"I'll find you!" I screamed through the tears as I struggled to keep a hold of Hunter's hand. Cain and the two other Soul Stealers were dragging him away from me, sick smirks contorting their demonic faces. "I'll find you," I gasped again as his fingers were torn out of my grasp, his face reflecting only fear and horror as he was spirited away from me again. "Don't forget me!" He shouted out of the night, and all I could do was nod fervently and hope that it was enough of a promise, signed in blood and sealed in tears.
He was gone.
I collapsed against the tree, shaking uncontrollably. I closed my eyes so I wouldn't see Ms. Westran's mangled body, cast aside like a used rag. I turned my head and retched into the dirt.
It was then, in that moment when I realized that completely and utterly alone in the night, that I felt a sudden, solid weight in my closed fist. Slowly, wonderingly, I uncurled my clenched fingers. There in my muddy, bloodstreaked palm was Hunter's Soul Stealer pendant, shining bright silver in the night. A soft gasp escaped my lips as I stared. He must have pressed it into my hand as we were torn apart, a last promise to make up for all the ones he had broken.
I clutched the cold metal to my heart and whispered a prayer into the night.
I buried Ms. Westran's body beneath the tree where she had died. I dug the grave with my hands, clawing at the packed earth until my fingernails were ragged and black with dirt. I talked to her as I worked, telling her the truth--Hunter's death, his deal with Cain, his real and heartfelt remorse for the things he had done. I hoped that finally hearing the truth would bring some small comfort to her tortured soul.
When I could dig no deeper for the tree roots, I lifted her body--frail from starving herself in heartbreak--and lowered her gently into the grave."You were like a mother to me," I whispered, holding her cold bloodless hand. "And you were everything to Hunter. If he had a chance to change everything, he never would have left you. He would have told you every day for the rest of his life how much you meant to him." Gently, I passed my hand over her face, closing her unseeing eyes. "Goodbye, Ms. Westran," I murmured, and threw the first handful of dirt over her lifeless body.
When it was done, and all that remained of what had happened there that night was a sloping mound of earth at the base of the tree, I turned my tearstreaked face to the sky. "I'll find you. And I'll never, ever forget."