GGE 13 \\\ Fracture

Jogun savored the despair that trickled from the girl’s eyes. Her small insect fingers clawing at his hand, as it was wrapped vice-tight around her throat. It was such a pitiful, this little choking piglet had. Her face was beginning to turn purple, and her eyes were slowly bulging. Her weak legs scrapped at his breastplate, but her vain attempts to free herself only amused the draugr more. He wanted to torture the little pretty pig.

To show her what her people use to do to captured High Elves; But, he wanted to play a little longer – so he loosened his grip to let her scream.

“Cyril…” A name – A name he hadn’t hear in centuries – slipped from the insect’s lips

Jogun’s hell-fire eyes glowed with fury that a human dared to speak her name. Even after they had toppled her cities. Burned her chosen ones, and claim her lands as theirs!

“You are not allowed to speak the Creator’s name,” Jogun snarled.

He adjusted his grip on his longsword and plunged it through her midriff. Confusion rippled across the girl’s face, followed by a revelation. Then the pain. Jogun smiled as her face contorted in a silent scream. He felt the sword stab smoothly through her, only jerking slightly as he felt it slice through her spine. Jogun twisted the blade and her entire body convulsed. The pain was too much to push into a scream.

Jogun lips curled with disappointment. He pulled the sword out and dropped the girl in a heap of blood. The draugr had just pulled out a soul-stone, no longer interested in torturing the insect, before he heard a scream that he felt in his soul.

He first saw the golden fire that consumed everything near it. Then he saw the golden eyes at its epicenter and the… Dove wings that extended over it all. He had a sinking feeling to who it was when the figure, clad in golden monstrous flames like it was a suit of armor, let out a furious roar. The roar was high-pitched and demonic. It shook the foundation of the building itself. For a moment, he thought he could see the amber eyes in its face. Or maybe —

The figure flew at him, its white wings cracked with black veins as it reached for him. He swung his blade at it on reflex. The blade was sent flying, part of its edge melted and sent drops of molten metal everywhere. He quickly sidestepped the figure as it narrowly missed him. The heat it radiated made him feel like he was being roasted alive. Not that it was painful, as the dead felt no pain.

The fire monster crashed into the statue of the Usurp god, and the zombies around it that were trying to kill the Bishop. The glass windows around the statue cracked and shattered as debris flew everywhere. The Bishop escaped as the zombies tried to attack their new target. The remaining bits of statue turned to magma as the fire stepped with a shriek.

The zombies were turned to ash with a single swipe of its hand. Its featureless face turned to him, and he saw two black slits staring into his soul. The figure pointed to him.

Jogun raised his head high. As an immortalized High Elf, he would not slink away from this demon. Nay, not demon. This was something else, for no demon had dove wings. Only–

His eyes widened as the pieces clicked together.

“Master, I am one of your servants!” Jogun cried out.

The figure remained on moving as if waiting for him to finish the thought.

“I am Jogun, Draugr High Elf in command of Lahabiel’s undead army!” Jogun knelt before the figure. “I am bringing punishment down upon the humans for taking your lands for themselves!”

Jogun looked at the figure as it stepped forward, slowly. Each step measured, and the stone beneath it glowed from the heat. Its black slits never leaving his. It stopped several feet from him, and he no longer felt the heat as its wings fluttered impatiently. His instincts, honed over many battles, cried out at once.

“You hurt her,” Cyril hissed out, each one loud and viper like.

Jogun rolled to the side as golden flames poured out of her mouth. A large molten crater was left in his wake. He grabbed the zombie next to him, as it tore into an elderly man, and pushed it at his Goddess.

“I am your servant!” Jogun cried out in dismay. “Not that little insect!”

His words fell over deft ears. Cyril only heard murder, and that it would be his. A zombie leapt at her from behind a pew. She saw it, grabbed it mid-air and slammed it into the stone below. The flames that encased her fingers seared its skin as it bit at the air. Hungrily. Greedily. Cyril honored it with a knife head through its brain instead before the flames incinerated the body. Jogun watched with the realization that she, his Goddess, was going to kill him.

He made the decision to cast her aside then. She had not been there when the races of the South had burned their villages; raped their women; and slaughter their babies in their cribs. She was not there at Fable’s End when it fell beneath the siege of the four races. She… Was no longer their god.

Jogun quickly retreated towards the entrance of the cathedral, for he needed the Great Abyssal Soul Gem to find against a Goddess. He had already called out to the Black Ones to come to him. Their jobs had been completed, and he needed them here now. As such, he called out to the undead around him – using his wielding his innate undead powers over them – and threw them all at the traitorous Goddess.

The horde of undead, bolstered by the newly turned, shambled up from their feast. Their cold glossy eyes held nothing but hunger. For a second, the two sides stared each other down. The closest one charged, and thus pulled the rest of its horde with it. They clamored over the pews, the bodies, and the dying. Their only target was the flaming figure of gold.

Cyril was more than willing to kill them all.

The first one went down in a heap of gold flames. The next was speared with her hand. Then next was punched. Kicked. Quickly, Cyril found she could morph her fire into weapons if she just willed it. The first was a spear of flames that used to spike three zombies together before the flames engulfed them into heaps of nothingness. She let out a wicked, gleeful laugh as the flames morphed into different shapes. A sword. A dagger. Each and every single one killed several zombies with each strike.

But she grew too confident in her flames. The zombies still came in fives and tens, each clawing for her. One had finally managed to reach her. Its blackening teeth clamped down around her arm, forced forward but the others. Cyril roared, and the flames that encased her burned hotter, blasting away the zombie and the tens around her. She screamed as another managed to get close. A whip made of golden flames sliced the zombie from head to toe.

Cyril brought the whip around, and it sliced the zombies around her. It circled around her once before she pulled it high into the air. It arched upward, leaving a few fluttering flames in its wake as it slapped down against the stone. A dull explosion rang out as the stone cracked, and flames leaped across either side of the whip. The flames, like waves, washed over everything within ten feet of it. The smell of burning flesh and wood filled the air.

A circle of crawling zombies reached out for her, but she only ignored them. She walked down the path she had created; eyes locked on the open double doors at the front where a storm howled with death. Two spears of ice whistled through those doors, and one was met with a flaming spear head-on. The other one struck Cyril’s center chest and sent her flying back a few feet.

She landed back in her circle and the zombies began to claw at her. Cyril let out an irritated roar, her mind completely consumed with pure killing intent for Jogun. Flames burst from her body, fanning out around her. The flames sent the zombies flying back before they burned away mid-flight into ash. Cyril crawled to her feet, her wings fluttering madly before she flew forward with a mightly flap.

More spears of ice whistled out from the white, but Cyril had been ready now. She sent a current of fire forward and it melted the ice into steam before they reached her. The front of the cathedral was blown apart as the fire crashed into it. The storm, its winds circling around the monolithic building with precise, was pushed back from the surge of heat.

What was revealed was tens of ice-encased bodies men, women, and children. The people who had tried to escape had been killed by the storm. Frozen in different postures of pain on the steps of the cathedral. Jogun stood before the bottom step. Two of his four Black Warrior guards on either side of him. A large.

“Your time has passed, your Grace!” Jogun roared as he clenched the stone in his left hand. “Since you have chosen the humans over us, Lord Lahabiel and I will have to kill you as well!”

He said so with a heavy heart. The High One Cyril was supposed to be their Goddess. Their maker. Their everything. Even when the humans had pushed the High Elves from the south, Push them back into the Enchanted Forest around Fable’s End; they kept believing she’d return to them. She’d right the wrongs done. For she was the one who had created the High Elves. They were supposed to be her children.

And after so long, she returned… And took the human’s side. Jogun’s heart twisted with metaphorical pain, as he was undead and could only feel emotionally. She was no God of these, even if she had created them. She was one of flames and destruction. His eyes were open to the truth. Cyril did not repeal as she landed on the top of the steps. The layer of golden flames that covered her skin was non-transparent and licked at the cold air hungrily.

Yes… Jogun thought. She is a cruel and destructive Goddess… She should’ve never returned to this world… 

Two black slits appeared in the flames were her eyes were. They looked over the three quickly before it landed back on Jogun. Then she flung her self down the steps with a mighty war cry that made the ground tremble. Jogun materialized another ice spear in the air by his head before sending it streaking towards her in a blue line. He dove to the left with a Black One. The other dove to the right. Cyril smacked the ice crystal aside, shattering it millions of shimmering pieces before it joined the dead below.

She landed on the paved plaza floor, fire splashing out around her as she did. Her wings flapped a few times before she dove at Jogun, who had already slipped back into the blizzard. Instead of finding him, she found a black skeleton. Armed with a longsword, it’d been ready for her as it brought its sword down. Cyril hadn’t been ready for it as it cut through the flames, melting as it did.

The steel hit her like a hammer, splattering molten metal across her left shoulder. Cyril screamed in pain as she knocked the sword aside with mounting fury. The skeleton tried to strike her again but Cyril speared her hand up like a knife; her fingers stabbed up its empty mouth. Fire instantly poured into its head and jettisoned out its eyes and nose.

Unlike when before, where it would crumble and return to Lahabiel, it didn’t crumble. No. Cyril had felt the soul in it, and she grasped it with a mighty vengeance. Her flames ate at it. The soul knew instinctively what was happening, and it clawed at her burning arm. The black matter that covered its bones glowed hot before it burned away. The bones beneath disintegrated under the heavenly flames instantly. Within seconds, the soul had been destroyed and the skeleton fell away.

Before she could be proud of her kill, a sword stabbed into her from behind. She let out a pained cry and mule-kicked the attacker. The sword pulled out as she felt beneath her heel. Several ice spears shot out from the storm as she stumbled forward. The fatal one nearly missed her head as she recoiled. Another missed her as well, but the last one skewered her right tight.

She let out a pained howl as the ice melted away, leaving a glaring black hole. The hole closed a moment later. A flaming whip extended from Cyril’s right palm where it arched across the dark night sky, illuminated faintly by gold, and cut the blizzard it half. The snow fluttered into random directions, partially revealing Jogun and two Ice Golems that began to charge forward.

Cyril didn’t hesitate as the whip whirled around, skimming the tones momentarily to her far left. She sliced the golems in half, leaving chunks of fire that eat away the mana in them. Jogun panicked as the whip easily dealt with his golems and he had to duck low before he too was dealt with.

Losing focus, the storm weakened. He cursed and tried stabilize it. However, Cyril had already pushed forward. Her mana was like a massive sun in the sea snow, and it radiated throughout the storm. It scrambled the spell Lahabiel had made for him, and he failed to regain it. As if someone had just turned it off, all the snow fell lifelessly to the ground. Brillant silver moonlight rained down over the city. Fires burned to the east. Piles of snow everywhere else.

However, in the aftermath of the storm. People began to stir in their homes. Windows lit up as the frost began to melt. People had lived through that damning cold. Jogun saw it all, and for once in a very long time, he was scared. Cyril, however, burned only with vengeance and hate. She did not see and nor would she have cared. For Jogun was the only thing in her eyes, and until he was wiped from existence, she would disregard it all.

Cyril stepped towards him, snarling with wild ferocity. Prowling. Desiring. Jogun too a step back, and remembered that he still had the soul stone. He clutched it tighter to remember he was still stronger. He had doubts about whether Alistair could overcome him with the number of souls he’d captured  Surely, Cyril could not either.

“I still have –” Before he could show off his bravado, mainly to inspire himself; Cyril lept at him with a deep snarl.

He quickly drew from the stone and conjured a massive rock of ice. Before he could fling it at her, a whip of golden fire had already shot out from her palm and stabbed him in his offhand. The Soul-stone dropped, and the rock waned. Before it could fall apart, Jogun brought it down upon Cyril, crushing her beneath it.

The stones around the boulder exploded, sending snow and dust everywhere. Tiny golden flames had splattered all around it and began to fizzle out. Jogun looked at the boulder, feeling that had been too easy.

“Was… That it?” Jogun muttered. The boulder did not move.

Had he really done it? Jogun wasn’t sure. He waited, and stared. Still, nothing stirred. He began to chuckle, believing he’d just killed the oldest god ever; with an ice boulder at that. He let out a hearty laugh.

The boulder exploded into millions of shards like a fragmentation grenade. Jogun was knocked off his feet as tens of rocks cut into him. Thankfully, none had been fatal. He stirred, and looked back to the rock. Now, a golden figure stood there with fluttered white wings. The flames on her body raged violently as she let out a shriek and turned to Jogun. She then looked down at the large black stone that laid between them.

Jogun thought he saw the thought-form on her firey face. She flung her self at the stone just as Jogun scrambled for it as well. Cyril was faster. She scooped it up before Jogun could even get within five feet of it. She jumped back as Jogun landed on his stomach, his hands scraping where it had been. All around her, the stone had been melted and turned into black glass. The air had warm and the snow had begun to melt.

Jogun knew at this moment, he had lost.

The stone shattered as her flaming fingers crushed the large stone. A pillar of black and silver beamed up into the sky, lighting the sky as if the moon itself had fallen to earth. Jogun watched in amazement. Thousands of souls had been trapped in that stone. It was supposed to be absorbed by Lahabiel. Instead, they’d been released back into the world to rejoin the cycle of life.

“You’re a cruel Mistress, your Grace… ” Jogun muttered bitterly.

Cyril hadn’t looked away from him as the pillar extended upward from her palm. He couldn’t see her eyes, but he felt her eyes burrowing into his. He felt it, the hate. And when the light died away after several seconds, the stone was a shattered grey husk of semi-translucent crystal. Lord Lahabiel could have salvaged the shards, however, Cyril being the cruel woman she was – burn them away.

Jogun got to his feet, a sword of ice forming in his right hand. His left formed an ice dagger. Without a word, he charged at her. He would not die on his knees or groveling. He was a proud Elven warrior who had lived for many years. Fought many battles. For the love he bore for his lost family, his lost comrades, he would not die shamefully.

He was Commander Jogun of the Undead Army – Ardreth Presven, the last free High Elf. First of his name, and the second to be reborn under Lord Hades. As such, he would die a free elf.

Cyril met him head-on, with a sword of flames herself. The two met, and the two elements screamed as they clashed. Steam splashed out with water and fire. Jogun found elegantly, but it was all he could do to keep up with Cyril’s powerful and wild strikes. He countered, parried, and danced with refined footsteps of the High Elves. Cyril was like a wild animal, striking in any manner and without form.

Jogun was not offended. It was said the Elven grace hadn’t been around when she was. They were primitive, but he had lived at the height of the High Elven race. He would display his pride until the end. Fear be damned.

The snow followed and swirled with each strike Jogun made. The snow melted where ever Cyril’s sword went. Jogun managed to cross through one of her strikes and stabbed out at her unprotected mid-riff. It grazed her, but the fire licked out at his arm before it began to fester there. Burning the limb as it ate away at him. He cursed and cut his arm off, leaving his bad offhand as a result. It didn’t matter, for he would die anyway.

But before he could recover, the blade of flames appeared in his sight – flowing away. The world turned on his side as his upper body hit the ground. And he rolled onto his back to see the myriad of twinkling stars that would witness his execution. Jogun lifted his head to see that the Goddess had returned his favor double fold. She’d liberated his upper body from the lower. No innards fell out. Only putrid black magic that was burned away by golden flames.

He felt small strong hands clamp down around his throat as he was lifted off the ground. Cyril lifted him up to her eyes, the flames receding from around her face and hands. But the heat was still intense. Brillant discs of gold appeared before him, framed by silky white hair. Her flawless milky skin, specked with two small lovely pink lips. She was far more lovely than the pictures and statues had made her out to be.

If only she hadn’t turned against them…

“Any last words?” Cyril said, her soft voice masking the anger that raged silently through her.

“Long Live Hades,” Jogun said slowly with a blossoming smile.

Her free hand shot out, faster than he could catch. It borrowed through his mouth and into his skull. Golden flames rippled up her arm as she grabbed the soul that had been magically anchored to him. Jogun hadn’t thought she’d go directly for his soul. He had thought she’d simply kill him. He could have joined his family back in the afterlife, but… Not if his soul was burned away!

He tried to pry out her arm, his free hand smoking as it grabbed her arm. He tried to squirm, but her arms were like thick steel beams. The flames ran through him and wrapped around his soul like starved dogs as it devoured it. He felt a pain that was incomparable to anything he’d ever felt before. His blue-fire eyes flickered just before golden flames jetted past them, even burning away those. But it was taking long. Because Cyril wanted to torture him.

He squirmed in his arms as the flames seared his soul; playing with it as if it were hard candy. His hand had burned away. So, he resorted to beating weakly against her, cursing her as his thoughts were burning away. His memories.

He saw his beautiful wife, the one the vile humans raped before they could kill them. His beautiful children hunted down by the Eastern Dwarves. His neighbors toyed with by the barbaric Beastmen. The inferior races burning his city as they escaped. And for once, peace came for him. His family, standing in the light and calling out to him. But he could not go. His cruel mistress was harsh, regardless of who she favored.

The light was growing dimmer as his family cried out for him now. But he could only smile weakly at them as the golden flames burned through his soul.

“This is my fate,” He said.

He, Ardreth Presven, no longer the cursed draugr who served Lahabiel and Hades in their quest for vengeance. No longer the undead General. He was Ardreth Presven, the Commander of the Knights of Sunlight – Follower of the Light Goddess, Madin.

Go.  A voice whispered. Before I change my mind. 

The voice boiled with restrained rage, but it kept its voice low. Like a coiled dragon, granting mercy on a whim. The flames receded, and his soul began to piece itself back together. It was Cyril. He could feel it. Each piece that had been burned away had come back. All— Not all. He could feel it. He could no longer remember… As if a large part chunk of his life had been ripped away. He felt an unending hatred, and unbearable sorrow before that too disappeared silently into the light.

All around him, the Emerald Grass Sea was lush with life as the Knights of Sunlight rode back into his city. His family beside the towering arching gateway along with his men’s families as well. His pegasus whined as it saw their faces too. The knights dismounted, and he approached his family – kissing his wife on her long slender ear before he patted his little ones on the head.

“You’ve been gone for a long time,” She said.

“Hahah!” Ardreth laughed. “I was just out on a regular patrol. It was just for three hours.”

“You’ve been gone for five hundred years,” She smiled softly.

“Don’t joke like that,” Ardreth’s smile tightened.

“As you wish,” She smiled. “Take the kids home, I would like to pick up a few herbs for lunch, my Sun.”

“Yes,” Ardreth said softly. “I-I’d like that.”

His heart hurt. Her words resonated through his being. He felt there was some truth to that when she said that. He quickly dismissed it, wholeheartedly looking forward to her cooking. He shepherded his little kids onto his mount’s back before he and everyone else walked into the city.

The High Elf watched them go on for a few moments before her eyes turned to out of the city. There stood a slender human, with hard golden eyes and white hair.

“Thank you,” She smiled. “For bringing him home.”

Cyril’s eyes glared at Ardreth’s back as it melded into the crowds.

“I know it was hard for you to do,” The woman said.

“I wanted him to burn,” Cyril growled.

“You could have done so, your Worship,” The wife said. “But you let him go.”

“I did it for you and your kids,” Cyril’s voice began to soften. “I saw his memories, I saw what they did to you.”

“Yes,” The woman’s smile didn’t fade as she bowed.

“Yes…” Cyril said as she tempered her breath. “I also saw that…”

Cyril couldn’t say it.

“Yes, your mother is – was here,” The woman turned to the city. “This city was her shrine, and also her home. She walked the streets amongst us, told us of her life, and yours. She told us to never forget you. And we didn’t.”

“I want to ask you more about my Mother,” Cyril said as she fought against that, but even more. She needed to know that letting that draugr go meant anything. “Will you find peace now?”

“Maybe,” The elf turned back to Cyril. “Heaven was destroyed, and thus, there is no longer an afterlife. We are but a murmur lost in the cosmos. Of a place of power that only exists for your mother loved us so.”

“I see,” Cyril said. “I won’t take up your time.”

“Thank you,” The Elf went to her knees gracefully before tapping her head against the ground. “You are as sweet as your mother told us you were.”

The woman turned, her eye looking up to the large lush tree that scraped the sky. With a breath of relief, the elf took a single step. Then another. With each step, the city faded away. The walls crumbled and the three slowly withered before the city faded into the void.


— † —


Cyril found herself staring down at the ash-covered snow. Grey dust that was slowly turning black. Her heart ached with a myriad of emotions that conflicted, and her thoughts slowly began to settle. Her mercy had been repaid with information. Information that changed her whole outlook on what was to be. Then she remembered Priscilla. She turned on her heel and walked listlessly across the broken stones.

A single black skeleton stood there, a flicker of intelligence grew in its eyes and stepped aside. Cyril only stopped next to it, wondering if it wanted to continue the battle. She didn’t have it in her to do so, though. The skeleton bowed with a deftness the other one never had before it crumbled into a heap. The blackness melted away into wisps of smoke that traveled high into the brightening sky.

Cyril felt heavy. Empty. Thus, she continued on.

The cathedral’s insides were black and it smelt of burnt flesh. Very few bodies had been left in the wreckage of the battle, and very little of the interior had been left unburnt. What wasn’t burnt was covered with blood. She crossed the hall, her heels tapping against the malformed stone floor until she reached Priscilla and Bishop Luis.

He looked up at her and gasped. Cyril only looked down at them with tired eyes.

“How is she…?” Cyril asked as she slowly sat next to Priscilla.

“She’s going to live,” Bishop Luis said, his eyes eyeing Cyril’s face and her wings. “I do not know if she will walk again. Stronger magic is needed to heal it properly, but I did what I could. I pray that it was enough.”

“Good enough…” Cyril whispered.

She slipped her arms gentle under Priscilla, just to get her off the cold stone floor. She cradled her in her lap, her eyes looking down at the large ghastly scar. It looked like a massive burn sky on her stomach. The teen’s face was pale as well and she looked pained. Cyril rocked her back and forth and began to sing. Softly. Gently.

Because she failed to keep her promise to her. Because her friend was hurt. Because she was a failure, and it was all she could do right now to atone for that sin…

So she sang, a little song called “Tomorrow will be kinder”.

Because… She could only hope it would be…


— † —


The last of the zombies were killed, and Layla felt her heartbreak. She slumped to her knees, and looked over a sea of corpses. Aside from the few initial humans, she had saved no one else. It’d been a complete massacre. People had turned faster than they could kill, and for a few minutes – the entire street had been a living hell. Fenrir walked through the sea, pouring a torrent of fire over the bodies.

She would’ve helped him, but she felt tired; empty. She also felt lost. She didn’t know where these emotions were coming from, but she could feel it wasn’t hers. Or maybe it was? She was numb now, emotionally, after having to slaughter zombie children. Zombie women. Zombie elders. It hadn’t been quite the thing when she’d been an adventurer. But she had never fought zombies before.

“Is it safe now?” A small boy asked from the window above her.

“It is…” Layla sighed. “We killed all the monsters. Let’s get you inside the city now. ”

She dropped the bloodied sword, which was nothing more than scrap metal now. And the children began to step out of the brick building they’d sheltered in.

“Fenrir!” Layla called out to the large wolf. “Can you get that gate open?”

Fenrir looked up to the Eastern Gate and nodded. The storm was growing stronger and — The storm died as she thought about it. The wind died and snow slowly fell all around them. It was as if the storm hadn’t been there. Stars shimmered as the sun began to rise. Layla smiled as she turned to see Fenrir scrambled with some effort onto the frost-covered stone curtain.

A few moments later, the gate began to slowly open and the group made their way in. They disregarded the smoke columns that rose high in the sky now. Illuminated by the rising sun, they stepped through the gate, and it closed behind them.

Inside, the snow was up to the children’s chins. Fenrir, who joined them after closing the gate; had been voluntold to let the children ride him. The wolf worked his way up the road, seeing several smoke columns rise from the north, but none like in the slums. He lost interest as he latched onto the, now strong, thread of magic linking Layla and Cyril.

Life stirred all around them. Fearful faces in windows. Doors cracking as they looked in awe to the wolf being ridden. Eventually, they reached a large plaza. A plaza that’d been torn apart by a battle. Fenrir could feel the faint traces of a particular sort of magic; one that belonged to Lahabiel. The thread led into the large cathedral on the other end of the plaza. And thus, he continued even as a crowd began to slowly form around a few destroyed skeletons.

They stepped into the thrashed cathedral and saw a strange sight. An angel, a girl, and a clergyman. Fenrir’s heart began to race as he heard the beautiful voice that echoed solemnly throughout the hall.

“Off, now, I must greet my Mistress,” Fenrir ordered, and let them off. “Layla, come with me to greet her.”

The children followed as the two walked up the altar steps. Fenrir and Layla kept their eyes down as they bowed when they reached Cyril’s feet. When they looked up, they each held back a gasp as Cyril sang. Her angelic face was enrapturing and beautiful. Nearly flawless.

For, black lines had webbed across the left side of her face. And a black horn curved up from her left temple. Fenrir knew what it was on sight.

It was Corruption.


— † —


Priscilla found herself being carried among a sea of people dressed in strange black clothes. She was in a church, though it was similar to the cathedral, the holy symbols within it were nothing she recognized. Everyone spoke in hushed voices. She quickly discovered she couldn’t move and that her body moved on its own. She felt trapped.

She then turned to see who was carrying her.

“Mommy, is Grandpa really not coming back?” A child’s voice called out.

“Yes, Dear,” It was a woman with fiery red hair and lovely blue eyes.

“Is Heaven really that far?” the child asked.

“Yes, Cyril,” The woman sighed. “Very far.

Cyril?! Priscilla panicked.

“Madin,” A man called out from behind. “Load up. I’ll be there in a moment. I need to square away a few details with the Bishop.”

Cyril turned to see an older white man with greying hair. He looked worn and tired, more so than this Maddin.

“Aye,” Maddin replied with a particular accent. “Don’t be too long, Cyril needs to eat.”

They then turned and walked down the steps before Maddin had put them down. She grabbed their hand and led them across a strange black stone road. It looked mysterious and to be one large piece with different vibrant colors. People were getting in metal boxes with tires that roared to life all around her. It was scary… And fascinating.  They moved without horses before leaving the area. They were metal carriages.

One carriage roared load in the distance. But Cyril never seemed phased but it so it must have been normal. They slid between the carriages as Maddin fumbled with something in a teary haze. Then a boy called out to them.

“Cyril!” A boy called out. “Your mom dropped your keys.”

“Alright!” Cyril said and began to run across the black stones as something roared in the distance.

“Cyril, don’t run off!” Maddin yelled and chased after her, running past the other people.

Something roared off to the side as Maddin grabbed hold of Cyril’s wrist. She was in the middle of picking them up when people began to scream. Cyril turned to see people falling over as a large metal carriage, with two bright lights, came at them. Maddin screamed and tried to pull them away. Cyril only stared in shock as the lights grew closer.

Then Priscilla felt her body contort and something heavy roll over her. She felt warm and wet now. Her head throbbed, but she only saw the blue sky as snow clouds slide across it.

“Cyril!” The man from earlier called out.

The metal carriage roared to life again, and then loud thunder echoed several times. There was a loud crash and even more screaming. The grey-haired man was over her now, and that little boy hysterically apologizing.

She didn’t understand what had happened. Why it had happened. However, the pain was coming now. It was a soul wracking pain that made her chest heave, but even that hurt as well…  Everything went dark.

Priscilla suddenly found herself in the middle of another storm. Or at least, what she thought was a storm. It was just a sea of snow, and wind skimmed over it. Black tendrils webbed outward across it and Priscilla followed them with her eyes. She found they had come from behind her.

She turned to see where it came from, or where it was going.

When she turned, she saw a massive golden crystal ball. At its core, was Cyril. The black webs converged below the ball and formed a black pillar that rose up and connected to the crystal ball. And webbed across a small portion at the bottom. Where it turned, the gold around it had turned grey. Priscilla felt a cold take over her.

“Disgusting human…” A voice roared in the distance. “How dare you step upon the land of Eden!”
The ground trembled as black tendrils rose up from below the snow. It was not snow, but ice. It shattered and tens of tendrils rose up. They arched through the air before coming down toward her – intent on killing her where she stood.

“Enough, Edward,” A sweet voice, Madin’s voice, called out. “She’s our daughter’s friend. I’ll take her back to where she belongs.”

Silver light wrapped over her, and just before the tendrils struck her. She was gone. When she opened her eyes again, she found Cyril looking down at her. Her wings were spread out behind her, almost wrapping around her. She was changed. Like the crystal out in the ice field, black webbed across the left side of her face. A single horn had grown as well.

But she still looked down at her with a soft smile.

“Welcome back,” Cyril said softly.

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