Ginevra Mancinelli

The Safest Secret

The Grand General’s carriage was twelve feet long. The ebony horses that dragged it to its destination were armored in gold but the weight of an entire Empire wouldn’t stop them during their task. The Raedsels shielded every side of the mighty carriage, and they never once stopped during their march, not even when a sandstorm threatened their lives within the Mogron Pass.

Inside the carriage, Boram Darkwill never removed his iron helmet, nor the long red cape he wore. The spiky shoulder plates pierced the cushions of his chair here and there, but he was too preoccupied with the time it would take for him to reach Kalamanda. General Jericho Swain had been very clear in his message. His presence was needed to settle once and for all the issue in Kalamanda. As far as he was concerned, Darkwill had little interest in the mining contracts that had been granted to Demacia. As General Swain pointed out, it was a rare sight to see the King of Demacia out of place and his son at the mercy of their enemies. And they exited the safe walls of Demacia City by themselves.

The only downside to this expedition was that his advisor Emilia LeBlanc hadn’t joined them, preferring to leave the Grand General in the company of the hemomancer, Marquis Vladimir of the Tempest Flats. Darkwill wasn’t entirely pleased, but he figured he could handle the blonde noble, even though he couldn’t yet decide what was worse; listening to awful puns all day or staring at pupils so grey they nearly seemed transparent. However, Darkwill couldn’t afford to complain too much. If it wasn’t for the hemomancer and his shady practices, he wouldn’t have been able to outlive three generations of Darkwills. Even his last son left alive, Keiran, looked older than him.

“Another, my General?” Vladimir offered Darkwill another vial.

Feeling his bones aching more than usual, the Grand General nodded, and drank the crimson concoction. “You made many of those,” he commented, his throat dry.

The nobleman smiled, answering in a suave voice, “Emilia told me that the hot weather would be hard on you. She only means well. And so do I.”

Grunting, Darkwill tapped his large mace against the window that opened from the outside. A guard greeted him, the bright daylight nearly blinding the Grand General.

“Where are we?”

“Only a couple hours from Kalamanda, Grand General,” the Raedsel answered. “The sun is setting as we speak.”

Right after he finished his sentence, the Raedsel let out a gasp and the carriage stopped. Darkwill bolted out of his seat, demanding an explanation. Beside him, the Marquis stood up, swaggering down to the front doors of the carriage, only to be shoved to the side as a tall figure entered.

Darkwill’s eyes nearly bulged out of his helmet. “You,” he whispered. “I thought you were dead.”

“At some point,” the tall man conceded, “I thought I was dead too.”

The Grand General pointed at Vladimir’s empty seat. “Come here. And tell me where you were.”

“Putting together the pieces that will lead to your destruction, if you don’t march back to Noxus.”

The Eternal General started laughing maniacally. “You’re crazier than when you left.”

Wrinkled eyes smiled at him. “March back, my old friend. For the safety of our children.”

Darkwill pursed his lips, now glaring at his once most trusted friend. Tapping his mace against the window, he ordered the Raedsels to start marching again. There was a brief exchange of looks between the Marquis and his friend, and the Grand General frantically looked around when the carriage wouldn’t move.

“March!” he roared, feeling his heart in throat. “March, fools!” he ordered again, feeling his throat tightening on its own.

Dark green eyes looked straight into his.

“Forgive me, my friend.”

As every ounce of blood slowly left Boram Darkwill’s body, piercing his pale skin and drying his flesh until his skin would stick to his bones, the matter was settled.

The tall man scribbled the date on a torn piece of paper, and calmly walked out of the carriage.

July 1st, 21 CLE.


Honey orbs stared at the sky above her as Val flew freely through the clouds. Demacia City was sparkling with activities, Quinn noted, even though there wasn’t a single citizen who didn’t know about the upcoming events in North Shurima. Followers of the Light Caster faith prayed in the middle of the Grand Plaza for the safe return of the Lightshields, and the Dauntless Vanguard never rested in order to guard the city.

Quinn tugged on the chains she used on Marcus Du Couteau, who wore his stinky beggar clothes and a beard that was longer than his hair. The two of them walked past the Grand Plaza and towards the Citadel of Dawn, where some of the royal guards still stood proudly to secure the dungeons. Many curious stares were directed at the two of them but Quinn didn’t once stop to glance back.

The dungeon guards halted her when she came too close and her bright eyes scanned the tall twin towers that kept criminals away from the people of Demacia.

“State your identity,” one of the guards commanded.

“Quinn of Uwendale, First Ranger of Uwendale and Demacia’s Wings,” the woman answered.

“Well met, ranger,” the other guard greeted. “Who do you bring to the dungeons?”

Quinn quickly glanced behind her. “Noxian scum,” she answered. “Found him after he murdered a Demacian officer to steal his boat. He also admitted assassinating a fisherman from the Howling Marsh to steal his goods.”

“I was hungry,” Marcus added, earning himself a knee in the stomach by one of the Demacian guards.

“Well done, ranger,” the guard who assaulted him congratulated Quinn. “A young man reported the murder of his father and their stolen goods some time ago. If you stay until the Crown Prince returns, he will grant you a permanent residence here in the capital for your services. Noxian scum isn’t easy to catch.”

“Not needed,” Quinn bluntly replied, but bowing her head still. “He’s a beggar. Find him a cell and I will be on my way.”

The two Demacian guards rested their lances by the entrance of the dungeons and hurriedly grabbed the man’s arms, dragging him inside. As Marcus was forcefully escorted inside, his emerald eyes glanced back at the Uwendale ranger, a faint smile on his lips.

The Demacian dungeons were humid and smelly, but he wasn’t surprised in the least. It was only a matter of minutes before he was thrown inside a cell that was smaller than a doghouse and Marcus’ narrowed stare followed the guards’ backs as they returned to their spots. The moment the doors were closed, no light pierced its way inside the prison, leaving Marcus in pure darkness. In the distance, he could hear the laments of more unfortunate prisoners, their cries echoing through the stone walls.

Dirty hands patted the floor, black nails fingering every inch of petricite, and Marcus began counting. From one to seven hundred and three, his knees started aching as he kneeled to the ground. Eventually, one stone cracked, and the Noxian pushed with the palm of his hand. Several other stones moved upwards right next to him as he did so, and he removed them one by one, careful as to not make a single sound.

He slipped one leg after the other through the small hole, and jumped down.

Marcus Du Couteau grinned as he found the Noxian infiltrators’ old meeting room. It was still filled with his research, sketches engraved within the stone walls and a lonely bed in the corner. Walking up to the wooden counter where all his documents were still in place, he grabbed his quill pen and put himself to work, starting with the most important thing; the date.

June 20, 21 CLE – Demacia City.


The purple raven rasped as it flew above Jericho Swain’s tent, flapping its wings even as it found its perch at the top of the tent. The shrilling sounds that Beatrice made chilled every Noxian in place at the camp outside Kalamanda, its tiny red eyes memorizing every single shadow. The Kalamandan skies were tinted in a deep orange color, and the smell of burnt bodies permeated the air even weeks after the cremation of the fallen Raedsels.

Inside the tent, a slim figure lied on top of the large, emerald bed. LeBlanc stared with an unblinking gaze at the raven’s shadow, her manicured fingernails tracing the broderie of her black dress. Soft breaths flew past her red lips, and she waited for General Swain to stop pacing next to her.

“It was a beautiful ceremony,” she commented dryly, referring to the day Swain had ordered every fallen soldier to be burnt alongside Boram Darkwill. “A beautiful way of hiding the evidence of Vladimir’s hemoplague,” she added with a wry smile.

Swain sat beside her body, his clawed fingers tracing the side of her porcelain face so she would look at him. “Beautiful, indeed,” he acknowledged. “As beautiful as Darkwill’s reunion with his long-lost friend a few minutes before Petal drank the blood of our men.”

LeBlanc’s stare darkened, feeling the tips of Swain’s claws biting her skin.

“Evaine, Evaine, Evaine,” the Master Tactician chanted. “I really hope you are not playing games with me. You and I both know who would win.”

“Do you think I sent him there?”

“I think you had grown attached to your Eternal General,” Swain corrected, his crimson stare piercing holes into her skull. “Now,” he moved on, while his claws still danced on her skin, “where is Thorn? It is bad enough that Seed is still hiding among angels and mages. The moment has come, yet here we are. Only the two of us.”

LeBlanc placed one of her hands on Swain’s arm, as if to soothe him. “She sent her children to follow the dragon. That half-breed stalks the Demacian camps night and day.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

Sitting up, LeBlanc sighed disdainfully. “Thorn has her own way of doing things.”

With a taunting look, Swain moved his hand from her face down to her thigh, patting her skin. “So I was told, Evaine. Be ready for tonight,” he ordered her before standing up and limping his way towards his desk.

“But the Dawn heir is still alive,” the Pale Woman retorted. “The Nyzer meal magically ended up being served to that Demacian rat rather than to Jarvan IV.”

“Nothing ‘magically’ happens.”

“Who is playing games now, Jericho?” LeBlanc accused him, feeling her blood boil at the sound of his betrayal.

The Master Tactician laughed inside his collar, drumming his claws against the desk to the sound of Beatrice’s shrills outside. “The Crown Prince of Demacia is confined to his tent,” he said proudly. “That Nyzer meal would have never been served at the royal table in the first place. If Thorn manages to trap the dragon inside her well-weaved net, we will all benefit from the fact that Jarvan IV stays alive for the time being.”

LeBlanc scoffed, earning herself a glare from the Master Tactician. “You still believe that a man who whispers in a dragon’s ear can rule Valoran.”

“I am surprised you don’t believe in a prophecy stated by history,” Swain retorted. “It was a prophecy written by one of the men who tried to chain you to this world, Rose,” he added, extending his arms towards her and cradling her soft face in his hands. “And look,” he whispered, their faces inches apart. “You are still here.”

Biting back her own retort, LeBlanc curled her fingers around Swain’s wrists, her light brown eyes staring into his as they slowly turned a bright shade of blue. Her short, jet black hair grew out until they reached her breasts and her body grew fuller and harder. Her silky robes melted into golden armor and Swain made an appreciative sound, his hands still framing her face, which was now square and defined.


The candle had burnt nearly to the mark that was traced on the wax. The entire Demacian camp was silent, except for the voices right outside the Crown Prince’s tent. Captain Laurent and Seneschal Xin Zhao were once again arguing over the Prince’s dinner, both claiming they had a better idea. As he lied on the bed, Jarvan stared intently at the candle, waiting for the flame to melt the mark he had set.

After weeks of being a prisoner of his own father, Jarvan was quick to note his keepers’ habits. There was only one time in the entire day where both Fiora Laurent and Xin Zhao would leave their respective spots and it lasted about ten seconds. The Captain of the King’s Guard would sign her shift report right when the Seneschal of Demacia would leave to relieve himself. Ten seconds in the middle of the night, and that was without considering the other guards around the camp. Jarvan had managed to escape only once, and it was on the night the Grand General of Noxus was killed. He had wanted to talk to Garen on that occasion, but only found his younger cousin Jory Spiritmight about to get stabbed to death by Katarina Du Couteau, who disappeared in the middle of the night the moment the Raedsels that accompanied General Swain found the massacre and burned the fallen bodies.

Although he wasn’t allowed outside, Jarvan wasn’t entirely oblivious to the situation. It wouldn’t be long before Noxus accused Demacia of framing their Grand General outside the village of Kalamanda, and he had to keep Shyvana away from the fight that would break out. He knew his half-dragon friend had followed him to Kalamanda, flying past the Mogron Pass, and he couldn’t let her join the upcoming war. Many did wonder why her skin color was intense and her eyes fierier than the sun, but he couldn’t risk her safety by letting her shift into her true form. Demacians could be more dangerous than Noxians when it came to the use of magic and wild creatures. The mere sight of a crag beast frightened them. Jarvan didn’t want to imagine their reaction upon seeing a half-dragon soaring from the skies. He had met her after one of his several follies from which he had been rescued by Garen, and she had always been loyal to him ever since. He couldn’t let her down just now.

The candle finally burned down to the mark he had set, and Jarvan quickly slid outside the tent through a slit he made himself. The Crown Prince followed the shadows of other tents until he reached the outskirts of Kalamanda, walking past the guards that were too busy chatting to even notice him.

There was a large well behind what once was the house of Mayor Ridley, who had been evacuated from the village a long time ago. Jarvan looked around, expecting to see Shyvana appear at some point, knowing that she was always able to spot him when she was in the vicinity, but no one ever approached him. The Crown Prince paced around the well, occasionally sitting on the rim, and was about to head back inside his tent when he heard the distinct sound of steel. Blue eyes narrowed at the entrance of Ridley’s house, and right by the window, he spotted a very upset, teary-eyed redhead.

“You following me or something,” Katarina asked, sheathing her daggers after cleaning them.

“Why are you here? And why are you crying?” Jarvan whispered, furrowing his brow as he came closer.

“I wanted chicken.”


“I wanted to eat freaking chicken,” Katarina repeated, wiping away her tears. “But all you can find here are rats and lizards.”

Clearing his throat, Jarvan asked, “Are you drunk?”

The furious glare he received as an answer silenced him.

“What were you doing the other night?” he eventually asked, leaning against the wooden wall as she stood up and sniffed.

“Trying to cut off that boy’s tongue.”

Figuring that she would try to cut off his tongue as well if he kept prodding, Jarvan shrugged and the two of them stared blankly in the distance. A part of him was starting to get worried when Shyvana breathed no sign of life, but maybe she didn’t come any closer because she knew he wasn’t alone. Deciding that he would look for the half-dragon himself, Jarvan was about to excuse himself when several torches began burning east of Kalamanda, right where the Noxian camp was.

Katarina immediately stood up, her swollen eyes scanning the scene, before the two of them sprinted in the direction of the camp, a smashing thunder making the ground shake. A good portion of the dried sands shattered in the heart of the Noxian camp, and a massive cataclysm burned deep within the earth.

The red-haired assassin blocked his path as he tried to come even closer, noticing that even the Demacian camp was now rising, and the sound of marching troops deafened them both. Inside the shattered grounds, General Swain raised his pointed cane at his opponent, his robes parting, and large, emerald wings encased his body, protruding from his back.

“Who is that?” Katarina whispered, adjusting her eyesight.

Jarvan’s breath caught in his throat upon noticing that Swain’s opponent was charging with an extended silver lance, clad in golden armor from head to toe. “It’s me,” he whispered.

Katarina glanced back and forth between the Crown Prince that stood next to her and the one that was trying to kill General Swain, her mind immediately going back to the events that transpired in Demacia City, several months ago, right when she was accused of retrieving General Sion’s remains in such a brutal way it ended hundreds of civilians’ lives.

“Don’t go near them,” she ordered Jarvan.

“Are you insane?” he screamed in her face. “Someone is pretending to be me!”

Katarina turned her head so fast, hair whipped against her face. “And they’re pretty damn good at it. Stay away,” she repeated, raising her voice as well, before dashing inside the camp.

The Sinister Blade unsheathed her twin blades, sliding past the Basilich soldiers and running at full speed to reach the shattered ground where Swain was fighting. The other Jarvan was covered in his own blood, lance in hand and trying to shield himself from every torment the Noxian tried to inflict upon him. Beatrice herself fought alongside Swain, her shrills crippling their opponent and sending him to the ground. The false Jarvan didn’t seem to falter as he leaped into the air and planted his lance through Swain’s chest, twirling it and spilling blood around them.

Noxian infantrymen readied their armored horses and charged in the direction of the village, the remaining Raedsels sending their own orders to the banner men. There wasn’t a single soldier who wasn’t following the beat of the drums as they rode inside the Demacian camp, their swords viciously slicing whoever was in their way.

Katarina’s eyes widened upon seeing Swain not even flinching when the fake Jarvan impaled him with his lance, Beatrice rasping around them. The Master Tactician emitted a high-pitched sound, black feathers spiraling around him and his opponent, and when he reappeared again, his human body was replaced by a majestic raven that towered over the bloodied Demacian, his beak aiming furiously at the man’s throat while the silver lance was still embedded in his chest.

Noxi!” Katarina heard General Raedsel shout. “Bring me the head of the so-called King of the Citadel!” he ordered in Ur-Noxian.

The red-haired assassin immediately glanced in the direction of the Demacian camp, rolling to the side to avoid getting stomped by the horses that strode past her. She had just gotten on her feet when the loud thud of an axe nearly cut off her toes, and Katarina glared at the man who licked his lips at the sight of her.

“What are you worried about, Du Couteau?” Darius asked her before eyeing his axe. “Remember what I said about you and your sister.”

The swordswoman readied her weapons, crouching when Darius charged her at a fast pace and blinking right behind him, her blades leaving a deep gash on the back of his neck. The Hand of Noxus simply scrunched his nose at the smell of his own blood before elbowing her in the stomach and sending her flying a few feet away.

Katarina coughed heavily, feeling her head reeling.

“Stand up,” Darius ordered her. “I plan on enjoying this.”

The redhead pushed herself up, trying to ignore the cries that echoed in the distance as the Demacian camp was slaughtered. Darius charged her once more, his bright crimson cape flying behind him, and he leaped into the air, swinging his axe and aiming at her head, but she quickly threw three blades that hit him in the collarbone, and she jumped to the side. His axe hit the ground with a shattering force and he looked away from Katarina only when he heard the war bands of Demacia approach the Noxian camp. As much as he hoped they would all be dead before they even exited the center of the village, he was more than eager to welcome the western warriors among his well-trained troops and show them what war really looked like.

Noticing the distracted look on Darius’ face, Katarina blinked on top of him, bringing both daggers to his throat and ready to slash, when a spinning sound caught her attention and she pushed herself away, barely escaping the decapitation. She tilted her head, catching her breath from the spot she landed on, and Draven’s laugh was louder than the entire warring scene.

Darius towered over her, his axe in position. “Goodnight, Katarina,” he whispered before lifting his weapon over his head.

A deafening war cry resounded nearby and Darius flinched. His black eyes glared behind him, and Katarina’s heart stopped beating.

Garen’s young squire had just stabbed the back of Darius’ knee. It seemed that the boy quickly realized his mistake as the color drained from his face, General Darius punching him straight in the jaw and Draven’s own axe spinning into Spiritmight’s thigh. The Demacian officer-in-training yelped in pain, crawling away from the Blood Brothers.

Darius’ brother let his other axe spin between his fingers, and the Glorious Executioner taunted the boy. “Run now,” he said. “Run fast.”

Taking advantage of their interest for Spiritmight, Katarina tried to reach for her weapons when Darius swung his death sentence at her. Green eyes closed as she lifted her arm and turned away, waiting for the impact of polished steel against bare flesh.

The faint sound of a sword hitting the ground reached her ears, and her entire world turned into darkness as the ground beneath her disappeared.


Everything around them was burning.

As Xin Zhao exited the empty tent of the Crown Prince, he brought a knife to his long, graying ponytail and chopped it before it caught fire. Prince Jarvan IV was nowhere to be found and the entire Demacian camp was set on fire. His almond-shaped eyes spotted Fiora Laurent dragging His Majesty outside his own tent. She was trying to shelter him from the flames, her face covered in ashes, but the King wouldn’t hear anything. He shoved his royal guard to the side, repeatedly asking for his sword and for his son.

“Take him away,” Garen Crownguard ordered as he appeared right next to him while his squire still tried to tie his shoulder plates. “Do not let him get close to any Noxian.”

“The King always leads his men to battle,” the Seneschal of Demacia reminded the commander who unsheathed his sword.

“The King isn’t even thinking straight,” Garen pointed out.

One of their soldiers ran past them, his body completely on fire, screaming at the top of his lungs when he couldn’t find a single water bucket.

“Take him,” Garen repeated before running into the fire that spread before their eyes.

The entire Demacian camp had turned into a massacre. Soldiers burned alive as horses stomped all over them, and many Demacians were impaling each other to end their torment. Garen’s blue eyes spotted Fiora Laurent leading her vassals as well as the royal guards into the Noxian camp, their thin swords easily slashing their way past the enemy.

Throwing a quick glance at Spiritmight, Garen yelled, “Find Jarvan.”

The young man nodded, hurrying past the mass of fighting soldiers and shattered steel. Garen tried to follow Spiritmight through the crowd, but he was bigger and slower, and it wasn’t long before he found himself surrounded by Noxian soldiers bearing different crests. Spiders and Scorpions, Twin Suns and Parted Moons – all ready to swing their weapons into his skull.

The first was quick with his spear and stabbed him in the side, but the tip of the spear remained stuck in Garen’s armor and with a flick of his wrist, Garen drew his sword into the Noxian’s head, effectively beheading him. His next assailant was the tallest woman he had ever seen, and she twirled her double-edged hammer above her head before smashing his chest, causing him to stumble backwards and spit blood. Three more men appeared around him, their axes and swords ready to tear him into pieces, but he was the Captain of the Dauntless Vanguard, he reminded himself before he spun his sword and severed their legs before they could even attempt to attack him. Garen sat back up, spitting more blood, and used his arm as leverage as he tried to get up. The hammer warrior seemed unimpressed, dashing towards him with a scream that died out as a silver spear pierced her neck from side to side.

Xin Zhao glanced at Garen for a split second before motioning him to follow him.

Nodding at his companion, the commander quickly followed the steward who reassured him about the King’s safety.

The heart of the Noxian camp had dissolved into a cataclysm of sand where both Garen and Xin Zhao spotted their Crown Prince draw his lance through what looked like a gigantic raven that gored Jarvan’s face.

The Seneschal of Demacia was quick to react and immediately ran in Jarvan’s direction while Garen stood gaping at the scene before him. It was only Spiritmight’s sudden battle cry that shook him out of his reverie. Turning around, he spotted his squire impale his lance into a Noxian leader’s leg. His reaction was immediate. Garen watched in slow motion, unable to move, as Spiritmight was thrown to the side, an axe pinning his leg to the ground. The Noxian lifted his weapon to strike the woman who lied down, and Garen brought his father’s sword down, sheathing it in the dirt, with a force that he only ever used with the consent of the Institute of War during a battle approved for the League.

The earth trembled under their feet, and a massive pit engulfed Katarina’s body before Noxian steel sliced her body in two.

Darius licked the front of his teeth before spitting in disgust. Swiftly, he removed the lance in his knee and threw it behind him. Axe in hand, he swung it trying to get closer to Garen. Their weapons clashed and the steel trembled as they pushed against each other. Blue collided with black, and Darius sneered, head butting the Demacian and shoving his boot into his chest. General Darius leaped into the air, aiming his axe at his head, but Garen rose to his knees and blocked the blow with his broadsword, letting out a sigh when it didn’t break.

The two of them entered a glaring contest when a loud rasp caught their attention. Pushing each other away, they both stared in horror as they realized both Jarvan IV and Swain had disappeared from their sight.


Dark green eyes blinked several times, trying to fight the fogginess in her mind. Katarina breathed slowly, searching for a source of light. The sky above her was dark; not a sole star illuminated it. Her throat was dry, and swallowing resulted painful. The woman pushed herself up, leaning on her elbows, and forced her eyes shut when her head spun hard. She had to get out of there.

Her bare hands pressed against the sand beneath her, looking for the most stable point inside the pit. Upon finding it, she then palmed the tall wall around her, thanking the gods when she realized it was mostly dirt and hardened earth, not only sand. Climbing up proved to be quite difficult, especially when her entire body hurt. She could feel several cuts all over her body, but forced herself not to think about it.

What awaited her outside the pit she had fallen inside was the most dreadful sight she had ever witnessed. Not a single body had been left intact. Burnt limbs and severed heads littered the ground, and all that was left of the battle camps was either smoke or ashen flesh. Katarina found it hard to breathe since the stench was so intense, and she covered her mouth with one hand, limping around, hoping to find someone or something. Her lower back was beginning to pulsate as the pain became less bearable, but the sound of someone coughing lifted her spirits for a moment.

Blinking at the sight of a young man clad in Demacian colors, Katarina slowly kneeled next to him, her eyes watering at the sight of his bright eyes and short, dark hair. The boy recognized her in a heartbeat, the bloodied sides of his mouth curving up.

“M-milady,” he whispered. “You’re alive.”

Placing a hand on his chest, Katarina winced at the sight of the several gashes that were growing into heavy infections. Flies had already gathered around the body, feasting and sucking on rotten flesh. One of his arms was missing, as well as his feet, courtesy of the Glorious Executioner’s spinning axes.

“You saved my life,” she whispered, her green eyes staring deeply into his.

“Then save my soul,” the young boy requested. “A slow death is like staring at the doors to the Void.”

Katarina immediately patted her sides, fat tears rolling down her eyes as she realized she had lost her weapons sometime during her fight with Darius and her fall into the pit. “I—I don’t—”

Spiritmight closed his eyes, his head lolling to the side. “Ah, well,” he sighed. “Your secret,” he spoke again, his light eyes looking back at her throbbing lips, “will be safe,” he promised. “Safe,” he repeated. “In the safest place.”

He coughed again, his blood forming bubbles where it drained from his pierced neck and met the air around him.

Katarina let out a strangled cry, her chest heaving and her shoulders shaking as she rested her forehead on Spiritmight’s bloodied chest. Her face was quickly covered in blood, her red hair sticking to the boy’s armor as she screamed inside the deserted village, droplets of saliva escaping her lips. Crawling away at the horror before her eyes, Katarina’s sobs never ceased. Her entire body was shaking as if the temperature had slowly dropped down, and she felt a warm pool soaking her legs.

The woman scurried away from the boy’s corpse, figuring she was bathing in his blood, but the warmth never left her. She dipped her fingers into the pool of blood that formed at her feet, her breathing becoming erratic. Crying even harder, Katarina quickly reached for the nearest discarded piece of steel she could find. It was a small picket, worms crawling on it, but she couldn’t care less. Quickly, she stabbed with trembling hands at her belt, shredding the top of her pants, screaming when the blood wouldn’t stop flowing, mixing with the blood of the scratches she just inflicted herself.

Katarina tore her pants away, her darkened eyes taking in the sight of heavy bleeding between her thighs. She screamed once, twice, feeling her insides emptying without her being able to react to it. She fell to the side, her wide green eyes staring at her hands that were completely soaked in blood, and she whimpered, her body growing colder by the minute. One of her arms circled her waist, her heavy sobbing calming down to a couple faint breaths, trying to keep the blood and the life inside. Her tears mixed with the crimson stains that dried on her face, and she slowly fell into a silent sleep.

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