I've been horribly quiet recently, for which I apologise. I've been burnt out and tired: the fibromyalgia diagnosis was a bigger stress than I initially realised and coming to terms with it has been harder and is taking longer than I'd expected, and RPGaDay took more out of me than usual as a result.
But I'm working on getting back to normal! And to begin that, here's the tale of Bethany and Eric, which I've been meaning to write up for a very long time (stats for various games may follow).
The house was small and dank. It would have been dark, but the hole in the wall where the door had been let in the light. It wasn't as if there was anything worth stealing that hadn't already been stolen, and they'd needed the wood for the fire.
Nothing worth stealing? There was one thing, something Bethany's siblings's grumbled to find in the blankets they shared, but no one else knew about. Even if they did, with the battered scabbard and nicked blade it wouldn't be worth much - indeed, the only reason Bethany still had her grandfather's sword was her mother had told her father it had already been sold and had been able to find a convincing sum from the small amount she could earn. An uncharacteristic rebellion from the mousey woman, but important to her daughter. Their father wasn't a bad man, but years of struggle had taken its toil on his temper and ability to control it. He frightened Bethany.
They lived in the room that made up the first floor of the building, Bethany, her siblings, parents, aunts, uncles and a mess of cousins. It was a confusion, at times: Bethany shared her name with an aunt and a cousin, and her sister Lydia, who shared hers with their mother and 2 living cousins, had been heard to grumble they were so poor they couldn't even afford their own names.
To keep food on the table, everyone who could, worked; those who couldn't, begged. This day, Bethany, all of 15, would be doing so in tandem with her 12 year old brother Eric. She knew most of her other siblings would complain to be paired up with him - he wasn't strong and they didn't want to have to defend him if anything came. But Bethany didn't mind. She liked his calm and quiet, and knew he could talk himself out of most problems they were likely to face. But the biggest reason was that he reminded her of their grandfather.
As soon as their father was clear of the street, she ducked back to the area cordoned off as the sleeping area and retrieved the sword, wrapped it in rags and strapped it to her leg - a limp would help bring in some money, and she always felt better having it nearby. Back out, she dusted Eric's ash-grey hair and led him to one of her favourite places - a park their grandfather had taken them to before he'd died. She found herself a good spot near the entrance and let Eric get to work.
This was the other reason she liked to work with him. People responded to that appearance of vulnerability and she didn't have to do anywhere near as much work. She stretched back and enjoyed the sun on her skin.
And that's when she spotted the smoke, coming from the direction of their home and billowing higher. She made sure Eric was close, but then the flames started to flicker and she knew there wasn't much time - and even less chance for the slums. Most people were standing around in confusion, and she knew then they needed to move before panic set in. She caught Eric's hand and dragged him away, ignoring his kicks and protests. She knew the others would get out or they wouldn't. She knew she couldn't help them. But she could help herself, and she could keep Eric safe.