6/4/2005 Disclaimer I don't own Raziel or Ico. Author's notes are at the bottom.
I groaned softly. A pleasant warmth spread across my back. I felt wetness beneath me, and a rhythmic rushing sound filled my ears. I ignored it; I just wanted to stay like this forever.
I felt a hint of coldness interrupt the warmth. I twitched and opened my eyes.
Raziel was standing over me; his shadow was the coolness I had felt. His damp hair hung messily in his eyes. He wasn't as unnaturally beautiful as the vampire had been, but he was still ruggedly handsome.
I struggled to my feet and brushed the wet sand off my chest. "We made it, this is the end of the game." Even the raspiness of my voice didn't mask my obvious happiness.
Raziel caught me as I lost my balance. "Now what?" he asked. His voice was not bitter, but it held a sense of bewilderment.
"I'm not sure," I confessed as I glanced at the ocean. I felt a pang in my stomach, but I wasn't sure what emotion caused it.
At that moment, a figure appeared on the beach. It was the Gamester in the beatnik form that he had first appeared to me in. I realized that the deathly pale skin made this form resemble the Queen, but the resemblance was a coincidence. I was sure that this was an established character from another game, and that his eyes should be red. The Gamester's mannerisms fit in with this form almost perfectly.
"How did you enjoy it?" he asked pleasantly.
"Leave us alone," Raziel said angrily. "What more amusement do you hope to gain from us?"
The Gamester blinked as if surprised. "It's true that I do derive a certain sense of pride from my service, but this little diversion was for Elizabeth's benefit. She's the one who wanted to spend time with you."
I shrank back under Raziel's accusing gaze. His grip tightened on my arms.
"This was because of you?" he asked incredulously.
My throat tightened. Unable to speak, I shamefully nodded my head.
Raziel's grip loosened slightly. "Why?"
I took a breath and forced myself to speak. "Because I really wanted to be with you." Hot tears ran down my face.
Raziel brushed them away with his thumb as he caressed my cheek. "You must have known that you could not have me," he said gently.
The gamester cleared his throat. "This is all very touching, but now it's time for both of you to go home."
I stepped away from Raziel. Something about the gamester's words filled me with cold dread. "No," I begged.
"My girl, you've had your fun. Both of you need to go back where you belong. Please accept my apologies, Raziel, but I simply can't send you back to Nosgoth looking like that." The gamester waved his hand
I couldn't tear my gaze away as Raziel's skin began to run off of his face like molten wax. I couldn't tell if the process was painful; only a slight cry of despair left his mouth before it fell away. Dark blood oozed from his closed eyes, leaving familiar trails down his hollow cheeks.
Within moments, the transformation was complete. Raziel's eyes flew open and blazed in an accusing stare. Raziel's obvious anger was more frightening than seeing the uncloaked void in his face.
I tentatively walked up to Raziel. "I'm sorry," I whispered as I reached out to him.
Raziel shrunk away from my reach. He wrapped his tattered cloak back around his ruined face and said, "I never want to see you again."
His words stung me to the core of my being. Hot tears pricked at my eyes. My chest tightened, and I had to struggle to breathe.
The Gamester waved his hand, and the control switch for the chronoplast appeared in the sand. "This will return you to where you were headed," he told Raziel. "I'll take care of Eliza."
Raziel glanced at me one last time. For a moment, my spirits lifted as I thought he might say something nice to me. Instead, his eyes narrowed and he turned on his heel. He activated the switch without saying another word.
When I woke up in my bed, I wondered if it had all been a dream. I was wearing my velvet lounge pants again. The clothes I had been wearing in the game were still clean; they should have been wet and sandy and covered in smudges of dirt from both Ico's castle and the Sarafan Stronghold.
I picked up the box for Soul Reaver 2. Whether it had been a dream or something else, I no longer felt the same way that I had about Raziel. I couldn't tell if I had lost my pity for him, or if I had simply gotten a better sense of who he was.
I put the box back on the shelf. I realized that it didn't matter, really. My life would continue as it had, except that I didn't think that I'd ever daydream again about getting sucked into a game.
Sorry for the delay on this chapter. I admit that there were no last-minute changes on this one, and there was no good reason to hold it.
Razielim Vampiress: And now you've reached the end, and I am left for the moment without a project. Thanks for the support.
gryps incedio: Yeah, I admit I should have gone with the, "Liz ends up getting soaking wet" scenario. It's just that little Razzy ends up going missing anyway. (I think I'm the only one who prefers the wraith.) Hopefully I'm done with the "Raziel isn't sympathetic" phase. But Liz making Raz's life difficult was pretty much the point of the story. Remember to spay and neuter your pets.
RockyShoreline: Cliffhanger? Well that was an unconscious decision. This chapter break had been like this since the beginning. I suppose it's because of the way they did the game… I broke at a point where some people would turn off their PS2.
Something I learned from writing this… Don't compose on a handheld. The small screen causes each sentence to be at least three lines, and my formatting got stuck in an annoying 'short paragraphs' format that persisted even in the parts that didn't get written until I sat down at the keyboard.
The part about this story that disturbs me… There is hardly any deleted material. There are the alternate parts that I jotted down after uploading chapter 5, and a couple other scenarios that I daydreamed, but the first out-of-brain form is pretty close to the final version. (The biggest difference is where I put the chapter divisions and I added some embellishments.)