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The Last of the Dusk-Walkers

Our feet fell noiselessly as we made our way further into the deserted area. Sparse dried grasses littered the ground, while the occasional lizard scuttled away. The loose red dirt spiraled up around our legs as a warm, gentle breeze swept away at our backs. The setting sun stretched our shadows out fluidly in front of us. The mountains to our right loomed, almost as if they were watching our every move.

Tear streaks stained my face, though I didn’t bother to wipe them away. My eyes were no doubt red, as were the swooping cuts that were splayed on my face. I wasn’t crying about them, though. I glanced to my left where the last of the Dusk-Walkers plodded beside me. His movements were flowing despite the recent events. His long legs covered more ground than mine, but for once the Dusk-Walker wasn’t in a hurry. His face was drawn back, emotionless. His lips were neither in an annoyed frown nor a psychotic grin. His tapered nose was obviously broken, although he had wiped the blood away as quickly as possible. A long, fresh wound stretched from his right ear, over the bridge of his nose, and finished at his left jaw line. The scar on his left temple had been reopened.

The blood on his and my clothes were more from others though. The Dusk-Walker had fought his best, which was saying something. However, his best had been his worst too. He seemed to sense me thinking this and turned his tawny eyes towards me. I snatched my line of sight away and shuddered, looking at the ground. I had grown used to his looks of grief, exasperation, and rage long ago. This look was something different. There was no emotion behind his sharp eyes. We both knew what was happening, what was going to happen, but he still remained blank. It almost hurt, like one of the punches from before, to see him this way. This was not the Dusk-Walker I’d been running around with for the past months.

His long legs no longer carried him with a full, proud stride. His hands weren’t restless, fidgeting and feeling over every detail. His usually clean, crisp clothes were rumpled and stained with sweat, among other things. His previously cropped brown hair had grown long and was sticking to his scalp. I assumed I looked much the same way. It was very likely that the only difference between our appearances were the salty tracks running down my face and over my chin.

The Dusk-Walker stopped so suddenly that I kept walking. The only indication of his pause was the stillness of his lank shadow. I turned and used the sleeve of my thin, worn jacket to try and wipe dry my face. For the first time since the fight he focused on me alone. Since the beginning of our walk he hadn’t said a word to me, not even a grunt of acknowledgement. His eyes, which had been dull now seemed to spark up. A little light of the old Dusk-Walker started to break through the haze. Then the light swelled and a familiar, mischievous grin slid onto the Dusk-Walkers thin lips. However, his broadening smile made me frown.

He held out his long thin arms and clasped my shoulders. He had to bend his neck so his deep eyes could meet mine. There was something of a hidden message hidden there, but I couldn’t discern it. I didn’t rightly want to either, as he had things in his head not meant for mine. I didn’t look away this time, though. I blinked back tears and kept his gaze with something not unlike a stubborn glare. He started pulling me closer to him in a soft hug, dry lips brushing my bloodied and probably bruised cheek. I choked back a sob and shivered, burying my head in the crook of his neck. He put one long-fingered hand on the back of my neck, while his free arm wrapped snuggly around my back.

After a minute of standing like this he took a step back, hands returning to my shoulders. His grin hadn’t disappeared yet, although the light in his eyes had been replaced with a mixture of concern and longing. He must have seen the look on my face though, because he tucked the gaze back away, replacing it with a full-fledged excitement.

“Just wait until the moon’s up,” he added one of his harsh, echoing laughs and took his hands back, sliding them into his pockets. He stepped back farther and started to fade along with the sun. I couldn’t hold back a shrill cry as he disappeared. His grin seemed to grow wider though, lasting until the very last second. But eventually, the mischievous, anxious smile winked out too; a parting gift to a friend.



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