I recalled home and stood, exhausted, in the darkness outside the villa wall. I took a deep breath and wearily turned to look across the settlement at the dark villas in the distance. I lived in a settlement of four villas that overlooked the sea. But now, I was the only one still here.

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Mudshark, my dear friend, still owned the villa beside mine, but he had been gone for some time and soon his villa would be for sale. I had found my villa many months ago. I had been excited to find myself beside a fellow clan mate. Another close Clansman, Tsunamikaze, had purchased one of the other two when it became vacant. It had been wonderful to have this close knit community to ourselves.

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Now it was devastating. I did not like villa life, and being alone made it worse. I turned from my villa and walked along the semi brown grass. My mind reeled with memories as I walked through the ownerless villas. I smiled and cried both as the sights and smells of the past flooded over me.

Slowly, as if every step drained life from me, I walked from the villas to the cliff edge near the fountain. So many nights I had stood here, gazing at the moonrise, talking with those I cared for about the day’s events, or future plans. Now I was simply alone. I watched the moon break through the clouds, and crest the mountain in the distance.

I closed my eyes and listened to the sounds of the night creatures. As I opened my eyes, and saw the moonlight reflect off the water of the sea below, I made up my mind… I was giving up this villa, leaving this behind, and moving on with life.

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I could not hold onto the past or live with the memories of Clansmen now gone, the hunts, the quests and ceremonies of the past. If I was ever to be happy, ever to find new paths, I needed to say good bye to the old. I would go back to the coziness and comfort of a cottage, and start over.

The Sea was nice, but I needed the forest, the far north, and the cold. These Sho lands were mystical, but they did not fulfill my soul, or nurture my heart, as the northern lands did. I was going home.

I found that I was smiling and feeling electrified. I was bursting with energy! I raced home to begin the task of packing. I walked through the villa remembering the quests for the items I took from the walls. I remembered faces of those that were there as each item was obtained. I laughed recalling my own silly deaths, or the times of getting lost on those quests and wandering together for hours.

I stopped as I packed one shield, reading the inscription again, and felt my heart lurch as tears filled my eyes. I looked over the packs filled with items and wondered if I would ever again see these people, hear their laughter, watch them dance on top of statues, or just pause for a drink in the local bar.

It’s hard to say good bye, and it felt like I had said good bye too many times over the past few months. Not enough hellos and too many good byes. I thought about where I could go. I remembered Tsunamikaze had left me a note saying he had located a settlement in the far north that had many vacancies. He too was tired of villa life. He said he thought I would be comfortable there.

I decided I would go take a look at that settlement and find out if it was suitable. I looked at his note with the coordinates his cottage that was in my chest. I compared it to map. I would need to go through Stonehold.

I nodded and picked up my orb. I would go through Umbral Hall. I didn’t bother killing the creatures, but began running as soon as my feet touched the floor. I dashed up the north passage and into the Stonehold portal.

From town it was a short run to the settlement portals. I stepped into the right one and hoped that I would be landing in forest. I was on a green hillside towards the south side of the settlement. The land fell away beneath my feet to a stone plaza with a pair of benches and the settlement Stone.

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There were a few trees about the clearing, but the real forest lay just beyond the houses. It gave me hope that one would contain the view I craved. I quickly made the circuit of the empty cottages, looking out the windows and checking the contents. Only one gave me a feeling close to what I wanted.

I was about to give up when I spotted something through the trees and realized there was a second level to this settlement! I hurried down the hill and deep into the forest. It was perfect! The trunks were large and substantial. The views from the windows were comforting, giving the feeling of being embraced by the forest.

I zipped in and out of the cottages. There was one at the top of this lower level of cottages that looked perfect from the outside. I entered and walked to the window that I would be looking out of every night. It was exactly what I wanted!

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I checked the item needed to purchase the cottage and groaned. It was Reedshark hide leggings. I knew I didn’t have a pair and would need to go hunting. I took a chance and posted a message over the general chat network, and someone luckily had one, and was willing to trade. I was thrilled!

I traveled to the Marketplace and they refused to take anything for the hide, just handing it over with a smile. I thanked them and returned to my villa to finish the packing up. I found a writ, and gathered up the pyreals. When everyone was packed that I was going to take, I made one last look about.

I wandered the halls, remembering the laughter bouncing off them when company came over. I walked to the top and looked out at the view of Mudshark’s villa across the way. We had stood like this once, me in my window, he in his, and waved good night across the land.

I walked down the stairs, my heart feeling heavy again. I stepped out into the chill night air and walked to the fountain, turned and said a silent good bye to the past. My life was about to change again. I was hoping it would be for the better. I took a deep breath, raised my orb and recalled to the settlement. I ran to the cottage and stood before the ownership crystal.

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I carefully placed the leggings, writ and pyreals in the slots, and then closed the crystal. In a swish of magic, I was proclaimed owner of the cottage and the stone rose from its cradle and began to spin. I inspected the writ and turned to look down to the other cottages nearby.

There weren’t many owned at the moment, but I hoped that would change soon. I began the task, the joy, of decorating and making the empty cottage my home. Once everything was in place I walked through it, feeling safe and content once more. Yes, I much preferred a cottage to a villa.

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As I admired my handiwork, I was invited to the disco for a few drinks and dancing. I accepted and went to my chest for a dress. I tucked it into my backpack and walked out the front door. I stood for a moment, holding my deed. Yes, it was the beginning of a new time. I put the deed away and recalled to town to meet my friends.

The disco was a wild place, and I have to say that it was refreshing to be out.

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We danced and talked into the wee hours, and by the time I recalled home, I was feeling the exhaustion of the past few days catch up with me. I walked into the cottage and down the stairs, took off my dress and crawled into bed. I put off thinking about what tomorrow would bring, and let my body enjoy the warmth of the bed. I was smiling with a glad heart as sleep came to me.

Join us next time as another voice from the land of Dereth reaches our pages!

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