Epilogue

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Raindrops were falling on his head, wet and cold. The wind was singing, swirling the leaves about him. A shiver ran through his soaked body.

The trees of the nearby forest loomed up ominously. An eerie whisper went through their boughs, as the wind whipped their branches, making the last leaves that were still clinging to life swirl to the ground.

Falling, dying like a leaf in autumn. Hauled off life by wind and rain and darkness. It lingered still, the darkness, and so did his pain, devouring, engulfing, drowning. A black pool that swallowed everything. He had been swallowed and now he was falling, falling like a raindrop, not knowing when and where he would reach the ground.

Darkness. Blackness was before his eyes and everywhere else. Nothing. And there was no one to keep him from falling.

He sank to his knees. The autumn-aster in his hands fell silently on the ground. Hot tears were burning in his eyes. His hand reached out to touch the cold stone. Cold and dead.
The hood of his cloak hung into his face, concealing his tears, as his fingers stroke over their engraved names. His quiet sobs mingled with the silent sighing of the wind and the soft sound of dripping water. It was the sad melody of grief, the feeling of darkness.

He winced, as someone grabbed his shoulder. His vision was bleared, as he turned around, blinking, for he was dazzled by a light, which seemed too bright for the darkness of the night.

"You should not be out here in the pouring rain" a loving voice said "Come, let's go back home."

A hand reached out for him. He looked at it thoughtfully, while the wind was hissing in his ears. Lifting his head, he grabbed the hand. Its touch felt warm to his cold fingers. The figure in the light smiled at him warmly. As he struggled to his feet, he perceived Esmeralda, who held a lantern in one of her hands. Blinking away his tears, he smiled at her.

One last time he turned around placing his hand upon his heart and closing his eyes for a moment in silent remembrance of those who were dearest to him.
He didn't realise that the autumn-aster was blown away as he slowly walked back towards Brandy Hall, his new home.

There was darkness, but there was also light. He would cling to that light and defeat the shadows, no matter how long it would take.

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THE END