I wrote this short story two years ago in attempt to acquire a better understanding of Octavia and Regongar characters before actually creating them for the game. I’d like to thank David Wilson, our English localization editor, for helping to polish this text and providing crucial tips about writing in English. Please, treat this text as a fan fic
Narrative Team Lead
What does freedom mean to me? I’ll gladly tell you! Freedom is an open window, calling me, tempting me to stretch out my arm and reach for the horizon. It’s wind rushing in, blowing across my face, drawing happy tears—a warm welcome for a dear guest. My long hair is the wind’s plaything, dancing to its tune. With a smile, I climb out the window and run to meet the hurricane, my arms open wide to embrace my elusive playmate, my quiet laughter for only him to hear.
Simple, childish pleasures, you might say. And you may be right, but isn’t that also a “freedom,” to rejoice in such pleasures and pay no heed to what others say? This is my “freedom,” my dream, and I’ll strive to make it a reality.
I open my eyes and stare into the dim light of the barracks I call home. This tarnished storehouse serves to stow Maestro Janush’s possessions—his slaves. He trains them in the ways of the arcane—enough to be of use to Technic League proprietors looking to buy an apprentice, anyway, but not enough to pose a threat to anyone, the slave herself included. He cultivates obedience with a suave voice backed by a persuasive whip, his preferred tool for drawing virtue out of faulty flesh.
The scars I bear from the whip are few and healed, but they itch any time it visits my thoughts. I shake it off and leave my bed, or rather the tattered mattress they call a bed. The guards aren’t known for their attentiveness, and some noise is unavoidable with so many people piled up in such a small space for the night. Unless the noise is loud enough to disturb our mighty guards’ slumber—or they get drunk and bored enough to make a statement—they pay us little mind. I may be overcautious, waiting so long into the night. Or maybe I just needed time to gather my courage. No matter how many times I reassure myself that small noises won’t be enough to draw the guards’ attention, the fear never leaves. My bare feet step silently upon the cold stone floor. My soul trembles at a sound that’s never heard.
The other slaves keep to themselves—they choose to be oblivious, to look but not see. These poor, broken souls, shattered by the maestro’s whip… Some sleep, but others watch with indifference. A quiet murmur, just on the edge of hearing, is the only evidence of anyone noticing me. To bow to the whip is to abandon the self, a fate I’d rather die than accept. Apathy is now their queen. My pity for them spurs me forward.
He lies in the corner, his back glued to the wall. His breath is deep and calm, and his eyes are shut.
“Octavia…” he whispers, a heartbeat before my finger feels the warmth of his cheek, and I can’t help but smile.
“Yes, Reg, it’s me. Shush.” I let my hand feel his skin, indulging in the momentary pleasure.
Regongar’s eyes open with feigned laziness.
“Looking for some entertainment, my Octavia? I can help with that.”
Reg’s hand finds my ankle, caresses it, sending a wave of goosebumps up my leg. I fight a sudden weakness that moves through my body.
“Don’t call me ‘my Octavia’! I’ve told you a thousand times! I’m no one’s Octavia, not even yours. I belong only to myself!” I shake Reg’s hand away from my ankle. My anger’s a ruse, and he well knows it. “That’s not why I’m here!”
Regongar sits up, saying nothing. He knows me well enough to catch the steel in my tone.
“A teleportation spell!” I whisper, tugging the scroll from the sleeve of my robe. “A way out, for both of us! The maestro had me practicing scribing again today, and I managed to snitch this beauty! He didn’t see a thing! Oh, Reg, can we be free at last? I can’t believe…”
Reg’s fingers cross my lips, dropping my excited whisper to a heavy breath. Assured of my silence, he takes the scroll.
“I’ll read it. If we’re caught, I’ll take the blame.”
I say nothing. Reg wouldn’t let me share that responsibility. He forces me to confide in him, and I oblige. Regongar, my protector. My champion. My love. I catch Reg’s hand and hold it for a moment. He knows I’m grateful for everything he does.
“We’ll try just outside the maestro’s manor. I know a safe spot.” Reg’s voice trembles with anticipation.
“Then we run.”
I’m free! I am free, right?
For two long days we stalk the shadows of Starfall, the Numerian capital, bathing in overwhelming emotions. We’re drunk on our newfound freedom and clueless of what to do with it. We’re scared of losing it if the Technic League finds us, but at the same time, we feel like we can achieve anything now. I find myself shedding tears often, tears I can’t hold in. They’re born from neither sorrow nor joy. They have no reason to flow, and yet they fall, my eyes seeming to act on their own.
We steal to live. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it’s for our survival. Our simple clothes, our food, and a small earring Regongar gave me yesterday—all stolen. I keep promising myself that I’ll make amends in the future, somehow. A vain lie to fool myself.
I jump at each shadow that crosses my sight; I suspect everything and everyone might be a Technic League agent. They’re hounds seeking prey, and I fear the trail we leave behind is too obvious. I was never one to be easily scared, but the thought of what might happen makes me shiver. Is it because I actually have something to lose now?
What kind of weakling have I become? Or maybe I was always weak. Was my tough act as a slave just that—an act? I feel exhausted, yet I’m happier than I’ve ever been before.
“Well? Did you get it?”
Regongar smiles at my question, drawing a falchion from beneath his robe.
“Of course, I did! Don’t forget who you’re talking too, heh heh…” His smile is menacing. I catch a glimpse of malice in Reg’s eyes before he manages to hide it.
“The merchant you robbed to get this. Is he still… alive?” My voice betrays me at the end.
“He is.” Reg shrugs, and I don’t dare to learn more.
Regongar scares me sometimes. He is a half-orc, after all—his nature gives itself away. His temper grows more savage with every passing day. I only hope the love we share can cull the cruelty that resides within him.
“There’s more, though. A trade caravan’s leaving Starfall tomorrow at dawn, headed to Brevoy. After my new friend gifted me this falchion, he thoughtfully invited us to join them. We’re to call ourselves his colleagues, or apprentices, or servants, with a mission to evaluate the goods or check the trading route. Or something else entirely. Just pick your lie.”
“But won’t he object…?”
“Heh, sure won’t.” Regongar’s smile becomes an evil grin. “He’s gonna have trouble talking for a week or so, and his legs have gotten pretty bad lately too, ha ha!”
“I’m in love with a monster…”
My whisper’s too quiet to hear, but it isn’t hard for him to guess.
“Why the frown, my Octavia? Do you find my methods distasteful? You said you wanted to get out of Starfall. Wouldn’t you prefer the comforts and protection a caravan can offer along the way? We can even abandon those merchants and turn south halfway to Brevoy if you’d rather head to the River Kingdoms. Or even the Stolen Lands, if you think the wilderness would be better to hide from the Technic League for some reason—gods know if that’d help, though. You see, I did this all for you! A falchion to protect you! Clothes to keep you warm at night! An earring to make you smile! And I’d do so much more, if it was in my power! Yet you question me. My actions, my motives, the methods I use to make you happy…”
I feel Reg’s anger rise in waves, but he controls it. His muscles are all tense, but he orders them to relax. His love for me is stronger than his nature. I have to cling to that—for both our sakes.
“I don’t question you. I trust you. And I love you.” I spoke my heart.
“Your trust is not misplaced.” Regongar calms quickly. “Neither’s your love. We leave at dawn.”
I felt disdain for the stars when I was young. They seemed indifferent, cold. They watch the world, but they never intervene, no matter what atrocities they witness. A silent, lazy, many-eyed beast. Then I thought that maybe they just… can’t. What if the beast is bound to inaction? What if it feels for all the misery it sees, but something is holding it back, telling it to overlook things? A cruel fate, and one to empathize.
I was a foolish child then. I still am, really, lying here on a grass bed, my head full of silly thoughts as I look up to meet the stars’ silent gaze.
It’s the second night since we left the caravan. The seventh since we escaped the league. The supplies we “borrowed” from the caravan’s quartermaster will last us another week. We slipped off into the night without anyone noticing and turned south, toward the River Kingdoms, a land of freedom and a home for all. The journey could be long and dangerous, but our hearts are set. I confide in Regongar, and he lends me his strength. I hope I do the same for him.
I turn my gaze from the night sky and cast it upon Regongar, lying beside me. The light of our dying campfire casts shadows over his face, as if the darkness of his thoughts had broken through.
He turns to me, and his features brighten as the worry leaves his troubled eyes. A gentle smile finds its way to his lips.
“We’ll make it,” Reg says, to reassure both of us. “To the River Kingdoms, I mean. Our home is there, waiting for us. Can you feel it?” He inhales loudly, as if the air bears our home’s scent. “I swear, I’ll lead you there, Octavia.”
“And I promise to follow you there, Reg.”
The stars watch on, witnessing our promise. Silent, as always.
“Well, aren’t my little doves adorable?”
A voice I’d never wanted to hear again, unless it was gargling its own blood. Imagine the improvement! Heavy breathing around a dagger in the lungs might also help. A little death rattle could be nice as well, heh heh hmm…
“Oh? Did I startle you, my dear pets?” Maestro Janush exhales with a chuckle, too practiced to be believable.
Octavia would call him “a hunter, striking his prey when escape was just within reach.” Or maybe “a wretched villain, hiding a rotten soul behind a greasy smile.” That sounds like her, doesn’t it? I’d just call him “a corpse”—that’s all he deserves to be.
“Ah, so sorry! How impolite of me to barge in and ruin the mood! Alas, I fear I had reason to intrude. You see, two pretty songbirds have escaped their cages. They must be so lonely and scared, braving this ugly, brutal world. I couldn’t just leave them in such dire state, now could I? What kind of proprietor would I be?”
The mocking sadness in his voice ignites my hatred. I welcome the familiar feeling with gritted teeth and a firm grip on my falchion.
“Stay back, Octavia,” I whisper. “This isn’t your kind of fun.”
She’ll obey, of course. She knows what’s best for her. I take a step toward Maestro Janush, drawing upon the energies that are my birthright. The power in my blood has longed to be unleashed. A falchion in one hand, a charge of sparking lightning in the other… I wonder if it scares him, even just a tiny bit.
Three shadows come out of the darkness and loom over the slaver, and more still linger in the back. His guards, as expected. Predictable. The closest one unsheathes his sword—too slow, or too lazy, or maybe overconfident, or even all of the above. Unprepared for a proper parry, the guard jumps to the side to avoid the falchion, landing right in my sparking grasp. I catch the fool by the throat and lift him up, discharging every last bit of power into his helpless body and watching the exotic dance his legs perform in the air. I pull the guard’s face into the light. He’s just a boy, younger than me. His lips are wry with fear, and tears flow down his cheeks. Pathetic!
The maestro sighs heavily. If I stopped now, my punishment might be less… severe. I chuckle at the thought as my falchion feeds upon the guard’s guts. The boy’s choked squeal sinks beneath the mumbling of the maestro’s guards. His body collapses at my feet, a testament to my superiority.
Then, my legs grow heavy, as if wading through a swamp. My hands start to shake, and I drop the falchion. My mind fizzles as shiny baubles drift before my eyes.
“Just how many spells do you need to stop me?” I try to ask, but my lips refuse to obey.
And then the iron gauntlet lands upon my jaw.
A familiar sound. I close my eyes to feel the lash with no distractions. Excruciating pain overwhelms me, filling me until there’s no difference between me and it. I bite my tongue and force myself to swallow a scream, letting nothing more than a quiet grunt slip past my clenched teeth. The pain slowly passes, only to return tenfold. This strike was but the first of many.
“Let’s talk a bit about why you’re here, Regongar.” I hate this voice from the depths of my soul. “Oh, but perhaps I misspoke. Let’s talk about why you’re still here. Always failing to obey even the simplest of orders. Arguing, backtalk, lying. Why, you even stole a scroll of teleportation and absconded with Octavia. Don’t bother denying it—I checked the traces of the spell myself. And, finally, you killed my guard.”
I force my mind to focus on the wall in front of me as I wait for the pain to subside.
“Don’t get me wrong, I hold no grudge against you.” The maestro sure likes the sound of his own voice. He’s practically performing now, like some street actor. “The guard you finished was a young one, just a hireling. And now, thanks to you, his monthly wage will never leave my purse. But you… you are an animal, Regongar. A beast! No, even that’s wrong. Calling you such would be an insult to my steed, or the dog that guards my room. You’re a rabid savage, begging to be put down. Now, I’m a merchant at heart—there’s still some small chance I might sell you to a reckless Technic League agent… But you’re almost more of a nuisance than you’re worth.”
The lash kisses me again with that sharp tongue of hers. It amuses me to think of it as a “she.” I know her well by now—we meet often in this shadowy dungeon. Might make Octavia jealous, heh heh hmm…
Free of skin after the first few strikes, I welcome the purity of the pain. You might be thinking some weird things about me now… but you’re wrong. I don’t worship pain—I’m not that kind of maniac. It builds my hatred, fuels my will to fight. The pain makes me feel alive. As my blood drums in my ears, as my muscles strain on the verge of tearing, as that salty taste fills my dry mouth, I feel alive like never before. I don’t suffer—I endure.
“You know, Reg… You don’t mind if I call you Reg, do you?” I must have missed part of the maestro’s hearty speech. “You know, Reg, I located you about an hour after you left my mansion. However, I decided to restrain myself from capturing you on the spot. ‘What will they do with this newfound freedom?’ I wondered. My curiosity got the best of me, so I simply watched. And you failed to surprise or impress me, Reg. Theft. Deception. Assault. Killing for money, food, and clothes—you even tore the earring off a wealthy woman. At least you washed the blood off before presenting it to the girl. Oh, what’s this? You didn’t know about that, Octavia?”
I’d wondered about the whimpering I was hearing. So, he dragged Octavia in as well today. A punishment of sorts? I know Maestro Janush doesn’t like to lash her… much. She’ll bring him more coins unscarred, I suppose. I don’t mind. Let her watch. She’ll be proud of my strength, seeing how much pain I can take.
Although, part of me wishes Octavia would intervene. I wish we could share in my rage and hatred. Together, we could slay many foes before falling. And one day she will, I’m sure of it. And I’ll be so proud of her when it happens.
I’m the embodiment of pain. The tension takes its toll and my body fails me. The lashes are getting harder to endure. I cling to the final vestiges of strength within me.
“What are you, if not petty thieves and criminals? You’re menaces to society, my darlings. Lawbreakers. Releasing you would be like freeing a wild animal from a traveling circus. I’m doing society a favor by keeping you two locked up in here.”
I don’t object. The weak invented laws to chain the strong. I pay them no heed.
Oblivion comes, at last. I fought it… and lost. Again. A good fight, though. No shame in losing. Darkness claims me.
What does freedom mean to me? I’ll gladly tell you! It’s a fire, calling me, inviting me to be part of it. Unwavering, I plunge my bare hands into its burning heart. I squeeze it, claim it, bend it to my will. There’s no pain, only light, heat, and power. I add my laughter to the roaring flames.
No law can stop the fire’s spread. No rule can bar its way. No one can withstand its force. No regulations, no limits, no boundaries remain where I walk. A fire burns in my soul, and I’ll share it with the world.
If all that’s left of me when I’m done is ash, then so be it. I’d rather burn out than wither under the laws of weaklings. A fire’s life is short, but also bright. This is my “freedom,” my dream, and I’ll strive to make it a reality.