Fragments of Memories

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Hedgemage was my main character from first day I logged on to the end of days in City of Heroes. He was an Energy/Energy blapper that I had fun running epic adventures with. I always figured that his nemesis would be Circle of Thorns or some other magic-based group. Instead, he was always tangling with Devouring Earth. “Hippies with the brains of rocks! Even rocks!” He was the sort of guy who would be on his way to pay the rent, have an alien invasion drop on him, beat back the invasion, and then continue on to City Hall to drop off the check. That really did happen in the game. I still find it funny. “I just wanted to pay the rent!”

I was browsing a folder of old writing bits and found this fragment amongst the files. It’s a piece I wrote during the City of Heroes 2009 Halloween event. It’s short and I don’t remember what the next part was supposed to be, but I got all nostalgic reading it. You can find it hiding under the cut below:

Stepping out of the train station and digging his hands deeper into the pockets of his black trenchcoat, Hedgemage endured the cold drizzle that rolled over Paragon City. His heavy workboots and sturdy jeans were coated with Strigan and Croatoan mud. Disheveled shoulder-length chestnut brown hair drooped over his bruised face and his ribs still ached under his layered shirts. Taking a little extra care on the slick concrete steps leading down to the unassuming basement door of an old brick office building, he let a steaming breath escape before entering.

The windowless office was dark and dank with exposed brick walls and creaking wooden floors, but it was cheap to rent and served his organization’s purpose. Hedgemage, who also went by the name Jared to his friends, hung up his damp coat on a peg near the door and checked the blinking light on the office phone. Four new messages waited for him. One wanted to know if he could rescue someone kidnapped by the Circle of Thorns. He cringed at the thought of heading back out again so soon. One message was from a teammate, letting him know that she had the kidnapping handled. Then there was an automated sales call telling him that the warranty on his car was expiring. He deleted that one before it finished. He didn’t have a car for a warranty to expire on in the first place. The last one was full of nothing but static. Jared frowned at that and his finger hovered over the key to delete. He decided to deal with that one later.

Shivering against the pervasive cold, Jared pulled on his fleece-lined flannel shirt and checked the thermostat. Turning up the dial, he waited to hear the banging and hissing of the radiators turning on, but nothing happened. Turning it back down, he sighed and wondered if the property management company would bother returning his calls this time. He was half tempted to troubleshoot the problem himself, but he was tired and sore and not wanting to give out even more free work. He filled a kettle with water and set it on the waiting hotplate. Opening the cabinet, he perused his extensive tea collection before pulling out a tin of loose leaf Earl Grey.

A shadow flitting past his peripheral vision caught his attention and he snapped his head around to focus on it. There was nothing there but the bookcases. Frowning, Jared had to wonder if it was just exhaustion compounded by the recent missions in the depths of caves. Then again, he would not be able to relax until he was certain there was nothing unwanted in his office. He patrolled the rooms, checking each one carefully and finding nothing unusual.

While he waited for the water to boil, washed his face and examined his wounds. Nothing serious, but it would be a few days before he looked presentable again. His strong brow furrowed at the condensation forming at the bottom of the mirror. It was cold in the headquarters, but was it really that cold? A flit of movement crossed the reflected doorway behind him.

He was certain he was still alone and he clenched his fists. “All I was is my chair, my book, and my goddamn tea!” He swore under his breath again and stalked back to the hotplate to deem the water close enough to a boil. He turned off the device, yanked the plug out of the wall, and prepared his pot of Earl Grey. All the while, he felt the hair on his neck and arms prickle and stand. A deep breath noisily passed through his nose and he turned about to face an empty room. A soft blue aura formed about his hands, the visual cue of his summoned power.

“Let’s get this over with,” he demanded to the room. “Either show yourself and tell me want you want or I perform the banishment ritual here and now.”

 

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