I remember the journey home.
Through the shadows, word had come, whispering of illness, and through the shadows, I raced home.
Traveling in such a way is dangerous at the best of times, doing so when distracted is near suicidal.
But the fey had found me in Europe during the war, and they had passed the word to me of Adelaide’s sickness.
Here, in the comfort of the Child’s house and looking out from his island out over the broad expanse of Blood Lake, I can remember that trip without anger. Without the keen desperation, I had felt at the time. I had torn through the shadow world, still wearing my kit, still wrapped in the garments of war.
The creatures that lurk in those shadows between one world and the next kept their distance from me, at least on the trip home. They knew better, and I was armed with my Colts. The creatures knew what iron and hate could do in my hands.
I came into my home, through the closet in the bedroom I shared with my love and found her sick abed.
I could smell the death in the room, and I could see it in her eyes.
In the hallway, I heard the soft, unmistakable tread of a Reaper.
They were giving me time.
I shucked off my kit, washed my hands and face, and sat down beside my wife, holding her against me. Neither of us spoke. She was too far gone to put forth the effort, but she smiled as I held her.
She slid her hand up and pressed it against my heart, and her smile broadened.
We stayed like that for almost an hour, and then the door opened, and the Reaper walked in.
The Reaper appeared as a child, a girl no older than nine or ten. She smiled at me with sadness and comfort and then came to a stop beside the bed.
“Do you need more time, Duncan Blood?” the Reaper asked in a soft, lilting voice.
“Is she in pain?”
The Reaper nodded.
“No,” I whispered. “We’ve had time enough.”
“Hold her,” the Reaper commanded, and I did so.
The girl stepped forward, reached out a small, delicate hand, and caressed Adelaide’s cheek.
The light left my wife’s eyes, and I was alone with her corpse.
I buried her in the family plot and returned to war.
There was naught else for me to do.