Bloodwing descended to the region brain-stem, an island of bone surrounding the nerve that jutted skyward like a mighty red oak. Silently, he circled the nerve, his pale feet matching the bone as his burning red eyes searched for the weakest point.
"There." He pointed with an ebony claw to the coils of energy he saw dancing within. "Where the astral cord joins the body. The seat of his mind and his soul. One strike...and he will cease to be. Nothing left for the Boatman..." He hung his head as he pondered in silence. "But what of me? Will I be freed?" He heard no answer, only the rush of Darien's blood like distant thunder.
The Founder bent his left arm, and placed the back of left hand over his heart, palm outward. He clenched his right fist, and brought it to his chest to grasp it with the left hand.
A gout of black and red energy bubbled from his fist to coalesce to a blade the size of a gladius. Bloodwing braced his knee against the trunk and raised his arms upwards to strike.
"Forgive me, Darien..."
"Forgive me, Greyblade, for asking this of you."
Hands crusted in goblin blood ripped open the mail vest of the comerade who lay in his lap, paralyzed. He had already broken the end of the spear that pierced through his back, above his heart. They were the only ones left alive on the battlefield, strewn with the corpses of monsters and the bodies of mercenaries already rescued from misery by the Choosers of the Slain.
"I would ask the same of you, were I maimed this way, Velad. I shall trace a boat around your shell and pile the timbers beneath you, then wait for the Valkyries will return for you."
He lifted Velad's helm and dropped it to the side. The fallen warrior's blond hair fell over his face. Greyblade carefully parted his locks to fall behind him. For a few moment, they chuckled nervously as they stared into each others eyes. Velad's always beaming, beardless smile to a vacant expression, still as pondwater. A pair of his comrade's tears splashed onto his cheeks and rolled down his face.
"No, Greyblade. I am not what I seem. I am trapped here in this world, my spirit barred from leaving. Helpless like this...the scavengers..."
Greyblade nodded. He sensed something was unusual about his companion, and the blow that severed his spine would have killed any mortal.
At Velad's direction, he placed his friend's hand over his heart, just below the splintered shaft. He lifted Velad's lifeless right arm and curled it into a fist, then rested it on his open palm. Greyblade's eyes widened as a shaft of white and gold stretched from Velad's hands, tinged with a spider lattice of red and black.
Greyblade smiled gently as he kept Velad's hands pressed tightly together. "I knew there was something special about you, my friend. I too have a secret..."
Bloodwing shook his head to bring his thoughts back to the present. "I remembered...Greyblade? That was a thousand years ago...how could I..." He blinked at the traces of white and gold that traced over his soulblade like saplings rustling in the strong breeze. He looked down. His foot was braced squarely upon a black crystal nestled between the bone and the nerve. A demon's neuron. A lost treasure of Bloodwing's own memories that fell from him like dust from a comet as he passed through the eons to lodge in the bodies and souls of his progeny.
He stared back at his blade, and down again at the crystal, that was causing his foot to tingle with a curious, unexplainable urgency. "Surely...this is no trick of Fate..."