Whilst running in the direction of the city hall, Deu stopped to catch a breath. He panted and cursed himself for being so out of shape. He thrusted his hand into his pocket and allowed his pistol to materialise. The long barrel pushing at the fabric in his side pocket. He placed his index finger on the trigger and contemplated firing the handgun. After short deliberation, he pulled the metal gun out and held it still in his hand. The metal was cold on his palm, and the handle was smooth. On the length of the barrel, there were words etched onto the pistol. Channelling his mana from his own body, he lodged his index finger on the trigger and pulled. With time stopped, he let go of his gun and it simply shattered into fragments and vanished. Deu reoriented himself and started to stroll after Naomi and his documents.
He walked, and he walked, assured that he would reach Naomi sooner or later. He cracked his knuckles, and stretched his arms. As his footsteps echoed in the paused world, he swung his arms around. As he walked, he began to take in deep breaths. In his world of stopped time, he forgot everything around him.
After walking for what seemed like a few minutes, he began to feel fatigued. His arms were heavy, and his legs felt like lead. He felt his throat go dry, and he felt his heart beat pounding against his chest. He gasped for breath, but he felt choked. He fell on his knees with a thud, as if gravity suddenly became stronger. What is this?! A kind of magic?! But that's impossible, the priest did not mention anything like this. Calm down and think. What did the priest say? Shit! I can't remember anything, Deu thought. His mind raced for answers, but to no avail. Then, as a last-ditch attempt, he manifested his hand gun. Glancing up at the sky, he shot it. Suddenly, he felt the air come back. He took a deep breath and felt his lungs filled with air. As he stood up from the ground, droplets of sweat fell onto the stone path. He looked around him, and saw that there were no elves who could see him. Within moments, he started walking normally again.
After every few steps, he would look down on his hands and start breathing quickly. He put his hand on his chest, and felt his heart beating normally. I should reach the city hall in a while if I go faster, Deu thought. Suddenly, he broke out into a jog. As he passed elves, he made it a point to check for Naomi. Within a few minutes, he reached the city hall. Immediately he realised something. The city hall was closed, it was blocked by barricades and elves alike. On Deu's right was a few onlookers, staring at the deserted city hall. He grabbed at his hood pulling it down further to conceal his face. He walked around the vicinity and ended up behind the city hall, with the building casting a great shadow on the around. He noticed a lone elf clutching a cane, her long white hair flowing in the wind and her back hunched. She just stood there, not doing anything. As Deu continued to observe her, she began to kneel down, clasped her hands together and started chanting. First her voice was soft and low, much like whispering to herself. Then, she started to weep. A stream of tears rolled down her cheeks and eventually dropped onto the soil. Her grieving continued for a while more, before she collected herself and started heading in the direction of the graveyard. Deu stood there, saying nothing. He let the wind hit his face, as memories started to flood back.
Deu had saw more mourning than a young man was supposed to see. He had attended all the funerals of the soldiers he had sent to their deaths. Each time he attended one, he felt remorse and acute sadness. However, there was a time he could remember extremely clearly. It was a funeral for a soldier, a man whose name was not even known to Deu, yet was sent to his death all the same. When the child strategist arrived at the funeral ground, there was no one there. Just a few employees of funeral service, sitting at a table and looking over some papers.
"Why is no one here for him?" Deu asked.
"No family. All killed when the Allies dropped their bombs in Berlin. What a shame really, heard he was loved by his squad. But none of them came back from the front lines too." One of them replied.
"So, we thought to be here with him, to keep the loneness away. Want to give him some love at the end of his life." Another chimed in.
Deu nodded at them in understanding, and took a seat. He admired the casket, plain in design and with nothing much to see. They sat in silence, until Deu stood up with the intention of looking at the casket. As he walked closer to it, one of the workers stood up and went over to Deu.
"Why are you even here boy? I saw you at nearly every funeral service since the replacement of most officers. Do you even know the dead man's name?" The employee asked.
"You do not need to know who I am, nor what I do. But, you are right in a way. The officers you speak of were not replaced, they were simply transferred to another sector. I don't know the man's name, but I do know he was important to some people. May not be family, may not be friends, but he was important to the state and to The Great Leader." Deu replied quietly.
After a few hours, the funeral service started transporting the casket to the city's cemetery. A light rain had started by then, but Deu tagged along. Upon reaching the graveyard, the rain quickly got stronger. Every raindrop was hammering down on the ground, the sounds of rain pelting the casket was drowned out by the sound of thunder and rain alike. Even after lowering the casket and burying it, Deu stayed in the rain, standing on the ground in front of the newly covered area. The employees hurried back into shelter, but Deu stayed out in the rain. He stood still, and let himself cry, but he made no sound. His face felt strange, with hot tears trickling down his cheeks and the cold rain hitting him in the face. He felt guilty for the man's death, and his lack of family. Then, he imagined watching himself, out in the rain. He thought he looked pathetic, using the rain as a façade for crying. There was no self-pity nor love. For Deu, there was simply guilt and sins for him to be burdened with.