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Into the Shadow

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Percy's life was best described as itinerant. It wasn't a bad life, all things considered. Traveling from village to village, offering to help repair things for just a bit of coin to help him move on. Moving on was the critical part. He had to keep going and not look back. Ever. Monsters lay behind his trail, monsters that he was terrified of ever seeing again. A blur of two years did not change that fact. There was nothing left for him, behind him. Leave it for those monsters. Leave it all.

He was in luck. The blacksmith he'd assisted was the brother of the village innkeep, so he'd gotten paid in a hot meal and a room to stay in. He'd have a comfortable rest this night.

After eating, he went up to his room and tossed his pack on the floor by the door before simply dropping onto the bed. He hadn't even mustered up pulling a blanket over himself before he was fast asleep.

He dreamed.

He was walking in a corridor. It wasn't one he recognized. There were enough dimly flickering wall sconces that it was not pitch black, but not quite so many that he'd say it was well-lit. Shadows were flickering around the edges of, well, everywhere. He continued to walk forward down the corridor, looking for an exit, any sort of exit. There wasn't one immediately visible, so he just kept going. Ahead of him a ways, a light flickered, and the shadows seemed to coalesce into a form that had no easily defined edges. As he approached, that shadow spoke to him, but not audibly. Just in a deep voice in the back of his head, in the manner of dreams.

Percival...

"Yes?" he replied cautiously.

You're running.

"I quite thought I was walking just now."

Not here, not now, not this moment. You're running and you've been running for two years.

"I--" He paused. There was really no point in denying it. That's exactly what he was doing. That's how cowardice worked. "Yes."

Don't you think it's time to stop running?

"Not... particularly?" Monsters behind him, why turn back.

I can help you, Percival. I can help you get what it is you truly want.

"I want to survive."

The shadows seemed to grow deeper somehow.

You want revenge.

Did he? He thought he'd put it behind him. He'd spent two years doing nothing but putting it all squarely behind him. Revenge. The word rattled around in his skull while he mulled it over. While he considered those thoughts that he had done everything in his power never to consider again. The Briarwoods. His time with Ripley. His family being slaughtered. Cassandra, falling after putting herself in jeopardy to save him.

Revenge.

There was nothing else left for him, was there? Perhaps there was this, after all, and he'd just never stopped to realize it.

It seemed to take an age, but he did eventually reply. "Maybe... it seems that I may."

Excellent. I can help you get this revenge. I don't even ask very much in return, and it's a price I think you'll be quite willing to pay.

"And what price is that?"

You get your revenge. I get the souls of those who wronged you.

"Their... souls?"

Percival... Look at what they've done. Look at who they've hurt already. Their souls are already forfeit. All we're doing is formalizing the arrangement.

Again, the memories he'd spent so much time running from came back to mind. This dream-shadow was certainly not lying. They deserved far worse than anything Percy would ever be able to deal them.

"You're right. It's no more than they deserve. Possibly much less."

Excellent. I knew you'd see things my way. So it's a deal?

"It's a deal. How do you propose I go about doing this?"

Oh, Percival, you've buried your own ingenuity for far too long. Tinkering about with carts and wagons and other such trinkets. You have the capability already. I can see it in you, clear as day. All you needed was motivation. If you think, you'll know what to do.

Before he could even reply, the shadow moved almost faster than he could imagine. It sunk into the floor and moved towards him, seeming to merge with his own shadow. A brief chill sunk into him, and then it dissipated. To his mind, it seemed as if this is where the dream should end. But then he looked up at where the shadow had been and saw a door. He could have sworn it hadn't been there before. He stepped towards it and pushed it open.

On the other side of the door was a workshop. Really, though, to call it that was selling it short. It was the kind of workshop that could probably only be found in dreams. A well-lit ample workspace, well-organized shelves laden with plenty of components and materials, a workbench with more room than one could ever need for even a large project. It was more than he could ever wish for in reality, but for this dream, it was perfect.

He walked over to the workbench where there were a great deal of carefully arranged components. He wasn't sure entirely what they were for, but there was obviously purpose to them. He studied them for a while, but ultimately shifted his attention, instead letting them percolate in the back of his mind. There seemed to be a thin layer of dust over the surface, though, which was at odds with the impeccable organization of the room. He carefully dragged his fingertips through the dust and pulled them up to inspect them. This was no ordinary dust, it seemed. It was almost like... mining residue. He paused, and a flash of inspiration came to him. He turned his attention back to the parts on the table and he smiled. The satisfaction he was feeling was echoed by a colder one deep within his chest somewhere.

He knew what it was he had to do.

As soon as that realization came to him, the entire scene before him dissolved and his eyes opened sharply. He was back in his room at the inn. He didn't know quite how long he had slept, but he knew that the strange dream he had had offered him a great deal of inspiration that needed to be acted upon immediately. He climbed out of bed and went to his pack, pulling out some crumpled paper which he immediately took to the desk to begin drawing out some plans. He knew what needed to be built.

There was a chance his idea might change everything, but that wasn't something he had the luxury of examining.

Revenge awaited.