Red feathers stainedwithblood what happened couldn't have happened couldn'tbeavoided--

Blood. Everywhere.

She was laid out on the ground below like a fallen bird, wings spread and shattered, sanguine life painting the ground in a gruesome arc. And he was standing, alone, on Fighter's Ledge, coat flapping noisily in the wind.

(Oh, Hyne, I'm sorry.)

The moon was the thinnest sliver it could be without disappearing entirely, and the only light came from the feathers that still wafted slowly on the breeze, the last vestiges of sorcery still fading from them in a sickly-thin glow. He turned away.

His adversary (Rival) was crumpled against the rockface, chest open to the bone and blood seeping out of the gash and indelibly staining the regulation-white T-shirt. His eyes were closed, and he was gulping air painfully.

Defeated. Wasitmewhodidthat? Who did-- that?

Did he even feel the night chill sinking into his skin?

(Just don't die on me, damn you....)

He walked over to him, knelt down, called a Curaga to heal the disabling blow. The wound closed like a seam, leaving what blood had already spilt to frost over in the cold. (Open your eyes. Look at me, damn you, damn you!)

He shook him, but his eyes remained closed.

He wanted to say something, but what was there to say? I'm sorry--sorry I had to do that. Sorry I killed--

"You killed her." The words ached like an open wound--one that a Curaga couldn't seal.

"I had to. You saw what she was about to become."

Now his rival's eyes opened--gravity with an edge of pain. He waited for the pronouncement.

Even if she became the world's enemy....

"I should have been the one."