An ancient book over 10,000 years old fell, its delicate pages crumpling against the dusty surface of the ground. Cale didn't care if it was an ancient artifact or a cultural heritage museum curators would cry over or a valuable treasure of wannabe gods or even the last remnant his current bastard of a companion had of his relative from their forgotten hometown of another world.
In fact, his anger flared, this wasn't enough. He was going to trample it under the muddy soles of his foot, burn it with fire, and scatter its remnants all over the world such that nothing could even try to piece the ashes of it together.
His intention must have showed as his bastard of a companion snapped out of his shock and growled, tackling him to the ground upon seeing his first step towards the book and its offending existence.
"CALE!!!" Choi Han snarled like a feral beast, angered beyond belief as he fought the trashy red-haired bastard. "What are you doing?! That's-"
"I don't care!!" Cale snarled back, just as angered as he fought against the stupidly strong sword master, punching, kicking, and scratching everywhere he could. They rolled on the ground in a messy frenzy of wrestling limbs. Like two wolves fighting to death over a piece of territory, they snarled and clawed at each other under the false light of the Dragon Slayer Village ruins.
Dust flew in large smoky clouds, their other companions shouted for them to stop, and old buildings crumbled under their strength, but neither of them cared, too far in to stop. Despite having never won against the sword master before, despite knowing all too well that he was weaker, infuriatingly weaker than this man who too wasn't holding back, Cale wasn't going to back down, not on this.
His strength was flagging as the fight dragged on, but Cale gave a last shout, pulling together the rest of his energy to pin the man down as they rolled, pressing him down with both his strength and shield ancient power. Under a tight, heavy cage of silver light, Cale held fast to his companion who after so many years of fighting for his and their companions' lives and future chose now to be self-sacrificial.
"I don't care." He bit out, breaths loud and harsh against Choi Han's as their eyes glared at each other strong and fierce. "I said no." He growled, not giving the other a chance to talk, to even dare try reasoning about this. "No." He repeated for good measure, even headbutting the damn bastard's hard skull enough that they both bled. His fists clenched at the damn swordsman's collar as he continued growling, his voice vicious and angry as the words within him felt like they were ripping at his throat to try to get out and tear this man apart.
"Screw your uncle. You are not sacrificing yourself to kill an idiot who had never learned the most basic thing on earth, something which I thought was universal because even a brainless slug knows how to die, but apparently not. I refuse. Countless people already died and I’m not letting you be one of them Choi Han.”
Cale held fast to this idiot who forgot what they were fighting for. That they were fighting for each and every one of them to live and be happy, and that included this bastard who sometimes gave too much of himself to others just because they gave him their sob story and piteously asked.
They were fighting for each and every one of them to be able to get through this hellish world together such that when that crazy bastard who wanted to be some sort of demonic god died, they could finally live happily together in that new future they've forged.
That this bastard of a companion of his was choosing to sacrifice himself after all this was a grave insult to everything that they had been fighting for, to each of their dreams of making it through together.
Cale shook as he held down this idiot, so incredibly angered.
Choi Han was spitting on the graves of countless others who already died for their sakes and on the dreams of countless others who were still fighting for each of their sakes and Cale can't allow that to happen. He refused to watch another idiot die before him. He refused to allow another idiot knowingly sacrifice themselves and rush to their deaths.
No more. They weren't losing any more to the White Star and his army of despicable shits who should just jump into their own shithole and die instead of making everyone else suffer by their dastardly odor and gross existence. Never again.
"Cale..." Choi Han's black pupils shook before his voice grew softer, but Cale wasn't falling for that shit-like act every other self-sacrificial jerk in the world pulled before they were about to do something stupid. "I...-"
Nor did he even want to hear any of this bastard's reasons.
"I don't care whether you're actually an old man who lived a long life or even some immortal bastard with a long life to spare." Cale spoke lowly, cutting off all the nonsense before it could even reach his ears. "You think a dog would be happy for its long-lived owner to cut their lifespan into the same as its own to create some power to protect it? Fuck them, I'd sooner rip that asshole's throat. How dare you make light of our feelings to want you to live your life to its utter fullest. And don't get me started on the whole I-lived-a-long-life-already nonsense. If you think you're old, just retire off to the countryside and farm. No one wants to see old grandpas and grannies fighting and dying on the battlefield."
His voice and arm shook, but Cale refused to think any further on his former head butler, that old man who had taken care of him for years, possibly even more so than his own fucking son, and died saving this bastard's life months before. He refused to think on how that stoic former chef of his would sometimes still look into the shadows as if there was some assassin hiding in there, supporting and watching over them, or how everyday without fail, he would polish that dangerously sharp knife as his old man once had.
"I don't care if this is the so-called only way or if you actually do have a death wish or anything. You are not going to sacrifice yourself and you are not going to die. I refuse. I refuse to let another person die whether it be in front of me or not."
Cale refused to think about his little brother who had went to the capital as the family successor in his stead and died in the Plaza Terror Incident or his valiant, foolish little sister who ran out with sword and armor to help protect their civilians against wyverns. He refused to think about how many of those civilians, innocent kind people who supported him after he had reformed and taken up the position he had once tried to give to his precious brother, died, choosing to stay and stand their ground to protect his family even when they had the chance to evacuate. He refused to think about how close his parents and countless others were to death as well had it not been for the shield he once found near the man-eating tree and for the help from the capital and this bastard and his companions. He refused to think about the countless of people who died in this war that had been too long and costly - the countless of people he met and fought with, shared stories and hopes with, ate and lived with... only to one day lose.
Cale refused to cry on this jerk who dared suggest to sacrifice himself, to forget and forsake the few things that both the dead and the living had shared and desperately wanted, to forget and forsake their hopes, their dreams, their desires to fight, win, and then one day live happily in the peace they've created together.
This bastard didn't deserve any of his tears.
Cale shook off Choi Han's hands and refused to acknowledge how his vision blurred as he stared into Choi Han's shaking and stricken pupils.
"I don't care. I refuse to let you die."
Choi Han stared before swallowing and dipping his head in a silent nod. Cale breathed, the constricting feeling within him getting lighter, as he got off and sat off to the side, now refusing to look at Choi Han. He shared too much of his feelings. He hated how he had exposed himself too much and he hated this disgusting lukewarm atmosphere. It was an ugly sensation.
"I'm sorry." He heard Choi Han murmur quietly in apology
and warm gratitude for caring in the silence and Cale bristled, dark feelings murkily whirling in his stormy mind. Finally, after a silence, Choi Han coughed.
"...So that analogy." Choi Han began and Cale could feel that bastard's infuriating smile. "Does that mean you acknowledge that I'm your master?"
"HA?! What the fuck are you on?! Who the hell are you calling your dog?! I thought I'd try talking to you like equals after the damn prince gave you a title, but looks like your puny barbaric mind is still too dull to comprehend simple linguistic expressions."
As the two began fighting again, happily getting into it to completely ignore and disregard their too sentimental moment, Rosalyn sighed, fondly shaking her head as she watched from afar. "My goodness. Those two really can't enjoy a few seconds of peace with each other."
She was glad though that Cale, as uncaring and trashy as he sometimes still liked to act around them even when they all knew better and especially around Choi Han with whom he got along with like oil and water, had sorted it out. She herself was ready to bomb the book and give her own
beating talk about what she herself had thought about that idiot swordsman's latest hare-brained idea.
Looking at her companions who also watched fondly from afar as Cale and Choi Han fought for the n-th time, it was safe to say no one was going to even think about rescuing that fallen ancient book from the dirty ground and destruction going on around it, valuable or not.
As Cale had put it, they were all going to make it through this alive and together with no one being left behind.