“And you are certain this is what you want?”
A mummified mockery of a woman towered over the young man. She bore wings like that of a vulture, dusty and black. Outstretched where watchful eyes gazed out upon him. Her lips, two dark laces, stretched tightly over gnarled teeth.
Her touch was like an ancient sandstorm racing along his frail features. She examined him as one examining livestock. Appraising his qualities. Noting his blemishes.
“It is.” His body trembled before the terrible being. Still, he stood firm and unwavering.
“There will be consequences. You cannot turn back.”
“What you will do will send a ripple across the universe. It shall rend the very fabric of reality. You will watch people you love die.”
“I will burn that bridge when I get to it! Please! Just help me!”
“Very well.” From a strand of golden light around her neck she retrieved a set of ornate keys. She held out her hand to the young man, carefully unfurling each finger until the keys rested in her open palm. “I give you these. To you will open both life and death. Go. Now. And forget not your debts.”
“Thank you.” He whispered blinking away tears.
“You will not thank me on that day when I come to collect.”
“No, but you will. You will.”