Pfeil walks beside Emet-Selch under the boughs of Rak'tika's trees, accursed Light filtering down upon them both as they make their way through the swamps of Citia. It is altogether too still, like the Twelveswood had been after Dalamud's fall, and he does not like it, but aside from the quiet it is pleasantly green and vibrant. The water is pretty, and Light winks cheerily from its surface.

Emet-Selch does not look at him, but Pfeil looks at Emet-Selch, curious if nothing else. He is wearing an expression that vexes Pfeil. Haunted is the word, Pfeil thinks; tired, wide eyes that take in too much and too little, a vacant sort of dullness to the way they scan his surroundings, hollow, empty. It is too familiar an expression.

Solus zos Galvus had been a soldier, but Pfeil suspects it is not in the way that he has been a soldier, and it cannot be the culprit behind this expression. Nonetheless it reminds him of the Praetorium — he is separated from his fellows, trying to struggle back unseen, and a Garlean his age (he does not know if the boy is a conscript, it is hard to tell in the dark) rounds the corner and seizes him; he is fast but Pfeil is faster and his blade more true and the other boy's head lolls wild and loose when it is half-separated from his neck, and his wide eyes do not look at anything anymore. Everything smells like copper and gunpowder and the blood is sticky and hot and thick. Pfeil's heart lives in his throat and his stomach turns somersaults.

He stumbles in the dark for some time until he recalls there is a similar boy somewhere on the Ala Mhigan front some years in the future, who rushes at Pfeil too erratically in the hot sun, kicking up dust, and Pfeil's sword is larger than it had been in the Praetorium, so it tears him in half, and Pfeil thinks blankly as he watches the two halves of boy fall apart that he remembers being that age, seventeen-or-eighteen, although he was not bleeding to death with his organs spilling pinkly from his stomach into the beige dust when he was seventeen-or-eighteen. His mouth tastes of dirt and he hears gunfire, and he realizes with a start he has been wounded the whole time, and had not noticed through his anger or through the boy of seventeen-or-eighteen who had charged at him and who is now in pieces in the dirt, making the blank eyeless expression of looking-not-looking the boy in the Praetorium had. They exchange the look, he and Pfeil.

Then there is birdsong and suddenly Pfeil is in the Citia swamps again, looking at Emet-Selch, who is looking back at him and frowning.

"You look like you've seen a ghost," he says.

"So do you," says Pfeil.

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