“Hey Xion, can we talk?” Pera asked, “away from the camp a little?”
Xion looked across the wide plain, scanning for danger. He found plenty, they were outside after all, there was no way to tell if they’d get attacked by animals, bandits, or (Xion shuddered to think of it) ticks. There was nothing visible though and he could keep watch from a couple meters away, “Sure.” He reached out for Pera’s hand.
Pera pulled away just slightly as Xion’s hand touched his. He wrapped his arms around his chest, ignoring the hurt look in Xion’s eyes. He lead Xion away until their quiet voices wouldn’t carry to their sleeping companions and folded himself into a tailor’s seat, “I, uh… can, can we talk about what happened in the Union?”
“What happened in the Union?” Xion looked mystified, like he had no idea what Pera was talking about
“The way you, I, we just killed them, Xion. We killed people, living, thinking people”
Xion shifted, “No we didn’t, none of that was real, Pera, it was like a dream, a test.”
“But how do you know? Rina’s real and she came from the Union with us.”
“Rina’s different, she--”
Pera leaned forward, picking up steam now “How? How is Rina different? How is anyone different? And even if it was does it matter? We still killed them not knowing if they could be.” a bit of flame licked up Pera’s arm, “We still killed them Xion and you don’t care.” each word punctuated by another burst of flame and the smell of singed clothing.
“Pera of course I do! Just because I’m not a crybaby like you doesn’t mean I don’t care!”
“Oh I’m a weakling am I?” Xion scrambled back as a ball of fire the size of Pera’s head blew into the air.
“Pera you know that’s not what I meant.”
“Really? Then what did you mean Xion?”
“I--,” Xion paused, then started again, talking faster and faster as the words just tumbled out of his mouth “look, Pera, I don’t know what I think. I think you’re stupid and weak and that you’re so brave letting yourself have feelings and I think that I want to be like you and that I don’t want to be anywhere near you. I think that you’d make a terrible soldier and that I’d make a terrible soldier and that you’d die in Kadar but I would too and I don’t know how to feel because Kadar is all I fucking know. I think that I don’t know what to think because it’s been months and months and I still haven’t figured out how I feel about this power” he created a ball of force in his palm and held it out to Pera, “and I don’t know what to do and I’m lost because no one ever told me what to do when you turn into a fucking god so I’m doing my best and I’m sorry”
Pera was silent. The flames had ridden up his shoulders and now his head was surrounded by a halo of golden flame, silhouetting him against the night. Xion couldn’t see his face, just a deep shadow and the flames like a beacon, burning light-spots in his eyes.
Xion stared into Pera’s shadowed face for long seconds, “I’m sorry. I just don’t know what to do and I don’t know what’s going on and--”
“Xion, I love you and I need you to know that, but I also need you to listen to me.” Pera’s flames stopped flickering, glowing now with a strong gold light, blades of grass illuminated in razor-sharp detail, “What happened in the Union, what all of us did? We can’t ever be like that. We can’t ever kill people the way we killed them in there, real or fake. If we do, we’re no better than the old gods,” Xion looked away, “if we do we’re no better than them and you know it.”
“So what do we do?”
“We stop it right here and right now.” Pera took a deep breath, “Xion Praeten, you are the earth to my sun, you are the ground beneath my feet, you are my anchor to reality. I swear to you by the names of my mother and my mother’s mother and her mother that from this day forward I will not kill in vain.”
Xion looked back, steadier now. “Pera Rivers, you are the light of my life, the flame in my heart, the lantern that guides me on my way. I swear by my blood and my honor that from this day forward I will not kill in vain. I will not kill for sport nor for pleasure and I swear to you that every life I take will be a weight on my soul until the end of time.”
Something in the moment shifted and they both rocked back, shocked by their own eloquence.
“So what do we do now?”
Pera leaned forward and gently grasped Xion’s hands in his own, “We seal the pact with a kiss, of course”
There were things left unsaid, hanging in the air. There always were and there probably always would be. That mattered, but not enough to stop the Pera’s heart from fluttering as his lips touched Xion’s. There were more conversations to have, more problems and more solutions, however tenuous those may be, but in the moment they were put aside.
Pera went to sleep that night easily enough, but Xion lay awake, wondering what else Pera had left unsaid and where else, in the heady rush of newly arisen godhood, he had left his morals behind.