For Better, For Worse



  • Entry for the Spring 2017 Chron Challenge

    (Disclaimer: This story is an entry for the Spring 2017 Chron Challenge. The characters in this story are not mine, and are used without permission. I’d be happy to edit if one of the characters’ owners actually reads this (unlikely!), or if one of the real Cythera writers would like something edited for some reason. I consider this chronicle a fan-fic, but if the serious writers want to regard it as canon, that’s up to them ^ _^)

    "Happy anniversary."

    Moonshadow looked from the mooncake in Flynn’s outstretched hands, to his beaming face, and grinned. She loved the way his eyes smiled as much as his lips. Careful not to squish the mooncake, she hugged him tightly. She loved the feeling of her husband in her arms.

    Flynn laughed at her attempt to hug him without damaging the gift, and handed the cake to her. Moonshadow accepted it and took a bite.

    Magelight gently illuminated their small room in the Ronin’s barracks. The corners of the room were draped in shadow, but Moonshadow could see Flynn as clearly as if he were in broad daylight. Or as clearly as if she had her eyes closed.

    "Can you believe it’s been four years?" asked Flynn.

    " Yes ," said Moonshadow emphatically, earning her another laugh from Flynn.

    "So it’s been a busy four years. That just makes it all the better, doesn’t it?"

    "Not entirely…" she hesitated. "Maybe for the most part."

    "I love adventuring with you." He kissed her. "I want to keep having adventures with you for the rest of my life." He embraced her.

    Moonshadow set down the mooncake and hugged him again. But no matter how hard she squeezed, it didn’t make things alright. "'With me'?" she questioned. "Having adventures will always come before me."

    "Don’t say that, Mada," he said gently. When he used her nickname, it made her feel more like she belonged to him and no-one else. "You know I want to be with you more than anything. And you want to have adventures too!"

    "I want to have sensible adventures," she clarified.

    "Sitting on our thumbs when the world needs us isn’t sensible." Every word Flynn spoke was kind, patient, loving. No trace of frustration crossed his voice.

    "I don’t suggest that," agreed Moonshadow. "I want to adventure with you too. I miss it so much -" when she was about to sob, Flynn kissed her again, longer this time, deeper. Driving out the regrets.

    Their mouths parting, she snuggled against his shoulder. "So it’s truly only been four years?"

    "Exactly four years. Remember that day?"

    "Of course I remember that day," she chided him.

    "You know that feeling you’re just setting out on a new adventure with fellow heroes of Cythera? Full of excitement, satisfied in knowing you’re doing what you’re meant to do, eager for it to begin? That’s how I felt, the morning of our wedding."

    "Nervous? Terrified?"

    Flynn chuckled. "I was only nervous something would go wrong with the ceremony and you’d be displeased."

    "Hey now!" Moonshadow lightly punched him on the chest. "That’s not fair, I wasn’t…" she trailed off for a moment, her mind wandering to her memories of her wedding.

    • (Flashback)

    "Almost there," Katze informed the blindfolded Moonshadow as she, Leandra, and Sasha led her to the spot where she would soon be marrying Flynn. The girls stopped, and positioned Moonshadow so that she had a good view of the area. "And we’re here - what do you think?!" Katze removed Moonshadow’s blindfold.

    She gasped. "It’s beautiful!"

    The northern bank of River Sitia was a romantic spot to begin with, but the Ronin and her other friends had clearly been busy decorating. The grass was greener, and full of wildflowers. Several white picnic blankets had been laid in the lush grass, for the guests’ comfort. Strings of white lanterns hung from the trees. Most surprising of all was right on the bank, where she and Flynn would stand to exchange their vows, were two large blooming trees. Their branches intertwined and shaded the altar, occasionally raining down flower petals.

    "Wh-How-?" she sputtered. Those two trees had definitely not been there when she and Flynn had explored the area a few weeks earlier, choosing their spot.

    Leandra grinned at Moonshadow’s surprise. "We came here a few days ago and worked our Ronin magic."

    "I didn’t know you could do… this!"

    "It was exhausting! Used all the healing potions we brought, and we could still barely teleport back to Cademia. I hope you appreciate it!"

    "Aww, I do!" She hugged Leandra, and then Sasha (who flinched at being hugged). "I want to take a better look!" she said, transforming into a falcon and flying into the air.

    "Be careful!" Leandra called up to her. "The boys are on their way, and it’s bad luck for Flynn to see you before the wedding!"

    Moonshadow rolled her eyes. She didn’t believe in such silly superstitions. She circled higher, taking in her surroundings and enjoying the beautiful day. Everything was perfect.

    To the south she saw a large group of adventurers on their way to the wedding. Moonshadow had no blood-family here in Cythera, but her friends from the Tavern and various quests had become like family, and most of them were able to come witness the wedding. She screeched down at them, and many arms waved back in response. Flying closer, she could see Flynn clearly, and opened a telepathic channel with him.

    The site is brilliant, thanks!

    Did you doubt me? was his response.

    One never knows what to expect from you!

    Except for eternal love for you, of course!

    Moonshadow laughed telepathically. Save it for the altar!

    She swooped down, landing on Flynn’s shoulder and gave him an affectionate nibble on the ear. But I love you too, she whispered. See you soon.

    She took to flight again and was quickly back with the other girls, transforming as she landed. The girls pulled her into the woods and out of sight, and fussed over her dress (a sparkling white gown), making sure it hadn’t been in any way compromised by her transformation into a falcon and back.

    The wedding started soon after. It was mostly a blur to Moonshadow. A musician from Pnyx played cheerful melodies on a lute. Moonshadow held the Scribe’s arm as she walked out of the woods and up to Flynn. Trinias, who had apparently been certified to officiate weddings via correspondence course, droned on for a bit about how happy it was that she and Flynn were getting married.

    "If anyone has any reason that these two should not be bound in matrimony, let them speak now, or forever hold their peace," Trinias addressed the crowd.

    Moonshadow looked out at her guests. Most were smiling, some were putting an effort into not crying, a few looked bored and impatient for the party. A flash of blue from the branches of a nearby tree caught her eye, but Trinias drew her attention back before she could recognize what she saw.

    "Then, if there are no objections-"

    "ROOOOOOOOAR!"

    Roaring and stampeding suddenly filled everyone’s ears. Flynn groaned, "not again!" The guests, nearly all of them heroes, jumped to their feet and drew their weapons, just as a horde of trolls burst from the forest.

    Instantly the heroes were slashing through the trolls. Flynn was running around trying to make peace, but they were trolls , they had no interest in peace. Moonshadow glanced down at her dress, debating whether helping her friends was worth risking damaging the material. "I’ll be cleric!" she decided, and dived behind the altar, where she cast healing spells as needed.

    She was faintly surprised to notice the musician was also casting healing spells. Musician, music - of course! She edged toward the woods, trying to go wide around the skirmish. If she could just make it to her pack - she had left it in the woods, how stupid!

    The trolls were everywhere, she couldn’t avoid them. She’d have to go through. And the trees were too thick to do it by air. Drawing her crystal dagger, she muttered "mam’ra" and it grew into a sword in her hand. Cautiously, she came closer and closer to the woods - and the bloodshed. Halfway there. She inched closer-

    "RAWR!" A troll jumped out at her! She screamed involuntarily and stabbed it with her sword. It collapsed. She swallowed her repulsion and attempted to remove her sword from the creature’s gut, when another one jumped out.

    A second before its club crashed down on her head, it was blocked by a sword.

    "What are you doing?!" demanded Flynn.

    "I need my harp!"

    Realization came to Flynn’s eyes. "Go - I’ll cover you!"

    With Flynn’s protection, Moonshadow darted through the trolls and finally found her pack. She dug out her crystal harp and started playing it. She was mostly experienced in influencing humans through musical melodies, but with a variation in the tunes, she should be able to influence the trolls without much effecting the humans - or so she hoped. She played her song of Peace.

    The sound of her song was mostly drowned out by the roaring of trolls and the noise of combat, but she could see the trolls nearest to her start to calm down a little bit.

    Suddenly, there was a thunderous BOOM, and a darker-than-black explosion. Darkness blinded Moonshadow. As the darkness faded back into daylight, she looked around to see what happened. It was chaos. The trees and grass were in flames. Trolls littered the ground, lifeless. Some of the heroes were moaning or screaming to various degrees, while others, despite looking very uncomfortable, started trying to help those worse off. Moonshadow herself felt like she’d been run over by a titan.

    In the middle of it all was Desert Fox, who had collapsed and was shaking uncontrollably. A few of the heroes were trying to get to him, but an invisible energy was preventing them.

    Moonshadow joined the others in extinguishing the flames and healing the wounded. Through conversation with the other heroes, she learned that Desert Fox had attempted to use shadow magic against the trolls and lost control, causing the unpleasant symptoms of everyone in the area and the fire.

    "I’m sorry guys," DF apologized. His friends could approach him by now, but they couldn’t do anything to help him recover. "I thought I could control it, I wasn’t expecting it to be so strong. I guess my shadow magic is more powerful than my body odor!"

    Flynn put a hand on DF’s shoulder. "I’m just glad no one was hurt. …Er, besides the trolls."

    Moonshadow stared at the scene speechlessly. Dead trolls everywhere. The grass was gone. The trees were blackened. The picnic blankets were now mostly ashes. Only a few fragments of the lanterns remained. Her dress was covered in blood and ashes. Some of the guests still seemed queasy or in pain, despite all the spells and potions that had been shared.

    Flynn’s sooty arm wrapped around her, startling her - she hadn’t noticed him approach. "I’m sorry. I tried to make our wedding nice, but… well."

    "Indeed," she agreed.

    "What do you want to do?"

    Moonshadow caught his eye and smiled playfully. "What do you think I want to do? Marry you!"

    Flynn grinned. "Trinias!" he called. "Come finish the ceremony!"

    A few moments later, Flynn and Moonshadow stood beside the two blackened tree-trunks on the riverbank.

    "For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer," Moonshadow repeated, "in sickness and in health, I will love you and follow you as long as we both shall live."

    That evening, they sat together on the bank. Behind them, their friends still danced and shared stories and laughed. After moving downstream, away from the troll attack, Wolmark had set up a portal to the Tavern, and Talos had brought back much rejuvenating fare. There was music and singing, and assorted showing off.

    Moonshadow gazed at Rogan and Desert Fox, who were practicing swordfighting techniques apparently just for the fun of it. "I don’t know how they have the energy, I’m utterly exhausted."

    "I take it you don’t want to dance anymore?" Flynn asked.

    "Do you?" she asked incredulously.

    He shrugged. "Not particularly. Come on." He took her hand and led her away from the festivities. They shouted farewells to their friends, who shouted back their congrats and wellwishes, and retrieved their packs. They did not intend to be back in Cythera for about a month.

    Moonshadow allowed Flynn to lead her northward, but felt confused. "Why are we going north? I thought we were going to Ayrit."

    "We are, the river’s shallower here, it will be easier to ford."

    "Oookay, have fun fording the icy river!" Moonshadow said, hanging Flynn her pack. "I’ll fly."

    "Oy!" His grip tightened on her hand. "No more running off, we’re sticking together."

    She laughed. "Alright, we’ll stick together," she agreed.

    A ways away from the wedding reception, they reached the shallow point of the river and paused.

    "Ready to take the plunge?" Flynn asked.

    Moonshadow dipped a hand into the river and smiled. "There are advantages to being a winter elf."

    Flynn crouched down beside her and kissed her.

    …And kissed her.

    His hands ran along her soot-stained gown, caressing her more closely than he’d ever dared before. He traced her curves around to her back, where he began untying the laces of her gown.

    Moonshadow broke away. "Flynn O’Conner!" she gasped. "We’re in full view of a farmhouse!" she motioned to a farmhouse nearby, where a very young girl in pigtails could be seen picking grapes.

    Flynn glanced at the farm and grinned sheepishly. "You’re right, I’m sorry. Let’s go."

    Through the frigid river, through to the nearby cave, and down it’s depths to Ayrit, Flynn and Moonshadow travelled hand-in-hand. When they got to the void they hugged each other tightly and jumped in, to their honeymoon.

    • (/flashback)

    "I was quite pleased with our wedding, despite the disruption," Moonshadow finished. "I was happy because of marrying you."

    Flynn squeezed her. "Are you still happy to be married to me?"

    The silence was heavy.

    More memories swept through Moonshadow’s mind. Meeting him when he first arrived in the Tavern. The heartfelt discussions on the way to Land’s End Volcano. Returning from a trip to her homeworld to find him dead, and then realizing he was still with them in disguise. The flight to the Air-Castle - and the marvelous Air-Castle itself. Laughing with Flynn as they explored it. Travelling again to Land’s End, to the fascinating little chamber that only they could enter. And all the worlds they visited while learning the secret of the Kul’Shar Legacy - that was when Flynn finally accepted that they could be together, romantically. That was also the second time she saw him die (again, it turned out not to really be him). Their wedding, their honeymoon. And then…

    Sharing a bunk on the submarine to Auracti, quarreling the whole time.

    Temporarily losing her sanity after seeing him gravely injured yet again, for weeks she lost herself to her second form.

    Begging him not to step through an unknown portal to a probable trap. He responding condescendingly and stepped through anyway. Not following him fast enough.

    Never seeing him again.

    Months alone in her cottage. Not knowing. Becoming afraid of interacting with people.

    More months back at her homeworld, away from the quests of Cythera.

    The only times she truly felt alive anymore were when she ventured out to join her fellow heroes in their attempts to save the world. But even this left her confused about what her boundaries were, about whether she needed to guard against becoming too close to another man.

    And now she was holed up in Cademia along with a bunch of other heroes, feeling helpless to do anything about mysterious invasion of evil doppelgängers who were wrecking havoc on their beloved island.

    She finally broke the silence. "We both broke our promises. You didn’t love me enough to listen to me, and I didn’t follow you."

    "I’m sorry. I’m so sorry Mada-"

    But her daydream was already fading. Flynn disappeared.

    "'For as long as we both shall live'," she quoted. "I wonder if we both still live?"

    It had been two years since Flynn had left. When he didn’t return, it affirmed her fears that the portal had not really been leading to a quest that Temrel arranged, but rather a trap set by one of the Ronin’s dangerous enemies. At first Wolmark worked fervently to find them, but as the days stretched into weeks, Moonshadow began to lose hope that he’d be able to. During her months of seclusion, she lost touch with him, and now he and the other remaining Ronin seemed to have disappeared without a trace as well.

    She had already mourned for her husband. Surely if he was still alive, he would have found a way back to her. On the other hand, she had seen him die twice and both times had been a deception. She could not fully believe that he was dead.

    The worst part was that it looked like she’d never find out for sure. She’d never see Flynn again, that was hard enough, but she’d also never be free from the bounds of marriage to him; which in effect was secluding her from her other friends.

    She curled up and wept.

    "I wish you were here," she told her absent husband. "I really need someone to talk to. And I really, really need a hug."

    Calculating Reader Score: (Warning: Be sure to read the entire chronicle before viewing the "spoiler"):

    Spoiler

    To calculate your Reader Score, give yourself 50 points for reading this story, plus 50 points for each of the following criteria that applies:

    • If, before I posted this chronicle, you guessed I was going to write about Flynn and Moonshadow.

    • If you realized early on that Flynn was not present for his 4th wedding anniversary, and Moonshadow was only imagining their conversation.

    • If you noticed the Adriana cameo.

    • If you noticed the Katerei cameo.

    • If you noticed the Retsy cameo.

    • If you guessed what would happen when Trinias asked for objections.

    • If you remembered Moonshadow’s magical harp-playing skills.

    • If you enjoyed reading this story.

    • If you are currently working on writing some kind of story that you will let me read ^ ****_^

    If you’re the sort of person who does math problems for fun, add up your score and post it as a reply ^_ __^

    This post has been edited by BreadWorldMercy453 : 01 April 2017 - 09:19 PM



  • I scored 300.

    50 for reading.
    50 for Adriana.
    50 for Retsy.
    50 for the objections.

    And you gave away the last two for free.



  • 50 for reading
    50 for predicting the troll attack
    50 for M’s harp playing
    50 for enjoying it
    50 for writing a story

    Total: 250

    I see the cameos now, but totally missed them before. I thought the trolls were blue.



  • Thanks for reading, guys! ^ ___^ I'm surprised Tyry read it, knowing it was about old stories...

    Yeahh in hindsight the Katerei reference was too vague. Maybe I should edit it : __\ : __/ I thought about mentioning her waterbending to help with the fire, but I thought that would make it too obvious. I wasn't quite sure where these events would fit on the timeline, as you really can't lay out the old stories on a timeline without rewriting history a bit. I thought maybe the wedding would take place when Katerei was living in that area, and she'd watch from the trees without making herself known.

    I did kinda try to fit the weddings and stuff into the timeline, but I don't think I did a very good job. Timelines are confusing, and the old stories do contradict each other. I came up with something like this:
    Year 5 - Flynn and Moonshadow start falling in love
    Year 7 - Leandra and Wolmark get married
    Year 8 - Flynn and Moonshadow get married
    Year 10 - Flynn/Sasha/Trinias leave and get trapped in another world
    Year 12 - When this story takes place, during early OoR.
    Year 13 - When Flynn and Moonshadow's daughter Jadia would be conceived...

    Looking at this again I think they would have known Katerei already and invited her to the wedding. Oh well. Timelines are hard! @_@



  • Another well-written chron :) . I particularly enjoyed the references to older stories and the way you connected the various events in them.


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