On the third to last day in April, Ethan knew. He could sense Caleb needed him, and soon. He told Liz that morning, telling her it could wait no longer, and she understood. She told Jake to call in sick and called an emergency meeting.
She hobbled around the kitchen table to hand Ethan a small package, wrapped in plain brown paper and simple string. Ethan unwrapped it to find a beautiful, large quartz crystal attached to a black cord. He slipped it around his neck and noted that it felt like Liz hugging him. He sensed her energy within it and knew that it would boost his own will if he drew on it.
"It's the best I can do," Liz said softly. She kissed Ethan's forehead and stepped away. He'd noted that she'd chosen to wear her cat-eyed contacts today and smiled, knowing Caleb would appreciate it. They twinkled now in the dim light hanging above them. "You know I wish I could go with you," Liz added.
"You're going to have a baby any minute now," Ethan said, eyeing Liz's large belly. "I don't expect you to be anywhere near me when I do this, especially not hiking a mountain."
"Are you sure you don't want me there for protection?" Jake asked, sipping his coffee as he watched the exchange of looks between them.
"Yes. Jake, you've done a lot, but you should be here with your soon to be wife," Ethan said. He laughed and added, "I'll still take the ride, though." He sighed and returned his gaze to Liz. "I hope I don't miss the birth."
"If you do..." Liz said, reaching out to him. "Ethan, please. One more hug?"
"You've got it," he said, standing and embracing her as well as he could manage in her current condition. He kissed her on the cheek and whispered in her ear, "I love you, Sis."
She kissed his cheek in return and said, "I love you, too, Ethan."
Ethan stepped back and glanced at the clock. It was only four in the morning, but he had to leave. After the séance, he'd set up a spell to track Caleb's spirit and learn if it was in danger, and just thirty minutes earlier the spell had rung the alarm in Ethan's mind. There wasn't any time to waste.
"You ready to go?" Jake asked, watching Ethan's eyes.
"I have to be. I know it's time," Ethan said. He smiled one more time at Liz. "Wish me luck."
"You don't need it," Liz said. "Just have faith."
"I always preferred the word 'will'," Ethan said, laughing.
"Yeah, but you need to have faith in Caleb, and yourself," Liz said. "I wasn't just referring to the magic."
"Thanks," Ethan said. If he said anything else, he'd become a blubbering fool, for the emotions chose then to surge and threaten to overwhelm him. There was a good chance he wouldn't be returning, but he wasn't intending to die. The spell he intended might not even work, and if that happened, he'd come back, knowing he'd done his best.
They said goodbye one more time before Ethan climbed into the passenger seat of Jake's car and headed toward the mountains. Jake looked like he wanted to engage Ethan in conversation but simply remained silent. They both knew Ethan had to maintain his focus as well as possible; the entire trip proceeded without a word.
It wasn't until they parked at the trailhead that Ethan finally broke the silence, opening the car door and grinning. "Jake, see you around?"
Jake laughed and said, "Bro, you're the most badass warlock that ever lived. You take care, you hear? Shit..." He shook his head and blinked back some tears. "Wish I could go with you."
Ethan felt his own eyes moisten and knew he had to get out of there before he lost his cool. "Take care of Caleb Ethan Sanders, and if I don't make it back, you make sure he hears about his uncles, got it?" Ethan climbed out of the car and turned back, one hand on the open door and the other on top of the car, peering in at Jake.
"You bet," Jake said, laughing. "And Ethan?" Ethan nodded, and Jake continued. "I'm not too good at this, but," his voice broke, and he laughed at his own emotions. When he could finally speak again, he nodded once and said, "I love you, buddy."
"I love you too, Jake," Ethan replied, sniffling. "Thanks for everything."
Ethan closed the car door and stepped away from the car. He waved Jake on, and Jake drove off, smiling sadly. As soon as he was gone, Ethan turned toward the trailhead and took a single step. Then he smiled and pulled out his cellphone, dialing his mother's number.
"Mom," Ethan said when the call connected.
"Ethan," Mrs. Pallet said groggily. "What are you doing calling so early?"
"Mom," Ethan said gently, "I might not see you for a while. I'm leaving."
"Where are you going?" Mrs. Pallet asked, suddenly alert.
Ethan chuckled and said, "I need to take a bit of a spiritual retreat."
"You're going to speak to God?" Mrs. Pallet asked.
"In a manner of speaking, yes," Ethan replied. It was close enough to the truth. "I'm going to the wilderness. I have something to do."
"Be careful," Mrs. Pallet said. "And know that I love you."
"I know, Mom. I love you, too," Ethan replied, smiling. "Say goodbye to the family for me, would you? I can't stay around long enough to say anything to them. I have to leave today."
"Will do, honey," Mrs. Pallet said, then added more seriously, "Be careful."
"I will," Ethan replied.
They said their goodbyes, and Ethan shut his phone off, putting it in his backpack. He adjusted the quartz around his neck, feeling he needed another hug from Liz, and then started up the trail.
As he ascended the mountain, he sifted through his thoughts, carefully discarding every stray doubt and worry that came his way, feeding them to the void in his mind. He purified his mind, keeping his whole being centered on the task ahead. He made it to the cave in no time, and as soon as he walked inside, he felt a chill settle over him, despite the warm temperatures.
"So, this is what potential death feels like?" Ethan mused, staring at the dark. "I've been here before, it shouldn't be so bad."
His voice echoed back at him, and he laughed at the foolishness of it. "Yeah, cave, I'm talking to myself. You have a problem with that?"
He didn't waste any more time. Kneeling at the mouth of the cave, just outside the line of shadow that marked the border between the regular world and the cave's interior, he faced the crack at the back of the wall. It would be his sole focus as he reached toward the Underworld, aiming to touch Caleb's soul, just as staying outside the cave would help him remain in the living world.
And he let love fill him. The pure love of friendship from Liz and Jake, still fresh from their morning together. Liz's love for him and Caleb, contained within the crystal around his neck. And, most importantly, Ethan's undying love for his best friend, who had sacrificed himself to bring Ethan out of The Underworld. No love was purer than that, Ethan knew, and he wielded it like a sword now, slashing into the beyond to reach Caleb.
He spoke the words in his heart. He hadn't rehearsed, trusting the emotion to guide him and his will to make use of the power it generated. "By my power, and the love in my heart, I reach across the aether, to the spirit realm. I reach beneath, to The Underworld, to find the heart of my true love, Caleb Nield. I give my strength to him, my will and my heart, that he may use it as he sees fit. Take my soul, Caleb, and use it to power your own. By our combined will, let us make Death tremble."
"Why?" Caleb managed to ask as the gruesome image of Ethan bore into his soul. "Why do you do this?"
"You can't escape me now," the figure replied, digging its bony fingers into Caleb's cheeks. "I am truth. I am death."
Caleb felt something, a trickle at first, and then a torrent of energy filling him. He knew it came from outside, from the realm of the living, because the energy had a distinct signature. It was love, pure and simple, and love was not a common force in The Underworld outside of Elysium.
At first he thought it was Liz, but within a second he realized the exact source. Ethan had reached him, and had given him the energy to fight. Knowing that Ethan stood on the other side of the veil cheering him on gave Caleb all the courage he needed to face this demon that wore Ethan's face.
"I love you," Caleb said to the energy, but the image of Ethan laughed in his face.
"What do you know of love?" The figure asked. "Death has no place for love."
Caleb reached up and gently pulled the bony hands away from his face. They came away easily, unable to resist his gentle touch. He could see in this being a reflection of himself, of all his fears, his despair, his woe. He could see his self-loathing, his desire to escape the pain. And he could see the rivers.
Above all else, he could see the rivers and knew that he had to drink.
He caressed Ethan's image, brushing his fingers softly against its cheek. The figure shuddered at the touch, and a single tear fell down its face. Caleb leaned forward quickly and kissed the tear before it fell from the figure's chin.
"By your tears, I drink of the Acheron," Caleb said consolingly. "Your sorrow, your pain, is mine."
"Who do you think you are?" The figure asked, backing away from him.
Caleb followed, step for step, pursuing the figure until it backed into the throne. He pressed in urgently, passionately, kissing the figure's lips and tasting of its saliva.
"By your lips, I drink of the Cocytus," Caleb said longingly, "your despair, your misery, is mine."
"Who do you think you are?" The figure sputtered, falling back onto the throne. It trembled now, in fear, sweat forming on its brow.
Caleb climbed atop the throne, straddling the gaunt figure as he gently pressed forward, kissing its forehead. "By your sweat, I drink of the Phlegethon," Caleb said, "your vileness, your bitterness, your suffering, is mine."
"Who do you think you are?" The figure screamed in Caleb's face, lifting its bloody arms in a vain attempt to fend Caleb off.
But Caleb merely kissed the figure's wrist instead. "By your blood, I drink of the Styx," Caleb said lovingly. "Your hatred, your loathing, is mine."
The figure shifted then, its gaunt features filling out, the blood fading back into its skin, the wispy hair glowing, growing full of its golden sheen once more. Ethan sat on the obsidian throne, or at least the perfect image of him just as he'd been when Caleb had known him, down to the eyes filled with the detached disillusionment they'd shown when Caleb and Ethan had faced each other on the sidewalk.
"Who do you think I am?" Ethan's image asked.
"You are me," Caleb said. "You have always been me, as I have always been you."
Ethan's image shook its head. "I am not fully a part of you."
"No," Caleb said, feeling the love from the real Ethan burning inside of his chest, "but soon you will be."
"How?" Ethan's image asked dejectedly. "Consume my essence and you'll consume Lethe, for that is all I have left."
"Is that so?" Caleb asked. "I see things differently."
He wrapped his arms around the image of Ethan's shoulders, hugging their naked bodies tightly together. He whispered in the ear so like that of his beloved. "By your soul, I drink of the Mnemosyne. Your madness, your insatiability, your thirst, is mine. I transcend Lethe, for I hold no expectations, only accept the mysteries your soul will open up to me." And then he reached into the image's flesh, grasping at the essence behind its creation, the River Mnemosyne, manifest physically before him.
"By your will, I drink of Death," Caleb shouted to the room, "and I have become its Ruler!"
"Not quite, I'm afraid," said a melodic voice from the mouth of the cave.
Caleb smiled and turned toward his guide. "Orpheus."
Ethan felt a tremor through the link, and then it was severed. He had felt everything Caleb had felt, had almost been able to see it and hear it. Caleb felt more alive than Ethan had thought possible.
But now Caleb was on his own, and Ethan had to hope he would be all right. No. He knew.
He had faith.
For the first time in his life, Ethan felt like praying. With all the love he still had, he bowed his head, and committed his soul to the universe, giving everything he had left in a prayer to the forces that governed everything.
He prayed for Caleb, that he'd have the wisdom to endure. To overcome the last trial he faced, to overcome the one who bound him.
He prayed for himself, that he would not waver in his faith, that he would believe to the end that Caleb could endure. That Caleb would know that Ethan had never stopped loving him.
And, on a whim, he prayed for Orpheus, for in the moment of pure love he understood. Only a being who had forgotten love could act with so much hate.
And he waited.
"No one knows, do they?" Caleb asked, stepping off the throne to stand before Orpheus.
Orpheus' head tilted to the side. "No one knows what?"
"That you're The Ruler," Caleb said. "The One Who Rules Beneath."
Orpheus' crooked grin would've made glass break if it reflected the image. "You figured that out, did you?"
"Yes," Caleb said. "It doesn't make a lot of sense, what you told me earlier."
"Which part?" Orpheus asked.
"That what I saw here would be a manifestation of my view of Death," Caleb said knowingly.
"How does that not make sense?" Orpheus asked. "Did you not see your image of Death at the very end?"
"No," Caleb replied. "I know how I imagine Death, and it's not like that. That was how I imagined life at its worst. They are not the same thing."
"How do you imagine Death?"
"I imagine Death to be when the human heart fails, when life no longer has meaning," Caleb said. "If The Ruler is my personification of Death, than clearly he stands before me."
"Is that how you see me?" Orpheus asked, chuckling. "Fascinating."
"So, what happens now?" Caleb asked.
"Aren't you going to tell me what you saw?" Orpheus asked. "I'm dying to know." He laughed at his little joke, but Caleb remained calm.
Orpheus grinned. "I'll get it out of you eventually."
"I don't intend to stay," Caleb replied.
Orpheus raised an eyebrow. "And how exactly do you plan to leave?"
"The same way I came in, of course."
"There's just one problem with that, you know."
Three cat-eyed dogs moved through the dark fog at the mouth of the cave, taking up a defensive position behind Orpheus and watching Caleb warily.
"Cerberus," Orpheus replied. "He's not going to let you out."
"He only answers to his master."
"Which is you."
"So, what you mean is you're not going to let me out?" Caleb said, smirking. "That sounds about right."
"You told me it would be a life for a life. I gave Ethan his life back, so you took his place," Orpheus said, grinning madly. "You expect me to go back on my word?"
"How did you do it?" Caleb asked. "How did you become The One Who Rules Beneath?"
"I killed Death, obviously," Orpheus said, shrugging. "The position was vacant, so I filled it."
"You killed Death?" Caleb asked incredulously. "How?"
"And tell you so you can do it to me?" Orpheus scoffed. "I think not, though I do applaud your attempt."
"What do you expect me to do now? Stay in the afterlife? Work for you?"
"I told you, I'd like you to be my new psychopomp," Orpheus said. "The position is still open, even if you hate me. I don't mind. I like you, Caleb. You've come a long way in such a short time."
"You want me to be the one who guides souls to you? You want me to feed your ego?" Caleb rolled his eyes. "I don't know about that."
"There are worse jobs, you know," Orpheus replied pointedly. "You could be pushing a boulder up the side of a mountain for all eternity. I can be creative."
Caleb stared at Orpheus for several seconds of silence. Then he nodded once and said, "I'll consider it, but first you have to do something for me."
"Tell me," Orpheus said eagerly.
"You made an oath on the Styx that I'd find Ethan here, yet we both know he was not here for me to find. You even admitted as much a moment ago," Caleb said. "Drink from the Styx. That's the appropriate punishment, isn't it?"
"Why would I do that?" Orpheus asked. "I don't particularly fancy not being able to speak for a while."
"I don't expect you to go back on your word is all," Caleb said. "Prove to me your oath is really your bond, and I'll believe you."
Orpheus held Caleb's gaze for a long time, and then he sighed and rolled his eyes. "Fine, I'll go drink from the river."
Caleb held up his hand and said, "I have some already." He pulled off his backpack and opened it, pulling out his canteen. "If you remember, you watched me fill the canteen. And you thought I'd never need it."
"You're joking," Orpheus said, groaning. "Did you plan this?"
"No," Caleb replied honestly. "I thought it might come in handy after you told me what it did. Do you not remember watching me fill it? That's when you told me not to drink from the river, and about what the water did." He chuckled dryly and tossed the canteen to Orpheus. "I can imagine getting a great deal of pleasure from making you shut up for a while."
"You mischievous bastard, no wonder I like you," Orpheus said, grinning. He unscrewed the lid of the canteen and held it to his lips, then asked, "Okay, so if I drink from this, you'll take my job offer?"
"If it's still on the table, I agree," Caleb said.
Orpheus threw his head back and upturned the canteen over his mouth. The grey waters of the Lethe, harnessed at the fountain of Eurydice, poured down Orpheus' throat. By the time Orpheus realized he'd been duped, it was too late.
He spluttered and threw the canteen away from him, hacking and coughing as he fell to his knees at Caleb's feet. He looked up at Caleb with murderous rage in his eyes. "What the hell? What did you... this is... that was Lethe!"
"I must've gotten my rivers confused," Caleb said in mock surprise. "Isn't that just terrible?"
"What have you done!?" Orpheus shouted. "I'm... I'm fading, I... My mind is eroding to nothingness! Why?"
"Eurydice said you could no longer see your own heart," Caleb said. "The Ruler must be able to see both love and hate; he must be able to tell the difference. You no longer can, and so you are not fit to rule this land."
He knelt next to Orpheus and placed a consoling hand on his shoulder. "Don't think of it as death, Orpheus. Think of it as waking up at last from a dream you can't remember."
"You bastard!" Orpheus growled, and then the anger faded from his face, the hatred died in his eyes. "I... I don't remember why I'm mad at you. I'm very tired."
"Go to sleep," Caleb said gently, sadly. "You'll feel better when you wake up."
"Yes. Sleep... sleep sounds delightful," Orpheus said. He fell to the ground, drawing one final breath before disappearing into nothingness. Caleb reached out to where Orpheus' body had lain and felt nothing there.
He rose to his feet and saw Cerberus before him, staring at him as if waiting for a command. Caleb walked toward them and the mist they guarded. When they held their ground, he said, "Back off. I am your master now." The dogs bowed and moved to the side, and Caleb grinned at them. "Good doggies. Might just keep you around."
He descended the mountain much more quickly than he had ascended it. It seemed as if it was only an instant before he arrived at the ferry and saw Charlie reading his magazine. Charlie looked up as Caleb appeared and smiled pleasantly.
"Interesting," Charlie said. "I'd not expected to see you again."
"I am The Ruler," Caleb informed Charlie.
Charlie nodded. "Yes, I suppose you are," he said. "I can feel it in you, now that I'm looking for it. Have our directives changed?"
"No," Caleb said. "Continue to watch and ward. I shall return."
"I can also sense your intent, Ruler. You are leaving the kingdom?" Charlie asked in surprise. "You would bring Death to the above?"
"Only for a moment," Caleb replied.
Charlie bowed. "Be aware of your power, noble one. This is all I ask."
"Charlie, I will be careful."
"Yes, I believe you will," Charlie said. "Are you going to seek your lover then?"
Caleb smirked. "You knew he was above, didn't you? When I first passed this way?"
"I had a suspicion, but it was neither my place to know nor to tell you," Charlie replied, shrugging his great, bony shoulders. "Only The Ruler may make such a decision."
Caleb nodded, accepting this as an appropriate answer. Charlie served The Ruler, so it only made sense that he would not have helped Caleb until he assumed the position. "I think I'm in need of a psychopomp. It appears that Orpheus preferred to serve in that position and kept no others, but I wish to spend more time focused on governing the realm than guiding souls," Caleb said." Do you have any suggestions?"
"Only one who has died yet lives may serve in such a position," Charlie explained. "Only such a being may move freely throughout the kingdom, and then only by your decree, noble one."
"Could you serve in such a position?" Caleb asked. "Not that I am asking, necessarily."
Charlie shook his head solemnly. "I have never died, nor have I ever lived. I am but a manifestation of the gateway, the ferry, and the bridge. I am the path, given consciousness."
"So, that would be a no?" Caleb asked.
"I'm afraid so."
"Very well, carry on."
"I will," Charlie said. "Such is my duty, such is my end."
Caleb no longer required the ferry to cross the waters of the Styx. He knew his power now, knew he could traverse the kingdom as he wished, and so he wrapped himself in the powers of The Underworld and folded into its energy, then traveled through space and time to the other side of the Acheron, and the doorway back into the things betwixt.
He walked into the darkness, and paused beside the reception desk, smiling at the Warden. She gave him a sidelong glance and said, "Caleb, was it? How did you manage to make it back to me?" She looked him up and down and asked, "and why are you naked?"
"I have my ways," Caleb replied, laughing. He hadn't even realized his nakedness. The power within him made him feel invulnerable. He filed The Warden's observation away as a reminder to avoid becoming lost in his own hubris. He pulled on the darkness around him and wove some simple clothing for himself; a plain black, button-up shirt and a pair of form-fitting black jeans.
"Oh, did that pesky Orpheus teach you his nasty little habits?" The Warden asked, glancing at the new set of clothing.
"In a manner of speaking," Caleb said, shrugging.
The Warden rolled her eyes. "Great, and now there are two."
"Actually, there's only one," Caleb observed.
"Ah, I can sense it now," The Warden mused appreciatively. "So, you're The Ruler."
"Did you know Orpheus ruled?" Caleb asked.
"No one truly rules Death," The Warden said simply. "He never ruled, he only thought he did."
Caleb laughed. He happened to agree with her, and he considered amending his title, though her reasoning seemed flawed for another reason. "Yet you address me as ‘ruler'."
"That is because I feel you understand that principle," The Warden said, smiling. "You feel different than Orpheus did. There's more than hate to you."
Caleb bowed humbly, and chose not to contest the point. "I need a new psychopomp. Any suggestions?"
"I have too much work as is if you're asking me," The Warden said dismissively. "Besides, I've never truly died."
"Never?" Caleb asked, surprised.
She shook her head. "No. I don't know what lies beyond. I never see the lights."
"You're an atheist. Even after all you've seen?"
She smiled knowingly. "No one truly rules Death."
"Then I'll be going onward," Caleb said.
"You're heading to the realm of the living?" The Warden asked, surprised.
"You know that's a bad idea, don't you?"
"As The Ruler, you bring Death everywhere you go," The Warden replied. "There is no place for you there. You can enter, but there will be consequences."
"I see," Caleb said quietly.
"But, you can go to the edge and peer in," The Warden offered. "There is nothing wrong with that."
"I have someone to meet," Caleb said. "And I believe I know where to find him."
"Ah, your lover."
"Ethan Pallet. I remember him," The Warden said, nodding to herself. "He didn't know where to go. He never saw the lights, like me."
"Do you know how he perceived you?" Caleb asked.
"No. I know nothing, though he did believe enough to see me," The Warden said. "Orpheus could've told you, but... if he's gone..."
"No matter, I'll ask him myself."
"Are you certain you should see him? He was in a great deal of pain when last he was here. You could open old wounds."
"Or I could close them."
The Warden bowed her head. "I concede the point. Good luck."
"You're a lot nicer now than you were when we last met," Caleb observed.
"You're my boss now," The Warden said, smiling slyly. "I have to kiss up, don't I?"
"What is your name?" Caleb asked. "I wish to call you by it."
The Warden shrugged. "It's not in the records. I've honestly forgotten it."
"So, I should just call you 'The Warden' forever?" Caleb asked.
"If you'd like. Or 'The Grand Secretary'. 'The Divine Keeper of The Records'. 'The One Who Keeps the Unruly Archives of the Dead'. I'm not picky."
"We'll talk it over when I get back. How about that?" Caleb suggested.
"Can I get a raise, too?"
"You get paid?"
"No," The Warden replied. "Maybe you could start?"
"How will you spend the money?"
"Home delivery?" The Warden offered.
"I like your style, Towkuad," Caleb replied, grinning.
The Warden groaned. "Let's not make that the new title, okay?"
"You got it."
He left the desk behind and walked into the dark. In the distance he could see the crack, the barely perceivable break between the things betwixt and the world of the living. He stepped up to the crack and peered in, and found himself in the back of Cherry Creek Cave.
Ethan knelt at the mouth of the cave, but he looked up as Caleb approached and stood as Caleb stopped at the shadowy line that marked the entrance to the cave. One step further, and he'd bring death to the living world, and he could not do that.
"I'm here," Caleb said softly.
"Why aren't you coming any closer?" Ethan asked.
"If I come closer, you'll die," Caleb explained sadly. "More will die."
"What happened? If you're here, doesn't that mean you've defeated Orpheus? Can't you come back?"
Caleb shook his head and said, "You can't reverse Death, only exchange or fulfill it."
"Then how do you explain me?" Ethan protested. "You brought me back."
"An exchange," Caleb said softly.
Ethan nodded. He had to accept it, if it was the truth. "So you're dead?"
"Close," Caleb chuckled. "I'm Death."
"Yes," Ethan nodded slowly. "I can sense that."
"I wasn't aware that was now a universal skill," Caleb replied, laughing.
Ethan laughed along with him, his eyes twinkling in the way that made Caleb's whole body ache for him. "It might not be," Ethan said. "I'm a bit different now."
"So it would seem," Caleb said gently.
Ethan shifted awkwardly and his foot brushed against a small pebble, sending it rolling toward Caleb's bare foot. Caleb looked down at the pebble sadly and kicked it back to Ethan.
"It's good to see you," Ethan said as he caught the pebble with his shoe. He glanced down at it for a moment then looked back up at Caleb, his eyes misting over quickly.
"Bet you didn't think it'd be this awkward, did you?" Caleb laughed, feeling tears form in his own eyes. "Man, I wish I knew what to say."
"Yeah, you'd think after you die and live again, you'd have an easier time with awkward conversations," Ethan replied.
"What?" Caleb asked, processing the words. "Wait... you... you died and live again..." he laughed so hard he had a difficult time remaining standing.
"Yeah," Ethan said. "So?"
"Fuck," Caleb said, shaking his head in disbelief. "I'm such an idiot."
"Why?" Ethan asked.
Caleb's grin could split the world in two. "Would you like a job?"
Ethan smiled curiously, and the sparkle in his eyes couldn't be brighter. "What do I have to do?"
The whole Underworld bore witness to the union of Death and his psychopomp, together at last beneath the world of the living. A human warlock, dead, then alive, then dead again, entered The Underworld to become a guide to lost souls, a fate he understood better than most.
A martyr, sacrificing himself for the cause of love, sat atop the seat of Hate, and ruled with a fair and just hand, knowing that should his heart ever begin to give in to the energies of hate, love was just a ferryman away to heal his wounds.
And the world of the living paid almost no heed, knowing nothing of what happened beneath their feet. Though to a young couple, young being a relative term as the father was either fifteen or thirty, depending upon who asked, the world didn't move on right away.
They mourned the death of their friends, never knowing their fates, though life gave them a blessing which allowed them to remember those they'd loved and lost. A boy was born, who carried the names of Death and his lover.
And his melodic cries earned him all the love he needed to heal his once broken heart. His parents said he made beautiful music.