Just a random Dark Souls II one-shot to help improve my writing.

Rosabeth of Melfia stood peacefully by her usual spot near the cliffside of Majula. There wasn't much to do in the small town other than stare at the perpetual sunset over the ocean, but she had firmly pledged to never set out into the untamed wilderness of Drangleic ever again- after all, that's what got her petrified in the first place. Adding in her success in finally tracking down Master Carhillion, she saw no reason to go out exploring any time soon.

Judging by the fact that barely anyone in Majula was in a hurry to leave, she apparently wasn't alone in her decision.

Still, Rosabeth was a curious girl by nature, and she needed something to keep her mind occupied. She tended to fidget when bored, a stark contrast to her teacher's consistently calm demeanor. And right now her attention was focused on the one person who had set out time and time again into the dead kingdom and always returned in one piece.

With nothing else requiring her immediate attention, Rosabeth recalled how they first met.

He had been the one to save the young witch-in-training from her stony prison. When Rosabeth had first arrived in Drangleic, she was terrified of how different it was from her orderly homeland of Melfia. The climate and terrain were totally unpredictable, to say nothing of the horrible abominations that seemed to lurk in every corner of the locations she had visited. Even the times of day couldn't bother to work properly! Why in the world would Master Carhillion want to come to this dilapidated cesspool of death?

She had been wandering aimlessly in a foggy forest, still searching for her mentor after several days, when she accidentally stumbled upon the territory of a band of goblins. Terrified (but also slightly amused by their enormous groinal regions), she fled to some old ruins- the goblins giving chase- and tried to forcefully push a lever to a nearby door that would seal off her pursuers.

Rosabeth wasn't exactly sure when the basilisk had appeared during her flight, but it had managed to catch her in its petrifying breath before the door could fully close.

The next thing she remembered, she was on the floor sputtering and coughing up a fit while an unknown stranger watched her with a blank expression. When she had regained enough of her senses to finally get a good look at him, she found herself initially not very impressed.

He was terribly thin, dressed in lightweight leather armor and padded black boots. A tattered black cloak hung down his back, and his face was partially hidden under a grey hood with black swirl designs. A strange staff with odd moving parts along with a sinister chime were strapped to his waist. Both of his hands appeared to be covered in tightly wrapped cloth. Finally, a small, neatly groomed black beard was visible around his pale chin.

Ragged as he looked, his appearance was still infinitely better than Rosabeth's. During her arduous journey to Drangleic and numerous misadventures within its walls, the traveling gown she had been wearing was repeatedly shredded apart by monsters and stitched back together once she escaped from or killed said monsters. She looked more like a homeless woman than a proud student of the Melfian Magic Academy.

She introduced herself and thanked him profusely for rescuing her before noticing her fashion faux pas. When she'd politely inquired if he had a spare set of clothes, deeply embarrassed with herself, he simply nodded before handing her... Well, she still wasn't sure if the garments even counted as "clothes". A skimpy set of alluring apparel that she had read about as belonging to a clan of sorceresses in the desert land of Jugo.

She had asked him where he found the clothes, and why he bothered carrying around a set of female garments, and his mood immediately shifted. He'd seemed aloof and a little disinterested in her at first, but suddenly turned defensive and snappy, unexpectedly flying into a nearly incomprehensible rant about how she should mind her own business and be thankful that he decided to "save her bloody bum". Even though he was shouting at her, she honestly couldn't help but chuckle at his unfittingly gruff voice and harmlessly flailing fists.

Now she was here in Majula (it kind of irked Rosabeth at how close she had been to sanctuary before her entrapment), watching her savior from afar. He rarely stayed for long, usually just long enough to talk to the mysterious lady in green by the bonfire before warping away in a blinding bubble of light. He had only chatted with her once or twice; she basically told him her life story and motives for coming to Drangleic, yet when she asked him anything about his own personal life, he would always change the subject and instead talk about different kinds of magic. He never divulged any information about himself.

She didn't even know his name.

And this lack of knowledge hurt Rosabeth deeply. While it was true he could be dismissive and rude, he still saved her life, and she had found a new reason to stay in the remnants of the once great kingdom. She wanted him to open up to her- wanted to learn about him.

This was now her top priority; her second being to find out why the hell there was a talking cat in one of the town's small houses.

Apparently the man who rescued her had decided to take a break from whatever new adventure he was on, since he'd been lingering around Majula for several hours now. At least that's what it felt like to her. Kind of hard to pinpoint the exact time when time itself seems to have taken a break, evidenced by the sun refusing to fully set. Or maybe it was a local phenomena, and Drangleic was more screwed up than she first thought.

Rosabeth shook her head. She needed to focus. This was possibly her only chance to have a real conversation with him, since she had been too scared (and rightfully so) to follow him into the Shaded Woods after he'd finally calmed down during their initial meeting.

However, there were a couple of problems with her otherwise simple plan. The first, mostly born from paranoia and her sometimes overactive imagination, was that thanks to her savior's taste in women's clothing, she was mortified to be within close proximity to any men. She shuddered involuntarily at the memory of that creepy armorer guy, who never removed his gaze from her after she first settled in...

She subconsciously tugged at her revealing skirt.

The second problem was that the object of her curiosity was currently testing out a variety of deadly weaponry on a nearby field, and she didn't want to risk breaking his concentration and possibly harming either of them. He had gone through a vast and impressive array so far; from a long curved greatsword, to a ghastly halberd with a skull stuck in its base, to a pair of studded gauntlets, to... was that a soup ladle?

Rosabeth stiffled a giggle as she watched him try (and fail) to practice with his newest weapon, a massive great hammer with a bell of all things attached at the end of the handle. Judging by his holstered staff and chime, along with his extremely skinny frame, he was obviously more of a mage, clearly unsuited for a weapon of such high weight. The only thing he could really do with the heavy hunk of metal was swing it around in slow, clumsy arcs.

Obviously fed up with the giant hammer, he let loose a stream of profanity that would've gotten him kicked out of Lindelt and threw it a whole three feet in anger. She bit back a laugh when he tried kicking it; the resulting "ding" from the bell along with his uproarious swears could be heard all over Majula.

Several of the town's residents sent curious looks in his direction from all the noise, but otherwise ignored him. Rosabeth, on the other hand, saw an opportunity. As the man who saved her from a fate worse than death hopped around on one foot, clutching the other in his grip and cursing up a storm, she figured that her presence would be helpful.

Smiling under her new hood, she started moving towards him.

"Are you okay?" was the first thing she asked when she was within hearing range.

"Does it bloody look like I'm doing okay?!" her savior snapped, turning his head to face her and scowling under his own hood. He stopped jumping like a fool, but still held onto his injured foot.

Rosabeth flinched but didn't back down. "I'm sorry. You just look like you're hurt, and I wanted to know if there's anything I can do to help."

"You can help by leaving," the man growled. He tentatively put his other leg down and visibly winced at the lingering pain. "All I need is a swig of Estus, and I'll be fine. Just let me..."

He trailed off as his hand reached for something on his belt, only to grasp empty air. "Shit. I left the damn flask at the bonfire pit. Doesn't matter; I've also got this ring, ya see, that gradually patches up all of my wounds. Just gotta find the blasted thing..."

He unclipped a small pouch on his thigh, but accidentally dropped it as another jolt of pain surged through his shin. Dozens of enchanted rings she had never seen before poured forth from the pouch onto the ground in a messy pile.

"Son of a- DAMMIT!" he roared, the visible lower half of his face turning red with rage. "This is a bloody pile of absolute horseshit, I tell you! First I can't control my own gods-damned weapon, and now I... dropped... all my..."

He trailed off again and looked quizzically at Rosabeth. Before he could start off on another tangent, she had quietly cast a pyromancy designed to heal injuries using a small orb of fire with a soothing warmth. A little something she had picked up during her own travels in Drangleic.

The two mages stared at each other, the tiny fireball hovering just over their heads and shining down on both of them.

"... Umm..." the bearded man started awkwardly, leaning his weight from leg to healed leg. "Thanks?"

"No problem; I'm always happy to help those in need. But I'm afraid a simple 'thanks' isn't going to cut it." Rosabeth informed him, resting a hand over her hip.

"Oh... uhh..." her rescuer stammered. It was kind of cute to watch, actually. "Well... shit, to hell with this. Fine. What do you want?"

"A face and a name," Rosabeth stated.

"... Eh?"

She could see the pale man's brows knit together in confusion under his hood. She sighed.

"First off, I'd like to see the face of my rescuer." she clarified.

His mouth formed an "o" shape in understanding. He pulled down the hood, and...

Rosabeth felt her breath catch in her throat.

He was handsome. Almost devilishly so. His shiny black hair reached down just past his neck, and his eyes were such a brilliant green it was as though someone had stolen the color off of a healthy tree's leaves. A light grey tattoo was situated on his left cheek, the design of which Rosabeth wasn't familiar with, yet still found captivating.

She was broken from her trance when he spoke up.

"Hey, uh, you okay there, sweetheart? You're staring, and it's making me feel weird. Please stop."

"Hm? OH! I'm sorry; it's just that you remind me of someone familiar." she lied smoothly, praying to the gods that he wouldn't make a big deal out of her odd fixation on him.

She didn't know why, but his newfound awkwardness and admittedly charming features left a pleasantly warm feeling in her stomach. He definitely wasn't perfect- not if his earlier actions were any indication- but those more positive attributes, combined with him being the only other magic user here besides Carhillion, made her feel strangely drawn to him. It felt... comfortable, talking to him like this.

"Bet he's a handsome bloke, isn't he?" the man grinned wickedly.

Rosabeth felt her face heat up under her hood. What was this guy doing to her? She had never felt like this before, ever.

"He's not the worst looking boy I've ever seen." she replied with what she hoped was a casual shrug. "And you still haven't given me your name."

The dark-haired man reached out to grab her hand and shook it gently. For a brief, fleeting moment, Rosabeth thought she saw the faintest tinge of red color his cheeks.

"Malius of Melfia."

Knowing that she would probably do something embarassingly stupid if she stuck around, Rosabeth bid him farewell shortly after his introduction and returned to her perch by the cliff. He himself left not long afterwards, once he cleaned up the spilled rings (she'd again offered her help, but he didn't trust her touching them) and settled on a weapon he liked- a somewhat primitive yet finely-crafted spear. According to Malius, the story behind that particular spear was that when he'd first aquired it, there had been a large rock stuck to the pointy end, and only after spending a solid three hours beating the unliving shit out of Hollows did the boulder finally break.

Borrowing from his mostly vulgar vocabulary, she thought that story sounded like a pile of bloody horseshit.

Now Rosabeth was back to lounging around Majula, but she wouldn't stay idle this time. No, she was determined to get some more information about her new friend- about Malius. And what better place to do so than in Drangleic's most (semi-sanely) populated town?

Rosabeth concluded that the best person to ask first would be the peculiar lady who watched over the bonfire. Malius had easily talked to her the most out of anyone else in the seaside settlement, so it was likely she'd have a few tidbits to share about the mysterious mage in black.

"Excuse me, miss?" she asked when she'd made her way over to the fire pit.

The Emerald Herald, who had been watching the ocean prior to her arrival, turned her head at the sound of Rosabeth's voice and fixed the other woman with a perplexed stare.

"... You are not Malius. He who bears the curse." she murmured.

Well. That was an odd way of saying hello.

"Um, no, I'm not." the Melfian girl said awkwardly, suddenly fighting the urge to turn around and leave. She continued, "Actually, that's the reason I'm here. I'd like to ask you a few questions about him. If you don't mind, that is."

The Herald broke away her gaze, seeming to ponder her words. Eventually she nodded.

"I do not believe you harbor any ill intention towards him. In that case, I shall answer any question you have to the best of my ability. What would you like to know?"

Rosabeth was about to state a query before a sudden realization hit her: She hadn't thought of anything to ask. It was very unlikely the Emerald Herald knew what his life growing up in her and Malius' shared homeland was like, and she doubted the lady in green would know or care what his favorite aspects of daily life were, either.

"How long has he been in Drangleic?" she began, settling on a more location-relevant question.

"About a month." the Herald answered immediately in her usual flat, airy tone.

The young mage blinked in shock. A month? He had been running around in this extremely dangerous, Hollow-plagued, monster-infested land for an entire month? She had to give him credit for surviving that long.

"Wow. That's pretty impressive!" she admitted, happy at her new friend's apparent survival skills.

The Herald returned to watching the sea. "... Indeed. He has gotten the furthest out of any previous visitors so far. I have seen others accomplish much less than he has, and give up in half the time."

"Which brings me to my next question. What exactly is it that he does out there? I've gathered he's out on some kind of journey, but he never told me the specifics." Rosabeth continued.

"The finer details of his quest elude me," the Herald sighed, "but he is here for the same reason as the rest of them. Malius seeks a cure for the Undead curse. I am his guide; it is my duty to assist him in any way I can."

Despite her brain telling it not to, Rosabeth's heart swelled with affection when she heard this. The infamous Curse of Undeath wasn't something she knew much about- hell, she doubted anybody did- but she had heard the rumors. If they were to be believed, then the curse was the metaphorical nail in the coffin for Drangleic and its neighboring empires after the disastrous war with the Giants. And now Malius was searching for a remedy? That was the sweetest, most selfless thing she ever-

Wait a minute.

Her train of thought derailed as another, more sinister idea entered her mind. What if... What if Malius was cursed with Undeath? At first it didn't seem likely. Every time he visited Majula before, he looked to be normal enough. He was able to walk, talk, laugh (which was rare), shout (which was common), and perform other typical human behaviors.

Then the rational part of her mind intruded on the more idealistic side. Undeath would certainly explain how he'd been able to "survive" outside in the wild for so long. And then there was the fact that the Emerald Herald referred to him earlier as "he who bears the curse"...

"Is he... Is Malius... an Undead?" she asked warily.

The Herald said nothing for a minute.

"... Yes."

Rosabeth didn't know what to feel at this blunt revelation. Shock, fear, disgust, revulsion, and pity were at the top of the list.

But above all of those negative feelings, she somehow managed to stay calm. Yes, her rescuer was a walking corpse. Yes, she owed her life to someone who was only staying alive because of the accursed Darksign. And yet, compared to several others in Majula, he was still both mentally and physically stable, hot temper aside.

If she hadn't decided to speak with the Emerald Herald, Rosabeth doubted she ever would've been able to learn about Malius', err, "condition".

"How close is he to Hollowing?" she pressed further.

"Honestly? Not close at all." the Herald actually smiled. "As long as one has something passionate to keep their focus on, they will almost never truly Hollow. Take the blacksmith here in Majula, for example. He is also an Undead, yet he's still capable of crafting tools and repairing equipment. He can still do what he loved in life. As for Malius, he's very dedicated to finding a cure, and has made remarkable progress in his journey. And don't tell him I said this, but I think he's too stubborn to let despair overtake him."

Rosabeth laughed at her last remark; everything else sounded reasonable enough. "So we don't have to worry about him suddenly going crazy and attacking us?"

"I highly doubt that will happen." the red-haired woman answered, shaking her head.


An awkward silence arose between the two as Rosabeth steeled herself for her final question.

"Just one more thing. What's the relationship between you and him?"

The Herald's small smile grew wider. "Who wants to know?"

"Oh, nobody. I'm just curious." Rosabeth shrugged. She hoped the lady in green didn't see her face turning red under her hood.

"Our interactions are purely professional. I remind him of what he must do whenever he forgets, and accept the souls he's collected to help increase his combat capabilities. Beyond that, I assure you that we're strictly platonic."

She turned to face the young Melfian girl again, now openly grinning. "There is no need to worry. I promise not to steal him away from you."

"Wh-What?! No, no, it's nothing like that! It's not what you're thinking! I was only wondering, that's all!" Rosabeth stuttered in embarassment.

The Emerald Herald's only response was to continue grinning.

"Stop smiling like that!" Rosabeth growled, raising her voice an octave. "I'm telling you, it's not what you think! Malius is a friend; nothing more!"

Still grinning.

"I-I-I have to go now! I need to, um... practice my pyromancy! Yeah! Master Carhillion would be very unhappy if I didn't, so um... thank you and goodbye!"

She turned tail and fled back to the seaside monument, tripping over her skirt every few seconds in her haste.

Back at the bonfire, the Emerald Herald chuckled softly in amusement at the girl's antics. Love was such a fickle thing. She briefly debated whether to tell Malius about their conversation the next time he stopped by, but ultimately decided against it. It would be much more fun to let him find out on his own.

That talk was without a doubt the worst thing Rosabeth had experienced in Drangleic up to this point. She had battled hunger, thirst, and whole legions of terrifying monstrosities during and after her journey to the land, gotten lost more times than she could count, and was even petrified into a damn statue. But none of those past experiences could compare to the overwhelming embarrassment and confusion she now felt after speaking to the Herald.

And the worst part? She wasn't wrong in her assumption. After Malius had first saved her, Rosabeth began looking up to him in a sort of hero worship fashion. When he temporarily let his guard down after she healed his injury and opened up his non-hostile side, he inadvertently triggered a very unfamiliar feeling in her bosom; something comforting and fulfilling that had never happened around any other man she'd met before.

True, he was an Undead, but his closest companion had explicitly stated that the chances of him being reduced to a feral zombie were slim to none. And if he were to succeed in his personal quest, then his Undeath wouldn't even be permanent, anyway.

Rosabeth couldn't deny it- She was falling hard for her foul-mouthed hero.

She thought her troubles would be over when she returned to her hangout, but she was wrong. Sitting at the base of the monument's steps was Saulden, the crestfallen knight whose favorite pasttime was sitting around brooding about how life in general sucked. She didn't know much about him, other than that he was also supposedly an Undead (how, then, had he not Hollowed yet?), and was mildly surprised when he pat the empty space next to him in an invitation for her to join him.

"Hello, Saulden. Fancy meeting you here." she greeted, poking fun at his refusal to ever leave the monument.

A rather telling hint at his Undeath- he never left his perch, which by extension meant he never ate or drank anything. Saulden, along with the obviously undead Lenigrast were the only ones who didn't leave town every once in a while to forage food in the (relative) safety of the Things Betwixt.

"Your continued sense of humor even in these dark times never ceases to amaze me, Rosabeth." the warrior admitted, giving a low chuckle. "But on to business. You are seeking information about your friend Malius, am I correct?"

"How do you know?" Rosabeth asked him, blinking rapidly in astonishment.

"I overheard you shouting that he was your friend and nothing more," Saulden replied coyly.

Now he was smiling, too. Rosabeth gulped. Oh crap. It could only mean bad things were coming when the most miserable man in Drangleic was smiling mischievously at you.

"I only wanted to find out what he's doing here. The lady at the bonfire just took my questions the wrong way." she answered smoothly.

"Very interesting..." Saulden murmured. "Not by how the Emerald Herald responded the way she did, though. No, I'm more curious as to why you would want to befriend Malius of all people."

"And what's that supposed to mean?" Rosabeth inquired sharply.

The knight looked surprised. "Haven't you figured it out, young lass? That mage is a walking embodiment of the Dark. He is a hexer; a practitioner of black magical arts forbidden in both Melfia and Lindelt, and supposedly uses the souls of his slain enemies to wreak even further destruction." He leaned in closer and spoke in a hushed whisper. "Rumor has it he even traversed a remnant of the Abyss, the void where the original Dark was born, and strives to confront what lurks at the very bottom. Only then will he be recognized as a true pilgrim of darkness."

Rosabeth's mind reeled in shock at the news. Was this the same Malius who thought it was a good idea to kick a metal hammer? The same individual who took valuable time out of his adventure to lend her a helping hand when she needed it most?

"I thought he was searching for a cure to the Undead curse," she said shakily, looking away from Saulden and out into the far distance.

"He is," the man's voice reached her ears. "And I wish him the best of luck in his endeavor, however pointless that may sound. But know this: He will inevitably come across creatures or beings who lust for power and wealth; entities who are mankind's most evil characteristics given physical form. I do not know what drove Malius to choose the path of Dark, or why. If I had to guess, I'd say he plans to smother them with his own burdens. Perhaps he uses the curse against his foes, perhaps not. Either way he is a menace."

"You're wrong..." Rosabeth muttered, shaking her head in denial.

Saulden chuckled. "Oh, am I? Please elaborate."

"Dark mage or not, I trust that Malius knows what he's doing, and that he'll make the right decisions when the time comes." the young woman stated firmly. It was hard to tell if she was speaking more to the depressed knight or to herself. "I don't care if he's an Undead or if he uses hex magic. He's doing what he feels is necessary to complete his journey. Besides, if it's him versus all of the Hollows and monsters in Drangleic, then I can't blame him for wanting to get stronger; even if it's in a way I don't completely agree with. You might see him as a monster, but to me he's a friend."

She meant it, too. She trusted him more than anyone else in the kingdom- save for Master Carhillion, of course. Rosabeth had her suspicions about some of the shadier locals in town, like the old laddersmith or the weird cleric lady. They couldn't be trusted. But Malius? No, he made it very clear what kind of person he was, and anybody who had a problem with that could get lost.

"I see," Saulden nodded, deep in thought. "This whole concept of light and dark... are the two elements symbiotic, or are they immortal enemies? It's such a difficult thing to understand. I hope you'll excuse me, but I'd like to review your words. Thank you for this talk, Rosabeth."

Without waiting for a reply, the knight stood up and made his way back to the monument.

Once she mustered up the courage to venture out again, Rosabeth received a plethora of different answers when she asked Majula's other residents about Malius. Interestingly, each and every one of them had been in previous contact with the hexer, and most of them considered him at least a (sometimes) friendly aquaintance.

Lenigrast was thankful to the mage for retrieving the key to his workshop after he accidentally locked himself out. In repayment, the blacksmith was Malius' go-to man whenever his equipment was in need of reinforcement or repair. He confided to Rosabeth that he'd underestimated his fellow Undead's abilities at first, and assured her that he could take care of himself during his adventures.

Chloanne, Lenigrast's daughter, also viewed Malius in a positive light. They'd met in the poisonous pits of Harvest Valley, where the woman was trying in vain to eke out a living selling titanite to travellers. Malius had apparently told her, quite bluntly, that she was wasting her time out there and that Majula was the only place she'd have a chance for a successful business. Chloanne had listened to him, and was pleased to see that her sales had indeed increased- even if the hexer was still her most frequent customer.

The merchant hag Melentia claimed to know him the longest, having encountered him shortly after he first arrived in the ruined kingdom. She recalled how desperate he was back then, armed only with a dagger and a "dingy walking stick he called a magic staff". When she remembered how cute it was when he "got stabbed through the heart by a sweet red phantom's blade" and cackled madly, Rosabeth backed away. Slowly.

Laddersmith Gilligan said that he and Malius reached an agreement where neither one of them would pry into the other's past. The dark mage didn't care in the slightest if Gilligan was on the run; only that he would cut the old man down if he ever threatened him or his quest's progress. And that sat just fine with Gilligan. He additionally added that Malius was the only person who appreciated the "fine artwork" he crafted in his spare time, and was exceedingly happy when he bought a tiny ladder sculpture as a souvenir.

That was about where the positive comments ended.

She wasn't going anywhere near the armorer, Maughlin. No way. She hated the stares he gave her.

Licia of Lindelt had scoffed when Rosabeth approached her, claiming that the man was steeped in Dark and would never see the light of Miracles the way she did. The pyromancer left when Licia closed her eyes and began reciting an overdramatic prayer to the gods, requesting them to smite Malius and all those he held dear off the face of the earth.

Satisfied with the results in her search for information, Rosabeth headed back to the rocky cliff she called home, thinking over what she'd learned. In general, Malius appeared to be well-liked among the community despite his status as an Undead and rough attitude. It made her feelings for him seem more justified, which pleased her greatly. Maybe she wasn't wrong to be thinking such thoughts.

She was shocked when she returned to the cliffside and saw Malius himself sitting adjacent to her usual spot. While she was internally excited to see him again, she noted how he held his head in his hands and seemed to be in a bad mood (nothing new there).

"Hello, Malius!" Rosabeth greeted with a small wave. "Is everything all right?"

"Yeah." he grunted, not looking up to face her properly.

She sat down next to him and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. He shifted a bit, as though he wasn't used to such contact, but otherwise didn't react.

"Really? You don't seem to be doing okay. What's the matter?" she asked gently.

Malius grumbled something unintelligible under his breath.

"I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that."

He grumbled a bit louder this time, sagging lower in his seat.

"Say that again?"

He glanced at her briefly, then went back to staring at the ground. "M'stuck."

"You're... stuck? What are you stuck with?" Rosabeth probed further.

Malius sighed. "There's this creature I've been trying to kill recently. Looked like a frail little bastard at first; thought I could take 'im without breaking a sweat. But then I learned the hard way that my magic didn't do jack shit against it."

"You mean hexes?"

He glanced at her again. Much to Rosabeth's relief, he didn't look angry, only curious.

"How'd you find out about that?"

"I got bored and asked around," she admitted with a light shrug. Suddenly recalling her earlier conversation with Saulden, she continued, "Speaking of which, I've been wondering: What made you take up hex magic in the first place?"

Malius sighed again. "... You really wanna know?"

"Please." Rosabeth nodded.

"I heard there was a spell that allowed me to blow up dead bodies," he grinned, sitting up. "It was entertaining as hell to watch. And then I thought to myself, 'Eh, why stop there?'. To be honest with you, I never would've bothered with hexes if I wasn't in Drangleic. Don't feel like being branded as a filthy heretic and burned at the stake, y'know?"

"I can understand." Rosabeth agreed, laughing softly at his story.

Phew! That was an enormous weight off her shoulders. Saulden was both right and wrong at the same time; her crush was indeed a dark mage, but he only learned hexes at first to amuse himself... sick as his idea of entertainment was.

However, that still left one last question.

"Is it also true that you're Undead?"

Malius' grin instantly faltered, replaced by an unpleasant scowl. "Dammit girl, you need to stop intruding on other people's business! It's bloody creepy!"

"Sorry...!" Rosabeth squeaked, shrinking back in fear.

Her savior eyed her cautiously, before going back to his slouching posture from earlier. He was silent for a minute.

"... Don't be. I should be the one apologizing for yelling at you. You're a sweet girl, Rosabeth, and probably the person I tolerate most in this land. But that's highly personal information." he informed her.

Rosabeth didn't know whether to feel horribly guilty or jump for joy at his words. In the end, all she could do was nod meekly.

"Well, if you're so insistent on knowing..." Malius trailed off. "Yeah, it's true. I'm cursed. I've uncovered a couple of different ways to make myself at least look like a regular human, but when you take away all of the fancy illusions, I'm still a literal dead man walking."

His face tightened. "I hate it, I really do. I hate being shunned by my own homeland because I'm an Undead. Do the bloody bastards even realize that it's not my fault? I didn't choose to become like this! It's not my fault that I came back to life after- after dying of a damn illness!"

His voice cracked at the end. Rosabeth couldn't see his face under his hood, but she could hear him. Malius of Melfia, the man who saved her life and conquered most of Drangleic's most challenging trials, was openly weeping.

"I hate that I ever had to come here. I know I'm getting close to finding out the truth, but sometimes the stress is just too much to handle..."

She had never, never expected to see him this vulnerable, or that she would be the one he confided everything to. It scared her at how different he was acting than normal, and how quickly he'd broken down. Whatever monster it was he couldn't defeat, the lack of success was really getting to him. And it broke her heart seeing him like this. Undead or not, he was still human- still able to feel pain.

"I wouldn't blame you if you decide not to talk to me any more."

What happened next was something neither of them expected. Acting on instinct more than anything, Rosabeth grabbed the scruff of his collar and pulled him forward so their lips connected.

Sitting about fifteen feet away, and completely unnoticed by the two, Saulden smiled at the affectionate display in front of him.

"Ah, to be young and in love." he chuckled.

She wasn't sure how long the kiss lasted, and she didn't care. All she was aware of was that she wanted Malius to know, desperately, that he didn't have to bear the burdens of the curse by himself; that he would always have somebody waiting for him every time he took a break from his journey, and that she didn't give a rat's ass about him being Undead.

When their mouths finally parted, Malius appeared to be in a state of shock. His face was lit up like a cherry tomato. He stared blankly at her, lips moving, but no sound escaping from them. Humorously, his green eyes were crossed at an odd angle.

As for Rosabeth, she tried her hardest to fight down her own blush, but otherwise recovered from the surprise kiss before he did. "So... does that give you some motivation to keep going?"

"... Uh, yeah..." Malius nodded dumbly, still unfocused.

"Why didn't you try attacking with your spear if hexes weren't working?"

"... Wanker could teleport..."

"Well that's not fair." Rosabeth clucked her tongue and shook her head. "However, I think you've forgotten that dark magic isn't the only kind. If you want, I could possibly teach you some area-of-effect pyromancies to help counter the teleportation. Does that sound good to you?"

"... That sounds bloody excellent."

She laughed, grabbing Malius' hand and leading him over to Majula's field to begin their training.

Rosabeth wasn't sure what she'd find when she first came to Drangleic in search of her master, but as far as expectations went, a potential lover wasn't something she could complain about.

And there we have it, my first attempt at a one-shot. I don't consider this to be my best work, but I enjoyed writing it, and that's what counts at the end. :D I might even update it again in the future, since I have a few more ideas for humorous conversations between Rosabeth and Malius.

Oh, and if anybody in Drangleic Castle summons a naked sexy dancing trident lightbulb man to help fight Nashandra/Aldia, that's me. :D

Special shout-out to vendetta543, who inspired me to write this & also owns possibly the largest Dark Souls crossover story ever! Go give it a read!