Survival

Stairway to Heaven,

Entarez looked up as he reached the ninth gate; again he saw the clouds, they were dark and heavy like the kind of clouds that were about to let a torrential down pour loose. A slight hazy sheen could be seen within and every once and a while an inner shimmer of a lightning bolt not yet fully formed. He could see Adrian’s swords a little ways off, but felt no urge to move towards it. Could this be it? He queried, a waiting game to see if the heaven would accept souls again? Was this what Talib experienced? Staring up at the sky waiting for nothing to happen? He swam within the river, its former chill had no pull on him, now it was warm and comfortable it would take an immense effort of will for him to even want to stand and leave the comfort of these waters. Further from the sword he ventured, driven by little more the curiosity. The books had always be vague on how large or small a space within the river was if he had the time, why not look. Onwards he went, for what could be days or years or millennia for that matter, he continued to push outwards and as he did he found fewer and fewer souls. The sword, it was like a beacon to the great beyond drawing souls like moths to flame, Entarez could feel the pull even here, but he knew there was nothing there but waiting and so continued his journey.

As his swim continued many thoughts played throughout his head, had he erred with Torvan? With his party? With Talib? With Argyle? Looking back he replayed scenarios over and over in his mind, of course there were things that could have been done better, could have changed slightly, hindsight was always hard in that regard, but ultimately anyway he looked at it all scenarios ended with him here. Some earlier, some later, at least this way his party, his friends, and many of his allies were still alive. Anyway he looked at it letting Talib out would always lead to his death, and he still felt that he had been given no choice in releasing Talib…. Owww!

Wait a minute…. Ow? He looked up, in front of him was a muddy bank, a thick ruddy brown clay mixed with silt and fine gravel as it touched the water… What? His mind raced to try and come to an understanding, how can their possibly be a bank… the river didn’t even exist it was a metaphor for passing from life to death. If the river was the passage to beyond then the bank was…. Well it was…

Nothing, he didn’t have even the slightest of clues, not even a farfetched hypothesis or a kooky theory, just a blank. He looked hard at the soil, it was not dissimilar to what might be found in northern Honastica. Bits or rock and vegetation were embedded much as you would find on the bank of the Rhoyne

He was curious, more than curious, this could be the greatest discovery… well…. Ever.

With a monumental effort of will he placed his hands on the bottom of the river and pushed off, it took more then will and muscle, it took all of him to do it; to rise from the waters and take a shaky breath. Deeply he inhaled and as the air entered his lungs the river felt cold and draining once more, the warmth and homely feeling was gone, once again it was an instrument of death carefully being plied to reclaim him. Hands outstretched he clawed deeply into the mud pulling himself up the three foot clay embankment. With ragged raspy breaths he flopped onto his back on the muddy soil and once more breathed and coughed in exhaustion. The swim, the efforts he had made finding this place suddenly took their toll all at once and Entarez was tired. More so then he’d ever considered possible, and with little more acknowledgement then that he slept. Not a restless troubled sleep of recent living days, and not a careful meditative trance of his training and heritage, but a deep wonderful dreamless slumber, for the first time in an uncountable span Entarez entered a blessing of oblivion and was freed from his greatest critic and demon, his own thoughts.

To be continued.

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Argyle

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