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Recommended Listening: All is Forgiven - Default
Bother- Stone Sour
Walk Away- Five Finger Death Punch
The apology fell from her lips, breaking the fragile silence and leaving a bitter taste in her mouth. Valen stared at her, his expression unreadable. His blue eyes had gone cold, bearing no small resemblance to an icy river. She lowered her gaze, pain coursing through her. In her quest to burn down the past, she'd lost control of the fire and destroyed everything that mattered. She balled her hands into fists, her fingernails leaving crimson half-moons.
"You betrayed us."
A small, sad smile crossed her face and she whispered, "That's what I do, isn't it though? Wear the mask of a hero, then rip it off to show the devil underneath."
Valen's eyes flamed, and he spat out, "There is no devil underneath. There is simply a cowardly woman so intent on proving herself unworthy of praise that she would sacrifice anyone and anything."
She winced, his words a sharp slap, though she recognized the truth in them. She'd been many things in her life. A murderer, a savior, a villain, and a hero...but now, she was merely pathetic.
The snow gusted around them, whipping her pale blonde hair about and leaving it frozen into stiff strands. She roughly pulled her cloak closer, but it did nothing to stop the chill that sank into her bones. Valen seemed to not feel the cold, even though his vivid green armor had taken on a frosty sheen.
"I told you that I felt no loyalty to the Seer's cause. I warned you not to trust me."
His tail snapped about in agitation and he shook his head in disgust.
"You are right. I was a fool to think that you would change because I loved you. I was a fool to believe that you might wish to change."
Her head bowed into the slump of her shoulders, tears turning to ice as soon as they left her eyes.
"I can't, Valen. Maybe once I could have, long ago. But I've gone down that road; it tore me apart. It tore everything I loved apart. This is-it's...easier."
She gazed up at him, continuing,
"Look at where I am. The Hell of traitors. I knew where I was going from the moment I started this path; I accepted it. But you aren't supposed to be here. You can leave. You can be the one to stop Mephistopheles. You can be the hero they need."
Valen glared at her, and it was plain to see how he had led the rebel army.
"And leave you here to wallow in self-pity? No. Even after all that you have done, you still have some use. To let you stay here would be a mercy that I will not give."
His voice was harsh. Even so, a bizarre hope stirred in her breast; that perhaps this was an offering of peace. A final chance to turn her back on what she had condemned herself to. A final chance to deviate from her chosen path of betrayal and self-hatred. She realized that it would not be easy; that leaving that path would end with her forcing her way through scratching brambles and hooked thorns. But she had been given one last mercy, even if it had a cutting edge. She would not refuse.
"Then lead. I will follow."
He accepted her promise easily, and she caught herself wondering if he truly cared if she followed. It was unlikely, after all that she had done. She would simply have to earn that once again. She scrambled through the snow after him, her ankles soaking wet and her face numb, with a steely resolve that she had forgotten was possible.