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The Light Casts a Shadow

              O Holy Light of Creation. I am deeply sorry for the transgressions I have committed. I have come to despise my sins because I fear for the loss of Your ascension and the pains of damnation; above all, because of my offense to You, who do not judge but accept all in Your mercy and love. I pray with all the strength of my soul, and with the help of Your grace, to confess my transgressions and amend my life before I destroy myself and those whom I--and You--care for.

Have I violated the Virtue of Respect?

              Since the last confession I have made, I must admit, O Holy Light, that I have done so tenfold. The Shadow that wells in my heart feeds upon the jealousy that grows within it, and as such, I have violated the Virtue of Respect for a long time. There were many who were subjected to my jealousy within me, with Respect feigned on the outside: Elsamina, Kogan and Kitson, Matthew, Roux, Paulton, Garth, Elizka, Cage, David, and many more. In my heart, I have wished happiness, but the Shadow that dwelled wished much harm. I know the goal of Respect is to provide happiness on equal terms, but I fear much of it is a lie. I have examined myself on the virtue of Respect, and I will confess that I have failed.

Have I violated the Virtue of Tenacity?

              My faith has always been rocked, but moreso than ever, O Holy Light, has it been shaken. I have found myself falling to the Shadow much more than You, O Light, in my times of weakness when I could have asked for You for strength. I would teach of You to others, but seldom have I held onto this faith in my soul. You have been gracious to channel through me to heal and guide, but when it truly matters, I will confess that I have succumbed completely into the Shadow. The darkness is overcoming me, O Light, and I have not been putting up a fight.

Have I violated the Virtue of Compassion?

              Of the Virtues, O Light, I have fallen the shortest of this one above all. My jealousy has begotten hatred, born of my loneliness from the walls I have built to protect myself. Even those whom I love dearly have been subjected to this hatred, regardless if they were the target or simply affected by proxy. The most affected are those whom I ought to be the most grateful and appreciative, yet the Shadow welling within me urges me to indulge in petty disdain and contempt. I will say that I have been keeping myself from enacting on my anger, O Holy Light, but I know… and You know that if I keep this within the walls of my soul, I will burst and bring forth a retribution that is very much undeserved by the truly righteous.

              I pray to You, O Holy Light, that You forgive me for all the transgressions I have committed within my heart. My act of contrition has been fulfilled, and now I am ready to make my confession.

              I will admit, however, that categorizing my transgression according to their severity will be difficult; they disorganized, yet connected. If you bear with me, I may be able to confess better according to the targets of my sins.

              Ten names. I think I can pull this off.

              I am ready.
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              I have come to you often, O Holy Light, to confess of my insecurities, ill thoughts, and transgressions regarding my wife. I have realized that I have failed the Virtue of Tenacity in that I seem to be succumbing to the same sins over and over again. I will admit, however, that the reasons behind my transgressions have surely changed.

              Some months ago, family from Elsamina’s side have returned to her life…. But not those of the Crews. No. They are her sons and brother-in-law from a previous marriage—to that of Derrick Hunter. For the first time in seemingly forever, she smiled. The years prior to her reunion with the Hunters were met with distance between us both; she hardly spoke with me, and I with her. I had discreetly employed the Shadow to reach into her thoughts, and they were more or less unchanged. There is love, but only the obligatory kind as a dutiful wife to an arranged husband. She hardly knows who I am, what I think, what I feel. And she wouldn't; we do not talk. I express my shortcoming, O Light, that I must resort to the Shadow in order to gain any kind of connection with my wife rather than simply approach her and talk to her like a human being.

              I have followed my penance from the previous confession and have stopped using the Shadow on Elsamina. Since then, we have tried having another child ten years after little Benjamin died. By far, this little one is thriving… I could feel little kicks within my beloved’s belly. But the Shadow continues to flow within me, O Light, and I fear I may be the cause of our unborn’s demise. I have come to the realization that I may be responsible for the deaths of our children, for I have used the Shadow to connect with my wife during our earlier years of marriage. By not using the Shadow on Elsamina now, the little one still lives. Though I have been returning home from the Cathedral and Duskwood more often than I used to, I have kept my distance from Elsamina to resist temptation in succumbing to the Shadow around her presence.

              I am losing my fight against the Shadow, O Light. I see her reconnecting with her sons and other friends and family in my absence, and jealousy would rise from within me. If I stay my distance, she and the child will be safe… but they will be disconnected and come closer to the Hunters. And with this distance, my jealousy grows, and the Shadow would prompt a greater need in maintaining this distance. I am lost in a cycle of self-destructing misery, O Light, and any attempt to quell the selfishness the Shadow feeds on would force me to confront the very weakness I cannot overcome. The Hunters will take away my child, O Light. If not the Shadow, then the Hunters. The one thing in my whole life that validates my existence as a human being will be denied from me even if it lives and thrives. He or she will be drawn to people who are capable of giving a warm and loving environment as opposed to a father who can’t even speak to his wife. A wife whom he loves so dearly that he will face Fel’s Fire so that she may be happy and live.

              I beg for release, O Light. The Shadow’s weight has grown too heavy upon my heart to leave me with will alone. Whatever penance you grant me, I will follow it, even if it means complete separation from my beloved and our child. At this point, I am willing to allow her full departure if it meant closure to my paranoia and jealousy and reprieve from my insecurity. But I don’t want full departure. Forgive me for my selfishness, O Light, but I don’t want to let go. I have endured the long desperate, lonely years in your Church without someone to love and give me the warmth I crave. Elsamina is all I have left. No amount of coin or security will give me any remaining strength to keep going on. I am already losing my grip on You, O Light. I don’t want this numbness to develop so that I may stay alive, for I know full well that the Shadow would surely take over me.

              The Shadow is spreading and I wish for You to help me stop it. It is spreading not only to Elsamina, but also her sons. Give me a moment to say why… and I beg for Your patience.
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              Light, I cannot think of any other people who are as undeserving of my anger and contempt as my stepsons Kitson and Kogan.

              I have confessed to you previously of my enforcing of their separation from their mother so that our marriage will come to be. I was sorrowful of the fate my dear maidservant Charlene has fallen to in attempt to keep track of the children. Your righteousness and grace has come through, O Light, in that the sons have rightfully returned to their mother, even though it is twenty-three years too late. I must admit, Your grace, that though my wrongs have been righted, the Shadow has not lifted from my heart. In fact, I fear it has darkened.

              Elsamina has been spending more time with her sons, as she ought to do. I have been invited on occasion, but even when I am present, I am not. I feel afraid, O Light, of becoming close to them. I look at them and think of the frightened toddlers who were affected by the horrors of war and the loss of their father. I can only imagine the loneliness and isolation they have endured without a loving family to care for them. Light, O Light, they remind me too much of myself when I was young. The younger twin Kogan especially. The boy can barely function on a social level, and casually talking is an uphill battle. He is a shy boy, often hiding behind his helmet to refrain from looking vulnerable to the world. Such is a fear I share, O Light, but I have the benefit of a frozen fact that can neither smile nor frown naturally. Perhaps not a benefit after all. Now, he is married, and my heart bears much sorrow that I couldn’t attend his wedding, as it occurred while I was held captive by the Defias.

              Is this your way of punishing me, Light? There is much pain to bear. He is happy now, with his mother returned to him and now with a wife of his own. Surely, even if dear Scarlet is worgen, there a chance they’ll have children too, making Elsamina a grandmother. While I have no surviving children. Little Benjamin could have been ten years old by now, and he could have had elder brothers or sisters. The story has turned out differently for this boy, and I cannot help but feel my jealousy direct itself towards him when I ought to be happy instead.

              Then there is Kitson, the older son. Though he is blind, he is happy. He is closer to who I was in my youth in that he was raised in the Church rather than with a family. In fact, I mentored him and taught him how to navigate his surroundings. I taught him Your Virtues, O Light. I taught him even how to channel You to heal and to defend. I even came to You for penance when I introduced him to some of the Shadow in hopes to teach him how to avoid it, only for him to use it innocently by casting fear spells on kobolds. Surely, he has learned to defend himself, but You, O Light, could have helped him in the Shadow’s place. Though I have done my penance in discouraging him from partaking the Shadow, I fear I may be too late. Kitson has taken my place as a priest in Duskwood, apparently doing so ever since I was captured. That place feeds negativity, O Light, and I fear he may be subjecting himself to temptations that would encourage the Shadow to creep into him. The boy is not ready for heavy priest work like I do. Light, please, I pray the boy does not fall to any harm, for he does not deserve it.

              I wonder, O Light, if I am feeding to his Shadow as well. The boy approached me, one day before my kidnapping, when Elsamina was planning an outing with the family. He encouraged I come along, and off-hand, he asked if he could stop calling me “Stepfather” and just call me “Father”. I know the context he asked for, Light, and it is different from the title I bear as a man of the cloth. He acknowledged me as his replacement father, in place of Derrick Hunter. I firmly told him to not call me “Father” unless addressing me with my first name, as one would to a clergy, and to otherwise call me “Stepfather”. The boy stopped speaking with me during the whole trip, and he has lessened his contact with me since.

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(...I totally thought my screen was dirty for like an hour. I cleaned it, and then started to think my screen was dying. Then I scrolled. :| NNNGH.)
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△Move along.△


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(( Man I missed you Immy O: ))
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Special thanks to @MstrCorvus for the suggested arc words!
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((End of Part I. Part II will be written all at once before publishing in the forums and posted one part at a time. ETA is roughly the end of this week.))
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Part 1 of 2


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Part 1 of 2


              I sought more counsel with Mother Maeia, Light. She was able to inform me of the Shadow’s nature since the nightmare occurred. By recognizing the catalyst to my anger, I know now that I must address it. She urged me to face the people whom I was resenting. The one who is truly my target of resentment..... has been long dead. But there are others who love him even to this day, and they are the brunt of my anger. Matthew. David. Elsamina. Even Kogan and Kitson. My family. They are the ones who are targeted the most and that I must be upfront with the fury I brewed within me. I hate them... but not so much that I wanted them dead or lost in the Shadow. Light, this is not Your way, and I know this, surely. If there is hate, there is love... somewhere. If I could push away this hatred and focus on the love, then perhaps, I can fully overcome the Shadow. I must be tenacious, Light. I must start with those responsible for my kidnapping.

              I did what I could for Cage, and from what I’ve learned from passing through Stormwind before heading to Westfall, it seems the efforts Elsamina and Lord Marrowmore made to have the boy spared of his associations with the Defias ultimately came through. He is convicted of the other crimes, but not of being Defias. This was long ago, but when I dropped by Stormwind for any news, Cage has run away. Guards came after him for the first week, but after time passed, no leads to his whereabouts were found. As far as everyone knows, Cage fell off the face of Azeroth. I am certain David and Elizka, if they ever heard the news from me, would probably blame me for his death that happened away from their knowledge.

              I wandered into Moonbrook recently, on my own. This is a foolish decision; I know this for a fact, O Light. But I really wanted to see what can be done for David and Elizka. I wandered near Stendel’s pond, contemplating on how I would approach Moonbrook safely. I thought of the man Garrett, who confessed and prayed with me when I was helping Moonbrook before... before he was taken hostage by the Defias. I prayed he is still safe, O Light, and that the Defias were kind to him like Elizka, Cage, and Garth were kind to me. But nevertheless, my timing wasn’t exactly the best. I thought I was far enough from the taken town when I saw David and Elizka coming straight for the Pond. Light, I had no place to hide except for a bush by the tree I sat under—otherwise, everywhere was open space. At first, I thought it was because they heard me or saw me from a distance..... no. They were just walking. Talking. Talking about how Elizka was just about overworking herself, as though in need to impress David and the Defias. Once more, the girl remained steely, and she was insistent that she needed to keep busy. I wanted to stay and listen... my heart bled for the young girl, ignorant of the fate of her lover while she remains misled by the dark shepherd. However, she was armed with a fully loaded crossbow. Light, you know that I was never much of a fighter, regardless of my faith in You or the Shadow. While the two were talking, I tried to sneak away, as they seemed too preoccupied to notice my movement and the rolling of rocks from my feet.

              ...It didn’t work. My Shadow grew, and it was starting to creep towards David and Elizka. I tried to stop it. My despair over Cage and Elizka, and my detestation towards David, were getting out of control, and the Shadow was feeding into the fact that I wanted to stay. I wanted to look deeper into Elizka. I wanted to torment David and let feel my scorn. Light, I tried praying to You, but for that brief moment, my faith was lost. Light, forgive me, my faith was lost. Once more, the Shadow overwhelmed those who were close to me, and this time, it took David and Elizka.

              Whereas Roux’s nightmare was at her cottage, this nightmare took place in Stormwind—particularly in the Dwarven District, as I could recognize that tanning and metalworking smell anywhere. There was a family in one of them... a family I’m not familiar with. Elizka’s, I would learn, as they would say her name. The Shadow granted me their eyes as the apparitions formed and lured her to her false home. A mother... a father... a sister. Ester. A couple eggs and two loaves of bread... this was considered a feast. I could feel Elizka’s anxiousness as her Shadow manifests with mine... she seemed to be fully aware that everything here is false this time. Yet even then, she would not leave. No answers from David’s call to her name, no attempt to change anything of this set-up. She was aware... but she wouldn’t leave. Light, I do not know what is more upsetting—being lost and not knowing it, or being lost and fully accepting it.

              I tried to change this nightmare, but I could not feel You, O Light. Once more, Your magic could not flow through me, and I was not able to quell the nightmare like I could last time. I made the wrong decision in thinking I can try to control my Shadow once more... and I made things worse. The Stormwind Guard was coming, and I nothing within my power could stop them. Not Light, not Shadow. Elizka, I would feel, was not only reliving her nightmare, but reliving her fears of Stormwind coming after her. Not only hers, but David’s as well. He spoke to me... words that cut into my soul so deep in the way the Shadow Itself could not:

“Why aren’t you fixing it, Gunther?”

              I did what I could to stop the nightmare by redirecting the shades to another direction, but it was no use—the Guard kept marching forward, as expected in Elizka’s nightmare. David noted me as callous and uncaring... not differently when we first spoke before he would have the Defias kidnap me. My fury swelled at that very moment, with my animosity spiking towards David... though I am unsure if my action was due to You reaching through me, O Light, or I was being sardonic. Well. I just about crushed Elizka’s home in half, with the back door burst open as though a bomb was released at the porch. It gave her an opportunity to escape, Light, but I am certain that David (or You) were impressed with my actions. Regardless. The dream moved on. Elizka was able to escape, and though the shades ignored David at first, one word of blasphemy towards the King, and they would target him instead.

              The Darkness was shifting focus... I am assuming this is because of how I felt towards David’s treason to the Kingdom whom the Hunters served and fought for. The man continued to shout to the apparitions, and then, the shades would change to that of David’s fears and regrets. His family. The wife who couldn’t bear his child then ran to the arms of another man. The brothers he couldn’t stay with. Cage, whom he couldn’t save. As with the realization of loss in Roux, the realization of betrayal and disappointment became true for David, which the Shadow was force-feeding me with. The man couldn’t run. I tried suggesting positive words like Paulton did, but it was no use—there was regret and anger, and the shades were growing stronger. There was no point in having David confront his past. I had to think fast, O Light. That touch of wisdom... I needed it. And once more, You gave it. I couldn’t give David his past... I must give him his present instead.

              Cage. I told him of Cage’s fate, though I will admit that I omitted some truth. I told David that Cage is out of prison and back out there in the world, though I refrain from telling him that he escaped and that the Guards are hunting down for him. This alone released David from his shades, and he was able to escape. The shades, then, decided to refocus on Elizka, and as they moved, David was able to follow. But as soon as he left, the shade of his ex-
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