'At times I feel that I am asleep. The dream has been long, very long, and I must say that I quite enjoyed it... but if the Night Mother desires my death, I would much rather die - awake. You will give me that chance, won't you? '.
The water is still, so still, with barely a ripple breaking its dark surface. You are standing on the stone edge of the basin, gazing down at the crystals that you hold in your hand. They emit a faint reddish light, so it appears as if there is blood sipping through your tightly clenched fingers.
You smile, the reflection of the crystals' glow flickering in your eyes, and say softly, 'Quite an ingenious fellow, this Greywyn…'
At the sound of your voice my heart gives a sudden, painful jolt, and I mutter, turning away and attempting to fake an eager interest in the dust on my boots, 'Yes… Quite… quite ingenious…'
They all had their last wish carried out. You are the only one left. Back in Cheydinhal, I called a meeting where I announced the Black Hand's decision to eliminate all the Brothers and Sisters in the Sanctuary but me. It was decided that, as the last token of my friendship, I would kill each family member the way they themselves desired. And they all made their choices.
Telaendril stood with her back against the Marksman target in the Training Room, bared her chest and had me pierce it with a poison arrow.
Gogron consumed an exceptionally large dose of Skooma, prepared by me especially for him; overcome by wild frenzy, he rushed through the streets, waving his war axe at imaginary foes, and as the town guards accosted him, he collapsed at their feet, limp and helpless; but when they clasped handcuffs over his wrists, they could feel no pulse, for his heart had stopped beating. M'raaj-Dar did not seem to care about the manner of his demise much; he just shrugged his shoulders and said briskly, 'Oh, do whatever you like, smother me with a pillow or something'; that I did.
Ocheeva and Teinaava needed no assistance of mine; locked in one last embrace, they drove their daggers through each other's hearts, and died side by side, just as they had been born. Antoinette Marie… well, she did not actually make a choice; she took the hardest to Lachance's orders – apparently, she had had a bit of a crush on him; so when she cried herself to sleep, I gently smeared her lips with poison; she drifted into Void without even waking up.
Thus, all the Brothers and Sisters were taken care of – all but you. Your choice was very… particular. The two of us traveled all the way south, to Deepscorn Hollow, walking at night and sleeping at daytime, seeking shelter from the scorching sunlight in the quiet, dark coolness of ruins and caverns. At times, I would venture into a settlement, gliding among the shadows, and prey on the unsuspecting sleepers; but you would never accompany me.
'What is the use of sustaining my strength when I am about to die?' you would reply, smiling, to my pleas to share my nocturnal feasts; and your smile and your voice would make me hide my face and bite into my own flesh, in order to stifle sobs. And at last, we arrived here, in my hidden lair, which once was my pride and joy, and which I now wish I had never acquired.
Finally, you take your eyes away from the crystals and say, still smiling, 'Well, I suppose I should get started. Can't keep you waiting, now can I?'
You put the crystals down on the stone floor next to you and start undressing. You do it so slowly and carefully that it almost hurts looking at you pulling off your boots, untying the lace on the front of your shirt, fiddling with the fastenings of your belt buckle… I am overcome with an urge to leap up to you and crush the crystals with my heel, and grab you by the hands and beg you not to do this… I know you are not the traitor; you can't be; in due time, we will convince the Black Hand of this; and while we are figuring out how to do it… we can always fake your death, can't we? Perhaps get hold of more Langorwine? Surely, we can think of something?
I make an uncertain movement towards you; but it's too late; the moment is gone; you pick up the crystals again, take a long, deep breath, and with a brief, encouraging nod at me, as if it's me and not you who is about to die – and step into the basin. You shiver and rub your shoulders and exclaim, with a small laugh, 'Why, it's so cold!' and start swimming.
I clasp my hands to my mouth and watch, unblinking, my whole body suddenly numb, as you move closer and closer to the pillar in the middle. Maybe… maybe if I cry out… But my throat is dry and parched... Please… oh, please, don't touch it... Don't touch the pillar… We still have a chance… Don't, please…
You have already touched it…
A blinding blue light shoots from beneath your fingers; you stagger and fall back, bending in two, as if with sharp pain. I gasp; life comes rushing back into my limbs; with a deafening splash, I spring into the basin and wade towards you. I catch you in my arms and pass my trembling hands over your face; it is changing… changing… It is shriveled now, like a sheet of ancient parchment, deeply-lined and ashen-gray; in half a minute, you have aged three hundred years... You open your eyes and look up at me; I see that their real color has come back to them; they are light-hazel, almost green… You… you have such beautiful eyes… The corners of your mouth twitch, as you attempt to say something; but at you make a movement, your frail body crumbles into dust, which mingles with the water at my feet. I stare at the murky mass swirling around my boots; and suddenly I realize what you tried to mouth.
'I… I love you too, Vicente…' I whisper, falling to my knees…
I get up – eventually – and, staggering, find my way into the cattle cell; there, I tear into the neck of my prisoner and drink, drink till the room around me is one great red blur…
Hours later, I wake up – the Minion must have carried me off into the bedroom – and crawl out of my coffin, clutching my head and wincing with unbearable pain – hangover from blood is far worse than that from wine. I suppose I should make my way to Fort Farragut and report a successful mission…