Fade to White
Chapter Twenty Five
Racing up the concrete castle steps, Jerek’s heart pounded fiercely inside his chest. He was afraid that he was already too late, and that spurred his feet on faster despite the growing weariness in his legs. Reaching the top, Jerek stopped in surprise, staring at Ramo leaning against the wall of the corridor leading to Nosaj’s personal chambers. In Ramo’s hand was a metal sword, the blade gleaming dimly from the light that entered through the windows lined along the outside wall.
“Answer me truthfully,” Ramo said, looking over at Jerek with hard eyes. “Why are you here?”
“I’m here to claim what is rightfully mine.”
“You’re here to save that girl!” Ramo yelled, stepping into the middle of the corridor and holding his sword ready. “Can’t you see that she is controlling you?”
“She is not controlling me!” Jerek replied. “I am finally choosing what I want to do for myself. I don’t have any time to waste here, so please step aside.”
“Stop this right now! Just turn around and we can forget that any of this ever happened. Please just forget about it,” Ramo pleaded.
“And why not?”
“Because I love her.”
Ramo took in a sharp breath at Jerek’s words, but Jerek continued speaking, “I love her, Ramo. She is the only person I want to be with, and I have to save her. I have to protect her from Nosaj.”
Tears filled Ramo’s eyes and flowed down his cheeks. “Are you throwing away our friendship just like that?” he whispered. “A girl you barely met means more to you than the years we’ve known each other? How can you be such a jerk?!”
“I’m not throwing away our friendship, you’re the one who is pushing it aside.”
“How dare you say that!” Ramo cried. “I have done so much for you! I am trying to protect you from making the biggest mistake of your life, because I care about you. You turned against me because of that girl!”
“I am not against you! Ramo, please,” Jerek softened his voice, “let me pass. After Nosaj is gone, we’ll still have the same friendship as we did before.”
“No! Because now I know that you don’t really care about me. There is only one person that Jerek wants to be with, and I missed the cut.”
“Ramo . . .”
“I’m through with this!” Swinging his sword and swaying slightly from the weight of it, Ramo flung himself at Jerek.
Reflexes brought up Jerek’s sword to block, but as soon as the two blades made contact Jerek reached out and caught hold of Ramo’s arm.
“Ramo, I’m not going to fight you!”
“Let go of me!” Ramo struggled to yank away.
“Don’t fight against me!”
“I am fighting on the side of the Commander, and you are the one who turned against him. You betrayed me!”
“But you don’t have to fight for him!”
Ramo broke away from Jerek’s grip, stumbling backwards. “Yes I do,” he whispered. “My entire family died for him, and I won’t do anything to betray him because of that.”
“Ramo . . .” Jerek stepped forward.
“Please Jerek, I’m begging you. Turn around right now and we can move on with our lives.”
“Tryne is my life.”
Ramo screamed, raising his sword above his head and leaping at Jerek. Taking a step back, Jerek’s shoelace was firmly wedged under the sole of his boot and he tottered, hitting the ground hard.
Watching in slow motion, Jerek’s eyes went wide in horror as he realized that he didn’t have enough time to move away. Gasping painfully, Ramo came to a sudden stop and let his arms fall, his sword clattering to the stone floor, then his hands slowly drifted down to his shirt. A whimper escaped his lips when he touched Jerek’s sword firmly planted in his stomach, and he quickly dropped his hands to his sides.
“Oh my God! Ramo!” Jerek let go of the handle, his hands hovering close to it for a second before he moved them away.
“It . . . it . . .” Ramo sunk to his knees, hunching over as a fit of coughing took him, spraying out blood and coating his chin in it.
Getting on the floor next to Ramo, Jerek wrapped his arms around him and pulled him into a tight embrace, pressing Ramo’s head against his chest. “I didn’t mean to . . .” he moaned. “I never meant to hurt you. You’re my best friend.”
Reaching up, Ramo gently touched the side of Jerek’s face. “It’s okay,” he whispered. “Jerek, I . . .”
“I know.” Tears trickled out of the corners of Jerek’s eyes as he hugged Ramo tighter. “Just hang on, okay?”
Ramo smiled weakly. “I’m so happy,” he said as the sparkle in his eyes began to fade.
“Ramo! No!” Jerek compulsively shook Ramo, but it didn’t stop Ramo’s head from lolling limply to the side, it didn’t bring the life back into him. Lifting his head up, Jerek howled in agonized sorrow.
A door in the corridor opened and Nosaj stepped out, holding Tryne in front of him. Silently he surveyed the scene of Jerek clutching Ramo’s body, then in a dark and angry tone he uttered, “What have you done?”