The rope chafed against Ezette’s hands as she slid down, leaving poppy-red and bone-white marks across her palms. She wasn’t holding the rough rope correctly, immersed in a particularly wonderful daydream involving lemoncream pastries and blackberry cider. The ground rushed up to meet her feet. She landed a bit sloppily, her knees buckling under her.
Dark obsidian spires towered over them, holding the cavern aloft. A dim sconce sputtered to life. Ruelle’s face was surrounded by an orange glow.
At the end of the cavern lay a dark mantle adorned by rocks and dust. “There it is,” Ruelle whispered in a clandestine manner, as if she did not dare to speak in such a dark place. “The godforsaken prophecy.”
A weathered, cracked brown book was laid open on the mantle. The pages were torn, but the writing was neat. Ruelle shoved Ezette forward. “This is your path. I have already seen the book. I cannot see it again. You must go by yourself. It will be different for everyone.”
She scoffed. “You talk about this “prophecy” as if it matters, Ruelle.”
“Do not sully a prophecy’s name, sister!”
Ezette smiled tightly, stepping forward and placing her hand on the book. The world started to spin. Started to cleave apart and shatter. Screams split through her head. It felt like they were splicing through her skull, penetrating to the bowels of her mind. Her vision went fuzzy, and then everything went black.
The world blinked back to life again. But it was not her world. It was the mortal world. She was surrounded in a place with no light, a place where everything was obscured with gray fog. The thick fog covered everything: the ground, the sky, even parts of her body. It wreathed and steamed around her as if a premonition of a cataclysm.
A vibrant yellow spirit, fiery as a setting sun, appeared before her. “Do you wish to see the prophecy, or do you wish to turn back while you still can?”
“Show it to me. Do not fear for my sanity, for it is likely that I have seen much worse,” Ezette assured the golden, ridiculously large-bosomed woman.
“Are you sure, Ezette? This could change your path,” The spirit spoke, her voice echoing dimly in Ezette’s head.
“What path?” she frowned.
“I cannot say,” The spirit’s spectral mouth shifted as she spoke, spewing steaming clouds with each word.
“Tarry not, do tell and show the prophecy with haste. That is all I request of you, o holy spirit,” Ezette concealed a huffing sigh and bowed in deference to the elder.
The spirit smiled thinly at the olden language. It was well-known that traditional language appealed to older spirits.
“Very well. So be it.” The spirit lifted a sunlight-amber colored palm, emanating tendrils of blue-black steam that curled up into the air, smelling of pine and eucalyptus.
The world started to spin again and the ground beneath her started to shake, to shake until it was vibrating under her feet, until it dissolved into mist and green-tinged smoke. And then she started to fall.
She lost count for how long she was falling. Suddenly, she came to a screeching halt. Her knees buckled for the impact but there was none. She was floating in the air, or rather in space.
Luminescent stars were scattered and sprawled around her in mounds of white and gold. They were the only source of light in the roaring black.
A globe of green and cerulean and white swirled underneath her. To the left of the globe lay a twin, this one swirling with the colors of the setting sun—fuchsia, gold, lavender, sky-blue. But it was covered, covered in a sheen of a moving, roiling shape of black that writhed like a snake.
A bridge of crystalline light connected both globes. Ezette knew what she was seeing. The mortal world and her world. The Fae World. Sylerean.
And then, she began to truly see.
A shadowed form took shape. It towered over her, exuding sun-kissed smoke and shadows. “When two kinds long forgotten unite, two worlds will emerge as one.”
The two globes started careening towards each other. Ezette tried to scream, but she couldn’t. The globes kept to their path, hurtling towards each other at a terrifying speed. She feared for her people, her sisters. For the Courts in the Fae World. She briefly thought about the mortals in their puny, insignificant Mortal World and felt a twinge of sympathy.
The globes were too close now. To close to each other for comfort. The bridge had disappeared, light-filled crystal shards floating throughout the galaxy the only vestige its existence. Ezette screamed again and this time, heard it. But it was not her voice. It was the voice of something dark and ancient, and it grated on her bones like a presence unwonted.
She disappeared before she could see the worlds collide.
She was now hovering, looking down upon a verdant forest surrounded in fog. Perhaps it was the same thick fog that she had been in when she first entered the mortal world through the book. Except this time, she was above the fog-filled forest.
Ezette watched the blue clouds slowly mist over the trees, obscuring them from her sight. A torrent of light abruptly flooded the clouds. Ezette shielded her eyes.
“When the Lost Light is reclaimed, a dawn of a new era shall begin,” a voice echoed, coming from a woman bathed in the colors of a fiery dawn. Her light skin had a slight gold shimmer to it, her eyes dark and flecked with silver and gray.
The atmosphere around her became fiery and hot, nearly unbearable. Beads, rivers of sweat snaked down Ezette’s body in the sweltering heat. The women radiated that gods-damned heat and light like some curse and unleashing.
Her sight started burning up in front of her, becoming tinged by crimson. Sweat leaked down her eyebrows and milked its way into her eyes. And with it came flakes of bloodied skin.
Ezette gasped and touched her forehead. It was not only covered in sweat from the blistering light, but with bloodied slivers of skin.
The woman hefted a spear of light and sent it shooting towards her.
The shaft s l o w l y pierced through her heart.
Ezette spat out blood. Her lips were coated in its overwhelming metal tang. She fell to her knees. Her vision eddied into black and she began to fall again.
Her wound healed as she fell, the flesh and skin mending and knitting back together with the flowing air as a soothing balm that cooled and rejuvenated.
When Ezette lifted her eyes, she was sprawled on the ground instead of levitating. Standing shadows with brightly colored robes stood around her in a circle. In a council. A council of gods. The gods.
Their faces and bodies were covered in shadows, their faces unmoving and cold. There were too many shadows to count.
When the gods opened their mouths, they spoke as one. “But if the two events do not come to pass.”
Ezette fell into the ground, the eager floor swallowing her up and burying her in it from head to toe. She could still hear the gods’ resounding voices.
“If the sacrifice is not borne by the child of Fae and Mortal.”
The ground sucked Ezette down. She traveled through bedrock and dirt, farther and farther down till she could hear the gods’ voices no more.
Rock and root alike scraped at her skin mercilessly. Blood started to trickle down her legs, first thin rivulets, then streams, rivers, lakes—till she was bathed in it. She kept on falling, falling ceaselessly, till her foot hit a sharp rock and stopped. Breathless, Ezette stomped on it, pounded on it. Anything to get out. She inhaled carefully. The limited air supply posed a veritable threat.
Then she jumped up, as high as she could in the small indent her body had made during its fall and let her feet land and scream their defiance. She jumped up. Again. He feet pounded in rhythm on the solid rock to no avail.
She started to choke. Choke on the pain, the little air that there was. She took one breath, most likely her last. And then she jumped up and landed in a powerful side stance.
A little crack sounded. Ezette didn’t dare to stop, dare to waste her breath. She jumped again. This time, the crack expanded into a crevice.
Ezette started suffocating. She clawed at her throat frantically. This was her last chance. She would not let it be in vain.
Ezette promised herself that if she was going to die like this, then she would go out with bang.
She pounded on the ground with a defiant roar.
One last time.
Her final stand.
Ezette's oxygen-deprived chest started to rattle in with the pressure of holding in heaving breaths. If she exhaled, there would be no fresh air to breathe in.
The crevice cleaved apart to reveal a hole. The ground was reluctant to release her, but with the cool, moist air flowing in, Ezette was renewed with vigor.
She kicked apart the rocky debris. It crumbled away.
She did not waste her time looking below. Only leaped,
somersaulting in the air. The air rushed past her in wet gusts. At the last second, when she was still flipping through the air, she snuck a peek. And wished that she had looked earlier.
She was diving into a river of blood. She was about to fall in a damp, moist place where only jagged promontories and boulders existed, rivers and pools of red flowing betwixt them. A stark juxtaposition, that nearly-camouflaged grey and brown rock against the discerning, vibrant red.
A headless humanoid shape rose from the water, its back to her. As blood flowed down its neck, it raised its arms. Mouths were etched on the back of its hands. They started to open and close, emanating sound. “Then there will be blood.”
“I think that’s a little obvious,” Ezette muttered, deflecting her fear with humor as she hurtled through the air to the endless sea of red.
The mouths closed and smiled eerily. Shadow shot from them at a rapid pace. Just as she was about to plunge in the river, it came and embraced her in its dark hug.
This time, when she opened her eyes, she was in a fortress, locked in a tower. There was one slim window, letting in air and barely audible screams. Her hands were bound by iron shackles, anchored by rusted chains. Ezette tugged on them angrily. One chain gave way with a sharp screech of shattered resilience. The other one stayed rooted in place, unmoving and unfeeling to her silent plea, stolid to the ground.
With all of her might, Ezette heaved the chain forward till see could get a glimpse of what was going on outside her tiny window.
A battle raged in full force and furor. On one side, there were the Daughters of Night. They were accompanied by dragon-like creatures spouting flame of shadows, fire that burnt and writhed like undulating tendrils of darkness. Yemena and Ruelle led the front along with several other warriors Ezette did not recognize.
She could not tell apart their faces. They were blurred from tears.
Had she been crying? She never cried.
She could not wipe away the tears, for her heavily bound hands lay in front of her. So Ezette watched the battle in her shoddy, tear-stained vision. Sat and pounded on the walls of the tower, demanding to be let out. No one heard her yells. No one knew she was there.
Yemena leaned towards Ruelle. Even from a distance, Ezette could read her best friend’s lips. They knew each other that well, each other’s body movements and speaking patterns, the inflections in their voices.
“I know Ezette’s gone. But it still feels l-l-like she’s here. With us in spirit,” Yemena said to Ruelle.
“No!” Ezette screamed. “I am here! LOOK!” She pounded against the granite. It did not budge, did not give in.
They did not notice her. They kept on marching with their enormous army. Ezette dared to look at the other side. She gasped in horror. There lay the tribes, her sisters resolute in their march, accompanied by their own fair share of dragons. More warriors that Ezette did not recognize marched with them.
Ezette watched the all-too familiar battle clouds rise up as one. Watched the spears clang on raw metal and plunge through flesh. Heard the screams as swords and arrows left their masters, as bows were snapped in half. As bones and people alike were snapped in life. She heard the roaring of the dragons, burning her people to charred cinders.
Ezette’s knees wobbled beneath her. Betrayed her, as she sank to the floor. Large, heaving sobs wracked her body.
“Stop,” she moaned. “Stop. Please. Just stop. End this. Stop.”
She closed her eyes.
“Very well, then.” A voice mocked her.
Ezette opened her eyes.
She was back in the thick fog. Her injuries were gone. It had not been real. But it could be. She had to stop it. Stop it all before it even had the slightest chance to play out like she had seen.
The golden spirit stood before her. “Do you still think that prophecies are something to not fear, child?”
“No,” Ezette sobbed. “Never again. Take me back. Please.”