|The Harbinger of Death came quietly into a room where only three people sat. Manto, Nydiva and Jackie chatted lightly with each other, not really saying much, not really needing to. They looked up at their visitor, surprised to see him, both because they didn’t expect such a person, and because they could even see him at all. They sprang up at his entrance.|
“Are you lost?” Manto asked politely.
“If you’re not, we can close our eyes while you disappear and come back in,” suggested Jackie, trying to be helpful.
“Sure,” Nydiva agreed, “we can pretend we didn’t see you, and we’ll act surprised when you come back.”
“And scared!” said Manto brightly.
“Weren’t you going to send one of the Deadly Sins for us?” Jackie asked.
Harbinger smiled at them. “Actually, I decided to handle a little bit of business myself. Please, sit down.” He gestured at the couch. They sat silently, a little puzzled. He pulled up a chair in front of them.
“Now you know what my job is. You know that I see people die all the time.” They nodded. “You should also know that I take my job seriously, and I know the gravity of each situation I’m involved in. This is one reason why I come here every year. It helps me to have fun for a change, and it helps us all to make light of the subject once in a while. Don't you agree?” They nodded again. He took a deep breath and paused before continuing.
“That said, I’ve decided to do something different with you three. I know what you’ve been through recently.” He paused again. “So I thought maybe you’ve seen enough death to last you for a while.” They could only stare at him, their throats closing up.
He stood up and put the chair aside. “I’m going to give you a gift. It can’t last for very long, because I’m breaking the rules enough as it is. But I’m going to take you to see your loved ones before we go to the mansion. You can’t go in your mortal forms, so I’ll have to harvest you as though it were business as usual this year. Is that all right?”
The three girls nodded their assent and looked up at him, waiting for him to act. There was grief in their eyes, with a mixture of peace and resignation. Harbinger stretched forth a skeletal hand and, with one sweeping fluid motion, caught the gossamer fabric of their souls and drew them gently toward him. He opened a large, clear crystal box and laid the dear souls inside for safe keeping. “We’ll be there soon,” he said with uncharacteristic tenderness. “As I said, we won’t have long. But I thought it would be worth the trip.” With a flash of light he was gone.