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No One's Ever Gonna Hurt You, Love

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Naya screamed as she plunged the sword into the heart of the Demon King. His screams joined hers and around them the shadow army vanished into nothingness as their legionnaire fell to his knees and breathed his last. 

A red tiefling brushed beads of sweat off his brow and clapped Naya on her broad shoulders. He nodded and said nothing for a moment as they both struggled to catch their breath after the exhausting battle. “So,” he huffed, “let’s find something to eat, I’m starving.”

The dragonborn laughed through relieved tears. “Yeah, yeah, I could eat. Let’s check on everyone else first. Are you alright, Kiane?” 

He brushed her off. “Never better.” Nevermind the blood dripping off his tunic. Naya supposed they’d have time to heal, now. Hopefully the entire kingdom would.

They found their cleric where they’d left her, tending to their wounded fighter just out of sight of the main gates of the castle. She waved them over, her bloodshot eyes already telling them the story. “I- I’m sorry!”

Naya pulled her into a hug that Kiane joined. “We know you tried, Ell. He was hurt badly, it isn’t your fault.” 

Ell’s hot tears fell on her head and she pushed her away slightly. “Go find Wayli, I’ll stay here.”

She watched them leave, the half-orc’s magic already instinctively slipping to her partner’s wound as they walked back to the graveyard they’d become separated from their bard in. She hoped they’d been able to slip away after drawing the shadows away from the rest of the party.

Naya brushed some blood off the dead elf’s face and sang a song he’d taught her, a lullaby. She let her head rest against the cool stone of the castle wall and fought the urge to just slip away into sleep. The war was finally over, yes, but there was work to be done yet.

Still, she must have cried herself to sleep because Wayli’s gentle hands on her shoulders woke her up. Naya burst into another round of tears and let the human pull her up into a hug. “Hey, hey, we’re here. We got you. We won.” She nodded into their shoulder and didn’t let go. 

The funeral was a quiet affair, in the same graveyard they’d fought their way through what felt like a lifetime ago. Wayli left an everflower Rium had given them over it, and Kiane recited the elvish mourning rites. Ell held Naya in a tight hug that she hadn’t quite given up by the time they all walked away into the ruined city.

The Army of Light had mostly dispersed when the shadows did, the revolutionaries all taking to the streets or to the world outside the city gates to celebrate their newfound freedom. The party was largely unimpeded as they walked together. Some people looked out of cracked windows in silent awe of terror, and a few people fled them like ghouls, but they were few and far between, and none of them spoke. Naya was grateful that she was not asked to justify her actions just yet. She was having a hard time reconciling the destruction they had wrought with the good they had set out to do.

They were all exhausted, and all Naya really wanted to do was fall asleep safe in the arms of the people she loved. But Kiane had had a point. None of them had finished a meal since the shadows had begun stalking them through the King’s forest days ago, so she found herself digging through rubble of the pantry of some poor family she hoped had left the city before the attack started. 

Wayli passed out the bread and vegetables they found and Kiane rubbed Ell’s shoulder. Naya leaned against a broken and burnt beam. She wondered briefly if she had a concussion. Oh well, it wasn’t serious. Ell would be able to fix that. 

A soft sob broke the silence. Naya didn’t exactly register it at first. They’d all been crying off and on for the past hour. But Wayli stood still and that gave her pause. Now that she paying attention she could tell that none of her partners were making any noise, their grief now a silent presence amongst them. But someone nearby was.

She struggled to her feet and steadied herself briefly on the rubble. It was coming from off to the right. She made her way over and peered through the gloom. A small blue dragonborn was clutching a stuffed bunny, curled up in the one undestroyed corner of the house. She knelt down next to them. “Hello. I’m Naya. Who are you?”

The dragonborn clutched their bunny closer, peering at her with the slit yellow eyes she shared. “Astilbe,” they mumbled.

Naya nodded slowly, settling into a cross legged sitting position. “Okay. Astilbe. Beautiful name. Where are your parents?”

The little dragonborn buried their face in the bunny’s head. Naya held out a hand to them and they curled up in her lap almost at once. “Alright. That’s okay, you’re safe now, it's over. I-I’m Naya, and this is Ell, Wayli, and Kiane. We lost someone too. We’re going to make sure you’re alright. We’ve got you now. Everything's gonna be fine.”

Kiane knelt beside them. “Do you really think we can handle raising a kid?”

“We ended the reign of the Demon King, Kiane, how hard can being a parent be?”