xvii. Walking Tall Toward The Shore

Eventually—after standing around waiting breathlessly for several minutes—Eva and Aly were beginning to lose hope—when a figure finally rose from the water, emerging as it walked out of the Payne.It was Seven―completely naked and fully healed from every burn that they had witnessed him endure—walking tall toward the shore. He waved, smiling as he did.Eva’s angel had come back her now.

She ran into the water—into his arms—and she could feel their spirits reuniting. She could not believe any of it.

“Oh, Thank God. Baby you’re alive.”

“I’m alive, babe. Everything is going to be okay. I promise, we will be okay.”

Seven nodded at Aly as they approached her on shore, acknowledging her help in saving his life. It was a gift.

He walked over and gave her a long hug. He cupped her face gazing in eyes.

“But tell me, how did you know.”

“Olin told me all about the Payne—and how it had healed his broken arm.”

“Oh, I remember, we were playing prey and predator by Camp Utopia. I took him down too hard on the docks—and he fell right in, right on top of jagged rocks.

“His arm was busted, and he could not even climb to shore—so I had to jump down after him. But by the time we made it to land together—his arm was glowing bright red—supernaturally healing itself.

“He was able to play ball with it later that day. I had almost forgotten all of it.”

“Crazy,” Eva exclaimed. “I cannot believe any of this … Aly, you were―”

“Later,” Seven interjected. “We need to find Olin … He’s in trouble.”

“Why …? What is going on now?”

Seven paused. “He loves Her.”

Eva winced—glancing off at Aly.

Aly looked away. “He’s just confused. He knows I love him for real.”

“Sounds like excuses,” Eva intoned dryly. “Why have you not set him right?”

“Please,” Aly said. “You have no idea. Olin is his own man, of any whim.”

Coldly turning on them, she walked off. She did not need to be told of love.

“Wait! I didn’t mean—” Eva implored. Neither did Eva mean to tell.

“It’s okay, she understands,” Seven reassured her. “She’s just worried. Come on—let’s get out of here. Time is small.”

“Aly,” he said, as they caught up to her by the road. “You take Eva back to Bane House—and I will go find Olin now.”

“I want to go too,” Aly said, shaking her head. “I want to find out for myself.”

“Me too,” Eva said bravely, shakily.

Seven sighed heavily, wary the danger. The Silverskin could kill them all.

Then suddenly, they saw Olin there, standing a ways down the road, teetering on the spot, covered head-to-toe in blood, missing an eye—grinning wickedly,wildly.

“Olin!” Seven cried, running up to him—with Aly and Eva coming up behind.

Seven got there in time to catch Olin, who fell into his arms from fatigue.

Seven then took him to the Payne—just as Olin had first ventured forth to do for him. He gave Olin the breath of fire—just as Aly had done for him—thus sacrificing some of himself in turn, in order to reignite Olin, despite his love for Her.

Olin then rose up high into the air on a funnel of water, just as had happened in Seven’s resurrection. Seven focused on their childhood memories to restore Olin.

The water then fell away, in just the same way as had for Saven—and Olin came crashing back down into the Payne—soon to re-emerge from the river—miraculously renewed—except for his eye.

He pointed at the socket. “I must have some kind of a mental block,” he quipped. “Maybe it will come back to me.”

He shook Seven’s hand, hugging him, grinning to be alive—and their bond felt strong for the first time in many years.

“May your dogs always roam,” Olin recited the old Bane family blessing, slapping Seven hard on one shoulder.

“May you never run out of hills to climb—nor valleys to cross—nor suns to send down,” Seven said, reciting it from memory. It was a moment to remember.

“Love, brother,” they said together.

They hugged now for the first time.

(Author’s Note: If you are enjoying The Silverskin, you can buy the full 400 page Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary edition paperback here. Forever Yours In French’s Forest, Rian Torr)

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