Author's Note: The last chapter! If you liked it, let me know.
Thanks for reading!
Those first few months were difficult.
Caius was used to standing at Yeul's side every day, hearing her soft voice in conversation during meals, and catching the small smile she sent his way when something amused her. He continued to expect to see her each morning in the Temple of Etro, or to see her silvery head in a crowd. Every time he passed her doorway, he couldn't prevent himself from automatically looking inside. He was shocked all over again, each time, to see her room so empty.
He missed the Sermons and occasionally he stood in the archway of the Audience Chamber in the Temple, trying to reconstruct his memory of Yeul sitting straight-backed in the chair, her eyes closed in concentration.
He loathed the utter silence during mealtimes.
But worse were the dreams he had of her.
He began to spend his days near the Ruby of Grief. Sometimes he spoke a few words to her, but mostly he stood by her side and looked out across the valley where Paddra sprawled. He felt more at peace with the crimson orb hovering above his head than he did in the city.
The Silentknife Clan attacked the following winter. Caius fought with the rest of the Farseer soldiers - partly for the yet-undiscovered Yeul, and partly for the Yeul he had known, whose memory stayed in his mind, ready to overwhelm him if he allowed it. It was during that time that Caius discovered that Yeul had been right, long ago, when she mentioned that Caius was not so different from herself; he could not die.
In a way, Caius considered it his penance: his penance for his poor performance as Guardian.
In the end, the Silentknives were turned away and Paddra experienced peace once again.
The new Yeul was found five years later.
When the head priestess introduced little Yeul to Caius, the girl clung to the priestess's robes. She hid half of her face in the fabric so only one green eye peeked out. She didn't reply when Caius told her his name.
"She's shy, the poor thing," the priestess explained benevolently.
Of course Yeul would not remember him - Caius knew that. But he felt disappointed all the same.
He knelt down until he was face-to-face with the young seeress. "I will keep you safe," he promised quietly.
The little girl blinked. Tentatively she reached out her hand. She brushed the short string of scarlet beads that hung over Caius's brow and smiled radiantly when they sparkled in the light. "Pretty," she breathed.
Caius bowed his head and shut his eyes. "I will not fail you this time... Yeul."
The years passed.
The little Yeul grew up and then another took her place. And another. And another. Caius, never changing, lived through the lifetimes of the seeress by her side. Each Yeul was different from the last, and so was incomparable to the first he had known. Caius told himself that he was pleased by this; that he was not slightly unsettled to sometimes see expressions or hear phrases that never would have appeared on her face or her mouth.
He did come to love each Yeul. But he could not bring himself to fully open himself up as he once did, knowing that the end of her brief, bright life was inevitable.
At times Caius would glance out his window to the distant rocky hillside. He couldn't see the Ruby of Grief from that distance, but he thought of her.
Then civil war broke out. Yeul prophesied of Paddra's destruction and the nation tore itself apart. Caius, with the others who guarded Yeul, took the seeress and stole away from the chaos and into the wilderness. When he glanced back at the crimson orb for a last look, the veiled Yeul followed his eyes questioningly.
"Are you well?" She asked, unsure of what to make of the distant expression on her Guardian's face.
He turned away and deftly covered his head with his hood. "Yes," he said gravely, refusing to meet her pointed gaze.
Behind his back, Yeul exchanged a puzzled glance with one of her other protectors but dropped the subject.
As they crept into the wild, dark forests of Pulse, Caius thought of her one last time. Farewell, Yeul, he told her. I wish you peace and hope that, one day, you may find happiness once again.
"I see," Yeul murmured. She looked out across the green rolling hills of the Archylte Steppe. The sun was sinking behind her distant clouds, coloring the western sky rose. The forgotten playing cards had been scattered by the wind. Yeul picked one up absently. "I see," she said again.
Caius said nothing. He wished he had not told her about his history; emotions and memories that he had fought to bury were rising, vibrant in his mind's eye. He swallowed, fighting the wave of anguish that threatened to strangle him.
"The world has changed so much," Yeul murmured and Caius glanced up at her. "So many years have passed since then, but you are here."
She looked over at him and Caius wondered what she saw. Was she thinking of the years he had witnessed, that didn't reflect in his appearance? Was she thinking of that Yeul - the first Yeul, his Yeul - and wondering how he could look at her, knowing she was a visual duplicate of the one he had loved?
Yes. He had struggled with that, too.
Yeul tilted her head to the side. "Do you feel sad often? I mean, when you think about her?"
Caius looked away from her and out into the sunset. His stomach twisted painfully. "I try not to," he told her quietly.
She misunderstood him. Relief pulled at her lips. "Well then," she said with a shrug, "as long as you have me, I promise you'll never be lonely."
Caius smiled. It was a self-mocking, ironic, bitter smile. Such loneliness was his constant companion in his never-ending life. "Yes," he said and watched as her mouth stretched into a satisfied grin.