Author: silvereyedbitch PM
So, instead of the crappy ending where Damien and Gerald return to the keep only to have Gerald die there, I am proposing that he actually really died during his sacrifice at Mount Shaitan. This is a funeral, and a VERY dark one. Warning: implied M/M, emotional angst, major character death.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy - Words: 2,701 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 12-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8844841
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, so phooey and dammitall!
Setting: So, instead of the crappy ending where Damien and Gerald return to the keep only to have Gerald die there, I am proposing that he actually really died during his sacrifice at Mount Shaitan in which he destroyed Calesta. So there is no reviving done by the Iezu mother. This story is more to be a kind of funeral service for the Hunter in which, amongst other people's speeches, Damien discloses hidden feelings for Tarrant. This ends up very dark, though, so reader beware! LOL!
Warnings: Emotional Angst, implied M/M, major character death.
A ragged bunch; not even enough to confirm that a great man has truly passed, thought Damien as he stood in the clearing. Ciani, Karril, and Narilka were the only other witnesses to this paltry funeral arrangement. They stood close, like a flock of not-geese. And yet, they were each separated from the others by vast differences in culture, age, gender, species, and thought. Nevertheless, they were all connected by one strong and enduring fact: Each of them had a different view and perspective of the Prince of Jehanna than any other of Erna's inhabitants. A few of them even loved him to some degree or another…whether they were aware of it or not. And as the sun shone down onto the grass and surrounding trees, each contemplated his or her own experiences that had lead them to be here.
A few weeks had passed since Calesta's defeat and the subsequent fall of the Hunter on the fiery slopes of Mount Shaitan. The moment played over and over in Damien's mind as though his thoughts were no longer his own to control. Of all of the mourners here this day, he alone held the death of true love within his heart, heavy and leaden. It weighed him down to the past, and he could no more move forward with his life it seemed than a snail could fly. Such an emptiness yawned before him. A chasm of nothingness into which he was falling headfirst…and he didn't care. Only the need to complete this last deed for his friend kept any focus in him at all. Karril had been kind enough after Tarrant's death to ask a boon of the Iezu mother, and so she had frozen the Hunter's body in stasis, so that his mortal remains would never suffer the indignity of decay. Damien had carried him back to his home then; the Forest.
Though no longer possessed of a master, the life forms embedded in this ecosystem paid immediate homage to their creator. Upon approaching the wooded edge with the body of Tarrant held within its beautifully designed casket, the trees had moved. They parted like water blown by a fierce wind at sea, creating a path for Damien to follow. It did not close behind him but remained open as he traversed its interior. The path led for a little over half a day's slow march up into a slight rise that opened upon a small glen. To one side of the rise, a small stream ran by, providing a musical tinkling of water passing over smooth stones. A somewhat small tree cast a soothing shadow over and down one side of the swell in the ground. A name flashed by Damien's mind. The tree's species held some significance. A willow was it? There was something else to the name he had forgotten; something implying sadness and grief. No matter; not quite believing that such a tranquil area existed in a region so saturated with dark fae, Damien knew that this was where Tarrant's final resting place would be. He left the casket by the willow, knowing it would remain undisturbed, and sent a letter with the one pigeon he had managed to purchase on his return trip. It carried death in its claws, though it knew it not. The church should be aware of what had happened…and what would happen.
He had already sent notification to Ciani concerning his plans for burying Tarrant. He knew she would want to be there, for both personal and professional reasons. Karril, of course, already knew. And Narilka had been informed through Saris, so she was the only surprise arrival. Damien had worked hard planning and preparing for this day, his last gift to a man who had saved them all, who had given everything in the end…whom Damien both loved and missed so fiercely it threatened to burn his body to cinders. What had hurt the most, at first, was that he had never told the adept anything of his feelings for him changing. He had thought he might die of the crushing guilt of it. Karril had noticed this prevalent thought when Damien set out from Shaitan and had informed him differently. "He knew, Damien. He knew. And though he would kill me hearing this repeated, I know from his thoughts that he felt the same. He just didn't want to harm you any further with his death by complicating your life with his confession. And so, he took the knowledge with him," Karril had said quietly before dissipating in order to give Damien time alone to absorb this new fact. It didn't make the situation any more bearable or less painful; it simply changed the manner in which the pain was applied.
And now here he was, surrounded by the few others who held some lingering connection to this man, waiting to bid their goodbyes. They had each been asked to say some small token at the funeral, so that no one person was relied upon for a full eulogy. And so, knowing him least, Narilka went first. She stepped up to the night-black coffin in a formal mourning robe of deep silver provided by Saris' temple. Her dark hair drifted a bit as it caught in the light breeze. "Perhaps I did not know him well, but Gerald Tarrant holds a large impact on my life. The night I met him, he chose not to take me for his Hunt, and though I will never know why, I am grateful all the same. But instead, he showed me things of such magnificence and wonder that reside within the darkest of hours, things one could never know existed without being forced to look upon them and see past their own misperceptions. This has helped me reach the conclusion that, perhaps, even in the darkest of men's souls, there is such beauty to be discovered as well," she finished with shining eyes full of tears that then began to roll down her face as she turned. She placed a hand to the cool wood of the casket, and then returned to her place with the others.
Ciani went next, stepping to the same spot previously occupied by the other woman. She straightened her dark green dress, took a breath, and began to speak. "I also did not know Mer Tarrant personally for any great length of time. However, I can certainly appreciate the many efforts he made in accommodating us along our mutual journeys. And several times, he was the only reason we were able to continue at all. Though on the surface he seemed cold and distant, I believe inside lurked the heart of a hero. And he most certainly possessed the soul of scholar as well; his contributions to mankind in that respect will live on through his many discoveries and writings for ages, as they already have. And last, I speak of his honor. Though many deemed him to be simply a demon in man form, I submit that through his altruistic sacrifice of life and self, that this man cannot be explained away in such a simplistic statement. Demonkind is artless and predictable in its evil nature. Conversely, mankind is multidimensional in nature, and one of the finest traits we carry is our capacity for change. And here, my friends, is one of the greatest models of this I have ever known." She finished to the silent onlooking of Karril and Narilka. Damien had had his head down through the entire proceeding so far.
Damien would be speaking last, and so Karril stepped forward to take his place by the coffin. He ran his hand gently along its side as he walked by to stand at one end. "I have known Gerald for a very long time, as most of you know. I am not human, but I am not completely un-human either. I have only recently discovered this part of my heritage. Prior to this, I assumed myself of demonic origin, and so I played the part. I was summoned time and again by Gerald, among others, and over time we reached an accommodation between us. An easy acceptance of one to the other. Looking back now, with my new perspective, I see the friendship beginning within us. Then, however, I saw a mutual partnership that was pleasurable the majority of the time, and which I did not wish to see end. I do not know if some of you are aware of this, but I was fully invested in the belief and knowledge that Iezu could not develop true friendship or love. Not that we might not desire it, or be curious, but we simply had no capacity for it. Whatever our aspect was defined as, all emotions sprung from that source. And yet…I would speak with him for long hours about topics that concerned nothing of my own aspect just to spend time with him. I assisted him in endeavors that pained me and served no purpose to my Iezu heritage. And then…then…I traveled to Hell after him. Risked destruction of my entire being in the doing. I defied laws dictated to all Iezu in confronting Calesta's illusions and false imagery, again risking death for this mortal whom I am not supposed to feel anything towards. Damien was the first to drive the point of friendship home to me. I was in denial of the entire possibility, but he was right. And he broke down my ridiculous logical walls and made me face the truth that I indeed could experience love and friendship. And now here I stand, next to my first and only friend, whom I love like a brother. And he is gone beyond all reaching. You all have remarked upon the change that was wrought in him. Well, I say the greater accomplishment here was the change he wrought in others." He turned to face the long box of polished wood and placed his hand upon it once more. "Fare thee well, my friend. Safe journey to distant shores." He let his hand fall back to his side then as he made his way back to the pitiful gathering, touching Damien's sleeve as he went.
And now, Damien's turn had come. He had seemed lost throughout the other's speeches, and his movements were sluggish still as he approached the front of the group and positioned himself at the head of Tarrant's gilded box. Then, much to the other's amazement, with the exception of Karril, he turned and placed a light kiss to the darkened and shining wood. The sun and Core shone warmly down on his shoulders as he turned back. His deep voice seemed muted as began to speak, but it carried well enough on the light wind that encircled them. "I have thought so long and hard about what I could possibly say to convey my thoughts here. And what I found is that words mean nothing to me anymore. Truly, nothing seems to hold any interest. I feel an emptiness forming inside me where my heart and soul should be, and I can do nothing to halt its progress. No, I don't even want to halt its progress. We have all lost something with Tarrant's passing. Narilka lost a connection to someone who opened her eyes to the beauty and potential in everything, no matter how dark. Ciani lost a one-time protector and a kindred spirit where knowledge-seeking is concerned. Karril has lost a true friend, as close to him as though he was his own kin. And I…I…have lost my fellow traveler in whom I could trust. I have lost my friend. I have lost…my only love." Again, bypassing Karril, the other two witnesses were shocked at the revelation. Gasps were incredibly audible in this clearing, and eyes were so wide that the entire white was visible. None of this affected him, though, and he continued on, as though oblivious.
"This man has been both the greatest among mankind and the most hated and feared as well. Most will never see him as anything but the monster he was for centuries. We few know better, and I…I cannot see how life can go on for me without him. The change in him was slow. But I saw in time that it was happening, and, oh, how I hoped! I reveled in the thought of being able to redeem this man, this Darkest Prince of Hell. I did not realize at the time, that I would come to love him as well. But I did…and I still do." He turned to look at the coffin once more, seeming unsteady on his feet and slow again, perhaps a touch more now than prior to the speech. "I love you, Gerald. Do you here that, you smug bastard?" he said with a laugh, and swayed slightly on his feet. "I love you…and I'm coming after you…" he said as he began falling sideways to the ground.
Narilka screamed, and Ciani ran to his side. Karril flashed from where he had been listening and knelt at the former knight's side as well. "Silentbark derivative," Karril remarked out loud after quick examination, "And a good bit of it, too. No antidote to this," he proclaimed as he glanced sadly up at the others. "He knew it, surely." Ciani placed a hand to Damien's neck and felt the slowly weakening pulse. Sorrow crossed all their features, combined with a horrible understanding as they bore mute testimony to another great man's passing. Tears fell as rain from a gale, multitudinous and painful. And as the beat of life ceased beneath her fingers, Damien heard and saw the things forever shielded from the living. He breathed out weakly, and the final exhalation of his mortal existence conveyed his last communication comprehensible to the living, "Wait for me…" and he smiled. And he slept the sleep of the spirit, but he lived the dreams of the righteous.
In a realm so very far away, and not, wherein the essence of those who have passed gather near a loving being, all was beauty and light. And for those who moved within this realm, there was no pain, nor anger, nor any cause for grief. Time stopped and held in place the most cherished memories for those who dwelt here, so that they might live within them forever. And some few souls remarked in passing on a sight of true wonder, chance encountered during their travels through this world of happiness and memories and light. There, they would say, I saw them there. The two of them, though so strong was their love you would think it just one. A tall and mighty man with dark hair reclined against a weeping willow tree…and his love, with hair a shade of brown touched gold, relaxed back against him, with the former's arms encircling. There and gone so quickly the one viewing had to wonder at the glimpse of beauty painted upon the scene. But there can be no doubt. So many now have witnessed, and will continue to witness. For this bond cannot be broken, even by death; and it will forge on through this scape of dreams and enchantments, until time undoes itself.
End note: Whew! I was in a mood when I wrote this one. I figured I'd deviate somewhat from my usual theme of everyone living happily ever after. Originally, I did not have the Epilogue section, but my fluffy-headedness forced me to add it. LOL!