Unwilling Night


The Mad King slowly rose to his feet, staring numbly out at the horizon. He could hear the shouts of the Shepherds behind him, but they were naught but meaningless noise. The wind tore through his hair as the Fell Dragon's descent sped up.

"Father! Come on! We have to go!"

Morgan's cry cut through Gangrel's fuzzy mind and the trickster stumbled away backwards from the place where he had knelt. He felt his son's steel grip on his wrist, but could not look away from the spot where his only love had disappeared.

Nisha was gone. He couldn't believe it, but she was gone...just like that.

The evening was full of speeches and declarations. Each Ylissean had paid tribute to their fallen tactician, voicing their groundless hopes for her return. Through it all, Gangrel stood off to the side, staring at the large skull of the Fell Dragon.

He hadn't moved one inch since catching sight of the skeleton. He had just stared at it, his face blank and lifeless. Maribelle had been tempted to go give the Mad King a long talk about dealing with grief, but one look at his still face—taut and pale—was enough to deter her.

Morgan slowly went over to his father as the other Shepherds dispersed. The grandmaster laid a hand on Gangrel's shoulder and felt a surprising amount of tension in his muscles.

"Father?" the young man prompted softly. He was given no reaction. "Father...you can't stand vigil forever."

Gangrel did not speak—did not relax one fraction—but his jaw tightened. Morgan watched in shock as a single droplet of salt water traced its way down the Mad King's cheek, dropping down to the earth. It was then he understood. The grandmaster squeezed his father's shoulder before he set off back to the camp, respecting the older man's desire to be alone.

"I suppose you had no luck in convincing him," Lucina remarked softly as the young man came down into camp.

"I don't know what to do, Lucina," Morgan sighed, sitting next to her. "Father and I...we get along, but we've never really connected as family very much—not without Mother. I don't really feel as though I'm someone he can turn to in mourning yet, but...really, who else does he have?"

The future princess didn't reply, studying her hands folded into her lap. Morgan leaned back on his hands, looking up at the stars.

"Why did she do it?" he wondered aloud. "I can understand her wanting to save the world, but to put everyone through this...if she doesn't come back—"

"She'll return to us," Lucina insisted. "She would not leave us unattended for long."

"But for how long?" Morgan pressed. "I don't know how long he can last."

The bluenette reached out her hand and pressed it against his shoulder, her face mournful. The grandmaster ducked his head, staring at the grass while battling a lump that was growing in his throat and a pricking at the corner of his eyes. Then something entered his line of sight, something colorful. In surprise, he lifted his head to see Lucina offering him a tiny flower.

"Imagine what the flowers will look like now that's it's peacetime," she reminded him, smiling weakly. "Fields awash in color!"

Morgan wrapped his hand around hers, looking into her incredibly blue eyes. A small smile slid onto his face as he studied the tiny blossom.

"Yes," he agreed, his voice becoming cheerful. "And then I can put together a bouquet for mother when she comes back!"

"Exactly," the princess replied, wiping away a tear that threatened to escape from the corner of Morgan's dark brown eyes. But Lucina couldn't miss the way his face fell as he turned to look at the distant figure, still standing alone on the hill overlooking the Fell Dragon's shattered bones.

The sun sank and the moon rose. Yet Gangrel did not move. A day passed. Then two. No one—not even Morgan—could convince him to leave his place by the dragon skeleton. Eventually, it was the Plegian's own body that put an end to the standoff: on the third afternoon, he was found unconscious and dehydrated when Libra had gone to check on him. The Shepherds packed up camp the next morning, while he was still out and he did not wake until the ship was loaded and setting sail.

Libra watched as the Mad King slowly sat up in the infirmary and swung his legs over the edge of the cot. He didn't need any explanation as to where he was or why he had been brought there; he already knew. That much was clear from the look in his eye.

He sat still there for a long moment before he got to his feet and began to walk away.

"Gangrel!" the blonde priest reprimanded sharply. "Get back here! You're not ready to be up and moving like this!"

Gangrel looked over his shoulder for a moment, his face flat and emotionless. He seemed to be silently challenged Libra to try and stop him. When he got no response other than hesitation, the trickster left the infirmary and slowly made his way up to the deck.

A few others were out and occupied with pursuits of their own. Gangrel ignored them all and went straight to the edge of the boat where Origin Isle was swiftly disappearing. As the island shrank behind the horizon, anyone who was watching Gangrel close enough would have seen the last light of life leave his eyes.

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