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Leif was in his study after a frustrating evening with Isabella. His thoughts went back to the golden sphere where the Source told him the purpose of life, which was the Source. Leif had tried to live the past fifteen years in the light of that profound truth.
Yet now it didn’t seem enough. He knew the problem was with him, not the Source. He could only hope for more truth. Wasn’t that part of the Source? Truth that brings healing and life?
But the Source was mute concerning Leif's situation. Why? Leif felt as dead inside as he had in a long, long time.
Isabella was in the bedroom, crying out to the Source. She didn’t know what else to do.
It was then the Source spoke to her and Leif.
"Devan is in the Land of Death. He needs your help."
Kamiko, in Beyond, also heard. She was trying to process it when she became aware that Leif, via the Source, was flowing to her how she must join them in Back.
As he flowed, her thoughts were jumbled. Though she had been contentedly helping those stuck in Beyond to continue their journey, she knew her desire for being in the Beat and Lighting had taken on a sense of something she did out of duty, rather than something she looked forward to with joy and anticipation. She hated that but it was hard to overcome because each day took on a routine she was so accustomed to.
She spent her days going to Constructs and inviting them to come to her nightly meetings. Usually they offered excuses, but some would come. Every night she would speak of the need to continue on their journey to find their deeper relationship to the Source.
"There is more to the Source than you are experiencing. You have made it this far. Don't stop now," she would tell them.
She invited everyone she could to stay and get into the Beat and flows of the Source. Kamiko never understood why this wouldn't inspire someone to want more of the Source. Many would say they had been inspired but walk out and next day be the same. It could be frustrating but Kamiko would then remember how some of her own Constructs had trapped her, too.
Because she was so content with her job, she never had a desire to be married. Neither had Devan, for that matter. Anytime they wanted to talk, she and Devan would get in touch. A bond had formed between them. They understood each other.
I guess I know now why I haven’t been able to contact Devan lately, she thought. I wonder what happened?
She forced her thoughts back on what Leif was saying. A sense of dread tried to come over her as Leif talked of the Land of Death. Leif and Isabella needed her. They were arranging for another agent to fill in for her during her absence.
"Of course I will come," she responded. The fact her Sensing was sharper than anyone else's made it especially important she come. She immediately packed and planned for the trip. What little she knew of the Land of Death was enough for her to know she might not make it back alive. Still, she didn't hesitate in her resolve. Devan needed her and that was all that mattered.
When Kamiko arrived, there was a happy reunion, for Leif and Isabella had been in frequent contact with her via the flows over the years, but not physically, in person, very often. They had aged some since they had last seen each other. They were now pushing fifty and had more wrinkles, but nobody cared. The bond they had due to the Source was still there, stronger than ever. And that was much more important than external appearances.
Being together again under these circumstances was eerily reminiscent of their first journey. But not the same, Kamiko realized. She sensed trouble between Leif and Isabella, as if a distance had opened between them rather than the unity they had had on their first journey. She would inquire about it later, but not now. Devan came first.
"Together again,” Leif half-joked.
Isabella and Kamiko didn't see any humor in their situation.
"We could get killed," Isabella reminded him. "I’m not prepared for this."
Kamiko felt the same. "So, I guess we will just have to rely on the Source more than ever.”
"That’s what I think," Leif responded, "which is why I have been seeking the Source on what we should do first."
"And what did you get?" Isabella asked, a little coldly it sounded to Kamiko.
"I think we are to talk to a Gatherer,” Leif continued, “one who specializes in Death and the Land of Death."
Kamiko and Isabella were silent for a moment. From their agent training, they knew Gatherers existed, but neither had ever utilized one.
"And where do we find such a person?" Kamiko ventured. "In a cave on a remote mountain top?"
While not considered totally strange, Gatherers were known to be a different breed. They spent their days gathering information, mostly related to their specialty, from any place they could: writings, rumors, first-hand witnesses, second-hand, third-hand, wherever. Each Gatherer had their area of expertise, but one who specialized in Death and the Land of Death put them in an even stranger category.
"Simple," Leif answered. "I looked in the back of the Agent's Manual and found a list of Gatherers in one of the appendices. One is about an hour from here. No cave. No mountain."
Kamiko and Isabella looked at each other.
"What have we got to lose?" Kamiko asked.