A Glimmer of Hope
They finally had hope again and he had to grasp it. Hope had eluded them for so long, for every trial they had surmounted another rose from its ashes. For too long they had been like ants being forced around by a relentless torrent of events beyond their control. But now it was different. No more trials for them, this was their last stand. He saw a crystal clear tear running down her frozen face. His eyes uneasily followed it as it slowly rolled down her soft cheeks. Apart from the tear her face was emotionless, if he didn’t know better he would think she was dead. Perhaps inside she was. The tear picked up momentum as it rolled smoothly across her taught tanned skin. It wobbled down past her modest nose approaching her motionless upper lip. It briefly paused as if some foreign force had willed it to be stationary, then it lifted itself over her blood red lips. He had expected to see it continue its journey and move on to her chin but it abruptly slipped from her stone-steady bottom lip and plunged to its demise like a man jumping off a cliff into the ocean; except there was no ocean to dive into, only the ruins of a once great cathedral to crash into. As the tear reached the ground it disappeared into the dust leaving nothing a small bit of wet dirt in its wake. The scene brought him some tranquility to counter the chaos raging inside him. A tear of his own almost penetrated his defenses as he remembered their time together, but he stopped it summoning the last of his strength. Memories flashed before his mind’s eye despite his attempts to force them out. The memories weren’t just of him and the woman standing in front of him, there were others; friends who he had journeyed to this place with.
In front of him she stood. Most of her face was obscured by her long black hair preventing him from seeing her eyes. It didn’t matter though; he remembered her statuesque beauty perfectly. He still desperately wanted to see her eyes one last time, not to remember them, but to know that she was truly here with him. The only movement was a perfectly serene tear trickling down her face every so often. She didn't acknowledge them. They fell, one by one, to floor without resistance. Unlike him she wasn’t afraid to let her tears flow. He couldn’t afford weakness though. Not now. He had to be the shield against the world for those he loved. Somehow even through the raging tantrum of power surrounding him he thought he could hear the gentle drum of the tears hitting the ground.
Behind them the sun was setting. It sat just slightly above the horizon and cast a gentle orange light into the sky around it. Shadows stretched unnaturally far all around them as if reaching to devour them. He wouldn’t let the shadows win. For a second he looked past her, cherishing the warm light cast over the land. The dead couldn’t feel the warmth of the sun. The sky looked so massive compared to the ruined cathedral they stood in. He couldn’t help but wonder if this was the end. He had been told that it would not end. Never end. There were only new beginnings, nothing ever truly ended. But nonetheless it felt like an end.
The ruins they stood in left very few clues to what had once stood here. All that was left standing was half of most of the walls and one large stone arch they were all standing under. He was told that it was once a great cathedral before the madness struck and tore it apart. People flocked from all over to stand in these grand halls. Even from the crumbled ruins he could tell that this entire place was once made of brilliant white marble. The cathedral wasn’t the only crowning achievement that now lay in ruins. The world had gone mad and most of it was now reduced to rubble. Every day people awoke to a world that seemed unreal. So much had changed in such short time, only a few of months ago the world was peaceful and thriving.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl, and he was starting to feel weak. Light danced around his blurring vision as if to taunt him. Despite his will his legs failed him and he collapsed to his knees, convulsing slightly as the uncontrollable power ripped through him. He tried to steady himself but couldn’t, the sweet yet tormenting salvation of life poured through him like flaming honey. It filled his every hollow, and made him whole. In that moment he felt so heavy, the burden of his duty crushing down on him. He saw her slowly turn away, dropping her head as she turned. He almost felt more pity for her pain than for his fate. Was it easier to die, or watch someone you love die? It had to be one of them and he wasn’t about to let her die. Was he a coward for that, or a hero? Was he protecting her or him? It didn’t matter either way what had to be done had to be done.
He saw another tear hit the floor, glimmering in the golden light until it met its doom as it hit a stone and burst apart into a thousand smaller glossy tears, which would only fall to their demise as well. He had to remain resolute. One last pull was all it took. He silently gasped. His mouth froze opened wide, deadlocked by the simultaneous pain and euphoria of the energy of life. The power inside him ignited and burned like a holy flame. It consumed him. One moment he was whole and the next he was hollow. More than hollow. He wasn’t just empty, he was the emptiness. Despite the overwhelming pain his tongue would not betray him. Perhaps that was simply because his tongue could not function. Silently he burned away in a blazing white inferno of power. Flames of the purest energy whipped around him dangerously daring someone to challenge their power. She stood unmoving as the power climaxed and then imploded upon itself, fizzling out into nothingness. He felt purified by flames in his last moments of life. It was as if all his burdens had burned in that inferno with him. He knew that wasn’t true though, his heaviest burden would follow him through death and back to the world of the living.
Her head twitched slightly to the side, her eyes still closed. There was a moment of pause where she seemed to gather herself. Her shoulders rose and fell as she took a deep breath. She slowly turned around to the pile of white ash that lay before her. Her tears had been wiped away. She turned back to the crowd gather before her. In a silent yet graceful voice that somehow carried across the masses she said one thing.
“And now we wait.”
Her face betrayed no emotion only duty. She waited like a statue as time passed. Her emerald eyes pierced through each and every individual who stood waiting with her. Waiting for death to return to the world of the living. It could have been seconds or minutes or even hours no one was sure. The world felt silent as it awaited the return of its savior, its last hope.