"Please…give me the miracle of your flame…!"

Her burning village was a light of guidance, showing the woman where to step as she walked along. Efiel's body was cold against hers, the man's feet dragging slightly as he moved with her, his arm around her shoulders. Ishlia gave a forlorn smile to him in the growing darkness, hoping he couldn't see her as they reached the edge of the forest. Stumbling into the trees, she took a moment to steady herself before her legs began moving again.

"It will be okay, Efiel" the fire caster promised. "I won't let them-"

Ishlia gasped as a sudden pain shot through her chest. It was like a fire she couldn't control, racing through her nerves and making her vision blur. She covered her mouth as the coughing began, her body shaking while she continued to support Efiel's weight. Blood spilled from her lips and she coughed harder, her body desperate to keep from chocking. Finally the pain lessened and she fell to her knees, taking the man at her side with her. As she tried to breath through the thick metallic taste in her mouth Ishlia felt Efiel's body leave her own. The woman looked up at him as he rose to his feet, staring out into the night as though she was not there.

"…Efiel?" she murmured, unsure if she was calling the right name or not.

Slowly the man turned his scarlet eyes on her, the barest signs of recognition in them. He looked like the man she loved and at the same time like someone she did not know. Tears filled her eyes, a single bead trailing down her cheek as the wind howled through the trees. Swallowing remnants of her blood, Ishlia stood up, her limbs trembling as she approached him. He took a step back, his brow furrowing as he stared at her, lost and searching for something.

"I…shlia…" he tried, holding up a hand weakly to keep her away. "I'm…not myself…"

The fire caster took a hold of his outstretched hand with her own, her blood smearing on his skin. "You're Efiel" she told him, stepping closer as she weaved her fingers into his. "I won't leave you"

"I will leave you" the man said, sounding bitter and pained. "I can't…stay. I'm not strong enough…please…'Fausto' will…!"

"'Fausto' is not here. Efiel is…" the woman rested her head against his chest. "Let me help you"

Her fading companion made an unwilling growl as she trailed her hands down his chest, red seeping into his rain soaked clothes. Close to the surface of her mind, Ishlia knew tonight would be the end of both of them. Her life would be lost, Efiel would disappear, and nothing would be the same. But at the very least, if she could intertwine their paths here…

"I will stay" she murmured within a desperate sob, her numb fingers undoing the ties of his breeches. "Even if I die I will stay…!"

Ishlia lifted her head as her nails brushed against the bared skin of the dark mage's thigh, her lips parted in earnest as she tried to touch them with his. A harsh tug at her peach hair made her stop, the woman freezing as rivets of pain shot through her tendered nerves.

"Even if you die…?"

The fire caster forced her ice blue eyes upwards, meeting the man's wine red ones with utmost sorrow. She could no longer call them Efiel's eyes.

"Even after you die, you will serve me. Is that so, Ishlia Noun?" the man spoke with a voice that masqueraded as something familiar.

Ishlia's vision blurred with tears. "Yes" she breathed, and by the roots of her hair she was dragged against him to have their lips crash together. It tasted like blood, murder and everything that was bitter. It was not a sweet or loving action, or even a kiss. It was a covenant- one that was sealed with the mouth from which she had sworn herself to him.

The rain would not stop. It poured down on them as Ishlia allowed him to toss her to the ground, her body sliding through the mud. The dark mage knelt over her, shielding the woman from the falling water. The sound of her dress tearing was like a crack of thunder in the fire caster's ears, blood filling Ishlia's mouth when her heart tried to pound. She threw her head to the side and began to cough, tremors wracking her body. The man she was giving herself to crushed her against the earth, his cold hands forcing her shoulders down. With a struggled intake of air Ishlia tried to still herself, the pain in her chest only worsening. "I'm alright…" the dying woman murmured, her tongue laden. "Please…"

In his crazed state of mind, Ishlia wondered if the man could even hear her. Surely he did not care for her well-being, but for some reason she still said such things. In the depths of her heart the woman knew she was pretending that Efiel was still there, merely hidden by the shadows. Pretending that the gaze he was using to look at her was of concern. In truth the only expression the man wore was indifference, his red eyes trailing across her revealed flesh like cold blood.

Numb from the chill of the rain and the agony radiating from within, Ishlia almost didn't feel it when the man slid his hand under her back, his nails scraping against the woman's skin. Shivering, the fire caster lifted her hands to his shoulders, pressing her bare torso against his soaked tunic. His breeches were barely loosened, giving just enough room for his manhood to be exposed. The extreme cold Ishlia felt as she curled her thighs about the material was almost biting, and it made the pain seem even fiercer when the dark arts master thrust into her for the first time.

Lovemaking. How many nights had she spent dreaming of such things?

For a brief moment Ishlia allowed herself to dream again, rocking her hips despite the hurtful burning sensation produced by the action. She wrapped her arms around the murderer's neck, closing her eyes as she imagined he was Efiel in more than just appearance. The fire caster felt him tilt her head back and she reopened her eyes, droplets of rain clinging to her lashes. She still couldn't see any emotion in the Luciffis' eyes, but as he ran a thumb over her bloodied lips she let herself think he would kiss her.

But, he did not kiss her. Instead the man lowered his red-stained fingers, brushing them against her damp shoulders methodically. Shuddering, the woman lowered her head to his chest, allowing her blue eyes to glance towards where he was touching her. He was drawing spell patterns, her blood smudging ever so slightly because of the rain. She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, longing for the gentle caresses that his actions seemed to parody.

When his hands had returned to grasping her arms too tightly Ishlia began to move against him again, the man this time responding to her hesitant motions with rough thrusts. The pain of being entered had subsided, but pleasure still seemed so far away, because Ishlia knew that if this person was really Efiel, it would be different. He would be tender and loving, and she would have been able to ignore the strike of rain against her skin and the blood pooling in her mouth.

Her heartbeat seemed to disappear as he suddenly came inside of her, heat washing through her core only to give way to the cold sentence of death. Ishlia slid her trembling hands through the dark mage's hair, pulling his face towards hers with strength she would never get back. Their lips met for just a moment, and the pressure of his mouth against hers made it seem like he really was kissing her this time. It came to an ended when the man rose to his feet, his crimson eyes watching as Ishlia's mouth curved into a smile.

"Efiel…" she sighed, shutting her eyes as if falling into a peaceful sleep.

The man to which that name did not belong watched quietly as the soul binding spell was activated, a burst of tamashiki arising from the corpse before him. A human figure started to take shape, the light weaving itself into slender limbs and modest curves. Ishlia Noun was dead and now alive again- his faithful servant until true death did them part. Redoing the ties of his breeches, the man gave the woman a smile that did not reach his eyes

"Come, Ishlia"

Efiel…

Gathering up her long peach hair with one hand, Fausto started to walk, dragging the woman's lifeless body along the forest floor as he went. Branches snapped under his feet, the broken limbs clawing at the corpse's flesh. With each footfall the man increased his pace, his scarlet eyes set on the dilapidated building that waited for him in the distance. Dawn was approaching, and the light of the sun would soon take away the protection nighttime had given him.

You have lost yourself in the darkness of fate…and so I will follow you into that darkness with the hope that my flame may one day abolish it.

When that time comes…surely…

Ethereal in form, Ishlia watched in silence as Fausto deposited her flesh and blood self on the old warehouse's floorboards, her once stunning blue eyes now veiled with a fire-like glow that made them seem dull.

We can be together.


A little drabble I've been working on during time not spent writing To The Hereafter chapters. One of Phantom Wizard's greatest charms for me was the brief glimpses of various side characters' relationships with one another. There's so much history, so many untold stories, and although the manga only focuses on Rudius and Mattie's, it makes those untold stories no less intriguing. But, for today, I look at only one of those relationships, and just a small portion.

This was meant to be a rather dark interpretation of what occurred after Ishlia and Efiel fled her village, and Ishlia's final thoughts before dying. I really wanted to convey the complexity of their actions- that although they were having sex, the reasons for it were far different than the commonplace desires shown in most stories. It was a first for me, writing something dark like this, so I hope I did okay with it.

Many thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!