Holding On

"I'll…by heading outside as well. Join us when you're ready."

"You speak like you care."

Baldur didn't flinch. He didn't know why he was still here. Not when all the others had left Leah to grieve for her uncle. Týr had once spoken to him of the man, of the trials and tribulations they had faced two decades ago, but Baldur had never known the Horadric scholar personally. And yet here he was, left in this room with nothing but bodies, a grieving girl and a sword that according to the last words of one of said bodies, was of angelic origin.

"You still here?"

Baldur snapped back into reality, his eyes drifting from said sword to the two before him. The girl had yet to turn away from her guardian. Had yet to take her hand from his.

Must be cold…

And yet the Barbarian stood there, his declaration of leaving Leah to grieve going unfulfilled. No doubt the others would be saying prayers in the spirit of their respective gods, or making declarations as to how Magda would pay. He wasn't in the mood for either. Magda would die, as would many others, both Men and monsters. If something awaited Cain beyond this world, then he doubted anything he said or did right now would affect that. Yet he felt compelled to say something. Maybe it was age. Maybe it was because part of his mind was telling him that at the least, Cain wouldn't arise from the grave as had so many others.

He'd remained silent on that point. It seemed too much like cold comfort. And as the people of Khanduras seemed to like burying rather than cremating their dead for some reason, he supposed the girl could get offended by that.

"You can leave, you know…" Leah murmured, still not taking her eyes off her uncle, yet also still aware of Baldur's presence.

"Not until you are ready to leave also," the elderly warrior murmured. "Until you are ready to let go."

For the first time in what felt like an age, the girl looked up at him. Below her eyes were the shades of lack of sleep. Touching her eyes was the water of grief. Within her eyes was the redness of blood, a combination of both grief and lack of sleep.

"Let go…" she whispered…nay, hissed. "You tell me to-…"

"To let go of your uncle's hand. That is all."

"You-…"

"It's what I have had to do many times. It's what I will continue to do until my spirit leaves my body. It's what you will have to do in the dark days ahead."

Leah just glared at him. This time, Baldur didn't flinch. He knew how she felt. He'd felt exactly the same way when he saw the destruction of Mount Arreat, losing many family members and even more friends. In a way, that loss hadn't changed.

But at least I did not have their bodies lying before me like this…

"I can't let go…" Leah whispered, turning her gaze back to her uncle. "I…I can't…"

"You must."

"I can't!" she yelled. "I can't let go! I can't…I…don't have anything left to hold onto."

She needed an axe, Baldur thought. Or some decent weapon rather than a bow, of all things. Silently, he turned his gaze to the sword. The weapon Magda had sought. The reason why so many were dead. Slowly, he made his way over to it. Slowly, he placed his hand around its hilt. It felt…wrong, somehow. Not just for being a sword rather than an axe or flail, but just…wrong.

"I can carry this," Baldur murmured, though silently deciding to hang it at his belt the first chance he got. "I will hold onto it." He laid out a hand. "And I will hold you for now…if you need a bridge to whatever you may cherish next in this world."

Leah stared at him. Baldur stared back.

Eventually, she took his hand.