Soot, ash and blood covered tattered clothes over her battered frame. But she was still standing. Still marching down the hall, expression grim as she slowly pushed open a door and peered at the occupied bed inside. The room was empty save for one soul, lying on linen sheets as still as stone.
“I am awake, Eleri, you can stop lurking in the doorway.” came the voice, soft and raspy but still with that same teasing lit she was always fond of.
She stepped in to the room, closing the door behind her before she crossed the floor to sit on the edge of his bed. Eleri tried to offer a smile, but that grim expression returned all too quickly. “We didn’t make it. Medemus tried, but- …it’s like they knew we would be there. All waiting there to tear us apart.”
“Heh… Last of the descendants and I am nothing but a dying old man.” he reached out to take her hand. His grip was weak, but he still curled his fingers around hers. “Don’t look so grim, Eleri. You did what you could.”
Eleri shook her head. “Not enough. Your family has taken care of me, Archer, and I couldn’t protect or save any of them. The demons still lay waste to worlds and we couldn’t even come close to their god. And you… you are going to leave me too.” She fell in to silence, staring down at his hand and brushing her fingertips over the dark veins so easily seen beneath the skin. He was once the most prominent and strong of them all. Now he was a shell, stuck there in that bed taking in his last breaths. Not even when her lands were lost did it hurt as much as this.
The old man smiled, pulling her hand to hold against his heart. “I will not be gone, Eleri. When this body dies, as the last descendant I will haunt the amulet. Maybe it was meant to be this way. Destiny has no use for our family any more…”
“I could give you an heir, Archer. You know I can.”
He laughed, the sound coming out like a cough. “I had my children and lost them. I am old enough to be your grandfather. Heirs are for the young, Eleri. My time has passed and the Descendants are gone. Find yourself love and live, girl. You life doesn’t belong to me and the dead.”
“There’s not going to be a man in the universe I love more than you. You gave me a home and protection and a family. No one is ever going to compare.” It wasn’t even an exaggeration. Archer gave her everything and now he was dying.
“Eleri.” his tone turned serious as he struggled to sit up. The charming smile was gone, replaced by a serious wrinkled scowl. “Promise me that you will live. You will live, you will marry, you will start a bloodline of your own. Begin a new legacy if you must, but just [i]live[/i]. We are done. Do not die with us. Promise me.”
She was silent for a moment. Watching that hardened look on his face. Finally she gave in with a sigh, gently nodding her head. “I promise, Archer.”