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3/5/2024 22:18:34   

“Knight of Whispers.”

Slim fingers-- shaking, desperate-- grasp Order’s crisp white.

“Though you show great cunning and wit, you have failed to grasp yourself amidst the ever-flowing tides of Chaos.”

Whisper’s pull swings sideways, yanking the Knight of Honor beside them. They hear nothing-- not his breath, not their own heartbeat. only the voice.

You are not our champion. You are Dismissed.

The Whisper’s fingers leave Order’s white cloth. If Vale does have a heart-- and right now, she is not sure-- it has surely stopped beating.

She is no defender of Life. She is just a pretend Knight with a pretend blade.

Vale stands limp, eyes set blankly on Order’s tiles. Her chest rises and falls in shallow movements, each breath sending a new stab from her broken ribs. She is frozen. Rejected. Dismissed.

A gentle clang draws her ears, but she moves nothing more. Another shallow breath-- she can feel her heart beating, weakly-- and her own blade’s dark metal flickers into her vision. The duelist’s stained and crumpled white pants appear beside it; he stands before her, though she does not want to look. She takes the blade wordlessly and stows it in its sheath, an awkward fit without its other half. Of course she would be nothing to him. Just another victory. Another dismissed.

Vale’s brows knit in sudden confusion as they feel a weight clap onto their head. What…? Finally, they tip their chin up to meet the duelist’s face, and his hand, pressing something onto their head, follows the movement. A brim of some kind blocks the top of their vision. A-- his hat. He stands before them now, dirty blond hair tangled atop his bare head. “Twas an incredible duel.” His voice is warm in their ears as they search his face. Their eyes trace the smoothness of his features, their stark contrast to his grandiose clothes and attire. “I await for our blades to cross once more.” They feel a warmth rise to their cheeks as they meet his gaze. His eyes are the blue of a morning sky, glinting as his lips pull into a grin. They push their focus forward, but instead of being awash with his Song, they feel a breath layer over their own. A confusing sort of warmth flickers, given through him and echoed by themself. Beneath it, Vale could almost grasp a fluttering hum.

Vale does not understand her own movements as she reaches upwards. Her fingers wrap firmly around Ladd’s wrist, thumb pressing into the palm of his hand. She lowers it gently under the hat’s brim, watching it, unable to meet his eyes. With a gentle breath, she slides her touch to his fingers and presses the back of his hand against her forehead. His hand is so calloused, so warm, and his touch sends a flush across her face.

The quiet flutter in her voice surprises the vulpe. “I think I found a third option. In defeat.” Ask. Let me say it.

“Then follow it with all of your heart.” His voice is so genuine, so confident, so unaware. Vale’s lips curl into a smile. We shall see, Ladd Nissent.

She lowers his hand from her face and lets it slip from her grasp. “Until we meet again, Ladd.” Vale steps aside, to turn from him, but halts for a moment, feeling the weight of his broad hat atop her head. Mischief breaks across her face as she meets Ladd’s eyes once more, still raptly gazing at her. She crosses her legs and bends at the waist. Her hand flicks in a grandiose series of spins before finally grasping the front of the hat and tipping it low towards the man. She rights herself-- only stumbling slightly as pain flashed across her ribs again-- and meets his eyes one last time, her tail flicking back and forth. Even after she turns from him, his eyes echo in her vision, and she knows she will never find a morning sky quite like his.

The vulpe bends and scoops up the second half of their blade. Their right wrist throbs, and they manage to tuck the halves under their arm and awkwardly latch and sheathe them with one hand. Their portal shimmers a ways before them, its destination clouded with smoke. But… the vulpe’s eyes fall upon Elysia, the Knight of Storms. Fellow Dismissed.Vale’s heart flickers as they see her former opponent collapsed against the battlefield’s mast. They turn, adjusting their path as they force their steps forward through the stabbing pain in their stomach.

“Leaving alongside me, I hope?” Vale knows the woman is done fighting; they aren’t quite sure if she could even stand at the moment. But their steps slow cautiously; the Knight of Storms was powerful, and Vale desperately hopes she wouldn’t lash out if the vulpe draws near. Uncertainty tinges Vale’s thoughts as Elysia offered no response. Memories of those laughing by the fire, oblivious to Vale’s presence, rise unbidden. What if…

Elysia’s voice, strained and in pain, interrupts Vale’s worries. “I can’t hear you.” The Knight reaches a hand to Vale, a request for help. “But I can see you.”

Relief washes through Vale’s form as a smile breaks across her face. Perhaps Elysia could be… a friend. Vigor renewed, Vale strides and reaches down to grasp Elysia’s hand tightly. She pulls, trying to yank Elysia to her feet-- and doubles forwards as the weight causes lightning to shoot through her stomach. She stumbles, and the Knight deftly thrusts her arm forwards, bracing Vale by the shoulders to keep her from falling. A laugh escapes Vale’s lips, a tired laugh as she realizes how ridiculous the pair must look.

The Knight of Whispers resets themself and kneels down beside Elysia. Sparks crackle across the vulpe’s skin as they wrap an arm firmly under Elysia’s arm and start to pull her upwards. The pair stands slowly, each leaning their own weight on the other, and Vale hears a quiet, “thank you.” They hobble slowly together, silently. It is nice to be held, to feel someone’s weight against their own.

They pause a breath before Elysia’s portal. Vale is reluctant to let go, unsure if Elysia could walk through on her own. But the Knight of Storms gives a weak, reassuring squeeze around Vale’s shoulders. The vulpe untangles themself from Elysia, and Elysia steps forward on her own, reaching a hand towards her portal. Vale is not sure if Elysia will hear her. But…

"Live freely, Elysia.”

Vale smiles sadly as Elysia disappears into her portal. Goodbye, friend.

Vale turns back from her portal-- to one last person. Ayane stands, hunched, similar to when Vale had watched her kneel at the pyramid’s tip.

Vale whispers, strong and forceful. Ayane is Kon’s last remaining Knight. Defend the lives I could not.

"Ayane-- win.””

Vale’s fingers brush against the feather of her duelist’s gift as she reaches a hand to hold it tight. Lavender eyes take one last glance over the battlefield. Her mask lies here, somewhere-- and here it will stay. Her blood dots the tiles. Her whispers echo through the Knights. And she is unsure whether she will see them again-- but she knows in her heart, in her Song that swells as she steps into the mist-- that they will see her.
Post #: 26
3/8/2024 15:12:54   

With the stage set for their duel, Ayane wasted no time as she lunged towards her equal. She couldn’t afford to hesitate. But inspite of everything that was on the line, the shrine maiden found herself smiling.

<Ladd Nisent...>

It was like a dance. As Ayane lashed out with her shadowy curls, Ladd stepped back, narrowly avoiding the strike only for another and another to come his way. Her resolve seemed unstoppable, but Ladd held firm in a defensive stance. Ladd held his blade close; he was careful not to overextend himself. He twirled his wrist, deflecting one blow with his rapier before adjusting for the next.


Ayane bared her teeth in a wide grin. The beast within was tamed, the chorus’s fury channeled into something greater as Ayane moved like a force of nature. She fell upon him with all four of her limbs, and though Ladd was gifted beyond measure, he simply could not keep up. One strike slipped through the cracks. He was a second too slow, and a shallow swipe traced his arm, the crimson rising from his flesh. As their dance continued, the two slowly made their way closer to the edge of the battlefield. Ayane had him on the backfoot; it was only a matter of time before she completely overwhelmed him. But this whole time, Ladd was watching her, examining her for any opening. Suddenly, he found his opportunity–

As Ayane dove towards Ladd, the duelist stepped to the side. Blood still dripping from his palm and his arm, Ladd flicked his wrist, and the blood shot out of his hand like an arrow. Ayane gasped as the blood fell upon her face and a red veil clouded her sight. The shrine maiden drew back, her momentum stalled as she wiped the crimson on her sleeve.

<That was impressive–>

Ayane smiled as her sight returned to her, only to find the duelist only a breath away. With her guard broken, Ladd went on the offensive. He reached out with his rapier and slid its tip to her chest. Barely a scratch, as if it was meant to get her attention– but then Ayane felt the force swell on her chest, multiplying over and over in an instant until she was thrust back.

<A work of art–>

As Ayane stumbled back, a flash of fear shot through her mind. Gravity pulled at her form, the checkered tiles rising to meet her. She was falling– in that instant, Ayane was falling, and a raw fear took over her.

<There’s no need to be afraid.>

A hum escaped Ayane’s lips as the chorus whispered in her ears. Trusting in her own strength, the maiden closed her eyes and gave herself over to the fall. Like bolts of lightning, her hair swept under her, catching Ayane and propping her up.

<It’s your turn–>

Ayane pushed off the ground, rolling to the side. As she did, one strand swept across the ground, crashing into Ladd’s legs and knocking him over. Rising to her feet, Ayane could feel the excitement coursing through her nerves. As Ayane approached, her hum still on her lips, she felt the ache creeping across her body. The warmth rippled through the maiden’s sore flesh like hot magma, her deaden pain slowly returning to her.

<It's not enough. Let me experiance more!>

Ladd was still on the ground, his breath heavy and labored. Her eyes wandered to his rapier, and her hair soon followed. But just as the shadows brushed against the steel, Ladd pulled his rapier away. Like a blur, he pushed off the ground, throwing his weight upward like a shooting star. Ayane gasped as he slammed against her chest, her hum ceasing as the air was forced from her lungs.

As Ayane staggered back, she clutched her chest. Pain flooded her lungs with each breath. As soon as her breath returned to her, a chuckle filled her throat.

<This... This is what I was missing!>

The shrine maiden slammed her fist against the ground. Ayane leapt to her feet, her hair swirling around her like a black curtain. Just as she expected, Ladd was not satisfied– a primal urge filled him just as it filled Ayane. It was as if the two were connected, as if by fighting they grew to know each other.

Ladd stepped forward, arching his heels as the rapier shifted in his hand.

<Go on, Ladd–>

As the curtain swirled around Ayane, the strands danced together, crossing and folding until it turned into a woven shield before her.

<A simple obstacle–>

With grace, the duelist flew forward, years of honed precision guiding his rapier. But as he thrusted the blade towards Ayane’s shield, it opened wide like a net.

<But the perfect surprise.>

Ayane stepped to the side, the steel narrowly avoiding her shoulder. As Ladd’s arm passed through woven hair, it snapped shut, closing around his arm with an infernal grip. Her soft laughter turned riotous as Ayane reached out and clutched his arm.

“I think I understand now, Ladd.”

“For what could you mean?” Ladd’s words wavered in his throat, his voice labored but still brimming with enthusiasm.

She pulled back, dragging the duelist around in circles. He barely kept his balance as his feet skidded across the checkered tile. With all her being, Ayane roared as she lifted Ladd with all four arms and threw him into the air.

“This is what it means to live!”

As Ladd left her grasp, Ayane took a deep breath, watery tears of pure joy trickling down her face. The sorrows of the past could not catch up to her; her hopeless future was yet to be determined. Centuries of strife and agony fell away as the burdens were lifted from her shoulders. In this moment, she was alive, and no one could take her joy away. It seemed Ladd felt the same, his laughter filling the air.

Ayane rushed after her thrown companion. She pulled her arm back, primed to deliver the final blow. But just as the duelist’s feet touched the checkered tile, Ladd took fate into his own hands. He bounced forward, lunging at Ayane with blinding speed. The shrine maiden pushed herself to her knees, sweeping her arm up to catch her rival. But Ladd had one final trick up his sleeve. Suddenly, the duelist fell from the air, slamming down on the tile and grounding himself. As her strike went wide, Ladd threw his weapon forward, and Ayane closed her eyes. As the moment neared its conclusion, a single thought lingered in her mind.

<... I’m so glad to be alive.>
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 27
3/8/2024 15:19:20   

Thump… Thump… Thump...

As Ladd finished speaking, the sound of his heart deafened all other senses. Two champions remained and two gods watched. Their recognition alone should have satiated any duelist, but not Ladd. To falter here would cast an ignominy on him and the legacy he stood for. To lose would give him two choices: Shame or death. The third path still evaded him.

Ayane wasted no time in taking the offensive. The pitter-patter of her footsteps broke through the consistent yet quickening beat of Ladd’s heart.

He tried to sharpen his mind to a point. To tune out all the unnecessary sounds and senses and strip the fight to its bare essentials. The skill of aligning his mind, body, and soul Ladd had practiced for years-- but the haze of his exhausted mind was too dulled to achieve it. His ability to read and track Ayane’s movements lessened substantially.

The shadow strands whipped in vicious swipes. Each appeared from the murkiness of her figure and slashed in every direction. His body slugged to follow the commands of the mind. As he would move to intercept one attack, another would slip through his guard. For each edge he evaded, another would land. Ladd knew he wouldn’t last in a contest of endurance. He looked for an opportunity to change the pace of the duel, but the enigma of shadows made Ladd hesitate.

His mind wandered, unable to maintain focus. Her style certainly resembled Ephemera, but she was far more controlled and measured in her attacks. Possibly they shared the same school, one that specialized in hair-based weaponry.

He held his broken hand in reserve, still dripping with blood. He felt the buzzing of his energy perforating within it.

Thump..! Thump..! Thump..!

As the beats got louder, Ladd almost feared it would break under the pressure. Beaten, bleeding, and bruised, Ladd felt his body slow even more. But his heart refused to let it give.

Just as Ladd believed he would falter, Ayane overstepped. Ladd dodged backward once more while flexing his broken hand towards her. The blood still charged with his essence immediately reacted to Ladd’s beckoning. It blinded her for just the right amount of time.

As Ladd landed on his back foot, he flicked his rapier towards her chest. The movement was so quick that it only barely scraped her chest. The energy that laced the tip of the blade infused itself within the slight wound.

As soon as it was applied, Ladd ousted the energy away from him. The blinded Knight of Sacrifice stumbled backward and Ladd capitalized on the moment. With his control over the flow of the fight returning to him, he sprang forward.

His blade arched forward in a well-practiced motion. The expected impact of metal to bone never came. Where he thought Ayane would catch herself she kept falling, her hair cradling her body. Front leg extended, Ladd's foot was swept from under him and came quickly crashing to the ground.

In a panic, Ladd tried to catch himself, but his broken knuckles hit the ground before he could stop it. Fresh pain shot through his arm, causing a static ripple through his body. As he scrambled to get up once more, his arm refused to comply with the body once more and he found himself stuck on the ground.

The shadow of Ayane loomed over him. He couldn’t see much but her smile. That was not a grin of malevolence-- it was a smile Ladd knew well. The grin reflected within her soul and resonated with Ladd’s. A warrior she was, and a duelist she may yet be.

Ladd’s soul took charge as the other pillars of himself failed. Both hands and feet were fueled with energy in a desperate gambit. Pushing all of them, he launched himself towards the towering figure. Ladd’s shoulder collided hard with her and he tumbled on the ground a short distance away.

Ladd forced himself off the ground quickly. His body protested, but now was not the time to heed its whining. Ladd would make sure his body would break before his spirit would.

Ayane stood as Ladd did. her hair swirled around her and formed into a shield, but he could see gaps in its design. The faulty shield may stop a lesser blade, but his confidence in himself won over his mind’s plea for caution.

Like a snake, rapier’s fang twisted towards its prey. It weaved through the shield, almost too easily. Before Ladd could back away, the gaps in the shield widened. His momentum carried him through as the strands clamped around his arm like a vice.

As he struggled to free his arm, Ladd was dragged into a waltz. The dance was interrupted by a joyous voice that spoke to him,

“I think I understand now, Ladd.”

Curiosity coursed through Ladd’s veins. He couldn’t hide it from his voice as he replied.

“For what could you mean?”

The moment of relative brevity only made him realize how much he had overexerted himself. just a bit longer he commanded, withstand a bit longer.

“This is what it means to be alive!”

Their dance quickened into a twirl. The vice on his arm wrenched Ladd around and he was hurled into the air. As his ascent began, his mind pondered Ayane’s words.

Another has found the joy of dueling. A tight rope to walk, as Ladd knew best. To enjoy something so fickle as to disappear only seconds after it is finished. Would he curse another with the same heart as his own? He doesn’t know but he won’t deny the siren call of a duelist’s heart that begged for combat as much as his.

A cheerful laugh filled his lungs. Yes, this was what it meant to be alive. At the brink of life and death, the future became less and less clear. The only truths were the sword you held and the skill you possessed.

Alas, these moments only last for so long, and a familiar feeling washed over Ladd. This duel was coming to a close. His body could barely keep up anymore and his mind was fogged in exhaustion but he couldn’t bear to quit when he was so close to seeing it to the end. For once, Ladd wasn’t certain who would outlast the other. This troubled Ladd, greatly.

Ladd poured as much essence he could into his feet and he wiped the little remaining energy he had onto his chest. This battle would end within the next strike, Ladd would make sure of that.

Like a cat, Ladd landed on both his feet. Without hesitation, Ladd immediately catapulted himself off the ground, directing his energy to launch him towards Ayane. The wind whistled past his ears and his short shaggy blonde hair flowed with it.

Thump! Thump! Thump!

His blade tore through the air, aiming for a deadly descent upon the approaching shrine maiden. A wicked claw raked upwards, but Ladd used his final trick. Commanding the last of his essence, Ladd pushed his body downwards, immediately planting himself firmly on the ground. Ayane’s claw slashed through nothing but air.

Serenity. Unadulterated and calm. His heart may roar for another battle and his soul may feel hollow without it but it's in this moment that Ladd felt truly as himself. The well-fought duel with the certainty of his blade combined into a stillness of his mind that could not be found anywhere else. The sword and Ladd shared in the silent hum of tranquility as it traveled to the end.

Its predestined target closed her eyes, allowing fate to decide the outcome.
Post #: 28
3/10/2024 16:21:23   

Chromatic ArchKnight of RP

Suffocating silence flooded the battlefield. It lingered for but a moment, before making way for a cacophony of voices, a chorus of screams and laughter all at once that choked away thought and reason. With these sounds came the deep scent of incense, drifting gently across the field. The stars above receded, just once, before flaring with intense, blinding brilliance.

And the Battlefield roared.

The stars seemed to almost spit their lights upon the tiles, scattering blotches of ink across the pure, pristine white in unreadable stains. The scales shook violently, discharging a single orb of solid, unmoving silver. It exploded into ink upon the tiles, and with its death the rigging upon the pillars shifted from hazel ropes to crimson ribbons. As one they broke, tearing free from the ground and billowing madly in the windless void. Between these dancing ribbons appeared a final portal, its destination clouded by blackest ink and bloodied cloth.

One final orb remained, an orb filled with the same ink and blood that the battlefield now reflected, forcing The Scales out of balance.

Chaos spoke alone, its myriad of voices drowning Order’s fury.

Ayane. Champion of Sacrifice. Maiden. Priestess. Conqueror of Burdens, both owned and forced. You have brought me victory on this day, and for this, we acknowledge you. You have tipped the scales of war in Our favor - so, too, will we replay you. Return home with the Blessing of Chaos, and may the scales weigh ever in your favor.

The ink-stained orb descended to rest before its champion, bursting forth in a flood of shadow and light to form a final gateway from the battlefield. Above, The Scales remained unbalanced, tipped in favor of the battle’s victor. In favor of Chaos.

Post #: 29
4/25/2024 16:16:43   

Time slowed to a crawl. As the duel came to a close, each instant felt like an eternity. The whole universe grew silent as the Ladd’s blade drew close and closer. The only sound Ayane could hear was the beating of her heart. In this final moment, she finally found a glimmer of resolution–

<Finish this.>

–only for it to be torn away.

Silence turned to uproar as Ladd lashed the blade against Ayane’s temple. She screamed– the chorus screamed, not from the earthly pain, but from something far more terrible.

<... The hairpiece!>

As the steel ripped into the maiden’s hair, it slammed against the fire-studded flower, knocking it aside. Something primal ignited within Ayane. Instincts took over, and she slammed against the duelist with a force far beyond even her unearthly limits.


Her red blood darkened to ink as the maiden followed after her tossed hairpiece. She pushed through the curtains of ribbons and puddles of black ichor. The Powers that be echoed across the battlefield, but the cries of victory were lost on her.

It didn’t matter.

Nothing else mattered.

As the girl ran, the color faded from her skin. With each step, the puddles splashed against her form, and her robe frayed at its edges.

<Without it, I–>

She stopped on the edge. The edge of the battlefield, the edge of oblivion. She reached out, desperately trying to catch it, only for the metal to slip through her fingers.

<... No. No no no.>

Tears of black dripped across the maidens face as the wraith fell to her knees on the edge. Fully subsumed by the sea of burdens, the girl before was only one fragment of the chorus. And yet, the wraith weeped, her palms stained black with tears of ink. For all her joy a moment ago, she found herself reunited with despair.

<Mokou... Now there’s nothing left of you.>

Through her soulless stone eyes, the wraith looked out over the abyss. Words could not describe the agony she felt. Every fiber of the wraith’s being wanted to jump, to chase after her hairpiece in some desperate attempt at unity. But she knew better; it would be pointless. This all in the end pointless.

With nothing left, the wraith considered leaping anyways. To end this suffering. But as she looked over the edge, she felt a hand touch her shoulder.

<... Mokou?>

The wraith turned to face her comforter. As she wiped her tears, she found not her lover but the duelist. Once more, he brandished his smile, a beam of light to cut through the darkness.

“Ayane...” Ladd looked for the words to say. “Some can never let go of the path they follow for it’s the only path they see–”

The duelist slowly pressed his rapier into its sheath. As he did, he continued. “Look at the stones underneath thy feel. Feel the weight each step has upon them. Only then ask yourself, is this the path you follow? Is this who you wish to be.”

Suddenly, Ladd hesitated. The wraith could see a hidden gloom behind his eyes. “Some see the cracked stone and wilting fern underneath themselves yet follow it still. Their pride to stubborn to step off.” He shut his eyes, and with newfound resolve, the blade finally clicked in its sheath.

“Don’t make the same mistake this poor swordsman has. You are not the path you walk. All it takes is a single step.”

“What do you do when you find yourself at the end then?” The wraith choked on the words. “When you cannot walk anymore? For the first time in centuries, I felt joy... And now my journey is over.”

The wraith traced her fingers through her ebony hair. She reached for her hairpiece only to be reminded by its– his absence.

“... I miss him.”

Much to her surprise, the duelist let out a laugh.

“Turn around Ayane, recount your steps. You may find he never left your side along the way.”

The words stirred something deep within the chorus. As the wraith looked down to her lap, she whispered to the duelist. “He wanted me to be happy... It was what he wanted. More than anything else.”

<I need to move on. For his sake–>

Carefully, Ayane extended her hand out to Ladd. As a man of honor, he did not hesitate to pull her up.

“What about you? What will you do now, Ladd?”

Ladd considered his words before he spoke up.

“I wish I were strong enough to leave my path but without a sword, I would be Ladd Nissent no longer...”
Much to her surprise, Ladd had dropped his usual theatrics. It was if their real, vulnerable selves were speaking together.

“I know those who watch from beyond would scoff at me but I can’t let my grudges go.”

“I see...” She knew exactly what he was going through. Centuries of burdens now laid bare... it was comforting to know someone else understood.

“I hope you find your rest as well some day.”

Just as the words left the wraith's lips, she suddenly staggered. Ladd rushed to catch her. Even after their duel, he still had the strength to hold her up.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine–” Ayane whispered as Ladd slowly guided her to the ground. “I’m just tired. So... so tired.”

The wraith closed her eyes. She could hear the duelist saying something, but the words seemed so distant. Ayane was sure it was something kind and gentle.

“It’s okay... Just let me rest.”

Suddenly, a light flickered across the wraith’s skin. The ink bellow swelled and stirred across the pale canvas. It painted a scene of joy, of reunion. As it moved across Ayane, the ink shined with the light of the chaos above.

<... I’m ready.>

In an instant, her body changed. The duelist's arms slipped through Ayane’s form as it scattered into a cloud of kaleidoscopic light. The swirling rays of light rose to meet the sky, and a sigh of relief echoed across the battlefield.

“Thank you.”

When Ayane opened her eyes, she was met with the light of the sun.

As the world came into view, Ayane felt... groggy. Perhaps it was not the right word, but it was the closest thing she had to an explanation. It was like waking up after a long sleep.

Her whole body felt sluggish as sat up, the girl not quite used to moving on her own.


As her senses returned to her, Ayane let out a gasp. The word echoed in her mind as it suddenly hit her.


It echoed and echoed before returning to her. Only to her.

“... It’s gone. They are gone!”

The maiden leapt to her feet, unbounded by the weight of her burdens.

“They’re gone. They’re gone! I’m free, I’m– Where am I?”

As Ayane celebrated her release, she looked around to find herself in a vast green field. The sun hung in the air above a set of mountains in the distance. As the wind blew softly across the field, Ayane could make out the scent of dew and of flowers.

<... Is this the afterlife?>

Ayane went still as the thought swept across her.

<What happened to me?>

Ayane turned inward as she considered... everything. Everything that had happened. What had brought her to this moment. Precious few years of life followed by centuries of torment. Lost in her thoughts, the wind picked up, and the breeze cut through Ayane’s robes like steel, pulling her back to wherever she was. She felt eyes move on her own, her sight behind her–

<... Mokou?!>

As Ayane turned around, there he was only a few feet away from her.

“... Is it really you?”

Ayane froze in place as a cascade of runaway emotions swelled within her. She took it all in– his sun-tanned skin, his orange shirt, that sweet smile of his, that look in his eyes that was only for her.

“... Ayane.” His voice was quiet, solemn. She could make out the slightest hint of his voice breaking. Hearing him speak her name.... It was everything she could have ever wanted.


Ayane leapt towards her lover, rushing to meet his embrace. As the two wrapped their hands around the other, they spun around in circles. As the warmth rushed over Ayane, she knew it to be true.

“It really is you...” Ayane buried her face into Mokou’s shoulders, tears streaming from her silver eyes. As she held him, her arms turned red from the pressure. She was desperate to not let him go for fear that he would disappear.

“Ayane...” Mokou, now crying himself, returned the gesture. “I’m sorry... I'm sorry that I wasn’t strong enough. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there to protect you.

“No!” Ayane lifted her head and stared into Mokou’s eyes. “You did... everything you could for me. I was the one who wasn’t strong enough...” Her voice broke, unable to handle her feelings any longer. “I missed you. I missed you so, so much.”

“I missed you too, Ayane. I’m here now–”

For what seemed like an eternity, the two held each other in silence, simply content with the other’s presence. Eventually, Ayane spoke up.

“So... What’s going to happen to us?” There was an earnest look of concern in the woman’s eyes.

“I don’t know.” Mokou gave a simple reply. “Maybe we’ll join the kami in heaven. Maybe we’ll be reborn for another life....” His voice trailed off for a moment as he looked away.

“Maybe this is just the end.”

Ayane brought a hand to Mokou’s cheek. With a gentle smile, she looked at her lover.

“Regardless of what happens, we’ll face it together. Right, Mokou?”

A smile turned to the man. The sight filled her with such indescribable joy. To touch him, to hear him speak, to feel his love.

“Right, Ayane.”

It made the journey here worth it.

<I finally fulfilled your wish.>

With resolution in the heart, the two walked across the field into the distance, off to whatever their fates would leave them. Whatever awaited them, they would be happy.

They would be together.
AQ DF AQW  Post #: 30
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