Small scene for practice. Not for any story.
Anyone can mourn a hero, but only a hero can mourn a villain.
She stood at the point of the cliff, so close to the edge that her bare toes curled over the stone edge while she looked down at the ancient forest below. The trees looked impossibly small from this height, and though she knew better, Ivet imagined she could see the broken branches and falling leaves left behind in the wake of his fall. Just that thought, that small, common word sent a pang through her chest and she retreated from the edge of the cliff with a sharp gasp, turning away to catch her balance against the trunk of the nearest tree.
Ivet’s heart sank to her stomach and twisted in pain as the realization came down upon her mind in an avalanche of grief. There was no him anymore. In one terrible moment–a breath–a blink, he was gone. His life ended as casually a one might extinguish a candle.
A terrible sound wrenched its way from her chest, tearing and jagged and loud as her knees buckled and she struggled for a full breath.
He always feared he would be remembered as a villain, and as Ivet tore at the collar of her tunic in desperate need of the locket resting against her chest, she knew his greatest fear would come true. He would be the villain, his death celebrated with relief throughout the empire while she would be celebrated as a hero all because she could not reason with him, could not catch him, was not strong enough to hold on.
Ivet could hear them coming now, their heavy footsteps clumsily stomping up the path, their shouts growing louder as they drew closer. The world was about to change–her world was already shattered, and no one would understand what he had done to make the future better.
Finding the strength to move, Ivet stepped around the tree as the stomping feet drew closer and the clanking sound of metal echoed up the hill. She placed herself in the center of the path, trembling and made no effort to hide the tears still pouring down her dirty cheeks. They would come no further, they would not set foot on this ground to speak ill of the dead, if they insisted, they would need to go through her.
The general appeared a few yards away and saw her.
“Is it over?” he asked, drawing closer.
Ivet hated the hope in his voice, hated him for it.
“Is it done?”
The question steadied her, her anger drawing her up to her full height as she met his eyes.
“He is dead,” she stated, a hint of steel in creeping into her tone. “Go back to your Emperor and inform him the threat is passed.”
The general’s shoulders slumped in relief and he half turned, raising a hand to his men as they joined up behind him. Opening his mouth to shout out his orders, he turned to her and his brows furrowed in confusion.
“Will you not be returning to tell him yourself?”
Ivet reached up and pulled the twine from her hair, feeling bound by it, suddenly claustrophobic and trapped beneath the eyes of the soldiers and the tragedy in her bones.
“No,” she stated sharply. “As you said: It is done. I will never set foot in that damnable place again, and if his highness has a problem with that, tell him I will be here, and I will be waiting.”
She turned away and started down the hill, further into the forest. “He can hunt me next.”