My breath was heavy when I finally glimpsed over the lost city. Once so glorious, now nothing but forgotten remains of the brightest times this world had seen.
The bleak atmosphere was still covered in thick cloud curtains, hiding the sky - the only thing that resembled freedom in this dead world. We had been prisoners of our ignorance and short-sightedness, and it had been ensured long ago that we would never be free.
I felt a brief breath of air coming from behind me.
There are no one left there. All have fled or died, why would you want to return?
I turned to face the sky titan.
He was tall. He resembled a raptor as much as human being, his eyes were like an eagle's, but the most curious of his features was that he seemed to be formed of air, smoke... Like he wouldn't have been standing there at all. But I knew he was just as real as I.
The war had hurt them more than us. I couldn't help but wonder why he had chosen to accompany, me, mere puny human. My kind had destroyed not only our home, but theirs. He didn't blame me, though. He said that I had been just a child back then, that I had nothing to do with this all. But his words didn't ease the guild I felt.
Every time I saw his eyes, I saw deep sorrow. Loss. Fear. I haven't had seen another human in two years, but he was far more alone than I was. There were other humans. I had seen colonies, slums. We made it through these times, even if we struggled.
But he didn't know if there was others. I had met him after his last companion had died, and that was years ago.
Every time I could glance at the titan's eyes, I had to turn away. Such great being yet the insecurity and woe I could sense within him.
"I guess I wanted to say my home finally a proper goodbye."
I saw how he tensed up and squeezed his eyes shut.
I was kind of scared of talking to him about home, or anything to that matter. The tiniest part of me was still unsure of how to behave in the titan's company in fear of him getting angry at me, but I was even more concerned that my words would bring him down for good. I didn't want to hurt him.
It was a weird thought. No matter how inferior I was in comparison to him, I could cause him so much pain, more than he would ever be able to bring upon me, with only a few words. It was a scary thought.
I'm fine, he said, even if we both knew it wasn't true.
I wanted to hug him, but one couldn't just hug a titan. I barely reached his knees. I let my gaze slip down to ground, before I glanced over the valley at the city again.
The gloomy light played around in the dust on the buildings and streets and the mist in the air. The ruins looked oddly beautiful now matter how hideous the place actually was. It seemed somehow peaceful, relaxing. But I had been in similar places many times enough not to let that mislead me. This city was just as wan and agonizing as all others.
"Then again... I don't really know if I want to go there..."
He looked at me being slightly astonished. I felt that he wanted to say something, but couldn't find the words. He turned away, and as I glimpsed at him, I was surprised to notice the way he looked at the city.
He tried to pretend everything was okay, but I had seen that whimpering lip a thousand times, and another thousand times. But this was worse than ever. The sigh make him shed tears.
He collapsed on his knees on the edge of the fall down to the valley, his majestic wings dropping down beside him as he buried his face in his hands and cried.
It was quite a shock to me. He had never openly showed emotions, not like this. The titan's mourning made me feel broken, it hurt me. I bemoaned, my breath coming short, I felt worse than ever in my life. Seeing Imber like that was the most horrifying thing to happen to me. He's sorrow had been slowly causing me a mental breakdown but this made me realize, somewhere in the back of my mind, why he did his best to keep his emotions to himself.
Being a titan, he had such an impact to everything around him. I had thought a starving child crying for food, or a tortured prisoner begging for mercy was terrible to listen to. Those sounds... you just wanted it to stop. But when you can't do anything about it, only watch as they slowly die, their entire body screaming why? as they perish, and it hurts like you'd never had felt pain in your heart before...
Add my guilt and multiply the agony; I felt like the most miserable, worthless scum to walk upon the face of this dying world, crying out loud the anguish. I bit my hand. Hard. The physical pain made my thoughts wandere away from emotion, and for a short while it cleared my mind a bit. But in the end it wasn't much help.
I'm so sorry...
I didn't hear his words. I was lying on the cliff, my body shaking as I sobbed. I think I tasted blood. I was still biting my hand...
Please don't... I'm so sorry!
I'm not sure what happened. I think I tried to stand up, but stumbled.
I fell off of the cliff.
I didn't really realize that I was falling before I saw him leaping after me, terror in his eyes and hands reached out to catch me.
He flew down, trying desperately to reach for me before I'd hit the ground below. I felt his fingers around my waist. He wrapped his arms around me and gently pulled me close to his body; the warmth coming from him felt so sweet. Safe.
We crashed down to steep slope, rolled and slid down - I yelled every moment before the movement stopped, and even then I just waited for it to happen again.
Imber had protected me from getting hurt. As I finally opened my eyes to look around, I noticed I was on the top of his chest. Imber was lying on the ground, he seemed unconscious, and even if I was unharmed apart from the bit in my hand, he's injuries were severe.
He was hardly breathing at all. His wonderful wings were in terrible condition and he had wounds all around his body. His carefully preened feathers were now sticking in all directions.
"Imber, can you hear me? Imber!"
He didn't response. I stroked my fingers through the soft feathers on his chest. They felt like smoke.
I had never before been so physically close to him, I always pushed him away because I felt he deserved something better than what I had to offer. Yet still, he had stuck around. He had always been there for me, when I was alone. He had saved me.
"Don't die... Imber... wake up... wake..."
It was hard to talk.
A faint cough. I smiled a bit, getting my hopes back.
He moaned and tried to move.
"I know. Are you okay? I mean..."
I understand... I think so. I will just have to rest...
"Your injuries seem pretty bad."
I'm not as fragile as you humans.
He was right about that. Though I think he was hurt more than he showed out. Maybe he was scared of how I would react, especially after what just happened..
He looked a bit uneasy and frustrated.
"Am I bothering you? I..."
He wanted to say something again, but he buried his thoughts as secrets somewhere in the depths of his inscrutable mind.
A calm wind blew in the valley, moving misty veils around us. It gave me the chills. Imber raised his hand to shelter me. His movements were slow and unwieldy. Even in this weak and vulnerable state he appeared to be more worried about me than himself. I sighed.
"Why do you even care about me?"
He felt silent for a moment and looked away from me. I couldn't help wondering what he really saw in me. I was nothing beside him, yet he had risked his well being for me. He was a sky titan - the most magnificent form of live this world had ever seen. Literally and figuratively his entire existence resembled everything those like me admired and desired so much. Splendour. Honour. Freedom.
He mumbled something, so quietly I hardly noticed he spoke.
"What did you say?"
I love you.