This story could be considered the last in a loose trilogy based around the Solstice, the first being "Solstice Eve", and the second being "Solstice Morning". All are stand alone stories, so don't feel compelled to read either of the others, especially if you hate one of 'em! The warrior and the bard still aren't mine.
The student was puzzled by the great Healer's actions. Instead of questions about whether he had tried this treatment or that, he only smiled faintly to himself, his thoughts obviously far away. The student waited patiently, his eyes straying around the small hospital he knew so well.
Finally rising, the Healer turned toward him and the student readied himself. The living were his concern, and while the Healer was here, he would learn all he could.
"Your finest linens and oils," he instructed the student. "Bring them."
The student was confused. "But she's just..."
"An old woman? There was a time when Kings stilled their breathing at her words"
"A storyteller?" the student said dubiously, looking to the face where all the joys and cares of life had smoothed away, save only the slightest of smiles.
The Healer carefully removed the old, worn pouch from where it lay and drew out the two coins. He fingered them thoughtfully, and the student was startled to see the sudden smile on the Healer's face. He watched without understanding as the coins were gently tucked into a palm, fingers closed around them.
The Healer looked up and the student saw that his eyes were shining.
" A giver of dreams," he said softly.
The bard rounded the corner and descended the last few stairs carefully. She smiled slightly as she saw the figure detach itself from the shadows and walk towards her. Strong arms, that had been around her only in memory for so long, held her gently and she felt the sting of tears.
She had no words, but silently held out the coins, watched as one was wrapped tightly in a callused hand.
"Hades, I will take that favour from you now."
"This is still what you wish?"
The warrior watched as the face and body of a woman heavy with years and honours shifted before her eyes, never looking away from that slight smile and eyes that shone with love. Charon watched without speaking. The bard was now as he remembered her, and the face of the warrior, who had waited patiently in this dark place, took his words away.
Silently they offered the coins, and silently he took them, moving his boat towards the light in the distance.