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by Astral Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:17 am
Most users ever online was 315 on Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:22 pm
Svadilfare raised his swords, turned them so the flat of the blades were facing him--and his opponent. He braced himself for the blows that were to come, the pain he knew they would cause his right hand. The sound of metal striking metal rung in his ears. As he predicted, his right hand trembled with immense pain every time that sword was struck. He took a step back after one strike, braced himself for the next, then repeated. His eyes darted about, keeping track of his opponent's swords. With his feet he kept track of his surroundings. Soon he could feel the roots of a tree protruding from the ground; seconds later his back was pressed against the rough bark of that tree. Now it was his turn to go on the offensive.
Gripping his right sword as tightly as he could, the Kryoan swung his right arm as hard as he dared while he pushed away from the tree. Mere seconds after he stepped forward, his left arm swung horizontally in a wide arc. The right sword collided with the flat of Svad's opponent's blade. The left just narrowly missed flesh. Svadilfare narrowed his eyes. An inch, maybe more, and he'd have ended it. He couldn't rely on his left arm the way he used to; he had to use his right. To do that, he needed to push through the pain in his hand. That would take time. While his opponent jumped back to dodge the blade on a collision course with their side, Svadilfare lifted his right leg and delivered a powerful kick to the abdomen.
Tali drove Svad to the tree, as usual. She switched tactics and went on the defensive afterwards, as always. But this time Svadilfare caught her off guard. He did pretty much what she expected with his right arm; his left was the problem. She hadn't expected him to go after her side, and with such aggression as to suggest he was actually trying to hurt her. And she really didn't expect him to blindside her with a kick to the gut. She could feel the air being forcefully expelled from her lungs as Svad's right foot knocked her back. She hit the ground hard, the landing tearing her swords from her hands, the back of her head hitting a small rock. Despite how bad that felt, she would suffer only a headache.
The pale woman groaned when she finally caught her breath. She gently rubbed the back of her head as she sat up. "Ugh, I thought we were good?"
Svad held out his left hand and pulled her to her feet when she took it. "We are."
"Then why do I feel like you were actually trying to dig that sword into my side just now?" She bent down and picked up her swords.
"Wasn't that the point of this? To see if I still have it?"
"To see if you still have it, not whether you can send me to an early grave!" Tali was tempted to see how he liked having her foot suddenly colliding with... places. But instead she threw the rock her head hit at him. "And yes, by the way, you do. Not that I have any idea what you were like before."
Svadilfare smiled and ignored the rock that was thrown at him. She'd missed, anyway. "I'm sorry. To be fair, you're the one who said I needed to fight like I meant it."
"Shut up.." Tali turned and started walking back to her house. "Or you'll be reunited with San sooner than expected." she mumbled under her breath.
"I heard that!" Svad called after her. He followed slowly behind, replaying the day's training in his head. He was better today than yesterday, than the past few weeks. For three months now, he and Tali trained almost non-stop to get Svadilfare back in top physical condition. Having finally achieved that goal, they now focused on building his pain tolerance and reconditioning his right hand for combat--as well as every day use.
"Oh yeah? Then why are you still talking?" she retorted. Tali stepped inside her house and closed the door. She lifted her shirt to examine her abdomen, gently pressing her fingers into the area where Svad's foot hit. She could already see the beginnings of a bruise. Lovely. She went to the chest at the foot of her bed and opened it. Inside were her clothes. After rummaging through and finding an outfit she liked, Tali began to undress and change. She didn't worry about Svadilfare walking in; in all the time he'd been here, he never entered the house when she had the door closed. Satisfied with her new attire, Tali opened the door and stepped outside. As usual, she found Svad at her sister's grave, tending to the roses he'd planted.
"I think I'm ready, liebe. Tonight, I could finally avenge you." Svadilfare plucked a dark blue rose from the ground and set it atop the grave stone.
"Maybe..." Tali said as she walked up. "We have to get to the piece of filth first. I'm sure she's proud of you... I am." She smiled lightly and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"I know." He stood and brushed his pants off. It had been three months since Yosanji had last visited him. He hadn't really had an opportunity to dwell on that fact, what with his training and all. But now there was nothing to distract him from it. He wondered if he would ever see her again. Light danced off his wedding band as the sun hit it, drawing his attention to it. For almost three years, even though his wife was dead, he had never taken it off. Perhaps by now it was permanently embedded in his finger. With a sigh, he turned to Tali and offered as genuine as smile as he could manage. "Shall we go?"
Tali and Svadilfare walked through the streets of Anthropinos, side by side. Both were subtly keeping an eye out for fellow assassins, assassins who might have been hired to take out either of them. Such was the life of one of their trade. Always looking over your shoulder. This was the first, Svad realized, in almost a year that he had been back in the city since learning of San's murder. But nothing had changed. Brother and sister made their way to a tailor. Svad was just a little bit thinner than the last time he was fitted for new clothes, and so another visit was required. Just as last time, they posed as husband and wife, Tali a noblewoman grown tired of her husband's old clothing. "We're attending a party tonight," she told the tailor. "I want him to look decent. Noble decent, mind you, not well-off commoner decent... if there even is such a thing."
Svadilfare was a bit surprised by how well Tali played the part of a noble. But then, she was an assassin and it was required of them at times to pretend to be someone they weren't. After getting his new clothes, they walked by the grand house of the noble woman and her husband--San's first husband. They strolled arm-in-arm around the house, making note of the cellar doors--their escape route. They noted the guards stationed at various positions around the house. Before their presence could arouse suspicion, they walked back toward the tailor. Turning into an alley that led to another street, Svad and Tali instead went back to the poorer district of the city. They bought food: a couple spaz fish and some potatoes, then went back to Tali's house.
As they sat eating dinner, they went over the plan. "...Then we fight a bit, I storm off and you..."
"I go outside to cool off. But really I will kill the guards nearest the cellar doors."
"Yes. Hide the bodies if you can then get back inside and... I don't know. Mingle. Just don't draw unnecessary attention to yourself."
"Hm, did you forget I'm an assassin?"
"Sorry. Anyway, while you're mingling--"
"And keeping an eye on you."
"--And being seen, not heard... I will be, ugh, flirting with the target. I convince him to take me somewhere private."
"I'll follow after a couple minutes--"
"Uh, a little faster than a couple minutes if you value your life, please."
"--Don't worry. And then we knock him out, bind him like a pig and bring him back here for the fun part."
"Don't tell me not to worry, Svad. The last time I was alone with that man for a couple minutes..."
"Sorry." Svad said as he got up and walked over to the hearth. "I meant, I won't follow too quickly. In case anyone is watching me."
"It's okay," Tali mumbled. She watched him for a moment then asked, "What if we can't knock him out?"
Svadilfare's voice was dark and cold when he answered, "Then he'll have squandered his chance to die a merciful death. If he won't go down quietly and be brought here, he can die a torturously slow death there." He stared into the fire, seemingly fascinated by the way it danced. "It makes little difference to me, so long as he suffers."
Tali was almost a little scared. For a moment she didn't recognize the man standing in her home. She gave a small nod, though she wasn't sure he saw it, then went to her bed. "I don't feel well," she lied. "I think it was the fish. We'll strike tomorrow."
Svadilfare said nothing for a while. He found himself contemplating one last time just how he would kill the man who destroyed him. "Alright." He knew she was lying about being sick; he figured maybe it was nerves. In fact he suddenly found himself sweating a little, his heart pounded against his chest. He went to the other side of the room and climbed into his own bed. Soon, Tali could hear him snoring lightly.
She was nervous. But she also felt that Svadilfare needed a good night's sleep before they finally exacted their revenge. She was afraid of what he might do if he went in thinking and feeling the way he was a few minutes ago. With a soft sigh she laid her head down and drifted off to sleep.
Though she did not visit him that night, Sanji watched her widower. She gently ran her thin fingers through his hair, back behind his ear and down his neck, letting them come to rest on his chest. For a few seconds, as the rest of her began to fade away, San's fingers lingered over his heart. Even in his sleep, it seemed Svad could sense his beloved, for his hand raised to his chest, his fingers just grazing hers before they too faded away.
Last edited by Svadilfare on Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:42 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Tali and Svadilfare walked arm-in-arm into the house of Erik Wolfsbane. The nobleman was throwing yet another party, a party to which the two assassins invited themselves. The house was buzzing with activity. Guests stood in small groups, chatting leisurely or gossiping. Couples danced to the music made by (whatever instruments medieval people had). The older people stood along the walls, watching the young folks while sipping drinks, or sat at the tables and ate. Some too engaged in gossip or reminisced about the 'good ol' days'.
Svadilfare looked around. Large, intricate tapestries hung from the walls. The floors were polished wood. The ceilings were high and decorated with paintings. If this weren't the home of someone he absolutely hated, the assassin might have admired it. He looked down at Tali. It only just now occurred to him how much she looked like her sister, especially wearing the dress she was.
Tali felt Svad's eyes on her and looked up at him. She could tell it was her sister he was seeing. She gave him a small smile. We'll give her peace, she seemed to say. Then she looked around as well, keeping an eye out for their target. Tali led Svadilfare to the center of the room, where they would have the best view of everyone present, and coaxed him into dancing with her. As they danced, their eyes scanned every person. They couldn't see Erik or his wife but knew they would make an appearance soon, after all, they were the hosts.
Soon the assassins' patience was rewarded. Erik Wolfsbane and his wife, Jillian, entered the hall arm in arm. The room grew quiet; dancing and music ceased, chatter died down. Everyone turned to look at the hosts. "Welcome, everyone!" Erik said in a booming voice. "I hope you all enjoy our party. Eat! Drink! Dance! My--erm our--home and servants are yours. Just don't steal anything, eh?" The man signaled to the musicians to continue playing. The chatter resumed.
Erik was of Svadilfare's build, though since becoming a noblewoman's husband, had gained a few pounds. His hair was blonde and very short; he was balding. Even though it was frowned upon among nobles, Erik had no problem flirting with every pretty woman he saw. After all, his wife was an older woman; it was no secret he had married her just to become rich and well-known. The man left his wife to do whatever, while he mingled and searched for a new mistress. It was Tali and Svadilfare's cue to put their plan into action.
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At the bottom of the stairs, Svadilfare extinguished the flame and crept up to the door. He put his ear to it and listened for footsteps. Hearing none, he dared to open the door just slightly, enough to peer out. No guard stood beside it, so he opened it all the way and stepped into the hall. With a soft exhale of a breath he didn't know he'd been holding in, he followed the sounds of the party. Along the way he looked for alternate exits in case something went wrong. He found a bedroom--a guest room by the look of it--with a balcony. It would have to do.
A guard rounded the corner at the end of the hall. Upon seeing Svadilfare, he raised his halberd defensively. He was young, only about 18, and a good foot shorter than the Kryoan. Though he tried to move with confidence, it was clear from his shaking hands and the beads of nervous sweat forming at his brow that he was intimidated. "Y-You shouldn't be here! Who are you?"
"I'll handle this one, kid. Go on back to your post." An older man--this one about Svad's age--appeared. The younger nodded and went back down the hall and disappeared around the corner. He was the same height as the assassin, with a more muscular build and shorter hair. "You heard what he said. You shouldn't be back here. So unless you want to be arrested for trespassing, I suggest you tell me what you're doing."
Svadilfare studied the man for a moment, calculating how likely he'd be to take him down without much noise. After deciding this guard might actually put up a decent struggle, Svadilfare smiled and replied, "I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't be here, but..." He leaned forward a little, the guard naturally tensing and reaching for his sword. "...you see I'm here with my wife. She enjoys a good party but she can't hold her drink, you see. After just a cup or two... well..." The warrior gave a suggestive smile and the guard grinned knowingly.
"Ah, so you're just looking for a nice quiet room, eh? Well in that case I'll forget I saw you... for a price. You aren't the first to sneak about here looking for a private place to tend to the missus and you certainly won't be the last. But suppose you're caught and it's found out I let you go? I need... incentive if you want me to deny having ever seen you."
He'd expected as much. Svadilfare fished a couple coins from his pocket and gave it to the guard. The guard chuckled and wished him a good time before turning and going back the way he came. Svad followed and soon found himself back at the party. Tali was already doing her part, wooing Erik Wolfsbane. They were dancing in the middle of the room, everyone eyeing them and whispering. "That scoundrel! Dancing with another woman when his wife is right there! And she has a husband!" said one older woman. "I hear she attends parties like this all the time, looking for any man who'll leave his woman's side." a man whispered to his wife. Svad stayed along the edge of the room, watching Tali. He carried a cup of mead and dined nonchalantly on a chunk of roasted mutton.
Tali couldn't hear the speculations about herself but she could guess what was being said. The wealthy were quite fond of spreading rumors and thinking the worst of any pretty lady who had a decent amount of coin and perhaps a husband, but lacked any real status. But Tali had neither coin nor a husband, so she really didn't care what they thought. It did, however, irk her to have to let them think she would be unfaithful with a man like Erik. Just being as close to him as she was now made her skin crawl. "You're a wonderful dancer," she managed to say in a pleasant tone. "much better than my awful husband."
"As are you, my dear." Wolfsbane gave a yellow-toothed grin. Tali fought to keep from shuddering. "Tell me, why would you marry someone who clearly doesn't know how to treat a woman of your stature?"
"Oh, I didn't really have a choice. My father wanted a good life for me. He arranged the marriage shortly before his death."
"What a pity. A pretty maiden like yourself deserves a good man."
"Like yourself?" Tali asked with a smile. Much to her relief, the music ended and Erik released her.
"Why yes. Oh but I am married already... unfortunately. Come, you must be hungry. Let me get you something."
Tali scanned the crowd for Svadilfare as Erik turned away and started toward the long dinning table. She found the Kyroan looming near a servant, as if waiting to be noticed so he could have his cup refilled. Svadilfare's gaze flicked to Talia for a brief moment before he moved off toward the doorway he'd come in from. He slipped through it and into the first room the hallway led to.
"Actually, if you don't mind, Mr. Wolfsbane, all that dancing has made me tired. I'd like a place to lay down for a few minutes."
"I know just the place. And please, call me Erik, Miss...?"
"Helena." Tali took Erik's arm--resisting the urge to dig her nails in--and followed him to the same doors Svad had just gone through. They walked past the room the assassin hid in and went to the end of the long hall. Turning left, they disappeared around the corner. Svadilfare emerged from the room then and followed slowly, silently. At the end of the hall, he peered around the corner and saw the bottom of Talia's dress disappear around yet another corner.
Erik led the woman to his room, the room he shared with his wife. "I hope you find this room to your liking, Helena. It is the finest in the whole manor."
"Thank you, Erik. It will do nicely." Tali gave another smile and hoped Svadilfare was on his way.
"I could stay with you, if you like. Wouldn't want one of my guards walking in and imprisoning you."
"Oh, that won't be necessary..." She walked around the bed and sat down on the right side. "Unless you want to. I might rest better knowing a man such as yourself is watching over me."
"Yes, watch over you..." Erik muttered to himself as he watched the woman settling down on his bed. He started toward the bed but suddenly felt a sharp pain at the back of his head. His vision blurred as he stumbled forward and fell on his hands and knees. Another blow came to his right side; it felt heavy, like metal. Then came a blow to his left with the same feeling, only it hurt much more. Suddenly breathing became difficult.
Svadilfare crept into the room as Tali sat down on the bed. His still-sheathed swords were already in hand. As Erik started toward her, Svad raised his right arm and swung the hilt of the sword at the back of Erik's head. As he fell, Svad swung his right arm again, this time at the man's side. His final blow came from his left arm, much stronger, and broke a rib. With his foot, the Kryoan pushed Erik onto his back. He knelt down and clasped his left hand around his thick neck. His grip tightened slowly, his fingers digging in. At some point he felt Tali's hand on his shoulder and he looked up.
"You're killing him, Svad.. Not here. Let's go."
Svadilfare held on for a moment more before letting go and setting to work tying up his prey. After he was secured, Tali stepped out of the room and led the way down the hall. Svadilfare followed behind, dragging Erik behind him. When Tali signaled that the next hall was clear, Svad gave her directions to the cellar.
Last edited by Svadilfare on Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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The footsteps receded but didn't leave the room. Erik guessed the person only went a few feet away. Suddenly he was grasped by the front of his shirt and yanked to his feet. He felt something cold--a blade--at his temple, heard the ripping of fabric. His eyes adjusted slowly to the dimly lit cellar. A laugh erupted from his throat when he could finally see his captor. "I knew it was you. So you finally built up the courage to face the man whose wife you stole?"
Svadilfare responded by cutting the ropes that bound Erik's feet and hands. Immediately after freeing the latter, Svad slammed his fist into the man's left cheek, sending him to the floor. Erik spat more blood onto the floor as he landed on his hands and knees. His sides burned with pain as he coughed. "So you're just going to beat me to death? I see now why Yosanji was willing to leave me--for someone who could beat her worse than I." This time he was hit not with a fist, but a blade. The stocky man yelled as the sharp edge of Svadilfare's dagger sliced his back.
The Kryoan left the cellar with Erik free to roam. He was confident the man wouldn't try to escape. He returned a few minutes later with a torch; Erik hadn't even moved from where he fell. Svad took his right hand and held it close to the flames. Erik tried in vain to pull his hand away. Svadilfare spoke for the first time. "You killed my wife."
"She was my wife. As far as you're concerned, she was nothing more than--ah!" The flames licked at his hand and wrapped around it as Svad brought it closer to the torch.
"You killed my wife, Erik. By first light, you will wish that that was all you had done to her, that you had ended her quickly." He lowered Yosanji's killer's hand further into the fire and held it there. Even from outside and several yards away, Tali could hear the screams coming from her house.
The next morning...
Erik Wolfsbane still clung to life as the sun awoke and began to chase away the moon and stars. His throat was too raw to produce any sound above a whisper. His right hand was blackened, the skin gone in a place or two, and the shoulder was dislocated. His left hand fared no better--every finger and even the thumb was broken. His legs were useless, one shattered at the knee and the other had its achilles tendon completely severed. More of his ribs were cracked. His left eye was swollen shut, both ears rendered him unable to hear. A few teeth were missing. The rest of his body was covered in bruises and welts, deep gashes and cuts--all in places that could easily have killed had they not been delivered with great restraint. No, every wound had been dealt with the intention to cause intense pain, to torture.
Erik Wolfsbane was not the kind of man to give someone what they wanted without making them work for it. So he had absolutely no intention begging for a merciful death. But Erik realized some time ago that Svadilfare had no intention of killing him... at least, not any time soon. The warrior assassin revealed, in so many words, that Erik's death would come only when there was nothing more to be done to him. The Kryoan would inflict as many injuries as possible to him. Tali would nurse him back to health, and then the process would start over. Each time, Svad would inflict an injury that would take months to heal completely--like Erik's severely burned hand. The vicious cycle would continue until there was nothing left to cut or burn or break... or Erik finally pleaded for death. It wasn't until Svadilfare left the cellar for the first time in several hours that Erik Wolfsbane, for the first time in his life, became acquainted with fear.
Svadilfare closed the cellar door behind him, pushed his bed back in place over it, and went outside. Tali was sitting at her twin's grave, her chin resting on her knees. She'd slept outside, not wanting to be in the house even after the screaming had stopped. "I should have made you do this somewhere else. I don't think I can sleep in there ever again."
"He killed your sister. His screams shouldn't bother you." Svadilfare sat down on the other side of the gravestone and picked at the weeds that had dared to grow around it.
"It's not him that bothers me. It's you... You've changed, Svadiflare." Tali looked up at her former brother-in-law and frowned.
"Changed? I'm doing only what assassins are trained to do--to kill."
"Torture is not the same as killing. And I don't mean that. I mean you. Your personality. You're..." she trailed off, unable to find the right word.
"I'm no different than he was when he tortured and killed Yosanji."
"Exactly..." Tali reached out and touched Svad's shoulder. "Please, don't continue down this path. Just kill him or leave him for some animal to eat. Just end this. I know San wouldn't want this, to see you like this."
"I'll leave him to consider his options for an hour or two. If he's smart, you'll have your wish." Svad stood and went back to the house. He laid on his bed and was soon asleep.
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The warrior assassin from the freezing village of Kryo awoke from a dreamless sleep. He heard crackling coming from the hearth and opened his eyes to see a fire burning. Tali was not in her bed or anywhere else in the house. Svadilfare sat up, threw his legs over the side of the bed and stood. With little effort he pulled his bed away from the trap door that led into the cellar. He after lighting a torch he descended into the dark damp cellar, eager to see what his prisoner had to say.
Erik had no idea how long Svadilfare would be gone. His mangled body screamed for the brief relief of sleep, to be cloaked in soothing obliviousness as the brain sank it into darkness, shutting off all feeling. But his brain dare not leave him so vulnerable. Every nerve was on fire; the tiniest movement or contact with anything sent a fresh wave of pain through the man's skin. All he wanted was to be able to close his eyes and get close enough to sleep for his body to be numb. But fear kept him alert.
Fear gripped him tighter, made his breath quicker when he heard the cellar door open. Svadilfare's descent made his heart pound against his chest with every footfall. Light flooded the space as the assassin's torch burned. Erik turned his head away, shutting his eyes against brightness. After a moment he dared to open slightly. He could see Svadilfare moving to the east wall, where a sword rested.
Svadilfare placed the torch in a holder on the wall then grabbed the sword leaned against it. He looked over at his prisoner. The man was shaking, both from his wounds and fear. Svad gave a slight, wry smile. "What have you decided, Erik? Will you part with your life by my hand or your own body?"
"I-I don't want to die at all." Erik tried to move just slightly, to take some pressure off the leg he laid on. His body was wracked with a new wave of pain.
"That isn't an option, I'm afraid. But are you ready to beg for mercy?"
"Then let us begin." With his sword in hand, Svadilfare grabbed the torch and walked toward Erik Wolfsbane.
Later that evening...
"You know why I'm here, don't you?"
Svadilfare stood on the beaches of Brysur, a salted wind blowing in his face. His arms were crossed over his chest. "I do."
Thin fingers brushed against his cheek, before pressing more firmly to force his head in a new direction. "Look at me, Svadilfare..." Svadilfare's pale eyes shifted from the ocean to San. "What happened to you?"
"I thought you were always watching me."
He sighed softly and turned so he was facing Yosanji. "I found the man who killed you, and wanted to make sure he suffered every bit of pain he caused me. That's what happened."
Sanji moved her hand from his cheek down to his chest. "Darkness has no place within you, yet that is what I see in your eyes, what I feel in your heart. I fear what it will do to you if it remains any longer. I understand your need to avenge me... but please..."
Svadilfare covered her hand with his own. "I won't. You have my word. I will end this tomorrow."
"Good..." She looked away from him and turned her gaze to the ocean. "You look better than the last time I saw you," she said finally after a long silence. "Your hand still has a ways to go."
"It may never heal properly. You look exactly the same." Svad reached up to brush a stray hair from her face.
"Mm, that tends to happen when you're a spirit. Do you remember when I said I would only be able to visit you a few times?"
"Is this the last?"
"Yes and no. It won't be the last time you ever see me, but it will be the last time you see me for a very long time." She looked at him again and smiled. "But don't worry, I'll still watch over you, make sure you don't do anything stupid."
"I'll miss you."
"I know. But remember what you promised me." She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly.
"I remember... but you can never be replaced."
"You don't have to replace me, just make room in your heart for someone else." San pulled back and pressed her hand to his cheek again. "You can do that. You have to; you gave me your word."
Svad leaned into her hand. "You say I have darkness within me and here you are using my word against me."
She laughed softly, "You gave it to me, so I'm allowed. It's time for you to wake up..."
"Is it? I've nowhere I have to be. Sure, I've a monster to kill, but he isn't going anywhere."
"Svadilfare... Don't make this any harder than it already is. And don't become that monster yourself."
He sighed. "I won't... and how could this possibly get any more difficult?"
"You could start crying. Or come up with a million things to say just to stall." She pulled away from him and took a few steps back.
"I thought I'd save that for our final meeting," he said with a small smile, "but if you'd like me to do it now..." His smile faded when she moved away, putting distance between them.
"I wouldn't, not even if you asked me to dance." She continued backing away.
After a moment, he asked, "Would you?"
"Next time. Now wake up, avenge me... then go home to our children and move on."
The next morning...
As always, Svadilfare woke a first light. But he didn't get up right away. He laid there, staring out the window, recalling the dream. After Tali came into the house--concerned that Svad hadn't come out yet--he got up and went outside. He assured Tali that he was fine, then sat at Yosanji's grave for two hours. And then he ate; and then he went into the cellar to kill Erik Wolfsbane.
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Erik didn't move when he heard the cellar door open. He felt no fear or surprise to see his captor had arrived without a torch, nor when he began sharpening his blade. He had no answer to Svadilfare's questions; the answers wouldn't matter, wouldn't earn him the chance to live just one day more. He knew it was time. After two weeks his body had finally grew numb to pain. The fact was not lost to Svadilfare and it didn't diminish the pleasure he took in torturing the man. It wouldn't tarnish this moment either.
"Nothing to say today, Erik? Not even an insult about my wife? 'tis a shame. I don't really care, of course, I just thought you'd like the last laugh. You seem the sort of man who'd enjoy that." Svadilfare set the whetstone down and ran his thumb along the blade. Satisfied with the sharpness of it, he walked over to Erik. "Now, I've spent a long time considering how I'd kill you, Erik. I had so many choices, but do you know what I settled on?" Without continuing, Svad knelt over Erik and grabbed the back of his head, lifting it....
The dagger clattered as it hit the ground. Blood covered the edge of it. Light filled the room as a ball of fire hovered in Svadilfare's left hand. He sat back on his heels, watching Erik Wolfsbane. The man was starting to gasp for breath as the air in his lungs was replaced with blood. His eyes were starting to cloud. Svad lowered his hand to man's clothing, letting the flames grab onto the fabric. Then he closed his hand, picked up the dagger, and left the cellar. Erik watched as Svadilfare left, unable to scream as the flames engulfed him and somehow breathed new life into his nerves, causing him to experience excruciating pain for a final time.
Svadilfare found Tali dressing a couple rabbits she'd caught. She looked up when she heard him coming. She didn't need to speak; the question was in her eyes. The Kryoan nodded, patting her shoulder as he walked past. As usual, he went to the tree and sat. Tali went to him in the evening with a plate of food; it went untouched. She knew then that Svad was going to be there for quite some time. She hoped it wouldn't be as long as before.
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"Are you sure you don't need anything?" Tali asked as she walked with Svadilfare to the stables.
"I'm sure. You've done enough for me. I can't thank you enough."
"You can thank me by staying in touch. Maybe stopping by once in a while with my nieces and nephews." They reached the stables where Svad's horse was being held and she turned to face him.
"I will. And just as soon as Clementine is old enough to travel. Will you be okay? You could always come back home with me, see the children, be around family for a while."
"I'll be fine, even though some maniac murdered a man under my house." she said with a smile. "Besides, I hate the cold."
"How dare you call it murder. It was clearly justice. And we have plenty of blankets, fur clothing."
"Let's not have that conversation again. I want us to part on good terms. And I'm not a fan of wearing fur clothing all year." She took his satchel and attached it to the horse's saddle. Then she hugged the Kryoan tightly.
Svad chuckled then hugged her back. "We'll see each other again soon. Until then, take care of yourself." He let go after a minute and mounted his horse, coaxing it out of the stall with a light nudge to the sides with his heels. "And work on your fighting stance, hm? Next time we spar I want to not be able to knock you down."
"You know, I don't have to consider you family now." Tali said as she turned to head back home.
Svad chuckled and guided his horse in the opposite direction. He traveled all day and did the same the next. Soon he was back home in Kryo. He held his children tightly for several long minutes. After, he sat them down and told them of the last three months, of their mother's fate. He read them the letter she'd written. The children cried with their father.
A few days later, they held a funeral of their own. Each child placing something Sanji had made for them into the ground. Svadilfare placed a single dark blue rose and the necklace he had made for her birthday. After each child dropped a handful of dirt into the hole, Svad filled it in. Then he placed a headstone over it.
A few weeks later...
Svadilfare was finally ready to focus on the contract he'd received before accepting Tali's. He decided to take Astral with him on this one, since this job would take him to a city they'd never been to. Before leaving he visited Sanji's grave, left another rose, then--for the first time in two years--removed her wedding band. He set it atop the headstone. After bidding farewell to the children, Svad left to get Celestia and go to Leostonnia.
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