Aug 5, 2017
In Fantasy Craft there's a mechanic called "Cheat Death" where if a character dies their player can describe how they survived their apparent demise. Everyone else in the game then rates the story from 1 (weak) to 4 (strong) and the mean of the votes determines how badly the character comes away from the close call.
The scene that precedes this story was the first time that Cheat Death came up and it was because there was a TPK. The party were in a bind having been captured so they cut a deal that got 3 of them out (Henri, Da'at, and Theoren) to do some guard work which get the others freed. It didn't go as planned with a peasant torturing royal, a shadow demon, and a burning manor. All three heroes perished. Henri and Da'at Cheated Death, while Theoren's player thought it would be more interesting to play Theoren's lieutenant/adopted son.
Warm. He was warm. And peaceful. But there was something
nagging at him. Something he’d forgotten. Something important,
things that still needed to be done. There was pain though, and it
distracted him every time he reached for that missing task.
He struggled to open his eyes, they felt caked shut. With mud or something thicker. He pushed and pulled, and when he opened them his world went from darkness to one of pure light. Except for the man and the woman.
He was balding into a widow’s peak, had a nose that seemed to have been broken many a time, but there was a compassionate light in his eye that a fighting man lacked. She was very much his opposite. Long blonde hair, sharp crystalline features, and cold blue eyes that probed into who he was. He didn’t know who the man was until he recognized the woman which didn’t take long at all.
“Aaat…ruh…” he trailed off his throat burning with that small effort. With that weak sound the woman smiled slightly. He turned his eyes to the man and felt his mouth move but he couldn’t squeeze any sounds out. The smiling man nodded and said “yes, be at ease.”
If they were here, why was he still in pain?
“You know,” said the woman sternly. And he did, the task which he’d forgotten. The woman was suddenly a Katese man with an empty look on his face. Daitora. He needed to be judged. That wasn’t all though, and Daitora seemed more an afterthought.
“There are more important things in this world.” said the balding man, not to him, but to the woman. After those words, he felt a tap on his shoulder. A touch warmer than what encompassed him.
With great effort he turned painfully towards that touch. When his vision stopped swimming from the pain there was a man in front of him. He had long blonde hair, sharp features, though softer than the woman’s, and blue eyes like a beautiful spring sky. There was a small mischievous quirk to his mouth that was definitely a smile. The breath was warm against his face. He was… beautiful.
“K-k-kay-” he struggled to get the name past his throat which felt thick with something. Hands reached out towards him and he could feel their heat near him. The hands grabbed him by the hair at his temples and pulled their foreheads together. The touch burned him, but he felt love in the contact despite that.
“Find me,” said the blonde man, his breath agonizingly hot. Those two words were filled with so much emotion. Henri closed his eyes to hide the tears. Fear, trust, hope, love. He’d find him. Nothing would stop him, not slavers, not maniacs, not his own body. He struggled to open his eyes again to make that promise, but a roaring sound like rushing rapids cascaded against his ears.
When his eyes opened, he let out a scream of pain as flames licked at his face. He could feel that same agony across his legs and arms. He tried to move his muscles and his body screamed in protest.
“I’ll find him.”
That single thought flooded through his mind. He wielded those three words like the shield he was trained to use. He blocked and battered the pain in his body (I’ll find him) as he moved his legs under him. Shakily (I’ll find him) steadily he rose to his feet. The pain in his shoulder where the katana had embedded itself stopped him (I’ll find him) slowed him from wiping the dried blood from his eyes.
He looked around and saw a room aflame, bodies everywhere. The heat was oppressive forcing him (I’ll find him) making him want to flee to the door to the sand garden. He had to find his friends.
Gritting his teeth he walked around a blackened and bent body in the flames. Theoren he knew. That man had endured a hard life, Henri could see it in his movements, and hadn’t deserved to die like this. Where was Da’at?
Coughing told him he wasn’t alone. Told him he wasn’t too late to save someone, anyone. He shielded his burnt face against the smoke as he moved towards the sound. On the other side of an inferno that used to be the grand dining table was Lady Atsuko, her body wracked with harsh coughs. Under her was Da’at, unmoving, covered in blood.
Stepping over Lady Tsurii’s corpse, Henri grabbed Atsuko by her arm. Fire licking at his side, he hauled her to her feet and then onto his back. “HOLD ON!” he yelled over the flames, unsure whether her mind would understand any language other than her own in such circumstances. Unsure if he yelled in Homlish or Terrien. But she wrapped her arms around his neck, pain racing through his wounded shoulder as her weight fell on him.
Now for Da’at. He wrapped his arms under hers and was glad that she was almost a foot smaller than him. He felt his burned skin crack and tear as he tried to lift her. With Atsuko’s weight on him he couldn’t (I’ll find him) he couldn’t lift her. He tried again knowing that he’d find him, but it was no use. He had no strength left for this.
“We’ll find him.”
Da’at’s voice in his mind. He pulled. He refused to die here. He refused to let his closest friend die here. “We’ll find him.” He told Da’at this over and over again as he dragged her from the burning manor into the cool air outside. “We’ll find him.”