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The weather was definitely turning colder. Kieran had noticed that the moment he had stepped topside. Another shore-party was in progress, and in spite of the general eerie silence which seemed to have come over the entire vast forest, everyone was in good spirits. This was largely due to the fact that they were no longer encountering dead bodies in the water.
“Whatever happened here, we’ve gone beyond that horror at least”, said Bardin.
It was also down to the fact that they had a purpose, a direction, which was to keep moving Northwards until they were back in the Snow Lake region.
“Are you really going to Sleet Cold?” Angel’s voice came from amongst the trees.
Kieran, who had been walking by himself, stopped and glanced in the direction it had come from. He stepped through some bushes and into a clearing. Angel was sitting on an upturned log.
“That makes a change, said Angel “You didn’t start yelling the moment you saw me”.
“I don’t see the point”, Kieran shrugged.
“Hah, you’re depressed, I can tell”, said Angel.
“Who wouldn’t be?” said Kieran “Your lot are winning. Even though we destroyed Crowley and the Big HOuse, I think it was all too late”.
“That’s not like you”.
“Normally I believe that Evil never triumphs in the long-term. It always destroys itself in the end. The difference this time is that it’s destroying everything else with it. I never accounted for that prospect. The world is dying. And I don’t know if there’s anything I can do to heal it, or stop the decline. You should be pleased. Total destruction of everything, isn’t that what you wanted all along, Angel? To destroy a world that had destroyed you? I suspect you’ve come here to gloat”.
“I don’t see the point”, said Angel “There’s no pleasure in it if you’re not going to rise to it. Yes I’ve got what I wanted. That’s why I’m going to lie low for a while, perhaps forever, who knows? I need some rest. Some oblivion. What about you? Why don’t you take yourselves off to some remote spot and get up to your kinky high-jinks in peace? Isn’t that you lot have always wanted?”
“Yes, but it’s still not time for that yet”, said Kieran.
“Why not?” Angel snapped “What’s it gonna gain you going to Sleet Cold? All that just to get yet another shitty confrontation? One you can’t win. What’s in it for you?”
“We’re nosy”, said Kieran “And we can’t retreat to our retirement until everything’s seen that has to be seen”.
“But what’s the bloody point?” Angel exclaimed.
“Why are you bothered? Why are you so keen that we don’t go to Sleet Cold? The only thing that would bother you is if there’s some way that we can still halt the world’s decline, or at least slow it down? Is there some key to that up there? Is that why you don’t want us to go?”
“Can’t you ever stop fucking interfering!” Angel jumped to his feet.
Kieran instinctively took a step backwards, if only because Angel’s breath was usually pretty rancid.
“Why can’t you just GIVE UP?!” Angel yelled.
“Now that wouldn’t be the human way now would it”, said Kieran.
“Let it die, Kieran! Let the whole shitty, fucking mess die! Let the world burn! Let it poison itself! Let it rot! It’s not worth fucking saving, why can’t you see that?”
“Everything you say might well be true. But it’s all we’ve got you see. Perhaps it’s not worth saving. But the only alternative is the end of everything. And I suppose I’m just not ready for that. There may come a time when I am. But that time isn’t now. I still enjoy things too much to flush them all down the plug-hole of the Universe”.
An evil leer crossed Angel’s face.
“Your little friends”, he said, snidely “What if I took them all away from you? Hid them in areas you can’t find? You’d give up then wouldn’t you? You’d go mad left all to yourself”.
“I would devote myself to looking for them”, Kieran replied “And I wouldn’t rest until I had. It would be my mission”.
“Ugh”, Angel looked away in disgust.
“You’d really give me a reason to carry on then”.
“What’s at Sleet Cold, Angel?”
“Go there and find out”, said Angel, spitefully “And don’t say I didn’t warn you. You’re a meddling, shitty little busybody. Sticking your spoke in where it’s not wanted all the time. I had it all worked out! Finally this fucking world would die! Then I can rest. Forever. But not with you around, the constant interferer”.
He turned to leave, but Kieran called him back.
“Angel! Remember that time at the Loud House all those years ago. After our fight. You were at peace then. You actually knew peace. You’d fought me to a standstill and won, and you knew peace. Can’t you get that feeling again? I believe you really want it deep down”.
“I can’t. There’s too much stupidity and rottenness in the world. I can’t rest until the whole fucking lot is destroyed. My hatred isn’t of YOU. It’s THEM! You just pissing annoy me because you keep you keep interfering and keeping it all going, when I could just lead it to destroy itself out of its own arrogant shittyness”.
“But what about the good people?”
“They are weak! They’re gullible and weak. They can’t fight the shits. They haven’t got a clue. They might win the odd battle, but they’ll never win the war, because the shits just keep regrouping. It’s better to end it all now. Put it out of its misery”.
“I can’t do that”, said Kieran “I owe it to the people who enjoy and appreciate things, to not the let the shits, as you call them, wreck the whole thing. What’s the point of deliberately wrecking something beautiful just because the boorish louts don’t appreciate its beauty? Where’s the bloody point in that?”
“Then you lump it”, said Angel, his voice breaking with emotion as he faded slowly from view “You fucking lump it. You’re stuck with it until the Sun burns out. Leave me out of it. I’m done. It’s that you that’s won really. In the end. Not me. But you won’t enjoy what you’ll be left with!”
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