Prologue

Cold fingers danced across his physique and curled around him, gently drawing him away from the world – away from Jenny. Her warmth flooded through him even as he slipped from her gentle hands. It was only then that he realized the magnitude of what he'd done. He was dead, cut off from his own world. His mind reeled in amusement. So this is what it was like to die...

He was vaguely aware of the chaos surrounding him. A door slammed shut beside him. A panic-stricken Michael screaming for a knife... a knife...

"You don't need to do that." He would have grimaced at the weakness in his voice if he'd had the strength. "They won't come after you. They don't have a claim anymore."

Didn't they? He wondered, bewildered. There was nothing stopping them... was there? He thought there was but he couldn't recall exactly...

His thoughts were uncharacteristically scattered. He was speaking to Jenny but his voice sounded strange and distant to his own ears. What was he saying to her? He drew a blank. He knew he was trying to put her at ease, to stroke away the guilt he sensed in her aura, to lessen her wistful demeanour but the words he spoke refused to register in his weary mind. He didn't want to leave her with the burden of his death. Jenny would blame herself, would perceive his passing as his blood on her hands. A million things he wanted to say ran through his mind but he strayed to the most important. "...I loved you..." Did she believe him? Doubt added to the confusion whirling inside of him. Hell, he was so tired of this...

"Nothing dies as long as it's not forgotten..." He said quietly. A spark of coherence flashed painfully through his mind...he recalled another voice telling him that before. He had to leave something behind to be remembered by... something solid... a memory would never suffice... the ring.

Even as he thought it he felt the small gold band form in his palm. His hand slid weakly from his chest. Take it... Jenny... take it...

Jenny picked up the ring just as he breathed his last. A sigh of relief and release.

Jenny was gone. Her warmth, her golden glow, her fire that had warmed him evaporated as a dull empty blackness coiled itself around him like a venomous snake.

He thought he would merely stop existing but the fate that awaited him on the other side was merciless. There was no heaven for him and no hell. There was nothing. Absolutely nothing. He couldn't feel his body although he knew it was there. He was suspended in an endless realm so dark that it blinded him. He could hear nothing but the blood rushing through his ears and his heart throbbing in his head. He was alive but for all the wisdom he'd gained throughout the ages he couldn't understand how.

It was within the time span of thirty seconds before the deafening and blinding darkness began to drive him mad...