Dark. Everything was dark. A blanket of solid, suffocating darkness engulfed Rohan. He could not see Willow, who lay less than a foot away from him, but he could hear her urgent sobs and feel the vibrations of her violent shaking.
Was this the end of the world of Tutis? Rohan could see no point in the world continuing to exist when it had lost its only hope of a savior -- a world where evil triumphed over good. Salvador was dead. Sharp pains pierced Rohan’s chest as he thought the word. How could everything have crumbled so fast?
But crumble it had -- the very earth beneath him was shattered and broken, the inanimate rocks’ way of crying out at the tragedy of such insurmountable loss.
Rohan could feel his hold on consciousness slipping away like water through a sieve. He had no drive to fight, no will -- he was utterly defeated. His eyes closed in a fruitless attempt to block out a light that no longer existed. Opened or closed, it made no difference when darkness reigned.
Was this what drowning felt like? Rohan felt the weight of the blackness bearing down upon him. He readily allowed it to overtake him, if it would only conquer the pain. A fleeting thought pricked at his fragile awareness, but before he could grasp the significance it floated away in this underwater world. As he drifted closer and closer to the nothingness that awaited, he began to dream.
Willow’s perfect face filled his vision -- her honey brown curls framed her porcelain face angelically and her hazel eyes sparkled with joy, accentuating her breathtaking smile. He remembered that first fateful day in which they met, so many years ago. The angel in the flowing white dress, who had come to give his life meaning and purpose.
He had been deeply and permanently altered by her. For ten years, he had loved her. For ten years, he had striven for one impossible thing -- to somehow be deemed worthy of her love. From that first day she became his only constant -- the sun in which he revolved. Over the years his love intensified. From innocent puppy love, to genuine adoration, and then finally to passionate, irrevocable devotion.
Willow had brought him his greatest joy, but also his greatest pain. Even then, rejected, his love unrequited, he would have willing taken her as his own -- knowing that at best she was settling for her second choice.
Unwillingly, a new face invaded his vision. A gruesome face with brown eyes that glinted with a malevolent arrogance under a crown of unseemly ruddy brown spikes. The pain and horror that the new image evoked brought him back to the brink of consciousness. Devon Riley. The very name caused him to cringe internally.
How could Willow have fallen for him? But could he really fault her, when he had never voiced the truth? He was the only one to blame. So many chances passed him by...he had always thought that she had known deep down that he loved her. But what if? What if she had never suspected? What if he had told her and that had made the difference? He should have been clearer. And now all was lost. True love. The quest. Their savior. And maybe even the world itself.
Rohan had known from the first moment he had laid eyes on Devon that he was a monster, but even he did not know just how true his suspicions were. A small part of him always clung to the idea that his jealousy might very well have been making demons out of angels, but the fact that he was indeed accurate in his accusations did nothing to comfort him then. He did not fight well enough when he had the chance.
Rohan tried but failed to open his eyes. Was this the end, then? Death seemed like the only bearable option left. He would welcome it with open arms, but first he longed to call out to Willow -- to hear her silvery voice once last time, to listen to her bell-like laughter. But in the heaviness of this black film he could not find his voice.
He felt his tenuous grip on consciousness pull away from him once more. He sank much too deep that time. Floating in this haze of black water, the dizziness was overwhelming. His mind produced the only remedy it could to overcome those waters. The one voice in all of Tutis that could save him from those depths.
Her voice was like a gust of air to neglected lungs. Like water to the parched or sunlight in the darkest of nights. That one simple word -- his name -- uttered through her perfect lips was enough. It was all he needed. It allowed him to break through the remaining darkness and open his eyes.
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