The screams tore at Redglare's heart, the most bloodcurdling screams to ever pierce her ears. The screams of the Signless penetrated into her very chest, making it almost difficult to breathe. She wanted to shout with him, to fling herself to his side, but her cold exterior betrayed her tormented feelings. In front of the brutal Highbloods, she was but a humble servant to their laws, a brutal legislacerator who had brought justice to many. And make no mistake. She believed in the firm hand of justice, she believed that the sinful needed to be punished, cruelly if necessary. But this wasn't justice. This was just murder. And she had helped to do it.
Days ago, the Highbloods had captured the Signless at last, quelling the sectarian rebellions, which diminished into the dust, retreating into the shadows with their bright ideals. When she caught wind of his arrest, Redglare had requested to be on his guard, to see firsthand the face of the traitor. The highbloods had obliged her request, thinking her to be as cruel as they were. In some ways, she was. She hadn't lied about why she wanted to be there. By being on the Sufferer's guard, she could keep an eye on him herself, witness to his every pain. Not that she could do anything about his pain, but it eased her somewhat to be there. In another way, it was also something of a punishment to herself, for not standing beside him when she should have. While all of his followers had absconded, she remained behind to bear witness to his pain, his punishment. It hurt her tremendously to see his treatment, and all the while she knew that she couldn't possibly know what it was like, she knew that her meager form of penance was nothing in comparison to the sacrifice he was making.
So as they cut him, stabbed at him, shot him, whipped him, her crimson gaze remained fixed. She did not flinch, she did not look away. She looked on with regret and admiration at his bravery, his endurance. If he could endure such pain, she could endure the sight of it, she thought.
And when the miserable purple-bloods had had enough of the torture for one day, they left him to hang in misery from his chains, satisfied with the lack of progress they had made on him, glad to return the next day to do it again. And when they went away, Redglare tended to his wounds, bringing him food and water, and talking with him. Not once did she apologize for her betrayal or ask for forgiveness. She merely asked for more of his teachings, more of his words. She wanted to hear his voice as it was meant to be heard, to let it flow out of his own accord and not as a forced chord of pain. She loved listening to him.
On the first night, he had thanked her for bringing him food and water. When she asked him about the rebellions, he had obliged. She saw no penance in his eyes and it had moved her. She had always admired him and his cause from the shadows, but she had never met him personally. That first night was the first time she had ever spoken with him, and she immediately felt herself growing flushed. Before she could stop herself, her feelings became as red as the mutant blood that stained her hands.
On the second night, he was considerably weaker, but still he thanked her for her treatments. As a voice of kindness, his eyes lit up when he saw her, and gladly he told her more of what he stood for. As she listened, she felt her heart grow calmer, believing in everything he said. She began to listen to him with closed eyes, blind justice heeding the cries for equality, for color-blindness. What he taught was justice, it was truth. A legislacerator such as herself could only agree, such ideals were what she had stood for all along. After all, the hue of what lay beneath the skin of the defendant never mattered. If they were against the law, even the Highbloods could be subject to punishment and execution. The only one exempt was her Imperial Condescension, and that was an exception Redglare didn't believe in. But such thoughts were treason. But such treason was truth. And both were embodied in the Signless.
On the third night, he spoke less than ever before. One of his wounds was growing infected and leaking pus from the edges of the grey skin. She tended to it in silence, listening to his labored breathing and watching his eyes grow dimmer. She told him her name and asked for his in return. He refused. He had none, he had said. He had no sign, no place in the hemospectrum, no name by which he could be labelled by the society which had chained him. He was the Signless, he had said. Her only regret was that she had nothing to call him by.
On the fourth night, he cried. Tears flew from his eyes, stinging the cuts on his face. Physically he was on the brink of death, emotionally he was breaking. She listened to him in silence while she tended to his wounds. His heartbreak was hers, but she could do nothing. She asked him if he wanted to be set free, that she could devise a plan for his escape. It had only made him cry harder, and he had denied it furiously, refusing to put her in danger. He was beginning to resign himself to this fate. She wanted to hold him, but she feared it would break him. She wanted to comfort him, but she feared that it would be too cruel. She realized that at this point, he was starting to lose hope, and she also realized how cruel it would be to give him some when there was none to be had... no matter how much she wanted to.
On the fifth night, he told her not to bother with his wounds. He refused all food and drink. For the first night, he did not say thanks, and he did not look upon her when she approached. His sadness had turned to anger, frustration, he requested only solitude. She hung her head that she could not oblige. Her duty was to watch and guard him. She could only gaze on in remorse as the will to live, the will to love left him. The only love left between the two of them now was the love she held for him. He had lost his love for the world.
On the sixth night, he spat in her face, a mixture of his bright mutant blood and his spittle. Anger had turned into rage. His once compassionate words were interlaced with cynicism and hate. She told him the end would come soon, as a comfort. She had kissed him then, wanting to consume some of his rage, his pain. But she couldn't, and that night she cried into her hands, which were stained with his blood. It was her first display of her shame.
On the seventh day the Highbloods had had enough. He was nowhere near repenting. Bored of their game, they resigned to deliver the merciful blow of death. As the last of his breath left him, so did the last of his anger, his rage. He delivered his final sermon from that spot, drowning in his own blood and straining the chains that bound him tight. Redglare listened to every word intently, remembering it for the ages that would follow. She listened to the screams that would only ever be echoed in the shadows, in hushed whispers with belief and awe. She listened so that she could remember.
And after he passed, they determined to set his body ablaze. They handed Redglare the torch, and she had personally set him aflame. The Highbloods were pleased, Redglare was disgusted. She alone remained to watch him burn into ashes, and when all that was left was dust and the glowing red hue of his irons, she fell to her knees in sorrow. The justice she stood for died that day, no righteous deed she committed henceforth could redeem her. She could not atone for her cowardice. So she took his chains as a symbol, bestowing him a sign at last. Not because he wanted one, but only for the ease of his followers to remember him by. In life, he could not be tied down by a sign as one so outcast. But in death, he became an ultimate symbol, a martyr who would become history, history into legend, legend into myth.
But the Signless would return someday, in a descendant as hopeful and as bright as he once was. Redglare knew that she and many others would prepare for his second coming, ages in the future. She hoped that in that future, perhaps her distant descendant, a teal blood who could be truly blind to the caste differences as the Signless intended them all to be, that she could maybe love him as she had.