by Nightshade

Geshtar paused for a moment. The small forest path he had been walking came to an end at the edge of a hill, overlooking the festivities. A clear night sky shone above him, and the hopeful gathering. He had many things to sort through his mind, and had felt the need to sneak out of his sickroom. Chuckling to himself, he realized that the doctor would have a near-death fainting spell when the old man found him gone.

A firecracker lit up the sky, and for a moment Geshtar's body went taut. They mock the attack... He shook his head. What attack? He was too young to have fought in the Leadership War, and had always believed the meaning of war was to conquer and destroy. Isn't it? he pondered.

Another firecracker lit up the sky. The jolt he gave himself this time now caused pain emanating from his broken arm. The doctor said I have an old wound in this arm - but that's impossible! It only got hurt once, when that brat from Pandora cut it.

Geshtar heard the footsteps coming. All his life, he had nightmares about those footsteps.

He turned around. The footsteps stopped. Quietly he turned side to side, his opaque eyes peering into the shadows around him. "Who's there?"

Another firecracker lit up the sky. For a brief moment Geshtar saw his stalker. It seemed to him a knight, armed and ready for battle. Fumbling in fear, he found the hilt to his own blade.

Will you always run away, my child? The man seemed to talk in his head.

"Go away!" Geshtar's voice carried a trace of anguish. For too many nights he had lay awake, trying desperately to rid himself the memory, of which this man was a part of... Of what? I don't even know why I'm afraid anymore.

An assault of firecrackers attacked the sky, and Geshtar gasped at the man. He was indeed a knight, with torn armor and the scars of battle covering open skin. The green hair was wildly windblown, a haunting look in his black eyes. Or was that pleading?

Please... the man silently asked, Don't run. I have something you dropped.

"I didn't drop anything." Searching his mind, Geshtar tried to figure out what the man was talking about. The light from the blazing firecrackers died away into the darkness.

Geshtar couldn't stand it. "You've been stalking me the past fifteen years just to give me back some stupid object?!"

Another firecracker. It seemed to take forever for it to light up the sky. The knight seemed to nod in understanding. You speak from fear. I understand... he pulled out an object. Geshtar couldn't make out what it was, since the fiery light had gone again.

"I don't know what you're talking about!" Geshtar searched again in the darkness for the knight. Deep within his soul, he knew the answers.

Yes, you buried the memory... and it's coming back to haunt you. The thought sent a chill down his spine. "Who are you?" Geshtar whispered.

The man's face was seen as he opened the object. You dropped your family pendant, child. A firecracker showed the sadness in the battle-scarred face. I've only been trying to give it back.

Geshtar was speechless. There was nothing to say. For fifteen years he had run from a man who was only trying to return a family heirloom. "Um... how... how did you know it was a family pendant?" he asked warily.

The sad smile grew on the man's face. "You don't remember me, do you child?"

The sound of many firecrackers lighting the sky caused Geshtar to panic. The noise was deafening, the light blinding. Closing his eyes and clutching his ears in anguish, he fell to the ground and curled into a fetal position. "In the name of the Tree!" he repeated softly.

The man moved silently to Geshtar's prone form. The sad smile was gone, and replaced with one of sorrow. My poor child... he spoke to the wind. Without a sound he placed the pendant around Geshtar's neck, and vanished.

A jolt went through the lame man's body. After a moment he stretched, and realized that his broken arm was healed, as well as his strength and his memory. And his soul. Geshtar opened his eyes and stood. Looking out over the point, he smiled. "I remember you." he whispered to the wind. Touching the pendant, he knew what must be done.

As he walked back to the festivities, he smiled. I won't forget you, father.

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