Chapter Eight: Forever Mourn
Purim opened her eyes to see patches of light shining down through the branches. When she sat up, she saw that she had been lying at the border of a cheerfully green forest; birds chirped lively little tunes, and rabbits nibbled off of the spring grass nearby. Ahead of her there was a meadow so lush with its wildflowers that when a breeze passed by, the blossoms moved in small waves.
"Purim!" She jumped to her feet when she heard her name echoed across the meadow...and the voice was decidedly male.
"Dyluck?" Her eyes peered across the ocean of color. Far in the distance, a blond man stood -no, he was running towards her. "Dyluck!" she cried. Tears of happiness streamed down her face as she, too, ran towards her love. She slowed when where almost together, wanting to savor their reunion. He also halted, and gazed into her eyes, smiling his love. "Dyluck, I-I've waited for you for so long....I can't believe you're here again. With me." With her palm flat, she made to put it against his, so that they could twine their hands together as they always did. He did the same.
But their hands never met.
At first they thought that they had touched each other, for it was so warm, but when they found that they couldn't clasp their hands, Purim instinctively looked down. "W-what?" She slid both of her hands across the invisible surface, desperately seeking an opening. "I...I don't understand."
"Hold on, darling. I don't understand it either, but I'm going to knock it down." Dyluck began hitting the wall between them with one fist, then two. Nothing shattered. Nothing crumbled to the ground.
"Dyluck, I'm so close to you and I can't touch you!" Her voice held an edge of hysteria.
He stopped his attack and looked down at her with hurt, and maybe even a little anger, in his eyes. "Purim, you've built up something while I have been gone."
Astonishment shone plainly on her face. "What? No, no never, Dyluck. We'll always be together! My love, always!"
Dyluck lowered his head, chagrined, and leaned his hand against the wall. "What am I saying? I know that we'll always be the only ones for each other." He smiled gently, stroking her face as if he could feel it through the wall. "Stop your crying now, darling. It's okay. I'm sure that there's a gap in it somewhere."
"But," she stammered, "how can this...this thing even exist?" Dyluck was right there. How could the world be so cruel as to place a wall between them, after being parted for so long? Was this the Devil's trick?
He started walking along the wall, trailing his fingers over its surface and speaking at the same time. "Purim, you forget. My... my physical self is dead. The only way I can be with you is with my soul. We're walking through your mind, darling." He ended the explanation quietly.
Purim continued walking with Dyluck, pressing her own fingers against the invisible structure in a position so she would be touching his hand when they found a gap. My mind? She remained thoroughly confused. Then why can't I make this wall disappear? There is nothing that I want more than to see and to touch Dyluck. To feel his lips on mine again. To feel his love. She looked up at his beautiful face, finding pleasure in simply watching him think. He felt her gaze and looked back, a brightening smile upon lips. "Even though we can't touch each other, yet, Purim...it's nice to be able to see you, hear you, again." His features softened. "You have no idea how much I've missed your grin and the sound of your voice. When I was in hell..." his voice became a whisper, "as I suffered, the only thing that kept my hope alive of ever getting out... was the thought of you...."
"Oh Dyluck," she said with a tone of pity, imagining what it must have been like for him. "I mourned you every day, every night. I felt so dead without you."
Dyluck stopped his rapid pace for a moment and adopted his most serious expression. "You did the right thing, Purim. Your mourning saved me." He pinned his eyes on her again before continuing to walk.
"I never stopped," Purim reiterated, "and I will never stop trying to bring you to me, no matter what anyone in world wants me to do."
Suddenly they both fell a bit towards the wall, or absence of it, and Purim released a cry of joy when looked down to see that her hand was against Dyluck's. Immediately, Dyluck twined his fingers about hers, bringing her into his warm embrace. "I told you that there was a gap in it somewhere," he said as Purim rested her head under his chin, breathing in his own unique smell. They stayed that way for long moments, and Purim savored every second as she found that he was precisely as she remembered. His hair was still gold, his eyes, still the same sea-blue, his smile, his smell, the pitch of his voice, the feel of his body....
"And now," he said, pulling back just a bit, "we can truly be together forever."
Purim smiled back, not being able to recall a happier time in her life. Then a slight frown replaced it just as Dyluck was bending down to kiss her. He halted when he saw her less-then-jubilant expression. "Purim, what is it?"
"I'm so sorry, Dyluck. I didn't mean to stop; I've been waiting for your kisses for so long. It's just that...."
"What?" he asked again, for he wanted nothing to mar the beauty of their kiss.
"What...what will happen to my physical body?" Her eyes became downcast, for she felt that she really shouldn't be worrying about her bodily self when she had Dyluck. She couldn't help it, though; she was human, after all, and the thought of dying was more than a little disturbing.
The intensity of Dyluck's meaningful look didn't have to be seen to be felt. "Purim, look at me." She did. "Does this feel like death to you?" he questioned while encompassing the sunny meadow with his arm. "We can be here together, for all time, Purim. The body means nothing compared to the soul, remember? Don't leave me, Purim. Please. I'm afraid that if you go, I'll be swallowed back into hell. You can't let me go back there, Purim. You can't. I know that a soldier like me isn't supposed to be afraid of anything, but-."
"Shhh." Purim stopped him from finishing his sentence with a finger over his lips. "I'm sorry that I even asked the question. Don't be afraid, Dyluck. I'll stay here with you." Her eyes fluttered shut.
Randi didn't know how long he sat there, huddling his body around hers. He only knew that her almost inaudible breaths were becoming fewer and farther apart, and that she felt more and more as a frozen statue as time passed. In desperation, he had tried everything he could think of: shaking her, calling, screaming to her until his voice was raw, and he even went as far as to pat her face repeatedly. Nothing worked. The thought of taking her to a physician entered his mind, but he knew that it would do her no good; her ailment was one of the soul. And he was utterly helpless against it.
Two tears dropped onto Purim's face and began to solidify before Randi realized that he was crying. He was shocked to find that the crystalline droplets were his own, for he didn't remember crying in the past, not when Elliot had pulled cruel pranks on him, not when the Potos villagers shunned him with their eyes, not even when Popoie left the world to join his fellow sprites as pure Mana. Now he did, because he had tried everything, and he still couldn't pull Purim's soul out of the lull in which the Devil had put her.
He paused at that thought. The soul. Everything that he had tried to bring her back had been, for the most part, physical. The one last chance he had was to call her out with the whole of his own soul. Slowly his lips kissed away the tears he had shed on her face, keeping the rest of them at bay by shutting his eyes. The eyes reveal the soul, Randi remembered form an old proverb -the kiss captures it. Then he lowered his lips over hers, pouring his soul into that one gentle kiss....
"Forever," Dyluck murmured as their lips met and bonded. Purim felt a sunburst within herself. Like honey, the feeling slowly rushed throughout her being, tantalizing and so sweetly warm. She had never felt a kiss so inviting and as loving as this one. Never, and she cupped his face with her hands to pull him closer, just as his lips caressed her soul.
When she could no longer breathe from the duration of their blissful kiss, she released him and gazed at his eyes, only to find that they, too, were shut.
"I love you," he whispered as his eyes flew open. Purim's drowsy sigh of pleasure and happiness quickly turned into a gasp of shock. The eyes looking into her own with similar amazement were no longer blue, but a sherry brown.
They were both stunned, and for several seconds said nothing. Randi's breath was shaky and without rhythm when he finally spoke. "Purim?" His pulse became more rapid when he realized that he wasn't hallucinating. "Thank Mana!" he cried and wrapped her in a tight embrace. You're alive!
The numbness had finally worn off of Purim. "Randi?" In the next moment Randi found himself flung to the base of the dais by her swift shove. She raved at him from above, the rage cracking her voice in a sound of utter fury and suffering. "How could you? How could you!"
Randi stared up at her in surprise. "W-what?"
Even as tears ran down her cheeks, her steps shook unsteadily with the amount of blinding anger she aimed at him. "You've just made me lose Dyluck! You sent him back into hell!" By the time Purim reached Randi he had gotten to his feet and flicked his gaze around her face, striving to understand what she was saying to him. She clutched her hands into tight, painful fists. "You killed him. You killed him this time! When we could have been together forever!" Turning her back to him, she called out into the moonlit chamber, determined to rescue Dyluck. "Lucifeeeer! I want to be with Dyluck! Lucifeeeeer! Why won't you answer me!"
Suddenly she was spun back around by Randi. He warned her with the gravest expression she had ever seen -worse, even, than when he had told his fellow Mana warriors that their chance of living through a battle with the Mana Beast was a slim one. "Purim, don't do that! Don't you realize that you're calling the Devil? When I found you, you were almost dead!"
She stepped back forcefully, speaking to him with a voice that carried barely contained emotions. "So what? Why couldn't I have died with him in the first place? Why couldn't you have died? Why couldn't we all have died? At least then the living wouldn't have to carry on the rest of their days throughout a bleak and meaningless existence!" Once again, a sick dread crept around Randi's heart at hearing those words from Purim. "I don't care if I die," she went on yelling. "I don't care! Don't you understand? I will do anything to be with Dyluck!"
He put his hand on her shoulder in yet another effort to cease her disturbing thoughts, but she slid from under his palm. "Don't touch me!" she hissed in a harsh whisper. "You killed Dyluck. I hate you." With those last condemning words, she stalked from the room, leaving Randi to pick up the pieces of his shattered heart.