten a bit too used to his traveling and meeting lots of people, seeing only a few days of their lives...
By the time Bard was done talking with everyone, the sun was setting. Feeling satisfied, both in stomach and words, he said his goodbyes to the mayor after hearing her new plans for the town, and started to head back home. He waved to everyone, leaning out of their windows or at their door, ready to settle for the evening. He smiled, wide and eager as he always did, and took the path back home.
Soon enough, the houses were out of sight, and it was just him and the sound of his footsteps. Already his legs were feeling better, well enough to make the trip to Delphi on his own. It wasn’t too far away, thankfully, it would just a little bit. Maybe he should get up and get going early tomorrow… he was excited to make the journey.
Just a few minutes later, he was at his front door again. He opened it up and found everything just the way he left. And yet… for some reason the usual quiet and stillness that always awaited him here… it felt pronounced tonight.
Many nights, Bard would come home and find it a little too quiet for his liking. And so he’d sing to himself a cheerful melody, to fill the air, to brighten up the lonely home. And last night, he’d been too tired to even think about any of this. As he slowly took off his clothes, not wanting to fall asleep in them again, and settled on the mattress and beneath the bedsheets, he couldn’t help but listen to the silence.
It was… a bit uncomfortable. He didn’t feel like singing right now; he was tired and wanted to take it easy and save his voice for tomorrow. He stared at the ceiling again, illuminated only by gorgeous blue moonlight, but still leaving him in just a dim bedroom. Why did it feel weirdly quiet?
He knew why. It’s because for the past weeks, he hadn’t been in this quiet loneliness at night every time. Miriam had been with him. She didn’t always like talking at night, especially not at first. She’d just quietly lie down and not really give much answer to his questions. But after a while, especially shortly before Ichor Mountain… she was more willing to talk about things. She seemed more open. And though she still didn’t quite appreciate him singing a lullaby, she at least talked with him. Said some things about herself that seemed really important. Not every night, but every so often… she seemed to speak her mind freely.
The quiet darkness, once so familiar and well-known… now felt a little empty. Devoid of… something. He wasn’t sure what. He didn’t want to dwell on it too much.
A little uneasy, he drifted back to sleep again. He hoped his dreams would put him at ease, with the color and music that was always so vivid in his mind, expressed through his voice, and reflected upon every night.
Miriam was back at Mohabumi. She was sitting in the library, reading through books on magic theory and spellcasting. It was all… so… boring. They were full of terms she didn’t understand, explanations that made no sense, and concepts that she’d never come across. She shut the book loudly and pushed away with a scowl, feeling frustrated.
She was supposed to learn magic, dammit. She was a witch, this is what witches did. So why did nothing in here seem to be even remotely familiar or close to what she did?
This was stupid. She needed to go outside. She got up and walked to the front door, attempting to push it open. But it remained firm, not giving even the slightest budge. It was locked.
“What?” Was all she said. She noticed an inscription upon the door, saying: “To open this door, cast the Opening Spell.” Opening Spell? The hell was that? She didn’t know an Opening Spell of any kind…
Whatever, a spell to open the door? Easy enough. She charged up a spell, and then extended her hand to release it.
The energy just bounced off the door, flying straight into her face, knocking her to the floor. Her cheeks and nose stung from the impact. But not nearly as much as the laughing that she could hear from a distance. Her face red from pain and embarrassment, she stood up and turned around… only to find no one there. But she could still hear them laughing.
“Come out so that I can blast your face!” Miriam shouted, charging yet another spell, her anger starting to flare up. She was already huffing and looking for her victim... then she felt all the energy leaving her body. The spell in her hands suddenly fizzled out.
“What… is going on?!” She didn’t realise she was shouting. She tried to summon the energy again, tap into that power within, but nothing happened. She couldn't find the magic. She couldn’t feel it anywhere, that familiar inner power. It was gone.
The mocking laughter was getting louder and louder, until the sound of it started to rumble and shake everything around her, and could feel it in her bones. The walls of the library suddenly cracked, as a deluge of books fell out from on high and rained upon her, threatening to bury her.
Miriam barely had time to know what was going on before she awoke from her nightmare.
She woke up with a brief jolt, her body tense and with heavy breathing, eyes wide with adrenaline staring at her ceiling. She lied down without moving her muscles for a few seconds, until the afterimage of the nightmare started to dissolve from her mind.
She groaned as she took her hand to her forehead almost as if trying to rub her emotions out of her brain. What the hell was going on with her? Everything was weird lately. She figured that after saving the world everything would go back to normal. Instead, it felt like there so many things that had changed and they weren’t going away… aaaaargggghhh, why did this have to be so difficult?
It was then that she heard the door creak open, and Saphy poked her head through the door. “Oh, you’re awake, dear. Good morning!” She said cheerfully as ever, always with that sweet grandmotherly tone and face that made it impossible to be mad at for long.
“Morning, grandma Saphy.” She grumbled without really looking at her.
“Breakfast is ready!” Saphy exclaimed before turning around and walking back to the kitchen. Miriam still didn’t get up from her bed, her body feeling heavier than usual. She didn’t feel like getting out of bed just yet…
Just to be sure, she raised her hand and tried to charge a spell. As always, the magic was there, its power coursing through her, following her will. So it really was just her stupid brain doing dumb things. Good.
With that out of the way, she finally remembered that today was the day that she and Bard were to meet again, right here in Delphi. She offered to give him a ride to town, but he said he didn’t mind the walking, and honestly, she was too tired that night to really insist on it, so… she guessed she’d just have to wait in town. He’d probably arrive just a few hours from now. Hopefully.
With that to look forward to, she finally pulled away the bedsheets, stood up, and headed over to the kitchen to have breakfast with her grandma. She didn’t know why, but she had a feeling that today would be an interesting one, somehow different.