Quince stood on the precipice, the space between the worlds of the living and the dead. He remembered frantically calling out to his ward, and envisioning her flight to safety, wishing it to be so. Now he stood facing six riders across the void, silhouettes of riders with horses rearing against the remaining amber tones of the sunset and tumultuous atmosphere.
I am dead.
He evaluated his situation, the riders were beckoning him. The saddlebag was at his side strapped across his heaving chest. The contents of the saddlebag emanating a light of its own. Its power resonating in his chest, relieving his pain.
“Ivan’s son, we await you.” came a voice from across the void. “Join us, it will be like it was.”
“Juhaz, is that you?” Quince remembered the man by his voice.
The remarkable man, Juhaz of Anatolia, whom he had spent several months with on his journey north with his father when he was a boy, was always admired by him.
“Yes, Q, we await you, we’ll escort you to Anubis.”
The death blow Quince received ached, he was suddenly aware of his crushed ribs and gaping wound on his right flank. The back of his throat stung with the acid-air of the scorched landscape that lay before him.
The light from inside the saddlebag was somehow comforting to him, its warmth was filling him with the desire to live.
“I won’t go, I’m not finished here!” Quince raised his sword in defiance.
The god of war, Ardur, sat amused from his seat in the heavens, but his companion watched in disbelief, as the intensity of the beacon from within the saddlebag grew. That was his own doing, Guil had stolen the Guardian Tauelm and left the useless brooch amongst the treasures of King Rom in his tomb.
Now seeming to do for Quince, the true guardian, what it never did for him — infuriated him.
“They are tending to him now.” Ardur mentioned to Guil. “You are reckless with your treasures. If you are not careful Nuthe’s plan will be fulfilled.”
Anubis could see what was happening, he wanted this soul.
“Get him, extract his soul and bring him to me if you must!”
The essence of the Guardian Tauelm manifested into an opaque mist that filled the gap between the guardian and the death riders, they couldn’t advance on him. Ardur smiled to see Anubis angry, Guil stood up and stormed away from him, intending to find another way to thwart his wife.
“Not this time my friend.” Quince called over to his father’s companion. “I will be honored to ride with you, when my time does come.”
He woke to a bright soothing light and the sweet smell of hay. An angel looking upon him, holding him in her embrace.