Flames and Steel: The Chromatic War

Neo Side Story, Time to Cool Down

On the way back to Varalon Neo made a quick diversion away from the city. Despite wanting to go and speak with the king, his mind was torn with what had happened earlier at the lumber camp. On one hand, everyone in the group had let it happen and seemed fine with it; on the other he was brought up and firmly believed it was wrong. Killing a person in cold blood when their only crime was ignorance and bigotry went against his main principle that he lived upon: Only fight to defend, or perhaps against something that was obviously evil. Either way, while Neo had never really got along with or understood T’lemya she had done one of the two things that pushed him beyond his ability to look the other way.

Wishing to avoid, at the moment, a conflict that might turn the entire group against him, Neo decided that he needed time to cool off and think. Although it was a bit of a trek, he decided to make his way toward his village between Varalon and Trinity. He stuck to the road the as often as possible, wanting to stay away from any conflicts. He feared that in his current mood he would probably be far more brutal than usual by taking out his aggression on those who did not deserve it. However, he was able to easily navigate the forest safely once he was not too far up the road, having passed through them many times to visit his home.

When Neo arrived in his home town he did not immediately seek his mother and his house but instead went to meet with the man that had given him his little ‘quest.’ Inside the small comfortable bar, Neo was hailed jovially by almost everyone inside as he passed them. He smiled amicably, nodding and occasionally shaking hands of the people who were glad to see he was in good health. Some wanted him to regale them with tales of what he had seen in his journeys but at the moment he needed counsel and quiet. As politely as his current state would allow him, he told his friends that he would answer their calls for information once he had spoken to the bartender and then his mother. Disappointed but understanding, they allowed him to pass through to the bar.

The aged bartender seemed very surprised to see Neo back in town, let alone looking so somber and troubled. He put up a brave act for the people in the bar but the moment only the bartender could see him, he dropped that.

“What is troubling you?” asked the old man, his voice low and filled with concern.

“Ah gramps… I don’t know how to deal with this.” Neo muttered back, shaking his head in dismay. “Long story short, I’ve been dropped into a situation with a… diverse group. I like some of them, some of them are way over my head what with the magic and stuff I’ve seen now,” he grins slightly “but it seems to have gone from a group of people trying to prevent a great tragedy through good acts to people who will do whatever it takes to meet their ends.” At this point, he grimaced. “I’ve gone further in my knowledge than ever before, I’ve seen things I never thought I’d seen and done some questionable things in this journey but to kill an innocent just like she did…”

“So, this group does this a lot?” the elder inquired, raising his eyebrows as if surprised Neo would even be with them.
“No no. Well, I’ve heard that one of the others gets a bit carried away sometimes but I’ve never actually SEEN him kill someone who wasn’t trying to hurt him. I suppose it’s possible that he or the others may have… but this was right at my feet gramps. I could’ve stopped it.”

“Now boy, stop right there.” The old man gave him a very stern somewhat parental look. “You can’t control what others do and can’t save every person who needs savin. Your mother told you the same thing and we all told you that you needed to stop blaming yourself for everything. Now, what happened exactly that made this happen?”

At that point, Neo told the old man in detail what happened, what the man said, and the reaction. The old man let out a deep sigh. “Well boy, that is trouble. People who react like that to words can be dangerous and unstable… Likely, somethin’s happened to her in her past to make her react so radically but, I don’t condone that. Nothin but trouble to be killin’ people just because they don’t like you. But it aint gonna help you to go after her either.”

“But shouldn’t I say something about this? It’s not just her, the way things have been going half the group is becoming dangerous, and for them to just sit back and allow her to do that?”

“Maybe you should speak up for how you feel boy, but don’t be doin it with a hot head. You make yourself heard but the louder you shout the more deaf you make people. She aint gonna like what you have to say, but don’t attack what she did. Instead try to see if you can stop her or the others for that matter from doing it again. And if they won’t even listen to reason then you best step away from them less you get yourself killed over some insanity that you wanted no part of.”

“The quest that they’re on is a noble one, and I understand that there are sacrifices that will have to be made…” Neo ran his fingers through his hair, looking tired and older than before. “I want to help. And I like most of them fairly well,” again, he grimaced. “This just really got to me gramps. I saw a kid get killed without there being much dismay, but that was an accident. I’ve seen many people and creatures, die or be killed. And I don’t HATE her, it just makes me sick when I think of the act.”

“Then focus on the act and not on who did it,” stressed the old man heavily. “Tell these people you travel with that you feel the act of killin’ a person just because they’re stupid, no matter how stupid they may be, is wrong. After all, they’d probably have to kill a lot of otherwise innocent folk if that’s how they decide on it.”

“And if they think I’m just trying to cause a problem, or worst case scenario I get attacked?”

“Follow what your dad taught ya boy. Be the bigger person. If these people want to attack you just because you speak your mind, you keep your health and get away from em. But remember what I said, don’t get all emotional and everythin’. Just say your view, don’t make it personal, and follow your own way.”

“And I guess I’ll now know what to watch out for incase someone start mouthin’ off again to them. I’ll be able to get my shield in between them before the fighting starts.”

“That’s the way to think boy, think smart. You may not have had a bunch of fancy schoolin with books and scrolls and whatever, but you have good instincts and a good heart. Those count in this world.” Neo smiled at the old man and grasped his wrist, clapping his other hand on the old man’s shoulder.

“Thank you. I needed this talk very much.”

“Anytime lad you know that.” At this point, the old man’s eyes strayed to Neo’s waistline where he saw the assortment of liquor bottles. “And I see you’ve gathered quite a collection of drinks there.” For a moment Neo was surprised by the sudden change of topic, but he then looked down at his waist and laughed.

“Yeah I have to say my travels have certainly been fruitful there. I haven’t had much time to learn brewing techniques in depth but there are some fine exotic mixtures here though,” he winked exaggeratedly, “nothin as good as the fine drink you poor!” The last line he shouted loudly and a resounding ‘Huzzah!’ followed his words.

“Ah well when you spend so many years on your craft you hope it isn’t easy to find something better. Still, this is impressive. If you leave samples of these with me I can give you some insight on them. I’m sure you pass through Varalon enough that you can pick up a letter from an old man if I leave it with the innkeeper?”

“I’m sure that I can.” Neo then started to pour samples into smaller flasks of about 8 oz. which would be enough for the brew master to examine and taste each of the liquors. This unfortunately left Neo a bit low on some of them, but then they couldn’t last forever anyway.

“Alright alright… so I’ll send you some information on how these were probably prepared and with what, and how I rate them. You’ve given me about a dozen so it’ll take a little while, but then it’ll take a while to get the letter to the city and all that so don’t be expecting it for at least a few weeks.”

“Ok. Listen, I really appreciate all of this, but I’d better go see my mom and then I have to come back and give them a bit of a tale,” he motioned behind him at the patrons. “So I will be back and again thank you, especially for helping me with this problem.”

“As I said anytime. Tell your mother I give her my best, won’t you?” Neo nodded then proceeded to his house. There he spoke to his mother about his journey or at least the positive aspects of it. He glossed over most of the dangerous spots or the near deaths; in fact he barely mentioned that he was traveling with a group of people. While she seemed to realize that he wasn’t being forthcoming she didn’t press the subject. Seeing him whole and healthy was good enough for her and she had never been one to force him to talk about things he didn’t want to. After spending a few hours with her and eating a hearty dinner, Neo returned to the bar to regale the patrons with descriptions of the more successful and interesting stories, such as when he grappled with a dragon and recently helped kill a giant sea monster.

Late into the night, Neo returned to his mother’s home to sleep, planning to travel back to Varalon in the morning. His journey back to his birthplace had given him a chance to calm his mind and the talk with his, for lack of a better word, mentor helped him work through what he needed to do. His group may not be very happy with him when he returns but at least he shouldn’t be causing any fights to break out now… he hoped.

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Azcatryo

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