Disclaimer: I actually happen to own a lot of this, including the plot and a couple characters, although most of it goes to Tammy Pierce. If you want the rights, take it up with her. And don't sue me.

Reviews!

Silveni:

Ha, you liked the dreamy-ass remark? I liked the pun, didn't know if anyone else would by hey, it's my story. I like how lyn is turning out, she was a little Mary-Sue in the beginning I'm planning on doing the rewrite and there will be a lot more personality in Lyn near the beginning and I'm going to add a whole section for in between those five years. And I'm going to Try to make Gainel's love not seem so sudden but more gradual. I want to her to be more balanced with Gainel as well. Anyways Glad you liked it. Don't hurt yourself on this one laughing. I dunno if it's funny or not but hey, it's good to be safe, right? Read and review!

Noc and NC:

Umm, I can safely say no. I'm not going to have them breed and then have one of them or their family killed off. I'm not that cruel, all though I am rather maniacal in my blatant disregard for decently spaced updates. I'll admit that one. And you're reading a little too much into the whole tea party. It's NOT. A. TRAP. IT. ISN'T. SOME. UNDERHANDED. PLOT.

It's a tea party.

With Gainel and Lynn and Apfel and Phinity and maybe someone else we know.

Or don't know.

Either way, you'll have to see Mwahahahah!

Read, Review, Enjoy.

Nativewildmage:

Oh good. You do it too. So I'm not completely gone. You seem sane enough…I think.

Just Kidding.

Anyways, I'm Glad you love that Chapter, I liked it too. I actually like this one a lot more, so maybe you'll love this one as well.

Sorry it took so long please review!

Acanthopis: (You're New!)

Ha! I HOOKED you! You cannot resist the charm and allure that is my wondrous creation. No, I'm not really that conceited, but thanks a lot. That's the best complement you can give to a writer. You're hooked and want more. Yes, another cliffie, I am sorry, but I can't resolve something in every chapter. At least I didn't leave you smack in the middle of something dramatic. It's not a plateau or anything. It's not a mesa. Not even really a cliff, more like a ledge or the top of the monkey bars sort of deal. So you see I am thinking of you guys here. I'm not going to lie and say everyone can write awesomely. Because I've read some class-A crap (Trust me it's so painful sometimes. You might even have had the experience yourself. Gyah!), but at least you're willing to admit your faults. Doubtless you must be a pretty good reader, right? See, there you go. And if you want to improve your writing, you have to read a lot and practice writing a lot. You can always get better!

Thanks for reviewing, here's a chappy! Review again PLEASE!

Nyx Nox Night:

More Kick ass Darkings in this'in'hiss'in! Like my ebonics there? I dunno what I was going for either. I should delete it…but I won't. You're an awesome Beta Nyxy keep it up and I will be eternally grateful!

Lady Knight 1512:

All I can say is I'm not an idiot. Not usually anyways. So that might answer some sort of question. And I wouldn't treat you like that! I love you all too much! Gainel is in this one. It's all Gainel, baby.You'll get all the Gainel you can stand. Well maybe not that much but hey: you can never have too much Gainel. And he shows his soft side in this chapter. His hearts melting, it's so great.

Yup, Noble Lady (mixed with a little Pouts-Air-Head-Female and Love Doctor/Matchmaker) from the Medieval Ages. Exactly what I was going for, glad I succeeded thanks! Yes, Kitten was with Daine, but I thought I remembered it mentioned that she went to live with the other Dragons for awhile? If I'm wrong I can take that sentence out, no big deal. And I thought I recalled that Daine was uncharacteristically dark because of Weiryn's side of the family? I'll check the book later; I'm too lazy right now. I know what you mean about accuracy, I'm critical about it, too. And I think I mentioned that any reviewers should tell me about anything that was un-canon or resembled a plot whole, so no worries. That's still true. I want to know about that stuff; Inconsistencies, as well.

Thanks for reviewing please do so again!

Ace Ryn Knight:

You're so funny ARK.

Review.

Please.

And you guys get to see Gainel even if Lynn doesn't.

Lady Merlin:

Sorry I get CONFFUUUUUUUUUUUUSED

Easily.

And godamnit I want the confrontations too, they just haven't caught up to the plot yet. Yes, it's tearing us all apart Nyahhhh!

Okay,

My temporary lapse of sanity has subsided. I'm okay now. There will be confrontation. But it will be more like Uncomfortable Silence than Jerry Springer.

I think.

I haven't decided yet.

But I can safely say that Numair won't be waiting for Lynn to come home in Gainel's Yaris, while in his garage polishing his fire-arms collection. Mostly because neither fire-arms nor garages nor cars exist at this point but hey, it's a fact.

Read, Enjoy, Review.

And Anticipate the Confrontation.

Wait…

There is a conversation with Darkings…

Does that count as confrontation?

Feifiefofum:

I Know I LOVE HIM! Especially after this chapter. He actually has a face. He's so sweet I love 'im…sigh. He's risen in ranks above Rikash now, I'm thinking. He's so talented. And yes, you know what that means. We SEE PROVY. He TALKS to US—well, actually to Gainel but, whatever—He has a VOICE. Which WE HEAR!

And I don't know if you guys will like how I see him. It's all lot different than your description Fei. I seem to remember you mentioning something about him being a fat guy?

Well he's not.

Not even close.

And Fei, a little innuendo there! You know, I should have seen it coming but I didn't.

You got me.

It was funny.

I laughed.

And so far no one's really guessed what's going down. Everyone keeps thinking someone's going to die but that's not quite it. But Shit happens I can guarantee that. I'm thinking that no one will be mad at me when this thing is over. I actually have the last scene in my head, it's pretty great. You guys will like: I promise. This chapter gave me the idea. You might be able to guess it from it.

Read and review please!

Black Heart of Darkness:

It's explained NEXT Chapter. Not this one, sorry. But on one of the chapters in the reviews, I think addressed to Fiefeifofum, I explain it a little. A lot actually. You can get a jump ahead if you read it. It's this big long technical paragraph in which I try to pretend I'm smart and everything. Yeah.

And didn't you know? Provy doesn't make mistakes, he's Provy, Damnit! He's too cool to fail! But in all seriousness, he could mess-up; he actually addresses this subject in this chapter. Yes, Provy does himself. We get to see him! It's a landmark Chapter!

In the words of Fei: Provy Kicks Ass.

Read & Enjoy & Review!

Everyone, that day has come: The day we officially get to meet Provy. He's so sweet, I love him. Fei was right, Provy is cool.

Providence Smiles

By LGR

(Beta-reading done by Nyx Nox Night: Thank you Nyxy! I actually put this up before I got her e-mail back, I'll repost when I do!)

Part IV: Unbalanced

Dropping away from the mortal's dream, Gainel was back in the core of his Realm, emerald lawn, formal garden and large chateau easily visible to even the mortal eye. He'd given his Realm a good once-over to make sure everything was still running smoothly, (it was), delivered Lynn's letter to her brother (the work of but a moment), and then found that he really had nothing he needed to do. The Dream King was at loose ends.

Up until just recently, he'd been using his free time to fall into deep meditation to get away from his emotional stress, but that wasn't so much of an issue anymore. He'd said it: he had admitted to himself, and in that moment, to everyone who cared to notice, that he was indeed in love with a mortal; with Sarralynn. It was such a strange situation, because most Gods did not usually love in this fashion, and once again he found himself contemplating what was so different from him and the others?

Maybe he wasn't so different from them; or them from him. Mithros and the Goddess really did have a loving relationship: he had seen it, even if the clues were few and far between. As if they were hiding it even. And Apfel was definitely all for Love and even Lust, in more than just an elemental way: she'd had many a fling with a mortal or two in the early days before settling on their brother the Black God and the vast array of emotions she displayed were not always facades. And then there were Weiryn and Sarra who were as loving and devoted as any human couple, and though Sarra had once been mortal, Weiryn most certainly never was.

Even so, it was hard for him to imagine any of them feeling the depths of sentimentality that he did. Or maybe he wasn't nearly as good as them at hiding it? And with sadness, he thought that it could even be possible that the countless ages of mortal death had driven out their ability to fully become attached to or to care about them beyond how they could be used to manipulate the future, even as he remained cut off from human interaction.

Indeed he pitied them, but there was still no contest between his situation and theirs. They'd never had to feel the depression and loneliness that he had suffered; it was not something they'd have been able to hide from the King of Dreams because Gods both slept and dreamed as mortals did, though rarely, and he would not have been able to ignore the presence of a mind as lost in desolation as his own.

But it wasn't their fault, and that time was past.

He took a deep breathe and smiled slightly. Now that he'd tasted of happiness, he didn't ever want to go back, and he was resolved not to. Gainel would make sure that Lynn was happy and safe, no matter what it took, and if she really did love the brooding Dreamer, then he wanted to be with her always.

Gainel sighed, that was the only problem: Lynn was a mortal and technically speaking, she shouldn't be here; the Divine realms were for the Divine. The only reason Daine and Numair were not returned to the Living realms immediately during the Immortal's War, was the fact that all of the gods had been quite preoccupied with holding Chaos from invading and consuming everything within the Universe. At that time, a wayward human or two was insignificant by comparison.

Now however, there was no such distraction, and though the fact that they were quite obviously a bonded pair, proclaimed by the love goddess herself, gave him a little leeway, there was still only so much he could do before Mithros would make him send her back.

There has to be a way around this, he thought optimistically for once, besides her dieing, obviously. He couldn't bear to see her die; for one thing a mortal would only be accepted into the Peaceful Realms by the Black God if they died in the Living Realms (This was the main reason Mortals weren't allowed in the Divine Realms: for their own safety and the safety of their souls,) for another thing, humans were very integrated into their bodies and when they lost them there were severe effects on the mortal in question, and even when they were given a divine body, they didn't always adapt very well. Besides that, very few humans were eligible for said transplant: there were special qualifications pertaining to the condition and characteristics of the human, mentally, magically, and spiritually that had to be met or else there was no possible way that transcendence would work.

Indeed, Weiryn had been very lucky. Not only had Sarra met all these qualifications, but her soul had come out of it relatively unscathed, although she had not managed to escape acquiring eccentric and vague tendencies, often staring off into the distance and forgetting what she was doing, or suddenly remembering something she needed to do; times of impassiveness, or emotional outbursts that were quite unlike her human self from what Weiryn and Daine seemed to remember. Gainel supposed that overwhelmed, unadjusted, and high-strung would be the best description for the minor-goddess.

This might sound fairly major, but these were the types of symptoms that went away eventually and were not always immediately apparent. But even so, Sarra would never be the same as she was in the Living realms, one way or another.

Gainel was determined for Lynn not to go through such an experience, not even for the chance of being together for eternity would he risk her destruction, he would much rather her rest in the Peaceful Realms, drifting into serenity and forgetfulness, but safe and whole.

Besides, even as he thought of it, he realized this was no alternative. The requirements for transcendence were thus: blood descent from the Gods, a strong Elemental affinity, a mortal life lived to maturity, a Balance in Chaos and Order, a divine patron willing to speak for them, a position for them to fill, the skills to fill said position, and a strong soul both worthy and able to adapt to a Divine body.

On her mother's side alone, she was a fourth Godly, and her father had possibly the most powerful Gift in the Mortal Realms; the Gift was a sign of Divine blood, for it was by the union of gods and mortals that it was introduced to humans, and the stronger the Gift, the more prevalent the blood of the deities. In this way Lynn was more than qualified. And she also had a very strong elemental affinity; to choice and ability to change no less, which he had never heard of before, but it was powerful enough to counteract at least one of the restrictions of his element. With the securing of their bond he was no longer barred from the Living realms, though he had yet to test this influence.

She had not, however, lived her life to maturity. She was only seventeen, and most humans did not reach their peek until their mid or late twenties. And she'd had only a tentative balance of her chaotic and orderly energies: The more Godly blood, the more likely the body will reject the large amount of chaos inherent in humans. She might have been fine before, but she coughed quite a bit up while in the Chaos Realm. Who knew whether this would stabilize her, or add to the strain?

And though he was definitely willing to speak for her, he didn't know what sort of position she would have the skills for or whether one was open. And there was no way to tell how a soul would react to being transplanted until one did it. But all the clues pointed to her not taking it well. She was very securely planted in her body, despite the fact it fought itself even as she was in it, she had to be or else she would not be able to do the things she did: shape-shifting, phasing, healing herself. One needed to understand and be very aware and attached to their body.

Lynn failed to meet no less than five of the qualifications.

But why was he thinking such morbid thoughts? He didn't want to contemplate that inevitability, there had to be a loophole, and while Lynn was still asleep, he'd go find it.

He checked to make sure that she was indeed still in slumber, although his senses had told him it would be so even before he saw her. Gainel wasn't caught up on what the fads of beauty were in Tortall, and he suspected that though she could never be called ugly, wasn't the prettiest girl at court either. But it really didn't matter to him; he thought he would love her even if she were hideous, even without an elemental attraction that drew them together even before they'd known each others hearts or minds. And looking at her, he realized she was beautiful to him. She had something a raving beauty never would, a uniqueness that could never be captured in perfection.

Lynn looked to him, as if her true-self were a secret, and that any glimpse she gave you should be cherished. She always seemed to be holding back, and belittling herself. If only she could see what he did when she tentatively smiled up at him…Well, he supposed it was a good thing Lynn didn't, because there was no doubt that she fall madly in love with herself, and where would that put him? He was probably lucky at that.

Gainel sighed. He loved all of her, body, mind and soul. Even the parts she hadn't showed him yet.

Immediately upon thinking this, he realized he wasn't just talking about parts of her personality…he should go before he did something immoral.

He was as about to leave when he realized he didn't want her to be alone when she woke up. What if she got bored? Or wanted to talk? Or needed something that the constructs didn't understand? Providence knew they weren't very good conversationalists, efficient as they were. Something more human would be better.

Of course this was the Divine realms for good reason and he'd be loathe to find another human around, but he thought he knew where to find the next best thing…

—Or at least a good alternative…chatty, anyways.

On the border of the Divine realms and the Dragon Realms, was a small area very recently created that was inhabited by a community of round lumps of jelly: The Darkings. This was where he found himself, with the trumpeted calls of the nearby dragons easily heard in the atmosphere, and the sparkling caves, valleys and grottos of those amazing creatures.

The Darkings had a bustling little town that could even be called a city. Their homes were not made of wood, as it was difficult for them to use and make metal tools to harvest lumber, as well as the physical power to use said tools, and instead they were of molded adobe and could be quite elaborate.

These homes were too small for him to fit in, and he didn't particularly feel like shrinking himself, (he would never confess, not even under the most potent of torture, but he was quite afraid of standing next to a relatively giant mass of goop.) So he stood outside a pile of sticks that had been tied together with thick twine into a sort of barrier, (comparable to a fence, although it looked quite primitive beside their amazingly modern homes) that surrounded the city of adobe houses, some of which reaching up to his shoulder with three floors and nice lawns and formal gardens.

Little gloops (yes, he referred to a group of Darkings as a gloop) of Darkings, both large and small were jiggling around everywhere going about their business, a few saw him and wiggled off to inform the headsman as just about every other Darking in the area also noticed him and converged at his feet trying to force him into conversation.

As determined as they were, they were no match for his dull façade, and even their combined influence could not compare with his eons of experience with dodging actually having to communicate with another person, by being as unassuming and uninteresting as possible. In fact, one could argue that he had invented the inconspicuous-loner-lifestyle. Not many people could say that.

So he answered questions as curtly and unremarkably as possible while still remaining friendly and most began to loose interest in him as a large Darking wearing a gold ring like a miniature circlet, oozed up and the rest of the Darkings started hooting and cheering in their squeaky voices.

It took considerable effort to remain straight-faced as they proclaimed the ring-bearing glob, whose name was Halo, their Dar-King. It was even more laughable, as it was made clear that the Darkings' idea of a monarch was nothing like the human version. For one thing, they had no problem with interrupting and arguing with their King. This was revealed as even with the now subdued crowd of globules, it took an amazing amount of time for things to quiet down enough for him to speak and be heard. And even then there was quite a bit of whining going on as background noise to the dialogue.

Dream King faced Dar-King.

"Hello," was the opening greeting.

"Hello," he said back. Even if they were tryingly curious and impatient, the Darkings's simplicity and openness was refreshing compared to the snake-pit that was the Court of the Gods, "I'd like to ask if any of your subjects have the time available to come to my Realm and look after someone for me while I am away."

This remark set the fox among the chickens.

"Your realm?"

"What realm?"

"Fun! Fun!"

"Darkings quiet! Quiet!" Halo ordered, the Darkings grudgingly obeyed, "What Realm and for how long, please…er…" the little King realized he didn't know who their visitor was.

"Gainel." he supplied. Excited cries rang through the crowd. All of them seemed to know not only who he was, but that he was Master of the Dream Realm which, they gathered, must be quite the funnest place ever, and they all wanted to go there.

"It will only be for a day, I am thinking." He added. Every Darking in the city seemed to be there, and they were all asking, and some even seemed to be demanding, that he pick them to go along with him.

"Okay, Darkings accept, but what will Dream-man do for Darkings?"

Aw, that Halo, he was a sly one.

"I will offer anything within my power and within reason," He answered.

Suggestions were shot off by little mouths working a mile a minute, each more ridiculous then the last, from miniature pink ponies to flowers that lit on fire. Halo seemed to be seriously considering, as his expressionless form sent out thinking-vibes. Suddenly, he declared that he knew what to ask for, and the Darkings grew silent with anticipation as Halo announced his decision.

"Two Darkings go with Dream-man, and if they like Dream Realm, then Dream-man will let Darkings make a Darking-town in his realm!"

All the Darkings seemed to think this was the absolute best idea ever, and cheered the very smug looking Halo for thinking of it.

Gainel suspected that the Darkings didn't fully understand what they were asking of him. Land was a great commodity, wars were fought over it. It was worth far more than a simple watch-over assignment. On a more personal note, if he agreed to these terms, he would be allowing someone, (a large group of 'someone's,) into his realm; into his space. Gainel was a home-body and hated to have anything foreign enter into his refuge. He'd been using his realm for ages as a barrier between him and everything else.

Was this worth that? Probably not, he decided, in fact everything in his being was yelling at him to give them a superior and icy 'NO!'

Because of this, he wondered why for some reason he was drawn to consent, despite the fact that he was internally shuttering at the thought of having these chatterboxes as neighbors. A little voice in his head said "you have an infinitely vast realm; surely you can spare some room for them?"

And it had absolutely nothing to do with the din of begged, "Please? Please?" and aura of heartfelt hopefulness emanating from the entire lot of them. Or so he told himself.

Damn his conscience.

Somehow, he could feel absolutely no guilt over coldly rejecting the company of, say, Mithros, or even Apfel, but these little blobs of blackish goo, turned his will power to mush. Thinking back, he supposed he really was something of a hypocrite, wanting relationships without taking the time to create them; it was just that everyone with whom a relationship could be made wouldn't have done so because they genuinely liked him, but because he was Gainel Dream-King and a powerful influence to have on your side. He didn't want any part in political nonsense.

Also, none of them seemed to have anything in common with him and those 'relationships' were not only nonexistent, but generally impossible. He and most other Gods had trouble relating. He didn't have a mortal following, he kept track of goings on in the Living Realms, but generally wasn't able to make a lasting impression or influence in it's future, and had no desire to rise up in the Divine ranks, assuming there was a higher rank possible than Great God, which there wasn't.

He guessed that the reason he had so much trouble saying no was because of their sincerity. Gainel knew they would see it for its beauty the way he did, his own home never changed, but the rest of the landscape most certainly did so and on a daily basis, they would be hard pressed not to remain occupied. His Constructs were ever diligent and never faltered or went rogue, but stray snatches of dreams escaped all the time, even with his creations to manage them.

"Hmm…" he considered for a moment more.

"Please, please?"

"Provided you find it to your taste, I am willing to give a portion of my realm for Darking usage."

There was a resounding cheer by the entire Darking population which soon turned from praise to begged demands for him to pick one Darking or another to accompany him. He (wisely) delegated this task to Halo, thus removing himself from the spotlight for the time being.

This had better not get out, or he'd have people dropping in on him like crazy. And damn, he supposed he'd have to change his warding system. A neurotic feeling of paranoia and eyes watching you likely fell under the Darkings' class of things that were 'Not Fun'.

He kept wondering what he'd just gotten himself into even as he took the two Darkings Halo had chosen, introduced them to the sleeping Lynn, gave them the message about the closet and the sending, noticed Apfel had left her own message by way of a glowing white dove, and warned Thimble and Quartz that someone might be coming and they should tell Lynn to feel free to kick this person out. And that was that.

Finally he could begin his search to solve this Mortality-issue. And he knew exactly where to start.

Brushing aside Realm after Dimension after Realm, he left the inhabited areas of the universe behind to that sacred birthplace of the First Gods, where the Ancient Gods came into existence and then created the Realms which he knew today. This area was infinitely Vast, much more so than any of those containing gods and men. He supposed one day, Mother Flame and Father Universe might decide to create another Realm altogether, and start over again with more beings and other gods.

He supposed he would be even busier. Dream was one of the few Realms that were inherently superimposed within and without every other realm, even this vastness, although there was nothing here to dream at the moment.

Blackness, interrupted by tiny pin pricks of light everywhere, and in the center, Mother Flame's Hearth, where she cultivated the Living Fire used in the making of that Knife that Violence had nearly beheaded him with. The Hearth itself bled into the Living realms, giving its inhabitants the ability to create new life. Without the sacred fire, nothing could be born.

The Great Gods were created by Mother Flame using the Living Fire in the Beginning and so were the most powerful. All of the other gods had been created second-handedly, by the Great Gods using their own life-forces, or by the influence of the Humans themselves. With less of the Living Fire, they were no where near as powerful. It was a rift so wide no amount of energy given by one's followers could truly breach it.

"Ah, thy Son, thou hath come once again to see'eth thee." Mother Flame said, turning from her hearth. She smiled softly, her eyes still holding empathy and understanding despite their likeness to burning embers. Warmth radiated outward from her presence, and light danced from her being, she was a beautiful sight to behold: a woman of pure fire.

"Yes, Mother, I came to ask you about something." He told her simply.

"Aye, thy heart doth resemble an open book," she confessed to him amusedly.

Am I really that obvious? He thought, apparently so, or maybe Mother Flame just knows me that well.

She went on, "Ages ago, thou wouldst come to thee and ask after thy consort, and thee couldst not respond to thy satisfaction. Wait, thou wouldst tell thee, and thee hath done so. The Future art still a mystery to thyself with all thy power, but thy waiting, it seems, hath come to an end."

He sighed, that was as good an admission that Lynn was meant to be his consort as he would get, but this didn't answer his question.

"The waiting yes, but Sarralynn is mortal, how do I ensure that we can stay together?"

"Thou art afraid that thy question is not within thy knowledge, thy son," she said, "Thou shouldst have faith in The Balance and Providence, for tis in thy belief that thy situation wilt endeth well." She finished.

It was slightly ironic. For someone to tell a god to have faith but he supposed it was all he could do for now. Unless…

"Thank you Mother, I'm afraid that I'm skipping out on you. I'll come back to visit soon." He told Mother Flame.

"Yes, and thou shouldst bringeth thy Lady as well."

"Yes, of course, farewell."

Stepping out of his mother's hearth, he set his path to another place, one of the few others that permeated all realms at once other than his own. Shifting, he stepped out into blackness which was only interrupted by the glowing of an enormous set of ivory scales, more than thirty feet tall, shaped like a woman clothed in a garment of wrapped cloth holding two water jugs, one in each arm. At this point the jug in her right hand was held much higher than the one in her left. This was the side of Good.

"The world is unbalanced," softly echoed a male voice.

"Yes." Gainel said noncommittally. He'd seen it the way the scales were tilted. Most people would belief that this situation was a good one, but Providence and The Balance didn't see it this way. If the world was tilted too much to the side of Good, eventually the scales would violently balance themselves but swinging the tilt towards evil. The world was most stable, less likely to change dramatically, when it was balanced.

"You wanted something," It wasn't a question.

"Yes, I did. I wished to ask you something, though I do not know if you will answer."

"I will answer as I can," Providence assured.

Gainel finally noticed the figure sitting on the mirror-like black floor, leaning against the foot of the Scale-woman. Gainel had never seen Providence nor even spoken with him, but that wasn't saying much, as he rarely allowed himself to be seen. Gainel couldn't think of a single God or Goddess of whom he knew to have had an encounter with the solitary being, except for Mother Flame and doubtless Father Universe. Even if you went to his realm there was no guarantee he would speak with you, you could stand around in the darkness staring at the Scales forever and never see or hear a thing. If he decided to address you, there was little chance we would or could help you without disrupting The Balance, and his entire job was to keep The Balance and so one could see why he'd be loath to do so.

Sitting there in hooded, white robes, was someone who appeared to be a year or to younger than Gainel's assumed appearance, with blindingly pale hair and skin and grey eyes, wearing an expression that was both neutral and unrevealing. A wrist that poked from the long, wide sleeves was as pale and delicate as to seem insubstantial. As Gainel saw him, the figure, moved his hands to tuck within his sleeves.

Despite the Being's apparent calm, Gainel couldn't help but think that Providence was a quite sorrowful individual, and he felt a sort of kinship. Melancholia-ridden-loners unite: they should have a guild, Gainel thought sarcastically.

"I'm sure you are aware of my situation," Gainel began.

"Yes," was the emotionless answer.

"Do you also know my question?"

"I have something of an idea, Yes."

"Is their anything you can tell me about it?" Gainel asked hopefully. Up until now Providence had been surprisingly cooperative; he just hoped his luck would continue.

"Yes, stop looking for an answer. You will not find it. It will come unbidden: one way or another."

That was…rather helpful actually; almost encouraging even, or was it? He thought about the phrase "one way or another" and reassessed his reaction. Providence was saying (rather cryptically) that either it would occur somehow on its own, or something else would which would cause this problem to go away without actually solving it; which was very discouraging.

"What are the odds?" Gainel asked, hoping he wasn't making a mistake by doing so.

"Ordinarily I'd say one to one."

"But?"

"In this case, I can't say one way or the other. So many different elements are involved."

"The imbalance," Gainel realized, worriedly. With the balance shifted towards good, there was more than a chance that things were about to take a turn for the worse.

"Yes, among others."

"If you had to guess, how do you think it will go?"

"I can't say."

"Can't say or won't say?"

"Both."

"You do realize you're not telling me indicates the odds are bad."

"On the contrary: with humans involved, odds seem to be of little consequence to reality. So you see I honestly can't say, although to be truthful I wouldn't tell you my opinion if I had one, one way or the other."

"I see." Gainel murmured. What Providence said was true. Humans seemed to come out on top against the odds more than not; perhaps things weren't so bad after all.

"It's nothing personal" Providence said. No, Gainel was wrong, his voice wasn't emotionless; it was just non-confrontational and sincere.

"Yes, I understand." He did too; it was part of his job, and he even seemed sorry he couldn't help.

"But I will say that I know how I want things to end up: I'll do my best."

Gainel couldn't help it, he smiled, "Thank you."

"I hope that I have been helpful."

"You have. I have one last question."

"Oh?"

"What, you don't already know what it is?" Gainel teased.

"Not at all." Providence responded. His voice hadn't changed but the Dream King had the feeling he was amused by the remark.

"Do you ever get out of here?" Gainel asked, indicating the black expanse that Providence inhabited.

"Sometimes."

"You are quite obviously busy right now."

"Yes, I am."

"But drop by anytime. I have the feeling I'm going to want the distraction from the Darkings, and Lynn keeps telling me that if I want people to come by I have to ask."

There was a pause, and then he said, "I will."

Gainel was turning to leave, when Providence added, "But remember to change your wards. I understand that you were harboring the notion of conveniently forgetting about them."

And he disappeared.