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A Life Left Behind

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This is a collection of "snapshots" I wrote for my character Ralius Verinius. The idea behind them was that a friend would give me a prompt in the form of a song or picture, and I would write a short story for my character using the prompt as inspiration. I found it was a great way to both flesh out the character and practice my creative writing all at once.

For just a slight bit of background on Ralius, he is a former member of the Imperial Legion turned sellsword. These snapshots provide a little bit on insight on who he was before the Soulburst as well as the downward spiral his life took right after.

These little stories are supposed to lack context and really raise more questions than they answer, and though they may make much less sense without knowing the character, I hope you enjoy them all the same!
(And if you're ever looking for RP, hit me up here or in game @MCullet)

UPDATE: I created a bio for Ralius that can be found here

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"Easy now, Tolan! He's had enough!"

"Piss off! He's still waggin' his tongue!" Tolan roared as he shoved his friend back a few steps before lurching toward the Imperial lying face down in the snow. A handful of spectators watched the scene from the porch of the inn, and save one particularly unhappy woman, they remained quiet aside from a few hushed conversations.

Lifted from the snow by the back of his shirt, Ralius cast a bloody grin up at his Nordic attacker. "Your lass there didn't seem to mind my wagging tongue before you showed up. Might try following her example." His words were slurred and the smell of whiskey-laden breath wafted up at the Nord.

Anger fueled by the Imperial's remark, Tolan threw a punch at the drunk's face, sending him right back into the cold snow . The smaller man let out a muffled groan into the snow and made a weak attempt at lifting himself up, only to collapse at the effort.

"The guard will be here any minute! He's had enough," warned Tolan's friend for a second time. Surprisingly, the lass who seemed to be the focus of this 'brawl' nodded in agreement, watching the prone Imperial with a piteous expression.

Tolan seemed to calm a bit at the mention of the guard and the imploring look from his woman, and settled for giving Ralius a heavy kick to the ribs, flopping the dazed man onto his side with a pained grunt before turning to storm back into the warmth of the inn. With the show over, the rest of the crowd dispersed quite quickly, some heading inside and others heading into the night to return home.

Within moments, only the loud-mouthed Imperial remained outside the inn. A steady stream of blood poured from a nostril and snaked its way into the snow. Before long, unmistakable sound of boots against snow signaled someone's approach. Fading vision met with the sight of a pair of armored boots, the bloodied Imperial slipped from consciousness.

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"He always liked you better, you know."

Ralius looked up, stirred from his thoughts by his brother's remark. "What are you on about now? He loved us equally, as parents do." His gaze dipped to the bottle of whiskey at the center of the table. It had been shared between them, but it was clear his brother, Marcus, had taken a much larger portion.

Marcus shook his head and give Ralius a flat look. "You're not naive enough to think that's how it truly works. Father always went on about his soldier of a son, 'winning rebellions and siring children'." He rolled his eyes at that. "Guess he didn't see what I do."

"Yeah, and what do you see? Because all I see is you insulting father's memory before he's even cold." Ralius shook his head in disapproval. "You know better than to think that."

Scowling back at his brother, Marcus reached for the bottle and took a swig. "And I see a boy who abandoned the family on some fool's quest for glory and adventure. You knew he was already sick when you left. We needed the extra hands for the harvests, and you knew that too." He mutters something unintelligible beneath his breath."Yet here you are, the grand war hero come home, while those who kept the family together got pushed off to the side. No grand toasts for us at dinner, no sir." Marcus let out a mirthless laugh as he shook his head. "Might've lived longer if he wasn't doing your share of the work."

Ralius sprung up from his chair, sending it toppling to the floor behind him. Fists planted on the table and narrowed eyes locked on his brother, it seemed quite likely that he meant to leap at him at any moment. Instead, his shoulders sagged with defeat, the fire extinguished as quickly as it came. Without another word, he headed for the door.

"Aye, run on out. Stick to what you know." Marcus scoffed and just went back to minding his bottle.

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Small flecks of sawdust flew toward the warm glow of the fire as Ralius blew against a small block of wood. It was clearly meant to resemble some sort of animal, but it was not nearly finished enough to determine what animal that might be. Seemingly satisfied with his work, Ralius smiled faintly before putting the small carving knife back to work and continued to shape his project.

"Something for your boy?"

Ralius looked up at the voice, finding it belonged to one of the archers in his unit, Atticus. Pulled from the distraction of his craft, he was suddenly keenly aware of the various noises around him. Horses neighed somewhere in the distance, and the sound of carpenter's hammers rang through the night air as they built engines of war. Even at night, these camps didn't seem to rest. "Aye, it is," he told the man. "Not of sure what babies do with this kind of thing, but at least it's something to keep me busy, yeah?"

Atticus cracked a soft smile as he took a seat on one of the logs surrounding the fire. "Oh, I'm sure he'll like it just fine. When we first had Remus, he was happy to grab at just about anything he could. He'd probably like a rock just as much as whatever you're making there." He chuckled lightly as he held his palms out toward the fire in an attempt to warm them. "Must be excited to meet him, eh?"

Clearly pleased at the prospect of returning home, Ralius cast a soft smile at the fire. "Aye... Would've been nice if we had waited another year or two to rebel. It would have been nice to-" His words were cut short by the piercing sound of alarm bells that filled the air without any warning and drowned out all other noise in the camp.

Watchmen cried out from their towers. "Fire! Fire in the north side!" The camp erupted with activity as soldiers scrambled out of their tents, grabbing what bits of clothing and weaponry they could in the process. Ralius and Atticus were no exception, and they too were soon lost in the crowd. All that remained by the fireside was a small knife and a roughly-carved block of wood.

Ralius stirred from his sleep as the morning light poured through the crack in the curtains and fell directly on his face. A faint smile on his lips, he turned his head toward the other side of the bed. "I just had the be-" He stopped short upon realizing that the other half of the bed was empty and that this was an inn, not his bedroom.

"Right..." He sighed quietly, casting a scowl at the empty half of the bed before turning on his back to gaze up at the ceiling. Even a year later, he couldn't seem to get used to using all of the bed himself. Despite having had a particularly pleasant dream and having slept uninterrupted the entire night, he felt far from well-rested.

A knock then sounded at his door. "Ralius, get up! We need to get going," a heavily-accented Nordic voice called through the door.

With another sigh, Ralius swung his legs over the bed and got to his feet. "Yeah, yeah," he called back. "I'll be out in two minutes. See about breakfast, will you?" True to his word, he was heading down to the common room of the inn in minutes, reluctantly ready to start his day and wanting nothing more than to return to his pleasant dream.
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As it had every night that week, an owl's screech pierced the night to continue its demonic mission to ensure nothing slept.

"That thing has to be possessed," Ralius muttered, bringing his pillow down over his head in an attempt to block out the sound. "I'm going to burn down the forest, I swear."

Letting out a small chuckle of amusement, Claudia pushed herself up with an elbow and looked down at her husband beside her. "I'm sure you will, but you're going to wake Lucius more than that owl ever will, dear," she told him in a whisper, her eyes drifting over to the wall that stood between them and their sleeping son.

As if on cue, the sound of a child's cry joined in with the owl's calls. Ralius just let out a sigh of complete defeat and lifted the pillow from his head. "I suppose it's only fair I get it this time." He leaned over to kiss his wife on the forehead before swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

"Try not to get too much sleep without me." He grinned at her silhouette in the darkness of the room before shuffling out into the hall. "Who knew parents got less sleep than soldiers?"
Posted Apr 10, 18 · OP · Last edited Apr 29, 18
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The groggy Imperial was met with the sight of an unfamiliar ceiling as he finally came to. It took him perhaps a few seconds too long to realize that he was not alone in this strange bed. Maybe the arm draped across his chest and the bare leg intertwined with his own had something to do with that impressive feat of deduction. He reached up to rub the weariness from his eyes, only to wince as his palm touched his face. Did he get punched at one point? That seemed like something he should probably remember.

"Ah... right," he murmured to himself as the events of the previous night's debauchery finally began to come back to him. He chuckled lightly to himself as he carefully untangled himself from the woman, doing his best not to wake her. Conversations the morning after were always awkward. It's best for both parties if he isn't there when she wakes up. Best for him, at least.

Only upon getting to his unsteady feet did Ralius come to the realization that he was not entirely sober just yet. Not one to let a good buzz go to waste, he grabbed the half-finished bottle of whiskey from the bedside table before shuffling towards the center of the room in search of his pants, taking a large swig as he went. To say the room was a mess would be an understatement. An assortment of clothing and bottles littered the floor, and there were small puddles where several drinks must have been spilled. At least he hoped that was from the drinks...

Having finally located his pants, Ralius glanced back at the naked form on the bed, ensuring that she was still asleep. Content that she was, he continued the search for his belongings. Feeling that something was amiss, he reached up to grasp something at his neck, only to find that it was bare. His heart skipped a beat as a brief moment of panic set in and his efforts doubled in digging through the mess.

"No, no, no! Where is it?" he whispered as he tossed bits of clothing aside, desperately searching for something. "Oh thank the Eight..." His shoulders sagged with sheer relief as he pulled a chain bearing a simple gold ring from one of the discarded shirts. The Imperial just stood there for a moment, tightly clutching the ring.

The sudden sound of cheering from the floor below drew him out of his thoughts. Evidently his companions were continuing the festivities without him. That had to be rectified. After all, who was he to pass up a good time? And so the Imperial slipped the chain over his neck, located his shirt and boots, and slipped out into the corridor, bottle of whiskey still in hand.

Whoever it was that claimed there was such a thing as too much of a good time clearly hadn't done their research.
Posted Apr 18, 18 · OP · Last edited Apr 18, 18
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One foot in front of the other. That's all you have to do. Don't think about the archers. Don't think about the catapults. One foot in front of the other.

Ralius repeated this mantra to himself over and over as their phalanx advanced on the shattered gates of the Market District. Even when the man beside him crumpled to the ground with an arrow in his chest, or when he stumbled over the bodies and debris at his feet, all he need to do was put one foot in front of the other.

The stories never mentioned this part of a battle. They never mentioned the sense of utter helplessness and panic you feel when you realize your fate is decided entirely by chance. The chance that you make it through without an arrow slipping between the gaps of the interlocked shields. The chance that a massive hunk of stone doesn't land on your head. The chance that you aren't doused with flaming pitch as soon as you get to the wall.

No, the stories always focused on the heroes that led their men to victory despite all odds and won the day in the name of the Empire. Only now did he realize that these men weren't the embodiment of courage and martial skill, but of luck. They just happened to be luckier than the man beside them, luckier than the men on the other side of the wall.

Resigned to the fact that his fate was left up to chance, Ralius did the only two things he could to tip the scales of luck in his favor: he put one foot in front of the other and prayed that the men on the walls were lousy shots.
Posted Apr 29, 18 · OP
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Ralius couldn't help but grin as he watched the mutt dart in and out of the rows of wheat, popping out to barrel straight at a giggling Lucius, only to veer off at the last second and dip back into the field. The young boy was hardly quick on his feet, and so the dog had to make his own fun in this uneventful game of tag. Neither seemed to mind this fact.

This is what it was all for. After all those years with the Legion, he finally had a chunk of land to call his own. He had a beautiful wife, a healthy son, and there were no more battles to be fought, not by him anyway. All that was left for him was to enjoy this slice of paradise he fought so hard to build. A difficult task to be sure, but someone had to do it. He continued to watch the pair play in the evening sun for a short while, but it wasn't long before a call from within the house drew the Imperial from his thoughts.

"Supper's ready!"

"We'll be right in!" he called in return. With a contented sigh, Ralius slipped off of the porch railing and began to make his way across the yard to retrieve his son. Why he ever left his father's farm to join the Legion was beyond him. This was where he was always meant to be, and this is where he intended to stay.
Posted May 6, 18 · OP · Last edited May 6, 18
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