Title: Fever Dream
Series: Yggdra Union
Character/Pairing: second-ending Yggdra. Hints of Durant/Yggdra, Nessiah/Yggdra(?!) and Milanor/Kylier, but mostly it's hallucinations /fractured memories.
Summary: Justice is blind and within her hands are a sword and a scale. Justice has no mercy in the end.
A/N: current!52_flavours / 45 ) Stained by martyred blood This started out very different from what it ended up, as it was splice from an entirely happy coda, (deliriously saccharine and in denial, even!) And somehow it turned into this. Shifting viewpoints are intentional, the title says it all, really. It's meant to be a hallucinatory mind trip. It's best not to read it sequentially and think of it as a broken series of hallucinations and memories. All canon issues are either 1) artistic license 2) unreliable narrator.
Probably one of the weirdest things I've ever written.
Her dress is soaked until it covers her like a second skin. She pants, the sword heavy at her side. Her arm swings uselessly, the left is surely broken, probably from the elbow down.
The rain pelts down. Milanor has stopped screaming. His voice is too hoarse. She can't see the body in the haze. She bends to a pool of water and cups water into her hands. It drips through and sounds like something breaking as it hits. Perhaps flesh rending, perhaps the erasure of something. Her face is hot and wet. From rain, from water, from the burning tears that slide out. They've all been crying, she thinks. Nietzsche, Milanor, her...maybe even Durant, though if he had it was alone under the guise of taking care of his horse.
She watches her reflection break into many pieces as the water falls back into it. She rises and they all stumble into camp and the rest of their lives. She sleeps still in her wet clothes. They have become her skin. She cannot shed her skin away so easily.
It is warm that day. She meets an angel in the shade of trees outside the castle. She chases a butterfly past the walls and past Nurse Willa 's watch. He is small and wears chains and metal over his eyes. His robes are purplishdark and things float about him as if on their own will.
She knows he is an angel because Nurse Willa told her that all yellow-haired people are descended from angels – she too. This man has the yellowest hair she has seen, a bright yellowgold. He is blinded and chained but she is not afraid. Angels are kind beings who watch over children at night. What is to fear?
"Why are you blind, angel?" is all she asks.
"Justice is blind," he replies. "Have you not seen it?"
She hasn't, but she knows the words just the same. "Justice lies within the holy sword!" she cries out happily, as if it was her part in the play.
He smiles, or seems to, she can't really tell. "Yes. Justice is a blindfolded woman. She holds the scales in one hand, and a sword in another."
"I want to be Justice!" she cries out happily. "I want to hold that sword!"
"Then you wish to be blind, too?"
Her response is to cover both her eyes as if playing peekaboo.
He guides her back out of the dark woods which might be even scary if an angel didn't live within them. A boy meets her at the outset, one older than her. He's tall for his age. He runs to her, worried and breathless. The angel disappears into the trees, she looks back once before the boy takes her hands.
"Princess, everyone was so worried about you—"
He takes a moment to catch his breath.
"I saw an angel!" she says.
"Well, it's good to know that some kind stranger helped you find your path–"
"No! A real one! He had goldy hair and was blind and everything!"
"Well, if you say so, Princess.."
"When you're old enough, you'll be my knight, right?" she says.
"What, but of course–" he says.
"Even if I'm blind?" she says.
"Even if you're blind," he says. "Though I don't think you've had any issues of blindness in your family, though there could be a fall..."
"Then you'll be my eyes," she says and takes his hand, larger than hers back to the courtyard.
You were foolish then. Embelia was an ally, surely things could be talked out. You would bring the queen to your side. You would win back the war. Papa would be still alive in some dungeon, merely captured, not dead. Gulcasa was misunderstood.
You came with the best of intentions cloaked in a dress of ideals, but good intentions pave the path to hell and you wore your best silks down the path to perdition. You (Ordering Milanor, ordering Durant) cut down the undines until only a single one remained.
It was an unavoidable misunderstanding.
She gets sunburned with her play. She waves around sticks and pretends to be Justice in a way most unfit for a princess. Nurse Willa isn't pleased, but papa just laughs at her play.
She still learns to curtsy and doesn't skip out on her lessons. She is a very good girl. So what if she plays at swords and being a valkyrie for justice? Just as long as she can say her rhymes in order and doesn't rip her dresses and can do her ciphers right.
An angel guides her from the sides. Since she first met him she knows he must be there, watching over her. Isn't that how all angels are? Will he teach her the path of justice? Will he teach her to be blind too?
"There's a choice, but she isn't going to like it."
You are silent as these lives lay within your hands. All these innocents living out their lives not knowing that they're about to be turned into dust. Children playing in the gardens without knowing the light that hits them. Mothers making bread, fathers in the field, their scythes at the harvest. Lives live in orbit, unknowing, quiet and unphased. Is that it? The sum of a life lived into nothing?
And then? And then?
Roswell had seemed kind, and wasn't he justified? Hadn't been Rosary the first to attack? But then she was perhaps spoiled and selfish, but not evil. Certainly not deserving of death.
You open your eyes and lift the sword. Justice is on your side. Even if this doesn't seem just now, even if everyone won't be friends in the end and happy endings seem far away, it will right itself in the end.
You make your choice.
She's spinning and spinning and who is holding her? Mama is alive, papa is alive. Someone loves her and she can't see his face though he isn't faceless. She thinks maybe she'll marry him in the grand cathedral and make him her king to her queen. He will protect her and she will guide him and they'll rule over it all. They'll bring Justice to the world surrounding them.
And when you are queen I shall be king.
There's Sweetberries and wildflowers. What is Bronquia but a distant dream? Gulcasa is a young idealist, rash and impetuous but no killer. He wouldn't hurt a fly. He loves his half-sister dearly and the Undines are allies and the Rose Manors are to be married until they hang until a single banner: one day it shall be known as the Grey Rose house.
She's so happy that it hurts to be happy and laughter bursts out of her. Like colors, like sun and shade and fragrance and she doesn't know why.
Maroon pigtails bobbed as the girl fell from your sight. She was twelve, if that. She was the sister of the Emperor Gulcasa who slaughtered your family. You remind yourself. You remind yourself.
You killed her with a stroke of your sword. A trail of blood came from her mouth. Her eyes are open and unseeing. She was little more than a child. Her teddy bear fell to the ground where she died. She slept with it every night. She probably still wet the bed.
Justice is blind, but you aren't yet. Somewhere Gulcasa was screaming. He killed your father without mercy. This is justice in its most raw form. An eye for an eye. This was what justice is, but you never meant to kill her. She forced your hand. She wouldn't retreat. She just wouldn't run away and she was going to slaughter more. Durant, then Nietzsche. You saved them both with your attack. Two lives for the price of one.
She was just a child. Gulcasa screamed in the distance.
Not even the deepest part of you wanted revenge, even if it was just.
Beautiful colors, all pink and yellow and green. Flowers bloom and the sky is a different color, brighter. Peace floats about, so decadent and exquisitely, in such excess— She doesn't treasure it. She doesn't know.
She's just a girl thinking of dresses and the next ball. Novels, songs, bards. Wars are things that are far away things, things of songs. Someone plays her a song on his flute. He isn't very talented, but she humors him. She's known him all her life, longer. He loves Justice just as much as she does. It fits so well, this. She likes him. He loves her. They love Justice together. It seems right. They're the type of pair to change heaven to the core, aren't they? Aren't they?
They'll change it all by the force of their will, surely.
You meet him and realize that they were not the dreams of a child. He is an angel, and he is the reason your father died. He has pulled every string in the name of justice.
"So we meet again," he says. "I see I guided you well. You hold the scales well, Lady Justice."
You fly above the skies in ways of only dreams and you see the faces of those you have killed. You see Caanan and Monica. You see so many villagers. The bodies fall like wooden chess pieces. This is justice?
The angel nods. "It is a step towards the end of corruption. It is part of the way to change the world."
And you do not know what else to cling to but the sword that has lead you since you were young before you ever touched it. So you cling to the sword, to all its ideals and you and the angel take the same paths with different twists and turns but the same destination.
The colors and heat faded. She woke, her lashes were heavy to lift, almost so much that she wished to linger in the dark a little longer.
Her voice was soft and higher than usual. She cleared it and rephrased the words to the person to her.
"Where is everyone? Is Kylier all right?"
"Princess... You were out in the rain, you came down with a fever," Durant said. "We have all taken turns at your bedside."
She noticed through the haze that there was purple half moons under his eyes, the color of plums. His head dipped slightly, as if in fatigue – and relief. He righted himself Durant did not wear his full armor here, but he retained a mail shirt over his tunic. Forest green peeked out of the tarnished silver. The rings jingled as he moved.
"And Kylier?" she prompted.
"..She did not make it, I'm afraid. Her sacrifice was heroic and what allowed us our escape..and our lives. For that, we are most grateful..."
Yggdra felt the color come out of her. The world shifted as she sank down into the softness of the bed about her. Reality was a heavy thing.
"I have been dreaming a long time, it seems," she said.
She glanced at the holy sword and the justice it supposedly carried within. For that moment she wondered if justice was not merely a moral story, a fiction.
What had justice given them besides bodies? So many passed, and how many were innocents which had fallen to justice's reign? But the thought passed. She was recovering from illness, she wasn't herself. The dreams had affected her thinking, clouded it.
She pushed herself up and rose from the bed only to falter. Durant was at her side, catching her, steadying her, holding her.
She stepped out into daylight, her step still shaky.
And where does this exhumed tale lead her? She raised her sword against heaven. Durant followed, of course. He had promised his loyalty until the end. Milanor probably had a thing or two against heaven after Kylier's death. Maybe she even still existed there, somewhere in a cage made of cloud fronds. Nietzsche and Elena and Cruz and the Rose manor head– every single one of them came to her call.
She raised her sword and saw the reflection of a girl within who she did not recognize. The gaze was too hard; the innocence had been ripped away. This was justice. This was blindness.
Nessiah had guided her here after all.
She swung the blade so often called justice to the heaven. She saw the blood flow, the feathers sheared and floating. It was still, surreal and slow as they fell. The cry was long and drawn out, the wing was cleaved in two. A bugle sounded. This was their last stand, the will of dying men.. None of them will ever return alive.
She did not wake from this dream..