Part 119: Alternate Ending - Phoenix
Epilogue - Phoenix
Music - "Conclusion of a Destiny"
Download (Thanks to Grawl)
The world shuddered as the demon sword hit the bottom of the pit to Hell. It was over.
And then I saw it. The motionless figure sprawled behind a statue. The angle had made it impossible to see before. I raced over.
No... no no no no no...
It was Jenna. Her dress had been torn open. The damnable demon really had ripped out her heart... just like he had told me he had done. Her glassy death-stare bore into me accusingly.
"Where were you? Why didn't you save me?"
I lay on the cold, blood-slick floor, sobbing uncontrollably. I covered her up, huge tears streaking my face and falling on her body. I took the silver chain with the rings on it from around my neck, and I fastened it around hers. I closed her eyes and brushed her hair back with my shaking hands, a futile attempt to make her look peaceful.
"I'm sorry, Jenna. I love you. I'm sorry."
And then I realized that I wasn't the only one crying. I got to my feet.
Everything was gone. It was time to finish this.
My hand started shaking as I raised the dagger.
My vision had become cloudy with tears. I blinked them away, but I couldn't stop the shaking. Memories flowed, unbidden and unwanted.
You cannot put it off anymore. It is now, or not at all. But you are strong, Jeremiah. You were chosen because you are strong.
Chosen? By whom?
I can offer you no reassurances about the fate of your sister. It is as unknown to me as it is to you. I can lend you no air nor comfort if she is lost. Only you have the strength to persevere through what is to come. Are you going to find your strength?
... Yes. I will see this through, no matter what.
I gasped and lowered the dagger.
"No matter what." I thought I meant it at the time, but with the reality of it right here, it was much more difficult.
Maybe I'm not the ideal candidate to be the Divine One. I have made mistakes in the past, and I will continue to make them in the future - if I have a future, that is. But I know that I can do this, whatever it takes.
Whatever it takes, mortal?
Whatever it takes.
Very well then.
Yes, I had given my word. I had to follow through. That's who I was. I wasn't going to break my promises anymore.
24 Declianum 1216
That couldn't have been excused by an accident, or poor judgment. I stabbed a man. I could have run away. I-I am a killer... a murderer.
That's not what's bothering you, though. You know you'll gladly do it again... to save her.
Yes... Yes, if I have to... I will kill for my family.
"My family." What family? There was just me, and my nephew, everyone else was dead, and I was about to make myself the last of the Liro line with one swift stab. Was this really the way to honor all of Jenna's months of suffering? Was this the best way to remember and honour her death? By killing her son?
Isolde! You met her? Is she well? She is the reason why I wish to flee these barracks! I must be with my Isolde again, please!
You're a jackass.
You enrolled in the army of your own will. If every man would be like you, the orcs would have won this battle, even without a fight!
And if the orcs had sacked the barracks, who'd be left to protect your Isolde then, huh? Answer me?
I-I don't know.
No one wants to make sacrifices for strangers, but you are a SOLDIER. You have a duty.
Duty? Who exactly was my duty to? I had a duty to many people, and now my different duties were in conflict with each other.
My duty to the Gods, the Council of Seven, to Zandalor, and to the people of Ferol said to kill the child.
But my duty to Richard, Jenna, and my father said to spare him.
Where did my true duty lie? What was my duty to myself?
"Jeremiah... please," Jenna said, her voice wavering. Another tear rolled down. I could feel a matching tear on my own face as well. "They're going to do horrible things, Jeremiah... not just to me, but to everyone..." mid-sentence, her voice changed, regaining the strength and the edge I remembered from back home. "Whatever they threaten, whatever they do..." She opened her eyes and started right into mine... "Don't give up, no matter what! Promise me that no matter what it takes, you'll stop their mad scheme!"
In the end, there was only one answer. The baby... it was the only thing I had left of her.
I couldn't just kill her son. I had to try. If the child fell into darkness, then I would have to make another decision. Until then, I'd do the best I could with him.
I said the name Richard had whispered to me before he died. "Damian. That's a good name."
As far as everyone but Zandalor and Kroxy knew, the man named Jeremiah Edwin Liro had died six months ago. I still lived, I still breathed, but something inside of me had died this day. I didn't feel like Jeremiah anymore. I didn't want to be Jeremiah anymore. There was too much pain associated with that name.
My old life was gone, ashes. It was time to start over. It was time to take a new name, and a new appearance for my new life...
I remembered reading a story when I was a child. I couldn't recall the name of it... but it was about a warrior who came from humble beginnings, but eventually raised an army and overthrew an evil king and his army of demonic knights. The hero of that story was called Lucian. Yes, I liked the sound of that. My new name would be Lucian.
I picked up little Damian and walked out. The sun was shining.
"Come on, little one..." I started, but I trailed off.
No. This boy is my responsibility now. But not just that... he's my family.
I cleared my throat and spoke again. "Come on, my son. We've got a world to rebuild."
Some call me a God.
Some call me a fool.
For the sake of the world, I hope I'm not both.