Wax And Wane Pt 6

From the Story Arc: Coming Home

Previous Story in the Arc: Wax And Wane Pt 5 by Sister Shuma (Monday, January 12, 2009)

Next Story in the Arc: Wax And Wane Pt 7 by Victoria Victrix (Monday, January 12, 2009)

(posted Monday, January 12, 2009)

Under the shelter of trees, Gairdner finally let his guard down. The armor clanked as he squatted, and he grunted as the weight of the saddlebags slid from his shoulders. He planted his sword in the ground, and hung his shield on the hilt.

The past year had been a trial by fire. They had all been touched by it. With the exception of Shuma, they had all lost access to their powers for a while. Even with her abilities, she had faced the hardest test of all. She still faced it. His heart cried for her, the last of them still to mend. He would do what he could, but he wondered if she would ever find herself again. The long fight, begun with such loss, had forced them to rekindle old strengths or find new ones.

And they had.

Even Mogre, whose synthetic body had betrayed him in the Bleed. The curse of that realm had leeched away powers, even energy. Gairdner’s Power Gauntlets were left inert, Red was unable to light even the smallest spark and Rancor’s body had lost all of its remarkable regenerative properties. Mogre had been hit worst of all. His massive synthetic frame, powered by internal combustion, became a lifeless husk. What organic material remained labored to perform the simplest of tasks, such as breathing. All that remained was that remarkable mind, a mind that had finally learned how to laugh and love and had at the last saved them all.

Mogre had once been a simple beast, and then a hardened machine. It all had to be stripped away, his body worn down to nothing, to let the man become. So it often is with heroes. With the Djinni, the years had brought experience and mastery over his fire, yet the weary toil of the endless fight had diminished his passion. He had learned though, even without his flame, that he was a force of nature. He had reclaimed his fire, all his fire.

And Gairdner, who had once faced life with a clear focus almost holy in its certainty, had lost all direction. Yet through the void he was bolstered by his trust in his friends, and through battle he reclaimed something he had lost so long ago…

His faith.

He knelt down, gestured a cross across his breast, and clasped his steel-covered hands together. He closed his eyes in prayer.

Lord, I thank you for this day and for the strength you have bestowed upon us to carry on. May we face our new trials with your blessing and with sure conviction that peace is not a fool’s dream, but a certain paradise in your grace...

... with love, for Shuma is ours, and we will see her through...

... and for Victoria, that her wrath will not beat Red, gone these many months, into a sorry pulp of a man...

... for Rancor. May he find joy in his choice...

... for Mogre. He is passed onto you. May he find the peace he so desired...

... for myself...

Gairdner opened his eyes, let his steel gauntlets fall to the ground, and reached into his saddlebags. With reverence he removed two light gloves, almost alien to the touch, and slipped them on. It had been so long since he felt the Power Gauntlets activate, to mold onto his very skin, and to experience that strange sense of joining, of becoming one. The Guardian Armor crept back, growing from the Gauntlets like a second skin. The golden links of his faithful plate mail snapped open, unable to bear the force of it. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, Gairdner Ward began to rise, to hover, his plate armor shed away and replaced by a nimbus shell of pure force. It was time to reclaim his power. He had earned it. He would trade his shield for his force fields, his sword for torrents of pure energy. And at the center of it all, he had reclaimed his focus.

He was a Paladin, once more.

... give me strength, and I will see it through. I will live to protect the innocent, and to chastise the dark with light.

Amen.