Life holds so many more twists and turns than I ever dreamed of. Just when I was beginning to despair of ever finding a friendly face again, Jig appeared, followed shortly thereafter by Alanna and Ashleigh. Fifty years of wandering with nothing but a sense of futile despair to show for it and after only a few short months of traveling with this extraordinary group I find myself rid of my horrendous curse, pregnant with a child who is partly drow, and loving my fellow travelers with disturbing intensity—we have become a close-knit family in my eyes. Then the hardships. We are forced to leave the Wood Elf area without Ashleigh and then Alanna is gone for over a month. Now Jig too is leaving and I feel as if part of my heart is being torn from my chest; ripped and torn with nothing that I can do to make it better; the things I love whisked from my grasp like so many autumn leaves.
To make a long story short, we did not catch either Dahlia or Diego on our way out of Shelby. Marius, Micah, Grimm, Jig and I left to find the new Sabwa. Beyond getting swindled at the harbor city, we encountered relatively little trouble and eventually found our way to the island that Marius had designated the new Sabwa to be built. It was beautiful! And we found Mu, Marius’ familiar, there with a chest of books and some of Grimm’s things. We spent the next couple of weeks helping to build the foundations of the city, even getting most of one of the houses built, minus the roof. We left in time to get to Jigston and arrived only a day shy of when we were to meet Alanna there. We also found Dahlia there, though Diego seemed to be in some sort of trouble that we couldn’t quite figure out. We helped Dahlia to try and find him as best we could, but we had very little luck. Though they were supposed to accompany us to the Grasslands, we left Jigston without Dahlia or Diego. Apparently Diego had gotten in over his head in debt and Dahlia was forced to attempt a repayment with her dancing skills. Sometimes I just want to take a swing at Diego’s stubborn, arrogant head to see if I can try and knock some sense into the slab of rock that seems to have replaced his brains. Grrrrr! Not wanting to alienate Dahlia further than I already had with my questioning when we had first arrived in Jigston, I thought it better to acquiesce to her demands and forge ahead without either of them. It saddens me to leave for once we have Jericho and Logan in tow, I have a sinking suspicion that we will not be entering many cities. From there we journey to the new Sabwa for who knows how long. The city is well-hidden and there is little chance that I can see of them finding us. I fear that this is the last I will see of my esteemed acquaintance and I am saddened that the parting had to come on these terms.
From Jigston, Alanna, Jig and I made our way to the Central Outpost before we got into the main part of the Grasslands. They knew nothing about the phoenix tree; only that a new band of barbarians had entered the grasslands—which we later figured out to be the tribe that Jig was from, the Clan of the Dragon. Hoping to meet up with them and from there, to make our way further into the grasslands to find the phoenix tree, we headed west towards the Western Outpost. We found more than we bargained for. One of the other barbarian tribes surrounded us one morning. Seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict, we made our way under guard to seek audience with their council. When we got there, however, we were each tied to a large stake dug into the ground. There we waited….
and waited again…
Finally, after almost three days of no food, water, or rest, I succumbed to the inevitable…my sight…fading…to blackness…...
I awoke to Alanna leaning over me, a look of pure concern on her face. Shaking my head to try and clear my thoughts, my gaze widened to take in the tent that we seemed to be in. I looked towards Alanna, who held the wooden flask that I had been given in Sabwa in her hand. In my heart I know that it was that and the caring of my friends that brought me back over the brink, back to the land of the living. I sat up, feeling more refreshed than I had in many days and Alanna and I left to see if we could help the other wounded of Jig’s clan. None of the injuries were too serious, however, so I ended up just sitting in the corner and playing a little bit of music to myself.
The next day we saw Serc Sawyer, Jig’s father, come walking into the camp with a body that we assumed to be Arklet’s (the man who had imprisoned us). It turned out to be Jig, however, wearing his former foe’s armor and bloodied from the battle that he had just fought so valiantly. Alanna and I rushed to his side, worried that yet another comrade had fallen in battle. Breathing a sigh of intense relief, however, we discovered that he was not dead, only very heavily wounded and fatigued. I cast a healing spell and did my best to make Jig feel better. I smiled as he opened his eyes and stood before us again, my brother-in-spirit revived and very much alive.
My joyfulness in his return and our apparently narrow escape into safety, however, was stillborn. As Jig stood up once more and I went to wrap him in a relieved and happy hug, Serc pulled him to the side. They were having an intense discussion, which I couldn’t quite follow with the rudimentary Orcish that I had learned. Alanna, being the kind soul she is, saw my trouble and translated for me. What she told me made my heart plummet to the ground. Jig was being told that he had earned the right to lead his tribe and that his father wanted to know if he was going to do so. My eyes going back and forth from Serc to Jig, I waited with bated breath as [[:Serc Sawyer | Serc]] stepped aside so that Jig could talk to us. I had a terrible, gnawing knot in the pit of my stomach that wouldn’t go away as Jig turned towards us both. Through my mind flashed images of the Jig I had grown to love. His manner of speaking, his thoughts, so surprisingly deep in the few serious conversations I had had with him. I saw how much he had grown in the half a year that we had journeyed together. I eyed him and waited for him to speak, each word pounding like a hammer and settling like a heavy weight into the pit of my stomach. He would not be going with us after the Phoenix Tree. He had decided to stay with his tribe, felt it his duty and place to lead them. Tears began welling in my eyes, dangerously close to spilling over as I told him to do as he must. Thoughts spinning in my head, I took a few steps backwards. Jig stretched his arms out for a hug and I went forward, hugging him fiercely, as if he would disappear in my arms if I let up for even a second. It was too much—the tears finally spilled over and I shielded my eyes with my hands so that Jig couldn’t see them as I rushed headlong back into the tent we had set up and collapsed into the middle of it, sobbing inconsolably.
A few hours passed and I finally found the strength to dry my reddened, bloodshot eyes. The grief was still there but I had found the strength to cover it and hold it back, as I had many times before. Jig had found his place and was happy. What more could I ask for?? It had been selfish to assume that he would travel with us always. I had envisioned him in Sabwa, settling down with a house next to Grimm’s. I had never even dreamed that he was heir to an entire tribe! That his father was the leader and had expected Jig to one day take up that mantle as well. There were worse things that could have happened. At least Jig would be happy and that was what truly mattered. I heaved one final, heartwrenching sigh and pulled out my lute, staring mutely at it for a few moments before a heroic-sounding ballad tune came unbidden into my thoughts. Smiling, I plucked a few chords and began the process of writing another song to remember Jig and all he had done for the world. It would be alright; we would be alright.