She looked down at Tomas’s broken twisted body and something broke and twisted inside her. she screamed with grief and rage, falling to her knees and scooping his body up in her arms, making him wet with her tears, wishing they were magic life-giving tears, knowing they were not.
Her spirit broke away from her body, rising above her, looking down. Everything was dark and grey. His spirit had long since fled this bloodied scene. She wondered why they had bothered to dig a grave for him, and even more, why they had not filled it, leaving his body naked in the shadow in this shallow pit.
A piece of glass glinted in the moonlight, still sticky with blood. Kayna pried it loose and sliced her wrists open as deeply as she could before laying her body over his, beneath the stars her spirit rose ever closer to. From this height she could see many other broken bodies in half-dug, open graves. The mystery of unfinished graves hung unanswered in the air, entwined with smoke and the foul stench of rotting flesh.
A memory caught her and pulled her away from this scene, straight into Tomas’s sparkling blue eyes, bright with life and promise, his warm hand pulling on hers as he drew her into the hut. She remembered his caress, and his sweet song when they joined. She remembered the spiralling shell her gave her as a gift and how he kissed it with a blessing for her before they parted, him with his hunting party and she with her own.
The memory within her trembled as the mood eddied and changed, like a bright river turning tarry and black. She remembered the black feathers Merhan had placed along her pathway, and how each one captured a part of her soul, drawing her in against her will. She remembered the blood she was forced to spill to create a trail Tomas would never turn from, a trail leading him to her and into Merhan’s trap.
It seemed almost sweet now to let her betraying blood flow out of her, like a gift of redemption to Tomas’s spirit, an apology to the Earth that her lifeforce be used to kill the one she loved. It seemed right, somehow, to cut the wrists that once wore ropes, ropes that loosened oh too late to free her useless hands.
And now she must run, her spirit dodging shadows in the dark, for even here in death she was not safe from Merhan, Merhan the hunted, Merhan the hunter of souls.She could smell him now and knew she must gain the slopes of the river of life and hope against all hope that her beloved would already be there awaiting her and not caught in another of Merhan’s traps.
Catching her fear in the grasp of her will, she compressed it down into a little ball and threw it away from her as she breathed in peace and ran her spirit energy in the opposite direction, towards the light that sparkled, the silvery scent that beckoned all disembodied spirits. Seeing a shimmer of golden thread before her, it’s ragged and frayed end wisping through the darkness, Kayna knew she had found Tomas.
The spirit of her heart soared within her and it was all she could do to dampen it back down with a blanket of quiet, squelching new fear that Merhan might be on her trail. Keeping her spirit energy quiet was the only way to hide from him. Gently, so gently that her lover would not feel her presence, she lifted the golden thread from the ground and extended her shielding around it, sending her energy coursing over its length to seek Tomas out.
There he was, wandering dazedly on the rivers banks where she had always bade him wait for her should it ever come to this. Determination gave her the strength to speed her movement through the night towards him. He looked up, seeing the light that was her, and cried out in jubilation. She read so much in his eyes. He loved her completely, she could see this, his naked spirit eyes unable to hide his feelings from her, nor from Merhan who was drawn by the explosion of emotion Tomas’s spirit cast forth like a rainbow of light.
A cold blast of wind swept past her as Merhan closed in on his quarry. There was no hiding now. Desperately, she threw all her emotion into a shockwave that whipped down through Tomas’s golden cord of light. As the cord wrenched out of her hands she threw herself upon Merhan, his foul stench sending convulsions through her spirit body. He roared and tried to shake her loose, but still she held, watching as the surge of energy she’d sent through Tomas’s cord struck him like a giant hand, sending him reeling and spinning into the river.
His eyes, bewildered and shocked by the impact and her actions, were the last she saw of him as the river of light swallowed him whole. Merhan bucked like a black storm cloud throwing out thunderbolts and she felt parts of her being sizzle from his touch. Tomas was safe. She could let go. With a jolt she was flung from Merhans bucking body. She lay still on the ground. Merhan approached cautiously, sniffing her aura for information, uncorking one of his vile soul-bottles and pointing the opening towards her.
As the soul bottle began to draw her in, Kayna could see every line on Merhan’s face as though he were all that existed. He was an old man and had once known love and sadness but there was so much ugliness and greed covering this that is was almost impossible to see. He was a mere whisper of the man he had once been. Her soul wrenched with the pain of remembering him as he once was; a loving father who sang her songs and made her broth. How she cursed the dark knowledge that had twisted him!
And now, as she was pulled closer, she saw a curious thing, like a thorn, deeply embedded in his side, almost like a horn growing inside him. It most certainly was the ugliest part of his being and yet she felt strangely drawn to it, an irresistible urge making her reach out to touch it. A shiver ran through the features of his face and the feeling of being inexorably drawn into the unstoppered bottle faltered in its stride.
Kayna pinned him with her gaze and reached deeper inside him, grabbing hold of the horn with both hands to pull it loose. A snapping sensation cracked in her ears and suddenly she was standing over him, the horn in her hand as he howled. The horn crumbled to dust in her hands and blew away in the wind. Merhan was silent after a time and she wondered if the huddled grey figure still lived.
A stray river current blew his hood to one side, revealing his face. The wet stream through the dry dust on his face was a tear, and in that tear she could see the man he once was. Gathering him in her arms, she stepped into the river and fell into the light.