A Conflict of Morality: The Aftermath
A Conflict of Morality: The Aftermath
For: Andulhaven

POV: Alexander

Hands shaking, heart racing, feet unsteady and legs wobbling as he backed away, Alexander stared at her from afar and cast Touch Me Not, the only protection he was able to give himself.

He hated how she made him a coward. How he was even afraid to meet her mismatched gaze, or stand near enough to hear her speak. How he’d fled behind his companions and put them in danger over himself.

She’d already killed Demitre and Ehrindel. She intended to kill them all now, and if Alexander wasn’t careful, he would watch her kill the rest of his friends, too.

Cosmo, who he didn’t always get along with, had still been there for him during the last few torturous days. Tully, who he’d gotten to know better over the course of their journey, had been there since the beginning, and had formed a special kind of bond with Alexander. And Magdala

Magdala

He glanced in her direction, and was surprised to find her already staring back at him. For only a moment she held his gaze, before turning around to face the demoness in the sky. The old animal caretaker made a few movements with her hands.

Before Alexander could begin to interpret what she was doing, a pillar of fire descended upon the Queen of Demons from the sky, striking her before she had the chance to move again.

Dresden’s scream sent a chill down Alexander’s spine and at the same time gave him a twisted sense of satisfaction. He’d begun to suspect it already, but this confirmed his suspicions. She wasn’t in full power here. And better yet, she was already weakened. They had a chance.

Good, he thought. Let’s make her suffer.

He took his first step back toward his captor, regaining a bit of his confidence as soon as his foot hit the ground. Picking up his pace, he strode toward her, a determined gleam in his eyes.

Before Dresden had the chance to recover from the fire that was still smoking on the hems of her clothing, Alexander saw her seize up and suddenly grasp at her throat. She sank from her position in the sky, coming to hover just above the ground. Her mouth opened and closed, but no words came out. Instead, Alexander spotted a thin line of red trickling from one corner of her lips. With a cough, her feet touched the ground, and the rocky floor of the rift was spattered with flecks of red.

Alexander passed Tully, who was concentrating so hard his small body was shaking. Seeing what the boy had done to Dresden, Alexander was simultaneously worried for Tully and grateful to have him on his side.

He pushed his feet to go faster. He could see her better now, he could see the panicked look on her face as she clawed at her throat and struggled to get air past the blood in her lungs. Just before he reached her, a blur of movement passed him on his right. Dresden staggered toward him, bleeding now from a slice in her side, too. Nephith reared her rapier for another blow.

Catching Dresden’s upper arm with his right hand, Alexander dragged her toward him and away from Nephith. He stared down at the demon woman’s face, feeling powerful and confident now that he was taller than her. Gripping her arm tightly, he cooled his hand against her hot skin, watching as the ice struggled to crystalize before melting away.

Her crimson-and-purple eyes glittered with pain, and her expression pleaded with Alexander to save her. She reached out to touch his face with her free hand. He did not move, fixing her with an icy stare. As she made contact with his skin, her hand jerked away, stung by the protective spell on Alexander. A moment later, a burst of blood spewed from her mouth, spattering Alexander’s coat.

Dresden’s body convulsed and she staggered, just in time for Nephith to strike her again with the rapier, this time hitting her just below her ribs.

The Queen of Demons sank to her knees. Alexander held on tighter to her arm and knelt down next to her, never breaking eye-contact with her.

Here she was, the one who had tortured and defiled him, the one who had murdered two of his friends and countless others, the one who had destroyed so many homes, families, lives. Here she was, weak, fearful, nearly defeated. He was so close to her, so close to those shining, terrified eyes that were still begging him to end her suffering.

I will. I’ll end it. I’ll kill you.

With his left hand, he reached into a pocket on the inside of his coat, closing his fingers around the object he was looking for. In a smooth motion, he removed it from his pocket and pressed the muzzle of the pistol he’d bought in Kayton under Dresden’s chin. Still shaking and spitting blood, the Demon Queen’s eyes widened, as if she finally realized just how close to death she was. She clearly hadn’t expected to be brought down so quickly, or at all. Vulnerability grayed her expression, and suddenly she looked like a terrified child, shaken by the thought of death.

Alexander hesitated.

He almost felt as though he should say something to her, and yet he hadn’t said a word. Did she deserve to hear his voice one more time before she died? What would be her last thought? Did he want her to die thinking of him?

Dresden’s hand trembled toward him again, reaching out for his arm. Did she deserve to die quickly? Should he prolong her suffering? Should he kill her at all?

If we keep her alive, we could force her to fix things.

A tiny sound came from her mouth, the closest thing to a word she’d managed since Tully started toying with her blood. Alexander tightened his grip on her arm and leaned in closer. For some reason, a stab of pain struck his chest when he noticed there were tears in her eyes.

Was she regretful? Was she hoping to beg for her life? Was she scared? He shook her slightly, wondering if she’d actually say something.

A sputter of blood heaved its way out of her mouth, dribbling down her chin and onto the top of Alexander’s pistol. In a strained, gurgling voice, she finally managed to get a sentence out.

“If… you kill… me… You’ll… kill… your son…

Alexander pulled the trigger.
~*~

The rest of the battle went by in a blur. Alexander stood stunned as a spiralling portal opened up beneath Dresden’s dead body, only awoken from his stupor after Tully manipulated the blood in his body to drag him back toward the group.

He watched with glazed eyes as a larger demon rose from the portal and scooped up Dresden’s body. It wasn’t until later that he registered the demon had referred to himself as Dresden’s husband.

Alexander hardly remembered anything about their escape from the rift as it began to close around them. They had to crawl down a narrow tunnel, and ride in a stone cylinder to the top of the rift. He remembered rolling in the cylinder down the hill toward Andulhaven, and crashing into the lake.

His thoughts were elsewhere as the rest of the group celebrated with the people of Andulhaven, cheering about the closing of the rift. He stayed in the shadows, watching the party from afar with vacant eyes. He couldn’t stop replaying the battle in his mind. He couldn’t stop seeing Dresden’s eyes.

“Do you want to dance with me?”

Startled by the sudden voice, Alexander stuttered backward, biting back a gasp. A tiny human girl was staring up at him with wide eyes, smiling shyly at him.

Swallowing, he looked away. “I don’t feel like dancing,” he said. Why? Dresden is dead. I should be happy.

Unfazed, the girl shrugged and said, “Then I’ll dance around you!” And with that, she began hopping and spinning in circles around him, giggling as she did so.

I could have had a son.

The thought assaulted him as he watched the girl dance around him.

A half-demon son that I didn’t want.

Alexander clenched his teeth. Why didn’t that fact make his stomach hurt any less? Dresden wouldn’t have wanted him to raise it, anyway. She’d tried to kill him! She had a demon husband! The fact that the child would have had Alexander’s DNA would have made no difference. He would have been raised as a demon, probably would have ended up just as horrible as his mother. So why did he feel so guilty?

“Hey,” he said to the girl, reaching out to grab her by the shoulder so he didn’t run her over as he walked away. “I need to go now.”

“So soon?” Disappointment was clear in her expression. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Are you feeling any better?”

Worse, actually. “A little bit,” he shrugged.

“Good!” She grinned at him, and then took hold of one of his hands, patting it lightly. “Have a good night!”

Alexander watched as she scampered away to join the party. He glanced down at the blood on his hands.

She’s dead. She’s dead. She’d better stay that way. Still, as Alexander left the party behind and headed back toward the mansion, he watched the shadows carefully, paranoid that she was still watching him.

He wondered if he would get any sleep that night.
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