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Shala turned away. "You will have your opportunity. 
When his passing time comes. I will do what I am 
duty bond to do."

Each year seems much like the last to a soul seeker, 
and it was not, long in the way of these things before 
Shala again passed through the graveyard. She 
walked the path through the woods and onto the 
gravel shoulder of the road. Forgetting for a moment 
she had been long away she looked for the wraith of 
the man on the road, He had passed over the year 
before, even the small girl who had kept him 
company for a time had also found her passing time.
Domio was still there, as she knew he would be. 
Waiting for her. This time however, he tried none of 
his tricks. He waited for her quietly, standing in full 
view looking alone and lonely, brightening as he saw 
"It has been too long." He told her as she 
approached, veiled in the darkness that forever kept 
her simply a presence to him. The darkness that 
would hide from him what she had been in life, the 
one thing that might make her vulnerable to him.
Shala sighed and for once in her torment bent her 
knees and sat against Domio's tree, a dark shadow 
against other shadows. Domio looked surprised.
"Will you stay your travels and wait with me then, 
for a little while?"  He asked, sounding more like a 
scared child than even the scared children she had 
seen, curled up in tight bundles, making themselves 
as small as possible in the hope that she would 
overlook them, so they might live again.
Domio considered her for a moment. "He is gone 
already, is he not Shala?" he demanded. Suddenly 
enraged, his head swung from side to side as if 
looking for a victim for his wrath.
Shala nodded slowly. "These twelve days past. It has 
been a long journey for me."
Domio sat down opposite her, crying openly. "Why? 
How? Is it not every man's right to confront his 
murderer?" Domio seemed lost for words. "I could 
have defeated him. I could have prevented his 
ascension! Why was I denied my right?"
Domio stood up.  "Murderer, child killer.  He was 
still the most handsome man she had ever seen. 
Beauty is evil's most skilful guise her mother had 
He appealed to heaven. "My god, you made me what 
I am and then you punish me for it! You do not give 
that which your own laws promise!"
"You got what you asked. No injustice was done to 
you. Michaelson relinquished his right to trial by 
Domio sat down again, his mind reeling. "Then he 
is, as I am? Chained forever to the earth?" There was 
hope in his voice; she would soon dash that. For the 
moment she watched him, in the calm before an 
expected storm.
"I approached him after I last saw you. I offered him 
a choice. He wronged you. In a trial by combat he 
would have been defeated. It was his wrongs to be 
tested, not yours weighed against his. He saw this 
and took the chance I offered him."
"The chance you offered him?"  Domio demanded. 
"What chance?"
Shala stood up. "I offered to exchange his 
punishment for mine. I offered to give him my 
punishment, I would take his. He is now in the 
graveyard, walking the paths of the soul seekers, he 
has escaped you."

Copyright Jackie Bulner 1989

Love Among the Damned

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Jackie Bulner
Melbourne, Victoria

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