The many questions Doubt posed worried Wonder no end. Things went from bad to worse when Fear materialized next to Doubt and the thought, "You are going to Hell," flashed in Wonder's mind.
Virtue didn't seem surprised. "Hey Fear," she said. "How goes it?"
Fear sneered but didn't respond. His focus was on Wonder. Doubt suddenly moved next to Wonder and eyed his tibia. When Doubt actually began to gnaw on him, Wonder nearly jumped out of his skin! "What the..." was all he could manage, violently shaking his leg.
Virtue deftly interposed herself between Doubt and Wonder, separating them, while hailing Fear once more, "How ya been?"
Fear finally lifted his gaze from Wonder and glared at Virtue with hostility. Wonder had seen and felt Fear any number of times in the past, and knew him to be a man of few words. Fear seemed to be able to communicate subliminally. The images that Wonder experienced around Fear always terrorized him. Even now his thoughts were of Doubt eating his innards and Fear summoning the Angel of Death. He felt himself ready to bolt.
Virtue picked up Doubt and half dragged him towards Fear. "No kidding?" she said to some unheard response. "You are a formidable emotion, no doubt. Where would we be without you?" Here she deposited Doubt at Fear's feet, and placed her face inches from his. "Still, I find you lie too often and encourage the worst in humans. Your teachings are crude and lack subtlety. Wonder is in no need of your message today."
The very air around them seem to shimmer like a heat wave. Fear was trembling with suppressed energy and looked as if he would lash out at Virtue. Wonder felt woozy, wanting to help Vi but unable to move. The images in his mind where so potent he had difficulty comprehending the singular conversation. He was sure however, that Vi was shielding him. He forced himself to move toward her despite his trepidation. But his dread was such he stumbled and nearly took a header. He was caught before falling by two slender arms. He believed it was Vi, but looking up he saw it was the lady Grace. He had often thought about travelling to her state. Now he was in her arms. She was so elegant he became self-conscious. He glanced at Vi and saw her beaming at him like a summer sun. Her look was so full of affection he visibly blushed. He wasn't so discombobulated though, not to notice that Fear and Doubt had somehow vanished. Wonder wondered if wonders would ever cease.
After untangling himself, Wonder thanked Grace. He then walked over to Virtue and hugged her. It was the first time he had ever initiated an embrace between them. The hug-fest was broken up by the loud utterance of, "Ba'al Shem!" echoing through the glade. All three turned to see a young Hasidic Jew, book in hand, staring at Virtue. He didn't appear to be older than 6 or 7. He waited expectantly, smiling at her and fingering his left earlock until Virtue--after considerable thought--announced, "Ubiquitous." The young boy nodded sagely and resumed his travels.
"What was that all about Vi," Wonder asked.
"Seems I'm awash in validation, Wonder," answered Virtue, watching until the boy disappeared. She turned to Grace and expressed her appreciation she showed up when she did. "I wasn't entirely sure how that was going to play out Grace. Your timing was impeccable." Grace nodded, her features relaxed. She stated, "You're needed in the north, Virtue. Your time has come."
Virtue seemed surprised. She whispered, "so soon?" and then, after several heartbeats, "so be it." She shot a quick glance at Wonder and asked Grace for a minute to spend with him. "Of course," Grace responded, moving toward the woodland trail. Turning to Wonder, Vi saw he couldn't mask the disappointment on his face.
"Do you really have to go, Vi?"
"Yes, Wonder, I do."
"Can I go with you?"
"Not this time Wonder."
"But I always wanted to be in the state of Grace, Vi!"
"You're not so very far away Wonder. You're closer than you think."
"I don't know what that means Vi." A note of desperation crept into Wonder's voice. "I don't know so many things. How will I learn everything I need to know without you? How do I do that?"
"Over time Wonder, over time."