The Darknight Hero was about to come back home. It was an early spring dawn: the world was yet to regain its colors, and the morning dew was just a delicate mist at the level of human legs. At such a time, a little, gloomy spark could not escape his vigilant eyes.
Diluc stopped, and the floating light approached him. He reached it with his gloved hand, but it passed by him and turned in the opposite direction. Diluc only shrugged and moved his way, but the Seelie came back and once again let his fingers reach to its glowy aura.
It was very uncommon for a Seelie to follow humans instead of the other way around, yet it circled around him and wouldn’t let him go even when he tried to wave it with his gloved hand.
“What do you want from me?” he murmured.
In silence, the black-clothed silhouette followed the light that led through the meadow. Diluc’s feet made little to none noise; he decided to keep his guard up. Only the silent cracks of last year’s leaves and his own breath made any noise. The spontaneous stroll was quite relaxing after a night on patrol.
Despite the Seelie making him climb up a pillar or wander in zigzags, it certainly aimed somewhere, and eventually it left him behind, approaching a lake. It was an ordinary body of water with a small islet in the middle, rocks tossed around and small patches of ice on the surface.
But something was off. The lake was deadly silent, and there were no Cryo Slimes or Mist Flowers. And only when the Seelie stood in place waiting for him, Diluc noticed that it was no longer the only source of the glow.
“Could it lead me to help another Seelie?” He asked himself, still looking around for the source of the frost that kept the water so steady. But he quickly learned it was not a Seelie that waited for him under the water.
The light under the surface was pulsating, and through the thin layer of ice he could notice its source. A bright blue gem… A Cryo Vision!
Without further hesitation, he moved his hand along the blade of his claymore to cover it with flames. He swept the frozen surface with the flame wings, but didn’t even wait for the Phoenix to reach the other side of the water and fly up. He sent a pure fire channeled through his palm, fighting with the opposite element that separated him from another layer of ice at the bottom.
But just as he was about to give up, the Vision from the lake burst with such a light it sent him kneeling on the ground. He covered his eyes in a perfect moment; he was tugged by a cold, violent wind. A spring morning turned into a cold winter in a split second.
“What the hell is happening?!” He shouted to himself, cold air aching in his lungs.
The wind howled in his ears, and small frozen droplets that sprout from the lake now danced around him, cutting his cheeks or sticking to his clothes. He was unable to move, only covering his face and curling at the center of the snow storm.
But as suddenly as it started, everything fell silent. Diluc hesitated before he dropped his hand. The wind was still circling around, but seemed very distant, as if closing him in a barrier. He looked around, but despite the snow and wind, everything seemed green, wet and dark, like on a rainy evening.
Then he noticed a human approaching him from a distance.
“Hey!” He shouted, but another scream got stuck in his throat when he recognized the person he was looking at.
When he returned to Mondstadt after a few years’ journey, he used to be asked ‘where’s your brother?’ every time he was met by someone who knew him in the past. It turned out his brother never returned to the city, and everyone assumed he left with Diluc that day. Nobody questioned it further when Diluc cut the subject.
He assumed Kaeya escaped to not face consequences if Diluc would tell anyone the secrets of that night.
But it was Kaeya.
The same Kaeya he remembered from years before. He was soaked wet, water drops falling from his hair and the tip of his nose. Smoke on his cheek, torn on his sleeve and shallow, quick breathing looked as if he just left an encounter.
“What are you doing here?”
Diluc once again was completely ignored. Kaeya squeezed a hand to his chest, breathing through gritted teeth. He shook off his hand, then scratched it aggressively, trying to get rid of the frost that stuck to his palm. He cursed, and made a pirouette, using the momentum to hit a tree with a growl of pain.
“Threat… Traitor… Sinner…” Every word was followed with a hit that shook the small tree and scared away birds that flew above Diluc’s head.
“Kaeya!” Diluc rushed to stop him, but his hand ran through Kaeya like a ghost.
“Nothing more.” Kaeya swayed to the ground, his shoulders shaking. “I wanted this! I wanted him to despise me… To see hatred on his face!”
Only then did Diluc realize what he was looking at. The same uniform Kaeya wore years ago. The unchanged appearance. The… Cryo Vision glowing through the ice covering his hand, just like the one at the bottom of the lake. His heart skipped a bit, and eyes widened.
Kaeya stood up, looking between his frozen hand and the lake surface.
“One time I decided to be sincere, to face my true nature, and now I regret it more than anything in my life… I’d rather get frostbite to death"
Then, Kaeya rushed to the water.
Diluc followed him, aimlessly trying to call or catch, to stop him, to do anything. But the wind once again reached him and stopped him at the edge of the lake.
Water froze under Kaeya’s feet. He stamped his foot, trying to break the ice. Despite Diluc already realizing he’s looking at something that already happened and could do nothing, a little, painful hope sparkled in his heart.
“Please, save him once again,” he prayed, “You didn’t save him from me to let him die now. Please”
“Let me go!” Kaeya screamed, rubbing his temple. It felt like he said it to both the witness and the Vision he despised. His eyes shone with tears and some wild desperation of a trapped animal that wanted to escape at all cost.
Then he stopped, realizing something. He took a deep breath and exhaled. Now, Diluc realized, Kaeya tried to summon the power instead of getting rid of it. The Vision, sensing he accepted it, unfroze and let him lead the cryo on his will.
Ice rose from the water surface and built up, covering and weighing him down.
“NO!” Diluc channeled fire on his sword and set another wave of flames, but this time it had no effect. It was just a projection, after all. No force and no fire could let him move for even an inch when his brother sank with despair on his face and the Vision glowing in his grip.
Diluc landed on his knees and felt hot streams running down his cheeks. Through the blurred vision, he looked at the crystal-ice coffin that started to disappear together with the howling wind. The last little ice shards dropped or faded away, and the sun welcomed him with the warmth that could not reach his heart. He looked at the so well known face emerging through the hole in the ice.
“They said you were gone… But you were here all this time”
When he reached for the body to laid it on the grass between the calla lilies, he realized he’s trembling.
The dew drops shone like diamonds around Kaeya’s dead face. The ice kept his last expression; his eyes were closed and slightly frowned, as if he had a not very pleasant dream. Diluc couldn’t dare to touch him now, to melt the last track of ice that preserved Kaeya for so long.
The Cryo Vision somehow slipped from a loose grip, and Diluc hesitantly took it from the wet ground. He removed the dirt from the cold surface. The light blue crystal pulsed with the light once again, as if winking to him. Then it faded, and only an empty shell remained.