[Krystoff] The Cage (14)

The lance dissolves back into blood and we both collapse hard to the ground. Rotys’lav’s blood… Krystoff’s blood… mine. It all intermingles into a muddy color and saturates our clothes at an alarming rate.

Despite the fact that he stabbed us both all the way through, I suspect my body has administered a dizzying amount of adrenaline because it doesn’t hurt too much. Yet. Not that this helps me much. Not with the way I’m gushing. I watch it happen with a detached, morbid curiosity.

Wow, he must have hit something vital because I’m absolutely pouring. And I’ve definitely shifted into third person mode where I’m too stunned to process that something has happened to me personally. I’m just watching a strange doll bleed out.

So is this what dying is like? I thought about it so many times, I thought it’d be a little more climactic than this, but I guess that’s romanticization for you. Nothing can ever live up to the idyllic castles you build up in your head.

I find it in me, however, to worry about Krystoff’s injury despite the fact that he’ll probably survive. I reach out for him blindly, grabbing whatever parts of him my trembling fingers can find purchase on. He stumbles to push himself off of me, straddling my body protectively like there’s anything left to block me from. He bleeds freely onto me, hovering above me, fear carving lines deeply into his face.

KRYSTOFF: Jun—Jun!! No, no, no… Can you hear me?

His voice is definitely more muffled and distant than it should be, considering he’s right in front of me, but I can hear him so I orchestrate my body into nodding numbly.

KRYSTOFF: Fuck… I’m so sorry, Jun. I’m so… sorry. I was arrogant.

He coughs between apologies, blood dribbling down his chin gracelessly. The sight makes me want to look away. I know he wouldn’t want to be seen like this. But I can’t bring myself to break eye contact with him. Maybe my suffering will heal him faster. I have to stay awake as long as I can so that he’ll heal. I have to.

JUN: Are you okay?

KRYSTOFF: How could you… ask me that? What about you?

JUN: It’s okay. I’m okay.

KRYSTOFF: Stop it… don’t say that. No, you’re not.

I pull him down with whatever small traces of strength I have left and ghost my mouth against his. If it’s a reassurance, or just so that he’ll hear me better, who’s to say.

JUN: …Sorry, Krystoff. What’ll happen to you after this? Is… is your dad… Kaguyos… going to kill you?

KRYSTOFF: I don’t care about any of that…

JUN: I do. Tell me.

KRYSTOFF: …He has waged war within his own continent for so long and killed so many of his own, he is no longer a rational being. He has stripped away benevolence for power. He likely seeks to become Duen’s sole ruler.

KRYSTOFF: He will kill me if Rotys’lav hasn’t already, and then he will kill Rotys’lav, and he will annex our powers to his. And then, who knows what he will be capable of.

JUN: Take my soul, then. Take it. Rotys’lav said it’d be useful to you. If I can help you at all…

JUN: You can tell me you hate me. Make my final moments agonizing. Make the energy stronger.

KRYSTOFF: No… I don’t want to. Please don’t make me…

His voice cracks, and he squeezes his eyes shut like he can’t bear the thought. Wow, he’s really broken up about this. If I ever had any doubt about whether or not Krystoff genuinely cared about me, I guess this debunks that concern.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to die either, especially not now, but it was always something I was ready for.

I regret not replying to my text messages first, though. I didn’t even get to tell everyone how much their birthday wishes meant to me.

Oh, man. I’m gonna die on my birthday. That’s kinda funny. There were still so many things I wanted to do.

Krystoff’s miserable face is the last thing I see before the world fades to black.

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