Avalon:Volume 0 Epilogue

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Arkadi didn't believe in god. But if there was an afterlife, he should have woken up in the flames of hell, not on a soft bed in heaven.

He managed to regain consciousness without falling to any impulsive actions like moving or springing his eyes open. That was kind of good news, as his last memory was being defeated in combat. It was unlikely that his side won the battle, so the probable explanation was that the enemy captured him instead of killing him... for whatever reason.

He deserved death. But that thought was nothing new... he realized this over a decade ago.

Yet for the last ten years, he also saw his path as a necessary evil. But now, at this very moment, he was no longer sure of himself. For the first time in ten years, he felt an overwhelming sense of guilt, as well as intense self-hatred and disgust.

His mind was no longer compelled by his magic. Dozens of layers of self-enchantments which once governed every ounce of his beliefs and convictions had been dispelled. He had to feel for himself once again. It was not a pleasant experience. His memories did not allow for any pleasantries, only the pain and suffering that he inflicted upon tens of thousands of lives. Every frightened, horrified, hateful, anguished, or despairing expression, every face he remembered before his hands dealt a bloody end to their lives.

This was what he wanted, ten years ago when he first began. He planned to drown himself in blood before casting all the world's sins into it. It had made perfect sense at the time.

Now, he was no longer sure. He still believed in the concept -- his research had been solid and his resolution had been firm. But the same goals were no longer clearly in sight whenever he closed his eyes. Thousands of mangled bodies and burning ruins clouded the way, dyeing his subconscious world a smoldering red. Hundreds of slimy, dead limbs wrapped around him, holding him back as the gates of hell bade their welcome from behind.

Planning and execution were entirely different, even more so when countless lives were at stake.

Arkadi opened his eyes by the slightest margin, taking a peek at the sterile white room his bed occupied.

There was only one person in the room: a girl he had saved just over a week ago. She had a petite, frail body and long blossom-pink hair cascading down her back. She sat in a folding chair by the door, leaning against the wall with her head nodding off to the side in shallow sleep. Her face was cute to the point of being nearly childish, which was exactly how most would describe her figure. She also wore the same uniform that his team once gave her, except with its colors flipped from white-trimmed-black to black-trimmed-white, with her left arm wrapped by regenerative bandages and held in a sling...

Memories flashed back to his mind, when his swordstaff cut deep into her arm but failed to severe it. Then, just as he readied himself for a second strike, opposing cavalry arrived to turn the tide.

Her lapis-blue right eye soon opened. Her small right hand went up to rub it like a child just waking from a nap. Her left eye never did open, as that was her... Kannon's habit.

Over the years, Arkadi had relationships with countless women, many of which weren't romantic in any way. But for some he used his charisma and magic as a medium of seducing women for what he wanted, whether it be information or personal support. It was inevitable that some of these women would see through him, even attempted to turn him away from his path of self-destruction.

None of them succeeded, until...

"Captain," the girl's wispy, still-drowsy voice called out. "I know you're awake."

At last, Arkadi fully opened his eyes. There was no point hiding it. In fact, he learned not long after meeting her that there was little point lying to this girl. Somehow, she could always tell.

"Kannon," his cold voice replied. "You've turned traitor."

"...And you're a war criminal," Kannon shrugged. "I guess we're even."

"Last I checked, I saved your life."

"...And I just saved yours," she firmly declared. "You... still owe me a favor though."

Arkadi raised his eyebrows at the implications of her words... at least the former. The latter was a known fact. He remembered offering it just a few days ago.

"What you just failed was an all-or-nothing mission, Captain. If you go back, they'll shoot you. So whether you like it or not, Arkadi Kernow is dead." Kannon stated as a matter-of-fact, as though the decade-younger girl was preaching him on life experiences. "Please, give your real self one more chance at life."

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