Goodbye to You

Tears form behind my eyes
But I do not cry
Counting the days that pass me by


“You came!”

“Of course,” Silent Dream said to the wizened master healer. The two embraced as old friends. Dream pulled back and with concern asked, “How is she?”

An aged Wendell Moore looked aside, unable to meet the ageless Kankoran‘s eyes. “She’s not… doing well.”

“So the healing didn’t take,” Dream said quietly. They started walking towards the house.

“No, that’s not it,” Wendell told him. “She refused the healing.”

This surprised Dream. “What? Why?”

“She says she’s ready. It’s her time.”

Dream furrowed his brow.

“You could probably convince her,” Wendell started to say. “If anyone could-”

“You know me better than that. Forcing someone to act against their will…”

Wendell looked embarassed and quickly corrected himself. “No no no Master Dream. Of course not! I meant just speaking with her. You here, physically, to talk with her yourself.”

“Ah,” Dream said apologetically. He furrowed his brow in thought. Should he try and convince her to accept healing? Was he only delaying the inevitable? Without meaning to he shifted his body into the form of a Dwarf. It was the form he took when he was most pensive. An unconscious nod to his old friend Torrun.

“Um, is that wise?” Wendell asked Dream, indicating the transformation. This snapped him out of his thoughts and made him realize what he’d done.

“Oh!” He gave a weak smile as he willed himself back to his Kankoran form. “A habit I picked up at the Guild. Sorry. You’re right. I want to be here as my true self.”

The two of them walked on in quiet. Dream noted that the woods were cleared even further away than they were the last time he was here. More of the land had been cultivated into farmland. In his youth he would have considered this an insult to Great Apis. But he knew better now; a good friend had once taught him that.

The house was small and modest, obviously maintained and cared for by the current owner. Dream was familiar with that handiwork. He had been the one to teach it. A small, well-tended garden was flourishing in front of the house near the porch step. On that porch a woman waited patiently for the two of them. She had a solemn look about her as Dream and Wendell came up. “Father,” she said as they stepped up onto the porch.

Piercing Lark,” Dream said happily as he embraced her. She stiffly returned the hug. Dream hoped that time would heal the rift between them, but even he knew it had not been enough time yet. He backed off. “Can I see her?”

“It is why you came all this way, isn’t it?” Lark’s sharp words pierced Dream’s heart and saddened him. No, he realized. It would be a long, long time before that rift was healed. He looked at her sadly; she stared back at him coldly. Neither said anything more but their faces said everything.

Wendell cleared his throat after a moment. The two of them broke from their trance, suddenly remembering they weren’t alone and that there was someone they cared about dying just inside the house. “Let’s go in,” Wendell suggested. With one last look back at his daughter Dream turned and walked in with Wendell. Lark wasn’t looking at him anymore – she was staring off the porch, looking past the fields at the forest beyond.

The interior of the house was sparse. The two of them walked to the master bedroom. They knocked at the door. “Come in,” a familiar male voice said. Dream opened the door and walked in ahead of Wendell. It had been too long since he last came back, Dream realized. He barely recognized the aged woman sleeping on the bed. She was frail and sickly, layered in blankets. Her breathing was labored. She didn’t stir from her sleep when he entered. Her hand was visible at the side of the bed and being held by the owner of the male voice. Dream recognized the rings on her hand – one of which he had given her himself, long ago. There was no mistaking her now. Of course, her identity had never been in doubt. He looked over at the man holding her hand.

“I heard you were coming,” he simply said to Dream.

“It’s been too long, Bron,” Dream said to him. The man was powerfully built. Tanned, muscular, but gentle. Like his father before him. He had worked the farm ever since he was old enough to hold a shovel as a boy. He was running it full time before he was an adult. Silent Dream had spent a lot of time visiting Bron and his mother whenever he could after Osiris’ resurrection. He told Bron and Crystal the stories of his time with The Nameless Man. He shared with them the wisdom which The Nameless Man had shared with him.

As his duties to the Internalists increased however, he had gone longer and longer between visits. He recalled that it had been perhaps a decade since he last came by. Bron’s hair had streaks of grey in it. Dream still looked like a strong Kankoran adult. Even Dream’s daughter looked older than Dream did. Mortals aged; the Divine did not.

“It has,” Bron simply said. Then he bluntly stated “She doesn’t want it. That ‘miracle cure’ your guildfellows have come up with.”

“I heard,” Dream said simply. “She believes it’s her time.”

Bron nodded. “It’s not just that. She wants to see Him one last time.” Concern radiated from Silent Dream. He didn’t hold it back in time. Bron simply continued. “She’s been tending his garden. Even after being ordered on bed rest she would sneak out and work it. She’s never stopped hoping he would come home.” Dream could hear the hardened sadness in his voice. The boy who never got to see his father again. The boy who had to watch his mother pine for her lost husband for years. The boy who was visited sporadically by his father’s friends and families but after the visit was left with little family of his own.

Crystal opened her eyes and looked first at Bron, then at Dream and Wendell. She opened her mouth to speak but a raspy croak was all that came out. In a thought Dream opened his senses and let the words in her mind reach everyone in the room.

“He’ll be here soon. It’s what he does.” Crystal’s youthful voice projected into everyone’s head. Her thin lips managed a semblance of a smile. “I want to see him. I’ve waited long enough. I don’t want to wait any longer.”

Dream couldn’t help but let the concern flow from him again. “He’s not the man you remember. He hasn’t been for a long time. He…” Dream paused for a moment, trying to think of the words.

“He may not recognize me,” she finished for him. Dream nodded. “It’s okay. I expect as much. That quest changed you all, but him most of all. The Gods kept him from returning to us but in death I’ll finally be able to see him one last time.”

“Mom…” Bron said. He squeezed her hand gently. She closed her eyes again but they could still hear her voice.

“Let me sleep. I’m tired…” Her voice trailed off as she drifted off. Dream looked at Wendell and then at Bron.

“Let me know if she wakes up again. Helping her talk with you is the least I could do.” Bron and Wendell nodded.

Silent Dream walked out of the room but didn’t leave the house. A bookshelf in the main room caught his eye. Sitting on it were a set of worn Books of CrIsis as well as the many other books written afterwards about the adventures of CrIsis. They all had various pages dogeared or bookmarked. Dream pulled out the final published volume of his own journals he once kept. All the marked pages were of when he wrote about The Nameless Man. He flipped to the last page. There he saw again his final entry which concluded the record he kept throughout his entire time with CrIsis. The words there felt foreign, as if from another lifetime:


Final Entry

My name is Silent Dream. I come from one of the Emirin Tribes of Kankoran. I am a citizen of the Wolfen Empire. This is my journal. A friend once said I should write “things that have happened to you.” These have been the things that have happened to me.


 

He remembered that it echoed his very first journal entry. It really did seem like that was all from another world. He closed and placed the book back on the shelf, then went outside to the porch where his daughter still waited. She heard him coming but didn’t turn around or acknowledge him. He walked to the other side of the porch and looked down at the small garden. Only a few paces to each side, easily within the bounds of The Man’s domain. Seeing that it was flourishing gave him hope that maybe The Man hadn’t completely lost himself in his new role.

He turned to look at his daughter, Piercing Lark. She was born about a year after the resurrection. She aged slower than the other Kankoran did. He suspected it was due to her psychic strength. At this point she looked older than Dream was when he joined Crisis, but not yet old enough to have grand-pups. She wore her years well but they still clearly showed in her stripes. She was blessed with great psychic power which made her gifted at healing but unlike her mother she was not limited to that discipline only. She reminded Dream so much of his beloved Rolling Hills that it was tough to be around her sometimes. When Hills passed away Dream had kept his distance from Lark, hiding behind the challenges of the burgeoning Northern branch of the Guild. In turn she had directed her grief into anger at him, and over time a great divide formed between them.

“Lark…” he started to say.

She quickly cut him off. “Save it Dad. I’m here for them. Not for you.” She was referring to Crystal and Bron, and to how she had spent many days of her youth on this farm. She and Rolling Hills accompanied Dream on many of his visits to see his old friends and their families over the years. Bron, Vorrun, Rhafenruna, Auberon, Kolbjorn, Zara’shan, Alana, and all the others… She had grown up with them all and they were a family of sorts. She hopped off the porch and walked around to the back of the house. He heard the back door open and close. Dream stayed on the porch by himself.

Some time passed with Dream leaning there, lost in his thoughts and staring out at the forest. Suddenly he noticed there were no sounds of nature around him anymore. He looked around, concerned for a moment, and when his eyes returned to the front of the house he saw Him standing next to the small garden.

He was a gaunt, skeletal figure wearing all black. The Man With No Name. No, Dream reminded himself. The Man had a name. It had been trusted to him long ago and Dream still knew it. But The Man had chosen to call himself Death these days. His soul-bearing scythe, once a tie to his life of farming, was slung purposefully over his back. The Man approached the house slowly but deliberately. He did not look at Silent Dream. Dream considered for a moment calling him by his old name. Would he even remember it? Would it help bring him back to his old frame of mind? Did he have the right to even try? Before he could make a decision The Man disappeared. A few moments later he heard Wendell call for him from Crystal’s room.

Dream returned to Crystal’s room to find Wendell already drawing the sheets up to cover her body. Bron was still by her side, with Lark beside him comfortingly. Dream had the presence of mind to whisper a prayer to the Gods of Light and to Khonsu at her passing. As the four of them grieved the small garden outside was already beginning to wilt.


Note: This story about The Demigod of Psionics occurred decades after the resurrection of Osiris. It appears in no narrative and exists only for you.

Image Credits:
Piepkorn Photography

 

3 Responses to “Goodbye to You

  • It was beautiful and it shows that sometimes we champions pay the most for the great deeds we do. It was a war played in a different key but a magnitude greater than most.

  • “As the four of them grieved the small garden outside was already beginning to wilt.” Heartbreaking and poignant- clearly communicates the curse of immortality.

  • You have made Ursus cry…

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