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View Full Version : Fading Rays and Cresting Mountains [Oneshot]



Arashi_Leonhart
August 5th, 2011, 07:32 AM
He climbed effortlessly, the sheer and mossy stone no hindrance at all. Despite the cold temperatures, his fingers cast about the cliff until it found purchase, then another pull had him another hand span higher.

With methodical steps, he finally eclipsed the lip of the precipice and swung up until his feet found purchase. The faint layer of snow melted beneath his boots and he brushed himself off, then pulled the stone he had retrieved out of his pocket. Ambling over to the little mound of stones off to one side, he carefully lay the rock atop the mound, balancing it as carefully as one might the steeple on a house of cards.

Thirteen stones now made up this stack. It did not even reach halfway up his shin.




“Nee, do you think she should have just taken it easy?” the girl had asked.

They had sat there, watching the snow fall over the river, smiling at their own breath as it came out in wispy clouds from their mouths. He had carried her all the way out here, along the road at the riverbank and then up the cut stone to the top of the cliff. They had hid behind the shelter of a tree, away from the eyes of those that owned the land, and watched in silence as the winter evening had passed on by.

“Who?” he had asked.

She had looked at him, all contemplative eyes and teasing smile, a slight twitching to her nose against the cold air. “In the myth, you know. When we came up here, it was simple as taking it slow and easy, right?”

He had nodded, sagely, though they both knew it was all for show. “That certainly makes sense.”

She had fallen silent for a while longer, and as the light in the sky darkened, he began to feel fear as the minutes and seconds counted on. He had no concept of years, then, as his life had been too short by normal measure and even shorter by how he perceived his world. The world had opened up to him as he waited there, and he realized, slowly or too fast to comprehend, how lonely it was.

The sound of a boat off in the distance, a fog-horn to alert others of its presence.

Motion had caught his eye, and he turned to watch as she pulled a large stone from within her jacket. It was large and flat, and he wondered why he had not felt it when carrying her up. She held it out to him.

He had taken it, his hand brushing against hers, somehow even smaller when held to such a stone. “Hm?”

“Don’t be like her. Build up slowly, you know, with something good like this at the bottom.”

“Okay.” Briefly, he had left her side to find a place suitably out-of-the-way, yet still within clear sight of the river and placed the stone on the ground. He then glanced around, first up the river, then down, then back inland, marking his position mentally.

He would remember that place forever.

Upon returning to her side, he had finally taken note of how ghostly she had become, the contrast with her dark coat all the more apparent. He moved to put his shoulders to hers, and she had curled up carefully against him, her motions slow and lethargic.

“Did you ever hate me?” she asked, and her voice had seemed even smaller than her hands.

He had looked to her, again, uncomprehending, watching as the wisps from her breath grew fainter.

“For leading you astray, mister boatman?” She seemed to laugh to herself at that, her shoulders shaking faintly.

He had pressed his cheek against the crown of her head. “It’s really my own fault, isn’t it? I ought to have my eyes on where I’m going right now, not on the heights to impossible to climb.”

Another shake of the shoulders. “So my beauty and song had nothing to do with it.”

“Not a bit.”

A deeper, stronger wisp floated about, and he had thought for certain that she would stay on that joke. But a moment later, she had said, “Seriously. Answer seriously.”

He had understood the meaning of the question by then, though, and shook his head. “No.”

Even if it had been to his doom.

He could never have blamed her, never hated her.

“Then…I’m glad,” she had said, her shoulders hitching slower than before. “I’m glad Shirou doesn’t hate me.”

Slowly, he had put his arm around Illya’s tiny shoulders and held her to his chest.

They stayed like that. He, until sunrise. She, until twilight.




He stood there now, the mound of stone that he had marked years before at his feet, snow slowly forming over it, like the white that had shot into his hair. Each had been from one of the places he had since visited, each from a field stained by the same sorrow and hatred that had made up her life.

He wasn’t sure how different he could have made those places, or how different they had become because of him.

He just knew he had to take it slowly.

Even if he had crashed his boat into the mountain because his eyes were attracted to the beauty that lay beyond the crest, he would follow her words and take it slow, never once falling like fair Lorelei.



A 1.5 revised and changed version of the story. (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/866-Fading-Rays-and-Cresting-Mountains-Oneshot?p=377717&viewfull=1#post377717)

Version 2.0 (http://forums.nrvnqsr.com/showthread.php/866-Fading-Rays-and-Cresting-Mountains-Oneshot?p=430194&viewfull=1#post430194)

Techlet
August 5th, 2011, 07:47 AM
http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e64/DEATHSTRIKE-117/tear_of_joy_e.jpg

Sherrinford
August 5th, 2011, 08:02 AM
^ This. Oh, so much this...

...but I don't think I got it. Illya is Lorelei, Shirou's some boatman... passing by (?) and... what happened? It's a metaphor?

Arashi_Leonhart
August 5th, 2011, 08:04 AM
If IRUn is going to get a song stuck in my head with that Tanabata fic, I'm going to try and punch him in the gut!

...oh god my grammatical tense sucks in this thing...


...but I don't think I got it. Illya is Lorelei, Shirou's some boatman... passing by (?) and... what happened? It's a metaphor?

Look up the poem/lyrics to "Die Lorelei" and maybe its wikipedia page. It's the song associated with Illya (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxxMa1a8vwA).

Techlet
August 5th, 2011, 08:22 AM
Yeah. I reread it with Die Lorelei playing in the background.

I'm going to need a moment...

ItsaRandomUsername
August 5th, 2011, 10:53 AM
That..........was beautiful.

I'm going to need a moment here, people.

Alulim
August 5th, 2011, 12:28 PM
Al...needs a moment too.

Bloble
August 5th, 2011, 12:31 PM
http://www.animeuknews.net/img/generic/2007-05-24vlcsnap-2731978_big.jpg

"I'm fine. I have something in my eye, that's all. [sobs] ...I have something in my other eye. [sobbing] I have something in my heart..."
-Stephen Colbert

Theocrass
August 5th, 2011, 01:45 PM
http://www.animeuknews.net/img/generic/2007-05-24vlcsnap-2731978_big.jpg

"I'm fine. I have something in my eye, that's all. [sobs] ...I have something in my other eye. [sobbing] I have something in my heart..."
-Stephen Colbert

Seconding awesome picture and awesome quote.

DAMN YOU ARAAAAAAAAAAAAASHI!

ItsaRandomUsername
August 5th, 2011, 10:45 PM
It's so sad...yet happy...yet hopeful and accepting all at the same time....

*sniff*

Arashi_Leonhart
August 5th, 2011, 10:48 PM
Really? Happy? I kept the idea in the back of my head that this was EMIYA on his way to doom.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 5th, 2011, 10:57 PM
Really? Happy? I kept the idea in the back of my head that this was EMIYA on his way to doom.

That kind of changes things, then.

Fine, fine - a momentary bit of happiness. After all, EMIYA never regretted his path until he went full Counter Guardian. Then the shit-stick began whomping on him. Because you cannot be truly sad with an Illya by your side.

Until she passes her expiration date.

Arashi_Leonhart
August 5th, 2011, 11:00 PM
Well, I mean, I guess it works for a Fate-ish Shirou too. I dunno. I left it ambiguous on purpose, I just didn't think I'd get happy as a reaction.

ItsaRandomUsername
August 5th, 2011, 11:03 PM
Well, he didn't regret anything up to her death, so....

Eh, I'm just overlooking things. :p

Elf
August 6th, 2011, 04:43 AM
Really? Happy? I kept the idea in the back of my head that this was EMIYA on his way to doom.

Seriously, that's what I got when I was reading this story too. That this was the Shirou that becomes Archer.

RadiantBeam
August 6th, 2011, 08:45 PM
Oh, I promised myself I wouldn't cry... *sniffles, bawls*

Arashi_Leonhart
October 5th, 2011, 07:08 PM
Version 1.5

Reworked it for a class. I don't think I made it any better or worse (besides fixing some tense issues), just different now. 1.5 because I have to revise it again.



He climbed the cliff side, the sheer and mossy stone no hindrance at all. Despite the cold temperatures that ought to stiffen joints, his fingers cast about the cliff with ease until they found purchase, then another pull had him another arm span higher.

With methodical steps, he finally eclipsed the lip of the precipice and swung up until his feet found purchase. The faint layer of snow melted beneath his boots and he brushed himself off, and then pulled the stone he had retrieved out of his pocket. Ambling over to the little mound of stones off to one side, he carefully laid the rock atop the mound, balancing it as carefully as one might the steeple on a house of cards.

Thirteen stones now made up this stack. It did not even reach halfway up his shin.



They had met when they were both teenagers. He was a redheaded high school student with an odd penchant for doing any chores the other students asked of him. His friend Issei would ask, “Why bother?” and he would always reply, “I like to help people.” In truth, it was his dream, his ideal, a silly thing. He wanted, like those hero programs on television always toted, to be a “superhero.” An ally of justice. Someone who went out of his way to save people. Since he was merely a student, all he could do was save them from the inconvenience of cleaning their clubroom after classes or gathering all the gym supplies students had left out in their laziness.

Sillier too, that his dream was borrowed from his father. Even as an adult man, his father was one who held onto a childish dream.

One who died with a smile on his face when his adopted son had told him, “I will reach your dream in your place.”

She had been a foreigner in his country, a tiny girl with hair like the snow, seeking his name, seeking the family that had wronged her. His father, for reasons untold, had been forced to abandon her, and yet had come to eventually raise a different—if small—family of his own. She had found him, confronted him, broken his illusions about his idealized father.

“Some superhero,” she told him, “saving you only to leave me to die, for all he knew.”



One stone had been from Iraq, at the outbreak of battle. He had plucked it from the shadows of an old, crumbling building that had housed a hidden Kurdish school for children under the age of eight. He had rained terror down upon the Iraqi forces that would have otherwise exterminated them for their cultural heritage and acts against the state.

He had saved nine lives for the five soldiers he had killed.



Over many months, they had fought. The girl would speak of her abandonment at eight, during a winter of record lows in Germany. She would remind him how he had left her in a house so large and old, it was like a castle out of Sleeping Beauty. But without a father, it had been quiet and vacant, though the words of promise had echoed through her head, like they had echoed through the solemn halls.

“I’ll return for you,” she said. “That’s what he told me. And then I find out he was here with you all along.”

Sometimes, he thought of the sad symmetry of their situations. He had almost died in a fire, his parents and neighbors all burning away, and his new father had rescued him, only him. He had been saved, not just in life, but his future as well, as his savior had adopted him.

She had been left out in the cold, and he had been saved from the heat.



The largest stone in the center of the plinth had been from China, possibly a stone as old as the Great Wall some three miles north of where he had taken it.

There, he had fought for slaves working at a brick factory where they were forced to sleep next to their own latrine and eat little but white rice. He had saved thirty such men after killing eleven slavers, wincing with each bullet shot and explosive set.



“Not, you know…” her lips alternated between pursed and fly-attractant as she worked out what she wanted to say. “It’s not like, you know, I dislike you, or anything.”

He smiled down at the top of her head. Though it sometimes was nothing more than her time to curse the existence of his—their—father, he had started to accompany her to and from her doctor’s appointments. The walk between the traditional residential area he lived in all the way across the bridge and up the hill past the noise of the downtown region gave her plenty of time to jump around and rage, even as she would smile as families passed by and children might stop her to comment on her white hair.

“Are you a princess?” one boy had asked, his eyes staring up at her wide in hero-worship.

“From a faraway land,” she said.

“Are you Snow White?”

She had patted the boy on the head. “More like Lorelei of the Rhine.”



The second-most-recent stone was flint rock from far into the Amazon. He had been gifted it by a tribe of aborigines after killing seven of the men sent to drive them out in preparation of deforesting the area. The tribe had looked upon him like a spirit from lore after he had taken steel to the invaders as if by magic.



“Hey, do you think she should have just taken it easy?” the girl asked.

They sat there, watching the snow fall over the river, smiling at their own breath as it came out in wispy clouds from their mouths. He had carried her all the way out here, along the road at the riverbank and then up the cut stone to the top of the cliff. They hid behind the shelter of a tree, away from the eyes of those that owned the land, and watched in silence as the winter evening had passed on by the German landscape.

“Who?” he asked.

She looked at him, all contemplative eyes and teasing smile, a slight twitching to her nose against the cold air. “In the myth, you know. When we came up here, it was simple as taking it slow and easy, right?”

He nodded, sagely, though they both knew it was all for show. “That certainly makes sense.”

She had fallen silent for a while longer, and as the light in the sky darkened, he began to feel fear as the minutes and seconds counted on. He had no concept of years, then, as his life had been too short by normal measure and even shorter by how he perceived his existence. The world had opened up to him as he waited there, and he realized, slowly or too fast to comprehend, how lonely it was.

The sound of a boat off in the distance, a fog-horn to alert others of its presence.

Motion had caught his eye, and he turned to watch as she pulled a large stone from within her jacket. It was large and flat, and he wondered why he had not felt it when carrying her up. She held it out to him.

He took it, his hand brushing against hers, somehow even smaller when held to such a stone. “Hm?”

“Don’t be like her. Build up slowly, you know, with something good like this at the bottom.”

“Okay.” Briefly, he left her side to find a place suitably out-of-the-way, yet still within clear sight of the river and placed the stone on the ground. He then glanced around, first up the river, then down, then back inland, marking his position mentally.

He would remember that place forever.

Upon returning to her side, he finally took note of how ghostly she had become, the contrast with her dark coat all the more apparent. He moved to put his shoulders to hers, and she curled up carefully against him, her motions slow and lethargic.

“Did you ever hate me?” she asked, and her voice had seemed even smaller than her hands.

He looked to her, again, uncomprehending, watching as the wisps from her breath grew fainter.

“For leading you astray, mister boatman?” She seemed to laugh to herself at that, her shoulders shaking faintly.

He pressed his cheek against the crown of her head. “It’s really my own fault, isn’t it? I ought to have my eyes on where I’m going right now, not on the heights to impossible to climb.”

Another shake of the shoulders. “So my beauty and song had nothing to do with it.”

“Not a bit.”

A deeper, stronger wisp floated about, and he thought for certain that she would stay on that joke. But a moment later, she said, “Seriously. Answer seriously.”

He understood the meaning of the question by then, though, and shook his head. “No.”

Even if it was to his doom.

He could never have blamed her, never hated her.

“Then…I’m glad,” she said, her shoulders hitching slower than before. “I’m glad Shirou doesn’t hate me.”

Slowly, he put his arm around Illya’s tiny shoulders and held her to his chest.

They stayed like that. He, until sunrise. She, until twilight.



The latest stone had been from Somalia, where he had stolen thirty bags of rice and wheat from the warlords, quietly providing it to ten different families on the outskirts of Mogadishu. He had only needed to kill two men, indirectly, as they had been executed for their failure at securing the foodstuffs.



He stood there now, the mound of stone that he had marked years before at his feet, snow slowly forming over it, like the white that had shot into his hair. Each had been from one of the places he had since visited, each from a field stained by the same sorrow and hatred that had made up her life.

He wasn’t sure how different he could have made those places, or how different they had become because of him.

He just knew he had to take it slowly.

Even if he had crashed his boat into the mountain because his eyes were attracted to the beauty that lay beyond the crest, he would follow her words and take it slow, never once falling like fair Lorelei.

ItsaRandomUsername
October 5th, 2011, 07:17 PM
YES

Wait, I'm supposed to be sad! ;_;

Tsundere Illya is tsundere.

Alulim
October 5th, 2011, 07:49 PM
Indeed.

Techlet
October 5th, 2011, 07:54 PM
I cried again.

hatori
October 5th, 2011, 09:12 PM
I shed manly tears.

Arashi_Leonhart
October 31st, 2011, 05:47 AM
Aaaand the final revision for this class. It has benefited, amidst all the exposition, of the gain/loss dichotomy being presented stronger, and obviously works better as a story for someone who doesn't know the FSN plot. But, obviously, that isn't the people here, so, it probably isn't better to you guys. Anyway.




Shirou climbed the cliff side, the sheer and mossy stone no hindrance at all. Despite the cold temperatures that ought to stiffen joints, his fingers cast about the cliff with ease until they found purchase, then another pull had him another arm span higher.

With methodical steps, he finally eclipsed the lip of the precipice and swung up until his feet found purchase. The faint layer of snow melted beneath his boots and he brushed himself off, and then pulled the stone he had retrieved out of his pocket. Ambling over to the little mound of stones off to one side, he carefully laid the rock atop the mound, balancing it as carefully as one might the steeple on a house of cards.

Thirteen stones now made up this stack. It did not even reach halfway up his shin.



They had met when they were both teenagers. Shirou was a redheaded high school student with an odd penchant for doing any chores the other students asked of him. His friend Issei would ask, “Why bother?” and he would always reply, “I like to help people.” In truth, it was his dream, his ideal, a silly thing. He wanted, like those hero programs on television always toted, to be a “superhero.” An ally of justice. Someone who went out of his way to save people, save everyone, and with nothing but that salvation to show for it. Since he was merely a student, all he could do was save them from the inconvenience of cleaning their clubroom after classes or gathering all the gym supplies students had left out in their laziness.

Sillier too, that his dream was borrowed from his father. Even as an adult man, his father was one who held onto a childish dream.

A father who had died with a smile on his face when his adopted son had told him, “I will reach your dream in your place.” Shirou had meant every word, though, a child not even in his teens could hardly understand the means to fulfill such a task. He had not even comprehended why his father would say such a thing was childish, when Shirou had been saved.

He could not have known that saving also meant sacrifice.

Her name was Illyasviel. She was the biological daughter of his adoptive father, actual flesh and blood of his body. She had not known that the father wanted to see her, wanted to be with her, had tried to return to her. Shirou had not known either, though, it all became apparent to him the more he thought of his father’s occasional excursions away from their quiet home in Japan.

She had been a foreigner in his country, a tiny girl with hair like the snow, seeking his name, seeking the family that had wronged her. His father, for reasons untold, had been forced to abandon her, and yet had come to eventually raise a different—if small—family of his own, had come to raise Shirou. She had found him, her unknown brother; had confronted him, had broken his illusions about his idealized father.

“Some superhero,” she told him, “saving you only to leave me to die.”

Shirou knew his father could not have known this girl would have a tragic life, but he understood Illyasviel’s sentiments. He understood, too, that his father had not been perfect, had not been the superhero he admired him for.



One stone had been from Iraq, at the outbreak of battle. He had plucked it from the shadows of an old, crumbling building that had housed a hidden Kurdish school for children under the age of eight. He had rained terror down upon the Iraqi forces that would have otherwise exterminated them for their cultural heritage and acts against the state.

He had saved nine lives for the five soldiers he had killed.



Over many months, they had fought. Though Shirou had welcomed her into his home, there was of course the ever-present tension. It had been his father’s home, the home that Illyasviel had not grown up in.

She would speak of her abandonment at eight, during a winter of record lows in Germany. She would remind him how he had left her in a house so large and old, it was like a castle out of Sleeping Beauty. But without a father, it had been quiet and vacant, though the words of promise had echoed through her head, like they had echoed through the solemn halls.

“I’ll return for you,” she said. “That’s what he told me. And then I find out he was here with you all along.” Her tone was angry, though not at him; it was more like her words were a lance and she could jab the weapon at the air in the house, at this person’s invisible presence.

Shirou was not even sure she could have tried to harm their father had the man still been alive. “He always did tell me his dream was impossible,” Shirou said. “To save everyone, an impossible goal.” Now, though, maybe he understood.

There was a sad symmetry to their situations, a mirrored yin-yang sense of polarity. Shirou had almost died in a horrendous fire, his parents, neighbors, hundreds of people all burning away. His new father had rescued him, only him, the only known survivor of this tragedy. He had been saved, not just in life, but his future as well, as his savior had adopted him, and then passed along his dream of being a superhero.

But his father had never achieved that dream, had been forced to face the sad truth: that to save one, another had to be sacrificed. If you could save one nation from another, you would kill members of the opposing nation. If you could save one murder victim, you would be forced to kill or destroy the life of the assailant. Even if you could save hundreds of lives in the process, the savior’s life would be sacrificed in their stead, sacrificed to an existence of seeing destruction around them.

So Illyasviel had been left in a lonely stone castle with only distant relatives, while Shirou had grown up in this traditional Japanese home with wooden floors and a father he was not even related to by blood.

Shirou started to understand that, for his father, there was a personal personification as well:

She had been left out in the cold, and he had been saved from the heat.



The largest stone in the center of the plinth had been from China, possibly a stone as old as the Great Wall some three miles north of where he had taken it.

There, he had fought for slaves working at a brick factory where they were forced to sleep next to their own latrine and eat little but white rice. He had saved thirty such men after killing eleven slavers, wincing with each bullet shot and explosive set.



She had come to Japan, though she had brought with her the many troubles of her life, of sickness and shortening time. He had welcomed her, revealing the many troubles he would have in the long future given to him by his father.

He felt sick inside, thinking of her plight, though she would shrug it off compared to the unfinished business she had with his—their—father.

“Not, you know…” her lips alternated between pursed and fly-attractant as she worked out what she wanted to say. “It’s not like, you know, I dislike you, or anything.”

He smiled down at the top of Illya’s head, even though he felt like he could die inside. She was dying for real, but she never seemed to show anything else but the manic energy of one who wanted to complain about a deadbeat parent until her lips were blue. “I’m glad to hear it,” he said. He was glad to have known her, glad to be able to know his “sister,” glad to have the chance at calling her by a shortened name.

Though it sometimes was nothing more than her time to curse the existence of their father, he had started to accompany her to and from her doctor’s appointments. The walk between the traditional residential area he lived in all the way across the bridge and up the hill past the noise of the downtown region gave her plenty of time to jump around and rage, even as she would smile as families passed by and children might stop her to comment on her white hair, a mystical thing to the Japanese.

“Are you a princess?” one boy asked the same day, his eyes staring up at her wide in hero-worship. Shirou thought that look somehow wrong, now, though he knew he had worn it once upon a time. There was no heroism here, just the reality of her sacrifice and Shirou’s life.

“From a faraway land,” she said. Her stunted growth meant she did look closer to ten than twenty, more like the ages of these adolescents than high-schooling Shirou.

“Are you Snow White?”

She patted the boy on the head. “More like Lorelei of the Rhine.”
Shirou resisted the urge to point out to the kid that Snow White did not have white hair, though Illya’s words had given him pause. He knew the story of Lorelei, knew the various incarnations of it—German history was related to them in school due to Japan’s long history with the nation—and knew the poetry and music that accompanied the story. His superhero complex was more than enough reason to pay attention when people talked of myth and legend.

An enchantress named Lorelei dies after climbing the stone plinth on the Rhine; that woman becoming a siren that enchants the boatmen on the river to crash into the same stone.

Illya brought him out of his thoughts, her downturned eyes understanding at his understanding. She was aware of his goals, of the things he wanted to do, the promise he had made to their father. But her very presence seemed poisonous to what Shirou believed in.

Lorelei had no savior, after all.



The second-most-recent stone was flint rock from far into the Amazon. He had been gifted it by a tribe of aborigines after killing seven of the men sent to drive them out in preparation of deforesting the area. The tribe had looked upon him like a spirit from lore after he had taken steel to the invaders as if by magic.



“Hey, do you think she should have just taken it easy?” Illya asked.

They sat there, watching the snow fall over the river, smiling at their own breath as it came out in wispy clouds from their mouths. Shirou had traveled with her back to her homeland, carried her decaying body all the way out here, along the road at the riverbank and then up the cut stone to the top of the cliff. They hid behind the shelter of a tree, away from the eyes of those that owned the land, and watched in silence as the winter evening had passed on by the German landscape.

“Who?” he asked.

Illya looked at him, all contemplative eyes and teasing smile, a slight twitching to her nose against the cold air. “In the myth, you know. When we came up here, it was simple as taking it slow and easy, right?”

Shirou nodded, sagely, though they both knew it was all for show. “That certainly makes sense.” He did not actually understand where she was going with that thought.

She had fallen silent for a while longer, and as the light in the sky darkened, he began to feel fear as the minutes and seconds counted on. He had no concept of years as his life had been too short by normal measure and even shorter by how he perceived his existence—the boy who had come out of the fire, who lived from the moment of salvation onward. The world had opened up to him as he waited there, and he realized, slowly or too fast to comprehend, how lonely it was.

He thought, maybe, this was how she had felt for all those years, waiting on someone she would never meet again.

The sound of a boat off in the distance, a fog-horn to alert others of its presence.

Motion had caught his eye, and he turned to watch as she pulled a large stone from within her jacket. It was large and flat, and he wondered why he had not felt it when carrying her up. She held it out to him.

He took it, his hand brushing against hers, somehow even smaller when held to such a stone. “Hm?”

“Don’t be like her. Build up slowly, you know, with something good like this at the bottom.”

“Okay.” Briefly, he left her side to find a place suitably out-of-the-way, yet still within clear sight of the river and placed the stone on the ground. He then glanced around, first up the river, then down, then back inland, marking his position mentally.

He would remember that place forever.

Upon returning to her side, he finally took note of how ghostly she had become, the contrast with her dark coat all the more apparent. He moved to put his shoulders to hers, and she curled up carefully against him, her motions slow and lethargic.

“Did you ever hate me?” she asked, and her voice had seemed even smaller than her hands.

He looked to her, again, uncomprehending, watching as the wisps from her breath grew fainter.

“For leading you astray, mister boatman?” She seemed to laugh to herself at that, her shoulders shaking faintly.

He pressed his cheek against the crown of her head. “It’s really my own fault, isn’t it? I ought to have my eyes on where I’m going right now, not on the heights to impossible to climb.” If he was to be a superhero, a savior, he had to accept the reality first, even if it was a sad one. If he truly did idolize their father, he would have to accept it all, the salvation and the sacrifice.

Another shake of Illya’s shoulders, amusement at her own thoughts, or perhaps in pain, he could not tell. “So my beauty and song had nothing to do with it.”

“Not a bit.”

A deeper, stronger wisp floated about, and he thought for certain that she would stay on that joke. But a moment later, she said, “Seriously. Answer seriously.”

He understood the meaning of the question by then, though, and shook his head. “No.”

He could never have blamed her, never hated her, even if she had made him aware of sacrifice, had made it a part of his world.

“Then…I’m glad,” she said, her shoulders hitching slower than before. “I’m glad Shirou doesn’t hate me.”

Slowly, he put his arm around Illya’s tiny shoulders and held her to his chest.

They stayed like that. He, until sunrise. She, until twilight.


The latest stone had been from Somalia, where he had stolen thirty bags of rice and wheat from the warlords, quietly providing it to ten different families on the outskirts of Mogadishu. He had only needed to kill two men, indirectly, as they had been executed for their failure at securing the foodstuffs.



He stood there now, the mound of stone that he had marked years before at his feet, snow slowly forming over it, like the white that had shot into his hair. Each had been from one of the places he had since visited, each from a field stained by the same sorrow and hatred that had made up her life.

He wasn’t sure how different he could have made those places, or how different they had become because of him.

He just knew he had to take it slowly.

Even if he had crashed his boat into the mountain because his eyes were attracted to the beauty that lay beyond the crest, he would follow her words and take it slow, never once falling like fair Lorelei.

ItsaRandomUsername
October 31st, 2011, 09:47 AM
...Every time...

...every, single, time...

shiningphoenix
October 31st, 2011, 02:15 PM
http://i44.tinypic.com/s15nhe.png
Even Kirei sheds a tear.

ringlhach
October 31st, 2011, 02:24 PM
Of joy. Ah, the suffering!