XVII. The Best of Friends

Lerim never knew that he was capable of being displeased to see his daughter at the door of his humble abode on the less explored shores of the empire until this day, when he found her behind a series of frantic knocking borderlining impropriety as they did not cease their assault upon the slab of mahogany despite his heeding for his slow arrival. Her unusual rudeness was not the subject of the his displeasure, however: it was the way she decided to startle his old heart with a look so miserable that he could hardly recognize her, and he was ready to knock the head off of that son-in-law of his for permitting (or even causing!) such suffering to befall his dearest.

“Pa,” she started.

“Come inside, child, you are stupidly cold.”

In fact, he suspected that she caught a fever, for even under the grueling sun and the everlasting stretch of clear skies, she shivered violently.

So, she did: the lack of a witty retort tryst Lerim’s heart once more. As her father bolted the door, Morgain recollected enough courage to structure her tale from the arrangement of furnitures and decor that remained unchanged since childhood, a time when more were playmates than killed or killing.

“Lucem is dead.”

Lerim thought his own mind must have been too rusted, but dared not to beg her to repeat the phrase, “Oh, child…”

“…I killed him…No, it wasn’t me, it was…Luctus killed him thr-through my hands…that monster broke the oath and contracted th-the Fallen with his youngest brother’s blood…w-we didn’t think it was possible…” She stretched out her hands before her, examining them as though the lines were notes for the narrative she painstakingly constructed during her fare home but was falling apart nonetheless. “I…save me, pa, save me…”

He could only soothe her in his embrace as secrets of unspoken sorrows threatened to tear her apart, though the constant reminder of the last bit of hope she now carried in her womb made her try to weep, for an agony that makes one tear is not hopeless, while one that makes the victim silent and solemn is incurable. He saw and understood.

“You’ve gone through too much, child,” And yet, he knew there would be more: for if the Fallen should be awakened, the entire empire, no, the world, would burn.

Luckily, he knew what to do, and he relayed his plans to her to comfort: if they were to escape to a wholly different dimension, they would be safe from the Fallen. Let this world burn, since there existed nothing else to love anyway. She was too fatigued to realize the price of such a course of action to argue against it.

So they carried out the plan. The assembly of materials for the ambitious spell only took four days. By then, two news had struck Lerim in his hermit perch; one in much better favor than the other.

First, the flames had consumed the empire and tortured it, for their beloved former prince, commander, and King of Amzra was dead, killed in cold blood by the love of his life (a surprisingly accurate assumption for gossips). All wept for the tragedy, though more sought to dramatize it to taunt youngsters into reevaluating their notions of romance since even the symbols of the purest of loves between the handsomest creatures of the empire ended in such violence. Of course, after the weeping for broken dreams and idealization came calls for justice, to kill the siren in the guise of a Priestess.

Lerim knew that they had not much time before angry citizens march into the wild to find his shelter to demand for his daughter’s execution.

Second, Lerim also knew that he was to be a grandfather. Morgain could no longer hide her nausea from the potions for this spell, and her inexplicable extend of sloth and the increasing number of times her hand shot up to massage her temples each day spoke volumes of her fertility. He questioned her directly one night after she emptied her stomach of yet another meal into a basin, and she admitted a bittersweet congratulation that only strengthened Lerim of his will to complete the spell…

…If only the God Most High wove their lives a happier web.

By and by the preparation was finished. Lerim wasted a night more to wait for a clearer voice from Him, and He affirmed the Old Priest’s purpose. So, Lerim woke his daughter from one of her dozes, gathering her pack of essential belongings and gave her one last embrace before he began the ritual. She was cheated into thinking that he was going with her, for her inexperience did not reckon with the complexity of interdimensional travels: the key component is the human spirit, for which was his privilege to provide. Afterall, even his afterlife seemed so insignificant next to the survival of his dearest girl. Still, he was selfish…

By the time the spell took its course and began to vibrate against the surface of reality, Morgain realized his intentions. A look of horror overcame her face and broke his heart as she found his gaze fixed upon the back of his palm, outstretched to call forth the last stage of the enchantment, rising branches of the infinite parallels that divided the worlds now began to divide the father and daughter. She yelled at him, cursing his lies and slyness through her tears until the roars of the colliding worlds drowned her out, and a safer world took her while he smiled, content that at last, the last time he should hear of her can actually resemble the times when she was without a worry, teasing him with that sharp tongue of hers as though they were the best of friends.

Not as though…since they were.

As sudden as it burst open, the tear in the fabric of existence snapped shut, and Lerim was alone in his humble abode once more. He fell to his knees in a prayer he never got up from: there was no amen to end it, but merely a silent affirmative as he yielded his spirit.

Unbeknownst to him was that the rumble in space and time woke the Fallen, and he merely tightened his grip upon his contracted to fall deeper into the darkness within.

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