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As the flames began to die away, he reached out tentatively, trying to touch the charred corpse, but feeling nothing.
“Come now,” the disembodied voice was the hoarse whisper of wind through dry leaves. “You’ve left all that behind now.”
The voice was familiar, and the words simply confirmed what he already knew. But still he felt reluctant to accept them. “Radament?” It must be him, that voice…so familiar.
Griffith? Griffith? the mocking query assaulted him from all around – quiet, yet powerful, and oh so swift. He felt birds swooping at him, circling around him, battering him with their wings…though none were there. Only the words were really there, that mocking whisper, playing cruelly, toying with him.
“Stop it,” he wanted to shout, but all that came out was a feeble whisper. Curling up into a ball, Griffith covered his head with his hands, and slowly rocked back and forth. “Please stop it.”
Silence filled the night. Griffith licked his lips nervously as his eyes darted from side to side. “Radament? You still there?” Shivering, he huddled closer to the flames for comfort. They seemed to be the only company he had for now, other than his charred and useless corpse. He was startled by a loud pop as a branch of wood splintered, and the fire leapt greedily inside, as if to suck the marrow from its bones.
You chose this path, the voice reminded him, amidst the spluttering hiss of the hungry flames.
Did I?, he wondered, but such doubts were futile now. Aloud, he asked, “What now?”
Join us, the voice hissed, and at its words, an ethereal host was revealed. Floating heavily in the air, wisps of brown and grey smoke condensed to form vaguely humanoid shapes. Looking down, Griffith realised that he was made of the same…insubstance.
You are one of us now, the voice echoed his thoughts.
Griffith got up and took a step forward. Freeing his mind, he began to float slowly upward. Looking down, he watched as the final few flames lay sick and starving, continually diminishing downward until the brief light of their existence went out, forever.
Spread the word, my son. Sharper than a knife, the voice was chill as ice. Nothing lasts eternally – nothing but for us, that is. Spread the word.
The fire may have died, but its smoke continued to drift upward, disappearing into the night sky.