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They said you couldn't go home again - 'they' being the nebulous fuckasses who thought that cryptic sayings actually made them sound deep and profound. Nine times out of ten, not only could you go home again, but you dropped by for a visit every Sunday and the only thing that changed all that much was that the farmer down the road had gotten a new pig or something equally goddamn fascinating.

But not for them. Lyn couldn't help reflecting occasionally that almost none of them had anyplace - or anyone - to go back to.

It was the sort of stupid thing he thought when he didn't have anything better to do - either lying under or behind whatever he was hiding himself with for the night, or keeping watch while Naiya tranced. He needed less sleep than most of the party, anyway; he didn't have spells and shit that needed recharging, and any healing he needed was usually taken care of before they all drifted off to begin with. Since he'd never slept much, or deeply - not to mention the most twitchy and alert of the party at any given time - he was the next natural person to keep guard when Naiya was out. And when he was sitting around by himself, he usually either wound up thinking about the stuff he firmly shut out of his mind with business at all other times, or turning over stupid shit in his head that didn't actually matter. Like philosophical musings.

Home tended to come up a lot, since it fell into both categories of thought - stuff he didn't want to think about too hard, and stuff that he had no useful earthly reason to be thinking about.

Honestly, he didn't know much about Ascha. Not her history, at least; he didn't know the first goddamn thing about where she came from, or why she did what she did, or why she traveled with all their varying flavors of idiocy as opposed to doing literally anything else. He didn't even think she really liked most of the other members of the party much...though she seemed pretty okay with him, for reasons he appreciated if not actually understood. But he couldn't help thinking that, if she had somewhere better to be, or better people to be with...then she wouldn't be with them.

Kraven he did know about; probably more than anyone could ever fucking want to know about the dwarf, really. Maybe it wasn't fair to be so goddamn exasperated with somebody who freely admitted to suffering a severe head injury, but fuck that - the world had never given a shit about extenuating circumstances and Lyn didn't see why he ought to. Kraven was still crazy and a giant pain in the ass 85% of the time; whether he had a good reason for being that way didn't change much. But...well, Lyn could never actually manage to forget that the only reason he was still alive (several times over) was due to Kraven. And, when he actually bothered to recall that Kraven literally couldn't go home again, because he'd legitimately forgotten where home was, he wasn't so completely callous that he didn't feel a twinge of sympathy. Though, honestly, sometimes he wasn't all that sure Kraven minded. He never seemed too unhappy, anyway.

Aknier's story he didn't remember all that well. Something about a brother and a farm, and that stupid scythe he always carried and never fucking used. Lyn figured you'd need a pretty damn good reason to haul around a gigantic fucking weapon that would probably break your own arms if you tried to swing it. But he thought he remembered that Aknier and his brother had had a farm, and then the brother bought the farm in a figurative sense right before someone else (probably some fuckass noble) literally bought the farm, right out from under Aknier's feet. So he'd been cast adrift, and not by choice, just like most of the rest of them...although, to be honest, Lyn couldn't really picture Aknier as a lifelong farmer anyway. Maybe the jackass noble had done him a favor.

Helmut...well, shit, that was the only home upheaval the party itself had actually participated in, so they all knew that story. An entire family possessed by goddamn demons save for Helmut and his mom, a poisoning attempt, Helmut's mom trying to kill Helmut for no goddamn reason and Helmut having to kill her in self-defense, and then Helmut being bundled away for some shitty dark ritual that they'd all had to murder every member of his demon-infested family to stop. Yeah, that had been pleasant. Lyn was kind of surprised Helmut was even still sane. And then he'd actually been thrown into the fucking future, in case his life hadn't been dismantled enough, and the Staufen estate had probably either been wrecked or repossessed by some other noble by now...assuming Helmut could have borne living in it in the first place. And all of that was made all the more shitty because Helmut was, perhaps, the one noble Lyn knew that was actually decent and didn't deserve to get fucked over anywhere near that hard.

Naiya's story was something Lyn had only learned of in detail in the past few days, and it was no less depressing than anyone else's. First she'd lost her first home and her real family to some murderous cult; then she'd gotten picked up by barbarians who'd been, as Lyn understood, less than sympathetic to a traumatized elven girl. Then, after they'd spent who knew how many years making her as gruff and bloodthirsty and generally as unelven as possible, they'd all but given her to the first prissy elves who asked so the elves could try to turn her back into their own sort of aloof, stuck-up tightass. And then basically everyone but Naiya (and Lyn, retroactively) was surprised this hadn't worked! Shit, technically Naiya had lost her home and everyone she knew twice...although Lyn kind of felt, given that she'd lived twice as long as any of them, that was really just the law of averages at work. In the most ass way possible.

Theroian...Theroian was the only one who didn't fit, and sometimes Lyn wondered if that's why he was the one he got along with the least. Theroian had a home; he even had a fiancee to go back to. Their entire adventure was basically just something Theroian was doing in his spare time, or so Lyn understood it. He wasn't looking for anything in particular, and he didn't really need any of them. When all of this was over, no matter how it ended, Theroian had somewhere to go. Lyn wasn't sure if he was resentful or jealous or both.

And, of course, there was him. Not that he really counted, he supposed. Everyone else in the party had been routed from home and family - either real or adopted - because of circumstances beyond their control. Only Lyn had gotten himself turned out of his home village just because he'd become that fucking insufferable. Yeah, that was a real sob story - oh, you had to leave your village because they got sick of you stealing from them? Wow, that's...totally predictable! Maybe you should have been less of a thieving dick. He supposed the vanishing of his parents when he was little could be considered some sort of extenuating circumstance, but since they hadn't actually died, and Bones couldn't give a solid account for why they'd left...there was still a 50/50 chance that they'd ditched him, too. Not that he could imagine what he could have done that was so fucking intolerable as an infant, unless he'd simply never been wanted in the first place...of course, that wasn't exactly a comforting thought. At least when he'd believed his parents were dead, there had been no way of having the illusion that they'd given a shit about him categorically disproved. Basically, the only person who hadn't grown sick of him was the priest he'd run away from, and he kind of figured that had only been a matter of time.

...well, him and the party.

That was the thing, Lyn supposed. He didn't have anywhere to go, or anyone to go back to...and into the absence of absolutely anything else had come the party. They gave him somewhere to belong, and they actually tolerated him - maybe even liked him, although he was always hesitant to think anyone gave much of a damn about him. It wasn't like anyone really had much cause to like him. But they all seemed to, to varying degrees, and at the very least relied upon him...and even though he was increasingly convinced that he was going to get himself killed traveling with them, he found that it actually still seemed preferable to any life he could lead elsewhere.

That was probably a bad sign, but what the hell.

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