In the Shadow of the Mask

Blood and Light

“Ack!” Aja grabbed at her chest.

“What’s wrong Auntie? Is it your wounds?” John hurried to her side along with Hannah.

There was something wrong. She could feel it. A dark presence was growing and it was something that was familiar. It sent a shiver up her spine.

“Auntie you look as pale as death,” John started to get worried.

“Give me your hands,” she held out her own, “Give them to me now.”

The group of Heroes just looked to her in confusion.

“Please,” she begged, “there isn’t much time!”

They didn’t move.

“Please,” tears started to stream from her eyes.

“Of course Auntie,” John place his hands on top of hers.

“Woof!” the old scruffy companion topped theirs with his paw.

Hannah smiled, though she still looked worried, “I will.”

“As will I,” Garth placed his hands in the pile.

Reaver hesitated, but gave in, “I would like to know why my hands are touching…”

“No time,” Aja closed her eyes, “Sparrow… stay with us…”

A cold shadow moved its way up her body. As it crept along, her body began to feel numb and chilled. It trickled up and up until it reached her chest where it seemed to stop and playfully dance about as if it was teasing her. She only wished it would come.

“Oh stop it,” she growled, “I know that you have been waiting quite some time for me, but I’m still not ready to go. I still have so much to do,” she sighed, “I don’t care if I have to fight you myself, but I will not go easily. You took my sister with a simple shot, but you refused to even come near me that night. I’ve held you back during many of my adventures… but you were satisfied with others that I’ve left behind,” she thought of all the blood she had split over the years, “You come to me now and expect me to just come with you,” she could feel the shadow receding, “I won’t… my life is not over,” she sat up, “I need to finish what my ancestors couldn’t. I need to see this through and through,” the shadow left her completely, “I don’t care if I have to die a thousand times,” she stood up, “I will defeat Jack… not for myself,” she vowed to the shrinking shadow, “This is more than just about me. This is about everyone that Jack has ever touched. Jack is the one that you should be pursuing,” she started to shout, “Take his black soul to the depths of the Void and never let it go!”

The shadow had shrunk down to the size of a child and shivered.

“Now, now my dear,” a hand was gently placed on her shoulder, “Death is only doing his job. There’s no need to scream at him.”

“Aja,” she knew who it was, “I’m… I’m sorry. I’ve failed you,” she grabbed at her chest where Jack had pierced her, “I’ve failed Hannah and Garth and John and all of Albion… even Reaver.”

“Where did that hot blooded Hero go that was just yelling at Death?” she laughed, “Besides… how can you have died if Death hasn’t taken you?”

“What… what do you mean?” she turned to her.

Aja stood before her as her young self. She stood proudly with her arms crossed across her chest and a smirk on her face.

“This is elsewhere,” Aja looked around at the grey misty fog that swirled around them, “I thought,” she released a sigh of relief, “You had fallen…”

“But she hadn’t,” a whispery voice filled the air, “She has… as she explained… so much more to do…”

“To fight against Jack,” an airy female’s voice twisted about the mist, “One must not think of the pain that he has cause to them… but the Light that is within them…”

“One must hold on to what made them who they are,” yet another voice filled them, “One thought that rises above all others…”

“You, Sparrow the Lionhearted,” the voices came together, “Have proven yourself worthy. The light you hold inside of you is pure and sweet. It is strong and bright. It can bring hope and lighten the heart. It brandishes away the darkness. Sparrow… you are judged worthy to wield Avo’s Tear…”

The grey mist swirled and pulled to one spot in front of Sparrow. It flowed over itself and started to take shape. The grey mist started to shine and smooth out. It flattened and ballooned into shape. It was a blade of gold with a deep groove that started at the tip and ended at the leather hilt. Strange images were etched into the golden sword; what they meant, it was unknown. It looked like the sword she had reached for before, but this one seemed to glow with a gentle light that warmed and soothed.

Sparrow wanted to reach for it, but felt hesitant.

“Go on,” Aja shied away from the glowing sword.

She looked back to the sword then to Aja, “Come with me,” she understood why Aja refused to look at the weapon, “You’re not the dark demon that Jack made you out to be. You are a being of light and beauty. You are a wonderful person and someone that I’m fighting for. I can save you,” she put out her hand, “Just as you saved me… let me save you…,” she smiled.

Aja turned away from her, “I’m far too gone child. I’ve lived in the shadows of Albion to ensure all that has come to be happens. Take the light that glows within you and share it… spread it... I will be happy to see the shadows that it casts…”

“No,” Sparrow wouldn’t allow it, “There’s a light in you,” a glow came from her chest, “I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the beauty that lies within your soul,” a tear came to her eye, “It showed the way to the light with in me,” she took hold of Aja, “It is a light that we both exude.”

The greyness of the area faded and was filled with a light that seemed brighter than the sun. It filled them both as Sparrow took hold of the golden sword. Light blue lines formed over their skins and seemed to form strange patterns that were like that on the Avo’s Tear. Sparrow watched in amazement as feathery white wing sprouted from Aja’s back and from her own. Pure white butterflies floated around them and danced about their heads.

“You have the weapon to defeat Jack,” the three voices came again, “But do you have the will… the support… the love…?”

“She has all…,” Aja answered, “Your friends give you what is best with in them,” she touched her forehead to Sparrows.

Sweet and simple memories overflowed and entered her heart. A young woman with green eyes and red hair fluttered her eyelashes at her. She shyly giggled and seemed to mouth ‘I love you always’. This simple phrase echoed in her heart. The scene shifted to dark shinned young woman smiling down at her. She handed her a book the feeling of excitement and joy filled her. Yet another came to her. This time it was an older man in a dark brown rode holding her hand as they walked along. It was so peaceful. She mind became serene. One last vision came to her. This one she knew all too well. She was looking up at herself. Her heart was fluttering like the wings of a hummingbird. She held out a strange little daisy with a rust colored center and butter like petals. All she could feel was love. Love… love... nothing but pure, innocent, sweet love…

“I give you my and your friends’ strengths…,” Aja whispered, “We are here for you…”

“Thank you…,” Sparrow could feel her feet touching the ground.

“How… How are you here?” a dark voice asked.

She slowly opened her eyes. She was not the same person as she was before. Light surrounded her and penetrated every nook and cranny of the damp cave. Blue swirling patterns decorated her shin and shone through her clothing. White wings rested on her back and spread out. In her hands she held the weapon that was called Avo’s Tear.

“I see,” Jack stepped back, “… but it makes no difference,” he raised his dark sword, “I have killed you once and I will kill you again,” he waited for her reaction.

There was no point in retorting, Sparrow could see this. She just let the beautiful thoughts… wondrous memories of loved one long ago. They gave her peace. They gave her joy. They gave her hope.

“Let us finish this,” he stepped towards her.

She would not move.

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