"Final Tribute" by StarDuchess
Vampire Game – by Judal, licensed by Tokyopop - I own none of it and make no money off this.
WARNING: Major spoilers ahead!
This takes place just after the main ending, before the epilogue. The great Vampire King Duzell has given his life into the La Gamme spell to defeat Lassen, thereby saving Princess Ishtar and stopping the war between Pheliosta and Razenia.
The castle workers had placed his body in a plain pine coffin with rusty nails sticking out everywhere and no decorations. Princess Ishtar had been livid with the disrespect of it all, but even though she had verbally assaulted all the nobility she could find, no one had lifted a finger to change the arrangements. After all, to them he was just her doctor. She had finally shed wailing tears when they shut the top.
"Oh, why, Duzie? Why?" She hadn't wanted her best friend to leave. She hadn't wanted him to give his life for hers. Wasn't that her job? Wasn't that the point of being St. Phelios' great-granddaughter, to follow in his sacrificial footsteps? She had been consumed with the futility of it all until her bodyguard, Captain Darres, woke from Lassen's poisoned sleep. He, at least, would live.
It took Darres several days to recover enough to travel. In the meantime a temporary truce was set up between the two countries. Yujinn and Lassen, both descendants of St. Phelios, were given proper funeral rites then sent back to their respective homes for burial. Once the captain had more fully recovered, the servants loaded up a wagon, coffin and all, and the odd family headed back for Pheliosta. Darres thought that Ishtar would be sobbing most of the way home; instead, she was uncharacteristically silent. The loss of both Yujinn and Duzell had hit her hard.
Upon returning home, Ishtar immediately ordered a large funeral pyre to be built out west of the castle, Duzell's body to be placed upon it. She went inside to freshen up and eat dinner, but her heart wasn't in the food. It kept reminding her of all the times when she would sneak Duzie some fruit or raw steak to feast upon. Then those thoughts would lead to the memories of sneaking out of the castle with her "twin" to fly around the countryside. Well, she wouldn't be doing any of that anymore. This war with Lassen had changed her radically. She was feeling responsible for the events of the last few weeks, that maybe if she had been paying more attention to political matters, this war could have been avoided, or at least the tragedies not been so great.
Sir Keld tried to debrief her of those recent activities in Razenia, but Ishtar kept spacing him out until he finally became exasperated.
"Your Highness, please, pay attention. These events have greatly altered the futures of both our countries. I need to understand what happened back there, so I will know how to deal…."
"Sir Keld, it's late, I've had a most active couple of weeks, and there's still Duzie's funeral to oversee. You'll have plenty more time to babble on incessantly tomorrow." The normally overly-perky jest fell flat tonight. She really was not up to this.
As night crept up on the land, Ishtar, Darres, General Selen, Selen's husband-to-be Sir Galahad and several other guards left through the west side of the castle.
"Your Highness," Sir Keld exclaimed. "You cannot go outside of the castle at night! You would be outside the protection of the legsarams and who knows what beasts may lay in wait. The vampires especially have taken a blow from all this and may retaliate in kind."
"No, Sir Keld," Ishtar replied. "There will be no blood shed tonight. All sides are in mourning." With that she turned away from her advisor and continued walking towards the pyre.
The servants had done a good job of collecting timber in the scant hours since the princess' return. The mound stood four feet high, seven feet long, but only two feet wide. Duzell's body had been laid on top, face up, with his arms straight at his sides. His black cape had been smoothed out as much as possible and the pointed ends hung down on both sides of the woodpile. His platinum hair had also been brushed out and the silky strands neatly framed his still features.
Ishtar stood at the center point and gazed down at her friend. Death looked so calm on him.
The courtiers expected a quick speech before the fire, but that didn't happen. Ishtar just stood there, staring, waiting.
After a time a light rain began to fall. It was strange. There weren't any clouds in the sky but water fell upon the field anyway. The spectators began hussling everyone to come in out of the unnatural mist, but the young monarch wouldn't budge. She knew the rain was magic and knew what it signaled, but she wasn't afraid. Out of the distance, a lone figure could be seen walking towards the small gathering. As he approached, the rain turned off. Many of the guards, already apprehensive, began to draw their weapons. Ishtar turned on them and said, "No, that won't be necessary." They were all confused by her words as they couldn't understand who was coming.
As the stranger stepped into the torchlight, the gathering could make out the form of a young soldier with short coppery hair. His armor was battered and his skin was smudged with dirt and dust. On one arm there was a simple plus sign. Instantly, General Galahad recognized him as the water monster he had fought against last week. Fear flowed down his spine as everyone else held their breaths waiting.
After a long moment, it was clear that the stranger would not attack.
"Illsaide," Ishtar said. "I wasn't sure if you would come."
He cautiously took the last few steps toward the group. Little flickers of recognition or confusion flitted around the other attendants. This is the Holy Warrior of Ci Xeneth? Galahad openly gaped, never imaging that the legendary champion was the same being as this monster. His powers were immense.
Illsaide couldn't meet Ishtar's eyes as he felt guilty for siding against her in this war. "Actually, I wanted to check up on Falan." It was sheepish and selfish, as if there was anything he could do for his sister if she was still under the Marquis vampire's control.
"Oh, she's doing much better. Once Sharlen and Lassen were dead, the blood magic quit working. She's up and about and feeling very relieved." Ishtar paused. "She's betrothed to Vord now."
Pain and despair and self-pity flowed across Illsaide's visage. He turned away from her; his hands clinched with the raw emotions. "Then, I have truly lost her," he whispered. He stood silent for a long moment until his eye fell on Duzell. A memory of a failed seduction came to the forefront of his mind. Laying a hand on the wooden pyre next to the reincarnated vampire king, he said: "You know? I think I could have liked Du a lot under different circumstances."
Ishtar gazed sadly at her cousin for a moment, then felt a slight change in the air, turning to the north.
To be concluded....
Author's Note: I've had this image in my head ever since reading the manga years ago. I thought the close of Judal's version was much too abrupt and there should have been some sort of resolve immediately after Duzell's death scene before the "Years Later" epilogue. Having re-read the ending in preparation for this fanfic, I realized that the story revolved around Duzell and his thoughts rather than Ishtar. So, thematically, it ended correctly. I just personally wanted his funeral.
It was hard to write Ishtar's character because she was an energetic, take-no-bull, talkative teenager in the story, but I figured if any event could shut her up, it would be Duzell's or Darres' deaths. She ended up being very subdued. Please feel free to comment on how far off I am on these personalities.