Title: Trial of the Heart

Authors Note: A great man once said, "Love breaks all bounds" this story is in honor of that statement.

The sound of fighting echoed through the ravine, the screams of the dying mixed with the clanging of steel as the two mighty army's clashed. Thousands of men screamed in unison, as they charged forward, hacking at each other with gruesome ardor. Somewhere in this battlefield a soldier with silver plated mail is in brutal combat with a young man in blue chain mail. Back and forth their swords went, slashing and parrying seeming to become one endless hum. "You're good..." the man in plate mail growled, "but I'm better!" he said as he slashed viciously at the chain mailed man. With a speed born of desperation the chain mailed man spun away from the attack and swung his sword at his opponent, cleaving off his head.

"Maybe, but your also dead..." he muttered as he turned to fight another foe. Hardly had he thrust his sword in his newest enemies chest a stabbing pain exploded from his side. "No..." he howled as a spear thrust drove deeper into his flesh "I must live... I must l..." his voice trailed off as darkness consumed him.

* * *

"Welcome to my humble abode warrior... I must say that was a delicious battle" a crisp, clear voice shattered the silence. "What's your name little one?" a tall, thin figure stepped out from the darkness. "Come now, you've still got you're tongue haven't you?" The tall figure grinned, flashing his perfect white teeth.

"Who... who are you?" the warrior faltered as he saw the deep gash in his side. The tall man merely shook his head and made a faint 'tsk' noise.

"I asked first..." the tall figure taunted.

"What?" he continued to look at the gash at his side, a fatal wound which for some strange reason neither hurt nor bled.

"A simple question, with a simple answer. What is your name?"

"Gibraltar... who are you?"

"You may call me Umoj, or the Devil, which ever tickles your fancy." The tall man smirked as he moved next to Gibraltar, his stride as smooth and sinuous as that of a serpent.

"The devil?" Gibraltar said, his voice beginning to quake "You're the devil?!"

"Yes, last time I checked" Umoj said, smiling all the while.

"What did I do? What evil did I commit to be sent here?" Gibraltar's voice was full of fear and denial.

"All you whimpering mortals are the same..." Umoj sighed, "with your 'why me's' and 'what did I do wrong's'. Can't you at least try to be creative?"

"What?" Gibraltar stammered.

"Its hardly important at this point, you're dead, and you're mine." Umoj grinned again, flashing his perfect teeth.

"You're the devil?"

"I do believe I answered that question already."

"If you're the devil... that means that I'm in hell..."

"You have a firm grasp of the obvious."

"If I'm in hell... that means I'm dead" Gibraltar's voice was almost a whisper.

"Your intellect never ceases to amaze does it?"

"I can't die..."

"Well... you did" Umoj informed him.

"No! I must go back!" Gibraltar cried, panic rising in his voice.

"Oh? And why is that?" Umoj asked as he lazily sat down on some unseen chair and began casually examining his perfect nails.

"Love..." Gibraltar stammered as he tried to compose himself.

"You mean your foolish mortal hormonal emotions?" Umoj said as he casually picked some unseen bit of debris from beneath his manicured fingernails.

"No, true love."

"How grand... true love" Umoj chuckled, "if only you knew how many times I've heard that phrase in past thousand years. Its gotten rather drool, let me tell you."

"You don't understand. My wife, Lydia, I must see her again. I can not live not being with her."

"You seem to forget, you're not alive..."

"I must see her again... I must be with her, I'll do anything." Gibraltar's voice grew stronger with these words.

"So, you want to live... how touching" Umoj's voice oozed with sarcasm.

"Please..." Gibraltar pleaded.

"There are rules to this sort of thing you know... I can't just snap my fingers and *poof* you're alive again." Umoj grinned, showing off his perfect white teeth.

"I'll go through anything," Gibraltar swore.

"Oh?" Umoj laughed, "If you can pass let's say... four trials, I'll give you the breath of life. But if you fail..."

"I'm not afraid," Gibraltar thunders, his eyes full of determination. Umoj simply chuckled, his eyes glittering with amusement.

"You will be..." Umoj drew close to Gibraltar and his dark eyes glowing with excitement "Oh, You will be..."

* * *

Everything went black "First trial..." Umoj's singsong voice came from nowhere and at the same time. The unending darkness slowly faded away to reveal a large cavern. Its walls a dull, almost metallic gray which glistened with unseen moisture in the light of a near by wooden torch. Some fifty feat from where Gibraltar stood he could see the milky blackness of the cavern's sole exit. "Welcome home warrior, now let me explain how these trials work..." came Umoj's cheerful voice.

"Hurry up devil, I haven't got all day" came Gibraltar's dry reply.

"Your right, you have all eternity. Now listen and listen well Gibraltar, you're back on your world now. Past these tunnels you will find the battlefield where you died. There you will get all the equipment you will require to return home."

"It can't be that simple devil. I can read between the lines, where's the small print?" Gibraltar asked, his voice dripping with barley contained venom. Umoj's laughter echoed through the chamber, magnifying a thousand fold until it became a deafening roar.

"Oh, if it were only that simple, warrior. Along the way you shall find your trials, remember... I am watching. Do that which a pious man does and you shall reach your home, and do not worry... I shall have plenty of fun watching you crumple under the strain. You mortals are ever so... entertaining."

"Bite me."

"I'll see you in hell" came Umoj's pleasant reply.

"Only when it freezes over and pigs learn to fly..." Gibraltar mumbled under his breath.

"I must say... it has been rather chilly these past few decades. Now be on your way, I grow tired of this pointless banter."

"Sure..." Gibraltar sighed as he cautiously made his way toward the milky blackness of the tunnels beyond.

* * *

The darkness surrounded him like a thousand blankets of the darkest silk. Small creatures floated just beyond his limited sight as he cautiously made his way ever onward. Their soft footsteps a constant reminder to the dangers that lurked all around him. A sense of despair clung to him, clutching at him like a thousand clawed beasts. How many hours had it been since he left the cavern? It must have been days he decided, days without food or water. "Shall I ever be gone from these foul tunnels?" his dry voice moaned as he stumbled on an unseen rock, barley catching himself on the walls that surrounded him. Sweat dripped from every part of his body, yet onward he went. Small droplets ran down his forehead, and into his eyes, stinging as they made contact... were they really open? He couldn't help but wonder as he marched on.

"Perhaps I should rest a while..." he thought aloud, "Yes, rest." The word sounded like some forbidden fruit. His tired legs ached, his chest strained as he continued on his way. Utter exhaustion called to him like a sirens song. "No, I will not rest" he finally decided, somehow gathering the strength to continue walking. "If I stop I may never continue onward... no I must continue... I must see Lydia again," he moaned, his voice expressing a thousand types of despair, "I must continue." So he did, marching on until he could march no more. His arms, like lead, his legs so stiff they could hardly bend. Even then he did not stop, he crawled, hand over hand forcing himself onward. It was then the darkness came, destitute, despair, hate. All these and more flowed over him, that little voice in his mind whispering dark thoughts. "No" came Gibraltar's strangled groan, "I'll not stop. You'll not win Umoj!" he cried as he pushed onward, dragging his prone body forward with pure will power.

Renewed strength flooded through him, his determination shattering the clouds of chaos that had once clung to him. As the last wisps of despair flew from his mind he felt a cool breeze. Its warm caress like that of his long lost paramour, cooling the sweat on his dirt streaked face. "I did it!" he croaked as he desperately crawled forward "I made it!" he laughed with relief as the breeze grew stronger. Just as quickly as it came, his joy was shattered. There was no exit, no vast plain extending from some long forgotten cave, no light at the end of tunnel... just a stone wall. His calloused hands ran along the wall, feeling for some exit were none could be found. "No..." his voice sounded weak, defeated. His hands once again roamed the walls of solid stone, unyielding and merciless. His anguished scream echoed through the tunnels, slowly these screams of pain and rejection were replaced by sobs, great thundering sobs, his massive chest heaving like a blacksmiths bellow. Tears mingled with sweat as he sat there, sobbing uncontrollably. His dirty hands brushed through his coarse black hair as he fought off the emptiness that vibrated from every cell of his body. Taking in massive gulps of air Gibraltar tried to calm himself, but he could not. Despair and defeat flooded his heart.

"No..." he moaned again, "No" yet it was not despair that flooded his voice this time, it was determination. "NO!" he screamed as he punched the wall before him "I will not give up!" his voice once again growing strong. Valiantly he thrust aside the despair, forcing it out of his heart, ripping its black claws away from his tattered and beaten soul... and that is when he looked up. A thousand stars twinkled in the night sky, and a warm summers breeze blew through the whole just a few feet above his head. Once again he cried, this time his sobs were filled with joy and not sorrow. "I did it" he croaked as he reached upward with his exhausted arms, taking a firm hold on the ledge formed by the exit. Summoning the last of his remaining strength he forced himself up, his arms crying out with exhaustion and pain. Three times he tried to pull himself up, and three times his arms would not respond to his minds desperate plea. With one final primal cry he hauled himself from the dark whole and collapsed. He had nothing left, for a few moments he continued to fight before finally surrendering to oblivion, giving his exhausted body the rest it so desperately needed.

* * *

The sweet song of larks echoed through the ravine as the sun began its timeless journey into the sky. A thousand colors splashed among clouds, from the deepest, richest crimson to an almost carefree blue. Dull gray stones littered the ground; strewn amongst them, tossed like leaves after an autumn storm, lay the corpses of thousands of men. The soil ran with countless streams of blood, and the bloated ravens feasted. One such raven hopped toward the still body of one such young man. A low moan escaped his dry lips as he weakly struck at the black raven, whom easily hopped away and continued watching. "Can't you at least wait until I'm dead?" the man moaned as he lay there.

"But your already dead, warrior. Or have you forgotten?" a voice chimed in the morning air. "Don't tell me your giving up so soon..." the voice drawled and a tall, lean figure slowly faded into existence.

"Leave me alone... let me die in peace."

"Oh Gibraltar, what am I to do with you? I must admit, it has been fun to watch you struggle and all, but when will you realize that you're already dead?"


"Dead, not alive, ceasing to draw breath." the tall figure grinned, flashing perfect white teeth, as he sat on a nearby rock.

"Shut up."

"My, my, such temper. To think, you've lost after only one trial" Umoj's handsome face frowned deeply, yet his tone rung strong with simple irony.

"I'm not through yet Umoj..." Gibraltar growled as he slowly hauled himself to his feet.

"Good, I'd hate to have to take you back so soon. This is just getting fun."

"Umoj, unless you want to tell me something useful, shut up and leave" Gibraltar growled as he took an uneasy step forward. Umoj's soft chuckle echoed through the ravine as he slowly faded from sight. "And good riddance" Gibraltar mumbled as he wearily leaned forward and took a soldier discarded canteen from the ground. Slowly he undid the lid and drunk deeply, the clear water giving him new life. "Ok... now to find some nice place to nap."

Just as Gibraltar started to move toward the tree's he heard the voiced of several men from somewhere up ahead. Stealthily he crawled toward the talking, over the dry and rocky ground he made his way. After a short time he finally crested a small hill and saw before him three men, all sitting around a small campfire. "Hah, we won that one a bit to easy. I can't wait until we meet up with the main army again... I hear the ladies around here are real nice..." one of the men said, his back turned to Gibraltar. The man's green and silver uniform proudly proclaimed him as a Tal'Ufir... an enemy.

"Well, well, well... what do we have here..." Gibraltar whispered as he looked around for good weapon. The leader of the ground was a young man with long golden hair, which shinned in the dawn's rays. His build was that of an aristocrat, thin and pale.

"You hear a lot of things, only one way to find out!" the second man in the group laughed. The man ran his hand through his curly brown hair as he casually poked the fire with a stick.

"Aye, supposed to be real loud too. I hear they can really hit those high notes" the third of the group snickered.

Turning way in disgust Gibraltar slowly moved toward a corpse, one in the blue and gold uniform of his homeland. This one had short black hair, and well tanned skin he noted, as he casually turned the body over, before the corpses back could touch the ground Gibraltar stumbled and fell backward. He looked into his own face, one contorted in pain and agony, and then he saw the jagged gash in the body's side. His own side ached in remembrance; the pain once again became all to real...

"You're good..." a man in silver plate mail growls "but I'm better!" he screamed as he slashed viciously at him, the strike uncontrolled. An easy victory, this one was good but his own anger made him a fool. Gibraltar mildly noted as he spun away from the attack and brought his own sword down onto the mans neck... cleanly severing it. "Maybe, but your also ..." Gibraltar said as he turned to fight another foe. No sooner had he thrust his blade into the next mans gut had a searing pain erupted in his side. "No..." his voice howled as a spear thrust drove deeper into his flesh "I must live... I must l..." his voice trailed off as his body collapsed to the floor. A young man in a silver and green uniform pulled the spear out of Gibraltar's body, his blue eyes an unfeeling mask. The young man spit casually on Gibraltar's corpse, his long blond hair waving in the wind...

"Maybe after I kill a few." a voice brought Gibraltar back from his painful memories. Growling lightly Gibraltar removed the sword belt from his own corpse, and took the sword from his own calloused hand.

"You could only kill a few! I'll take on their whole damned army and then take their ladies back to my estate. I need a few good slaves! Ulgar wenches make the best slaves!" The blond man boasted as he stretched lazily in front of the fire.

"I think not." Gibraltar said as he crested the hill and began casually toward the group of warriors.

"What the?" the brown hair man stuttered as the others scampered to their feet and drew their weapons.

"Come to play eh? When I'm done with you you'll wish you died with the rest of them." The third of the group grinned wickedly, as he moved toward Gibraltar.

"Put your money where your mouth is" Gibraltar hissed as he brought his sword into guard position. With that the third man rushed forward, swinging his sword with wild abandon. Gibraltar casually sidestepped the first thrust, and sent his fist into the man's face. The man stumbled back, and Gibraltar moved forward, kicking the man between his legs then kneeing him in the face as he buckled over.

"You Ulgar whore..." the man cursed as he lay struggling on the ground.

"Say hello to Umoj for me..." Gibraltar growled as he brought his sword down into the mans back and viciously twisted it. As the mans dying scream faded the other two began to react, the blond man bringing his spear to bear the brown haired one drawing a thing rapier. "Remember me you blond pond scum?" Gibraltar said as he took a step forward.

"Should I?" the blond haired man said as he nervously handled his spear.

"Well you Tal'Ufir bitch, do you remember giving me this?" Gibraltar grinned as he revealed the hideous gash in his side.

"Oh God..." the brown haired man breathed as he slowly began backing away.

"Your dead." the blond haired man said, eyeing the wound with disbelief.

"Your right you little piece of shit" Gibraltar laughed as he spun his sword in a simple offensive maneuver.

"I'll make sure to do a better job this time!" the blond haired man said as he regained his resolve grimly took a step forward.

"John! Run!" the brown haired man yelled as he rushed toward Gibraltar. The man's rapier swung in fast and high, and Gibraltar's sword easily parried. With the fluid grace of a master Gibraltar parried each blow, then unexpectedly he stepped backward. The young man he was facing lunged forward, his sword leading. Gibraltar easily stepped out of the way of the lunging blade and brought his sword down on the mans neck as he passed by, cleanly severing it.

"What the hell are you?" John said as he held his ground.

"Me? Oh, I'm just that Ulgar piss who's wife you were going to rape." Gibraltar said and took another step forward, his blood-covered sword resting easily in his large hands. With that John moved forward, his spear making a swipe. Hopping backward Gibraltar grinned "You're gonna have to do better then that."

"I'll kill you, you Ulgar whore!" John screamed as he blindly rushed forward. Gibraltar brought his sword down and severed the head from the spear, just as the blade finished cutting through the spear Gibraltar's other hand swatted the pole away, as if it were nothing more then a fly. "Die damnit!" John screamed.

"You first," with that Gibraltar grabbed the pole as John swung it again, ripping it from his opponents grasp. Spinning it in his fingers once, then twice he threw it into the fire. "Sit down, relax... this is gonna take a while." Gibraltar laughed bitterly and kicked John in the chest, sending him to the ground in a heap. John scrambled backward, until he ran up against the ravine wall, slowly Gibraltar stocked in.

"No... no..." John mumbled over and over again. Stopping some seven feet away Gibraltar sheathed his sword.

"What's wrong you little maggot? Cats got your tongue?" Gibraltar laughed as he took a small step forward.

"Oh God, what did I do to deserve this?" the young nobleman whimpered as he cowered from the towering warrior.

"You invaded my homeland. You raped our women, you disgraced our people, and you boast about it. You deserve nothing more then to die."

"Mercy... have mercy..."

"That's right, keep begging. It makes you look like the coward you are." With one massive hand Gibraltar hit the boy, sending him sprawling. "That's for my friends." With the liquid grace of a dancer the warrior knelt down and grabbed the young aristocrat and helped him stand. "This is for my country." he said as he punched the young man in the gut, causing him to double over. "What's wrong boy?" the warrior asked with mock sympathy as he hit the kid with a vicious uppercut.

For a full minute the noble man just sat there, his eyes starring out at nothing. Blood dripped from the side of his mouth as he gasped for air and feebly clutched his sides. "Please... please..."

"You think I'm some kind of saint? You think I'm some kind of good ma-" Gibraltar's voice got caught in his throat as he stood over the boy.

Viciously he kicked the boy and spun away, walking a few steps away and spinning around again. With murder in his eyes the warrior glared at the young man, "You lucky son of a bitch!"

The nobleman could do nothing but stare at the man, his prone trying to curl into a small ball.

"You fucking whore!" the man screamed as he grabbed the now burning spear shaft and broke it in half. With uncontrolled rage he threw the shattered shaft toward the rising sun, "Uuuummmoooojjjj!!! Damn you! Damn you back to hell!"

With that he fell on his knees and let out a strangled cry of frustration, "Why must you take this away from me?! Why?" He screamed in frustration as he repeated the words the words the devil had intoned earlier, "Do that which a good man does and you will return home." Closing his eyes he fought to control the rage that flowed through every part of his body. Like a flame it burned, it called for him to lash out, to make this one pay for everything he had done. With a crystal clarity he could see the sins of this man, a clear account of every lie, every wrong deed.

Yet somewhere deep inside himself he knew he couldn't. He shouldn't. But this man had killed him; this pond scum was the reason he was here in the first place. It was all his fault, his death was this ones fault. A cold rage replaced the flame as the warrior opened his eyes, and with a deathly calm walked toward the still prone noble. "Get up."

"Uuuu," the young man moaned as he tried to crawl away.

"I said GET UP!" Gibraltar screamed as he kicked the noble in the face, sending him to the ground once more. "If you wont get up, then you'll die where you lay."

With an iron determination in his eyes the warrior drew his sword, it felt good to be in his hands once more. The comfort of the handle reminded of the home, where he had first forged the sword, it reminded him of his darling Lydia. With that a single tear came from his eye, a single crystal tear streamed down his dry and haggard face. Slowly he turned from the prone noble and walked away, his rage replaced with sorrow.

* * *

As he crested the ravine the suns rays burst from behind the clouds, shinning its rays down upon the landscape. Swaying fields of ripe, golden wheat waved tantalizingly, glittering like the rich, blonde hair of a Goddess. "AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!" a scream echoed up from the fields, shattering the beauty of the moment like a rock thrown into a hidden mountain lake. Within the field four men, each in green and gold uniforms, moved over what appeared to be a half-naked lady.

"Tal'Ufir bastards!" Gibraltar screamed, his rage returning as he ran down the slopping hill. Noticing the disturbance three of the four men moved away from the struggling lady and walked toward Gibraltar. Like the shadow of death Gibraltar descended upon them, his blood covered sword moving like liquid silver. The first of the group lunged forward with his sword, only to get his arm cleanly severed. His head soon joined his arm in the rolling fields of wheat.

"That was my friend!" the second man bellowed as he swung his sword in a downward chop. A sharp clanging sound came as Gibraltar's sword parried the blow.

"Then by all means, joinhim!" Gibraltar yelled as he kneed the man in the gut, then brought his elbow down on the mans neck. Before he could finish with the second man the third lunged at him. Easily dodging the sloppy attack Gibraltar brought his arm around and grabbed the man by the side of the face as he passed. A sickening crack came from the man's neck as Gibraltar flexed his muscled arm and twisted his head in an ungodly angle. "See you in hell" Gibraltar said in a cold, emotionless voice as he brought his sword downward, driving it into the fallen man's stomach. The man's scream was cut short as blood and bile rose up from his mouth.

"Your going to wish you hadn't done that..." the fourth man grinned as he grabbed the girl lying on the ground and forced her to stand up. He put a large, dirty looking dagger to her throat as he slowly backed away.

"What's wrong you little coward? Need to hide behind a girl?" Gibraltar said as he stalked in.

"Help..." the girl croaked, as she feebly tried to cover her nakedness.

"Shut-up whore!" the man said as he stood his ground, "You want to play hard-ball eh?"

"Bring it, bitch."

"Feel my wrath you little Ulgar cuss." With that the fourth man roughly threw the lady to the ground, and drew a long, sturdy bastard sword. He sheathed his dagger, then took a casual step forward. Gibraltar attacked, yet for all his effort he could not get past this man defenses. Gibraltar swung his sword viciously at the man's neck, but he simply drew his dagger and parried the blow. Quicker then the eye could follow the man's sword slashed across Gibraltar's leg, creating a small cut. With a wicked laugh the man stepped back to admire his handy work. After a brief pause the man rushed forward, both his sword and dagger moving like serpents, frantically Gibraltar brought his sword down hard on the man's sword, then swung it pack to parry the dagger. "Feeling tired already?" the man laughed as he brought his sword down again, his dagger close behind. A large, and ugly gash appeared on Gibraltar's chest, and the man stepped back again. With deliberate slowness the man brought his now blood covered dagger to his mouth and licked it slowly.

Gibraltar rushed forward, his sword lunging, the man parried his own sword and brought his dagger around from behind. Suddenly Gibraltar dropped to the ground, his leg shooting up and connecting with the man wrist sending the dagger spiraling into the air. As quickly as he had dropped Gibraltar rolled back on his feet and parried an overhead chop. The man laughed as Gibraltar's knees began to buckle, and the man swung again.

Their blades crossed, each man came face to face. "Name's Janus... I thought you might want to know the name of the man that killed you." With that Janus swept his feet in a circle, yet to his surprise Gibraltar jumped into the air and punched through the crossed blades landing a hit his nose and plastering it to the side of his face. Janus stumbled backward, taking a second to clear the stars... a second he didn't have. Gibraltar's sword drove into the man's chest, coming out the other side as if it had sliced through nothing thicker then papyrus. They both fell to the ground, the world going dark.

* * *

The world was as sea of inky blackness, his arms felt as if they were trapped in tar. He moved his arms slowly, waving it in the darkness all around him. Slowly he waved his arms in front of his face, he could feel it brushing against his nose, but he could not see it. His struggles began to become stronger, each movement harder then the last. His punched out, and a white pain flashed behind his eyes. He kicked, and his leg began to spasm, and slowly the darkness gave way. He struggled ever upward; swimming out of the inky blackness until he broke through... he opened his eyes. A thousand stars twinkled overhead, each as beautiful and captivating as the last. He could hear a small fire burning somewhere near him, yet its warmth seemed not to touch him, for he felt cold and weak.

Slowly he forced himself to sit up, his hands pushing against dry and matted grass. His chest began to ache, as he sat up he saw the blood covered bandages wrapped around his chest. When he finally achieved a sitting position he saw her... she must have been a Goddess. Her long, blond hair cascaded down her shoulders like a waterfall, her creamy white skin seemed to glow in the firelight. Sadly her back was turned to him as she slept on the hard, unforgiving ground. For an eternity he sat there, breathless as he watched her, her delicate chest moving up and down in peaceful reverie. It was hypnotic; breathtaking, he had to remind himself to breath as he looked on. A stirring rose up from deep within him, lust reared its ugly head. God's she was beautiful, he couldn't help but think otherwise, shaking his head vigorously he forced himself to remember Lydia. He could almost see her now, her long black hair, and her perfect tan skin. Even those lovely thoughts seem to do little to affect this urge, this painful desire that screamed for release. With a feral growl he tried began to roll away from her, just as he completed his first roll his chest began to hurt, the dull ache growing stronger until it was unbearable. A scream erupted from his dried lips, shattering the silence of the night.

Soft hands touched his chest; a soothing voice spoke reassuring words into his ear. The pain washed away at that hands gentile caress, the pain that clouded his mind parted like the fog before the suns unrelenting rays. Looking down at him were deep, blue eyes, each so full of care and compassion. For a long while he just sat there, drowning in those eyes, then a voice, like an angles, called out "Are you ok?"

"What?" Gibraltar stuttered, as he blinked once then twice.

"Are you ok?" the voice came again, ringing strong with concern.

"Never been better..." Gibraltar breathed, as he looked into the face of an angel. Her skin was like alabaster; her soft, full lips were puckered in concern.

"I wanted to thank you for saving me..." her angelic voice began, her long hair fell from her face, brushing lightly against Gibraltar's calloused skin.

"I should say the same thing." Gibraltar said, as he looked at her. His mind wandered aimlessly, as he stared at her. She began to speak to him, but he did not hear, so lost in the sound of her voice. As his mind wandered, lost in the endless melody of her voice a sinuous whisper came to him, with it came a simple song...

Her touch lingers in the air,

Her sweet perfume, her golden hair,

Her skin, a touch of pure delight,

Her voice, a sound of heavens light.

Crimson lips, of holy fire,

Swaying hips, of pure desire,

Eyes of piercing, somber light,

Blue as water, calm as night.

Graceful movement, shining star,

Ancient poets from afar.

All have come to sing their praise,

To this angel in the haze.

"And that's when you came along and saved me..."

"What?" Gibraltar stuttered.

"I suppose I really can't blame you" she sighed, "All that blood loss must make it hard to listen to me rattle on."

"Sorry..." Gibraltar tried to sit again, but the pain in his chest stopped him half way. Gently she pushed him down, kissing him lightly on the lips... it seemed to last forever, an eternity of bliss. "No..." he mumbled through the kiss, gently he pushed her away from him. "No, I'm sorry but I can't do it." He looked into her eyes; those blue eyes seemed to burst with tears. "I'm sorry, but I can't. You are the most beautiful person I have ever seen, but I will not betray my wife..."

"How touching" Umoj's sinuous voice came from everywhere.

"You lose Umoj..." came Gibraltar's reply.

"So it seems..." Umoj replied, his voice calm. All around Gibraltar the world seemed to dissolve. Whispering clouds of light gray fog where the only thing besides the endless blackness that seemed to be everywhere.

"You're cheating."

"Care to explain?" Umoj said, as he slowly materialized besides Gibraltar. Umoj raised a perfect eyebrow in an elegant, questioning manner.

"Explain what?"

"Are you always this dense? How am I cheating Gibraltar?"

"You took me away and I haven't failed a trail..."

"But you've won..." came Umoj's cool response.

"I'm not home yet..."

"You're right, your not." Umoj agreed.

"The four trials..." Gibraltar breathed, "The tunnels, John, Janus, and the lady..." Umoj smiled charmingly, waving his hand in the thick air Umoj called up a shimmering portal.

"Very good, return home warrior, and hope the next time we meet is in the distant future."

Gibraltar stepped into the portal; a nimbus of blue light surrounded him as he was sucked into a vortex of azure.

* * *

Dawn was just cresting the distant mountains, shinning brilliantly in a clear blue sky. Standing upon a small mesa Gibraltar looks out, fields of green grass stretched for miles. Rising from the middle of this green pasture he could just make out a small, sturdy cottage... home. Cautiously he walked toward it, the dew clinging to his sturdy boots.

The small cottage came closer and closer, until he arrived at its white fence. Slowly he climbed over it, landing lightly on the soft grass and continuing. Silently he walked through the small garden that he and Lydia had planted, the smell of sweet flowers rose to meet him as he trod lightly toward the door. Ever so quietly he opened the hard oak door, not a sound came from anywhere as he walked through his house. Still he moved ever so slowly until he came to a large door, his bedroom. Silently he opened the door, it creaked ever so slightly as it swung open and before him he saw Lydia in bed... with another man.

Rage rose up in Gibraltar, his hand came to his sword hilt, and then he saw her face. A soft smile graced her loving lips, as she put her beautiful tanned arm over her paramour. As quickly as the rage came, it left... his hands fell limply at his sides. A tear, which glistened in the light of the rooms sole lamp, slide down Gibraltar's face as he turned around and silently walked away.

* * *

"UMOJ!!!" Gibraltar's voice shattered the stillness of the lonely mountain ridge.

"Yes?" came Umoj's cool, seductive voice.


"What?" Umoj asked as he slowly faded into sight, lounging atop a small boulder. "Oh, and yell a little louder. I think a man in Tobango didn't hear you."

"Take me back..." Gibraltar growled, unaffected by the devils taunting.

"Oh?" asked Umoj, sounding slightly surprised, "Exactly why should I do that?"


"You love me?" Umoj asked, flashing a perfect grin.

"Try again."

"Oh... don't tell me," Umoj said, he chuckled lightly then continued, "Your beautiful true love wasn't as true as you thought?"

"Just take me back" Gibraltar said, his voice little more then a whisper.

"What's wrong?" Umoj asked, his voice cheerful, "Where is that bubbling courage that you expressed so early on?"

"Why do you mock me?" Gibraltar moaned.

"Because its ever so... enjoyable. So, tell me mortal... why did you not just kill him?"


"Oh, don't tell me your going to start acting brainless again." Umoj sighed deeply, "Why did you not kill the man, Edward I think his name is, that was sleeping with your 'True Love'?"

"That's a stupid question devil."

"Is it?"

"Yes!" Gibraltar said, frustration creeping into his voice.

"Then by all means, give me your stupid answer."

"I love her! I love her Umoj!" Gibraltar screamed, a cold, clear tear sliding down his cheek. "I love her with all my heart and soul." Gibraltar's voice cracked.

"How touching..." Umoj's voice was dripping with sarcasm.

"She was happy Umoj... she was content, she smiled in his arms. I could never bring myself to destroy that happiness; all I've ever wanted for her is to be happy. I love her too much to take that away from her, and without her I have no reason to live. Take me back."

"You win..." Umoj sighed, a frown found its way onto Umoj's handsome face. "Congratulations Gibraltar, you passed the final trail."

"What?" Gibraltar stammered, "Stop playing with me Umoj... just take me back."

"I've been playing with you this whole time Gibraltar, you passed all four trials."


"Must I explain everything?" Umoj asked, his delicate features lifting in a smirk, "I suppose so. Your first trail was in the tunnels, you wouldn't give up... by doing that you proved that your love was strong enough to overcome despair. The second trail was with that John fellow; you could have killed him, yet you did not. Instead you rushed off to save a maiden you did not even know, and by doing that you proved that your morality is greater then your anger. Then when you met with the maiden you overcame your pitiful mortal hormonal reactions. Finally you expressed true love, by wanting nothing more for your lady friend then for her to be happy. If this is all to complicated I'm sure I could find some three year old to explain it to you."

"So... this was all a trail?" Gibraltar asked, his voice unbelieving and his face dumbfounded.

"I do believe I answered that question once before."

"Then she... didn't..." Gibraltar began to stutter.

"Tell me, are you going to sit there and stutter pointless rabble all day?"

"She... she didn't..."

"Mortal's..." Umoj sighed, and he waves his hand. A small blue portal opened up on the mountain ridge.


"No she didn't have sex with anyone while you were dead. Anyway, I have work to do. So if you'll excuse me, I'll leave you so you can stutter and stammer alone." With that Umoj slowly faded out of sight.

* * *

Dawn was just cresting the distant mountains, shinning brilliantly in a clear blue sky. Standing upon a small mesa Gibraltar looks out, fields of green grass stretched for miles. Rising from the middle of this green pasture he could just make out a small, sturdy cottage... home. Cautiously he walked toward it, the dew clinging to his sturdy boots.

The small cottage came closer and closer, until he arrived at its white fence. Slowly he climbed over it, landing lightly on the soft grass and continuing. Silently he walked through the small garden that he and Lydia had planted, the smell of sweet flowers rose to meet him as he trod lightly toward the door. Ever so quietly he opened the hard oak door, not a sound came from anywhere as he walked through his house. Slowly he approached the door that would lead to his bedroom, stealing himself to see his lovely Lydia in the arms of another man he slowly opened the door. The sound of soft weeping wafted through the small crack, as the door opened more it creaked ever so slightly. Lydia sat upon the bed, her eyes red and swollen from endless days of weeping, looked up. For the briefest moment the world stood still, Gibraltar fell to his knee's tears cascading down his face, his eyes looking deeply into those of the woman he loves.

The End