She whirled around him in the garden of day dreams. The scene altogether, her face, was both distant and near, familiar and unrecognizable. And yet, as he watched this woman, beautiful in both the unreal formation of her face and the very real expression of her eye, he could only be furious that he could not recall the feel of her hands, her treasured voice. He was angry at himself, his memories, that so much of her had been melted away and filled by his imagination. The reality of his past and the fantasy of his mind were one - the fatal side effect of lonely insanity.
She had been his wife, in a time so long ago. He had been at her side to her last breath. She had died in his arms, a ghost of her former magnificence, in an emaciated guise of pain and fragility. As much as he fought to keep her alive, no one could defeat the reaper.
Only he could defeat that hungry phantom. That he could not have the due justice of death, to rightfully join her in the beyond, was the worst of tortures. He had tried many times. After her passing, he had routinely attempted to take his life. He bled; he felt the agony of a blade eating at his throat, a rope choking the air from his lungs. He would sink into darkness, relieved of pain, only to rise from a black sleep into the waking mightmare of gray infinity.
Perhaps ... this mythical sword, leading him to some obscure destination, was the pathway to death's escape and beloved Aya. And yet, while it was a lantern of light, it was a weapon of war. Was he to fight his way to heaven? Was there a demon guarding its golden gate?
While secluded in the confinements of his mind, beasts of the underground reared their ugly heads in answer, raised from their timeless sleep. The blade beckoned to them. Like a moth to the candle, they were attracted to its light.
As Rider had withdrawn the sword from its muddy sheath, the Witch of Faraway opened her eyes. The Knight of Shadow felt the change in winds. The waiting creatures shifted in their graves. He had roused the Last Souls.
As hoof beats passed above, the buried goblins could feel the blade's throbbing presence. He could not see them crawling up through the earthen ocean.
Just behind him, a crooked hand pierced through the world's soggy crust.