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Another Soul

As the rusty orange rays of the newly risen sun shone through the glass paned window, the sleeping wizard, formerly known as Haggard, was sleeping peacefully. His night cap was gently pressing against his inscrutable face moving up and down with the rhythms of his snores. 
As if he was awakened by a dreadful nightmare, he awoke with a start.  With beads of sweat dripping down his face, he propped himself up with a goose-feather pillow.  Without even glancing at his calendar, he know what laid ahead of him on this god-forsaken day.  This day, like most days, happened once a year.  The difference between this day and the other days though, was that if the dead weren’t satisfied, they would rise from the dead and bring misery to all those in their path.  Haggard, like he does every year, must make the ascension to Mt. Mortem with his servant to once again satisfy the dead and keep them at peace. 
Grunting with effort, he swung his legs over the edge of the bed and exhaled deeply.  I’m getting too old for this, he thought.  He reached out for his gnarled blessing-wood staff which was leaning against his ancient nightstand.  This staff was made from a special type of wood unlike any other.  The wood was harvested from the last known Benedictio Tree.  However, the townspeople call it the blessing tree, or blessing wood.  It is known to have mystical powers when it’s joined with a special orb and when the rays of the setting sun shine through it, it keeps the dead at peace for another year.   With the staff in his right hand, he hauled himself up and shuffled across the creaking floor to his chamber door.  He unlocked the rusted door bolt and turned the knob. “Hiyah sir!’, said his servant, a short gnome who goes by the name of Loofonk Sadfuse. “Loofonk don’t startle me like that!”, exclaimed Haggard.  Loofonk squeaked, “Sorry sir. I’m just anxious about today.  After all you are getting older and the climb is pretty rigorous.”  With a derisive laugh Haggard shouted, “Me!? Old?! That’s nonsense.  I never thought I would hear those two words in the same sentence!”  Haggard, trying to prove his point, did a little step dance, but his feet intertwined in the process and he fell towards the ground. 
In shock, Haggard tried to sit up back fell back down immediately.  “My leg!”, he bellowed.  “I must’ve broken it.”  With the aid of Loofonk he was lifted into a chair and his leg was hoisted onto a leg rest.  “Stay right there sir.  I’ll be back with some ice.”  Loofonk quickly departed the room and soon returned with a bag of ice.  “Mr. Haggard sir, you stay here and rest I’ll make the trip to the top of Mt. Mortem.”  “Nonsense!  I’m not going to rot here in Mortem Valley while you dawdle your way up to the mountain top just so you can have an ego boost.  Now get me some crutches and we will be on our way.  The journey itself burns most of the daylight.”, exclaimed Harggard.  “Yessir.  Right away sir.”, said Loofonk.  He turned around and scurried out of the room as quick as his stubby legs would take him.  “Blithering idiot.”, muttered Haggard under his breath. 
When Loofonk returned, Haggard quickly took the crutches and secured them under his arms. Haggard commanded Loofonk to grab his staff and he promptly did so.  They made their way outside where it was so barren that one could mistake the town as a ghost town.  The streets were bare and the windows and doors of houses were boarded up.  “Everyone is preparing for the worst.”, thought Loofonk. 
The Wizard and the gnome departed on their journey to save mankind once again.  About half way through their strenuous climb, Haggard’s right crutch got lodged into a snake’s hole and snapped in half. “Darnit!”, cursed Haggard.  With an insinuating tone,  Haggard snapped at Loofonk,” Why didn’t you warn me of this hole, you fool?” “I didn’t see it , I swear!”, pleaded Loofunk.  With a dissatisfied grunt, Haggard continued his climb with only one crutch. 
About three- fourths the way up the mountain, with a distraught look on Haggard’s face, his only remaining crutch broke under the weight of his whole body.  Haggard, in excruciating pain, could only muster a faint curse.  With great effort and help from Loofonk,  he finally made it to the top of the mountain.  Upon doing so, he collapsed in the arms of Loofonk, who gently laid him down.  They both laid there, exhausted from the arduous climb.  With the light of day quickly fading, Loofonk said to Haggard.  “Sir, I know you’re in extreme pain, but we must raise the staff now if we are to keep the dead at rest.”  As if some untold force told Haggard to rise up, he mounted to his feet and raised the staff high above his head.  The setting of the sun sent amber rays shooting through the sky.   They came in contact with the orb and sent a magnificent golden beam shooting across the field of the deceased.  The field was enveloped  with a calming glow for a second and then the glow vanished, leaving in its wake a field of fresh, green grass. “We did it sir!”, exclaimed Loofonk.  His statement, however, was left unanswered.  Haggard, whose face was contorted with pain, seemed to sway back and forth for a moment.  With only a faint mutter escaping his lips, he collapsed to the ground, dead. Another soul would go on to join the valley of the dead that evening. Another soul would have to be silenced every year. Another soul was captured into the inevitable fate of death. Another soul. 

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