This is Issue #107 of DeathWatch, an ongoing Serial. Click that link to go find ‘A Beginning’ and read from there, if you need to catch up.
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I will let you go.
Jet slunk back to his rooms and shut himself away. He locked the doors and windows, and refused all entrance. When servants knocked, he bid them leave him be, and he did not take in any food or drink. He paced, quietly talking to himself, quietly talking to nothing and no one, quietly talking eventually to a potted plant, to the burning brazier, to the closed window, to the mirror in the bathroom.
He laid on his bed and spoke to the painted ceiling.
He spoke to the scar on his hand.
He talked until his throat was dry and his lips were cracked and his body ached from walking back and forth over the tiled floor.
When Secta came, he did not answer.
When Lucida came, he turned her away.
When Gemma came, he refused to listen.
When Immanis came, he would not let him in.
Instead, he pulled out pen and ink, and wrote. It took him days, and he burned each and every sheet of paper upon which he’d written confessions and pleas and fury and demands and hope, until he managed a letter he felt spoke from his true heart.
My Key –
I know that you will never read this. I do not imagine, for a moment, that Centralis will scale the Ridge and take on the massive forces of Ilona, and survive. My attempt to follow you was ill-fortuned at best, and has left me with a new life. I do not know how to accept it. Perhaps I cannot accept it as I am.
I know that in my heart I have fought against it. I have railed and I have pled and I have prayed and wept and I have begged, but I have failed. In only what seems moments, I have gone from hunted to hunter. From captive to killer — I am no longer the Jet you knew, but instead I am the Black Stone. The Guardian of Ilona. In two days’ time, I shall wed the Princess, a woman more beautiful than any I have seen so far in my bizarre and short life. I won her hand for my service. My loyalty. My devotion.
Here, I am royalty, beloved and adored. Here, I am brother to the Prince. Here, I am to be wedded to the Princess. Here. I am powerful. Here, I am wealthy. Here, I have truly anything a man could ever wish for. I have everything.
And though it wounds me, there is a part of me that rejoices, and though I have tried to shut that part out, tried to drown that piece, to cut it away, to burn it out of myself, it lives, and it sings, and it rejoices, because in two days’ time, everything changes, yet again.
In two days, I shall marry the Princess, so that I can be nearer to her brother, my brother. My Prince.
I will do this, because my heart is awake and alive to be near him.
I will do this, even though it is foretold he will die too soon.
I will do this, Key, because I love him.
You are gone. You left me. After all that we strove for, all that we had done, had tried, had fought through to be together, you ran from me. I begged you to stay, hardly even knowing what it was you had wanted from me, what it was I had hoped to give you, knowing only that you were my best friend, that I loved you above all else.
And you lied to me, and left me alone.
I was too heartbroken to be angry, and now I am too changed to be heartbroken.
You are a world away, in an army hell-bent on destroying this land I have come to call home. It is not so different here, than in Centralis. Not so different here, than wherever you must be. Every day, the people around me go about their lives working for good, protecting and defending against that which frightens or abuses them. I protect them; they have become my people.
These lands have become my lands.
If you could meet these people, you would come to love them, as I do. You would fight and die for them, as I have done.
I write this to let my aching heart have its goodbye.
I write these last words as your Jet.
I do not know how to reconcile the man I have become with the boy I once was, with you. The morning I woke to find you gone, to know that you had left me, I believe I died.
I forgive you for that, Kieron.
It’s the nature of life that pieces of ourselves die again and again, and new pieces are born.
Until now, I was already dead.
Now it is finally time I am reborn.
With it finished, he folded it and kissed it tenderly before dropping it into the brazier near his window seat. He turned away as it flared up. Next, he drank down the bottle of aetheris Immanis had left in his rooms weeks ago, and managed to hold his own against the dizziness that threatened to break his resolve. When it passed, before he could no longer stand, he locked himself in his baths and began drawing the tub, staring at the whorling water as though hypnotized. Fine droplets coated the tiles; the room hung heavy with clouds of heat. Finally, he stripped down, shedding his black robes. He removed the knives he’d strapped to his skin, discarding the leather thongs, and stepped into the great tub, holding one last knife.
He slid down against the back of the beaten copper, feeling it warm with the water, and then rested his head — now growing heavier — against the metal, and without delay, he ran the knife against his forearms, slicing them open, marveling at the way the pain was dulled by the liquor. The water was red almost immediately; the tub flooded crimson, and he felt himself grow cold even as the steaming red surface rose ever higher. He slid further into the tub, his eyes fluttering shut, his breath slowing, his heart raging, fighting, then stopping.
The water rose above his face, drowning him in a sea of his own blood, but he was already gone.
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