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Matters of Time
Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:04 (XFF:,

Rune could close his eyes, but no amount of focus or patience would allow him to put down the creeping feelings of guilt and disgust that rose in the pit of his stomach. Was this really his decision? Was this his grand alternative to a life of peace and wealth, even if confined to shackling robes of a nobleman? He gripped his knees in frustration and forced the thoughts away. The Ashy-man had made it clear what would happen, and though Rune had little trust in a man who had dedicated himself to a Tower hell bent on destroying Rune's entire bloodline, he didn't doubt the truth of his words.

Still, the Void eluded him. The flame into which he fed his emotions was dim and flickering, and it spat out more frustration and anger than it consumed. His thoughts went to his family. Would he meet his father in battle someday, dressed in the garb of an Ashy-man and wielding the Curse against him? If so, would they even recognize one another, or would Rune's features have slipped away into an unrecognizable stone carving, like those of so many men and women he had seen on these grounds?

It was only a matter of time.

Time, however, would also bring boredom. Rune did not know how long he sat there for, feeding the flame its own creations, before his mind finally began to clear, before the world started to drift away and feel distant. Somebody was talking, perhaps the Me-hail, but his voice was distant, spinning in and out of another man's ears. Rune could feel his heartbeat slowing, until even that slipped away from him, and all that was left was an expanse of calm, empty darkness.

And a light.

A light he had never noticed before, yet it seemed to sing at him from behind his shoulder, just at the corner of his eye. It was there, and he knew he had to reach for it, grab at it. It would slip away if he didn't move fast enough - he just knew that it would. And so he lunged, opening himself up to the light and trying to catch hold of it with his mind - and coming up short. Time after time, he came up short. He could feel the heat of it, the chill of it, hear it laughing and singing and waiting.

Rune leapt again, and suddenly his body was on fire. He was drowning in molten rock and being frozen from the inside out. He fought it with all of his strength, all of his will, and was almost broken in the process. For a few feeble moments, he maintained his grasp, and pulled away as the tide overwhelmed him again.

His eyes opened with a shaking gasp for breath.

It was a mistake. This had been a terrible, terrible mistake.

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