From Death to Life
Death was inevitable, as he had learned rather early in life. It could come any time, any place. It had taken his parents; the cold day was one that would forever stand out in his memory. He had been young, then… He was absolutely paranoid and he could feel uncertainty cloud his emotions. He had hesitated.
Why had death come to their house that night, when the chilly air had blown through the holes and cracks in the walls, extinguishing the fire that had been burning in the fireplace? They had been sick, and he had cried. The baby was not well, her wracking cries and needy wails making his head reel.
Tears had fallen down his face in his fearful state as he made frantic attempts at starting the fire once more. It had been so cold that his hands shook uncontrollably as he struck the flint, and no matter how many times he tried, he could not get a blaze started.
Curling up next to his parents with all the blankets they owned, he had taken the baby from his mother's arms, cradling her in his own. He held her head up and rocked her back and forth as the hours crawled. She had not stopped screaming. Even as she hiccupped and coughed up blood, she had continued through the late hours of the night.
He had fallen into a fitful sleep, only waking once to find that the baby had died. The silence was what had awoken him.
In the morning, he had been so cold that speaking was an impossibility. His parents had not survived the night.
He had cried again; he was ten years old, and already alone in the world.
It had been his first sighting of death.
He would never forget it- their pale, bluish faces in the morning light that streamed through the smeared glass of the window by the door, or the sense of finality that he could feel pulling at him from all directions.
And he would never forget seeing the massacre of his neighbor's house- bandits, he had heard from the surrounding community- almost a year later. The woman that had come to him and fed him from her meager stores…had been skewered by a lance, and the man that had helped him bury his parents lay in a bloody heap in the barn beside his frantic horse- still wearing its bridle. Their children, both younger than he, had been unrecognizable as human beings, but he knew that it was them by their tattered, bloody clothing, and the clumps of hair that lay on the kitchen floor.
At eleven years old, he was beginning to find the ability to wrap his mind around death.
By the time he was twenty-two years old, he had seen death many times over, and sometimes, he had dealt it himself. He pushed the thoughts that the men he killed had families, children… that those children could starve to death alone, those wives could lie on their cold kitchen floors with no fire to warm them…
Thinking of it made him falter. If he faltered, it could very well mean death for him. Or worse, for her.
Sworn to protect her, it was the last thing he wanted. At first, he had been impressed with her attitude; she was nothing like the ladies' of court. He had not known what to think of her, then, when he had been young and so caught up in kill-or-be-killed that things like women and romance rarely entered his mind.
But somewhere along the way, at a time and place he could not pinpoint, he had realized that he was not standing at her side because it was his duty, or because it was what he had to do. After all, she had tried to send him away many times, at first.
"Do you doubt my skill?" she had asked him.
No, her skill was unmatchable, he knew. There were many things she could accomplish that no other woman could brag about. But he would take no chances. Serving her, following her orders…blind loyalty- it all had eventually become nothing to him.
He only wanted to be with her.
He could remember a cold day, when the snow fell thickly, coating the trees and the ground with its pristine radiance.
It was nothing like when his parents had died, he realized. There had been no blood staining his parents clothing from open wounds.
She had fallen by his side, then, and he knew death gripped her with its frozen hands. He could only barely acknowledge that he had given a shout of horror before he found himself kneeling at her side, tugging at her in an attempt to bring her back. Back to him.
The arrow that had been shot with such deadly accuracy was sticking out from her chest, blood pooling and spilling on the once-beautiful snow. Sain rushed in the direction where the archer had fired from, his angered shout sending others from their group following after him. A crime such as that would not go unpunished.
The arrow was out, and he had his hand on her chest, almost as if he was trying to push the blood back into her body. He could feel the dread fill him, enveloping his very mind.
There were too many things he had never gotten the chance to say, to experience with her there. "Come back," he found himself whispering.
I can not lose you now…
His trembling hand rested on her warm cheek, lightly caressing it. His mouth had been overflowing with words that he wanted to say- needed to say- but suddenly, Sain was pulling him away, and Serra and Priscilla were at her side, poking and prodding at her chest as the blood he had been trying to hold back spilled over.
"Sain! Let me go!"
His voice had been frantic, and when his friend told him of it later, he mentioned everyone looking at him with pity or sorrow on their faces. A circle of friends, they were, surrounding Lyndis as Priscilla and Serra tended to her wounds, the two women doing their very best to save a remarkable woman's life.
The good friend that he was, Sain stayed with him, holding him away from the only person he wanted to be near. He had fought against him tiredly, eventually unable to protest further. He could not remember crying, though Sain insisted he had been, but he did remember the feeling of the wet snow digging through the material of his pants as he kneeled in it, face in his hands, ignoring her blood as it smeared across his cheeks and clung to the stubble on his chin.
Florina, her face wet with tears, body shuddering with sobs, approached him and crouched nearby, keeping her eyes on the snow as she mumbled Lyndis's name. Sain had looked between them, clearly distraught.
It was then that he felt death's touch leaving, and though almost everyone would tell him that he had been delusional at the time to think that he could feel such a thing, she would never laugh at him for saying it. Death had spared her that day.
He had fallen on his knees at her bedside late that evening after she had awoken, and while she watched him with tired eyes, he had allowed the words he had been holding inside to pour forth.
Afterward, he could not remember what he had said to her, not everything… only smatterings of his confession, a mere stroke of a brush on the canvas of his life that consisted of apologizes and mention of his love for her. But when her face had lit up with a smile, green eyes fairly glowing… he had felt his heart constrict in a way he never thought it could.
The silence had overtaken them, and he had made an attempt to break it. "Lady Lyndis…"
Her eyes had darkened, and he could see from the sad smile that she gave him that she was upset. He stood slowly and leaned over her slightly, afraid that if he touched her, she would break- life was so fragile, after all.
"What is the matter?"
"For you, Kent, I am just Lyndis."
She had said nothing more, knowing how he felt about her title- it would be disrespectful for him to call her by anything else. But he fought those feelings down the best he could as he backed away, bowing to her. "You need your rest…Lyndis. Please sleep well."
After time had been allowed to pass, and she had recovered, he had found the courage to finally kiss her. It had been a clumsy, chaste kiss, and it had not lasted long, though he could not help feeling guilty for doing it.
Those feelings had been set to the side when he saw the way she had looked at him, and the following day, they had shared a longer kiss. Afterward, he had wrapped his arms around her as she leaned her cheek against his chest and sighed.
"What will we do?" he asked her, his voice only a soft whisper against her hair.
Turning her emerald eyes to him, she smiled slightly, and he found himself wanting to kiss her again. "I don't know. But I will find a way."
"A way?" The words had slipped out of his mouth without permission, it seemed, but once said, he could not take them back.
"A way for us to be together." She stood on her toes and stood close enough that their lips were only barely touching before she continued, "I love you, Kent, and I won't let anything stand in our way. I will think of something."
His heart had melted.
She came to him two weeks later with her idea, and at first, he protested vehemently at the suggestion. Run away together? Certainly not!
She asked him to think on it, and he did, for at least another month, though he knew it hurt her to see him so uncertain.
"Are you having second thoughts…about us?" She had sounded timid, strange for her, and he had been concerned.
"Do not say that. You know I love you, Lyndis."
"I know." Her smile bright, she had given him a kiss. And then another, and another. Soon, his mind was reeling almost as fast as his heart.
As his breath returned to normal, he said, "I would run away with you now if I could. But I do not think it would be wise of us to do so." His smile had been tender, and the look on her face told him that she understood.
"We will wait, then."
Giving her one last kiss, he fought back any guilty feelings that remained. She would be his- they would be together, no matter what it took.
Lord Hausen died only a few short months after their return to Caelin, and though Lyndis had informed the Marquess about her husband-to-be, she had remained at the castle to be with her grandfather until he passed on. As sad as she was after his death, it did not take long for them to pack their few personal belongings before departing, leaving Caelin under Ostia's control.
Their first night together on the plains- because she wanted to wait until they got there- was remarkable. It had been awkward and clumsy for them both, their faces red with their embarrassment as they fumbled with clothing in the tall swaying grasses.
As they laid together afterward, her breathing relaxed and a peaceful smile on her face, his hand rubbed against a rough bump of skin on her chest- something he had not noticed in the heat of the moment. Guilt flooded him as he absently ran his fingertips over the scar.
"I heard you," she whispered to him, her hand stroking the side of his face, ignoring the stubble that had started to grow. "I came back for you."
The years flew by on the plains, the days turning into weeks without him noticing. He was twenty-eight when he next saw death.
The weather had dealt them a harsh blow, that year. Food was hard to find- famine seemed to have settled over much of Sacae, and the small ger where he and Lyndis lived was no exception. He gave her all the food he could find, though it wasn't much.
When she grew round with child, his heart had soared. But food was so hard to find, and they had to save some for the coming winter which certainly did not help.
The sun beat down on him as he dug a hole behind the house- six feet deep, and only three feet long. He allowed himself to cry, then, the tears mingling with the sweat that poured off of his face. Hours later, his heart fairly broke when he had to pry the baby from her mother's trembling hands as she rocked back and forth slowly, tears streaming down her face.
Together, they buried her in a soft woven blanket. The grave looked stark, but they could not find a flower within ten miles of their humble ger to decorate it with. He held her close, whispering words that he hoped would be comforting to her.
"I really wanted her," his wife had muttered, burying her face in his chest. "I would have named her Madelyn."
A week later, a crude wooden cross with the name "Madelyn" carved into it was put in the ground by the grave, his best attempt at craftsmanship. She had sobbed when she saw it, clinging to him as if she were drowning.
"Thank you," she kept whispering, over and over. "Thank you."
Later that year, Sain found them on the plains, bringing with him dried, salted meat and bread. How had he known that they were in desperate need of nourishing food? They did not see the disheartened expression on his face when he saw their thin bodies and gaunt cheeks as they bit into the food as if they had not eaten for weeks.
He brought news of Wallace's death, and of the beginnings of problems with Bern.
He did not stay long, but left them with hugs and kisses, and the promise of a return visit someday.
Though they both wanted children, the years passed without a second pregnancy, and Kent felt guilty every time he saw his wife glancing at the cross behind their ger, sadness plainly written on her face. He did not know what made her unable to bear any more children, but he felt as if there should have been something- anything- he could have done to prevent the lack of childish peals of laughter in their household.
Sain eventually came back looking almost nothing like the young man they had once known. His hair was graying and his face was worn with lines that they were sure had not been there before, but he had the same smile he had always had- as pure and bright as the sun. "I heard news of Bern annihilating Sacae," he said in a rush to Kent, as Lyndis gently walked and rubbed down her former knight's horse; he had ridden hard to get to them, and the beast was wheezing, frothing at the mouth from the trip.
After catching up on the latest news of the countries, Sain saddled his horse again to leave, but lingered there, looking down at them both from where he sat, his hazel eyes clouded. There were no words, but a silent understanding passed between them- Sain might not see them again.
"Take care of yourself, partner," Kent said to him, running a hand through his own hair, only grey at the temples despite their hardships, and put a hand on Sain's arm.
Lyndis clung to him as they watched Sain ride into the distance with only a bright smile and a, "Of course, my boon companion!" lingering in their minds.
They never saw him again.
The fighting did not come to them, but as they grew older, they almost wished that it had spared them the agony of living. The years passed, and it became increasingly difficult to walk for Lyndis, and soon she was confined indoors unless Kent could manage to move her. His back began to give him difficulty, and some days, he could only sit with her in silent companionship as they spoke quietly of the past.
The dragon seemed like a distant memory to them, almost another time period; it was another lifetime entirely.
One evening, as the stars glowed above them on a clear summer night, she laid her head on his chest and smiled tiredly at him, her soft voice broken with emotion and with age. "I love you, Kent," she whispered, and he could feel the sincerity in her words.
Wrapping his arms around her, he kissed her forehead and answered, "I love you too, Lyndis."
The next morning, when he tried to wake her up, he found that he could not; she would not ever again open her eyes, and no matter how many times he begged her to come back, she did not.
He tried to still his trembling hands long enough to dig a shallow grave beside Madelyn's, but it was nearly impossible, and he spent two full days digging until he had made a hole six feet deep and six feet long. Tenderly, he wrapped her in her favorite blanket, placing the Mani Katti at her side before he lowered her as gently as he could.
As he pushed the dirt over her grave, he could not still the tears that fled down his weathered face, and after a few minutes, he stopped trying. A month later, a second cross found its way into the ground, the name of his precious wife upon it in words that had taken his shaking hands a long time to carve.
As he lay in his blankets at night, his back throbbing painfully, he realized that death could come to those that were yet living. He was living death, he thought, or perhaps death living… And three days later, when he awoke to find himself unable to stand, he knew he had thought correctly.
Time passed as he struggled to move, only to fail, and he eventually gave up. He spent the hours staring at the roof of the ger, his eyes unfocused and cloudy with hunger and thirst. He had begun seeing her again, as she was when he first knew her, and he would reach his hand out to her, only to see her shake her head at him, as if she was telling him it was not his time.
Suddenly, there was a man standing in front of him, young and lean, with flaming red hair. He heard shouting, exclamations and questions.
"Are you all right?"
"How long have you been here?"
"Can you sit up?"
He looked at the young man, his tired brown eyes taking him in. "Lord Eliwood?" he asked slowly, his voice scratchy and deteriorated by thirst and a lack of use. His mind was spinning.
"No." The man looked at him in surprise, the shock written plainly on his face. "I am his son. Are you all right? Have you eaten anything lately?"
He tried to sit up, tried to listen to this son of Eliwood who murmured things of Hector's death and war, and why exactly he was in Sacae… but sitting made him dizzy, and it was when he looked above the young man in front of him that he saw her again. She gave him a small wave and a smile, and he found his own lips, chapped and peeling, turning up in a smile of his own.
His hand reached out to her, and he was shocked to find that he could feel the soft skin of her hand against his own. His brown eyes crinkled in the corners as he picked her up and held her to him, the tears streaming down his face unbidden.
Eliwood's son looked at the man in front of him, and at the half-smile on his weathered face as he gave a shuddering sigh. He opened his mouth, as if to ask him if he was okay- again- but stopped himself when he saw the man's breathing stop. Slowly, he reached over and closed his eyes before exiting the ger.
A young woman looked at him curiously, and soon he found her at his side as he walked behind the small rundown building. He saw the crosses, and as he knelt beside them, he saw the name carved upon the more recent grave. "Lyndis?" he questioned aloud, turning to look at the girl beside him. "Lilina, does that name sound familiar to you?"
She nodded slowly, her eyes darkening. "Father used to speak of her… Lady Lyndis was a noble of Caelin, which was handed over to Ostia. He said that she married a loyal knight…but…"
"He deserves a proper burial," the redhead murmured, running his hand over Lyndis's name.
Lilina nodded in agreement.
By the next morning, there were three wooden crosses in the ground, and the young man turned to the woman and smiled sadly as they stood under an old scraggly tree nearby.
"Death is a terrible thing, is it not?"
She did not smile, but looked at him with understanding in her eyes. "Death is inevitable, Roy," she said to him, her blue eyes downcast. "But they are together now. Just like my mother and father are. Perhaps he was waiting to join her in a better place."
"Perhaps he was," he replied. "Right before I saw him fade away…he was looking just behind me…and he had a smile on his face…almost as if he was seeing something I could not…"
I hope the ending was satisfactory. Sometimes, bittersweet endings can be just as beautiful as happy endings. This is kind of a fast-forward-through-everything type of 'fic, which isn't as uncommon as you might think. I've written these before, but not for this game, until now, anyway. I had a wonderful time writing this, and I hope you enjoyed reading it, despite the angst factor. It's not as emotional as I'd like it to be, but that can be a good thing, I think.
The title is actually from a hymn- of the same name. I thought the lyrics of the chorus, and the general thought that, after he lost her, he had pretty much died, and dying in itself was what brought him life.
(As a side note, if you ever want to know more about a piece of my writing, feel free to check out my LiveJournal- link is in my profile. Sometimes I go into a little more detail about a piece of writing.)
Thank you for reading! Please let me know what you thought- critique is appreciated, but go a little lighter on this piece. How was the pacing?