Sweet Hunnie Pie,
This ain’t goodbye,
It's not over.
Come on, and close your eyes,
What's it gonna take to feel my love?
“Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad.” The words are muffled by the pillow clutched in the arms of the small figure curled up on the bed. Lisee rocks back and forth, her knees pulled up to her chest and her face stuffed into the pillow scavenged from one of the packs of an unfortunate adventurer. Her shoulders shake with sobs, her long hair loose around her shoulders.
She said she could sleep alone. She told the nice lady -- Kaitri, she thinks -- that she could sleep alone tonight. But now that she is alone, all Lisee wants to do is scream and beg for her father. It's all she can do to keep her repeated sobs of the word 'Dad’ quiet.
She coughs, managing to raise her tear streaked face enough to gasp in a breath. She can still too easily recall the feelings of chains around her arms and legs. It wasn't that long ago she caught out of the corner of her eye her father sneaking down the stairs and finally allowed herself to imagine again that life could maybe go back to some semblance of normal.
But that's all gone now. Wiped away with a single lightning bolt.
Lisee shakily raises her hand, remembering pressing it against the glass and seeing Werblund match the movement, love and pain filling his eyes. And then he was gone. Taken away, just like everything else she loved.
Lisee presses her face into the pillow again. She can't stop remembering the look on his face, the way the fire just seemed to wrap around his body and swallow him whole. Her mother is gone, and now her father is, too. The crippling loneliness is almost too much to bear, and she can feel her soul being crushed under the weight of it.
“Dad, Dad, Dad.” The chant is something to ground her. She struggles to find something else to think of, to hold on to, but there's nothing. Everything she thought that would always be there, her mother, her father, her home...it's all gone.
The word she's repeating over and over is breathless and choked now, Lisee barely able to breathe with the weight of emotions pressing down on her chest. The pillow is soaked with tears.
Werblund watches from his perch at the table, hands clenched into tight fists. His jaw is equally as tight. His eyes flick to meet Google MacGuffin’s, and then where he assumes The King Of Games’ eyes are. He can’t really see them.
“Please.” The word is forced through gritted teeth. “Let me go to my daughter. Please. Even if she can't hear me or see me or feel me.”
Google seems to consider it for a moment, and then he leans over to The King, whispering something that Werblund can't make out. They converse for a few seconds, then Google almost cheerfully turns back to him.
“Good news, Werblund!” If rocks could smile, Google would be grinning. “The King of Games says he'll let you go see her on one condition.”
Werblund was already half risen from his chair, and he stops mid movement, looking up at Google. His eyes are impatient and shimmering with tears.
“You can't tell her you're actually there. She'll have to think it's just a figment of her imagination.” Google still sounds cheerful.
Werblund grinds his teeth, but can't refuse. He nods instead. The next thing he knows he's in the bedroom. Lisee is still clutching the pillow, her small body shaking with heaving sobs. Her clothes are some of Trixa’s, but around her is a tattered and worn coat that certainly doesn’t belong to the halfling. No, the many various pockets and straps for weapons scattered around the body of it and the two crossed fabric pockets on the back for matching cutlasses makes Werblund instantly recognize it as his.
Werblund rushes to the bed, pulling himself up next to her and wrapping his arms around her. “It’s okay,” he murmurs softly, starting to rock gently and slowly. “It's okay. I’m right here. I’m here.”
Lisee falls silent for a moment. Her shaking intensifies, and her voice trembles as she whispers, “...Dad?”
Werblund nods, pressing his cheek against the top of Lisee’s head. “I’m right here. You’re safe now.”
Lisee lets out a choked sob. She can feel arms around her, but she can’t see anything there. Still, the voice she’d recognize anywhere, and the presence accompanying the arms is so painfully familiar, that she knows instantly. It’s Werblund. It’s her dad.
“I can’t see you,” she whispers tearfully, leaning into the presence she feels. “Dad? Please, please, I want to see you, please…”
“I can’t, Lisee, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, but I’m here. I’m right here with you. It’s okay. You’re okay.” Werblund tenses as he remembers the caveat, privately cursing Google. He aches to tell her that he’s not gone, he’s protecting her the only way that he can, but he knows he can’t.
“It’s not okay!” Lisee’s voice is shrill. “You’re gone! Nothing is okay! I watched you die!”
I’m not gone!
Werblund screams the words inside his own head, heart breaking at the knowledge that Lisee thinks he’s gone and dead. He wants to tell them all, not just Lisee, but all of them, Trixa and Kovacs and even that creepy lich Dwight. He may not exist in the same way anymore, but he’s still around, watching over them. Just like an angel.
He almost laughs out loud at that thought.
Me? An angel? Bloody hell, I’ve gone sentimental
Lisee’s voice breaks him from his frustrated thoughts. “You’re gone and I-I’m all alone now… First Mom and now you…” Then she pauses. “Is...is Mom here too? Have you seen her? Is-- is she okay? Oh, no, are
really here? Please tell me I’m not just imagining it…”
Werblund winces. He hasn’t seen Ailess, his wife. It’s no surprise. Google didn’t answer when he asked about her and whether she was okay or not. Werblund certainly hopes so. She was a kind and intelligent woman that loved Lisee just as much as Werblund does.
“Yes, she’s okay,” Werblund whispers softly, hoping Lisee doesn’t pick up on the lie. “She’s not here right now.” He wants to tell Lisee everything, tell her all about The King of Games and Google and the three gold cards, but he doesn’t want to lose this chance. Instead of answering the question, he slowly unwraps his arms from around her. He reaches back and just barely traces his hand along her cheek. “That doesn’t matter. It-- I’m okay. You’re okay. You’re not alone, Lisee, you have Kaitri and Trixa and Kovacs. You can trust them. I promise. They were...my...friends. Sort of. I kind of hated them, but they weren’t all bad. They’ll take care of you now. Until I can hold you again, Lisee, they’ll take care of you.” He smiles weakly to himself. “And if they don’t I’ll come back just to haunt their sorry asses.”
Lisee sniffles, eyes closed. She knows there’s nothing there. This can’t be real. It doesn’t feel like a ghost or a demon, so it must be just her imagination. Her father isn’t ever coming back. He’s gone. He died in the explosion and didn’t even leave a body behind to bury. All she has now is his things and the memory of him.
But Lisee finds she doesn’t even care she’s hallucinating. All she wants is to let Werblund hold her for the rest of time, to never leave his arms ever again. She wants her dad back. So she slowly outstretches her arm to where Werblund would be if he really was here, sitting next to her on the bed in her room. She feels familiar calloused fingers gently wrap around hers and struggles to hold the tears back again.
“Don’t leave until I fall asleep.” As firm as she tries to say it, her voice still wavers with tears.
She hears Werblund laugh softly, but pain is thinly veiled behind the sound. “You think I’d leave you now?”
Lisee wipes her face with her hand, slowly laying down. Her body is stiff from being hunched over crying for the better part of a day, and she has to turn the pillow around so she’s not resting her face on the tear soaked side. She pulls the blanket up to cover herself, only now realizing how cold she feels. She feels Werblund gently reach over and smooth the blanket, and tears burn her eyes again at the feeling of nostalgia it brings up, throwing her back into the time when Werblund would do exactly this after Lisee had a nightmare.
“I’m sorry I had to leave you, sweetheart,” Werblund says softly. His voice is sad. “One day we’ll all be together again, okay? You, me, and Mom. All of us.”
After the ordeal she just had, Lisee finds it hard to believe that. Her mom murdered, herself kidnapped, and her dad exploded. But she trusts her dad, even her imaginary version of her dad that Lisee knows she has to be making up as a coping method. She squeezes her eyes closed tighter, not wanting to look over and see only empty space.
“Promise me, Dad.”
You see the moon, I see the sun,
Your day is gone, mine’s just begun,
Our time is more than a day.