Oct. 4th, 2006 02:10 pm
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The Sorrow wondered still why death was feared so terribly.

Men feared pain, oblivion, the brunt of rage, even fear itself. Often men feared their own joys, for fear they would be taken from them.

Death was, by definition, where none of them could reach.

He existed at the edge, suspended between the dead and the living and envying neither.

Killing was a sorrow. Dying was not.

Life surrounded him, here where the roads of the fortress met. A city on reduced scale, it aspired to singular purpose, a lone austere industry. But no matter the environment, the banalities of human life would endure. A complaining gate rumbled open to let through a truck loaded with crates of potatoes, and closed again. A pair of soldiers leaned in the lee of a building, sharing a cigarette. Floating a few inches from the world's surface, The Sorrow smiled.

He liked crossroads.

Admittedly, the floating was an affectation. The man beside him, though no more corporeal, stood firmly rooted to the soil.

"You wander from your body again," said The Sorrow, a shade reproachfully.

"Pah!" The End turned his head and spat, a purely symbolic action. "The old thing's not got much use left in it anyhow. Only needs to last a little while longer. Might as well keep you company in the meanwhile."

The Sorrow watched a flight of crows parallel the western horizon. Their caws reached clearly across a long distance. "You have little sentimentality for living."

"Eh." The End shrugged. "All things wither in their time. Why should I be any different? But I have one more battle to fight." An eye swiveled toward his comrade. "What of you? You've served your duty twice over by now. You've got more'n a right to--" he gestured vaguely-- "...go on ahead.

A boy exited a nearby building, walking with a purposeful stride. He was young for the uniform, let alone the Major's stars that adorned it, with a bearing that dared anyone to suggest he hadn't earned them.

"I, too, have promises to keep," said The Sorrow. "And miles to go."

"Hmph." The End's gaze roved to the fortress' main wing, built, or so evidence suggested, by an architect who put looming at a premium. "Hell of a place. 'Abandon all hope, ye who--"

"Please, old friend," The Sorrow interrupted gently. "I am so very tired of Dante."

The two spirits fell silent. Behind them, footsteps passed, the staccatto of heavy boots. A soldier shouted at another.

A bead of red gathered, unbidden, at the corner of an eye that watched, as the boy passed by them unseeing to disappear into the fortress' maw.

"'Between the essence and the descent,'" The Sorrow murmured.

"What?" said The End.



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The Groznyj Grad Living Novel

December 2010

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