It felt like something straight out of a fantasy. The two of us stood face to face on a short hill, both of us accompanied by a large crowd of followers that stood around the base of the hill. I felt the presence of my Council all behind me, supporting me in their own way… And Holly was with them. I quickly brought up the memory of how she'd run into my arms when Bradley led me to her cell. She'd been well taken care of under his care but she'd been scared nonetheless and worried about all that had gone on for her sake. Naturally, she assumed that I'd come to rescue her and we teleported straight out of there back to my place. There was no reason to tell her that no harm would have befallen her under Bradley's care.

Then the memory faded away and I pushed all thoughts aside as the sun climbed higher. I listened with a deaf ear as someone bellowed out what few rules there were so all could hear. We'd chosen to have this end in a traditional one-on-one fight to the death where only magic and blades were allowed as weapons. As the last of the man's echoes died away and he scrambled down the side of the hill, Bradley and I continued to stare at each other, knowing full well that everyone believed us to be sizing each other up with absolute hatred. They couldn't be further from the truth. We already knew how it would end and it was only a matter of entertaining the people for a few moments of their lives.

When the sun had finally reached its highest point in the sky, the fight began in a whirlwind of flashing metal and Fire. For a few minutes, we danced in each other's magic, conjuring flaming birds and screaming dragons in the elements of Water and Earth while Wind threatened to knock us down in powerful gusts. Our swords and daggers flashed in the sun's harsh light, leaving jagged afterimages burned into the eyelids of all who dared close their eyes for an instant, including us.

But as all things come to an end, so did this short-lived battle we'd called upon ourselves. I noticed that dust and blood covered us both by the time he lay on the ground and I stood above him, both of us panting after the exertion. "Now Ryan," he breathed out. Even as I nodded, I heard him begin speaking in a low voice, in the ancient language that only the two of us knew. As I listened, I heard his voice mingle with that of Kris's and at first, it was startling to suddenly hear her voice again. Walk with me Tanek, you who have Chosen me as one of your own.

Slowly, other voices joined in and mingled with their's, adding power and strength to the prayer. Protect me from my enemies and give me the strength I need to melt their frozen hearts, for I am small and meek. I need your strength and wisdom. Guide my arms in battle but make my hands respect the things you have made. Make Me Wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people. Let Me Learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. I Seek Strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy - myself. All this I ask so that When Life Fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.

I'd joined them along the way somewhere and together, present and past were joined together even as I raised my sword high over my head. No wind stirred to carry the solemn words we spoke and it was in silence that I heaved down my sword and separated head from body once the prayer was finished.

I felt the sigh of relief of hundreds of thousands of Ancestors once the deed was done and I could swear I already felt Bradley among them. However, I had no chance for a rest right then. Straightening up, I faced the breathless crowd and absorbed their mixed emotions. I witnessed their hatred, their disbelief, their sadness and awe, the pride in some and the anger in others. "It is done." I heard my voice carry across all those who witnessed what had just happened and soon after, people began leaving, today's work done. No fighting would occur for the next twenty-four hours, an agreement all had agreed upon as was tradition in times like this.

And then I was alone. Silently, I made my way to where Bradley's head lay and took note of the relaxed features. Gently, I took the head and moved it closer to its body before calling Fire to the remains. I sat a little away, watching as the body was consumed in red and orange light and waited. While I waited, I reflected. Already, I felt a sense of peace in me as I'd never known before. I knew now what lay ahead in life, if not in exact details than in purpose. The purpose was all that mattered and it didn't really matter that I was the only one who knew it all. It actually didn't bother me at all and I didn't think that keeping this knowledge to myself was a burden, and that surprised me a little bit. I thought I would fight it more but I didn't. I accepted it because for some reason, that's what I wanted and what I needed. I was finally content, believing that this was what I'd been waiting for all my life and it was enough to hold it in to myself for now and wait. Telling others would hurt people's beliefs and their views on life but I had the truth, and that was enough for me.

As a light breeze began distributing Bradley's ashes over the earth, I finally acknowledged the presence of the only one who'd come back to witness the end. I turned my head and waited patiently for the woman to look my way. When our gazes finally locked, I greeted her in the old tongue. "Welcome Veronica."