He didn’t bother to look at the dead monster below him, the man turned bastion of darkness. The sword wrenched from its gut with a sickening squelch, and the paladin shook the gore from his blade with what was both disgust and a silent relief. Cheers erupted from the battlefield, of all those around him, paladins, soldiers, some commoners that had joined in the fight, they gripped each other like brothers, roaring with joy. Looking both to the people scattered and beyond them to the sunrise, he felt a smile spread across his bloodstained wounds despite the blazing ache and pain of his body; for a moment, tranquillity filled him just like the beaming rays on light that shone kindly on their victory. Tyr put a foot forward, ready to step into the new dusk of celebration, before his whole leg gave in below him with a sudden crack. Stifling a scream, he shifted to a more comfortable position, and didn’t dare to glance back at his shin, which hung from his knee at an undesirable angle; pain immediately blazed through him, burning like white fire to his skin. Gheythas came from the fray, his state slightly better than the paladin’s own, with the occasional scrape bleeding a deep red on umber skin tinged by the receding sunlight, and a deep laugh resonating from his lungs. Until he saw the crumpled form beneath him, the man gathering his breath, trying his hardest not to coil from the deep pain inside him; his face fell a slight upon seeing Tyr so weakened, but some peace remained, at least in his voice. He came to kneel beside him, allowing the paladin to comfortably lay within his arms, within his protection.
“We did it. We killed the lich, Gheythas. We’re… we’re heroes.”
“You did it. And got away from it in… mostly one piece, I suppose.” He laughed with a rasp, struggling to muster the breath from his lungs. “Just stay awake with me for a while, Tyr. Watch the sunset, over our victory once more.”
The paladin relaxed his tensed muscles, letting the thoughts that had gripped him in a chokehold fall and sway with the light breeze. Gentle fingers brushed against his temples, tucking stray, wheat blonde strands of hair away from his vision; he didn’t bother to fan Gheythas’ unnecessary fussing away this time, for every ounce of his energy was spent, and the warm kiss against his forehead only brought him closer to slumber. The warlock rested his hands gently on his cold, dullened chestplate, smearing half-dried blood over the battered metal as he looked on to the meadows. “Look, you can see the house from here. Looks so small from high up, doesn’t it?”
Nodding languidly, his tired eyes trailed to their cottage, sandwiched between a narrow path of the town and the ever flowing river. He became fully enveloped in his arms, and as he drifted from conscience, only one thing remained on his mind.
“I know why I fight. For you.”
The warlock smiled deeply, his eyes creasing with light wrinkles. He traced his dirty face as he slowly dozed off, Gheythas’ golden eyes still fixated on the beautiful horizon, and at every last shining ray that beamed down on them kindly. The cheering and boisterousness of soldiers had subsided as they walked off to celebrate their victory, leaving him with only the gentle rise and fall of Tyr’s chest against his and the deepest, beautiful silence given by nature. Trees and sprouting buds swayed gently all around him, and he felt a single, burning tear fall down his cheek, falling to mingle with the spring dew.