After a post about grey morality and Valentines Day, I offer part three of Tillesia’s tragic tale. Finnrick and Tillie aren’t exactly star crossed lovers, but the story is still on topic on both counts.
Part 03 — Parlay
Hagie and her handful of brave men sagged their shoulders, turned and joined the other shadow creatures. All of these creatures used to be men, but Finnrick appeared as brilliant as he had been in life. Somehow, he retained his humanity. How words however, were dark as pitch.
Tilliesia sensed no malice from the ocean of shadow creatures around her, nor did she sense no pain. Their vacant white eyes bored into Tillesia, waiting for her next move. She turned to Finrick who raised his arms impassively.
“I know you won’t join me, you’re too pure,” Finnrick said. “You wear your bravery like a shield and mistake it for faith. But Yulos is not better for you than I am. She is corrupt and twisted.”
“So you know.” Tillesia glanced away. “You know I lied to you.”
Finnrick smirked. “And I don’t fault you for it. The Sons of Lye see your love as a disease, even though they revere you as a monarch. I have nothing against Yulos because she is a woman and your lover. My warning comes from the corruption she holds and controls. She belongs at my side, not yours.”
Tilliesia tensed. “She wants nothing to do with you. Did you forget? She suggested your death when I disbarred it.”
“She’s a wise woman,” Finnrick said. “I know little about this power, Tillie. She likely thinks she can take it from me and control it. I am inviting her to try with my full cooperation.”
“Even if she tries to kill you?”
“Especially if she tries to kill me.”
“I don’t understand.” Tillie glanced over at Hagie, her drummer watched their exchange with smiling empty eyes. “If your aim is control then why are you killing people? Changing people?”
“Because the shadow hungers. If it doesn’t feed, everything will be lost. I know that much.”
“So you have innocents suffer? Twisted into amalgamations of death?”
“They aren’t suffering,” Fin said. “Nor, are they dead. Mattis may have died to become what he is, but it isn’t the only way to change. Your men joined on their own free will. The people of Prost joined on their own free will. All I did was show them the truth. I showed them what I saw.”
“What did you see?” Tillesia stepped closer to him.
“I can’t tell you. You’re the head of the Sons of Lye now, so you can make sure it never happens again. Ask your leaders if your faith in them is strong. You’re not going to like it.”
Finnrick maintained honesty with her even though his battle for control of his corruption. Now had been no exception. His easy nature shined past the shadows slithering around him. His expression didn’t ask her to believe him, he had been confident she would.
“I can’t allow that,” Tillesia said.
Finnrick’s smile faded.
“I speak as the Golden Queen Tillesia now. Not ‘Tillie’. Even if there is truth to your words I cannot hand Yulos over you, even if you had the best of interests.” And even if I wanted to give Yulos to you.
“I understand.” Finnrick let out a sigh. “I don’t like it, but I understand. I’ll do my best alone then. Having Yulos’ help would have made things much easier.”
“Make what much easier?”
“Why, taking over the world, of course.”
“What?” Tillesia drew her sword. The shadows around her stayed dormant.
“You don’t think it’s a good idea?” Finnrick shrugged a shoulder. “If everyone turned, there would be no need for war. As they are, the people of Prost don’t need food. They don’t cause harm to those that give them peace. They are harmless as shadows.”
“Harmless? What of the Usurper and his men? What did you do to them?”
Finnrick folded his arms, glancing away. “Many of them turned. Some were devoured.”
“Devoured? You said they have no need for food.”
“Shadows don’t devour for sustenance. The shadows devour for Retribution, a concept a paladin of Lye should be familiar with. Just as your power takes pain from the unfortunate, mine gives it to the deserving. The Usurper is paying for his sins. Every. Last. One.”
Finnrick gestured to Hagie. “Take her for example. Her transformation went smoothly because she is free of sin. Your men and women of your honor guard screamed because to achieve their salvation they had to suffer for their transgressions in life. The two men Mattis turned? Rapists. They came with you in hopes that this sacrifice would purify their souls. Or perhaps they were looking for an opportunity to catch the Golden Queen off guard.”
The two soldiers bookended Finnrick, saying nothing. Through her link with Finnrick, she sensed their pain. They suffered every moment for those sins and would suffer for the rest of their existence.
“You’ve made your point. But this is sacrilege.”
“Better me holding the leash than it running loose,” Finnrick said. “I wonder why I haven’t changed completely though. Perhaps a human is needed to control it, or the shadows run rampant? That was the reason you intended to cage me?”
“Yes,” Tillesia said. “I suppose Yulos wanted to kill you and take that role.”
“And despite that, you still love her?”
Tillesia glanced downward. “Yes.”
“She’s lucky,” Finnrick said. “Tell her to stop tampering with me and come down here directly. I’d rather not kill her, since she means so much to you. However, if she insists on being stubborn, one of us will die.”
“I suppose I should thank you for being reasonable.”
“I do it because I love you,” Finnrick said. “No other reason.”
“And if you didn’t?”
“The world would burn,” he said with a smile and turned to leave towards the castle.
“Finnrick. The Usurper. What did you do to him?”
“He’s alive but I bet you he wishes he wasn’t. Lack of mercy for the wicked is something else the shadow shares with the light.”
Tillesia tightened her hands around the hilt of her sword. How easy it would be to charge and plunge her blade in his heart. His death would put the shows in disarray and only the combined efforts of the great kingdoms could quell the Dark Age to come. She glanced up to the overlook where Yulos stood.
He stopped walking. “Finnrick. I should kill you now.”
“But you won’t.”
“But I won’t,” Tillesia said, sheathing her sword. “I’ll speak with Yulos, but I think you already know her answer.”
“My other offer stands, should you find happiness with one so wicked, I humbly offer myself as an option.” Finnrick continued on and didn’t turn back.