The coolness of night chilled the early morning fog as it drifted along the worn headstones, an air of gloom lifting sluggishly with the sun. The autumn air was crisp, and it tousled the trees that grew in the churchyard. Nicholus drew in a breath as he carefully removed his saber from its sheath. He had cornered her, far from home and after so many years of running, and the thought of the final battle that lay ahead somewhat overwhelmed him. His hand clenched the saber's hilt. Too many soldiers, men and boys alike, had fallen to her power. It was time to end it.
He peered around the headstone he had bunkered down behind, catching a glimpse of her violently red dress. Her back was turned to him as she fiddled hastily with the small door of the stone tomb. Jaw tight, he crossed himself, took a deep breath, and barreled forward, sword outstretched. His steps thundered against the ground, leaves and dying grass crunching beneath his boots. His cry of war and rage tore through the air.
The woman in red turned in shock, temporarily caught off guard by the sound of Nicholus's anger-stricken voice. She recovered quickly however, a wicked grin spreading across her face. She reached out to him as he ran and he stopped, nearly skidding in the dead foliage. He breathed heavily as he faced her, jaw still tightly clenched.
"Hello, Nicholus," she purred, meeting his gaze, "It’s been a while, hasn't it? I've missed you."
Nicholus's face reddened with disgust and hatred. "Vivia! You witch! I've got you cornered, and you have nowhere to run! Give up, and I may let you keep your life!" He spat.
"Oh, Nicholus, don't tell me you've forgotten." Her outstretched hand began to glow, a small tongue of flame emanating from her palm. "About what I can still do. About...us."
"There is nothing left about us! You've killed my men and countless others in this wicked pursuit of yours and it ends here, tonight!" Nicholus snarled at her, pulling out a small iron dagger from inside his coat. Her smile faltered.
"What do you intend to do, Nicholus? Kill me? The way I killed all those others? Can you? Can you find it in your heart to do so evil a deed? Especially against the one you love?"
Nicholus didn't reply. He kept her gaze, his hands shaking with anger, with exhaustion, and with doubt.
Her hand stretched out towards him, her voice in his ear.
"Join me, my love. Let me rule you, love you, and I will give you whatever you. Put down your sword and let me love you."
Nicholus shook his head. The sound of her voice hummed in his head and his vision swam with a violent red. For a moment, he was lost, warm and asleep, rocked gently by her words and her love. For a moment, he almost gave in. But a sharpness at his side broke through that violent red, and just as quickly as it had come over him, it was gone. His hand holding the small dagger had dropped in his moment of confusion, and the edge of the blade was pressed to his stomach. He raised it, along with his saber, stern and collected once more.
Viva was no longer smiling. The small flame in her hand had been replaced with an inferno around her.
He threw himself at her, slashing his saber into the arm she brought up to cast another spell. She hissed in pain, trying to push him away with her good arm. He could feel the burn of her hand on his shoulder, but he didn't flinch. He dug the small iron dagger into her chest, just beneath the heart. Viva screamed, agony ripping through her throat. The dagger burned her skin, melting the flesh away like candle wax. He pulled the saber from her arm and tossed it aside, pulling her into his arms and cradling her. Her face twisted with pain.
Tears burned his eyes and blurred his vision as he brushed hair from her face. "I'm so sorry Vivia. I'm so sorry!"
A small smile came to her tired face. "Me too, my love." Nicholus gasped as a searing pain torn into his chest. Her fingers dug into him, fire eating away at his clothes and flesh.
Together the two passed, locked in their final embrace. The air around them remained undisturbed as the churchyard continued on solemnly, unaware of life, death, love, or fear.