The warm liquid dripped down his lance’s blade, seeping between his fingers to slick the haft with blood. He had seen many things, the unspeakable darkness of it all flashing through his mind each time he pierced an enemy’s gut.
It was never meant to be like this.
Adventure had called to him, speaking both to his free spirit and his dedication to proving his own worth. He had trained throughout his childhood, not to take the status of Nunh from his father, but to bring honor to the tribe that had cared for him his entire life.
The crystal he stowed close to his heart began to burn, and N’ohri felt as though it would sear his flesh, physically branding him as the Mother’s own.
No, he thought, trying to force himself upright by digging the end of his lance into the ground for support. He clung to it as his head began to spin, his fingers slipping along the haft as he struggled to hang on.
The world around him swirled into an inky blackness, familiar and almost comforting in its lack of warmth.
Long ago, he would have expected crystalline stars to light the area he floated toward. He knew better now, knew that Zodiark would not bother with such pleasantries when it came to calling his Son.
N’ohri blinked once, twice, slowly swinging his head from side to side as he looked upon the massive violet crystal before him. The Miqo’te clenched his teeth at the soft chuckle that greeted his ears.
“Your Mother yet calls to you, beckoning you away from my side.”
N’ohri swallowed hard, glaring at Zodiark despite his own helpless position. He had always wondered why no one had taken advantage of his Echo-induced spells of unconsciousness; only recently had the Father made it known to him that it was by his will that the young man yet drew breath.
“I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me,” N’ohri said, his honey-golden eyes narrowing as he spoke to the crystal.
“You expect payment for your services,” the Father’s voice boomed, shaking N’ohri to his very core. “I understand.”
If the crystal could have smirked, N’ohri was certain he would have.
“I am Zodiark, one become all. The light in your eyes, the light close to your heart, the light of your world -- they must be extinguished so that I may reinstate order to my universe.”
N’ohri snarled, gripping his lance more tightly.
“That you still hope to draw steel against me proves that you are not yet ready.”
The Miqo’te’s shoulders slumped involuntarily. He had come so far and done so much, all by his own will -- the cost of which was whatever goodness was left within him.
Then what was it all for? he wanted to ask, though he knew the answer before the question could even pass his lips.
Long, pointed ears, covered by silvery hair that framed an admittedly stubborn face. Bright blue eyes that had seen nearly as much as my own, yet still managed to look cheerful. A large nose that made kissing somewhat awkward but nonetheless enjoyable. And that smile; oh, that smile, the one that put any sunny day to shame.
The thought of him alone was enough to make N’ohri’s heart ache. He winced, averting his gaze from the Father’s ominously glowing form.
“Warrior of Darkness, beloved Son… Tell me you have not lost your resolve.”
N’ohri shook his head firmly, lowering his lance.