For Shaun Kirk, the host to many adventures.
It was the darkest night but the moon was bright as day.
And the surrounding things, dead now, were obscured and invisible in the nightmare we call the shadows. They writhed and gasped from escaping air, and I looked down at the sword in my hand, and it still stunk of the sulfur and gore that was spilling throughout the last hour of my existence.
I flicked it, and the grass rustled from the sheer amount of liquid flung down into the dirt. The metal felt heavy right then. Like I was carrying the corpses on my back, stretched from one shoulder to the other.
I dropped the sword, unwilling to hold it anymore—though the weight remained on my body, sore as it already was. The abandoned metal shined in the spotlight of the moon.
I stared up at that moon. And he breathed by me, probably going through the same feelings and emotions. We did not expect to survive the last while; we had told some we would not come back, no matter what we hoped.
“I don’t know what to do now,” my companion said. “It’s…well, it’s done now.”
“Yes, it is. For the night, at least,” I said and kicked my foot into the unseen mass in front of me. The gas escaped yet again from the bloating corpse of a demon.
“Should we go back?” he said, and I still did not turn to look at him.
That was the question, wasn’t it? Should we go back to that place? Sure, it was not unprecedented, and sure, we had not told everyone we were doomed people, dead corpses with a day left of breath. But we’d told enough.
“Why?” I said, out loud, but mostly to myself.
He answered like it had been for his ears. “Why? Why not?”
I took a long time to answer, a long time to put words to thoughts. “With…with what’s been done in the name of defense, why should we go back?”
“I don’t understand,” he said, sounding quieter than I’d ever heard him.
“We were, essentially, sacrifices,” I said, picking back up the sword. I didn’t have soreness so much anymore.
“Yes, we were. But you knew that.”
“One way or the other…if we died, they’d be fed for the rest of the month and wouldn’t attack the village. If we won, they’d not come back at all—if this is all the demons. But they probably did not expect us to win.”
I thought he’d caught on by this point, but I still added to the sentence: “What is back there for us if we went? With what’s been done? What would they do with us?’
“We’d be heroes,” he said, but I think even he had doubts.
“Criminals are not heroes,” I said.
“I’m not a criminal.”
I finally looked at him, and I sheathed my sword. A long and silent motion. “No? You’re not? Are you sure? Then, why are you here?”
“Well they branded me as one, but I am not—”
“Let’s go. Let’s escape,” I said. “They’ll be safe without us. And they can think we died, for a while.”
“And what will we do?”
I waved my hand, and the moon glimmered on my rings—stolen all of them. They could not even find them when they captured me. Magic is illegal too. “Well, we killed a demon horde. I think, comparatively, most problems are not too big. So… anything we want.”
“Anything?” he said, still holding his sword. I eye up and down his body; he’s not so bad looking. Another crime where I used to live.