He smiled at her response, offering a simple retort. "Good."
Just as her fingers curled around his, palm meeting palm, he was hit with the sudden coolness of the world around them. Warmth, blood flow from use, poured across in the contact. But that recognition was snuffed out in a sudden wave of discomfort, mind filled with endless expanses of sand. Warm to hot, soft to coarse, soothing to restricting, blasted across the skin to wear down flesh and bone. Feet moved and sunk in every stride, an endless nightmare, afflicted with the hopelessness of a mind that couldn't progress. He knew this terror, he had seen it in the belly of Dromund Kaas while in search of the Ravager, with the eternal spider. Thousands of miles adrift, spanning as far as the eye could see, with forests composed of people turned to stone - hands gripping and clawing and pulling him under, under the canopy of flesh and agony. It was only through active destruction, a mind awoken from the hypnosis, was he able to break free. Yet, it wasn't so for Raj. He swallowed, hard, and tasted the coarseness of grains as they went down.
He felt the narrow passage as eyes drifted about, catching glimpses of specters across a sharpened mountainside. Familiar callings helped anchor him to the pass, razorblades offered for poor footing, as he failed to register the oddity of shifting from sands to mountains.
Come...there is much to show you...
His hand, somewhere between then and there, had tightened around her fingers. Enough to indicate investment in the experience, that even though he knew this to be her memory, he was inclined to suspend his disbelief. To lumber, in these few moments, through the events that had gutted her. And as he accepted that, he felt not her soft skin, but the jagged and sharp outcroppings of stone and flimsy roots. His legs felt tired, pained by cuts and rips, as he looked upon eyes of blackness. He couldn't understand why, but he had expected eyes there. He had expected a deep burning red. What will they write across you eyes, Irajah Ven? The same voice that uttered the question turned to laughter, disappearing in the shadow of the mountain.
A man of darkened skin, jaw fractured and shifting with every word, formed for only a moment. Enough to know he was there, to know he spoke and that discourse was had, but like smoke in the wind, it was gone. And in its place, a small thing stood before him. Blue pale face, eyes of dull gold, darkened by the world around him and the spike coursing through him. Darkened by conveyance of strife and abandonment and despair, realization of inclement end. Why mom? Reverance clenched his teeth. I needed you and you sent me away. I believed in you. You can do anything. He clenched his teeth in knowing what was coming, in the only thing that could come from a mother finding out that her child had passed into the netherworld. But he hadn't expected it to progress at it had, to blinding sacrifice. Where he succumbed to this illusion, the world clouded with words and indictment. Accusations of sins committed for selfish reasons. A struggle ensued in attempting to mount the hillside, ever stifled by doubtful voice echoing harsh truths and a body that wouldn't be carried or removed. No one leaves the mountain who cannot climb off of it for themselves.
I love you, Boo.
I love you too, Mom.
And then it was silence. Deafening utter silence, the apex of her ascent left pieces ragged and clinging to the mountainside, fingers clenched around a still beating heart. Approaching the climb, there was stubborn resolve. And in realization of what was needed, hope fluttered about like her arms clinging to the spikes of the Shrike Mountain.
He opened his eye with lips tucked in, fighting the urge to gnaw, to remove any sense of loss that might cross between fingers. This is not my loss. Blinking as he looked towards the etchings on the piano, to gold embossed letters on glossy black, he lifted her hand to press lips against fingers. Letting the embrace linger, should she allow for that, his breath pressed through as he sighed. He could tell her about the time he killed his children and his wife, burning the house down around them. He could tell her that the sins she saw would pale in comparison to the atrocities that he had committed, that he would be that man upon the mountainside, never to climb again. But she wasn't looking for something to trump this experience because, for her, it simply wouldn't do. On the spectrum of evil acts, she had committed the worst thing that could be imagined. And even if he didn't know who Boo was, or why she cared, he held on the tethers of tenderness, despite himself. For in the dream, he had cared.
"I..." His lips moved from her knuckles, thumb wrapped around to press against the top of her hand. "You were dragged into hell and you conquered it, by any means necessary. Don't let it continue to grip you. There is no sinking sand here, no spikes upon the mountain." He looked towards the keys, towards the phantom image of hands moving across. Standing, he held on to her hand. "You still live in that place and because of that, it conquers you. Every moment, every second..." He released her hand and stepped back towards the glass balcony. "In time, you will forgive yourself these sins that saved you." His view shifted, eye glancing towards the sky through the opened blinds. Just then, a strike across the grey clouds. "It really is quite beautiful outside. Will you join me?"