This road has presented you with many hard choices, but the hardest you've made is forgoing your revenge for the security of a people to whom you have no oath of loyalty. This foreign country of merchants, poets, assassins, and sailors may not deserve the safety you've purchased it today, but that's not your judgment to make. It burns worse than your infected wound to let Ciro come out of this ordeal without consequence, but no amount of darkspawn blood can cloud your personal brand of morality. You lean forward, placing all of your weight upon your sword. The blade slices cleanly through Levina's neck, doing all but decapitating her completely.
"You've made the right choice," Ciro says. "With Levina dead, Antiva lives."
"And so, it seems, do you," Ataxias says, dissipating his hold on the elf. "And that, dear children, is why I came. My thanks to you both for not disappointing me. Enjoy your ghoulhood, One Arm, and you're welcome. And you, elf, enjoy the life you almost lost. I'm off to find a carpenter." With that, he disappears into the crowd.
Ciro reaches down and offers you his hand. You accept it and he helps you to your feet. "I know there is no forgiveness for me in your heart, and I do not expect to earn it by offering, but--" He looks at your wound, and eyes the large black veins bulging from beneath the tourniquet toward your chest and neck. "--in these last minutes or hours, allow me to aid you in whatever small way that I can. What do you wish? Water? A bed? A woman? A man? Perhaps both?"
The crowd that once filled the square around you dissipated without you noticing long ago when the fighting began. You look across the way and see Fern, the only body other than your own in sight.
"Help me collect the body," you say quietly, motioning to Fern. "Help me move it from the city."
"Are you sure you--" he begins.
"I don't have much time left. Please."
Ciro nods and helps you to your feet. You're not entirely sure how the elf managed to get both you and Fern from the city to its outside--you lost consciousness many times along the way--but you're thankful that he did.
"What now?" he asks.
"Go," you say coldly. You've spent enough of your final moments with your own murderer.
Ciro hesitates for a moment, then nods and disappears into the woods.
It's painful, but you reach your good hand toward a small rock, and begin to dig a grave. You're not sure who it's for, you or Fern. It doesn't matter anyway, you know it's not going to be large enough for anyone to fill it before the end.
You watch Fern's cold, dead face as you dig, and think back on the past month since applying the tourniquet. You spent so much time looking for Ciro and the person who hired him, then gained the opportunity you'd long for and just let it slip past you. And for what? The crows? Antiva? You suppose that's something. You've changed the world, even if you won't be around to see whether it was for the better.
But it's probably for the better, though, you think.
Even if you wanted them, you're out of time for regrets. You did what you could with the time that you had, and now it's time to face the fate you knew was coming the moment you woke up in the Deep Roads.
Fern's body is looking blurry. The world is darkening. Carefully, you place your sword into the small part of the grave you managed to dig, its tip up toward the sky. You check that it's firmly in place, and then hold yourself above it as you continue to dig. When life leaves you and you begin to turn into a ghoul, your blade should keep there from being another source of evil in the world.
You dig three more scoops of dirt from the ground before you feel the taint wash over you. Forcing your eyelids to remain open for a moment more, you say the goodbye to Fern you wished he'd been able to hear before his death. Speaking the word gives you a greater sense of contentment than any revenge could have offered. You smile, and your body falls slowly around your blade into the dirt.
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