Itwas still early evening when Balrog returned to the bunks where his companionshad been quartered. That Lois had wishedto rest so soon after a day such as this did not surprise him very much atall. He would have been far more shockedhad the ermine insisted on extending the day. As it was, he had little reason to worry about disturbing those who wereresting, since their number was so few. Hefound his commander crouched by their bunks, rummaging through the pack ofsupplies that he had carried during their previous patrol. Little remained of the consumables, and manyof the other contents would need to be thoroughly cleansed before they could beused. Whatever the wolf was searchingfor seemed to be eluding him, but he still managed a genuine smile when he sawthe lutin's approach. "Balrog,good evening! How fares thepatient?" "Hefares well enough. His memory remainsbadly damaged, but his mind is clear and I have seen some progress. I have no doubt that he will recover fullygiven sufficient time." "Whatsort of progress have you seen?" Nathan asked. Ashis commander closed the pack and returned it to its place under the bunk,Balrog replied, "He is beginning to recall small pieces of his past. They are fragments at best, but they arestill something – a bit of encouragement amidst a difficult struggle." Theblack wolf nodded, sitting on the edge of his bed as he listened. He cocked his head curiously at Balrog'sexplanation of the ermine's progress. "How large are these fragments that he is recovering?" heasked. Balroggave him an odd look. "They arevery small, perhaps a few moments of time. He recalls them well, however. Iasked him about one of the events that be recalled, and he was able to easilyrecount even his own thoughts during that time.” He shifted and eyed his commanderwarily. “Why are you suddenly sointerested? I thought you were opposedto the idea of him recovering his memory." Thewolf gave a conceding nod before explaining. "I worry about what he might remember, and how he might react tothe memories when they return to him. That does not mean that I do not wish him well during his recovery;quite the contrary, I expect I have more reason to be curious about hisprogress than do any of you." Heshifted his seat, allowing his tail a little more room to move. "Now, you say he is recalling briefperiods in good detail? That strikes meas odd. Memories rarely return in detailunless they are part of a larger epiphany. Memories are so interconnected that one rarely returns without bringingothers with it."
>>>He's worried that he might remember too much? Balrogshrugged. "I know too little aboutmemories to truly say. What I will sayis that I trust Lois, and I trust that if he says that he does not remember, hetruly does not remember." Nathanwaved a paw and rocked back on the bed a little bit, removing himself fromanything that could be misinterpreted as a confrontational posture. "I do not mean to question your friend'struthfulness by my observation. I wasmerely making note of an anomaly I perceived in your retelling. As we both know, this entire situation hasbeen a maze of such mysteries, and we should consider any further oddity as apotential key to unraveling all those mysteries. If he has deep memories, but only of veryspecific events, we should consider the possibility that someone is veryspecifically choosing what they will allow him to recall." "Theonly one I would suspect of having any motivation for such a thing isyou," Balrog noted. >>>Wow - thats a harsh statement. "Andyet, if it would serve my purposes, you cannot discount the possibility ofanother party being similarly interested," Nathan countered. He gave a smile, the same predatory one heloved to use as he whittled through an opponent's defenses in combat. "The concerning issue is that they mayhave other directions for their efforts. I do not wish him to recall his past because I am afraid that he willrecall being an assassin and seek to return to that occupation. Another interested party may instead directtheir efforts at accomplishing exactly what I fear, stripping away any part ofLois that would resist such a task until he is just a pawn in theirhands." >>>>That is a dangerous idea! Balrogscowled at his friend's presentation of the disturbing possibility. Nathan was frustratingly good at playingDevil's advocate. "The one who castthe original spell on Lois is dead," the lutin finally responded. "Perhaps,but the loss of his memories could make him a tempting target to a sufficientlyskilled opportunist. Provided only thatthey could come by the information that Lois had been crippled in this way, itis not unreasonable to propose such a person could execute their designs on theman despite not having caused the affliction themselves." "Isaw no signs of such interference when I examined him earlier today,"Balrog offered "Andlikewise, nothing when you examined him while he was trapped as ananimal," Nathan pointed out. "We are dealing with something we do not understand, Balrog. Vigilance is of the utmost importance. Just because you do not see any sort ofconventional magic affecting him does not necessarily mean that he is free fromany sort of taint. Until Lois iscompletely returned to his former shape and completely recovers his memory, oruntil we discover some satisfactory answer to our questions, we must assume theworst though we hope for the best." Balrogheaved a frustrated sigh, but he was forced to nod his agreement. "I don't suppose you have anysuggestions for how we might exercise appropriate caution?" Nathanshrugged, his expression and bearing suggesting that he was enjoying thediscussion, if only because it frustrated his friend. "You are the mage, my friend. If anyone is equipped to answer thatquestion, I am certain it is you." >>>So you are clueless on this? Thelutin mage scoffed. "I have no moreidea than you," he complained. Chuckling,the black wolf stood from his bunk and stretched. "I will leave you to think on it,then." Thelutin raised an eyebrow. "Are yougoing somewhere?" he asked. Thetall, lupine man nodded. "I wish totake a run around the grounds to keep up conditioning," he answered. He turned to the stout man and gave achuckle. "I don't suppose you wouldbe interested in joining? After our lastpatrol, I worry I might outpace you by so large a margin that I will lose youcompletely next time!" Balroggave an exaggerated roll of his eyes before shaking his head vehemently. "I have had my exercise for theday. I am well satisfied with leavingyou to your own." "Suityourself." The wolf grunted as he stretchedout his muscles carefully. "By theway," he continued, "I think Victor was looking for you. It did not seem urgent, but you may wish tosee what he needs. I would have tried tohelp him myself, but we both know that he is more comfortable in yourcompany." Balroggave a nod, looking at his friend with some concern. “Is he all right?” Thewolf shrugged as he grabbed a few things from where he had arranged them on hisbed for his run. “I cannot say forcertain. He has been a bit detached sincewe came here.” “Heis very concerned for his family. Theyare all still within the walls of Metamor, and he worries that something willhappen while they lie beyond his reach.” The large man sighed, rubbing his jaw with one of his large hands. “I cannot imagine what it is like to havesomeone you care for that much separated from you. He may relate to me better than to you, butthe only family I had is now dead, and it is hard for me to mourn his passing.” Nathannodded. He fidgeted uncomfortably, likehe wanted to leave as soon as possible. “My family is all in the south.” “Yousaid that you were trapped here during the Three Gates?” Balrog asked. Theblack wolf waved a hand in the air. “Itwasn’t exactly an accident,” he clarified. “The Curse was, but I came to Metamor to aid in the defense againstNasoj. When the Curse was cast, thatmission became slightly more of a permanent relocation. I have had some contact with my family sincethen, but they’re not keen on the idea of a ‘werewolf’ coming down from thenorth, claiming he is their son.” Balroggave a sharp shake of his head and a chuckle. Looking back at the wolf, he asked, “Wouldn’t you have been rather youngat the time of the Battle?” “Myfamily asked similar questions at the time,” Nathan noted with a mirthlesschuckle. “It was something I felt neededto be done, however, and I do not regret having done it.” He sighed and shook his head. “Few people came to the Keep’s aid duringthose dark days. Whether they failed totake Nasoj seriously or thought that allowing him to weaken the Keep waspolitically expedient at the time, the Midlands was happy to let things playout without intervening. I take no smallamount of pride in having been one of the few to go against that decision.” “Iam glad that you did. Now, we both havetasks to tend to. You need to take yourrun, and I should go see if Victor is all right.” He kicked at the floorboard with one of histhick boots. “And then, perhaps, I willtake a look to make sure Lois is all right.” “Nota bad idea,” Nathan confirmed with a smile and a nod. “I will see you later. And don’t give Victor TOO much to drink, allright?” Balrogsmirked and waved a hand dismissively. “I’ll make sure he behaves himself. I’m more worried about you.” “Inever drink and run,” Nathan said matter-of-factly, and then he was gone beforeBalrog could say another word. The largeman shook his head and grinned for a few moments as he watched the wolfretreat. Once he was out of sight, thelutin left to find Victor. While hewould not have the assistance of Kyia in this effort, he doubted that his youngfriend had wandered far from the barracks. >>>>>Interesting scene! All sorts of ideas put forward.
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