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 It was the day of the tourney. In fact, they only had a few weeks until they graduated. In honor of the competition, the day’s classes had been canceled. Tom had asked Sally to wake early; today he would have a long talk with her.


They met in a courtyard outside the dorms. The morning dew was calming; it almost seemed to invite Tom to talk. There was a little mist here and there, and as a result the visibility was perhaps half a mile.


They felt the wet grass under their feet. Maybe it was her imagination, but Sally felt raindrops on her head.


“You understand this, Sal. Once I tell you, you won’t be able to forget,” Tom started.


“I would rather suffer forever than be forever in the dark.”


“I’m glad, though I wouldn’t say the same.” He smiled.


Neither said anything for a moment.


Tom sat down on a bench, and Sally followed. Only afterwards they realized the wood was damp. Tom started by once again recalling the events that led to Mother’s death. This time he also gave Sally the bloody details. This time, both siblings cried, just as the rain broke out anew.


They went inside to shield themselves from the saturating rain. They briefly parted to change and met again in the school commons. No one else was awake yet, but slowly but surely students trickled in while they talked.


A few students wore cyan uniforms, and anyone could’ve inferred that they were the Susanese students.


“You know about the three methods to combat darklings, right Sal?”


“Of course, though I only know of two.”


“I’ve been practicing that third method. That’s exactly why I went to confront that darkling. I call it the ‘Blank method’ or simply ‘Blank’.”


“Why would you do that?”


“I am a coward. I cannot deal with my fear, so I must rid myself with it. Nor can I accept my fear; I'm ashamed to be so unable.”


“Tell me what blank does exactly.”


“I focus until I lose my feelings. I become a shell of a man, and then I fight. I lose my heart; it becomes a blank. I have no fear, no happiness, no regrets, and no sense of survival.”


“How do you get out of it?”


“I don’t know how to yet. I just loosen my focus ‘till it wears out by itself.”


“That’s extremely reckless. Guess it matches you perfectly.”


Sally smiled. It wasn’t a smile of happiness, but it was more out of relief. As long as Tom is true to me and to himself, he’ll be just fine, she thought.

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Zarelliel

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