Alright. Here's a special chapter. Thanks to Kay for modifying it for me.
Interlude 1 – The snowy fields
A biting chill blew all around, singing its deathly lament. Standing in the middle of the wintry wasteland, Rein watched the snow fall. Around him, there was only the same, cold rain as far as the eye could see. An odd feeling of dread stirred up within him, and for a moment, he couldn’t think of why it was there.
He took a step in the white wilderness, then another. With each step, that dread grew, as well as fear. He could feel his heart racing, but his mind was void of answers. Clouds of vapor formed with every breath he took, crossing his arms over his chest to warm himself up. Where has he seen this place…? Why did it stab at him so…?
Rein stopped after walking for what seemed to be an eternity, staring up ahead at a young man several years younger than himself. The young man had his back to him, his fair, almost silver-colored hair blending rather well in the snowy plains. The color of Rein’s own hair. His crimson-colored eyes flickered to the armor that the young man donned; knightly armor that he felt had been once his.
“I’ve… lost everything...” he heard the man murmur. Even with that small voice, Rein couldn’t help but feel his pain at how his voice cracked. The young man dropped his weapon into the snow, promptly falling to his knees with his head hung down in shame.
“My life…my dreams…my honor…my love…all gone…” his shoulders shook as he gripped the snow in his hands tightly, not minding the sharp sting as they bit through his gloves.
Rein stared at the miserable young man in front of him. He understood how the young man felt…after all; he too, lost everything…back then.
“…I promised…her…that I would protect her…but I failed even that…!” the young man said as he finally looked at Rein – the same red eyes as Rein found himself staring at his younger self. Along with the realization, blood was seen smearing his armor, his gauntlets, staining the pure white ground an ugly crimson.
I see, Rein thought, You are… the me of three years ago…the day I lost…her.
His younger self lowered his gaze, almost as if he heard Rein’s train of thoughts and gritted his teeth. From the looks of him, he’d been crying as he growled through clenched teeth,
“I… killed her…”
Yes, he promised her that he would protect her no matter what, yet in the end he couldn’t. His effort were simply not enough…Rein looked down at his hands, unfolding them and looking at his battle-beaten hands. The very same hands that held her dying body in the middle of this snowy field…It was his fault. If he was strong enough, he could have—
“It is alright…” whispered a soft familiar voice, a sweet chime in the middle of a dead wasteland, “It is not your fault…”
Rein’s head snapped up. He knew that voice anywhere. That voice that he thought wasn’t possible to be heard anymore spoke. No more was the bloodstained snow, no more was the miserable knight. In their place was a beautiful young woman, looking up at him with a gentle smile.
“I am happy that you kept your promise until the very end, Reinhardt…” the woman said with a gentle smile as she touched Rein’s cheek. He shuddered from the warmth of her hand. She felt so real...It felt as if... She had never left him in the first place. It took every bit of effort from him to not just lunge at her and hold her close, never to let her go. Above all, it took him every ounce of energy in his body to not break down and apologize for causing her demise.
The woman, Meyna, pressed her finger against his lips, shushing him and shaking her head. A cold breeze picked up, blowing around them so violently, Rein had to shield himself before any snow stabbed his eyes, “Meyna…!” Rein called, looking at her from under his arm.
Meyna stood where she was, unaffected by the cold. Her lips moved, speaking to him, but the words couldn’t reach his ears,
“Wait... Meyna! I can’t...” to his dismay and utter horror, Meyna had turned around and walked away from him, smiling at him over his shoulder as if saying that she was going home to cook supper and that she would be waiting for him. Rein tried to move, but the snow was quickly growing thicker and he only managed to fall to his knees with the single step he tried to take,
“Meyna, don’t go…!”
The sound of a fruit falling from the nearby tree made Rein bolt upright and the bounty hunter found himself breaking into a cold sweat, panting slightly as he willed himself to calm down. Looking around, he saw no snowy field, no such places of his memories, but the same damned forest he had been stuck in for the whole of the night.
By his side, the young Prince Jedge was fast asleep, curled up into a little ball and snoring quietly. Rein sighed and ran a hand through his hair, “A dream...” he murmured, closing his eyes.
He got up, taking a small flask of water from the rations he was given by the Regent and washed his face with some of the water, thinking back upon his dream. Looking up at the dimly-lit sky, he watched as the sun slowly brought with it the day, rousing the birds from their slumber.
“...I wonder... Will I ever be forgiven...?” Rein mused, putting the cork back onto the goatskin flask and going about the morning chores. Hopefully the prince doesn’t mind non-gourmet food or he’s going to have a field day being a grumpy camper.