Six Hundred Years
As usual, unbetaed, unchecked. I’m sure there are errors, but it’s too late and I don’t have time to check them.
And yes, I am back.
“Is there any way to counter the poison?”
It had been two days since Skyler had told Jeron about the poison. Just over two days since Jeron had been forcefully removed from his village. They had trekked across the mountains — Jeron unwillingly — and were now descending rapidly along the side of a grassed mountain. Jeron was most unhappy with the arrangement — but Skyler wasn’t exactly listening to him and wasn’t exactly giving Jeron much choice, either.
“Why would you want to know that?” asked Skyler.
Jeron almost hit Skyler with the bag he was carrying.
“What kind of question is that?” he spluttered. “Who wants to die?”
“Why not? Dying solves problems. And then it stops hurting. Everything gets better after you die, doesn’t it?”
“What about your home? Your family?” demanded Jeron. “Doesn’t that count for anything?”
“I kind of took you out of your village, you know,” said Skyler.
“And are you proud of that?”
Skyler didn’t say anything, but stepped across a couple of grassy stones. Jeron followed him, angry, frustrated, almost wanting to kill this thief, this evil, demented, thoughtless —
“You don’t know what it’s like.”
“You,” said Skyler. “Being… never mind. You wouldn’t understand what it’s like.”
“That’s not saying very much,” said Jeron.
“Then let me ask you this,” presented Skyler. “Ever known what it’s like to be alone and sidelined?”
“Yes,” admitted Jeron with some poison, thinking back to the years at the village, to the weird way people cast looks at him. He didn’t understand it. Still, as time had passed, a lot of the people who used to glare at him suspiciously had now stopped. In fact, the only people who still cast side glances ware the village elders.
He never knew why.
“The Village of Mersice,” said Skyler idly, walking a bit faster down the slope. “You wouldn’t have heard of it. It… it was populated with species beyond anything you could imagine. Us.”
“The village no longer exists,” said Skyler without emotion. Jeron lifted an eyebrow and drew level with him. “And I strongly believe I am the last of the original inhabitants. They may be more… but despite all my searching, I haven’t found anyone. And… oh, and Quinton. But never mind. You wouldn’t care.”
“I do care,” said Jeron. “I care more than you could believe.”
He saw a slight smile form on Skyler’s lips — almost managing to lift up the corners — but then it was over. Skyler turned away, hiding his face.
“It’s not far now,” he said.
Jeron blocked the rising sun from his view with his hand, squinting into the distance. The slope had indeed shallowed out a bit, but except for the steaming cliff they were descending, he couldn’t see any sign of civilisation.
“How do you know?” asked Jeron. “You’ve been here before?”
“As a matter of fact, yes,” said Skyler. “About six hundred years ago.”
“Six — six hundred years ago?” spluttered Jeron.
“Yes,” said Skyler, unconcerned. He suddenly sprung forward, pressing his face against an old tree trunk. Jeron, still coming to terms with what Skyler had fountained out, coughed and slumped down on a bed of leaves.
“What are you doing?”
“I remember this tree,” said Skyler. “Yeah, I planted it here six hundred years ago. It’s been a long time.”
“You’re just making this up, aren’t you?” said Jeron weakly. Something, anything to cause this to make sense. It had to. Magic took long enough to accept, and that was only because Jeron refused to believe it. Not being six hundred. Please, no.
“No, I’m six hundred,” said Skyler seriously. Jeron blinked. “Somewhere between six hundred and ten to six hundred and twenty. I forget.”
“I refuse to believe that,” said Jeron. “I absolutely refuse it.”
“And yet you completely accepted magic,” said Skyler, eyes closed, cheek against the bark. Jeron walked a bit closer to him. “And me. And the fact you’re going to die. Why not accept I’m six hundred?”
“Because it doesn’t make sense-”
“Magic doesn’t make sense.”
“Isn’t a completely different matter,” said Skyler, his voice… cracking? “Not when it’s only the magic that keeps you from dying.”
“What…” said Jeron, at a loss for words. Now what? What was the new revelation he wasn’t going to understand?
“The reason why I envy death is because I can’t die.”