The hearth in the corner of the room held only feeble flames now, casting a dim light on to the face of a golden-haired girl. That was all Aegis could call her -- perhaps to some she'd be a knight, to others shed be a hero and to others still -- a king. Yet the knight's armour laid bundled on a high-backed chair and the king's sword stood propped against it. What remained hidden beneath those thick woolen blankets was just a girl, a girl with golden hair and emerald eyes.
The dying hearth managed to light no more than Artoria's little corner of the small hut. Despite the flames shining the steel plates of her armour aglow, nothing but shadows stood across from her. And a pair of watchful violet eyes, seemingly never blinking nor moving.
The azure knight had stopped counting the days Artoria spent unconscious a while ago. Each and every one of those was filled with a torturous mixture of strange feelings for which Aegis had no words. They were merely labeled as 'uncertainty' in his mind, perhaps in a hasteful attempt to forget them, but never the less, his expressionless gaze hardly left Artoria's face even for a moment, almost pointedly avoiding to look at the numerous blades scattered near her body. Each of them irritated him; there had been 13 attempts to drive a blade in the girl's heart, each accounted for by 13 different daggers, but each time the knight's eyes fell to her face, sometimes smiling or frowning in her sleep, and he found himself unable to move. Why had he brought her here? That, too, was a recurrent question -- and every time he supplied himself not an answer, but silence. A silence through which he continued to care for her, sustaining and cleaning her body with magic. Every night he approached her with the intent to kill, and each and every time he'd end up using a wet towel to wiper her face, or replace her bedding however necessary. It was preposterous.
Though over two weeks had passed since that day, Aegis understood nothing at all. Only scarce facts were clear, and even they were shrouded in an impenetrable enigma. Why was Artoria unreachable through Origin Perception? Why did the very notion of trying made his head hurt? Why was she alive? And why couldn't he kill her? Why do I even want to? But perhaps it could be put simpler than a myriad of questions. Artoria was alive, yet she claimed to be someone else. She knew him, yet she did not; and he hated her -- oh, how he hated her! -- yet somewhere deep inside he could feel how what he hated wasn't her at all. His enmity was meant for something, someone, else. Some shadow-clad figure, who now stood staring at a girl with hair as brilliant as the sun... him. He realized that he probably hates himself for hating her, and for that he hates the world for making him hate. So much hatred, and, he knew, it was all an illusion. The simple truth was that he wanted to run away, and it made him feel uncertain.
At the sound of another distant thunder, Aegis slowly brought himself up from the floor and paced the perimeter of darkness, stopping in front of a particular silhouette, wide and squat. There was far from enough light for anyone to make out what it or any of the other shapes scattering the room were, yet he knew that particular object as well as he knew his own body.
With a subtle movement, the knight tried to fling the tail of his coat away before sitting, then winced when he realized that the coat in question had been hanged on the wall days ago. His hand stretched forward, tracing the smooth surface of the object -- the piano -- as he let loose a sigh. Music never seemed to help his mood, though all of his compositions were an expression of it. Perhaps this would be an exception? Doubtful, yet even as it crossed his mind, the idle thought began melting away as his fingers caressed the keys. And then, silence...
Inhale. Steady breaths. Just like you always practiced.
Feel the sword in your hands
And with the gust of change
It was only momentary hesitation. As the breath left his barely parted lips, the knight's fingers began their dance, each decisively striking a key, yet what he saw was not the piano, nor did he hear the storm outside. With drooping eyelids, Aegis saw only the emptiness of a castle's hall, cold and lifeless, and he wandered. Even the song of his own music never reached him in there, as he twisted and spun; danced to the tune of only his heart. Did he hope to find solace, hidden in those halls? Perhaps he merely wished to catch a glimpse of himself, the one person he had truly sought to escape for so long. Longing to see his face, in a vain search for answers...
As the melody lined storm-wound darkness, the knight's face never seemed to shift, even as he played.
Even as a single tear caressed his cheek.