The red seeped into the earth, a pulsing stream flowing rapidly. I stared at it. I seemed to ask why it was leaving. Why it was leaving me. With it, it took my life, and that was the end of
The end of what?
I wasn't even sure what was happening. A heavy buzzing in my ears, along with a rolling wave of nausea, prevented me from sitting up and comprehending the situation. I coughed, a spurt of crimson staining my face. I clutched my chest, and winced, eyesight blurring with the onset of some unwelcomed tears. I hastily rubbed them away, but the effort was too much. My shoulder twisted, and I found my left arm useless. Throbbing from wounds all over, suffering from fatigue, I stared. Stared at the pool of that ugly, thick red color that was gathering next to me, soaking into my clothes. Stared at that clear sky.
It stared back at me.
So peaceful, that sky. It seemed at rest, even though I knew, somewhere else, maybe on the other side of the world, it was storming. It made me think of balance. Ironically, above this intense, gory battle, the sky was bright blue, smiling, the sun shining pleasantly upon it all. It seemed to magnify the tragedy.
I tried to laugh, but it turned out bitter and forced. Here I was, lying upon my back, on the very Earth I was supposed to command
the very Earth that would become my deathbed. Dying. The edge of death was near, I could tell. Always, a persistent blackness at the corners of my vision, threatening to flood over if I opened the doors. But I wanted to hold on, just for the moment. I pressed against the door, forcing it closed. I wouldn't die. Not yet.
Though deep inside, I still wondered if I had a chance. I smiled at that sky. What was Giotto doing at a time like this? Probably sitting in his Vongola mansion, safe from this war, from this battle. His guardians sitting all around. Whereas I was still here, suffering, on my back. I pitied myself.
Was that right? To pity myself, to feel sorry for myself, to regret it all? I didn't regret the battle; I'd done my best, tried my hardest. I'd fought with every last drop of my dying will. Or had I? Doubt began to seep into my puzzled mind. I didn't want to fight my own thoughts.
At last, I forced myself to sit up. It was like the whole world was throwing itself back at me. I suddenly realized that the fight had gone on while I'd fallen. No, this wasn't the end of me. Not yet. Shooting, from both sides. One by one, those on my side crumpled to their knees, keeling over, and finally, laying still. The thunder of battle was ominous. An assiduous stream of shots fired, never ending, but with no beginning, it seemed. Why were we destined to fight?
I turned to see several figures approaching at a rapid speed. They were cloaked in dark capes, the fronts masking their faces, hiding their identities. Probably Vongola messengers, if I wasn't mistaken. Then again, my mind wasn't too clear at the moment, but still getting better. I raked my memory for anything familiar, but I didn't recognize any of the figures.
"We are here under the orders of Daemon Spade of the Vongola family," said the one at the front. He was a tall man, with a calm voice. Seeing as the situation was as it was, he seemed to be more relaxed than he should be. I already knew what to expect. "We are you reinforcements."
"Don't lie to me," I replied, wincing as I straightened. My left arm, the injured one, was limp and numb. My hands were scraped and bleeding. More of the damned red liquid dribbled from my palms. I raised my eyes to the cloaked messengers, eyes momentarily glancing to the paper they held. A dying will flame sealed it with a certain amount of finality, but
"Under orders of that man named Daemon, you've come here to wipe us out, haven't you?"
I knew it wasn't real.
And this time, I knew what awaited me. The edge of death loomed ever closer. This was it. I was going to end, right here, right now. Now that they knew that I'd figured out their plans, they were for sure going to kill me. And I had no way to stop them. I couldn't see their eyes, their faces; I couldn't see who was about to take away my life in a final stroke. My men had fallen, and the enemy would finish me off if they didn't do it first.
I was dead either way.
I turned to the messengers in capes, my mouth curving into a bitter smile. There was no getting out of this one. The last of my men, my diligent, ever-faithful comrades, struggled to point their guns at the figures. Still, the five cloaked ones didn't move, didn't even flinch at the sight of the weapons.
"So it's true." I didn't have the energy to muster up a hateful look, not even a glare for the minions that Daemon had sent out. Was that his goal? To kill us, the Shimon, even after we'd been like a brother family to the Vongola? Was it for himself? Giotto wasn't the type of man to do such a thing. He was my best friend. No, more, he was my brother. "I realized there was a traitor among Vongola."
The five were caught off guard. "What?" exclaimed the tall one in front. They all exchanged glances through their shadowed masks. I scoffed, a harsh laugh, deprived of the humor a laugh should deserve. I figured, well, I'm about to die anyway, why not spill? Either take what I know to the grave, or tell them and get it over with. I'd known all along.
"I realized it when the letter I received had 'From Primo' written on it
Giotto never refers to himself as 'Primo' to me. The third letter was clearly a fake." I remembered it all clearly. Carefully opening the letter, unfolding it, reading it, and finding an unfamiliar signature at the bottom. And there, I discovered Daemon's mistake. Maybe he would've succeeded. The closing of his false letter was what tipped me off; I knew something was wrong. "I became worried about Giotto and tried to act quickly, but it appears Daemon Spade was one step ahead of me."
They said nothing. Hatred welled up inside me, and newfound resolve overtook my senses. If this was going to be my last stand, then I would fight to the death. If I was going to die in an act of cruel betrayal, I might as well rebel, I might as well show that I never gave up.
"So I guess this is it, then," I declared, staggering to my feet. I clenched my right fist, and ignored the shooting pain in my other limb. With this Earth flame
"I'm going to fight until the end!"
My comrades stumbled to their feet, rising, all for the sake of our family.
"Even if this body is broken down, I will fight for my family and friends!"
A scattered cheer rose from what was left of Shimon. They promised that they'd fight alongside their boss, until they all fell over the edge of death. The Earth flame shone brightly on my fist, my ring glowing with a determined flame.
"Well spoken," said the man in the front. To my immense surprise and shock, he took the contract in his hand and ripped it in half. The dying will flame that had been sealed on the top fizzled out, a candle under a lid. He let the paper float gently to the ground, and then he stepped on it, as if finalizing the process. "We had already seen through the plan of our boss, Daemon Spade."
All of them reached up to take off their masks.
"By the orders of Vongola Primo
" A familiar face was appearing from behind the mask. The man in front slipped off the mask, revealing a lock of red hair and a climbing tattoo up the right side of his face.
"For your and Giotto's friendship
The Shimon Family
" In a flash, all five of the figures threw their black cloaks and masks to the side, abandoning the disguise.
"Defend it to the very last!"
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Before me stood five people. I could describe them many different ways. Faithful, strong, independent, graceful, influential, powerful
Too many words to describe just a handful of individual people.
"G!" I exclaimed, upon seeing the redhead.
"Cozart, these men are the same as me, Giotto's guardians," he said, turning back to look at me. "Please trust us."
I studied the five men before me. I knew them all. Alaude, stoic and calm, a picture of ready power. Lampo, a coward and a child in personality, but faithful at heart. Asari Ugetsu, the skilled swordsman from a foreign land. And Knuckle, the devout man who uses his fists only for just causes.
"We could just go off full force right here and now," continued G, "but we don't want to let Daemon know that we've come to the aid of the Shimon Family just yet." He turned and made a gesture towards the other guardians. They stepped forward. "Let's leave this to these guys. You and I should go to Giotto."
I just stared, at the five men, Giotto's guardians, and now, I realized, my comrades, all ready to defend me. A vision played itself in my mind. I was hanging off the edge of a cliff, and just about ready to let go. This, I knew to be the edge of death. It was ready to take me. Suddenly, a hand reached down and grabbed mine. At that point, I somehow knew that death would not win this battle. Not here, not now. I looked up into the face of Giotto, my friend, my brother, the man that would always prevail in the end.
Behind him I saw the sky.
I smiled. Giotto represented it well. Even when the mist crept over, setting a layer of deceit and betrayal, the sky would always balance things out. The Vongola would not abandon me. The Shimon was a brother, forever bonded.
I stepped away from the edge of death.
"G, and Giotto's guardians," I said, even though my voice came out low and quiet. They turned slightly to glance at me. At me, Cozart, the first boss of Shimon. Shimon Primo and Vongola Primo. Was it fate? Or was it just
our pride? Our prideto never give up and protect our friends and family, to cherish the ones that are close to us.
The Sky smiles upon the Earth.
They exchange glances, laughter ringing through the air.
They battle their way through furious tempests,
They battle their way through furious quakes,
In each other, they never hesitate to confide,
Their lives, of truth, and of lies,
And of their