“Well, if you think about it, it’s more one of your everyday metaphysical leaps, more’n anything…”
The chasm yawned outward from beneath their feet. Barely visible beneath the wisps of young grey cloud, a lush valley wound its way through the foundations of two great and mighty mountains. It was autumn down below; the river curled its way through a whispering, silent fire of dead leaves. Occasionally, a strong billow of wind would send a handful of them scurrying upward, thrown on the wind through purple heathered crags, cold rainwater pools, rocks bitten down on by snow, even to the summit itself. On the top of this most lofty peak, Sebastian watched a shoal of them flit up to their outcrop, and snatched one as it passed with a dancer’s delicacy. He did not take his eyes from the drop.
“Metaphysical? You’re off your trolley. That fall’s buggering huge.”
“Negative thinking will get you nowhere,” complained Fate in a sing-song tone, picking a stone and flinging it onto the other side. It clattered onto black onyx, and for a while the valley sang with that resonance. Not a few yards away, another rocky ledge glistened in the mist, treacherous, slippery, yet within reach.
“Don’t think of it as a fall. Think of it as a calculated jump,” He smiled at Sebastian encouragingly, or as encouragingly as you could with teeth like that.
Sebastian nodded. “Right. I still don’t see why you’ve got to be here. You’re worse than Death.”
“Don’t go comparing me to that morbid bastard. If I have to listen to one more poetic interpretation of the Ignain Swamp Travesties, or the Bubonic Ballad…” He caught himself before the familiar rant took hold. A few of his brown ringlets had fallen out of place. Depending on how you looked at them, Sebastian noticed, they were either silky-fine or incredibly greasy. “Anyways, it’s all part of the job description, really. You tempt fate, I appear, and I can’t leave until you move on. You think I want to be out in weather like this?” His teeth were chattering in a desperate effort to keep warm. In fact, most of him was an unhealthy shade of purple-white, even down to the wings. Every so often, he would take his set of scales and rub them together in an effort to get heat. When this failed to work, he would curse, adjust himself on the rock, and goad Sabastian to jump once again.
Sebastian turned back away from the precipice, and grinned maliciously. “That toga can’t have been a good idea.”
Fate shot him a filthy look. “Now see here mate, I’m used to warmer climes, alright? This is the height of fashion where I’m from, I can tell you. It’s all about the toga, everyone’s wearing a toga. What about your getup? Whale blubber and seal hide clash, you know. ” He pointed an accusing finger. “You’re ruining the lofty mountain aesthetic.
In truth, the young man standing before him looked as if he could have strode from the very rock of the mountain itself. Muscle, stark and defined even through that ridiculous cub fur sash, bulged firm as dark rock from every hem. His jaw was strong and hard-set, covered in bristling black wire from several days’ missed shaving. The features too were hard, though not cruel; a great power rested behind them, too inexpressive for weak emotion, yet perfect for displaying the many different shades of purpose that are the mark of men of action. He still reeked of dead seal, but, Fate thought, one couldn’t have everything. And it was still the most vaguely impressive thing he’d seen for a decade or so, so why not?
“I’m not here for costume design,” Sebastian retorted, evidently a little hurt at this critique of his first foray into tailoring. “Where I’m going, you don’t need dress sense.”
“Well, if you’re going, you’d better go, then, hadn’t you?” sneered Fate. “I think my nipples are about to fall off.”
The adventurer turned with a quiet dignity back to the drop. A glint from the setting western sun caught his eye, and his countenance came alight with the red fire. His hair was caught in the wind and leaves that soared and fell around him, around the edge.
“I want to be sure she’s on the other side first.”
“And like that you’ve lost me. Who?”
Sebastian frowned. “Aren’t you supposed to know? You know, being a divinity and all?”
“I only get the definitive moment, pal, not the big picture. God, this tempting is taking a while. I wish I’d brought a book.” Fate leaned forward. “So this is all for romance, is it? Candlelit dinner on the mountaintop, eh? ” The wind howled, and a fresh gale brought up more mud-soaked offerings from beneath them. “I mean, if you’re going for drama, fair enough, but…”
“Don’t be disgusting,” growled Sebastian. Muscles tensed up, calculating the gap, their ability to leap. The violence of anticipated motion set each chord firing with burning energy and tension. “Faith is my sister.”
A grin played around Fate’s lips. “Well, you’re in the region for it, if you know what I mean. The locals around here tend to keep to themselves a little too much if you ask…” Sebastian turned round. “Never mind. So, a leap for Faith then? Why’s she on the other side?
“None of your business.” He unhooked two cruel metal talons from his belt; ice picks, apparently. At least he’d come prepared; One poor sod had tried something similar with bare hands and an upbeat attitude.
“Purchase on the rock in case you miss the jump, very wise. Still, a lot of it comes down to me, you know.” Fate shrugged supplicatingly. “What can you do, eh?”
Sebastian took several paces back. “I can jump”.
“Well, best of luck to you then. Can I leave before or after you’re a mash on the ground?
He was rudely ignored. Spiked boots dug firmly into the rock, taking gouges out of the mossy surface as Sebastian pounded toward the overhang, swinging the ice picks forward to gain momentum. His body surged off the slippery tip of the edge; years of scrambling, clambering with his lost sister propelled him forward
The world fell away beneath him. Every fibre in his body stretched to its furthest exertion, willing him onward. A flurry of wind sent a fire of dead leaves into his hair. The tips of the ice picks swung, centimetres from the overhang.
Bracing for impact, Sebastian winced.