Pascal Game 8 – So When the Buckled Girder

Autumn 608 –

For awhile now I’ve been struggling on accepting the death of my parents – when all that’s left is ashes where a home once stood – when there is no grave, urn, or memorial to them – when our neighbors and friends don’t know if they got out or not – it’s almost impossible to know for certain if they are dead. I was almost ready to accept that they were gone this market – I even prepared an offering for each of them this L’adieu – Now I know that this would have been… premature.

My mother’s message came first – as I mentally prepared myself to say goodbye, Valentin and Isabel asked if I cared to explore a family monastery. In the old days, monasteries meant books, and a Merveille monastery could have some very interesting ones at that so I agreed, after all, what’s the worst that could happen? An hour later and I’m up to my neck in stagnant swamp water, smelling like the bottom of my dad’s worst whisky bottles, I still can’t totally get it out of my dress, apron, and backpack. It’s dark, it’s cold, and ahead of me Sophie holds the only lantern, her voice echoing across the flooded halls as she reads out the scribblings of some deranged man. Behind me a stone collapses onto Corbin, and it’s all Gérard and I can do to free him. Alligators keep sneaking up on us, and Alphonse’s erratic breathing through his… gills I guess puts us all on edge. Finally Isabel manages to get her pump working in a good spot and we can all breathe a sigh of relief as the water levels drop and we can take stock of what we found – while the armor and its gauntlet fascinated me, what caught my attention was the mechanical eye – unerringly its gaze followed mine as I moved it about, artificial viscera still trailing behind it. It was here that I knew my mother must still be with me somehow, guiding me here to this place to find the technology that proves her theory – that perfect prosthetics do exist – that people like my father can be fixed.

My father’s message came later that night – when Aspen answered my call. Given our last encounter, I had no idea on what I might be stepping into, only that I needed more information on what it meant to be a champion, why I was tolerated given my nature of encouraging my circle to adopt new innovations, and why they slumbered for the past six decades. He told me of the duty I must play in the circle to be champion, she answered my questions of her origins, and most surprisingly they seemed to actively support my quest to bring innovations to the Vecatrans – so long as they benefitted not only the community but our circle in particular. In that moment I could feel my father’s single hand sitting on my shoulder, pushing me forward into greater unknowns while supporting me all the while.

I know that they must be alive – somehow, somewhere. My body, mind, and soul know this. When our circle returned from the thicket, we faltered on the bridge – images of sorrow and terror woven into each of my fellows faces. They had seen their beloved departed impaled on the thorns of the briar but I – I saw nothing but the light of the town and the dark of the forest – My mother and my father.

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