As darkness was on the verge of closing in around her, the weight was suddenly torn off of her chest. Erinael rolled onto her belly, coughing as she sucked in precious oxygen. When her surroundings came into focus, she could make out Zuran holding Marisandra by the scruff of the neck. He shook her threateningly before throwing her away from him. Marisandra rolled and came up on her feet before dropping into a low crouch, hissing and growling.
A contemptuous sneer crossed Zuran’s face. “Touch the girl again, and I will snap your neck.” he snarled. Marisandra growled and yammered, but kept her distance. In a physical fight, she would stand no chance against a full-blood member of the Dragon-kin.
Satisfied that she had become submissive to his dominance, Zuran turned away to allow her to sulk. He turned to Erinael then. “What do you know about this, girl? What have you come to be told?” Zuran’s eyes were alive with excitement.
“I will not help you to bring back the Darkness!”
Zuran chuckled and waved off her outburst. “A story meant to keep the little ones in line.” White teeth flashed in a smile. “But one all too real for you, eh?”
“Get to the point!” Marisandra snapped, pacing back and forth.
Zuran grinned at Marisandra’s irritability. “Of course, right away, your Majesty.” he said sarcastically as he bowed low at the waist.
Marisandra only hissed, but left off whatever remark she had at the ready.
“Come here, girl.” Zuran beckoned, striding down toward the water.
“Erinael.” she said defensively. “My name is Erinael.”
“Yes, whatever, now come here.” He was giddy and in a rush.
As soon as Erinael had ventured close enough, he seized her by the wrist. She could only watch in shock as he then used the talon of his thumb to slice across her open palm, crying out in pain. He held her hand palm up and motionless, allowing her blood to pool there before then dumping it into the water.
Bright red drops at first, falling as tendrils through the crystalline water. When the water adopted a clouded pink, the images began to appear. “This is how your destiny began.”
There were two Dragon-men. One obviously being Zuran. The other unknown to her, but of a golden color. They battled, grappling and tearing at each other. Below them, two armies clashed, Elven fighters were chief among them.
Standards waved proudly in the wind as their kinsmen fought and died. It was the final battle of the Great War. The forces of both sides had amassed on the site of the Gateway itself. The one that Zuran and the Necromancer King had sought to rip open completely and cover the world in Darkness and Death.
Magical flames arced out and exploded as the Dead Hunters formed the front lines. The cavalry of the Plains Clans came after, flanked by the archers of the Forest and River Clans. Over the heads of all of them lobbed Dead Hunter made projectiles launched from siege weapons manned by the Mountain Clans.
But still the opposing army marched ever forward. Foul creatures of re-animated flesh and bone, kith and kin lost once before only to fall once again. There were hellish monsters made from an amalgamation of once living parts, held together only by magic.
And then there were the creatures pulled from the very darkness. The stuff of nightmares. They plowed through the ranks of Elves, killing and maiming.
Then the point of view shifted. She was underground, the small space lit only by the sickening glow coming from a ring of crystal stones. The very shadows seemed to be alive.
“Is this what you want?” she asked of the silently jeering darkness. In her hands she held a knife. “Then take it!”
In that moment of Seresana sacrificing herself, Erinael knew what had to be done.