At first, Christa couldn’t believe it. It was as if she were in a nightmare. But the bitter reality of loss soon washed over her, leaving her gasping for breath. Memories of her parents passing away was something she had suppressed a long time ago in the deepest parts of her mind, back then she was too young to remember, and too innocent to even comprehend the weight of death. She had cried and begged to see her mother and father again, not knowing that death only takes but never returns. Eventually the tears stopped, and she forgot. That’s when Jax became her everything, but now he too was taken away.
Everything happened too quickly for her to process, one moment, her brother was pierced by blue fire, and the next moment, the landscape blurred past her at breakneck speed, the wind slapping against her face. From the Tressa estate, down the hill and over the river Vira. The whole time, she hoped it was all just a dream, a hallucination, but it wasn’t.
Jax lay lifeless on the autumn leaves next to the riverbank, his body charred and black. His hands clutching a box tightly. As the night drew to a close, the sun began to rise, illuminating Jax's features.
In her mind’s eye, she saw it all unfold again and again: her brother engulfed in blue flames, Inigo’s hand piercing through his chest like a spear. Despite the agony, Jax managed to smile at her one last time before departing this world.
“I think we should be out of the range of the Tressa’s blessing beacon.” Orin said, interrupting Christa’s thoughts. He was on the floor, and seemed out of breath, his body soaking wet. Only now did Christa notice that he was back to his shrivelled state. Skin and bones again, but worse than when Christa had first found him in the prison. “Even though they can’t detect us anymore, they’ll have an idea of the direction we went in.” Orin continued; his voice breathless. “So, we can’t keep walking in a straight line if we want to avoid them.”
Christa watched as Orin stood up and approached her. He reached out to take her arm, but she flinched away, her eyes and mind returning back at Jax. She blamed herself, wondering if things would have been different if she had waited for his signal or bothered to find out what Orin looked like before they had started. But things weren't different, and the weight of Jax's death was heavy on her heart.
“I’m sorry, I understand it’s difficult,” Orin said softly bringing her back to the moment. “But we must get going soon. Before we do that, we need to do something about your arm.” Christa looked down at her right arm and noticed that it was still bleeding from where the guard had sliced her earlier. Orin reached forward again, but this time Christa didn’t flinch. Orin ripped Christa’s sleeve off and began to tighten it around her wound to help alleviate the bleeding.
After a long silence, Christa finally spoke, “Thank you.” she said, with a sad face.
“No need,” Orin replied. “It should last at least until we get back in to the city. Then you’ll need to get it looked at properly.”
“Not for my arm…” Christa paused. “Well, yes for my arm too. But also, for bringing Jax with us here.” Christa tried to let out a smile, but couldn’t.
“Christa…”, Orin looked at her with sympathy, as though he was struggling with his next words.
But Christa cut him off. “I already know,” she said, observing Orin's weakened state. He had most likely used up all the power from the fire just to bring her and Jax here. Between the two of them, with her wounded arm and Orin’s powerless state, they wouldn’t be able to take Jax any further than this. “I’m just glad that I’ll be able to give him a proper send-off.”
Christa bent down and took the box from Jax’s hands and covered him in dry leaves. Orin also bent down and with the last remnants of his power, he set the leaves alight. Pushing every last bit of his power in to it until there was nothing left but ash. Christa stood there, watching the ashes of her beloved brother being swept away by the river, now clutching the box that Jax had possessed over. In that moment, she made a promise that the dream they had planned together for so long, she would see it through.