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Sorrow in the Dark

Chronicled by Dro'gan NiteFlier

Disclaimer: City of Heroes is owned by Cryptic and NCSoft.

Darkness covers the city, streetlights making only dim breaks in the overwhelming blackness. Trolls wander the streets, marking out their territory, and fighting off any who would threaten it, whether they be heroes, Clockwork, or those Lost to humankind.

Skyway City. Here is where I make my home.

I am perched on a roof only a few stories above the ground, looking out at a small park where a statue of a hero stands. I've never been able to find out who it is, but he watches over this place… just like me.

From here I can see the Troll patrols, the Lost gatherings, even the occasional Clockwork that falls down from the highway above me. This neighborhood knows me on sight, for none of these threats stay too long here. Even the Trolls have acknowledged that this place is no longer their territory… for as long as they see me here.

And tonight, like all nights, that time is coming to a close. The sun is rising, and the Lost are moving in, the Clockwork packing up their scraps, and the Trolls trading out shifts. Time as well, for my own rest.

I pick myself up from the cold concrete, and look to the north. Sighing, I lift my feet from the roof, and begin my flight home. It is one of the few tall buildings in Skyway, and it houses many things. I've even fought Lost and Raiders and other things in the lower levels of the building, but up here, were even villains do not go, simple citizens make their home. Some said that the owners were insane to rent out the upper floors of this building as apartments, and that they'd never get any business. 'They', whoever 'they' are, were wrong. The city almost immediately snapped up the offer, and offered free housing to any licensed hero that could fly. Too, others who daily make the trip by stair and elevator live here, heroes and others alike.

I sigh as I my feet touch my balcony, another oddity of the building. Here, high enough to render the emergency stairs so often seen in Kings Row useless and redundant, one apartment in three has a balcony. They were planned into the initial structure of the building, and have remained ever since.

I slide the door open, and brush aside the heavy curtains, entering my humble and thankfully dark home. The leather binding my form creaks as I sit, and I reach over and flick on the radio. The initial static gives way to soft orchestra, and the Paragon Harmonic sighs into the air.

Standing once more, I reach down and start unlatching the tarnished buckles, starting with my boots. Twenty-seven buckles, from my boots to my gloves, my tight pants to my shirt. One after another, they release the leather that conceals me. I finally pull off the hood that shelters my eyes and mouth. The entire ensemble leaves me down to my underthings, which I remove as well, and toss into the small bin.

Naked now, I let out another sigh, as the Harmonic continues its slow melody. I stride to my closet, and take out a downy robe. Wrapping myself in it, I go to the kitchen, and rustle around for a glass and bottle. Bringing both back to my chair, I open the bottle and smell its sweet scent. Pouring the glass full, my eye catches the picture resting on the side table. Setting the bottle down, I lift the picture up to see it better.

"So long ago, when we were together…" I whisper. "If only… if only…."

Even with my fractured sight, I see the picture as it was the very day it was taken, over a decade ago. Three people, man, woman, and child. The child reflecting the man's deep blue eyes, and the woman's golden hair, each standing protectively, lovingly over the child.

"What happened, my love?" I whisper again. "What did you find in those scrolls that turned you away from us? Oh, why did I not listen, and become as wrapped up in my work as you were in yours? We abandoned 'Lise, as much as if we had disappeared… As I disappeared."

Hot tears well up from between my eyelids now, and their brightness blinds me. Choking back my sorrow, I dab at my eyes, and sip from the glass. The wine smoothly works down my throat, but I can feel that it is still raw. Why, oh, why, do I do this?

I take another sip, but catch sight of my hand. I can still see enough of the light spectrum to know that it is no longer the pale pink it once was, but a deep black, speckled with stars as was the nighttime sky.

So many things are no longer as they were. My sight, my skin, my… abilities.

Once, I could not fly. Once, I was just an ordinary woman. Once, I had a family, a loving husband and a beautiful daughter. Once, before my husband became obsessed with finding the Well of Innocence and I became obsessed with perfecting InterDim travel for Portal… Once, when I could still look upon my little Elizabeth's face and feel joy, instead of looking at her picture and feel sorrow for what I have lost, due to my own arrogance, and then, my own fear.

Fear of what I have become.

I am not what I once was. Ever since I returned to this universe, to find it so terribly changed, to finally realize that the changes to my own body were real, not some illusion of my new environment…

I had few paths left to me when I recovered from the shock. I had been officially dead for years, and so many things had changed. The Rikti, the war, the closing of Peregrine Isle….

The reopening of the Portal Corp, and the discovery of my hidden dimension.

I was able to collect a few things from my old office, and once I took a further look at the city, I was surprised at how much had survived. Many of the high ranking officials for both the city and Portal kept me locked up, trying to learn what they could of the dimension that I had been trapped in, but I could tell them little that their recon team had not already.

Darkness covers that land.

And that is all I will say of it.

For me, however, life seemed to be over. I had returned, but I had nothing. No clothes, no job, no… family. My husband, dead. My daughter, as missing as I had been.

It was Hero Corp that offered me the option. They had noticed my powers even before I had realized that they existed. Far too much did I take of my current self, and imagine that it belonged only in that dark realm. Unfortunately, it is real.

Another memory, another sip. I had almost emptied the glass at this point, and the Harmonic was drawing to a close. As the applause rose from the radio, I drained the last of the wine, and took glass and bottle back to the kitchen. Time enough for memory another day… and the day after that… and….

I unbelted the robe, and hung it in the closet once more. Settling on my bed, and throwing the covers over my naked form, I closed my eyes and relaxed the ever-constant hold, letting my hard-earned reflexes take over, and feeling the force bubble form about me.

Sleep now. Tomorrow shall be another night of sorrow.


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