Epilogue

Epilogue

A Chapter by Rocki-san

It was a cold, blustery day as autumn was making its final changes after summer to give way to a hard, frozen winter. The wind bit the barren trees with force, removing the few leaves that desperately clung onto the bare branches. It howled over the valley with an eerie sing-song tone, sending a threatening warning to the land that winter was on its way.

A leaf blew across the river, riding and dancing in the wind over the bridge and through the hills. It finally laid to rest on top of one of the hills, the grass long died away to leave behind the stiff brown dirt and dead grass that crunched under the boots as they made their way up.

The leaf went unnoticed, however, by the young man who had already been standing on the hill. Despite the bitter cold, he wore his usual clothes, only a thin jacket over his shoulders but unbothered by the ominous wind. His golden locks were blown out of the rubber band that held it back and into his face as he looked down at the two stones that stood there, under the ruins of an old tree that had long ago been burned away.

“Keno,” the blonde turned to see a much older man as he came to stand on the same hilltop. “Rain called me so that the three of us could talk. I didn’t know you two were still in such bad shape. How long do you plan to stay out here?”

The old man caught sight of the second stone, it was a new one that hadn’t been there when he’d come up the day before. He sighed and read the inscription “Oskar Hiero Noir.”

“He deserves a proper headstone, even though we had no body to bury.” Keno said, looking back at the granite gravestone next to that of his mother’s. “It was gone when I went to retrieve it.”

“How long are you boys going to beat yourselves up over this?” Niall Noir said and clasped an aged, but still strong, hand on his eldest son’s shoulder. “It’s almost been a year, Keno.”

“It was my job to protect him,” Keno said in a whisper that was almost stolen by the gusts of wind.

“And you did, he grew up to be a good boy,” Niall said. “You did your job, it was his time to decide what to do with his life.”

“It should’ve been me,” Keno said.

“You can’t take the pain from everyone, Keno, it’s part of life,” the elder Noir said. “How is Logan?”

“He’s still not talking,” Keno said. “Rain and I thought seeing you would cheer him up but apparently not.”  

“He’s lost,” Niall replied. “This has been the only thing he’s known, he just needs to find himself again. What about that Sa’harielian boy?”

“He went back to his village a while ago.” Keno sighed. “I think he’s a priest now. Do you think Logan blames me?”

“No,” Niall shook his head. “’Time heals all wounds,’ son.”

An ironic smirk appeared on Keno’s lips and his eyes moistened. “I said that to Oz once, he just replied ‘Time only makes you think your wounds are healed but really it just scars over to wait for another day.’”

“That may be true,” Niall said. “But at least it’ll scar enough for you to function normally.”

“’Normally,’” Keno repeated. “How’re things supposed to ever be normal again?”

“That’s for you to decide, there are still a lot of people out there that need help,” Niall said. “Listen, I have to be leaving soon, I just wanted to let you know that not many people could have dealt with what you have for the past 11 years. You stuck with it, you raised two outstanding kids when you were one yourself. I’m proud of you and I‘m sure your mother would be too, even when you’re not.”

Niall waited for a reply but none came as Keno continued to stare at the stone until it was permanently engraved in his mind to later haunt his nightmares. Niall gave one last reassuring squeeze, knowing full well that it was still too little, too late.

“I know it’s not much coming from such a poor father,” Niall said. “But it’s true.”

Niall turned towards the small town of Sodgrove Valley, situated behind the hill. He pulled his long overcoat closer to his body against the wind and looked up as the first few snowflakes of winter began to fall. He breathed out and watched his breath mist instantly against the frozen air. The clouds looked darker than usual, even for winter, the storm was barley even beginning. He started down the hill, remorse pulling at his heart with each step.

“Dad,” the old man stopped in his tracks, unsure if he’d really heard his son or if it were just the wind. He turned to see Keno facing him; his shoulders that were usually set back, strong and straight, now drooping from fatigue and depression.

“Son,” the old man acknowledged.

“Thank you, for everything,” Keno said uncomfortably and then looked down at his feet as if he were a child again. “And I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright, son,” Niall beamed as he had the days his sons were born. “I deserved it. Take care, I know that no matter what happens, you can handle it.”

And with that, Niall Noir turned his back to his son and headed down the hill. As he crossed the bridge, he dared one last look at the son he once believed would hate him forever. He could see the blond hair replaced in its neat hold, the healing already beginning as Keno said his goodbyes to his youngest brother. Niall smiled before continuing on his way.

 

Keno knew that his father’s goodbye was for good, he didn’t bother to ask where the old man was going because he knew no answer would be given but, for some reason, he was now fine with that. He knelt before the new gravestone, placing a scarred hand against the rough stone.

“I’m sorry,” Keno said to the air. “I should’ve probably stopped him but he’s like the wind, unpredictable and uncontrollable.”

He sighed again and stood, his shoulders now in their usual place. He now felt the cold beat against his clothes but it still didn’t bother him much. He decided it was time to head back to the inn and began walking down the hill after saying goodbye to the two stones.

Keno removed his jacket upon entering his room at the inn and placed it on the coat rack. The room was silent except for the quiet sounds of weapons being moved. Keno went into the adjacent bedroom to see Logan cleaning a gun before stuffing it in a duffle bag.

“Funny, I thought we agreed to stay another few days,” Keno said solemnly as he leaned against the doorframe. Logan didn’t budge, didn’t even look over to his older brother. “What are you packing up for?”

“I’m going on a trip,” Logan said quietly. It was the first time he’d spoken to Keno for months. “Alone.”

Logan waited for Keno’s protest, saying that they should stay together, refusing to let Logan have his space. But Keno said nothing, an awkward silence hung in the air.

“Where to?” Keno said after a moment and moved to stand beside his brother, helping him clean and pack the weapons. Logan watched Keno with surprise for a moment but then continued his task.

“I don’t know,” Logan answered in the same monotonous voice. “East maybe.”

“What are you going to do?” Keno continued his questioning.

“Relax, Keno,” Logan tried for a smile but it was meek. “I’m…I just need… to figure a few things out, find myself, you know?”

“I can’t stop you,” Keno said. He picked up a sheathed dagger, one that Keno had been holding onto for Logan, from the bureau and took Logan’s hand, enclosing his brother’s fingers around it. “But I want you to remember that no matter what happens, you can always come to me for help. You don’t have to deal with this alone.”

“Yeah,” Logan murmured, pulling on the hilt enough to see the purple blade. His hands became stained in his mind’s eye, dripping with a scarlet liquid but upon further examination he realized it was just his mind playing tricks, as it had done many times since that day. He placed the dagger in his pocket and wiped his hands against his pants, just to be sure. “What are you going to do?”

“I think I’m going to head back to Headquarters,” Keno said and smiled at the confused look Logan gave him. “There are still a lot of people out there who need help.”

Logan nodded and zipped up the duffle bag, tossing it over his shoulder. The remaining Noir brothers stood still and silent for a few minutes, neither of them sure of what to say to the other. Suddenly, Logan held out a hand.

“Good luck,” he said as Keno took the hand.

“Be careful,” Keno replied, giving Logan a quick hug and then a light shove. “Don’t get into trouble, if I have to come save your a*s I’ll put you on a leash.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Logan said, again trying for a smile but just as unsuccessful as before. “Bye.”

Keno didn’t move as the door closed behind his little brother; he stood in the empty room alone, watching the snow come down in the blizzard forming outside. He sighed and sunk into the bed, resting his head in his hands. Now, for the first time in his life, he was completely alone.




© 2011 Rocki-san



Author's Note

Rocki-san
Well... That's that... I hope you all enjoyed my book if you read it, if not then I hope you'll give it a shot!

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Added on January 12, 2011
Last Updated on January 12, 2011


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Rocki-san
Rocki-san

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Hey, I'm Rocki! I live on a 14-mile long island where there isn't really anything to do so I write. I'm an Anthropology major and willing to read your stories or books if requested as long as you give.. more..

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