Chapter 36 - Goodbye to Friends

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In the ether, Jaylina and Michael found Bellamy waiting for them there in the astral plane. They talked about everything they'd seen. Bellamy scratched his head trying to decipher Aiden's message to his mother and was about to suggest something when Michael silenced him with a look.

"What of the Eater of Souls?" Bellamy asked instead.

"A universe full of matter converted back to energy," said Michael. "Explosive, to say the least."

"Such a powerful force to replenish Otherworld," remarked Jaylina. "Perhaps the City of Light may be restored back to its former glory."

"Yes, my calculating astral navigator," said Michael, laughing. "And hopefully with less intrigue here in our own world. Though some are deeply hurt by the loss."

At this prompting, Jaylina asked about Luna and Michael grinned.

"She's safe in the material world," he said.

Jaylina's raised an eyebrow. "What?"

"She's chosen to remain mortal for a time until she regains her strength."

"Michael, she's the Goddess of Night. You can't just keep her hidden on our world. Ethanac will be looking for her."

"She will confront him when the time is right. Until then, I will see to her safe-keeping."

"Why not invite her to join us with the People of the Water? She'd be most welcome there."

"It's the first place Ethanac will come looking. No, we will seek our own peace for a time after I find our child," Michael said, scratching his jaw.

Jaylina's intuition pushed her to ask: "How did you know the child was yours, Michael?"

"I saw her through your eyes, dear Jaylina. After I cut your cord."

"I knew it," Jaylina said, clapping her hands. "It was the child that guided me through the City of Light, where the Night hid her from Ethanac. I feel it with all my essence that she is still in the City, hiding and waiting to be found."

Michael nodded. He trusted Jaylina's intuition completely. "That she still lives is a miracle in itself," he said. "If I can find her, I will. For Luna, and for me. I would very much like to see my daughter."

"Then I shall come with you."

"No."

"Michael, I'm your Astral Navigator. If you are worried about what Luna will think, I promise I won't..."

Michael held up his hand. "It's not that at all. You have a journey of your own to take."

"What journey?"

"Luna sends her regrets for how she treated you in the past. You and your family. She knows the whereabouts of your father though she begs you not to ask her how. You and Afunakwa will have to go find him and bring him home to the People."

Jaylina was overwhelmed with emotions she could not express at this news. Her jaw worked but no sound came out while her intuition began correlating this information. In the end, all she could do was smile and nod.

Michael turned and studied Bellamy. The boy's face was expressionless as always. Then Michael picked up what Jaylina realized was a previous conversation they'd been having.

"You are sure?" Michael said to Bellamy. "I've kind of gotten used to you."

Bellamy nodded.

"You've written your words? Said everything that you believe needed to be said? Said your good-byes to Jaylina?"

"Good-bye, Jaylina, it was a pleasure to meet you," Bellamy said, his voice formal, as if speaking respectfully to someone much older than himself.

"Good-bye, Bellamy," said Jaylina, puzzlement creasing her face.

"Then I release you," Michael said as he reached out with a father's gentle hands and touched Bellamy's silver cord with a fingertip. It glowed hotly and severed neatly in two. The far end snapped back like a kite string into the darkness, into infinity, back to the material world, to some other when.

Untethered from his corporal body, Bellamy shown with new light. He seemed taller. Straighter; as if a great weight had been lifted from him. He hovered for a moment, looking between Michael and Jaylina. The blank look on his face evaporated, replaced by a smile, a little boy's smile that filled his face and was lovely to behold. His spirit reached out and gave Jaylina a long hug until they both resonated in joyful gold colors. She laughed out loud, unable to contain her delight. Then he floated back.

Bellamy began to rise.

"Thank you, Light Bringer," he said.

Michael lifted his hand. "No, little prophet. My thanks is owed to you. You carry with you the memories of this story and you will take them back to our tribe. Be at peace, Now is your time."

As Bellamy lifted away, he turned his head toward the sun, the place for souls to harmonize with their universe. Farther and farther he lifted until he was moving almost too fast for their eyes to follow. Then he was gone into the Light.

A single tear made its way gently down Jaylina's cheek as she watched the boy go. Never could she be prouder of Michael than she was at that moment.

Millions of leagues and millions more moments away, in a dank cell in a sanitorium near the city of Port Angel in the year 1899, under the light of a watchful and forgiving moon, a small boy's body slowly exhaled its last breath into the cold air. A slight smile covered its dirty face. A pencil fell from its scarred hand. There was silence after all.

There was peace.

Michael turned and held Jaylina's hands in his own. They stared at each other in silence for several moments, enjoying the Now.

"Thank, you Michael," Jaylina said at last. "For finding me."

Michael blinked and looked away. "Thank you for calling to me, and for finally recognizing me when I came."

They embraced for a long time. In the hours that followed, the ether around them had never felt both so cold and so warm.

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