The Wars of Light and Shadow
by E. Liddell


* * * * * * * *

He was standing at the edge of the bridge, not knowing if this was the right thing to do, or caring, when a hand closed over his shoulder.

"You know," a quiet voice remarked, "you should have picked something with water below it. The drop will eventually kill you, of course, but it's going to hurt like you wouldn't believe when you hit the bottom."

He sighed. "If you're one of these do-gooder types you hear about that gets off on talking people down from high places, don't bother. I've already thought this through. You might be able to drag me down from here kicking and screaming, I suppose, but I'll just try again when you're not around."

"I wouldn't dream of it."

The man was so surprised that he almost lost his balance and tumbled down right then.

"Actually," the stranger continued, "I think we can do each other a service. You want to die. We've established that. I need a vacant body to house the spirit of someone who was killed recently. In return for the use of yours, I can ensure that your demise will be absolutely painless."

"Who are you?" The man tried to turn, to catch a glimpse of the stranger, but all of a sudden the other's grip tightened to the point that it felt like an iron vise.

"It doesn't matter who I am." There was an edge to the soft voice. "Well, what do you have to lose? If I am insane, you'll still be either dead, or in a position to jump off the bridge when I'm gone. What do you say?"

The fey feeling that had led the man to the bridge also led him to say, "Sure. Why not? It isn't as though I had anything to lose."

Something cold touched the back of his neck, and a strange force pushed him out of his body. Floating above the bridge, he saw the body that had belonged to him collapse against a dark, blurred figure. Then something tugged at him, and he was floating toward a tunnel filled with light . . .

* * * * * * * *

The dark-haired man cradled in his arms the body that had so recently undergone a change of ownership. It was already beginning to assume the appearance that had once belonged to its new occupant. A pin, applied to the inside of the elbow, yielded a tiny drop of blood. Green. Excellent. That meant that all was proceeding as it should.

From around his neck, he removed a chain supporting a small deep blue crystal. He hung it around the neck of the resurrectee, then lowered the other gently to the surface of the bridge and stood up. He still had a great deal more work to do.

He fingered the three other crystals on their thin chains as the night flickered around him and he disappeared.

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