The desert stretched out before her; barren, desolate – it mirrored her own feelings perfectly. As the sun began to dip below the horizon, she felt the baking heat slowly begin to fade. It had been 6 days since her arrival on the Western Continent and assuming the oracle's prophecy was accurate, she would encounter the hated Order of the Stick any second n…


Miko cursed under her breath. The Order's wretched spellcaster had obviously been lying in ambush waiting for her.

“Had you encountered me some weeks previously, I surmise I would now be lying in a pool of my own blood, while you loudly claim to have served the Twelve Gods plan. However, there tends to be something about an Ancient Black Dragon sneaking up on oneself that encourages one to watch their warding spells,” said Vaarsuvius.

“Cease your long-winded prattling, elf, and release me at once!”

“How thoughtless of me. Of course, I shall release you immediately so that you can kill me and promptly proceed to do the same to my colleagues. I do sympathise with your desire to kill the halfling though.” continued the elf, rolling its eyes in exasperation.

“I have no liking for you, elf but I have no particular grudge against you either. Your despicable leader robbed me of my former life and must pay!”

“Grudges? Vengeance?” replied Vaarsuvius. “Forcecage has a duration of 9 hours, or until I choose to dismiss its effect. I recommend making yourself comfortable while I tell my tale.”

As Miko listened, she began to find the knot of hatred that had gripped her heart slowly begin to unravel. The elf had made a similar trade to herself, choosing a path of bloody revenge that had cost him/(her?) dearly. Vaarsuvius had lost his family, his soul and very nearly his sanity. These were things that she could relate to.

The sun had set, taking with it the last of the warth. A cold wind hissed gently through the desert and Miko found herself beginning to shiver. Her armour had been designed for its fearsome appearance and flexibility, rather than its ability to keep its wearer warm. Vaarsuvius created a small campfire and moved in closer to the former paladin.

“I have told you my tale. Perhaps you could share yours with me.”

Miko felt something shift in her mind and the usual self-assurance and arrogance seemed to wilt slightly. “I have done many bad things in my recent past and like you, I was faced with a choice…”


It was midnight when Miko awoke. As she turned, she looked at the elf, trancing peacefully on the floor next to her and smiled as she recalled the gentle kiss and the slow passionate love that had followed. She moved away slightly from Vaarsuvius, causing his (and the elf most certainly was male, she told herself) body to move slightly.

In the corner of the tent her katana stood upright, its obsidian blade casting a shade darker than the blackness of the tent. She began to feel the hate rising through her and the taunting images of Roy and her fall from grace. A soft sound made her look back towards Vaarsuvius – the elf's body had moved so that his arms occupied the space where she had lain; almost as if they were reaching for her.

Miko found her thoughts divided – she could take the blade, kill the elf and his comrades while the slept and her bloody quest would be at an end or she could return to the warm, loving arms of Vaarsuvius….

“Now there's a face I didn't expect to see…”

“V, you're smiling!” said Elan.

“What's made you so happy, pointy ears?” asked Belkar, politely.

Vaarsuvius merely smiled and said nothing. Occasionally, he mused, it could be nice to keep a secret…

On the shore of the Western Continent, a figure in black leather, carrying an obsidian sword, looked up towards the sky and started to smile. It was going to be a beautiful day.

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