Disclaimer: I know it's been six months, but if Allison Croggon had transferred ownership of the Pellinor series, I think we'd have heard about it.

Notes: Well… I did warn that updates were going to be erratic. With so many other stories, this one's probably going to be VERY erratic. The long periods of nothingness have nothing to do with reviews; they're all wonderful. This is Dharin in the present again (AKA dead Dharin- or is he dead?) It's yet again a short installment, but the next present installment should be longer and full of explanation.

It's still white out here. Very astute observation for someone who's supposed to be brilliant. But someone who's brilliant wouldn't be here at all. Someone brilliant wouldn't have taken a trip they knew they'd die on. They wouldn't have fallen in love with a hero; they wouldn't have fallen in love with their cousin. And they wouldn't have died.

But I did. And I'm brilliant. So I guess it can happen.

"I'm Mara," the goddess-like girl told me.

"…And you're Mara," I stammered. "That is-of course, you're Mara, you just… brilliant, Dharin. Yeah, that's it. I'm brilliant." I extended my hand. "Pleased to meet you."

She smiled. She was brilliant too.

Yeah, I'm brilliant. At all the wrong things. Color coordination wasn't generally one of them, though.

They say that the heaven beyond the Gates is white too. They must be wrong, like always, because this is hell.

What did I do to deserve this? On second thought, what didn't I do?

Don't be afraid, I told her. Because I am.

It's silly. What's there to be afraid of if you can't die? Well, there's that, I guess. Brilliant…

Sirkana's going to kill me for not making it past the Gates. Heck, she'll kill me for dying. Or worse, she'll kiss me and say, I told you so.

Granted, she did. I was just too stupid to listen. Too brilliant.

It's not like I can die again, I suppose, I might as well be reckless. I survey my surroundings; like before, they're just… white. Even most of my blood's gone, washed away in the snow. That's the problem with white: it doesn't last. Not before it's stained. Like laundry- I hated laundry. My aunt did it for me, usually. It was like magic, watching the stains disappear. It probably was.

But that's the problem with laundry: the stains are still there.

Maerad's nowhere. So I guess she's not dead. And I guess that's good. How it's good, I'll think of later. Tomorrow, maybe. "Tomorrow" in some cultures means "sometime in the future." And I have no future. So I'm good. Just, not literally.

I try to take a step. Something crunches through my foot.

Through my foot. It's my murderer. Well, one of them. The bolt that killed me. I scream, but not from pain. Not physical pain, at least. From another, deeper kind of pain, the pain I wish I could feel. Instead, there's nothing. Just… nothing.

Except horror when I realize it's the tail end of the bolt. The part that didn't kill me. It can kill me now.

I'd been looking forward to attending my own burial, so I could laugh. Tell them all how much better it is here, chide them for their stupid humanity. But I've missed it, like I missed everything else. The snow's already been my coffin; now, I'm dead to the world.

Dead. I should be dead.

I suppose I can't die again.

But there's no harm in trying.

I can't bear to look at myself, not as a corpse; but, since I'm not sure what I am, I afford myself a look at my chest.

There's a gaping hole by my heart, but I'd already known that. It's filled by the bolt right now; but, Maerad can't be the bolt, Maerad's not here.

So I rip it out. What a weapon it is, to hurt without pain. Dying hurt, but this… this hurts more. I'm dying again.

And I have to close my eyes. Because I'm still afraid. I'm afraid of myself; and Sirkana always told me to kill my fears…

I finger the sharp edge of the arrow.

I'm certain she wasn't promoting suicide. But I'm already dead. I should be. What I'm killing isn't myself, it's a ghost, a spectre. Ghosts are meant to be vanquished, ripped from the world…

Decisively, I slit the arrow across my wrist. And then the other. And then there are none; but there's still me.

Who is me?

"Dharin à Lobvar…" a mystical voice whispers. "You are too brilliant to die."

I'd forgotten. Ghosts can't die. They'll always haunt you.


Poor Dharin. :( He's so neglected, this is the only fic featuring him that I know of. Reviews would make him feel better, though. Speaking of Dharin, how is he? I'm inadvertently making his personality a mix of Moritz Stiefel (very evident in this chapter) and my own character (who Dharin actually was the basis of, strangely).