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    Nicholas Nissen

    The sun, which hung in the overcast sky like a shaded reminder of who he once was, mocked Albatross in the most subtle of ways. It was slightly obscured by a series of large, poofy clouds which blocked a majority of its rays and shaded Al from the midday heat. The large birdkin lay just outside the willow tree in which he lived with his newlywed wife Krow, fingers laced behind his head as he stared up at the sky. Before, he had been making his rounds of Al’s Edibles, giving encouragement to his employees as well as some rice.

    This was before the Attack happened, however.

    They were coming less and less frequently, but he still experienced at least one or two a day since his last adventure in Freehold. One moment, Al would be carrying about his regular mundane business, and the next… he was Ol’ Man Joel again. There wasn’t really any cohesive way for Al to describe the feeling where you suddenly lose your memories… at first, there was a taste of plum… and then nothing. He would forget about Freehold, his problems, his heartaches, even his wife. For those blessed seconds, it was as if Al had ceased to exist… and it was perhaps the most intoxicating feeling in the world. There was no pain, no strife, no suffering…

    And then it would all come back.

    In an instant, Al would go from oblivious fool to broken fop. The taste of plum would enter his mouth once more, and he would feel as if his subconscious mind was struck by a wave of emotion. Twenty-one years, four months, and twenty-six days of memories would surge forth, as if the floodgates of who he was opened with no warning. Each time an Attack ended, without fail, Al would find tears in his eyes. And he would feel incredibly dirty.

    As if in an instant, Al experienced everything that made him, well, him. He could see his father, skewered bottom up, his body burned and covered in tar and feathers. He could taste the blood splashing across his face as his bare hands tore the rioting villagers apart. He could feel Yonah’s heart cease to beat as he rammed his dagger into her chest, blood pooling around his feathered fingertips. He could…feel… Nicodemus inside of him again, and every time he felt, Al could feel the old scars opening themselves up again. Wounds that had long healed, or he had completely forgotten about, would pain him once more, and it was starting to become too much for the unique confluence of a man to handle.

    After the Attack happened, Al had wanted to sequester himself away so he could quietly brood in private, and had made several half-hearted excuses and abandoned his obligations for the day. Now he was here… And he had no idea what he was going to do after this.

    Instead, Al closed his eyes and waited for that taste of plum to overwhelm his senses once more… so he could cease to exist, if only for a moment. It was all he could think about.

    Albatross "Al" Mogma - Pendrakken Birdkin, Worshipper of Adarna. Self-Appointed Envoy of the Beastkin (which nobody actually recognizes).

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