The bumping of the train was preventing Franco from sleeping. Not that he really needed to sleep much anymore, but every Other retained some of the pleasures from back when they were human, at least for their first century or so. He desperately wanted to take a nap, but every time heâ€™d finally begin to doze off, the train would bounce suddenly, and heâ€™d be jolted awake. It didnâ€™t help that he was nervous about his cargo.
His decade-long search had finally culminated in discovering the last piece of the puzzle he had been assigned to solve. It had taken years of patience, but he had finally gotten the last ingredient from an old hermit living in the mountains in Siberia. It turned out that the man was an Other as well, which was probably the only way he managed to survive in such cold weather. His abilities were weak, though, and Franco had had no trouble procuring what he needed. Once again, he was tempted to take out his precious cargo and stare at it, to gaze in wonder at the small item that had taken nearly ten years of his life. Albeit, he had many many more decades ahead of him, but he had only become an Other thirty years ago, so he had yet to assume the casual indifference towards the passing of time that was so common among the elder Others. He leaned his head back in yet another attempt to doze.
He awoke with a start yet again, but this time the train was not at fault. He had sensed an extremely large expenditure of Light energy very nearby. Caught by surprise, he didnâ€™t have time to react before someone pushed him into the Light Portal that had suddenly appeared in the seat next to him. He tumbled through the other side and landed in a large snowdrift. Recovering quickly, he rolled to the side just as a blast of bright light scorched the snow where he had been lying a moment before. He jumped to his feet and stretched out a hand towards his assailant, touching the jade artifact in his pocket. Power flowed through him, and a series of grey ropes wriggled through the air towards the Light Other. As they neared his opponent, they smashed into a transparent convex barrier and disintegrated. Francoâ€™s eyes widened, and he crouched into a defensive stance, summoning the power needed to erect a Dark Shield if necessary.
The Light Other seemed a bit stunned as well. He reached up and adjusted his glasses before speaking. â€œGoodness, I certainly wasnâ€™t expecting such a powerful counterattack. You must have been granted an item by your superiors, because I know of no second level sorcerer who could cast the Grey Prayer at all, much less remain standing after doing so.â€ Franco grimaced internally; he had expended almost all of the power remaining in the jade figurine, and had only his own power to rely on to protect himself. Still, the Light One must have used up a large quantity of energy as well, because any shield strong enough to resist a Grey Prayer required vast amounts of power.
The Light One sniffed and rubbed his nose, and Franco readied himself for another attack. He watched as the Light Oneâ€™s shadow rose from the ground and engulfed the man, and then the Light One was gone. Franco quickly raised his own shadow, and plunged into the Twilight. As the world became grey and desolate around him, he saw that the Light One was already finding the thin wisps of shadow that remained in the Twilight and stepping into it. Gritting his teeth, he grasped blindly at the edges of where he suspected his shadow was, and stepped into the second level of the Twilight. He could already feel the Twilight draining his energy, sucking his life force out of him greedily. The landscape had become completely barren; no trees, hills, or mountains existed anymore, only a wide, flat expanse of grey before him. He knew that he could not remain at this level very long, but he also knew that being attacked from a deeper level of the Twilight would spell his doom. He locked eyes with the Light One, and his heart sank as his opponent grinned and lifted a sphere that seemed even greyer than the landscape around him. The Light One took two steps towards him before crushing the sphere in his hand. Then he was gone.
Franco desperately searched the ground for his shadow. He knew he wasnâ€™t strong enough to last even five seconds in the third level of the Twilight, but he had no choice at this point. His head started spinning, and the edges of his vision began to turn to black. He fumbled weakly with his mind for his shadow, but he knew it was no use, as the Light One appeared suddenly behind him and ran him through with a sword of pure light. His last feeling was the Light One rummaging through his pockets, and then all he knew was despair as the Twilight tore his soul in twain and absorbed it into its essence.