"What do you want me to do?" cries Seth. Tears blur his sight. He stares brokenly up at the cold statue, seeking some sort of comfort from the blank stone. "What more could you possibly ask from me?"
The statue, of course, does not respond.
Seth sits in an abandoned hallway, down in Chaos's private quarters, the place that no one had been allowed to even visit. Here, he'd found interesting trinkets and a purple flower blooming in a windowsill. Here, he'd found personal possessions and items tagged as the toys of Chaos's children. Here, Seth had found this dark, depressing corridor.
Onward, it stretches, going on far in either direction. There is infinity to the left and infinity to the right. Of this, Seth is certain. He can wander as far as he'd like either way, but he'd never meet an end. To the left, a long line of statues sit in the gloom, lit only by a narrow crack in the ceiling through which light pours. To the left, a long line of emptiness awaits, ready to be filled.
Before Seth sits a particularly grand carving, one excellently sculpted with both white marble and inky black obsidian in the same material. Dark amethysts rule the eyes. Ivory fangs loom at the corners of onyx lips. Chaos sits in a snarling expression, his face still and his eyes vacant. For, if life had been given to stone, Chaos would've looked different, acted separately than this still reproduction. And yet, staring into the frozen face of his mentor, Seth cannot help but choke up.
"Why did you drag me into this?" Seth marches away from the statue, turning his back. Again, he gropes to pull the cloak over his shoulders. "I know now. I know that your mentor did this to you. I know that I'm probably going to turn into a monster. Why did you choose me? Why did you want me to carry out your legacy?"
Seth whirls about, but, still, the statue holds no answers. The flickering light from the ceiling doesn't even install the slightest emotion in the stone eyes of the stone Chaos.
"Please." Seth's voice is hoarse and pleading, begging for some sort of a sign. He hurries forward. Hesitantly, Seth reaches forward, pressing his palm against the sculpted fur of Chaos. If it had not been so cold or so hard, the stone would've been freakily realistic. Seth rubs his thumb over the wolf's hock, praying for some sort a miracle he knows will never come.
"Please, tell me what to do. I – you left me with all these duties. Your job was to keep order in the ranks of darkness. What does that even mean? Do I – do I make sure that there's not another demon army? Or do I make sure that the demon army is never locked up again? I don't know what that means, Chaos! What does the King of Shadows do? Why won't this damned cloak respond to me in any way?"
The face of Chaos does not move. Despair clutches Seth's heart. Growling suddenly, anger pulsing through his veins like lava, Seth swings his fist into the pedestal of Chaos's next-door neighbor, a minotaur with green eyes. The statue shudders, a plume of dust swirling to the ground.
Releasing a slow sigh, Seth wheels around, raking a hand through his hair and studying the ground in terror. His throat closes up.
"I'm on my own," realizes Seth, his voice cracking. "I'm on my own."
As Seth turns again, something slips from his pocket, something that had been previously firmly wedged in. Seth freezes at the sound of a stone rattling over the floor, the noise obnoxiously loud in the quiet of the tomb. It clatters until it comes to a lazy stop somewhere behind Seth, but he does not turn.
Seth swallows. He blinks once, blinks twice, and then turns.
There, lying on the stone ground, illuminated by a shaft of light is the brown gem Chaos had given him.
The jewel almost seems to glare at Seth, scolding him with a familiar touch as it slowly comes to a stop. Mouth dropping open, Seth watches it for a few moments, though nothing else extraordinary happens.
Lurching forward, Seth scoops up the stone. It's still cold in his hands, with no abnormal heat. Nothing has truly changed. He turns it over and over in his hands, inspecting the gem with a critical eye. And, beneath that critical eye, Seth notices something he'd never seen before.
Holes in the stone.
A wild and crazy idea hits Seth upside the head. A hopeful blush colors his cheeks. With one hand, Seth knits both sides of the cloak together, holding it patiently. With the other, he holds the stone against the fabric.
A quick, small burst of light sparks. Seth recoils, releasing both the cloak and the stone, but neither fall to the floor.
Seth smiles, touched once more.
The stone had been designed as the claps for Seth's cloak.
Seth looks up at the statue of Chaos. He smiles broader, studying the sterile black-and-white design of the statue. With a poignant and yet also content chuckle, Seth presses his hand against the stone wolf's chest.
"Such a strange thing, love," whispers Seth. A tear traces down his cheek, but Seth makes no move to remove it. "Thank you, Chaos. And goodbye, my dear, dear friend."
"If only that could be," sighs Aladdin. He shakes his head wearily. Then, pricking his ears and tilting his gaze skyward, Aladdin chants, "The time of balance is done, and to darkness we've said goodnight, but over the distant horizon, here comes the age of light!"
Aladdin lets that hang for a few moments. Then, he shudders, rippling his black coat. Aladdin studies the amber leaves coating the ground. Darkness and night now rules this forest once unnaturally tainted by light. Aladdin cannot see much further than twenty feet ahead. Silver tree trunks are blatant in the darkness.
Elegantly, Aladdin steps forward, navigating the forest once so filled with screams. He studies the treetops and the leaves, watching them as they shiver, each knowing the brutal tasks awaiting –
Aladdin yelps and skips back as a blaring force assaults his mind. The force seems indignant, annoyed, even.
Aladdin's eyes grow round and disbelief causes his mouth to drop open. Carefully, Aladdin kneels before something lying in the dirt at his feet, careful not to place a hair on it. He nudges an amber leaf out of the way, allowing clarity to rule the sight. There, sitting on the ground, is a blue jewel, flecked with metallic bits of peacock green and the slightest tinge of royal purple. It has slots, perhaps for winding a thread through, perhaps for sewing to a child's outfit, perhaps for holding up a magnificent black cloak. The surface seems to glow.
"Oh my god," whispers Aladdin in disbelief, leveling his head to the gem. "A Soul Stone."
Here ends Jumping at Shadows.
With a cliffhanger.
That's all I'm officially going to say on the subject.
Okay, so, first and foremost, I'd like to thank all of my readers so much for bearing with me throw all these long chapters. You guys have been so inspirational. My face lights up every time I get a review from any of you. It makes my day each and every time I open up that inbox. I'll obsess over each one for hours, trying to derive your exact meaning. And it's so, so beautiful that you all chose to stick me out until the end.
I have decided to do another sequel and make this a trilogy – I mean, don't expect anything too fancy. We all remember how Mockingjay turned out. But I'll try my best. Simply because I can't juggle this and schoolwork, expect it in summer/spring. I plan on calling it "Mother Knows Best," but the title is not absolute.
Personal advice? Reread both Time and Time Again and this fanfiction. I've already dropped hints as to what's going to happen and about this cliffhanger. If you come up with anything, please, review promptly.
Alright, here's a question: I know that some of you are strictly readers, but there's others of you that are writers and/or artists. You would not believe how cool I am with this. I am not going to sue you or anything. That's just weird. But seriously. All cool.
On request, there's a Sessandra fanfic on the way, so keep your eyes peeled.
I also have Beta-Reading available, if you're interested. If you are, please, don't hesitate to ask. I'd love doing it for any readers.
Wow. I can't believe that this fanfiction is over. It's been a great run, thank you all so much. This wouldn't have been possible without my readers. Thanks, guys.
POLL: Tell me what you thought of this fanfiction, as a whole.