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“Forgive me, Sarnai.”

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Unkindled Ash
What was normally not a long walk would feel like an eternity as the Unkindled made his way to the destination. A field. An open field. One that a certain Yuki would know of full well. One that he had used often for training. It was the only secluded place he knew of. A place untouched, unscathed, where only nature endured. It was silent the entire trip, despite the soft sniffles that emitted from him, his vision distorted by tears. Were it not for the moonlight that shined brightly around the area, it would of been impossible to see at all. Wearing the same attire and armor he had left Red Sun in – his black leather armor, black cape stretched from his shoulders, blowing with the soft wind that rustled the leaves of the trees. The field was open, the grass was just above the ankles, surrounded by vegetation and trees. Secluded. Just as he needed. Gloved fingers held a tight grip around the hilt of his longsword, never for a second did it ease, to the point where his hand cramped, yet he could not ease the grip. His body was shaking, he still had felt nauseous. His heart was pounding within his chest. He walked to the center of the field, took in a deep breath, then turned, facing the woman he was bound to kill. The woman who held the face he would never forget. He felt as if somebody had struck him in the throat with a punch the moment he laid his eyes on her. Tears did not escape, but they were very apparent, glistening slightly against the moonlight. “Sar…” he swallowed, almost choking. “Forgive me for this. I… I have no choice.” He whispered, biting his lip, suppressing a sob, all noises. His grip tightened even more on his sword, his other hand, resting at his side, clenched into a tight fist. Gods, he did not want to do this. It still felt like a nightmare. (c
please, by the gods, just let him wake up. Let his sword strike her, and have him just wake up on his bedroll and find it all just a terrible dream. But no, he knew better. The reality he lived in was forever harsh. Forever hurtful. He would not break his vows. No matter how much he cared. No matter how strong his heart was for somebody. He would not lose who he was – a Blade. Forever and true.
Sarnai followed diligently after Ash, The Unkindled. Her eyes were cast down, but she could still see him, walking away from her, leading her to her Final Path. She couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like, if it would be quick, or would it be slow? Those thoughts caused more silent tears to fall. He was her khair, she adored him, and was one of the few that believed he was a man, not undead, not just a weapon, or set to follow what his heart couldn’t desire. Sarnai blinked as tears fell, burning her cheeks, her glowing eyes of apatite trying so hard not to look at him. When they came to the place, where he had chosen, she was glad. It was nice, and the ground sang to her through her soft soled shoes. She wondered what would happen to her horse, her bow and arrows, but those were minor things. The horse would endure, but would certainly feel the loss of its owner. She was connected to the horse just as she was to the earth blow her feet. Just as she was to Ash. As Ash asked for her forgiveness, she smiled, looking up at him. Her smile didn’t falter, her eyes and smile held every memory they had together. Smirking, she withdrew her seax and short sword, and planted them in the ground in front of her, “Do not apologize for what you must do… I know what I have done, and.. I am the one to apologize,” she said, standing up straight, her shoulders relaxed. It seemed she was prepared, but her stomach twisted. She didn’t want to die, she wanted to live. ‘…But this is my path… and it is short,’ she thought. Sarnai fell silent, her eyes boring into his, remembering his eyes, the way his beard fell against his face, and the way those loose strands would fall. She parted her lips, still smiling, “…Smile for me Ash… One last time,” she said. (c)
“So that I can remember, on my Final Path… What the happiest man looks like…” Sarnai had momentarily stopped crying those silent tears, only for her chin to quiver, and her eyes water again, “Please,” she begged. Sarnai’s arms rested at her sides, her coat hanging around her waist, her stomach bare. She didn’t know how he was going to kill her, if she should be on her knees or not. But it seemed, she would die standing, looking up at the man she grew to love. “…Smile.. once more,” she whispered. Sarnai knew his face she would see constantly on her path. She would always see his smirk, the way he pinched the bridge of his nose… She could never forget.
The Spirit that had left Zaire stood at the edge of the clearing. Memories from the host flooding her. But, she remained silent. Blond hair cascaded around her shoulders and down her back. And in the dark, blue eyes glimmered. Even the markings on her face were different. White that bled into a pale pink in the centers. She shifted, the deep red skirt ruffling as she moved. She didn’t want to see this. She didn’t want to be here for this. But a promise was a promise. And so, she would move a little closer, her eyes never leaving Ash’s face. She almost wanted him to accept her request. To smile. She knew it would be an empty one, she could feel how hurt he was. But, for now, she would remain silent and let a few tears slip from her own eyes. Oh, she thought. How I wish it didn’t have to end this way. The Spirit was saddened. She hated how this was playing out. But she knew she could do nothing for Sarnai now. Would she have to watch as he….well. She hoped not.
Unkindled Ash
The Unkindled’s eyes gazed at the red haired woman in front of him. Just looking at her caused a wave of mixed emotions to rush through him. The good memories, which made him want to smile. Yet it would also hurt. He would never form another memory with her again. She would fade to nothing but memories. He will never again see that smile. He will never again hear that soft accented voice. Because of him, she would fade to a mere memory, one he would hopelessly cling to. Those tears, that smile, forced or not, would be ingrained into his memory for all eternity. It would never leave him. The request to smile; one that would be so simple, even in dark times, would be able to do. But this was one of the darkest. He wanted to smile, he wanted to grant her final request. Gods, she deserved it. She deserved so much more. She deserved everything she wanted. Instead, he was going to take everything from her, down to her life. He lowered his head, strands of hair falling in his face that fell from the bun that tied it back, his head shaking slowly, his teeth clenched. “… I…” He inhaled sharply, his voice shaking, as he then raised his head to meet the glowing orbs in front of him once more. Those eyes. He would miss it all. The way she smiled, the way she laughed, how she teased him, how brave she was. Even at the moment, she had accepted her fate. She always did, no matter how much she did not want it. She was honorable in so many ways. Yet a vow was a vow. He would not break it. He felt as if the weight of many worlds rested right at the corners of his lips. He could not smile. He tried, but they merely straightened, biting his lip once more. “I can’t…” he whispered shakily. His throat tightened again in another hard swallow. He took a step closer to the desert (c)
flower that was Sarnai. Her scent. Desert flower. Another thing that would fade. He took in a deep breath, let it out slowly. It finally happened; a tear shed, fell down his cheek, down to his jaw, and fell to the grass between them. He reached a hand out, resting it on her shoulder, stepping over the weapons she had set on the ground to move closer to her. “I loved you, Sarnai.” He almost whimpered out, but managed to say it clearly. “I always had. I cannot smile. I… I can’t…” He leaned forward, his forehead resting against hers as he closed his eyes tightly. Another tear shed, out of his other eye, which proceeded to do the same and fall to the ground. “Forgive me, love. Forgive me.” He murmured. He begged. It had to be done. He could not prolong it any longer. His hand remained on her shoulder, while his other reached down, gripping the hilt of his sword, suddenly pulling it out of the sheath. He did not move his forehead from hers, he did not let go of her shoulder. He wanted to touch her. One last time.
Sarnai’s smile didn’t fade as he let that tear shed, and stepped over her weapons on the ground. Such a great man, so worthy of someone better than herself. She closed her eyes, her head resting against his, feeling his heat once more. But, she could still feel his body shake. He didn’t want to do this, and she couldn’t blame him. Sarnai tilted her chin, her lips gently brushing across his lips, “Don’t apologize, my love… I am at fault, you are not… Your only fault was loving me…” Her shoulder shook with the tears that fell, her head rested against his forehead. She couldn’t open her eyes. She was afraid. Never before had she known the feeling, stripped of it when she was young, trained with her kin. Of all things, that could be felt, fear was the one that broke a man, and brought him to his knees. Sarnai never felt it. She never knew what it was. She only knew it by the look in another mans eyes as she preformed her horrible deeds to them. Sarnai’s breath was quick, shaking, and her heart was beating rapidly in her chest, “…I know you can’t … but don’t cry,” she said, her hands going up to cradle his face, her thumbs brushing over his cheeks and below his eyes, brushing away those burning tears, “My path was short…. But I met the most honorable, and amazing man on it…” Sarnai set her red lips to his pale ones, holding them there for a moment. She never wanted to forget that taste of him of burning ash and smoke. Sarnai was ready. Her knees were shaking, but she was ready.
And he didn’t accept the request. It made her heart twinge with pain. What could she do? How would she comfort him after this? She looked, then, to Sarnai. What did the woman expect her to do? Everything she was seeing in front of her made her heart pound. And there it was. The words. She bit back her own sob. He loved her. Just as….she held back the urge to sob. Ash. Her heart broke within her. Her eyes falling to the ground. She felt like an intruder. Like she didn’t belong there. And as she watched that tear fall from his eye and into the grass, she let herself cry silently as well. She wasn’t just watching him fulfill a vow. She was watching something that she hadn’t known until now die as well. She shook slightly, her eyes spililng tears down into the grass. And as the salty tears trailed across the cuts on her face, she winced. It stung. And she knew now that she would not sleep again. Not for a while. She wondered if he’d ever smile again. <Sarnai,> she thought. <How am I supposed to keep my own vow? What if he doesn’t want me around? What if he…blames me?> She took a shaky breath, unable to tear her eyes away from the scene before her. And that kiss. She closed her eyes and let the tears continue falling.
Unkindled Ash
The more it went on, the more Ash felt as if he was not able to breathe. A constant grip around his chest that squeezed unrelentingly. He did not resist her lips; his eyes closed, moving against hers, his grip tightening both around the hilt of his sword and her shoulder. Tears perpetually flowed out, dripping to the ground. He could not fight them back any longer. Her path was short because of him. What kind of honorable, amazing man was he truly? He felt like a monster. It did not feel like a punishment. It felt like a crime of its own. Yet his vows were clear, his oath was firm. There were no exceptions. Not even to love. His lips did not part from hers, despite how it felt as if he was suffocating. In a way, he was. The frosty mist of his longsword continuously dropped from the blade and to the ground, melting before it touched the grass. No more. He could not prolong it any longer. He pulled his sword back, raising it, tilting it directly towards her heart. It would be quick. There would be pain. But it would be quick. Gods, let it be quick. Yet he knew better, the blade was made to frostbite flesh. It would hurt. But it would be quick. The tip of his sword pressed against the chest, to which he then pulled back, just enough for him to speak, his rough, dry lips brushing against hers, his eyes remained closed. “May the Darkmoon forgive thee, my love.” He whispered forcefully. His hand jerked forward, the sword plunging directly through her armor, her attire, her flesh, and her heart. He managed to plunge it through halfway, a portion of the blade sticking out of her back, until his body suddenly locked up. His eyes flashed open, tears flowing. It felt as if he himself was just stabbed, a blade of reality that had struck him. His eyes remained open, hurt, (c)
disbelief, distress, all apparent within the dual colored eyes as he looked directly at the red haired woman that he had loved. He could not breathe, he tried to inhale, nothing. He choked, his teeth tightly clenched, suppressing a choke. His eyes remained locked on her. Shock. Horror. Expressions he had never been seen showing. It was there. He could not believe what he had just done. He felt nauseous, his already pale skin paled even more. He wanted to pull the blade out, take it all back, but it was too late. The blade was in, the deed would be done. Please, gods, let it be quick. Do not let her suffer.
The bite of the blade touched her skin, but her flinch was no worse than her shaking shoulders under his grip, tears of sorrow flowing down. Yet that smile held on her lips, against his as he whispered. He didn’t need forgiveness, not to her. She wished she could take back everything she had done, change her path, change what she had done in the past and correct herself. But where would that leave her? A simple common woman, unable to hold herself the way she did. Sarnai’s eyes flashed open, the brilliant hue of blue apatite lighting up her porcelain skin. Her breath was lodged in her lungs as that frosty sword pieced her leather bodice, and through her skin. It broke through her chest bone with a ‘crack’ and into her heart. Her expression had changed in that fleeting moment, from the smile that was there, to pure shock. She didn’t know the bone breaking, and her heart being pieced, would feel so painful. No cry came from her, the frost of the sword stopping her lungs from allowing that air to go through. Sarnai’s hands, that gently held either side of his face, fell down to rest over his arm that held the sword, limp, and yet still gentle. Her head had tipped down, looking at his hand holding the sword. He had done it. She knew some things, were too good for her, Ash included. Slowly, her eyes looked up at him, to see that pained face, his eyes full of every horrible emotion they could hold, Fates, why did she have to love this man? As quickly as that sword was struck into her, and she looked up to him, the glow fading quickly from her eyes. From the bright hue of blue, they faded to a crystal color of pale grey and silver. (c)
Her life was fading rapidly from her body, and her head fell down, against his chest, long red hair, a few silver and brass beads strung into loose braids, hung down, covering the heart shaped face of pain. A final breath came out, and she used it, “..I love you…” It came out in a whisper, a dying breath. Sarnai began to fall limp, her eyes open, life gone from them. Her heart stopped beating in her chest, his sword striking true to it, the skin frosting around the edge of the blade, the skin going grey quickly.
Zaire wanted to go to him. But she couldn’t move. Not yet. She would wait for him to step away. She sobbed once more. Letting her tears fall. She would step close to him if he did step away. And so long as he didn’t stop her, she would embrace him. Letting him see her own vulnerability. His words, the last ones he had spoken, made it feel as if he had plunged that sword into /her/ heart. But she would be there for him. She promised. And she did care for him. She cared for him more than she was aware. This Spirit knew the truth. She could easily bring him to Zaire. Or even Zaire to him. But now. He needed one that wasn’t broken and hurting so much. Even if the Spirit, who had taken a liking to the name Freyja, would hold him tightly as long as she was allowed. “I’m so sorry,” she would whisper. “I know how hard that was for you.” She didn’t know why she apologized. She just…she felt as if she shoudl say something. Something to show that she cared about him. Cared that she acknowledged him and would still accept him. No matter what. That was her point. She wanted to hear him speak to her. She just….she needed to hear his voice. Even if it was laced with pain, she would do her best to erase the pain. Even if she knew she could not. She knew it was too late. He had done something hard. Just as Zaire had to do things that she hated. Things that made her sick. But she wouldn’t speak of them. Instead, she would focus on the Unkindled. On the one who needed her more than anything now. And there would be a slight shimmer. As the Spirit brought her host back to her. The Yuki then stood there. Black-haired, yellow-eyed. Still in the white leotard and deep red half-skirt that she had been wearing as the Spirit. She paused, wanting to push warmth back out and into him. (c)
But now was not the time for that. She would let him grieve if that is what he needed. She would be silent, be comforting. As best as she could, at least.
Unkindled Ash
The Unkindled remained frozen, it was only until her body went limp that he would finally move. He pulled the blade out, quickly, dropping it immediately as it left her body. He saw every moment of it. The color fading from her eyes, the look of shock that showed him how much it hurt. It would never leave his mind, it would forever be there. His arms quickly wrapped around the lifeless corpse that became Sarnai, one hand on the back of her head, the other on her lower back, as he then carefully moved down on to his knees. Tears remained falling, piling on top of the chest of Sarnai’s body. He set her down into the soft grass, his hand slipping from the back of her head and to her eyes, sliding his hand down over them for her eyes to close. His hand remained over them, the other reaching in to grip the pale, lifeless hand of the woman he had just taken the life of. Suddenly, he inhaled, deeply, sharply, and exhaled heavily. He hyperventilated, unable to control his breathing. His entire body was shaking. That was when the Spirit approached and embraced him, he did not pull away, nor acknowledge it. Did he even know she was there? His eyes remained widened, fixated on Sarnai. He could not breathe properly, it was as if somebody was repeatedly punching him in the chest. “G-gods… no… what have I done…?” He managed a sentence, broken, stuttered, almost incoherent. Ash was strong, capable, and had endured much. Never once did he have to kill somebody so close to him with his own sword. Allies given into corruption, yes. But never a friend. Never a lover. Never anybody so close. He leaned back against Zaire, not for comfort, but because he felt disoriented to the point of losing balance. He would of fallen over if not for Zaire. His voice was shaking, matching how (c)
his body shook. His hands were unsteady. He could not get the images out of his head. The look on her face. That smile wiped away to that of pain. Her last words. It would never leave him. An eternal scar. “Gods… gods forgive me… I… I…” he could not manage a proper sentence. He reached up, grabbing Zaire’s arm instinctively. He had to cling to something. Anything. His eyes could not leave the corpse. He stared at her. Sarnai. He was in disbelief. In shock. He could not think straight.
Zaire didn’t know what to say. She knew what she /wanted/ to say. But she felt as if it would be wrong. All she could do was sob herself. She hadn’t known Sarnai well. But seeing her….she closed her eyes and refused to look at the woman. She couldn’t. She was certain he would feel her own tears. And the way they stung her face made her only sob harder. As he clung to her arm, she didn’t move. She couldn’t. She wouldn’t leave him. She wanted to tell him, though, that hearing what she did. Hearing her say that she loved him….it ripped a hole in her heart. She had suspected, long ago, that there was something between them. Had she known about /this/, she would have stayed away. And that’s almost what she wanted to do now. To leave. To just go away. Where she couldn’t be the cause of any more pain. But she couldn’t. She was a Huon. And her family was known for their honesty and their loyalty. And so she held him, letting him do whatever it was that he needed to do. She wouldn’t leave him. As long as he would accept her company, she wouldn’t leave.
Unkindled Ash
The Unkindled’s hands clutched Zaire’s arm tightly. If it was any other situation, he would of felt pathetic – broken, distressed, incoherent. Lost. His breathing was rapid, short, inconsistent, everything within him felt wrong. He could not stand. He could not move. He could not breathe properly. He knew it had to be done. It did, right? He did not doubt. He was hurting. It would take a long moment. A long moment of him just staring in shock and disbelief. Who knows how much time passed? But eventually, his breathing began to steady. His grip loosened, the tears stopped. Not because he was no longer distressed, but there was simply no more tears to shed. His eyes shut tightly, squeezing out the last drops. His teeth clenched. He prayed that he would open his eyes and just find himself awakening on his bedroll. His eyes opened, he saw the paled corpse once more. He managed to swallow, but almost choked. He took in a deep breath, let it out slowly, shakily. He could not turn his gaze away. Dammit. Why could he not look away? Why did he feel so guilty when it was not his choice? He was under an oath to do so. He knew Zaire was there, holding him, comforting him. He knew what had to be done next. Normally, he would kill the target and be done with it – let their corpse fester to the ground. Sarnai deserved so much more. She deserved better. He coughed, reaching up and using his thumb to wipe his eyes. “Zaire… I…” he paused, inhaling deeply. “I… I need to bury her.” He used the grip on her arm to pull it away, his hand reaching out towards the cheek that was rapidly dropping in temperature. His palm cupped Sarnai’s cheek. Immediately, he wanted to cry again, but there were simply no more tears. “Please find peace. Please.” He whispered, leaned forward, resting his (c)
forehead against Sarnai’s for a brief moment, eyes shutting tightly. He then pulled a knee up, pressed his hand against it, and then forced himself to stand. His legs shook, he felt off balanced. Everything felt wrong. It was as if he was still in a nightmare. In a way, he was. Except it was real. It had happened. He reached over, grabbing at Zaire’s shoulder to keep his balance. His breathing was remaining slightly unsteady, but he managed relatively full breaths. “I need to… to do something… bury her… Zaire, I need to do /something/.” He turned his head, looking at the yellow eyes beside him. He was desperate, and it showed in his tone and eyes. His eyes were red and bloodshot, his hair a mess, he looked an absolute wreck. “I-I cannot just leave her like this. This is not right. She might of been that of sin but I cannot–” he stopped, his tone growing more desperate and frantic as he looked over at the corpse once more, each time feeling like a jab to his heart.
Zaire took a breath herself. She understood. She released her grip on him, allowing him to move if he must. But if he left the clearing, she was determined to follow him. She swore she wouldn’t leave him alone, and she meant to keep that promise. Her heart was breaking within her, knowing there was nothing she could do for him. Not even a smile would have fixed this. She looked away from the corpse. She couldn’t look at her. Couldn’t face what she had witnessed. And while the Yuki had seen it secondhand through the Spirit within her, it still felt as if she were there. And it felt as if the blade had been thrust into her own heart. She wanted nothing more than to shake her head and realize she was still in the inn, in her bed. When he looked at her, she realized it wasn’t just a nightmare. She placed a hand on his cheek. “Do what you need to, Ash,” she whispered. “I’m not going anywhere.” Those words held far more meaning in them than she let on. But she meant them. She meant that she would be there until he did what he needed to. And beyond that, she would still remain. She was still crying, not realizing how many she had to still shed. Perhaps it was all built up over the time she had been alive. All the hurt, all the pain, all the sadness was rushing over her.
Unkindled Ash
The Unkindled did not flinch as he felt her hand move to his cheek, he listened closely to her. A loyal companion. A loyal friend. It was what he needed. He truly felt alone. He always said he had more enemies than allies, and this was just enough one washed away. By his own blade. His own hands. No. He could not think of it. He reached up, placing his hand over hers, not moving it away. “I… I am truly sorry, Zaire. I know this is not easy on you either.” He inhaled sharply, then let it out slowly. His heart was still pounding in his chest, but he had to keep a level head for now. He had to. He needed to put Sarnai to rest, rightfully. He refused to have her corpse rot right where she had perished. His hand dropped from hers, he pulled away to then step to where his sword had dropped, the blood frozen on the blade, the grass around it looking as if winter came early. He reached down, grabbing the hilt of the longsword, bringing it up. His eyes gazed over the frozen blood, deep in thought. Another deep breath taken. He closed his eyes, he would flake the blood off later. He could not bear to do it right then. He tilted the blade, sheathed it, then walked over to Sarnai’s corpse. He stood over it. He looked defeated. He /felt/ defeated. As if the world had finally won and he had nothing left to give. But he knew better. He would have to stay true to his duties, his vows, his oath. No matter how much the world knocked him down. He had to get back up. Such was the life of an Unkindled. Such was his curse. An eternal fighter. That would never change, even at his worst. He finally, slowly, moved down to crouch beside her, reached in, carefully removing her scarf, folding it, and setting it aside. For reasons he kept to himself. The corner of his lip twitched, his jaw (c)
clenched tightly. He felt the distress wash through him once more as if he was just about to pierce Sarnai with another blade. He let out a shaky sigh, then lowered his head, eyes closing. “… Thank you, Zaire…” He whispered, but did not reveal what he was thanking her for. Perhaps just for being there, holding him for that long moment until he finally composed himself enough to think, even if it was barely. How much time passed? An hour? Two? He did not even know. He then stood, bloodshot, bicolored eyes staring down at the corpse. “I… I know a place. I know where to bury her. To let her rest.” He muttered, but enough for Zaire to hear. A place of peace. A place where he harbored good memories of her. A place she enjoyed. She deserved that. She deserved so much more. Anything than what he had just done to her. He reached up, pinching the bridge of his nose as he kept his gaze lowered, eyes shutting once more. “Darkmoon watch over us.” He murmured, then lowered his hand, eyes opening, a hard swallow taken as he looked at the corpse once again. He would then get to work. Take her to a well deserved rest.

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