Between the Light in the Darkness - Conclusion

>> Monday, July 26, 2010

The moment he saw Gertie again, Tim knew he was dreaming. But he didn't mind. He felt completely at peace at last. She smiled at him as he approached, gesturing to him to sit beside her. For a moment or two, no words were exchanged, and Tim just sat and enjoyed the quiet all around him, watching how the flowers bent in the gentle breeze and listening as the leaves whispered in the trees.

Finally. Finally it was over and he could get on with his life. Shirra and her castle were destroyed. The threat was over.

"It's not yet over, Timmy," Gertie projected her thoughts into his.

"What? What do you mean?"

"You still have another task ahead of you."

"And what's that?"

"You'll find out soon enough. Ileeya will wake you when it's time."

Tim sighed in frustration. Would this ever be truly over?

"Yes," Gertie answered. It's almost over. Then you can get on with your life. Just enjoy the moment, Timmy, you have to go soon."

Tim took a deep breath, inhaling the fragrance of the flowers. Then a thought occured to him.

"Gertie, where exactly are we? I mean, is this Heaven?"

"No. This is only a dream."

"A dream? But what about the other times? When I thought I was dying? Was that Heaven?"

"Technically, no. It was a figment of your imagination. You imagined me in the meadow."

Tim thought on this, not making sense of it.

"I've never really been there, Tim. Not in a way you can fully understand. All the times I helped you was a combination of your subconscience mind and Ileeya's influences. It was her way of asking for help, and nudging you to do the right thing."

"And the confusion continues..."

"Ileeya's powers have developed dramatically in a short period of time. Before she was able to control them, they were erratic. She was reaching out, but not realizing it. She set up a portal and brought you here, and helped you along the way the best her subconcious mind knew how. Consciously, she knew none of these things. But when she slept, her subconcious had a chance to reach out, and guide you. A bit haphazardly, but she eventually led you down the right path, so you could help her help the world. If not for you, the world would have perished already. So you see, the prophecy has come true."

Tim exhaled, letting his breath whistle through his teeth. This was pretty deep. He closed his eyes and let her thoughts permeate his brain, trying to understand. He wondered if he ever truly would.

"What really happened to you, Gertie? Did I...kill you?"

"No, Timmy, you didn't. Your subconcious was reaching out, as well, and under Shirra's influence, was aggressive and protective of her. I was old. It was time for me to move on. I came into your life when you needed a bit of guidance and looking after, and after you left I was done. I have no regrets. I lived a full life. Do not mourn my passing. I am happy."

"What happened after I left? After I just disappeared?"

"I waited for awhile. Sat at the kitchen table watching your steak get cold. When it got dark, I wrapped it up and put in the fridge. Then I went home. I tossed and turned all night, wondering, and in the morning I came back, only to find you still gone.

Bones was there, though, thumping his tail on the sidewalk. I called your mother, and later that evening we filed a missing persons report. They turned up nothing, of course, and after searching for two weeks, closed the case. No evidence was found anywhere, nothing to explain that you had been hurt. We were still hoping for your return. But deep down I knew that you wouldn't. Somehow, I knew that you were safe, and that you were needed somewhere else.

All those dreams you had where you were back in your apartment? I had them, too. The same dreams at the same time. And the things I said to you had to have come directly from Ileeya's influence. She knew all those things subconsciously, but didn't realize it, and through her, I was able to impart that knowledge to you - in dream form."

"But why did she choose to do it that way? Why not just come to me herself in a dream?"

"Because she needed an outside influence that you trusted."

Tim thought he was beginning to get it, now.

"Are you ready, Tim? Are you ready for the end?"

"Yes," he said honestly, "I am ready."

"Goodbye, Timmy."

"Tim? Wake up, Tim." Ileeya was gently shaking him. He was lying amongst the flowers, their soft petals crushed against his naked skin.

"We have something we need to do," she told him plainly, handing him his clothes.

Tim said nothing, simply pulled on the clothes she gave him. Then he realized the bundle she handed him wasn't the slave uniform. He turned the dark blue fabric over in his hands, puzzled, then looked up at her. He noticed for the first time that she was no longer dressed in her slave outfit, either, but a beautiful wine colored gown. She looked angelic, with her platinum hair cascading down over her shoulders.

She smiled at him. "You are no longer a slave, Tim. It's time you stopped dressing like one."

He pulled on the simple tunic and breeches, marveling in the freedom he felt, simply being in something other than his standard issue slave clothes. He liked them.

When he was dressed, Ileeya silently took his hand and led him to a clearing. "I must prepare the portal."

"Portal? Portal to where?"

"We must go back."

"Back where?"

"To Jbeu."

"What? The slave planet? Why would we want to go back there?"

"Because we're needed."

Tim realized he would get more answers if he just kept his mouth shut and observed, than if he asked all the questions bubbling in his head. He stood patiently and watched as Ileeya sat in the grass, crossed her legs, and concentrated.

A moment later, the slight breeze picked up, blowing their hair around their faces. The flowers fluttered in the wind, bowing under the force of the air. The currents swirled around Tim, blowing first from the left, then from the right, whipping his hair in different directions. Behind Ileeya he could actually see the air churning in a circular formation, almost like watching a hurricane on a weather map. The air seemed to thicken all around him, and the air currents collecting behind her grew larger, a circular force expanding outward. Tim started to feel apprehensive, not knowing what would happen next.

The heads of several flowers ripped off their stems and flew into the vortex, and Tim felt the air pulling at him. He wondered if he, too, would be sucked right into it. But as it swirled in a circular pattern, it also radiated waves of force outward. All at once it was bright, almost as bright as the sun, but it didn't hurt to look at. A good thing, since Tim found himself too awestruck to look away.

Then Ileeya stood and reached for his hand. He took it, trusting her, as she walked toward the rippling, pulsing spheroid force. Without hesitation, Ileeya stepped into it, pulling him behind her. Suddenly he was floating amidst the currents, the wind whipping about him in different directions. He felt pulled, first one way, then another. The wind was so strong it nearly sucked his breath right out of him, and he constantly felt the currents slamming into him. It was a disorienting sensation, and without the aid of gravity telling him which way was down, he felt helpless, aimless, out of control. He gripped Ileeya's hand tightly, fearing that if he let go he would be forever lost in the portal.

Without warning he felt his feet thud to the ground, jolting his insides. He fought a wave of nausea as his body equalized itself. He opened his eyes, not realizing he had them squeezed tightly shut the entire time. He looked at Ileeya beside him as the wind swirled around him, the whole process going in reverse now - the light started to die, the winds started to slowly decrease.
"Don't worry, you'll get used to it," Ileeya smiled.
"I hope not." He hoped to never have to use a portal again.

But he happily would have stepped right back into one if it meant he could escape what he was curreently seeing. Bodies were strewn about the courtyard. Slaves, guards, and others he did not recognize were all over the place, their mutilated corpses littering the ground. Several beings were alive, some wandering, some sitting, some crying over the devestation.

The body of the king lay with the others, he was also dead. Tim looked around himself in horror at the scene.

"Ileeya...what...what happened here?"

"Shirra convinced the Jal'em that they were cheated in the tournament. They're a bloodthirsty lot, and it doesn't take much for them to get riled up. They declared war. Slaves were released to help defend their captors."

So many dead...

Slowly moving toward him, Tim saw Gylen and Kiara out of corner of his eye. They were alive! They were injured, but not severly so. Gylen walked with a limp and had a long scratch over his eye. Kiara had a couple of scraches, but otherwise in good condition. Tim rushed over to his friend, embracing him in a long hug. He never thought he would see Gylen again.

He released his friend, just as Ileeya released Kiara. The four stood for several moments, while some of the survivors surrounded them. Tim at once was nervous, not knowing their intentions. Those that could still walk gathered around them, looking at them longingly. Then, without warning, they knelt before him.

"Ileeya? What's going on?"

"They need a leader. Now that Shirra's influences and all the world leaders are dead, the people are aimless. They don't know who to follow. If left to their own devices, they'll begin to prey upon one another, each trying to take lead, but with unwilling followers. They'll all eventually crumble and perish. They need someone to stand and take control. Someone they know can deal with the aftermath of the war and take charge. To pull them all together and make them one people." She looked at him. "And they want that leader to be you."

"Me?" Tim nearly choked. "What makes them think I can do it? Why me?"
"Because of the prophecy. They know you saved them. That, and you just appeared out of thin air from a portal."

Tim looked around him. The people were kneeling now, as if they were waiting for Tim to take control of them. He could literally be the ruler of the world. His mind swam with the possibilities. He could be a king, and Ileeya could be his queen. He could lead all these people...

"Ileeya, I don't want this. I don't want to be a world leader. I just want peace. I want to live my life simply and quietly."

"Then you need to appoint someone to be the ruler."

"But what about you? What do you want?"

"It doesn't matter what I want. This is your decision."

"Of course it matters what you want!"

Ileeya reached out and touched Tim's cheek. "My only want is to be with you, be it your queen or simply your wife, wherever you decide to go, I will follow."

"Then I wish to appoint Gylen as leader. He will make a fair and just king. Will you accept?"

"Yes, brother, friend. I accept."

"Then it's settled." He turned to Ileeya. "So, what happens now?"

"We leave. Gylen and Kiara have much to do. They have to apply order, clean up the carnage, have a crowning ceremony, then appoint leaders for the other provinces. It will be up to them how the lands are divided and who will assist in ruling them."

"And where do we go?"

"Home. Wherever you want that to be."



Tim paused to wipe the sweat from his brow and took in his surroundings. It never failed to surprise him how far they had come in the last eleven months. While working his construction job on earth, which seemed like a hundred years ago, he never would have guessed he would be using those skills to build a small farmhouse in which to live. And the long hot days in the prison garden came in handy, too, because now his garden was lush and green, and nearly ready for harvest. The vegetables would be picked, soon, and would then need to be perserved for use during the winter. Winter. That's something he never thought he would see again. Already there was a slight bite to the wind.

It would have been simple, yes, to have Ileeya simply wave her hand and make a house appear; put food on the table. But Tim found he really enjoyed the hard work. It made everything he had, and everything he had gained since the destruction of half the universe, seem real.

But occasionally he wanted a steak, or a deep crust smothered with mushrooms and pepperoni, or an old fashioned peach cobbler a la mode, with french vanilla ice cream just starting to melt and dribbling down the sides, like Gertie use to make, and it was nice to know those little indulgences could be had.

He plunged his hands into the rich soil again, marvelling at its softness as he pulled the strangling weeds from the lush plants. When Ileeya had asked him where he wanted to live, he thought of earth, his parents, his old life. But he was a different person now. A man forever changed by his experiences, and knew it would be more than difficult to try to adjust to the way things used to be. And Ileeya being an elf on Earth? That would be far more complicated than either of them could handle. Simplicity. That's what he wanted. But, thanks to Ileeya, he could still see his parents, who adopted Bones, in his dreams. They would have the same dreams of him, and would know that he was safe and happy.

There. The weeding was finally done. Tim began the walk to the crystal stream that flowed a short distance from their house to wash up. His thoughts wandered once again to the confrontation with Shirra and Jondak.

He had always credited Ileeya with the feelings he felt during that battle. The raw hatred bubbling right below the surface, only to explode into a powreful force that he could feel; a force that fueled a bloodlust he never even knew he had, never knew he could have been capable of. He asked her why she made him feel that way.

But she had told him, "I didn't. I gave you strength and courage, but after a momet, I could no longer influence you. It was like you were possessed - I couldn't reach you. So I took that opportunity to search through Shirra's mind, instead. You killed Jondak on your own."

He was never sure how he felt about that. On the one hand, it was liberating. He could finally find an outlet for all the pent up rage he had. He could finally get revenge on Jondak for all the horrible things he had done. He could finally make things right. But it also scared him. What else was he capable of?

Ileeya was already at the stream, dipping her toes just under its cool, reflective surface. He stopped and just gazed contentedly at her. She was a vision. He would never tire of looking at the way the sun played on her hair, casting bright highlights that glowed brilliantly in its light.

She turned her head and gazed up at him, giving him a crooked smile. Then she hauled herself up off the bank, which was quite a feat in her condition, and waddled over to him. That's something else he didn't know he was capable of. Months ago, when she first told him they were expecting a child, he was speechless.

"But...but you said...,"

"I lied. I was trying to rattle her cage and I lied."

Tim had initially felt sadness at the loss of life Shirra possessed. The child she was carrying, his child, was destroyed along with her. But the seed had been corrupted at the time of its planting, and that child would have grown up twisted and malformed, just like his mother.

Tim rubbed Ileeya's swollen belly affectionately. She was due any day now, and the baby he had been talking to all these months would finally come into the world and meet them face to face. Despite all his losses, Tim counted himself fortunate. He had a good life, the woman of his dreams, and was going to be a father. His life was complete.






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