**Editor’s Note: We will be featuring some character backstories & recaps from our Phoenix Dawn Command actual play series. Be sure to watch the adventure LIVE every Saturday night at 5p PDT/8p EDT on twitch.tv/savingthrowshow!**
by Mac Beauvais
The fighting had become tedious to Varya.
The Wing had been sent to clear out the township of Mardenford and they’d come up against a new foe: Wailers. The Wailers it seemed were powered by their Dawn essence. Bodies that should have remained dead after the Chant had worn through them could be reanimated by the very Phoenixes sent to make the town safe again. What did that say about them?
And then there were the human companions. Varya was built for taking damage, and in comparison humans were so delicate. It was difficult for her not to become frustrated when she had to reign in her attacks to shield them from damage. Humans were a hinderance.
Of course, there were also the Phoenix companions. She was connected to them, but simultaneously felt apart. The cycle of death and rebirth was quickly becoming numbing.
Then there were the shards they had been collecting, a seeming source of power for the Chant. The Marshals thought they were closing in on something, but Varya questioned this silently.
They made way for a smaller township outside of Mardenford where it seemed another piece of the puzzle might lie. Varya tried to keep at the back of the group as they negotiated entry beyond the guarded gate. A handful of people were all the known survivors of this Chant outbreak. The rest of the population was likely inside the fortress carved into a mountain at its back, and the likelihood is that they had all succumbed to the Chant.
The Wing entered and went to work in their usual manner wading through a few scuffles with Wailers. It was all quite routine until Varya noticed Ink heading towards a chamber at the end of a corridor. She sighed and trailed after him.
Without warning, four doors of slammed closed behind them, sealing them in the room. The doors could be manually broken, but it wouldn’t be easy and it would take time.
Ink cleared his throat behind Varya. She turned to him and she could see that look again, the one of curiousity and worry he had whenever he really looked at her. He seemed to be collecting his thoughts. Inopportune time or not, it appeared he’d kept things bottled up long enough.
“I know,” he began, “in the time we’ve been together it has made you very uncomfortable for the time we spent when I was in your head. And I understand that.”
He began to tell her that he believed they all had a greater purpose and did not understand why she could not see that she had a great destiny before her.
“I don’t know about destiny,” she snarled. “I died and was supposed to go somewhere else but instead woke up as a fucking monster!”
She could feel the rage boiling within her.
He continued to tell her there was a part of him that could not deny that she might be a manifestation of the Dread, but that he believed in her and forcefully added, “do not succumb to the monster.”
He thought he knew, he thought he really knew. He continued on and quoted some forgotten volume of text that Varya could not have cared less about. But he didn’t know. He wasn’t the one having to fight it and not be sure if it was really an “it” and not just her.
And then, he blinked momentarily out of existence. Simply disappeared. Something was wrong with him, but she was so mad she didn’t care. Not until he blinked back in and reached for her hands. In that moment, she gasped, he was seeing into her. It was like the time he’d spent in her head, but more intrusive. He could see her memories, her thoughts. He could see “it” or her or whatever it was, and as he receded, it followed.
Whatever he had done had drawn it out of her.
“What have you done?!” She snarled, her head swimming and the words having trouble forming.
Again she’d felt that snap, like the snap of anger when she’d been fighting the fear and the Dreadknights. Her body contorted, becoming more wolf than human. The beast had her in its grasp, or maybe it was her true self in control. Whatever it was, it was angry.
She leapt at Ink, claws outstretched, trying to restrain herself but barely curbing the blow. He blinked out again before she could land another. When he returned he said something about flooding the chambers and indicated the pipes above. She leapt and damaged them, but a part of her wondered if what she really hoped for was that she could drown the beast.
As the room began to fill, she sensed that the other members of the Wing were also in trouble. However, they had been successful in unlocking the cell doors and so she tore out of it, trying to direct her bestial rage somewhere more useful.
Her blows were savage as she plowed through the enemy. Chanter after Chanter and Wailer after Wailer, she struck with fury beyond her comprehension. All were nearly destroyed, but the rage wasn’t ebbing like it had the first time. Ink had tapped into too deep, and it would not be quieted without putting the others in danger. She knew of only one place that could contain it.
She bolted past her companions for the terrible shard fragment that had been giving the Chant its power, and as she clutched it, she let everything burn out to ash.