“What is your question, my son?” he asked.
I grabbed a sec to take in a balanced breath. “Comissar, I’ve…I’ve…”
“What, Trajan? Speak. Do not shrink from your king.”
I rubbed my head. “This War is madness,” I said, blurted really.
“If there are those who say war is sublime, then you do well to show them their err.”
My ears pricked a bit. To “show” to him sure seemed to mean somethin’ completely different than what us mortals assumed. I shook my head. “No, it ain’t that. I just wonder how this ends––er, maybe it’s where…”
He looked at me deep with those olive-green eyes. I looked down. I couldn’t look at him that long, specially not with that look; it was a psych-war when goin’ eye-to-eye with a man of his otherworldly air. That was a war not one of us could ace.
“You’re a man of depth. I take it you mean an ‘end’ other than the Tyrant’s. Do I assume correct?”
“Of course, my king.”
“Then out with it. Why hesitate?”
Why am I? I thought. I didn’t actually think he knew the answer, did I? But then what be the point of this? Just spit it out. I stroked my mouth, said: “The end of this life. White Death. Where’s this body go? Is it really as they say?”
I blinked. I can’t believe I asked. How stupid was this? He may be deathless — but he ain’t some kind of prophet! Had I really just said that?
My Comissar was nodding his huge head. He liked it? “I’ve wondered much the same.”
He had? Without my knowin’, I leaned forward. My breath tightened up a bit.
“Like Mithra, I believe death is a temporary extension on life,” he said. “You will die, yes” — my spine shook with some chill––“but materially; your body will go — die, yet you will remain here, on this rock; your guardian-spirit will walk across it in search of that elusive path as the man transcribed decades ago.”
He leaned back effortlessly in his Seat. “Her Grace will guide you along that path. That path will lead you, not to one of the entrances of Meridia, but to yourself––but only if you failed to realize your potential. If by chance you performed your duty as a man, a separate path is ready for you. But failure will have you meet who you could have become. And yet you will not see him, you will see Fear.
“Fear manifesting around who you could have become. In death Fear is indomitable. She is the gatekeeper and will not allow you passage beyond, because you will not be capable of moving towards her. In death you will see Fear, feel Fear, and know Fear evermore for she will never let you pass, thus you will be without peace; and there will you die eternally.”
I think my eyes were under some kind of pressure, why they felt so strained. It was insane, his speech, but I couldn’t stop my ears from listening. Where did he get them ideas from?
“Unless Her Grace is with you, Trajan. There to guard you against Fear at that crucial moment, then Fear will be weak. You will see her as she truly is, however, how she is will be unique to you alone. And you will pass beyond.”
He crossed his leg over the other and looked above. I cut my head sharp to the left. Was that all? “What be beyond?” I asked. “Meridia, right?”
His hands, paws they call um, were spread out with palms up. “What you see, what you encounter, will be dependent upon Her Grace. My mind cannot penetrate Fear, not the fear whetted by another in their struggle. Her Grace only knows.” He paused; in his eyes he still had somethin’ to say. He does this all the time. “Remember, Trajan: The only fear in life is the fear you create. But in death, Fear is solid, a body with a pulse that will never die.”
He turned back to me. There was that look again in his eyes. I looked down again. “I think that answers my question,” I said. “My king.”
I think he nodded his head. “I’m pleased. Now go and alert Melissa and Éstel; return with them. I have a matter to discuss with you three.”
“Yes, Comissar.” I bowed with my left hand over my chest: the high gesture. I tripped out of there almost fallin’ square on my face. It felt so good to get out of there — even if it wasn’t for long.
What the heck are those two gonna say when I tell um this one?