How long has it been since I’ve seen Furibundus? A bright yellow blight always casting judgment on lonely Port Footfall. It certainly has been a long time since I’ve seen this system. Footfall should feel like a happy reunion but it rings hollow. I should be surrounded by my family and my friends. We were supposed to return together.
The pathways, alleys, and streets we walk feel like old memories from my childhood. The same feeling you get when you return home after many years of being away. A swell of memories and stories. I can see Zulfikars estate looming in the distance.
Everyday I wish that I hadn’t let Ardata come with me. She would be alive and I could watch her eyes light up when I walked into the compound. She wanted to see more of the Expanse. She wanted to come with me. And I let her.
I am a fool. She died because of me.
And now I have to go beseech her father to foot the bill on my escape.
We walk into the compound. The footsteps of the crew behind me are reassuring but there is a heaviness to my heart; a brutal truth that I now have to carry the rest of my life. I have to carry them as proof of my escape; an eternal compact that I’ve made with the lives of my loved ones.
I gesture for the people behind me to wait as I approach Zulfikar. A massive hulk of a man. An old soldier. He looks up and I see bemusement in his eyes. He looks me up and down, his gaze pausing on my missing arm. Implacable. I’ve never known what he was thinking. He stands and approaches me.
“You were not to return. Ever.”
“I needed your help Lord Merchant.” I respond with all the confidence I can muster.
“Havoc is dead.”
There is a pause. He tilts his head almost imperceptibly. I watch the muscles in his jaw bunch.
“So you finally understand what you took from me.” He rumbles in his muted timbre.
I become furious. My face contorts in anger. “Ardata wanted to come with me. Don’t you dare act-”
“If you say my daughters name again then I will kill you. With my bare hands. If you think those men behind you can stop me then I implore you Rage, say her name again.”
There is a brief moment of silence.
“I loved her. I lost her, too.”
His face darkens. "Let’s not keep them waiting. I will outfit your ‘friends’ here since they are somehow still alive.
“But I want them to see. I want them to see what it costs you.” He gestures.
We turn to face the crew of the Titansbane. He stands and begins to walk over. I shoulder my pack and pull out Havocs bloodstained cloak.
I introduce Zulfikar to the crew. He greets them professionally, as always. They converse briefly and then he turns to regard me.
“And what do you offer me in exchange for their payment?”
I hold out Havocs cloak. It feels so heavy in my off hand. Zulfikar grabs it brusquely in one hand and holds it up. He pauses a moment to evaluate the bullet holes and the blood. And then he discards it with a flick of his arm; I barely manage to catch it.
“Now you understand my pain. My debt to you will be fulfilled. Don’t ever come back.”
I briefly consider throwing myself at him. Havoc died. My brother died. He wants to make an example of me by mocking my grief. I begin to walk away with the blood stained garb; anger rushing through my very being.
If he wants me to be made an example of then I will wear it as a badge of honor. Let everyone see my mistakes. Let everyone know my deeds.
I throw on Havocs cloak. Zulfikar chose to be consumed by his grief. Trask chose to be consumed by his greed.
Me though? I choose to be consumed by my rage.