In the Shadow of the Mask

A Renewed Heart

A shiver ran up and down her spine. The place, so familiar and safe, now felt like death waiting. He twisted around ever tree and lurked behind every rock. He called for her; beckoning her to come closed with his skeleton finger. He had always been there, even in her youth, but this time he knew that he might have a chance of stealing away her soul. He had been waiting for a very long time.

“Sparrow,” Aja placed her hand on her shoulder, “are you alright?”

Sparrow shook her head, “I would lying if I said yes,” she turned to the group, “but I know that I must do this. I know that I’m no different than I was before. If anything… I feel weaker,” her mind drifted to deeper darker thoughts.

“That’s no way to think,” Hannah huffed, “We’ve through a lot and I don’t want… no,” she shook her head, “I refuse to think it was for nothing. Sure we don’t have either the Sword of Aeons or Avo’s Tear… which supposedly the only way to defeat Jack… but still… I know that I’ve changed… I’ve grown… I different from when we first started…,” Hannah smiled, “I like to believe that we all have,” she looked to everyone.

Garth stepped forward, “I have to agree with Hannah. We are not the same as we were when we first started. I thought I had done all the growing that I could after our last… adventure,” he put the best way possible, “Returning to Samarkand, I thought, was my only choice… I thought there was nothing else,” he had to admit, “It… saddened me to think that it was nothing else for me to do… there was nothing else to learn… To do so,” he sighed, “would have proven to be dangerous. However, hearing that Heroes were needed once more… Well,” he smirked, “I have to admit that I grew excited. For all we’ve been through… all I can say is… thank you Sparrow for teaching this old Will User that there are new lessons everyday and life is worth living…,” the smirk turned into a strange sad smile.

“If I may?” Reaver poked in.

“Depends,” Hannah growled.

He cleared his throat and puffed out his chest, “I have seen many things in my glorious life and done even more,” Reaver announced proudly, “but out of all the adventures I’ve been on… this one has been the most entertaining. I don’t know how I will ever top it,” he pondered.

“Sparrow,” John looked to her with shy eyes, “I ah… I just wanted to say… I know that you…,” he wasn’t sure how to put it.

Aja cleared her throat rather loudly, “I think we need to give them some privacy,” she pulled at Reaver’s good arm.

“What are you doing demon woman?” Reaver asked in an indignant tone as the others followed after them.

John waited until the group was out of earshot, “My… my dear Lionheart,” he took Sparrow’s hands into his, “We’ve been through a lot lately…”

“I know and I just wanted to say,” Sparrow started, but John gently covered her mouth.

“You don’t need to say anything,” he smiled, “We have shared our tears over those that are now gone. It’s something that will be with us for a long time and it’s something that we can’t undo. I just wanted to say,” his deep brown eyes stared deeply into her’s, “No matter what… I have faith in you. I know that you won’t fail. I… l…,” he drew closer, “I love you…,” he whispered as their lips met.

His lips were like two rose petals. They were soft and delicate, but firm and pressed into her. Warmth filled her cheeks as the turned a deep scarlet. It percolated down her spine; melting the chill of death’s breathe away. Like a warm summer breeze, his kiss gently blew away her worries. The fears of the past faded and only that kiss seemed to matter. It felt like a little nudge in her… it reminded her that life is wondrous and precious… it was a worthy cause to fight for.

They pulled away from each other. There were no other words that needed to be said. Everything was in that one passionate kiss. Though it was small and they both were quivering as their lips met, it meant everything to them. It confirmed what that small little peck on the cheek so long ago meant. A strange little love blossoming… blossoming like a little strange daisy… a most simple of gift.

“I’ll be back… I promise,” Sparrow knew that she had to go.

Their grip lingered for but a moment, but it was all she needed.

“Farwell… my Lionheart…,” John mustered a smile, “I’ll,” he looked back to the group and to a faithful companion that refused to leave, “We’ll be waiting and cheering you on.”

“Sparrow,” Hannah called out, “Knock that Jack a good one for me!”

“And me!” Garth nodded.

“Oh shoot him in that smirking mask for me,” Reaver got into the moment.

Sparrow smiled as she looked to each one. Her last stare met with the eyes of Aja. There was a little smile on her face. She didn’t say a word, but Sparrow knew what she meant. She had faith in the girl… a child that came from her blood.

With a simple nod, Sparrow ran up the hill that lead to the Cullis Gate that would take her into the decaying bowels of the old Heroes’ Guild. Within those walls held a man… a demon… a being older than time… that wanted to play his final move. She would not stand by and allow him to make all of the moves… to manipulate her or Aja… to win. This was her game now. Though she had no sword of myth, she knew that she had to face him. She would give everything just to see him ripped from this world and plunged back into the darkness from which he came.

Her body no longer felt heavy. Her breathes were long and steady. Her mind was focused and mindful. Her soul was fortified. Her heart was full.

The age old battle was about to be renewed. It was about to decided…

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