“What is it . . . you want . . . my dear?” They spoke in unison, their voices raspy, hollow, without emotion.
“I want -“
“You want?” there was a dry slither in their voice, which made my skin crawl. “You want? All you people ever want is want. You sicken me.”
“Something awful has happened. I need you to give a soul back.” I knew how they were. I disregarded their confusing rudeness.
“My, my, what on earth are you talking about, boy? Does it look like we collect souls? Be off with you, then, son. There’s a good lad.” Their eye regarded me with hostility as they sucked their lips in annoyance.
“I’m not leaving until you give her soul back. Otherwise . . . ” I was adamant.
“You want us to make you leave? That it? You are hardly at liberty to make petty threats, boy, especially when in our domain. You just remember who you’re talking to. Just a small, undetectable pull of a string, and you’ll -“
“You don’t understand. The world needs her. She . . . she died too soon. She was not meant to die. I saw . . .”
“Once the string has snapped, there is nothing more anyone can do, boy, now shoo. You are wasting our time. Go on, get.” By that they pulled on a string that suddenly appeared across the cavern. It’s once blue radiance turned into a sparkling gold, before it burst into million sparks, and vanished.
“There must be something you can do. I . . . I will give anything.” Pleading. I had to persuade them.
“GO AWAY!” Their voice bellowed across the open expanse and ricocheted off the rocky walls. Small chips crumbled away, and splashed into acrid sludge below. Millions upon millions of blue strings appeared and trembled as walls shook, until one by one, they slowly settled into evanescence.
Pause. Pause. Whispers. Pause.
“There is . . . one thing we might try, child.” Their voice was as sweet and raspy as a honey comb. “But it calls for something that you will never be able to have back.”
“I’ll do it.”
“Hasty, aren’t we.” They cackled, their delight evident. Their eye watched me closely.
“I will do whatever it takes. It’s important that she lives.”
“Boy, once you go down this road, there is no returning.” Whispers slithering down my spine as the cavern was suddenly plunged into darkness. Two thin beams of blueish light cut across the black, the one pulsing, throbbing, the other as still as the blackness appeared to be. “You wanted this, we saw it in your heart, We see everything. We know what this girl will do for the world. We acknowledge that. Yet, we don’t see you, son.”
“I understand.” I understood.
“This was your destiny. This was the destiny you chose to lead. Your destiny you chose to exchange for those of another. A rare quality, boy, though we hardly ever care about right or wrong. We’re just here to pull the strings.”
I only nodded. I knew they could see me. Their eye could see into minds, let alone perceive through darkness.
A single twang as my string was pulled, whilst the other began to tremble as my energy got absorbed by hers. It was the right thing to do.
A dry cackle was the last thing I heard when all oblivion met me to drag me down into its embrace.