The Crier

The Crier stands there, on the platform, overlooking the darkness, toward where our legends say, our saviour waits for a true soul to call him to wakefulness. The crier is a big man, full of life, but in a strange way, he and I are similar. He is to try just one more time to waken our Saviour with his "soul call". If he fails he may never return to try again. Tonight will be my last watch, the lung eaters that come out of the darkness have slowly but surely destroyed my lungs and now it is only time before I can no longer breath and I will pass on to my reward. I am not sorry that this will happen. The lung eaters have been causing me more and more pain and it is all I can do now to rise from my bed, don my official Watchers robes and stand behind the Crier at the end of day. My job is more symbolic than practical. I am supposed to stop a Crier from either leaping into the dark on the other side of the wall or to summon aid if the Crier collapses from using too much of his soul to power the "soul call".

In my twenty years of duty, I have only once had to use my tranquiliser darts twice to stop a Crier leaping to his death. More often but less than the fingers and thumbs on my hands has a Crier over reached himself and I have had to summon aid. Most die from over reaching so I try to prevent the extremity of overreaching. I know it is not really allowed, but I do intervene and have mostly been thanked.

But tonight, it is our last night. Mine from disease, his from failure. A sad time indeed. He has always greeted me with respect and with dignity. He knows my name and I his so our greeting this evening was slow, painful and emotional. I have tears in my eyes, as much for him as for me. Truth be told, I do not believe in a Saviour listening for a soul cry. I am convinced it is a ritual to give hope and to point to so that we can comfort ourselves, saying "See, we are trying to escape our fate. Not just lying supine in the dust. See we use the strongest, the most handsome, the most skilled Soul Criers. It is not our fault that we have failed these past 5 generations."

The Crier looks at me one last time. "Do not intervene please. I know you have in the past, but I do not wish to live in failure."
I respect him and I nod, reluctantly.

He breathes deeply, powerfully and soon I can feel his Cry raising out of his head. It makes the hair on my arms stand up. It always has. I would have qualified as a Crier. I have the ability, I have the power, I have everything, only if, if. Ah, forget the ifs and but, they are not worth following.

He has reached the fullness of his power and I feel my soul reaching out to join him, to cry with him. Just once, just to feel the power flow out of me and over the darkness. It will not matter if I cry. It will not help. I shuffle forward till I am standing next to him. He breathes and starts again and I am overwhelmed with love, with pity, with an overwhelming desire to join him in this one last appeal. I feel rather than hear his cry weakening, the tremolo of his soul power. He must not open the door to his life force, for if he does, he will die. I know he intends doing that and I am here to stop him, but he has asked and I understand and I will not stop him.

The touch of his hand on mine startles me and I look toward him, find his blue, blue eyes on me. I look at him with love and admiration for his fortitude for his belief for, for. Ah let me be honest. He is beautiful. He is a fine, wonderful man. I would gladly bind myself to him, but guards remain celibate, remain unmarried, secluded. It cannot be. No man has ever touched me anywhere, so his hand is an incursion, a violation, a sin, but as with some sins they are a blessing too. I take his hand and i can feel the power of his soul cry, weakened admittedly but still powerful. He looks at me, tears in our eyes and he nods. I raise my eyebrows. He nods more emphatically, takes my hand squeezes. It cannot be, he cannot be serious, but he is he nods frantically now almost saying, "Cry with me before I collapse."

I am stunned, I hesitate. He squeezes my hand once more, I feel his power weakening, faster now.

I look at him and see him smile, and I can no longer resist, I open my carefully guarded soul, I throw away the strictures of my order, of my upbringing. I the most senior of all Guards, I do the unpardonable, I unleash my own Soul Cry. I feel it, I see it, I hear it. It tangles with his Cry, carries it upwards, entwined like lovers, moving in a primordial dance, a rhythm so ancient it has to have arisen from love making. I look up and see the sky lightening, I feel the power surging in us but all too soon my untutored, untrained, weak soul cry starts to flag. I know that I must either stop now or unleash my life force to support the cry and in doing so condemn us both to death. He seems to have monitored my uncertainty, he once again squeezes my hand and shakes his, tries to leave go of my hand, but I hold on, I shake my head. "No, No, NO.!" He looks at me and suddenly smiles and the whole world is brighter, better and I am ready to die. We both look up and unleash our soul force together. The streams of our souls surge upwards and outwards like a huge tide.

And then.

And then.

The surge stops. I cannot push anything more out. I am stuck. I try again, I feel him try, nothing. Our flow is blocked and we are both still alive.

"Enough. I have heard you. I need you alive."

The voice thunders in my head, I feel the soul force returning to me and then the darkness comes.
Written by ThePiper
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