“Tiefedorf. Please,” Kant said, gripping Tiefedorf’s shoulders with shaking hands. Please don’t do this. Please let me help you.
Tiefedorf had been refusing to meet his eyes. When he finally did, the stark desperation on his face made Kant’s blood run cold.
The gasp Kant let out as he was stabbed was quieter than it should’ve been. He looked down, seeing an obsidian black blade embedded deep in his abdomen. Tiefedorf withdrew it, a tremor in his hand. He dropped it, drops of blood splattering on the stone ground.
Kant fell to his knees, clutching at his abdomen and slumping forward. Tiefedorf stepped around him, walking towards his goal. A sphere of pure darkness, hovering above an ancient, worn stone plinth. It had been out here, beneath the open sky, for who knows how long. The ultimate power that would let darkness cover the world.
Kant almost fell down, blacking out for a few moments. The knife wound was an agony compounded by the pain and exhaustion from the brutal fight with Tiefedorf. Zeal was also exhausted, his voice barely audible in Kant’s mind.
He was teetering on the precipice of giving up. It would be so easy. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t . He had to save Tiefedorf.
Kant forced his screaming, protesting, pain riddled body to move, half-staggering, half-crawling over to the plinth. He could hear Zeal cry out, no, don’t! He ignored him. He flung himself at Tiefedorf, letting gravity do the rest of the work.
“Kant!” Tiefedorf screamed in rage and disbelief as he was knocked down, sliding down the steps. Kant held onto the plinth with a death grip, hauled himself upright, and thrust his hand through the sphere.
“No…” Tiefedorf whispered, eyes wide.
Kant turned to look at him. Through the broken visor, Tiefedorf could see that he was crying. “I can’t let you sacrifice yourself,” were his last words.
Light and darkness erupted from the sphere, blotting out the world. When it disappeared, Kant’s untransformed lifeless body was slumped on the steps. Next to him was an equally lifeless Zeal, reverted to stone statue form.
Shuraomaru didn’t often do this. Pulling himself back to the realm of the living was one thing. Doing it for somebody else was far trickier. At least he was well acquainted with the soul he was looking for, so he wouldn’t be too hard to spot.
Shuraomaru walked with purpose through the calf deep water of the river of the dead, katana held in his hand. For all appearances, it looked like an ordinary river. It had a current, and eddies. But, it teemed with souls traveling to the afterlife. Some of the eddies looked small, but had enough power to drag him under, to where undead spirits were waiting to devour anything living.
Kant’s soul had moved a little further down the river than Shuraomaru had been anticipating. He had to pass through the clear water to where it and the featureless landscape took on a red hue. He kicked with irritation at the water, chasing away a pesky spirit that had tried grabbing his ankle.
Ah, finally, there he was. Kant was face up, hands folded on his chest. A red spider lily was held in his hands. His eyes were closed, a peaceful expression on his face. Probably content that he’d taken Tiefedorf’s place. Ugh. Heroes.
Shuraomaru grabbed his foot, stopping him from floating further. “Sorry, you need to go back,” he said, pulling. Kant’s soul refused to budge. He pulled harder.
The force was apparently enough to coax something out of Kant. Shuraomaru was barely able to lift his katana in time to block it. The something was a malevolent spirit with terrifying power, intent on taking his soul.
Well, well. It looked like this trip to the realm of the dead would be an exciting one.
Tiefedorf sat motionless in the darkness of Kant’s apartment, back against the wall. The statue of Zeal was on the floor where he’d dropped it.
It was all gone, both light and darkness. That sphere hadn’t been meant to be touched by somebody like Kant. Instead of flooding the world with darkness, it looked like Zeal’s power had canceled it out.
Tiefedorf could feel a whisper of his original god power when he strained for it, but otherwise, he had nothing left. He might as well be a human at this point.
Kant had taken everything from Tiefedorf, including himself. All in the name of saving him.
There was a large puff of smoke and Shuraomaru appeared before him, carrying Kant’s body in his arms. He carefully laid him on the floor.
Tiefedorf looked at Shuraomaru, speechless. “Is he—” he said, in a choked voice.
Kant was still. Then, he drew in a loud gasp of breath. And another one. His fingers twitched, holding the lily tighter.