Chapter 21: Revelation

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"The Sons of the Storm will come forth,

Armed with the might and wrath of God.

And they will walk many paths of travail

Before they come to the Final Battle

To lead the Hosts of the Horn against the Abyss."

- from the Hornsman Interpretation of the Utterance 

The darkness swirled uneasily for a long moment, echoing with the pain of his death. Then, before any other sensation could come to him, it parted and Shawn found his eyes filled with light. Yet it wasn't like any light he knew, like the light of noon day, or even that from a bright lamp.

No, it was a grayish light, as if it had every part of it leached until there was little left, barely enough to confirm it was no longer darkness. And it seemed to emanate from all around him though no visible source was present; the strange light permeating every span of the space Shawn now looked into. It was though this space itself was made from it, darkening only to create the ground underfoot by the merest amount. No other feature was visible.

Yet that wasn't the strangest thing here. It was that Shawn could feel that light, pushing against him as though it were a physical force, like he was swimming underwater. Even breathing, he felt it being drawn into his lungs and pushed back out as though it possessed weight and mass. Lungs that worked, despite the massive hole he could see torn in the center of his chest.

<<Disconcerting, isn't it,>> a calm, female voice asked in perfect elven just as he was lifting a hand to tentatively touch the torn edge of the ragged opening. Dropping his hand and turning towards it, Shawn was only mildly surprised to find it belonging to the strange woman who he had encountered at his father's home, before the sunara attack.

He was more surprised by the fact that he found her completely as he remembered her from that strange conversation, bright and full of life as if this gray place was alien to her. The image was only enhanced by the strange woman's dress, her simple blue dress a beacon of light and life in the washed out world around her, shifting with her movement as she strode towards him out of the distance though distance itself was oddly relative here.

<<Disconcerting to wake up after feeling yourself die, in a place that bears no resemblance to any hereafter you learned about from the clerics, and still with the hole in your chest that stole away that life of yours.>>

<<You could say that,>> he replied, frowning when he realized she was relating his very thoughts as he considered this place. That frown grew when his spoken voice sounded thin and reedy to his ears, as if it lacked strength enough to push aside the strange air.

<<It's more disconcerting to feel neither alive nor dead.>>

The stranger smiled as she came to a halt not two paces away, her hands clasped demurely in front of her

<<I can imagine,>> she replied with a wry smile. Then she was abruptly sober. <<We've been afforded a strange opportunity here, Shawn; an opportunity that circumvents rules the Maker put in place to insure the discovery of Fate wasn't predetermined.>>

<<An opportunity?>> Shawn's confusion grew. <<I'm not sure how me standing in limbo, with a hole in my chest preventing me from returning to the land of the living can be categorized as an opportunity.>>

<<Because being stuck here for the nonce allows me to tell you where I am!>> A smile returned to the woman's face in a blossoming rush.

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