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His heart was pounding so loud that he swore the monsters could hear it. Arthur swung the blade, throwing out a random roar of anger. How could they have made the mistake of not packing enough amrita or medica?! It wouldn't have felt important if Arthur had the strength to use his alchemy, not that he had the time to.

He could hear Simon's call, "I have no energy for healing!"

"Seriously?!" Ricky's voice filled with anxiety, "This is bad! Lindis, can you perform Black Sabbath?!"

The Highlander lashed out, failing to hit the enemy, "The enemies are all poisoned, remember? It would do no good to poison ourselves!"

Raquna's panting and lack of words suggested that she was tired as well. Arthur's mind raced- why did this happen again? It was one mistake, just a singular error of judgement. They had stopped to rest because the Claret Hollows was such a maze that they were tired and needed to reorient themselves. Monsters apparently thought it would be a good idea to go after them then and there. They were on the twenty eighth floor, never a good spot to rest.

"Hey, can't we use the Ariadne thread?" It was obvious Ricky was making a desperate scrabble for hope.

Arthur gasped out, dodging an attack, "The presence of monsters overwhelms the magic of the thread, we can't!"

A sudden whirlwind entered the battlefield, and Arthur nearly got lifted off his feet by the powerful gust. The monsters started scrambling out of the way, and Arthur turned to look at the source. By the time he turned around, it was already too late.


Simon's voice was all he could hear as the Depth Dancer ripped into his now exposed chest. Arthur felt the claws tearing through him and ripping his insides to shreds as he hit the soft, wet ground, and the sound of his ribcage snapping. He heard Lindis give an enraged cry, and saw a blur slam into the side of the Depth Dancer.

Arthur shuddered, feeling blood rush out of him as he tried to sit up. A sharp, ripping pain ripped into his lungs, and he couldn't breathe. It felt like there was liquid starting to flood into his chest, and when Simon slid to his side, he shakily reached out and wrapped his arms around Simon's neck. He saw the flickering green aura start to manifest, then dissipate. Simon was trying to heal him, trying to help him...

"Arthur! Arthur, stay with me, I'll help you, just don't give up!" Simon's voice was frantic.

Arthur attempted to respond, but ended up hacking darkly colored blood onto Simon. He attempted to force air into his lungs, get some breathe, but it was like knives raking over his insides. Another dagger of agony made him choke when something inside of him came out. He shakily turned to look, despite Simon's protests. It was white, and it looked like a piece of his ribcage.

Blood dribbled out of his mouth onto Simon's shoulder, soaking into the cloth. He watched as Simon hopelessly tried to heal him, trying to pull magic from a source he didn't have. He wanted to scream as a Depth Dancer darted at that, and Simon couldn't see it. He was too busy trying to enter a healer's trance to pull Arthur from the edge of death. Arthur knew he couldn't let that happen. He used the last of his strength to knock Simon off to the left, out of harm's direct path.

If he could have screamed, he would have. The blistering pain shocking his entire being, the way scarlet dripped from his nose and mouth and he choked on his own blood, it was agony. Time seemed to slow down as his body convulsed and blood splattered onto his clothes and the ground around him. He turned to face the Depth Dancer. Facing death like this... It would be a good death. A hero's death. He fought to survive, and he fought to protect his loved ones. No shame in dying such a way.

Arthur closed his eyes and heard Simon's scream. He remembered blood everywhere, trying to scream in pure agony but simply gargling on blood, and the feeling of sharp claws digging through his insides, turning them to mush and ripping them apart. He was going to die. His head started to pound, and he felt empty. He couldn't taste the sharp copper blood pooling in his mouth. The pain was starting to deaden. His vision grayed and faded, slowly descending into darkness. All he could hear was the final few words.

"Arthur! No, I can't leave him!"

"Simon, we have to leave him- he's done for, I'm sorry! There's nothing you you could do!"


Arthur forced himself to smile. It was over. They had to leave without him, but not willingly...

"... Goodbye... Simon..."