This couldn't be happening.


It had to be a dream.

"Richard, get up."

No, not a dream.

"Richard just open your eyes! Please! Richard? Richard!"

A nightmare.

Cale was on the verge of hysterics as he held Richard. Several arrows had pierced the Warlock's torso but that was nothing, right? He'd had worse physical injuries than that. He's survived being stomped on by an Elemental. A few arrows would barely slow him down.

Elven corpses littered the ground around them and blood soaked Richard's robes and was still wet and cooling on Cale's face. He held onto the thin Warlock and continued to talk to him, a small, weak smile on his face.

Pella, Benny and Krunch stood behind them, silent and sorrowful. None of them had the heart to tell the elf.

"Come on Richard, quit playing around... get up DICK!"

Still the Warlock refused to move in Cale'Anon's arms. He shook him, tears running down his cheeks and landing on Richard's mask and closed eyes.

Benny, unable to watch, turned and embraced Krunch, burying her face into his fur as he wrapped his arms around her protectively.

"I saw you fighting. You didn't use use nearly enough power to sleep so WAKE UP!"

He pulled down Richard's mask and shook him violently. There was no response. No witty comment. No fire on his cloak. No song. Cale felt like he was going to be sick.

"Pinky," Krunch said tightening his hold on Benny, "It's over. We need to go before anyone else shows up."

Cale was shaking as he nodded, "O-Okay. Let me just..." he slid his arm under Richard's knees and lifted the light body bridal style. Pella winced and Krunch made damn sure his child couldn't see.

They left the battle ground and made their way into the forest nearby. Cale tugged the arrows out of Richard's stomach, casting them away when he saw Richard's green blood on them.

"Benny," he said, "Would you mind healing him?"

She choked back a sob and Pella said, "She's a bit tuckered out, Cale. Not just now."

"Oh... alright..." he looked back down at the impassive face, "C'mon Richard it's time to wake up. I can't carry you the whole way. Wake up already."

Still tears streamed down his cheeks and he was having more and more trouble believing the words coming from his own mouth.

They found a clearing and while the others set up a camp, Cale retreated to the edge with Richard, nearly sobbing.

"Please wake up. I need you. I need your help. Richard, I love you. Wake up. Start a forest fire! Kill me! Just do something! ANYTHING!"

But his golden eyes didn't open, and the jewel on his chest didn't glow scarlet. Instead it was a dead gray with a single hairline crack running down the center. It was then that the elf broke down and sobbed whole heartedly, begging the gods to give him back.

Krunch heaved a sigh, "It seems he's figured it out, Gid."

Benny took a shuddering breath as Pella poked at the fire, trying as hard as she could to ignore the heartbroken sobbing.

"That's almost worse," the priestess said, swiping the tears out of her eyes, "He never got to tell the Warlock. Corpses don't listen very well... and the Warlock will never be able to say it back..."

The sobbing died down by morning but Cale refused to leave Richard's side for nearly a week, only eating and drinking when it was forced upon him.

On the eighth night Pella woke up and shed a tear as she saw Cale digging a grave with his bare hands. When she offered to help, however, he looked up at her and shook his head, tears cutting through the dirt on his cheeks.

By that morning Richard was buried but Cale kept the deadened jewel just in case. Just in case one day, when he was minding his own business his hand erupted into flame with a fwoosh. Just in case he heard a song one day with morbid lyrics. He kept it because he felt compelled to not leave it.

Richard, Chief Warlock of The Brothers of Darkness, Lord of The Thirteen Hells, Master of the Bones, Emperor of The Black, Lord of the Undead, Mistress of Magma, Lord of the Dance and the mayor of his own little village was dead.