It's cold at first. So very cold. I can't feel myself properly, as though I have melted into a part of this ocean of blackness I swim in. My mind feels as a cloudy mirror. I suppose I could shatter it if I just let it go, but I'm not very anxious for seven years of bad luck. I think – is it a private thought or one said out loud? –, as if time mattered anything to me now. But one clear and lucid fact illuminates me.
It's not an unfamiliar feeling. Quite too familiar actually. Oddly enough, it seems the sting of death has grown on me due to our increased association. More often than not seeking for it may also have something to do with that.
I know what comes next. I've died, or been close to it, enough times to know this road like the back of my hand. Even though I have never seen it through to its end. Until now, I hope.
My soul shakes, and a peaceful emptiness enters my heart. The release of all the regrets, sins, and actions of a lifetime. What follows is a calm stirring, not unlike washing ashore on a lonely beach. The feel of my body returns to me. Weary, but rested. My legs, which have carried me such a long way, my arms and hands, tainted with blood and hardened from battle, and my eyes which have seen the dichotomy between justice and murder, peace and war. An invisible force compels me to open the latter. I do so, but ever so slowly.
Softly, things come into my view. The dusky sky of sunrise – or perhaps sundown, but my gut tells me otherwise –, the fading stars, the milky clouds. In epiphany, I realize I am lying down. Feeling the brush of grass against my palms as I use them to lift my body up – the deed takes no effort from me – the full scenario comes into view.
A solitary hill, surrounded by forlorn woods and covered in partially dried grass blocks the sun. And stabbed into the hill, like a graveyard of conquerors, knights, kings and heroes, are hundreds upon hundreds of deadly familiar blades.
My hill of swords lies before me. The place where my journey ends, depicted before me with a twisted legitimacy. The place where we promised to meet, even should it take us more than an eternity. I scan it all with an acute view, making sure it isn't a dream or an illusion. In my rush, I at first miss the emerald-eyed blond beauty that stands on the foot of the hill.
I halt my scurrying sight, and as possessed, turn all of my body to the blurred person whom my pleading gaze let by in its impatient assessment.
Numbed, I finally take note of the smiling woman standing on the foot of the hill. Our eyes meet. Those eyes, which I would recognize anywhere and in any time, lock with mine, and my heart cries.
I finally meet her again. She, whom I have left waiting for so long, is here, waiting for me. And I now return to her. We finally fulfill our promise, of meeting on this hill of swords.
No words are needed. Our feelings, which have transcended time to this ephemeral moment, are clear as the purest crystal. Her smile is enough to bring over the heavens. Filled with immeasurable bliss, I return it with a grin of my own, as wide and honest as I can manage.
Her happiness glows through her eyes. Still smiling with all her body, she takes my hands and beckons me to follow, even though I offer no resistance. We walk towards the hill of swords. I remember that top, consecrated by a thousand swords. Yes, that is surely our destination. But her gaze turns back towards me and says otherwise. I can't contain an amused rising of my eyebrows. If not our end, then what, what is our hill of swords?
I am blinded before I can contemplate further. My eyelids, which had closed by reflex, open slowly to the divine painting before me. The blessed sun rises over the hilltop, filling as far as sight goes with the warmth and light of life, and silhouetting her goddess –like figure. She smiles again.
I jest. She is beyond a goddess. I move closer to her, where she stands at the very top, but suddenly I am again blinded. Not by the light, but what it now reveals to me.
I see now. There was still what was beyond the hill.
She pulls my hand, and I fall into light steps alongside her. We move past the dried up grass of the hallowed hill, the end of my journey alone, and start a new path, through greener ground. And I know what our destination is. A paradise for the two of us.
The promised utopia, beyond the hill of swords.