Accidental Meditation
Gryne was impressed. He'd been sitting on Pork's back, watching the acolytes of the Grand Mausoleum walking to and fro in the main hall for a good while now. Not one of them had made a sound louder than a whisper, he'd been listening carefully. Whoever this Grey Goddess was she liked her worshipers to be quiet, that was for sure. At one point he'd seen one of the acolytes looking his way and had attempted what he'd wanted to be a reassuring smile, to which acolyte had gasped in shock and hurried off. Gryne heaved a sigh, "Damned tusks..." he muttered to himself. He reached down and scratched Pork between the ears, "Dunno how you do it buddy. People see you and your chompers and don't freak. They take one look at me and think I'm gonna eat em'." Gryne leaned back and stared up at the domed ceiling, lost in thought for a moment. "It's the eyes, gotta be the eyes. You've got little boar eyes. I've got big yellow orc eyes. Hmph. Aw crap..." That last snort had blown spittle out from between his tusks onto the floor. Gryne winced. Well that's just perfect, now he was spitting on the floor of the biggest temple to Sebti's goddess. He'd already been getting weird looks, sitting on top of Pork's sandstone-like form while the boar slept off to the side of the main hall. If any of the guards saw him drooling on the floor he might get kicked out. Then who knows what would happen to Ptemenib.

Wait, was that why they were waiting here? Gryne pondered for a moment. That meeting with Sebti had been surprisingly intense, she may be small but she radiated a kind of power Gryne had never seen before. Supreme confidence, as if she knew something you didn't and if you made her angry in the right way you would find out just how out of your league you were. She was fascinating. When it came to her, Gryne was at a loss. He wanted to get her attention, try to find out more about her, but she was so important! So busy. There was the whole UN-dead overrunning the city thing going on. And even if that got resolved she was in charge of this giant temple, all these people... Sure they were good at making RE-dead but how far would that take them? A pile of heads of conquered enemies only made a good wedding proposal in Orcish culture. Gryne fished out the emerald Terrance had given him and looked down through its facets. When would be a good time to give this to Sebti? Did she even like shiny rocks? It was her favorite color... at least Gryne hoped it was her favorite color. She did seem to wear a lot of green. Except tonight she hadn't been wearing... anything. Just that clingy sleeping gown. Gryne was certain she'd seen him staring. The gown had been so small and light though! Gryne had felt like his neck was going to snap from maintaining eye level. She'd been wearing that because they had woke her up, but it had been for a good reason. At least Gryne hoped so. He had been surprised at how cute she was without all the dress and paint on.

The thought of Sebti without anything on had him so distracted he didn't even notice the guard standing in front of him until the dark skinned man cleared his throat. Gryne snapped out of his reverie with a jolt as Pork stirred under him, annoyed in his slumber. Gryne stammered, "Er-uh-yeah what?" The guard gave him a half-lidded stare, "I said, are you and your animal going to be sleeping in the hall? Because we have sleeping quarters we would prefer you to use." Gryne shook his head, "Oh. Uhh, no we're good. We're just waiting to make sure our friend is ok. We're gonna go sleep at the Tooth and Hookah, no need to worry about us!" The guard looked incredulous. "You're going to walk all the way to an inn in the Midwife District, in the middle of the night, while packs of undead are roaming the streets?"

"Yup."

"Are you suicidal?"

"Nope, just really dumb. And good at making RE-dead."

The guard paused a moment longer. "Very well. Just don't fall asleep here. And you should leave soon, before the situation in the streets gets worse." Gryne nodded, "Sure thing. We'll leave soon." As the guard walked off Gryne realized with a little spark of pride that they had just had that whole conversation in Osiriani. Apparently he was catching on quicker than he thought. "So maybe that's the secret..." Gryne muttered to himself again, "Don't think about it too hard and go with your gut. Huh." He had been over analyzing a lot lately. Ever since Fenthwick had been impaled by that blasted skeleton Gryne had been striving to be aware of all possible dangers at all times, but he couldn't look in every direction at once. Even with Pork's help. Maybe the trick was to clear his mind and hear the danger through the quiet?

The quiet! Gryne's eyes widen and he slapped his fist into his palm. Of course it was so obvious! The Grey Lady valued knowledge, Terrance had said so. Knowledge helped you stay alive, telling you about possible danger before you even knew it was there. THAT was why all the Pharasman acolytes were so hushed, the quiet encouraged thought and self-reflection! Gryne couldn't believe it hadn't occurred to him sooner. Right then, he would quiet his thoughts and use that to help his friends. Gryne crossed his legs, steadying himself on Pork's immobile, slumbering bulk. It helped that his porcine pal was more rock than boar at the moment. Gryne held his hands out palm upwards like Trubik had taught him, resting on either knee, open to the consultation of any nearby spirits, and focused on his breathing.

His breathing, in and out. His lungs were like a bellows, every exhalation scattering dust across the floor. It was relaxing, this quiet. The cold floor wasn't so bad when you couldn't feel it through your hide. He hadn't realized it before, hadn't noticed, but he could tell what he was thinking, or at least feel it. They could tell, they could feel themselves. Breathing together. Feeling together.

In and out.

In and out.

Focus came through the breath. Hazy consciousness bled out into a void that hadn't been there before to give itself form and function. Two blurred minds, blurred souls. Lost and clinging to each other to keep from drifting into nothingness, becoming more and more together in order to keep hold of a sense of self-awareness. Something was missing. Existence for its own sake is meaningless. What did they need to create a new self, to stabilize? Through the quiet dark, the faces of their friends emerged.

Terrance. He knew everything they didn't. He could spin words into action, cause and effect created through simple force of will and spoken command. He had destroyed a powerful UN-dead with his voice and reasoning alone. Now that they thought about it, he was their first real friend in the world. He meant the world to them, though they hadn't realized it until now. Terrance represented their ability to make friends, to be normal.

Fenthwick. They felt so horrible about what had happened to him. Strange little gnome, always talking to the air. Always naming things. He had died in front of them and they could only watch. Their second friend, taken from them in an instant. At least they knew he was happy in death, wherever he was.

Makoa. A fellow orc. Might actually be as dumb as he acted, not like them. But they liked him. His war chants reminded them of Gryne's father, and he spoke almost as well as Terrance. He knew how to act to get people not to fear him. They could learn from him, maybe even call him a friend. Piss poor at tracking though, maybe he could learn something from them.

Sebti. She wasn't a friend, not yet. But perhaps she could be. Maybe if they earned her respect they could earn her trust. Perhaps that would lead to what Gryne seemed to want so badly. They only cared because Gryne did, and they wanted to see Gryne happy. After everything they had been through they deserved to find some happiness.

Ptenemib. They had only just met him, but he was definitely a friend. At least they thought of him as one. He was so sure of himself, he knew what he wanted to accomplish and he would do whatever it took to get there. He knew so much about the world, it sounded as though he had been through a lot. They wondered what had shaped Ptenemib into the man he was today. Had it been Qasin? Was she Ptenemib's Pork? Well she and Ptenemib made a good team. They hoped that she was alright, that they could help him find her soon. Friends are important, they help make you a better person, help give you purpose.

Purpose.

THAT WAS IT.

They were missing purpose! It was what Ptenemib and Qasin had, what Sebti had, what Terrance and Fenthwick and Makoa all had! A goal, something to strive for, to feel pride in. True, real purpose. Not just making money, not just staying alive, but doing something more with themselves. What could they do? What did they want to do? They looked back to their friends, back at the last few days. They had protected people they cared about, people they didn't even know, even some people they didn't like at all. They liked it. They felt pride in what they had done. Now they knew.

We are going to protect the ones we love.

Lazily he opened one eye, saw Ptenemib crossing the far end of the hall, and shifted his back slightly. "Come off et yeh git, 'Mib is beck and hedden teh bed withoot yeh. Get yeh to em and 'ave yer business doon so we can 'ead back an' git some propah rest."

Gryne inhaled sharply, brought suddenly back to consciousness. Ptenemib was crossing the far end of the hall with a vexed look on his face. Quickly Gryne hopped off of Pork and started to head his way, calling to him in as loud a whisper as he could manage. Pork looked on, slowly stretching and picking himself up to follow his bipedal friend.

That had been a damn good nap.
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