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[A silent scream--a scream that cannot be heard but only felt, as it is mentally projected--is the first thing picked up by the Hitomi.

It is dropped immediately, and it is quickly made clear why, because as Elfangor falls beside the device, it captures his mangled state. The red light of dawn makes the torn flesh seem all the more grotesque. Blue-black blood everywhere...

But before the extent of the damage to his body can really be understood, he's already morphing human, trying escape the pain, the horror, the absolute terror of having just been eaten by Esplin.

It seems to take forever, but in minutes, he is laying flat on his back, staring up at the enormous willow, not even truly seeing it. Just caught up in the endless loop of fear, of death after death, only for it to finally end here. Is it truly over? It seems impossible. That he is alive (or not alive, but the closest approximation he can come to in this place), breathing, no longer feeling his body being ripped apart. Oh, he still feels it, in the way that remembered pain haunts muscles--but now, now he can just focus on breathing. In, out. In, out. Yes. Focus on that, not what had just happened.

But after a long moment, he curls in on himself, pulls his knees close to his chest, and just buries his head in his arms. Not crying, just breathing. Keeping the horror suppressed, for as long as he can. Trying not to throw up, knows it would be pointless, nothing in his stomach. (Oh god, parts of him are in Esplin's stomach.)

So he just lays there, shaking, trying not to think about anything except that it is finally over. For what seems like... half a year now, he has had this thing (no, not thing, stop abstracting it like that--his death) hanging over his head. Knowing what awaited him if he should ever return home. Dreading it, fearing it, but more than that, fearing that that would be it. That there would be nothing after the darkness of Esplin's jaws closing around him, nothing but oblivion.

Yet here he is, now. Sees the breeze stirring the leaves so far overhead, feels it on his skin. Life, inexplicable as it is, in this place that should not be. And for that, he is grateful.

He closes his eyes and buries his face in his arms once more, still taking carefully controlled breaths.]



Kannagara - The Way of the Gods

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January 2012


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