For story number 30 I wanted to go back to the story line I used for the first B.O.S.S. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything with Finrick and he had a fine layer of dust on him. Hopefully you agree that he was a natural choice.
The Monkey, Part 3
The next morning, Finnrick woke before Tillie. She slept on the other side of the cave, arms were clutching around her thin frame, and shivered. They fell asleep next to each other, as they always had. He remembered the comfort of Tillie’s head against his shoulder. Yet she felt the need to distance herself from him.
Finnrick tighten his jaw in irritation and shuffled closer to her. He noticed an immediate chill; the side Tillie chose to move to was much colder. He gently pushed aside her golden locks and put a hand to her brow and could feel a fever coming on.
Anger flared inside of him. Why would she be so stupid? What motivation drove her to freeze alone on the other side of the cave? On top of that she might have gotten him sick as well. Body heat was precious in the cold nights of the great forests.
He crouched and picked her up. Her squirmed, scrunching up her nose, but remained asleep otherwise. Nothing more when he stood up with her in his arms.
Finnrick really could count the number of times he had the opportunity to admire her. Mattis would ruin any chances, drawing attention to Fin’s awkwardness around her. In contrast, Mattis held confidence like a blazing torch in her presence. Everything about him was deliberate, brusque, and idiotic: Right down to his death.
Tillie’s lips were parted in her comfortable respite. He stood, enjoying her warmth, and the satisfaction of holding her in his arms. She was heavy, but the burden still seemed so inconsequential. He had seen Mattis heft her in an effortless manner more times than he could count.
He ground his teeth. Mattis was lost now and to what? Soldiers in the Usurper’s army. They were been under order to attack any wanders from the cities, those who dared flee to avoid paying him homage. Though Finnrick had no choice but to flee from the purifications.
“I’m dead because of your jealousy,” Mattis said.
Finnrick turned to see Mattis standing behind him. The fateful arrow still planted in his forehead. Finnrick paled at the sight, backpedaling, but the small cave did nothing to give him room to maneuver. Tillie felt twice as heavy and a conflict rose in his heart; Fight or flee?
“Mattis, It’s not like that.”
“It is like that, Monkey, you left me to die. I counted on you for the one thing you’re good at, throwing rocks. Instead, you let this happen.” Mattis pointed to his wound. “Put her down, and take your punishment. This is between you and me. Put my Tillie down.”
“Yours?” Rage flared in Fin’s eyes, compiling calm and slow. Tillie remained asleep as he set her on the warm spot of stone. “You’re wrong. Millie is not yours. You lost that right when you failed to protect yourself. How can you expect to protect her?”
“Protect? Ha.” Mattis cracked his knuckles. “Give me my sword and lets settle this like men.”
“Fine,” Finnrick unbuckled the baldric at his side and flung it at the specter.
Mattis caught it in an effortless gesture.
Fear struck a chord in his heart. This had been real, Mattis was alive? The wound on Mattis’ head oozed black blood and his skin was ashen and dead, a walking corpse.
Finnrick pressed his back against the wall of the cave like a trapped mouse, pulling his sling from his belt.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Mattis unsheathed his sword and admired its sheen. “It’s your turn to die Monkey. It’s a good thing you’re stupid, I thought I’d have to wrestle that blade from you. Not that it would’ve been hard.”
Finnrick loaded a sling bullet, but there wasn’t room to move in the cave. He tightened his twirl sacrificing power and strength.
“Best if you just give up mate, I wouldn’t want Tillie to get caught up in the tussle.” Mattis tossed aside the scabbard haphazardly.
Finnrick glanced back, Tillie lay stone asleep. Tillie was a paladin, they should have been able to purify a lost soul.
Mattis loosed an overhead swung, forcing Finnrick to abandon a counter attack, and forward into a narrow dodge. The broadsword lodged into the cave wall next to him. Finnrick scooped up Tillie on the way, and headed deeper into the cave.
“Tillie, wake up.” Finnrick said, giving her a squeeze. Doubt filled him. If Tillie loved Mattis, would she be able to banish him?
Mattis struggled to free his sword. The depth of the cut into stone, sent a chill through Finnrick’s spine. That could have sunk into his flesh, but there was no time for fear.
Finnrick set down Tillie, finding a place with much more room, and resumed the twirl of his sling.
Three tight spins and he let a stone fly, a direct hit on the side of Mattis’ skull. Black blood fell from a fresh wound, pushing Mattis back from his blade. He turned to reveal a sly smile his rotten lips.
“So that’s how it is eh?” Mattis said, his voice cold and deep. “I don’t need a sword to kill a monkey! I’ll just wring yer neck!”
“Try it.” Finnrick had readied another stone, letting the slack on his spin widen.
Mattis charged and Finnrick let the stone bullet fly. It crushed Mattis’ cheek but didn’t slow him a step. Finnrick didn’t expect it to. He dodged to the side of impact, Mattis’ eye left useless by the spray of blood. Finnrick drove a boot into his friend’s back, hurrying him to the wall.
Mattis crashed against it in a heap looming over Tillie.
Finnrick readied a precious steel bullet, in the caves center he could use his sling at full torque.
Mattis turned and roared, he sounded more a beast than a man. “Moron! Now I have her, no rocks going to stop me from taking what’s mine!
Tillie stirred, Finnrick fixed his eyes on her then back to Mattis. “She’s not yours Mattis. You’re dead. You need to let go.”
“Bullshit! She always loved me, not you. You stupid monkey!” Mattis held his head in pain, his voice distorted and the blood started to pour from him freely.
“That’s irrelevant.” Finnrick maintained the spin of his sling, puring more momentum and power into it. “My point is that you will never have her. She’s not yours to take. Tillie is the only one that makes that choice. If she wanted a lumbering oaf like you I wouldn’t stand in her way, but—”
Mattis roared again. Flakes of loose stone fell as the entire cave shook. Finnrick flinched, the sound pierced his soul. Tillie’s eyes shot open and fixed them on Mattis’ hulking form.
“Mattis?” Tillie stood. “You’re alive?”
“No. He’s not.” Finnrick held out his free hand. “Tillie come to me, I won’t make you do this. It’s my fault this happened to him.”
Mattis was lost in blind rage, he paid no notice to Tillie slipping past him.
“But I can–” Tillie began.
“No, you’ve endured enough.” Finnrick shook his head. “I meant what I said before Tillie, but I realize that I’m being unfair. Mattis came back because of my jealousy of him. I need to put this to rest.”
“I see.” Tillie stepped back and placed a hand on his back. “I wasn’t fair either. The truth is Finnrick, I love you both. I don’t want either of you to get hurt.”
Finnrick smirked, with her behind him; it was safe to do so. Mattis calmed, deepening a glare at Fin. His eyes were glazed and empty, black blood poured from his wounds. His skin decayed aggressively, blackening and rotting with every passing moment.
“Monkey.” Mattis said with a hiss.
“I’m sorry,” Finnrick said, his sad and sympathetic, a steep contrast to the wicked smile on his lips. “It’s time to go.”
The bullet flew, and found its mark between Mattis’ eyes. The bullet punched through his soft flesh and to the wall behind him. It made impact with stone and ricocheted to make impact with Mattis’ sword, shaking it free. The steel bullet screamed towards Finnrick’s free hand and sunk in deep. He let out a cry as the blood-soaked steel bullet burrowed into his skin. Mattis’ black blood mingled with is own and sent searing pain through his palm.
“Finnrick!” Tillie rushed to him.
“Wait, don’t heal it.” Finnrick winced, his sling falling to the ground. “This corruption, it mustn’t touch you. Don’t take it in—“
Tillie bit her lip, putting her hands on Finnrick’s. Light erupted from her and lines of light carved in the air with intricate designs. In his time around her, Finnrick had seen nothing like it. He had seen her magic, sure, but this was something else. The awe of the moment stifled the pain in his hand. Tillie’s touch injected warm and radiated an inviting comfort. Her face strained in concentration, but looked devoid of pain.
The cave shone bright as daylight. Mattis’ lifeless body fell backwards and completely stopped. The pain in Finnrick’s left hand subsided.
“I’m sorry Finnrick, I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Tillie said, barely above a whisper. “I never thought the two of you thought of me like that. I mean, we’ve been friends but–”
“I’m not mad and it’s our fault, not yours. We should have said something sooner.” Finnrick nodded. While not her fault, she had been the cause. She drove the rift between them. They have been close as brothers before she came along. He could use this.
“This is the best I can do. I’m sorry.” Tillie squeezed his hand gently and the light faded.
Finnrick looked down at his hand. The steel bullet embedded in his hand and glowed with a pale blue light. It became a part of his hand and felt as natural as the nose on his face.
“I couldn’t remove the corruption, so I just trapped it. I’m sorry.” Tillie shook her head. “But, Finnrick. I mean it. I’ll make it up to you. I just killed your best friend.”
“Our best friend.” Finnrick said, flexing his hand. “Neither of us killed him, The Usurper killed him.”
“Still, I’d like to make it up to you.” Tillie lowered her eyes. “I’m willing to do anything to make this right.”
Anything? Finnrick suppressed a smirk. With Mattis dead, he was free to take her as his own. The mere thought of being with Tillie, kissing her, drove him wild.
“Help me avenge Mattis,” he said, taking her hands in his, “We need to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. We’re going to do something about the Usurper. There has to be something we can do to set things straight.”
“I don’t know what I can do.” Tillie shook her head. “I can try. Is that all you really want?”
Of course not: Attacking, undermining, or impeding the Usurper was an idiotic venture. This was merely bait to set the trap.
“Well there is one thing.” Finnrick’s gaze drifted to Mattis, or rather where he should have been. He was gone.
“Tillie,” Finnrick slid his hands to her shoulder’s. The steel ball protruding from his palm made her wince. “Mattis. Did you purify him?
“No.” Tillie glanced around him. “What? Where did he go?”
Finnrick slipped his hands away from her, walking to the barren cave floor. No trace remained of his fallen friend, the blood was conspicuously missing. He traced the ground with the fingertips of his left hand. The steel bullet in his hand shook and throbbed. The image of Mattis filled his thoughts and vision.
“He’s below us,” Finnrick said.
“Alive?” She hurried to his side.
Irritation bubbled inside of Finnrick . He shook his head. “His body I mean. It was pulled down, below us. Whatever that thing is, it’s not Mattis. Not anymore.”
“Maybe that means his soul is at rest then.” Tille said with a sad sigh.
“I’m sure it is.” Finnrick frowned. He could feel Mattis’ boiling hate below him, but something seemed amiss. Mattis lurked below, waiting, and completely intact. Finnrick was sure of it, if Mattis wanted to he could come right back and kill him. Instead, Mattis hid, with a compulsion to stay close.
Damn it Mattis. Just leave. Even in death you ruin everything.
The steel ball tingled again, and just the thought of his friend slipped him into his consciousness. Mattis’ presence skulked away, accepting the order, and then he was gone.
Finnrick stood, flexing his hand.
“As soon as the sun comes up we should get to Prost,” she said, “we need to find someone better qualified than me to remove that, and I know just the person. But something else is oddd.”
She pushed her hand in front of his face. Her palm was perfect and pristine. If she had healed him, she would have inherited his gashes, the flaw of a paladin’s power: To heal a wound, you must take it into yourself.
Finnrick took her hand, brought it to his lips and kissed it.
Tillie blushed furiously. “What are you–”
“It’s my other wish. But, right now.” He clasped his hands around hers and looked down.
“Me? After all I’ve done?” Tillie shook her head. “No way, Finnrick, I’m nothing but trouble for you. I couldn’t possibly–”
“Is that a no then?” Finnrick stayed his rage. The look on her face amused him. She was conflicted, indecisive.
“Not exactly,” Tillie said, drifting her gaze away from him.
“You told me you loved me. I love you too.” Finnrick squeezed her hand gently.
“I know.” Tillie fixed her eyes on him. “I need to ask you something first. And I’ll give you an answer from that.”
“Go on.” Finnrick donned a flat expression.
“Were you corrupted? I mean, before that? I woke up and felt a chill from you. It was colder than any place in this cave.” Tillie’s expression became serious. “I need you to tell me the truth. Did you let Mattis die on purpose?”
Something snapped inside of him. His rage hung by a thread and an urge for violence bubbled up into his being. An irresistible urge to wrap his hands around her pretty neck and twist. The moment of her desperation, appeared before him. The moment when life trickled out of her and death claimed her.
But then, it passed. The anger calmed and settled to his core. The accusation suddenly felt silly, even though it wasn’t.
“It’s my fault.” Finnrick said calmly. “I could have saved him.”
Truth, in equal parts.
“At the moment I needed to save him. I heard his voice. He taunted me and told me I never had a chance with you, enough to make me hesitate. That is why he’s dead.” Finnrick looked away. He somehow contained the smile.
This was perfect. She would understand. She would pity him.
“Finnrick.” She touched him. It might as well have been scripted. Her soothing touch was so enticing.
“So, you’re probably right. I must have been corrupted.” He brought a hand to his mouth to choke a fit of laughter. It came out as a sob.
“I think I sealed it away.” Tillie rubbed his back. “Thank you for telling me the truth. That means so much to me.”
“Thank you, I—“ Finnrick turned to her and was silenced by a kiss.
This was what he was waiting for, freezing in genuine shock. The warmth of her lips set his mind into a tumble. Awkwardly he placed his hands on her lower back. He worked to stifle his passions, this was an act of mercy, pity. The falsity of it only aroused him.
Was Tillie always this gullible? He squeezed her and enjoyed her warmth. He had been hugged by her before but this was a totally different beast. Her body was against his, and their lips joined. She was his. He had won.
He kissed her back, desperate and genuine. He let the weak little boy inside of him handle that part. It would serve him better in the end.