The one who died would wait in the clearing. The one who didn’t would live life for the both of them---The tale of Cuthbert's death. [RolandxCuthbert]
It was Roland and Cuthbert left, just as Roland had known it would be. They were both ducked behind a desert rock, a dull copper in color from countless sandstorms. They could hear the Crimson King’s ruthless army screaming in triumph and adrenaline-induced fighting spirit from far too close by.
Still so many of them and only two gunslingers left.
Cuthbert glanced over, sensing his dihn’s unease but still grinning nonetheless. “How many left would you say, Ro’? A hundred?”
Roland stared at his companion. His own adrenaline heightened his senses to their true gunslinger potential and, with his new gunslinger-vision, Cuthbert had never looked so beautiful. The way his hair, though clotted with blood from the wounds of his head, swayed gently and ever so gracefully with the slight desert breeze and shined perfectly under the desert sun. The dimples against his cheekbones gave his dark (and also bloodied) face the perfect shades in the perfect parts. And his eyes, oh, how they still gleamed with their lively nature despite their doomed situation.
“Aye…” Roland grunted when he finally found his voice. He was vaguely aware that a smile was now creeping over his own face as well. “At least that many.”
Cuthbert laughed merrily, though not loud enough to alert their position to the nearby enemy troops. Such a beautiful sound, Roland thought.
“I will wager to take down at least twenty before I reach the clearing.” He was reloading his gun and staring evenly at Roland as he spoke, his grin yanking itself up even higher on his face with his words.
Roland gave a hoarse, soundless chuckle. “And I will take down the remaining eighty.”
“A good deal if I’ve ever heard one.”
Cuthbert clicked his revolver’s chamber back into its slot and gave it a spin. Roland even doubted that Cuthbert could possibly even have twenty bullets, hell, not even twenty between the two.
Roland reached for Cuthbert’s hand, which he squeezed gently once gripped.
For a moment, Cuthbert’s face lapsed into a serious look that had been kept hidden under the smiling façade throughout the battle. Without so much as a minute’s beat, he leaned forward and graced Roland’s lips with a tender kiss of his own that seemed to last forever and less than a second all at once. By the time he pulled back, what was to be said didn’t need to be shared out loud anymore.
The one who died would wait in the clearing. The one who didn’t would live life for the both of them.
Roland gave the hand he was holding a long, hard squeeze and brought it to his lips, giving the knuckles, dirty and salty with blood and sweat, a brief and tender kiss. “I love thee, Cuthbert. And will always.”
The grin was back on his companion’s face, but tears were welling up over Cuthbert’s vision. “And I love thee, Roland, and swear to always upon my tongue, for, as you said, it seems to be the most constant thing about me.”
Roland gave another silent, breathy laugh and, again, tasted Cuthbert Allgood’s lips. Savoring the taste of hot breath that spilled into his mouth from his companion’s own and the way his spine arched ever so slightly as Roland placed his hand against it.
“Hile,” Roland said as he pulled away, not wanting to but knowing it was ka’s will that drove him to do it, “Now is the time to strike.”
Cuthbert grinned. “Aye, aye, Roland.”
Roland gave the hand in grip one last squeeze before dropping away to the butt of his sandalwood revolver and hunkering to a squat against the rock. Cuthbert followed suit, holding his own gun against his chest and his forehead bent against it. Roland waited patiently for Cuthbert to recite the gunslinger lesson
(I shoot with my hand I kill with my heart)
through the habit that Roland had dropped long ago.
Then, ever so slowly, Cuthbert looked up and gave a brief, clear nod. Roland nodded back and drew in a long breath of air.
“HILE! HILE! TO ME, GUNSLINGER! NO PRISONERS! NO MERCY!”
And, at Roland’s shout, they sprang out from their safe-zone (which, as they both knew, wouldn’t have remained a safe-zone for much longer), fire licking from the barrels of their guns and cries coming from their mouths, mixing in sweet discord
with the surprised and pained shouts of the unsuspecting Kings-men.
All the while, Cuthbert Allgood had a grin on his face.
See this and see this well, I beg. Two gunslingers, both battered and beaten and badly sun burnt from the desert sun’s harshness, tearing through a sea of blue faces. All of the Kings-men are crudely equipped and clumsy, only their sheer numbers granting them victory over the ten other gunslingers they had conquered. Blue faces fall left and right, most bloodied from the shots to the open but never spilling wounds from their head that finally overflowed from the bullet that buried within them. Even when the gunslingers run out of bullets, they resort to using the sandalwood butts of their revolvers as clubs, still aiming for the gaping eyes of a wound on their enemy’s forehead.
See this and see this well, for now the blue-faces are afraid. Many scatter and will return later with bows, for they had planned to snipe the remaining gunslingers from afar, though by then they will have missed their chance. Most die on the spot. The two gunslingers begin to hope and to pray to Gan and Oriza and any god they can think of for a possible victory in this battle, for it was seeming to become a miracle possibility.
The victory my have been so, too. Yet there is one man who hadn’t always been there. Yes, his face is painted with Kings-man blue paint, but he is different from the rest, for he wears all black and comes forth with his bow already equipped. An arrow is knocked and aimed at one gunslinger, one Cuthbert Allgood’s, eye. Both gunslingers are currently pre-occupied with the remaining ten or so blue-faces who were brave or foolish enough to stick around.
The blue-face who goes by many names, such as Flagg and Walter and Maerlyn, lets his arrow fly and his aim is true and, even though Cuthbert Allgood’s reaction time is abnormally quick, there is no time to get away from the also abnormally quick arrowhead and falls.
He does not restring another, for this was his only mark he was assigned by the Crimson King himself to hit. He is resentful that he cannot finish Roland Deschain right where he stands, but is sickly satisfied by the other gunslinger’s furious cry as his friend falls. Nay, as his lover falls, for the blue-faced-man-in-black has seen many things, and the two gunslinger’s love has been one of them.
And, his satisfactory grin still across his face, the man in black turns and flees into the desert.
Roland had finished the remaining few stragglers of blue-faced men in a flash, rage for his friend’s falling buried in his swings as he clubbed them to death, and dropped to his knees next to Cuthbert who was still, humorously enough (Or not, if you prefer) still grinning despite the arrow sticking from his eye-socket. The eye that it was so robustly shoved into bulged and bled dark and goopy blood from its corners.
Cuthbert gave a hoarse and pained chuckle as Roland grabbed for his hand, squeezing it. “I can… can see the path…”
“You will wait.” Roland said, his voice hoarse with battle cried and tears.
Cuthbert nodded slowly, the arrow shaft waggling in the air slightly as he did so. “I w-will… aye, wait… yes… s-swear so upon my p-persistent… persistent tongue.”
Roland leaned down and placed a kiss on Cuthbert’s lips, tasting his companion’s sweet breath for the final time while carefully avoiding to bump the arrow. Cuthbert made a faint “Mmn” sound, his singling operating eye flashing happily before drifting shut.
“I swear to live my life for you, Cuthbert.” Roland murmured into the other, not caring for the moment that tears were dripping down his cheek and onto Cuthbert’s own, “For the both of us.”
Cuthbert opened his mouth to say something that Roland knew would be witty and sarcastically funny, but paused for a moment to reconsider his words, and finally settled with: “I love thee, Roland.”
“I love thee too, Cuthbert.”
And, with that suborn grin still on his face, Cuthbert Allgood passed into the clearing.
Long days and pleasent nights, reader.