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The end of his staff tapped down on the ground, just not for what would have been the most obvious reason. Freund was indeed blind, but he did not need his staff to walk… not here. This place he had visited too many times; several times before he had lost his vision, but so many more times since.
“I hope you’re not too busy,” Freund started, placing both hands on his staff and leaning slightly against its strength.
“Just talking to a few friends,” she replied, and he could feel her turning to face him. The sound of her voice was like warm silk caressing his face. “Nothing that cannot wait. It has been some time since last you came to visit.” Freund chuckled at the notion of her keeping time, but he knew it was just small talk; she was trying to make him feel comfortable, welcome. It made the reason for his coming much simpler to execute. “I trust things are well.”
“That would depend entirely on your definition,” Freund replied.
“Which means it is relative,” she countered. “Why not simply tell me how you feel about things.”
“How I feel?” Freund considered. It did not take long for him to dismiss the effort, shaking his head in denial. “No, that is not a good road to travel at the moment.”
“You sound troubled, son.”
“Believe me, Mother, I am,” Freund admitted, rubbing his chin before he frowned. There was no easy way to go about this, so he decided to be done with it all by the most expedient means available to him. “I am afraid your son will have to break his word to you.”
“Ren, no,” she said softly and he could feel the sadness in her voice.
“Let us not engage in the least form of communication,” Freund requested. “I will not change your mind about what it is that I do, and your pleas to me will go unanswered. I am the Guardian of the Rims and a destroyer has come. The Destroyer has come! I must go and face her.
“And before you ask, no,” Freund quickly added. “She cannot be reasoned with, she cannot be influenced or bribed, and she will not stop… not until… I… am…”
“Just like me?” she asked of her child.
“Yes, Mother. She will not stop until we are all dead!”
Sareena Harrison looked down and then turned to see the other occupants of this particular graveyard. Like her, they were all Grey Walkers with only glimpses of their total life-light remaining in this place. Most of them had been good people. A little young and naïve, perhaps, but basically good. A few had lost their way and had come too soon to this place. They were not as dark as those who had willingly dedicated their lives to darkness, but seldom were they content as they were so very concerned for those they had left behind. Sareena had counted herself among them until her son had gained the ability to see and speak with her. The mother of a noted SpellCasteR had been freed from her guilt, and her truest light had long since departed from this realm. Only the soft-spoken shadow remained, but for her youngest child, Rendell, it had been enough. She knew why he had come and though time for her was not a matter of import, she knew his was limited. There were pressing matters to which he needed to attend and quickly.
“I will not ask you to be careful if you do not ask me not to worry,” she said, bringing hearty laughter out of her son.
“I will do my best.”
“That has never been a problem with you, Rendell,” she stated. “Your best is always readily available and you never hesitate to give it. I do hope, however, your ability to discern when and where that effort belongs has improved since last we spoke.”
“Mother, you could say that I am positively illuminated,” Freund replied, giving her a smile, but only briefly. “No, they are not all worth saving. Some of them don’t even know they are in distress and will not accept the truth of the danger they pose to themselves. But I cannot allow my actions to be dictated by them. It is that lack of humanity that makes them so troublesome to begin with. To embody even a sliver of that darkness would make me truly blind!
“But I came to pay my respects… because I may not be able to do so again from this side of the realm-divide,” Freund declared. “This enemy has power I can only begin to understand. The only thing that even makes her approachable is that she is too much like what she aims to destroy. But her childlike ways will not remain in place forever.”
“And eventually she will mature,” Sareena added.
“Eventually,” Freund answered before sighing in a long, cleansing breath.
“Perhaps there is a chance that once she matures, her outlook on humanity will change.”
“Not for the better, Mother,” Freund said. “The boundaries of her contempt are beyond my ability to measure. She is evil incarnate, the anti-life!”
“Then perhaps your task is not to defeat her,” Sareena said.
“If she is the anti-life, then she has a place in this life,” Sareena said. “Which means she is beyond your jurisdiction to control. You must allow life to control the anti-life; to render its verdict on it as it has on everything else that comes to it. My son, if you must be pressed to do anything–”
“I must see to the imbalance she creates!” Freund whispered before lifting his staff from the ground. A small portion of the energy contained within the rod caused the staff to ignite with a bright white light. Stamping the staff to the ground, Freund was transformed into light.
Sareena’s head lifted and she looked upon the stars. She could see her son, flying inside the light the stars of the Rims traded with the cosmos. She smiled, but not for long. A slender, pale hand found Sareena’s shoulder.
“I serve at your pleasure, my Lady,” Sareena said, black tears falling from her eyes.
“Not just my pleasure, Mrs. Harrison,” Mortisia cooed, gazing upon Freund’s departure. “If only he were to allow himself more hubris, I would not have to use you in such a fashion.
“Foolish entity that is still all too mortal,” Mortisia added to the departing light. “You actually believe the game will only begin when Greesdev commands it. You will find, quite painfully, that I am already five moves ahead. Now run along, simple savior, and see if you can rescue the damsel in distress. I shall wait to gather those you cannot save… which is looking like it will be a very respectable number!”