Okay, so I was scared ta die. Is that such a crime? How many people will just throw their lives away fer someone else? ….Yeah, never mind, that's a pretty good description of Yuri. But I'm not like that kid, never have been. Not even fer her. She died, I died, but it wasn't fer her.

Still. Estelle didn't deserve what I did ta her. She's a real princess, ya know. I don't just mean royalty; I mean a real gem of a girl. So innocent, so pure, so giving. She didn't blame me, didn't hate me--hell, she forgave me. Said she knew it wasn't my fault, that she knew I was bein' forced ta do it. Me? I did everything I could ta make her think that she was wrong, said things that even I thought were kinda sick. That damn near broke her heart. She really wanted to believe that I was good. But what else was I s'posed ta do? She really only knew me as ol' Raven; anything I'dve said as Schwann coulda been taken as an act. She hadta be scared of me, hadta think I'd really do somethin' awful if she didn't behave. It was the only way ta keep her in line. N' no, Alexei wouldn'tve killed her--he needed her. But he would've killed me.

'So what', ya say? Okay fine. But tell me how it woulda been better if I had died? Ya think that woulda stopped him from using Estelle like he did? No way. N' I'm sorry, but if I hadn'ta been around, the kids would all be dead. No way they woulda got outta that shrine in time. It wasn't me that Alexei was tryin' ta kill--I was just collateral damage. Kinda funny, though… did he think I couldn't do it? Or was he just not takin' chances? Tell ya what, though. I couldn'ta done it. Didn't wanna. I tried ta face it like it was some kinda duel. Keep it cold, keep it formal. Do what had ta be done. Not so easy with Karol jabberin' at me like he was. Bringin' up his dad, sayin' how much he liked me. All of 'em, wantin' ta know how I coulda betrayed 'em like that. I didn't have an answer. It was easier ta be Schwann, than ta try n' face 'em. Let Raven die with him.

Ah, ta die. How I'd wanted that, all those long years. N' I know what yer thinkin'; I started this whole thing by sayin' that I was scared ta die. Well, that was true--in the beginning. It's kinda funny, how things like that go. See, the only thing I remember now 'bout dyin', is how much it hurt. Unless ya've been there, yer not gonna understand that. N' ta tell the truth, I wasn't exactly in a grateful mood when Alexei brought me back. I was disgusted by what he'd turned me into, n' more than a little afraid. I was some kind of freak! A dead man fer ten years by the time the kids came along. Thing is, what with Alexei made me do, I wasn't so sure it was worth it anymore. It was like I hadn't just lost my physical heart, but all of it. I didn't deserve ta live. And without her, I didn't feel like I had any reason ta go on anyway.

I kept hopin' that Yuri was strong enough ta do it. That he'd be so angry, his emotions would take over. Meanwhile, I also had ta make sure that mine didn't. Fear's strong, n' it woulda been a hell of an irony if I ended up killin' him by mistake. Not ta worry. Angry or not, hurt or not, the kid was focused. Some people would say it was his trainin' as a knight, n' maybe that was part of it… but Yuri Lowell is so much more than that.

Anyway, he finished me--and then stopped. I couldn't stand it; I ran at him. When he had at me again, I didn't make any real effort ta defend. I was so damn tired, ready fer it ta be over. But his strike wasn't clean. I dunno if he lost his nerve or was feelin' pity, or what. His blade ripped my shirt open, n' they all saw my dirty l'il secret. Fer just a second, this sick, stunned silence fell over the room. I couldn't read their faces, didn't know what they were feelin'. Horror? Disgust? Good. Maybe now one of 'em would finish it.

But no. They wanted ta know what they were seein'. What it was… hell, maybe what I was. Fair enough; I'd spent plenty of years wonderin' that, myself. Either way, seein' that thing in my chest changed 'em, changed me--in their eyes, anyway. They shoulda been revolted! Shoulda ended me. But it didn't happen, not even when Alexei began ta collapse the shrine. Somehow, the fact that he was gonna sacrifice me, n' the fact that I was perfectly willin' fer that ta happen, put Yuri right over the edge. Truth be told, I couldn't tell if he was angry or hurt! Either way, it was like I'd let him down, or somethin'. Got ta me, it did. I still wasn't sold on livin', but I had to show the kid I was willin' ta try. 'Sides, if I didn't make 'em a way out, they were all gonna die there. Not happenin'.

And then it happened. There was this rendin' crash, n' I heard Yuri say that we weren't gonna make it. The hell with that. Even if I wasn't gettin' outta there, those kids were. Lookin' back on it, I'm not even sure what I did; there wasn't any time ta think. Next thing I knew, there was pain in my chest like ta make me scream. Didn't; Karol was on the ground in fronta me, n' I didn't think he needed ta be any more scared than he already was. My blastia was flaring up, and the light from it caught Rita's attention. Girl just didn't get it. She tried ta warn me that if I pushed myself like that, I was gonna die. Like there was any other way? I told 'em ta get out… and what Alexei was doin'. Left it up ta them. Yuri understood. Even with Karol protestin', pleadin', he ordered them all outta there. Blood runnin' inta my eyes, I gave 'em a last nod and watched 'em go. And that shoulda been it.

But here I am, despite givin' them a chance ta finish what I'd started. By the rules of any guild, I had ta make good. The only thing I asked was fer it ta be quick. Even gave Yuri my sword, so he'd know I wasn't gonna fight him. He'd done right by the Don, n' I figured I could trust him ta do the same by me.

So much fer that idea. The kids beat the crap outta me! Okay, so not really. Actually, they chose their punishment pretty well--insignificant pain and some humiliation. Hey, an old man's gotta have his pride! I put on a bit, but it didn't matter all that much. The thing that really got me was what Yuri said, not how hard he hit me. Kid told me that my life belonged to Brave Vesperia, now. Whether I lived or died, that was up ta them. Punishment? Nah. That's the only way I know how ta live.