Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades

The Meantime of the Darklight: Part 2, Episode 2

While on the campaign trail with the Chalman army on their quest to vanquish the Orcs across the mountains to the west in the land called Sphidia, reluctant conscripted soldier John meets a camp follower, a prostitute who solicits the soldiers in their camps, named Tamara. He declines her services, but she takes a liking to him and frequently comes to visit him anyway, finding him honorable and pleasant company, even as he is visibly uncomfortable with her visits at first. In time a strange sort of friendship develops between them. Since his conscription John has suffered from nightmares about fighting wars he has only read about from times before his birth, as well as battles in fantastical dream-scenarios. Tamara claims that dreams are fragments of memories from our past lives, a notion that John finds quaint and amusing.

When John begins to see combat, Tamara tends to his wounds after battles, and listens understandingly to his doubts about the justness of their war and the brutality of the orcs — doubts he is initially quite hesitant to express, but is relieved to finally speak once she assures him of her confidentiality. He is wracked with guilt for every orc he has to kill, and moreso for the growing temptation to hate those he has to fight, and she helps him to reconcile those conflicting feelings. Everyone else assumes he's just sleeping with her, but their relationship is something completely other than that, not sexual or romantic at all, but a kind of respect or admiration from her to him for his noble heart and stalwart character, and gratitude from him to her for being someone he can be honest with in the midst of the chaos of this war.

Tamara routinely disappears with the other camp followers whenever the army breaks camp, as usual. But after a major battle that wipes out all the rest of John's unit, she appears out of nowhere on the battlefield, and employs powerful magic to save his life; yet somehow without harming any of the orcish enemy. Rather than her usual modest-though-alluring garb, she appears wearing robes befitting the ivory-tower wizards who command the Chalman army; but rather than the Chalman insignia, she bears the symbol of a seven pointed star composed of overlapping curved chevrons somewhat resembling a flower. After subduing the orcish attackers, she then guides John, dumbfounded and stunned, off the battlefield and into the nearest wilderness, where the rest of the Chalman army will not soon find them.