The Crystal Weaver Saga: Little Lies
by E. Liddell


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"Let's not waste time with offers of comfort," I said as they bent over me. "Even without that Empyrean, I wouldn't have had much longer to live." For the first time in a very long time, I wasn't in pain, but that was because I had cut off all sensation in my body below the neck before I had entered the fight against the Empyrean. The damage I had dealt myself in doing so was so extreme that I had been dying even before I had taken the attack meant for Nephrite. "I'm sorry. I wanted to make it all up to you." You have no idea, any of you, how much I have wronged you.

"You brought us back to life," Nephrite said. "That was enough."

No, it isn't. You don't remember any of it. You wanted to kill me once. But I suppose that's one score I've evened up tonight.

"Is there anything we can do to help you?" the girl-- Molly, her name was, Sailor Moon's friend--asked hesitantly.

I tried to laugh, but that just started me coughing again. "I'm dying, girl. Ever since I lost my hand in the Empyrean War, back during the Silver Millennium, I've been slowly poisoning myself every time I use my powers . . ." But it wasn't a bad life, for all that, once I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I looked up at Malachite. He seemed every inch the ruler I'd once hoped to make of him. My vindication.

Knowing that my time was short, I explained what little I could of the entire sordid story. I felt a fresh pang of sorrow as I spoke of Beryl's evil. I abandoned you . . . Even with a lifespan measured in centuries or millennia, it seems that we can never accomplish everything we set out to do in our finite existences. I had done my best, but I still had regrets.

My lengthy narration ended, as I'd known it must, in another coughing fit.

"I don't have much time left," I told them, "and there is one more thing that I have to do. Help me sit up."

I fumbled my glove off as Malachite and Zoisite lifted me into position.

"This is my spirit crystal," I explained, holding up my hand. "I want you all to promise me that, when I'm dead, you'll destroy it. The poison has corrupted my spirit as well as my body." I held my breath for an instant, waiting for Nephrite or Jadeite to spot the lie. Neither of them did. My spirit is whole, but I am so very tired, and you will have little use for a broken-down entity such as myself . . . "I don't want to be brought back as some pitiful, twisted creature . . . Promise me. All of you."

I was surprised when the girl made the promise along with my ex-proteges. She was already part of the group, although none of them realized it yet. I sighed with relief. That would make this much easier.

"Girl, you love Nephrite, don't you?" I asked. She nodded. I had been watching them together ever since I had revived him, and I sensed a bond there that was as solid as the one between Malachite and Zoisite, that had survived so much. She wasn't quite ready for him yet, though. I intended to fix that. "Do you love him enough to give up your family, your friends, and any hope you might have had of a normal life?"

"I don't understand. Why are you asking me these things?" Tears glistened in her eyes. I didn't know or care whether they arose from compassion or merely confusion. I'm going to have to be a user again. Please forgive me. I think that, this time, it really is for the best.

"There are supposed to be five here, not four. Before I die, I must replace Alexandrite, and you are the logical candidate. Without a fifth member, Malachite's Weave will remain unbalanced, and it is probable that all of them will die." Harsh words, perhaps, but my strength was ebbing rapidly. I had to finish this. "But I will not force you." Except that, in a way, I already had.

Nephrite said something to her that I couldn't quite make out.

"Do it," she told me, but she still had eyes only for Nephrite. "I'm tired of being monster fodder and of putting other people in danger because they're trying to save me."

I couldn't feel her hand where it touched my flesh, and had to look down to make certain that it was really there. Forcing the crystal power needed to empower her out along the damaged pathways of my own nervous system was one of the most difficult things I had ever done, but I managed somehow. I couldn't tell whether or not I held her spirit crystal. I only hoped, and drew on my last reservoirs of power to transfer the dangling links that had once bound Alexandrite to his fellows. Then I shut my eyes and leaned back, spent. A lassitude was beginning to creep over me, and I wasn't going to fight it.

"Almandite," I murmured, not certain why that was the right name for her, but knowing instinctively that it was, "I'm sorry. There wasn't enough time." For anything. "Good luck to you all."

Demantoid, did I do all right this time?

Talina, did you wait for me?

Susan, I'm sorry. I couldn't finish it. I couldn't come back to you. But they'll put an end to it all. It wasn't entirely in vain.

I floated free.

The End

(Again. Sort of. James Bond will return in . . . Ah, just kidding.)

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