She saw his spirit first. It was low, soft, pulsating just slightly in comparison to her strong spirit’s glow. She had half a mind to just ignore the sorry excuse of a man, but she had to know.
“Why did you do it?”
Nello had glanced up, his eyes dull, and he didn’t hold the queen’s gaze for long, unlike his bold staring contests the pair had when they had both still been alive. “I did it for your son.”
“Liar,” was Pearl’s reply. “Tell me the real reason as to why you did it. Why did you nearly destroy our world?”
“It was for your son!” Nello had exploded, and the sage had leaped to his feet to glare at her on a more even leveled ground. “Everything I had ever done was for Jeharraz! Why did no one see?” His question pattered off into an anguished whisper.
“No one saw,” Pearl said, “because everyone else was busy seeing the world. What you had done in my son’s name, no less, would have destroyed the very world you were trying to create for Jeharraz.”
“He was strong,” Nello said. “He would have been strong enough to control the Dark Dragon–”
“He was strong enough to resist the Dark Dragon and the servant that brought the monster back,” Pearl said, “and I could not be any prouder of my sons, of both Jeharraz and Ellery.”
“Ellery doesn’t deserve what he got,” Nello spat out. “He doesn’t deserve the throne. Jeharraz should have been your heir. Why wasn’t Jeharraz slated to be king?”
“Jeharraz had enough wits about him to know what he wanted out of life,” Pearl said, “and that did not include the throne. He would have taken the mantle of king if he truly had to, but he knew Ellery would have been the better choice for the country.”
“Ellery and his hotheaded streak,” Nello said with a sneer. “How is he a better king than Jeharraz?”
“Ellery’s stubbornness is not his only trait,” Pearl said, getting dangerously close to the sage’s face. “He has traveled the world, unlike a bit of the countries like Jeharraz. Ellery has spoken to the people, has a vast knowledge of the laws, has the understanding as to why the laws are as they are. Jeharraz could have learned, yes, but it would have been like leading a horse to a trickle of a stream. It would have helped, but it would not have been what Jeharraz wanted.”
“That’s what I was there for,” Nello said. “I would have helped Jeharraz with the law and the land and the people. Together, we would have brought glory to Perion.”
“Perion is and will always be glorious,” Pearl said, “because Perion has monarchs who care to rule. Ellery, ever since he was young, had a calling to the throne, and he suits it like a hand suits a glove.”
“He suits a mule more–”
“Enough!” Pearl’s command thundered across the limbo where the two spirits laid. “Tell me, sage, with all of your wisdom. Did you believe that you truly cared about Jeharraz?”
“Of course I cared about him,” Nello said. “I cared about him so much that I wanted to be by his side and give him the power he deserved.”
Pearl held her head high. “You didn’t care about him,” she said, “for you haven’t even realized what you would have been sacrificing for this supposed power. His happiness. If you couldn’t care enough to put Jeharraz’s needs and wants before your own, then you deserved every bit of pain you will suffer through for all of eternity. I thank the gods that I do not understand you.”
With that, the queen turned on her heel and walked toward the bright light at the end of limbo, heedless of the dispirited man she was leaving behind.