Miko's Heart, Beyond Lawful Good (Part 4)

I do not understand…I am fully armored and seem to be on an open plain. I do not remember rising, or even falling to sleep at all. Suddenly, a familiar voice from behind me, “Miko?! Only you would be stubborn enough to try and kill me from the spirit world…”

I turn and see Hinjo with drawn steel advancing and immediately draw my own weapon to meet his indignantly, “What treachery is this?! You betray our people and not content to leave me be?”

Hinjo parries and becomes defensive now that his initial assault has been met, “What are you babbling about, Miko, I’m asleep on my junk and suddenly ‘poof’, here you are trying to kill me Twelve knows where.”

I slash, and slash, and slash my fury at this insolent man, “It is you who drew steel on me! You who have appeared to my own dream! You who will not let it be!”

He sidesteps and parries, only a minor wound on him as he ducks me, “Your dream? What are you…you’re alive?! And I did draw on you…Miko, on my honor as Leader of the Sapphire Guard, Lord of Azure City, and by the Twelve Gods themselves I will lay down my steel if you do the same.”

His words make no sense, but I know that while cowardly Hinjo will be held by his oath. I sheathe my sword cautiously, prepared to draw again at a moment’s foul play, but Hinjo stays to his word. I force the issue, “Why are you here?”

Hinjo is thoughtful, “If we are both asleep, then something has brought us here together. And if those few panels of fighting was all it took to calm down then I’m betting it’s about character development. Like I don’t have enough on my plate with the corrupt lords and protecting these citizens…”

His words make little sense to me, but it seems something has indeed drawn us here together. Perhaps I am meant to glean some purpose here…explaining my situation to Hinjo may help, “I was raised by the Resistance in Azure City’s ruins, but it was not so simple. The Twelve themselves put me on a quest and to atone(ment). Perhaps that is why we are here?”

Hinjo seems torn between emotions and words, as many flit across his confused face. He finally speaks cautiously, “I…see. Miko, why do you think the Twelve made you Fallen and now have atoning? Perhaps I can help you.”

I retort sharply with the obvious, “For killing a traitor! For trying to stop that Lich!”

Hinjo jumps pointedly in, “Yes, Miko, trying. Our best chance against Xykon was the Martyrs of the Guard, but when you shattered that gem we lost that chance. Besides them, you and those adventurers were our only real hopes of standing up to him. I agree my Uncle was guilty for treason, Miko, but he would stand trial overseen by me. When have you known me to be unfair or not to strictly follow our code?”

His words tear at my heart. My actions…allowed Xykon to go free? Led to so much suffering? How can this be… “I was…I was following the plan of the Twelve…”

Hinjo is sharp here, but he seems almost fatherly, “NO, Miko. In your own way you were indeed following that path, but that ended when you slew my uncle, a good if misguided man, who was unarmed, no threat, and about to be imprisoned to stand trial. For your own personal sense of betrayal, not for the citizens or the Guard. That act of selfish revenge was not selfless retribution, Miko. You saw how the city fared under my Uncle’s rule. Even though I detest his methods, you can see the results. Corrupt nobles kept in check for decades. Citizens allowed to live and prosper.”

How can he be right in this? But he must be, for he cannot lie…but how…how? “He mocked our laws and our Order, Hinjo!”

Hinjo was stern, and I could hear his anger at his uncle, “Yes, he did. But he let us do our duty and do it well. Not all good people are as bound by Law, Miko. We smite evil, Miko, we don’t smite chaos. That is why my uncle did not draw the ire of the Twelve, and neither did the Order of the Stick. They helped plan a defense more effective than one we could have done without aid, helped our citizens evacuate, and helped keep the nobles from establishing more power and abusing it. It does not conform to our code, Miko, but how is that evil?”

I cannot keep the tears from my eyes. He is telling me the truth, the truth I denied hearing until now. I whisper my doubt, “But I had a Purpose…”

Hinjo is fretful and exasperated now, “YES, Miko, and when you were truly fulfilling that purpose and acting like a human being you were beautiful. Something a Charisma score of 18 doesn’t hold a candle to! But the more you became focused on only duty, duty applied to everyone, duty over everyone, that went away. You became the cold instrument I had to send out, and perhaps some of this is my fault. If I had treated you like a human being instead of a Lawful Holy Weapon, maybe…I’m sorry, Miko. That we failed each other.”

In a flash, I see the dichotomy in his eyes. Those bright moments of memory where he saw me the way Matsumo did and the times when I was little more than a sword to swing. It breaks my heart to think that Matsumo thought of me the same way, that such joy was hit by a steel rod of my duty…my duty… “I don’t…understand, Hinjo…”

Suddenly his arms are around me, and there is no armor in the way. Only my shift and his trousers stand between us as his strong arms hold me to his strong chest. The tears come unbidden and I let him hold me, hear his hot whispers of apology and comfort through my pain. I look to him through haze, and he seems surrounded by an aura of comforting blue. I feel my own against his, more like blue-steel than the blue-sky. His eyes… “Even after everything, you still care? You still want to help me?”

Hinjo nods against me and takes a long, slow breath. “The Twelve would only let you come back and interfere if they believed in you, Miko. You have been cold tempered, and are being reforged. If they believe in you, Miko, then so do I.”

I nod and bury myself in his neck, knowing I cannot fight these tears. They come, and Hinjo holds me faithfully, comfortingly in his strong arms. It is only as my tears begin to dry that I notice how like Matsumo his body is, sculpted by duty, strong wherever we are pressed together. Beneath my hands, his back is the same, with strong shoulders and muscled purpose. His hands too are strong, and it is pleasant to feel them hold me. I look up again and see the sympathy in Hinjo’s eyes.

I find myself acting impulsively once more, holding his cheeks with my hands and kissing him slowly. He responds to me, his hands caressing down my back sends shivers through me. But he is my Lord now, and if I am a member of the Guard…I cannot, after so much, I cannot be here, anywhere but here! I whisper my pain to him as I flee, the dream following its own logic, “I am sorry, Hinjo, I cannot be here right now…”

His muttered comment about a cold salt-water bath follows me through the twisted realm of sleep as I toss and turn. Whether I wake or still I dream, I cannot bear to be there at this moment!

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