Jon and Allyrine had both been bound hand and foot, I suppose incase they were to try to escape. I sat on the cold marble, an altar stood in the center of the room to my left, and a shining ceremonial dagger lay next to it, an unfeeling reminder of what lay ahead.

A white light seemed in front of my eyes, but what could I do? Nothing. The priestess came up the steps; her eyes alight in a demonish fervor. She picked up the dagger, held it loosely in her right hand, and bowed to Jon and Allyrine with a cruel, chilling smile on those red lips. She was so cold, I ached for them. For what was about to happen. For what they would have to see. I knew why that man had no emotion; it was because he had no soul. She had fed it to her demon, and the same would happen now.

I saw her smile that terrible smile, and hoped it would not be the last thing Jon and Allyrine saw either.

I gasped as she plunged the dagger deep into my chest.



The first phase of my plan was complete. I threw the letters onto the crackling flames, and watched them burn with a satisfied smile. The crinkled documents turned to ash. The night was young, and many other things had yet to be completed. But Ilsila had been taken, and that was enough for a small celebration.

"Aaira." The voice was a caress. I turned to him and smiled. If there was more time…I shook my head, there was still little time to spare.

"Aaira," this time more urgent, "there's been a disturbance in the ranks. A spy. The man called Ajhonsin."

Ajhonsin. Jhonsin…Jon. The name tugged at something deep within my mind, but I waved it away. Those thoughts I sometimes found troublesome were bring buried deeper and deeper into recess.

"Kill him."

My second bowed, as always, and sensing my mood, exited. I had an army to control, and a war to win.

But, I smiled again. That victory had already begun. And this time, no man would stand in my way. I fingered the golden chain at my neck. Both halves had been returned to me, and I would never trust another again.

This time my victory would be complete. My shadows would rule all.



I looked up from my work, and saw someone I thought would never seek me out.


"You look well. Even after all these years, nothing has changed." He sounded sad.

"Not in my isolated part of the world. But what about the Wood? How has it flourished under your new queen?"

"Ha," Jon laughed with no mirth, "I would not use flourish and Greenviel in the same sentence. Death is everywhere."

"With shadow comes death." I repeated an old adage, just really for something to say, yet he nodded.

"This world is consumed. Even here, soon you will feel the shadows reach. I believe we are all lost."

"Nothing to be done? How much we have changed, Jon. Even with her gone, it was not enough."

"Nothing was enough, not when…."

He didn't need to say it. I knew, he knew, and it pained at my heart.

I nodded sadly, and motioned for him to sit at the chair to my left. We didn't speak, just took comfort in one another's company.

We had all failed, and now faced the consequences.


I stood at the edge of a cliff. It was dark, and yet it was light. The air was heavy, and yet there was no air at all. I was running, running, screaming, running. I was completely still, and there was no sound. I was falling, I was standing. This was the point of no return.

And I didn't know which way to go.

"Aaira!" A voice called me; I turned for it. But then another voice.









The voices were suddenly all around me, a dizzying sensation, I spun, I spun, which way to go? I searched, but found no answer. I reached out, pulled back my hands. I called out to them, I was silent.

Who was I?



A gentle voice called to me, somewhere above the sea of darkness I floated in.

"My daughter, come to me. It is not your time."

I couldn't feel my body; I was floating away. But from that voice above, I felt warmth, light.

"Come. You are not complete; it is not your time. Come back from the shadow, and heal your soul."

I felt myself rising; it was becoming warmer, and brighter. I felt myself again; I opened my eyes, but saw only blinding golden light.

"Who are you?" I whispered, though I thought I already knew, and was awed.

"You must find the sword. The sight and the sword act as one. Find the sword, and all will be well."

The golden light slowly faded, and I found myself back in my own body.

Staring into the eyes of the Priestess.