“I have seen your people kill, maim and abduct people. Was the nectar really important enough for your people to become evil? Pure, literal evil?” Tophan emerged from the sea of memories and thoughts. “We were told that you withheld the nectar from us with malicious intent.” Sujela reluctantly emerged from her sea, the question had changed the nature of her thoughts and memories, brought images of the actions she and her comrades had inflicted upon the Florals. “I see now that we had been misinformed. But I don’t know whether that was done with intent, or by accident, I do not know.” her conscience began taking shape in her sea of thought. Like a tidal wave crushing above her head, guilt weighed down upon her. “Not once.” she sobbed, leaving Tophan puzzled. “Not once have voiced my doubts of the propaganda, stepped in to prevent atrocities!” Tophan felt her hand slip out of his, next to him, pressed against his back he felt her sobbing violently. Doubting the validity of his hatred for the Fungal Guards he to felt over come with guilt. The guards that fell by his hand, they surely had loved ones and friends who mourned them. “Let me end this!” she cried, terrified, and petrified, he felt her movements as she unearthed her feet, stepping barefoot onto the hard soil. “I repent my sin before you! Take me, end my wretched, tormented existence, but let Tophan return to his people!”

A gentle touch on her shoulder calmed her outcries of redemption. Upon turning she found Tophan, shrouded from her sight by the darkness of the night, but she felt him there as clearly as if he stood in bright sunlight. “I haven’t stopped to think either.” his voice was clearly not that of an illusion, yet it was as if a heave bell rung. Clear, both in tone and words. “Did the guards have friends, loved ones or families that would mourn them? I don’t know, and I did not stop to ask myself.” it dawned slowly on Sujela that he must’ve unburied his feet as well to turn to her. “Bury your feet!” she pleaded with a thin voice. “We are here together, we are in this together. It is for a reason. To repent, perhaps even to forgive.” she felt his hand on her cheek, just if itvwas another illusion. “I can’t forgive your people, yet.” he breathed, kissing softly her bruised forehead. “But you.” a gentle smile appeared on his lips, unseen by Sujela. “You and your people have done nothing that would require forgiveness.” clumsily she got up, searching for his face with her hands. “But I want you to live, and be happy with your life.”

“Lets stay here.” the ethereal shimmer returned to their neck of the woods, as the Phoenix sat down on a nearby branch, perched it glanced at the two. It seemed not as distraught as a bird caught in an ever changing forest would. “Here?” Sujela trembled in Tophans embrace. “Here! If we are to repent for our sins committed, if wevare to stray these woods for endless nights forever, or to die without our feet plugged to ground, let us do it together. As comrades in an insane war that was based on lies, from different sides as it were, but combatants in the same fight. Now as survivors, as friends perhaps.” he smiled gently, a sight beheld by one eye in front and two above. Sujela leaned against his chest. “If someone had told me that over the course of two nights my world came tumbling down, I would have laughed, if they also had told me I’d become friends with a floral, I’d have hurt them.” she looked into his eyes again. “But now, it seems as if my true salvation lies in your arms.” she reached for his face. Finally able to see each other again the two exchanged a long glance. The strange and exotic face of the other, two nights before a target for hatred, now seemed eerily familiar, a safe haven in the darkness, and refuge from the insanities they had been dragged into by their mere existence. Though many Fungal Guards had volunteered for the invasion, many had not, they had been sent, as Sujela had the option between obeying orders or being tried for treason.

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