DISCLAIMER: The D&D Cartoon belongs to someone else, and this is written because it seemed like good fun and I enjoy it, not for financial gain.
RATING: PG-13 (for implied character death)
PROMPT: Written for the LJ Deathfic prompt #1 Regret.
SUMMARY - His only regret was that he hadn't done it sooner.
Author Note - I suppose this is a kind of alternative universe fic. Again. Set quite a while after the end of Season 3. This was originally published on my journal in 2007. I intended to put it up here as well, but other things got in the way.
The sky was a deep shape of purple and red, and the three moons were casting long shadows through the gloom of evening.
Hank sat, perched on the edge of the wall, cleaning the knife and looking out over the courtyard below, watching all the busy people flowing in and out of the castle gateway, not knowing what had just happened and how the world had changed.
Despite his fear and hesitations, and despite the delay, it hadn't been as difficult as he'd thought it would be. Somehow, he'd expected more mess, more noise, more everything, really. It was almost straightforward.
He hadn't thought it would be straightforward. Was death supposed to be straightforward? He'd imagined that death so many times before, how his victim would act, would fall, would plead, would fight. None of it was right. None of his imaginings could have anticipated what had happened. There was nothing clever, nothing fancy or slick, just a knife and quick reflexes; death and then a feeling of tremendous satisfaction.
He didn't notice the other man approaching. Only when the ex-Cavalier sat down on the wall did Hank realise Eric was there beside him.
The two friends let the companionable silence stretch between them for a long time, as the twilight from the suns turned from purple to the soft blue of night. There was no need to talk just yet. But still, Hank was glad his friend was there to wait with him.
Below, a clock struck the change in hour, and the day was done. The day he'd waited for for years had finally been, and gone.
Hank breathed a long slow breath, surprised at the relief he so clearly felt. Eric sensed it too, and he turned to Hank with a relaxed smile.
'See,' said Eric. 'I told you it would be easy.'
Hank nodded. He should have taken Eric's advice years ago. If he had, everything might have been different.
'It was easy,' he agreed. 'Very easy.' Too easy. The death had almost been too easy. It would have been good to make his victim suffer as much as he'd suffer. It had been tempting as well. But the fact that he was dead was enough, that justice was finally done and his thirst for vengeance was finally sated.
'What did I tell you!' said Eric.
'The destruction of one's Nemesis is very satisfying,' said Eric with a slow, sly smile creeping over his face and as he spoke, he reached up to touch the white crystal that hung on a golden chain on his chest. In the low light of the evening, the crystal stood out starkly against the other man's dark maroon robes.
'Yes,' said Eric in a sudden, stern tone. 'Yes, you have done well, Ranger!'
He gave a light, sardonic laugh, and Hank joined in, even though he never quite shared his friend's taste for irony.
'But I think that's ex-Ranger now,' he said. 'I'm not the Ranger any more.'
Saying it was like taking a huge weight off his shoulders. He wasn't the Ranger anymore. That young, idealistic child was gone, just like all the others.
'True,' said Eric with a sigh. 'So, I'll have to think up a new title for you.'
The two young men laughed at the shared joke.
'You should have been an Anti-Paladin,' said Eric with a smirk. 'But that's so clumsy to say. And it doesn't suit you. You need something more… powerful. More imposing.'
'How about Destroyer? Or Warlord.' Warlord was good, he would like to be the Realm's Warlord. Much more impressive than mere Ranger!
But Eric shook his head.
'No. Warlord is too like Warduke, or Warlock, and we can't have more w's! It's bad enough with just those two! Besides, the Warlock would be furious and we'll never hear the end of it! I'd rather not have to put up with more complaints.'
Hank smirked, knowing what Eric wanted him to say.
'He would have suited Sorcerer much better!'
'I know!' said Eric with a sigh. 'But there's no arguing with Presto these days. Besides, it's done now. I can't change it.'
'So, how about "Destroyer"?'
There was a pause then both men shook their heads simultaneously.
'Naah,' said Hank. 'Too blunt. No finesse!'
'You know, Avenger is beginning to grow on me,' said Eric at last. 'A-Venger: The opposite of Venger. It has a pleasing symmetry to it, considering...' There was a momentary pause. 'Yes. I like it.'
'Avenger,' said Hank softly. Could he really go by that title, after what he'd just done? Eric had a point, it did have a nice symmetry to it. Somehow, it felt right.
'Avenger it is then,' said Eric, standing up and turning to Hank. They looked eye to eye for a moment, and Hank could sense the phenomenal power that rested just under the surface of his friend, just behind those dark, lifeless eyes.
Then, to Hank's surprised, Eric bowed slowly, showing more reverence than he had ever shown any one else.
'My lord, the Avenger of the Realm.'
Avenger of the Realm! That was a good title to hear. And it was his now; no one could take it away from him.
Hank reached out, resting his hand on Eric's shoulder, signalling him to rise.
'Thank you, Dungeonmaster.'
Eric rose, again looking him directly in the eye.
'The others will be wondering what happened, and anxious to know all the gory details. Are you ready?'
'And no regrets?'
The Avenger shook his head. He'd had this chance once before, and he'd stepped away from that final act of destruction. And because of that his love had died in his arms. And because of that, they could never go home.
Hank stood up, holding his head high. Eric was right. It was time he faced up to his responsibilities and abandoned the past and everything that might have been; and forgot about the dead.
But there was a small, nagging voice in the back of him mind. There was just one, just one single, tiny regret: that he hadn't done this sooner.