The Story Continues

White Knight Syndrome

Carefully cradling the small bouquet of white flowers in his arms, Jhon slowly lowered himself down to his knees and placed the flowers upon the ground, in front of an engraved stone.

It was a grave, the resting place of his parents…Of what little remains were discovered, at least.

Resting back on his heels, Jhon smiled sadly as the memories of that fateful day raced through his mind. He was only a child back then, the apple of his parents' eye. And his parents, a Protector father and a Troubadour mother were very much in love with each other. They did everything together, even exploring the mysterious 1st Stratum of the Yggdrasil tree.

It was there that Jhon lost both his parents. The very first floor, just metres from the stairs to town.

Gashtor was the monster's name.

It caught them completely off-guard.

Reacting in a way that only Protectors could, Jhon's father placed himself between the charging beast and his family. But his shield was not strong enough.

He could still hear his mother's heart-rending scream as his father fell to the ground in a spray of blood. Her scream was just so…guttural, primal and absolutely heart-stopping.

Roughly pushing him aside and crying out his father's name in an angry wail, his mother rushed to his father's side, all but oblivious to the still dangerous monster. Peering through the green leaves of the natural foliage, all Jhon could see was a huge monster approaching his parents.

What happened after that, Jhon could scarcely remember. He must have blocked it out. It was a sight that no small child should have witnessed.

He also couldn't remember how long he stayed huddled in the bushes, just metres from the stairs. It wasn't until the floor's patrolling guards happened across the carnage did Jhon slowly toddle out of his safe place. A guard swept him up into his arms and pressed his face against his chest.

"You don't need to see anymore," the guard whispered to him.

Jhon's life was never the same after that. He was raised by a Lagaard soldier, a friend of his parents. The man was kind, if a little bewildered how to raise a child. Still, he did his best and Jhon saw him as a father figure and was grateful for his kindness.

Still…

Jhon could not bring himself to feel frightened or saddened by what he had been through. His father died trying to protect him and his mother. And his mother died from the overwhelming devastation of losing the one she loved most in the world.

He didn't blame them.

He didn't resent them for leaving him behind.

His mother's cries and tears only made Jhon more determined. He would be like his father, to ensure that no one else would go through a devastating loss of a loved one.

He didn't want anyone else to go through what he did.

That was…that was what Protectors did, after all. They protect others, regardless of their own safety. They put their lives on the line. It was only…natural.

The sound of feet purposely scuffing across the ground pulled Jhon from his thoughts. A polite smile appeared on his lips as he stood up and turned around. The sight of Tobyn standing a few yards away did not surprise him in the least.

"Ah, visiting your mentor's grave?" Jhon asked. He always did. Tobyn would always decide to visit his own important person, outwardly claiming that it was just a coincidence that he happened to visit his mentor on the same day that Jhon visited his parents.

"…No," Tobyn said, surprising Jhon immensely when he added, "I'm here for you."

Jhon was rendered speechless by Tobyn's open honesty. Tobyn must have realised the impact of his words as he flushed deeply, yet he did not try to rebuff them. Instead he seemed to steel himself as he walked closer to Jhon.

"I don't like it when you are referred to as a white knight," Tobyn unexpectedly stated as he stopped directly in front of Jhon.

"Can't be helped, I guess," Jhon responded without much thought as he was somewhat overwhelmed by Tobyn's openness.

Upon hearing his blasé reply, Tobyn's eyes narrowed and surprising Jhon even further, he reached out and placed his hands on Jhon's face, keeping head still and looking him straight in the eyes.

"Recklessly protecting me would be pointless," Tobyn stated, his grip quite firm.

However, before Jhon could try to rebuke his statement, Tobyn's gaze, as well as his touch suddenly softened.

"If you die, I'd be right behind you," he whispered.

Jhon's eyes grew wide as Tobyn slowly pulled his hands away, his fingertips brushing over his cheeks ever so gently. He looked embarrassed and a little flustered, yet he also appeared somewhat anxious. It took Jhon a moment for the meaning of those words to fully sink in, and when they did, Jhon immediately reached out to Tobyn, pulling the blond-haired survivalist to him and took him into his arms.

"I understand," Jhon whispered to Tobyn as he threaded his fingers through his hair while the other pulled him even closer.

It…made sense. The reaction of his mother. Jhon had to do what his father could not. He had to ensure that he would live to protect Tobyn. He would continue to protect him and he would continue to survive.

After all, if he died protecting Tobyn, then he would not have protected him at all. He couldn't fail. He wouldn't.

No, he wasn't a White Knight like those of fairytales. White Knights would willingly give up their lives to protect another, but what good would that do? They would leave the person they protected hurt, confused and saddened. They would leave that person alone to ask 'why?'

Why did you do that?

Why did you leave me behind?

No, come back. I don't want to be alone…

Shaking his head to rid himself of his memories, Jhon held onto Tobyn tighter as Tobyn clung onto him as well, his hands grasping at the material of Jhon's shirt against his back.

Tobyn pressed his face against Jhon's shoulder and tightened his grip almost desperately. "…If you want me to live, then you need to live as well," he whispered.

Jhon nodded his head in understanding. He wasn't going to sacrifice himself for Tobyn. No, he was going to make sure that he continued to live. If he died, how could be possibly be able to rest peacefully knowing that he was no longer able to protect Tobyn and the others he cared so much for?

Reluctantly pulling away from Tobyn, who shyly looked him in the eyes, Jhon smiled and took a hold of Tobyn's hand, interlacing their fingers together.

"Let's grow old together," Jhon said.

Tobyn nodded his head eagerly. "Sure."

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