Threads of Night

Ris’Enliss, Amaethur 12th, 575 of the 1st Era

Sorscha doubled over in pain, grasping her head as if it were about to explode. The other passengers barged past her, seemingly unconcerned with her affliction. They’d been trapped with her aboard the Daring Faun for days and had witnessed her episodes enough to pay them no heed… something she sorely wished she was capable of herself. When the pain subsided, she found herself alone on the docks.

In years past Port Gandraias would have been bustling with activity, but from Sorscha’s position on the docks the town seemed nearly vacant, if not abandoned. Six of the city’s seven docks stood empty. No dock workers had emerged to help unload the Daring Faun, and the ship’s crew had already gone ashore and vanished into the dark city streets.

In recent years, the majority of the kingdom’s trade had slowly shifted to land routes controlled by the warring fiefdoms in the south. Their constant shifts in power resulted in price wars to win Tellrindosian business, as exports were a primary source of income for the war ravaged nobles. Shipping goods to the north past unpredictable armies, through pirate infested waters, became too expensive an operation, by comparison.

Trade had shifted to accommodate the times; leaving Port Gandraias struggling, and driving many of its citizens to more profitable locations.

Her arrival at such an underutilized port had been intentional. With her business in Pelrigoss complete, she’d set sail to Port Gandraias expecting precisely those circumstances. She needed to speak to her master, and that meant avoiding as much distraction as possible. The nature of her mission had meant her welcome in Pelrigoss was at an end, and neither the Kingdom of Haern nor the ‘Warlunds’ to the south were viable options for her task.

She studied the city for a brief moment as a dull throb returned, sending sharp pains through her left eye. Such pain had become part of her daily life, but the episodes were rarely this frequent. She wasn’t sure if the escalation was his doing or not, but she intended to ask.

Am I not a faithful servant? Do I need such reminders of my responsibilities?

Her challenge for the evening would be finding a place where she could commune uninterrupted. What she was, and what she intended to do, wasn’t particularly savory to the public. Being a Witch wasn’t against the law, but simple folk often treated her like a criminal once they discovered her nature.

Those that knew the truth stayed clear of their own accord, but she was in unfamiliar territory. Unless she planned to traipse around town, boldly declaring herself as the ‘Night Witch’, hoping her reputation had preceded her, discretion was her only option.

She briefly pondered whether or not she could make it out of town to the small caves to the south. Suddenly, a familiar sensation emerged at the back of her mind, slowly increasing in intensity.

I’ll have to do it here… this isn’t ideal, but I don’t know how much longer I can last. I need answers.

Growing more frustrated with each passing second, she descended the ramp off the docks and into the city streets. She hurried as fast as her old bones would let her, intent on finding a safe place from which to perform her ritual.

The warehouses, office buildings, and small businesses closest to the docks had been boarded shut for several years and had been slowly weathered by the cold, salty air. There was no doubt in her mind she could easily gain entry to the building of her choosing, but being arrested for breaking into a vacant building was the type of attention she was trying to avoid.

She gripped her cane more firmly and paused for a moment as her vision blurred; her face contorting as the sensation yet again washed through her mind.

Be patient, foul demon. You’ll get your answers faster if you let me walk for five minutes without the unnecessary interruptions!

Struggle as she might, she couldn’t recall a time before the recurring pains. Were the pains present before her pact with Vaxtra, or had they only surfaced after she signed the contract? The only thing she could be certain of was that the agony that once again swelled within her mind was far more intense than it had ever been.

When she regained her composure, she continued at a slower, more methodical pace. Heading west along the first row of buildings toward the far end of town, she studied the sights, sounds, and smells about her. The faint sound of music and chatter echoed between the buildings to the north. Hints of overly seasoned barley stew accompanied the cool night breeze.

She rounded the corner to see the Argyle Elk Tavern on the far corner of the next intersection. A tavern wasn’t an ideal location for a ritual, but unless she wanted to commandeer someone’s home she was out of options. Begrudgingly, she gripped her cane with purpose and gave in to her circumstances.

The tavern was bustling with activity, its noise and the stench of the patrons’ recreational substances reached her well before she arrived at the door. Located on the farthest end of the longest street near the docks, few locals dared approach the establishment, let alone walk in.

Even with the preferable collection of unsavory travelers and sailors as its only patrons, no tavern was appropriate for what she planned to do. Biting back on her hesitation, she pushed the swinging doors open and stepped inside.

The tavern’s interior offered little in the way of improvement compared to the chilly night air outside. Small, table-top candles were the only source of light, which she supposed was wise considering the rowdy clientele. Rectangular holes in the exterior walls hinted at where windows had once been; long ago broken and never replaced.

She made her way through the crowd as a cool breeze passed through the building, candle flames fluttering in its wake. Two colorfully dressed men played music at one end of the bar, standing on small crates so that all could see… not that anyone was paying attention to them.

Most of the patrons yelled louder than normal, trying to be heard over the sound of a poorly played flute and the haphazard banging of a drum. The musicians played harder, trying to break through the din, driving crowd noise even higher from their efforts. The combination bode well for her plans, and her chances of being interrupted seemed slim.

Perhaps this won’t go as poorly as I expected.

She hobbled directly behind the bar, without pause or concern, and approached the bartender without being noticed. He was a tall, burly man; more than capable of defending his tavern should a patron take things too far.

A quick tug on his vest sent him spinning toward her. Seeing a grown man, of his size and stature, with such a stark look of surprise on his face brought her joy.

“I need a room, good sir,” she explained.

“You can’t be back here!” he yelled.

“What?” she asked loudly, pretending she hadn’t heard him.

He grumbled angrily, wrinkled his face in frustration and escorted her into the kitchen. Following closely behind her, he wasn’t able to see the smirk on her face.

Once they arrived, he closed the door and turned to face her angrily.

“What!” he yelled, seeking her purpose for going behind the bar.

“What?” she asked feebly, in the weakest, most elderly voice she could muster.

“I don’t have time for thi-”

“I need a room on the top floor,” she pleaded.

“You barged behind my bar for that?”

“My old bones need rest, and the noise is just so overwhelming. Can you put me up in the farthest room from the bar?”

“The farthest room from the bar is at the Gandraias Inn, sixteen blocks north. Go, and leave me be… and stay out of my bar!”

“Oh, I don’t think I can make it that far… not with all these coins weighing me down,” she whimpered.

“Nice try, now get ou-”

She jingled the bag that hung at her hip to interrupt him.

“I really do need sleep, kind sir. I can pay… I’m no vagrant. I would’ve stopped at the old Dirkish, but they seem to have closed. I already had to walk all the way here from the docks… alone… in the dark. Would you make an old woman walk sixteen blocks to find a pillow?”

“Fine! Six silver. I only have one room left, and it’s the most expensive.”

A cook barged past him and through the door to deliver a plate of food. No sooner did the door open than the sound of breaking glass echoed through the kitchen. The bartender gripped his hand towel so hard his knuckles went white.

“Could you be a dear and help me up the stairs? These old bo-”

“Let’s get this over with!”

* * *

The room the proprietor brought her to was quaint, if she’d ever seen such a thing. Situated on the third floor, it was just far enough away to ignore the din below, but not so far as to pretend it didn’t exist.

After a quick look around to ensure it was large enough for her needs, she turned back to her escort.

“Could you remove the bed?” she asked, smiling feebly. Knowing her request was unusual, she leaned heavily on her cane and presented the confused man with the saddest look she could muster. “These old bones are so used to the ground… you’d be doing me a kindness.”

“Why don’t you just sleep on the floor beside the bed, then?” he countered.

He could hear the beginnings of a fight brewing downstairs, and his patience was gone.

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to trip over it in the middle of the night when nature calls… I’d ruin your floor! I don’t want to be a burden,” she said, feigning concern.

“Like I said before, the Gandraias Inn is-”

“An extra ten silver for your troubles,” she offered.

She smiled again, pleadingly, hoping to play on his sensitivities.

“Fine!” he barked as a crashing sound rang out from below. “I don’t have time for this… Bertrum will be up shortly to remove it,” he finished with a sigh.

She listened as the man barged down the stairs, yelling for his patrons to stop destroying the tavern. With a sigh, she made her way to the back wall and leaned against it to wait for Bertrum. By the sounds of the tussle below, his arrival would take some time.

The nagging sensation returned at the back of her mind, increasing in intensity until she could stand no more. She dropped her cane and hunched over, hands cupping her face. It was all she could do to avoid screaming in agony.

Gasping, she dropped to her knees as the pain finally subsided.

Vaxtra better have answers!

Dropping back onto her rear, she closed her eyes and thought back to her pact with Vaxtra trying to remember the specific words he’d used.

There has to be a clue.

The memories escaped her. She could sense that the event had occurred. She could feel it at the back of her mind. The memory was right there, within reach… but she couldn’t access it.

The pact was real; she’d served her master for far too long for it not to be, so why couldn’t she remember agreeing to serve?

When she finally opened her eyes, the bed was gone and she realized she’d never noticed Bertrum’s arrival. She’d been so lost in her thoughts, she’d missed both the bed’s removal and the closing of her door.

It wasn’t like her to be so unaware.

How long have I been sitting here?

With the bed gone, the room was all but empty. The small bits of furniture that still lined the walls would be inconsequential. Of critical importance was that she now had the floor space to do what she needed to do; commune with Vaxtra.

She grabbed her cane, braced herself, and pushed off the floor with all her might. Standing was such a trivial thing, often taken for granted by the young. She couldn’t remember being young, and the act was far from trivial for her.

Her age was yet another in a series of mysteries she hoped to resolve.

Sighing at herself for the distraction, she brought her mind back to the task at hand. She moved to the center of the room and carefully lowered herself to the floor again, using the cane for leverage. Once seated, she leaned to the side and placed the cane at the end of her reach.

One by one, she removed six pieces of quartz crystal from the pouch hidden beneath her robe and placed them in her lap. She then retrieved a small piece of charcoal and carefully drew sigils on the surrounding floor, encircling herself.

Leaning forward, she drew a similar ring in front of her, then connected them with two lines of runes. Her drawings complete, she placed a piece of quartz behind her and one at each of her sides. Finally, she placed the remaining three crystals around the smaller circle to form an opposing triangle.

With the ritual space prepared, she closed her eyes and sank deep into a meditative trance; preparing to reach out to her demonic lord.

* * *

A deathly calm radiated from the core of Sorscha’s being. She could hear nothing but her thoughts, and slowly they too grew silent. Her mind pushed aside everything except for her breathing and her heartbeat. She then bent both to her will, slowing them to within an inch of her own death.

She reached into the room with her mind; stretching further and further with each successive beat of her heart. Pulling with her will, she drew upon the shadows. As each pulse of her heart sent blood coursing through her veins, it pulled darkness toward the crystals.

The umbral forces pulsed in waves, surging towards the crystals like ripples in a pond; flowing in reverse, pulsating in sync with her heartbeat.

Smokey, black tendrils drew into the crystals, their milky white structures turning black as ink.

The room brightened as her power sapped the room of light’s opposing force. When the room grew as radiant as the sun, her eyes shot open and a deep breath escaped her lips like a hiss.

Pure, primal darkness poured from the gems, following the lines of runes, and passing through each crystal in its path.

With each circuit the powers grew stronger, thicker and taller until the sigils underneath were no longer visible.

The crystals rose into the air, hovering inches above the swirling darkness.

The room grew brighter still.

“Diem noch, th`rul… Vaxtra! Aeg vog, ve`el thu Malthax! Diem noch Vaxtra!” chanted Sorscha, repeating the words she’d used so many times before. Her voice sounded hollow, as if she were devoid of life.

The shadows circling the small circle of runes reached up and coalesced.

Red, scaly skin came into view.

Yellow, slanted eyes with thin black lines for pupils peered through the shadowy cluster of power, piercing into her being.

“What news have you?” asked the apparition. Its voice was deep and resonating; shaking the floor as it spoke.

“The Tryn shaman has been cursed. She knew nothing of the gate,” she answered.

“Then you have failed me! Again!” growled Vaxtra.

“It is not I that have failed. It is you. Your agents supplied you with-”

“Such insolence!” yelled Vaxtra.

“I serve you willingly, yet you act on unfounded claims like a reckless child. I do not beg for your approval. I do not grovel at your feet. You are so consumed with this mysterious ‘gate’ that you fail to question the information your pathetic, useless agents bring to you!

“You have but one faithful servant, and you dare punish me with your psychic assaults when I am but a minute late in-”

“I am the source of your power. If I sought to punish you, would I not just take that which keeps you alive? That which you embrace? That which you hold so dear?” he challenged.

“You are not the source of these pains?” she asked.

“What pains?” asked Vaxtra.

She took advantage of the moment and drew upon Vaxtra’s full power. He screamed in rage as his essence streamed through the air between them. He attempted in vain to withdraw from their commune, but her sigils held fast.

Reaching out with her mind, she used Vaxtra’s power to draw shadows from the rest of the tavern, and the night beyond. The entire block brightened as she deprived the area of darkness, glowing like a beacon in the night sky.

She pushed the power deep into the recesses of her mind, seeking to break whatever barrier was preventing access to her memories. Perhaps behind the barrier was the answer, or the secrets to a cure for her pain. Perhaps the answer lay in her pact with Vaxtra, and the terms of that pact which she could no longer recall.

As the barrier cracked, the world returned to normal. Shadows crashed back into place with a sound like thunder. The impact of the sudden return to darkness threw witnesses off their feet, out of beds, and out of chairs for hundreds of yards.

Sorscha gasped in pain as the barrier fell, and the memories of thousands of years confronted her all at once.

* * *

She lay dying on the ground as battle raged all around her, staring up at a sea of weeping eyes. Her tribe’s men screamed and moaned all around her, their lives were lost and she could do nothing to save them. She could feel the essence of her being draining from her. At least she would serve a purpose in death… she would contribute to the circle of life… that was enough.

Energy surged through her, rising from the ground. She didn’t understand what was happening. Confusion! Pain! So much pain she couldn’t breathe! Was she breathing? Had she stopped? This didn’t make any-

She forced the vision from her mind, gasping.

How long ago was-

Another vision flooded her mind, breaking her train of thought.

A great army dotted the horizon, standing in formation; ready to attack. Thousands of years had passed since she was reborn. Thousands of years preventing wars, thwarting conflict, and protecting the innocent peoples of the lands. Would it all end now? Were her efforts in vain? Had her involvement in human affairs caused an escalation?

She had to act. Squabbles between city states were one thing, but this… this sight before her meant war. Pure… unadulterated war. How had she missed it, and… who was this? Two beings in the middle of their line. Two beings like she-

The vision faded abruptly. She tried desperately to grasp its meaning, but the next vision came too quickly.

Somehow she’d known of the elves. In six-thousand years she’d never seen one, but somehow she’d always known. Here they were, standing before her, pleading for aid. Somehow she knew they shared blood. She wanted answers. More pressing issues prevailed. The elves were in danger. Nay, their planet Al`arha was in danger… as was Ea-

Gasping, she fell backward.

Elves? But I already know about elves… and what’s Al`arha? What did I mean by danger? What danger-

The sudden arrival of another vision made it feel as if her chest was about to burst open.

For years she’d work with the other two Elder Ones to save humanity from itself. Now on the precipice of worldwide destruction, one of them had broken their accord. Jealousy. Rage. Greed. He radiated the very things they’d fought to overcome, the very things they’d tried to teach mankind to abandon. Who were they, if not a beacon of hope?

Surely they were not gods. Did he think himself such? Was that his desire? Pain ripped through her as his spell tore flesh from bone, rendering her nearly to ash. She stood in defiance, willing her flesh to grow back, and blasted him with the whole of her power.

He did not fall. He smiled back at her, wickedly. Something had changed. He was the third of their kind, and the weakest. How had he become so strong?

The images of the two men rushed through her mind too quickly to discern their appearances, but she could feel who they were, and feel a connection to them. One of them had meant quite a lot to her.

I am an Elder One? What does that mean? Who was-

An endless stream of memories flooded her mind in rapid succession.

Someone had cursed her to wander the world, protecting great seals of power. Seals that stole magic from her world and siphoned it into another. Seals that, if broken, would mean the destruction of everything and everyone.

For nearly five-thousand years she served, living a decade at a time near each seal. Every ten years the seals moved her to the next seal against her will. She lost her memory with each transition and slowly regained it during her stay, only to repeat the cycle again.

Nearly five-hundred fragments of memories flooded her, one after another. Societies rising, societies falling, world wars, invasions, advancements she couldn’t comprehend… at the end, everything had been for naught. It was humanity that broke the seals and caused the destruction of their own world.

The power was ripping her apart; nay, it was ripping the entire planet apart. It was ripping them both apart, for they were one. She drew upon every ounce of power she or the planet could provide. She had to hold the world together just a little longer. The evacuation was almost complete!

He would save them. He had to save them. She had to give him more ti-

Sorscha screamed louder than her voice alone should have allowed. Unbridled power welled up from within, as if released along with her memories.

She was standing on a new world now. How much time had passed? Where was she? Who… was she? Her memory was gone. A being approached. The twelve foot tall, red-scaled being knelt before her. His black horns glistened in the orange light of the world’s star. His yellow eyes pierced her inner being, seeing through her.

He terrified her.

“You needn’t be afraid, girl. I am here to offer you power… power to save yourself from this place… power to set me free,” he explained. His voice made the ground tremble, but his tone put her at ease. He placed one massive hand on her shoulder, saying, “I am Vaxtra, Prince of-”

“Vaxtra! I met him on his home world!” she gasped.

Even free of the vision, she could still feel the weight of his hand, the heat of his breath and the ground trembling as he spoke.

The cataclysm took my memory, and he exploited my weakness to lay claim to me.

She didn’t need his power. She was power. She could feel it deep inside her.

It is he that draws power from me!

She opened her mind, reaching out to Vaxtra with her will.

I am Sorscha, the first of the Elder Ones. I will not be bound by you!

With every ounce of her will, and her rediscovered power, she pushed to break free of their bond.

* * *

Vaxtra had taught her the ways of sorcery and witchcraft. For decades she’d lived on his world, learning to draw upon shadow and darkness. He had led her to believe that their pact granted her power. She’d been too weak at the time to understand the truth.

‘Sorcery,’ he had explained, ‘bears limitations. You must consume a source of power to cast your spells. Thus, the power of a sorceress depends on the abundance of her source. Since I have taught you to harness the power of darkness and draw from the shadows… your power will be without limit!’

She’d met Vaxtra nearly three-thousand years ago; a fact that was now clear with the return of her memories. Through him, she had learned to master both Sorcery and Channeling. For the one she drew upon shadows, and for the other she drew upon him. Neither source of power lie within her.

As a sorceress, her powers were unmatched. She had traveled the whole of Ayrelon in Vaxtra’s service and had met no one as powerful as she. This power that rose within her was different… it was inside of her, generated by her own being; her soul. She could feel it within her, begging for release.

Once again, she pulled upon the shadows with her will, drawing their power inside her. She channeled Vaxtra, leeching his powers, pulling them within her and combining the two into one. Letting those powers continue to stream into her being, she reached down inside, seeking the forces that grew therein.

Unbridled energies poured into her consciousness, intertwined with the shadows and the demonic. As the powers neared a strength she could barely contain, she realized another force was waiting just beyond her reach.

It felt familiar.

It invited her to partake.

Memories rushed in as she touched the power she’d sensed. The fourth power crashed into her body, raw and uncontrollable.

It was a force which she’d long ago learned to harness; a force she’d long ago forgotten she could. As the primal forces of Life and Death rushed into her, she combined them with the others.

With a strength he had deprived her of for centuries, she channeled the combined magical forces toward Vaxtra across the planes of existence with every ounce of her being.

Vaxtra calmly laughed at her attempt, slamming the ethereal link between them closed; forcing the energies to go elsewhere.

Raw magical forces splashed back into Sorscha, throwing her through the window and down into the street. The powers of shadow, life, death, her soul, and her demonic host blasted through everything within a hundred yards.

The Argyle Elk shattered violently. Shards of wood, iron, and glass rained down across several city blocks.

Sorscha struggled to stand. Her entire body was in pain. Her brain felt as if it were melting.

Chaos flooded her mind; carried by memories no living soul should experience. Eons of torture piled into her in an instant. The memories were foreign, twisted, and confused; as if their source didn’t understand how to convey them.

She felt the misery of her world; the suffering as two worlds violently merged in dimensional collapse. Still bound to its essence, she became the world’s conduit; it’s memory; it’s voice.

As her mind flailed, anxiously attempting to control and understand the flood of memories and emotions, she lashed out.

“No more!” she screamed as energy burst forth from her chest.

She had absorbed most of the energy deflected by Vaxtra, and in her weakened state of mind she could no longer contain it.

Shadows seeped out of her flesh, enveloping her arms. Long tendrils of darkness grew from her fists as she screamed in pain. She no longer knew if the pain was her own, or the memories of a world’s demise which plagued her.

She reached for her face as magical tears seared a path down her cheeks. Several citizens had rushed to the scene, trying to determine the source of the disturbance. The movement of her arms sent strands of shadow whipping through the air, slicing several bystanders in half.

Screams of terror reached through the mind-numbing pain, drawing her temporarily back into the moment. Her eyes shot open, black with her power. Her decrepit form straightened and drew upright, her youth temporarily restored.

She couldn’t comprehend the destruction before her; the shards of buildings, the piles of dust, the pieces of corpses or the shrieking, fleeing citizens. Her mind was no longer her own. Sorscha moved her right arm slowly, lifting her hand into the air. Her powers coalesced, centered on her outstretched hand.

Guards raced toward her from all directions, many raised from their slumber and half dressed.

Citizens fled down the streets, pouring out of their homes in terror.

She raised her palm toward the sky and slowly curled her fingers inward.

Thin streams of ash rose from the surrounding area, crossed the distance to her and collected in her raised palm.

The guards’ eyes grew wide in horror at the sight. Many attempted to flee.

As she slowly closed her hand into a fist, her knuckles popped like snapping twigs.

She turned her hand over as the rest of the guards second-guessed their approach.

It was already too late.

Sorscha opened her outstretched hand, letting the dust fall toward the ground as a wave of dark energy burst forth, engulfing the entire city in an instant.

Every living thing in Port Gandraias suddenly turned to ash.

* * * 

Sorscha’s mind slowly returned to normal.

The flood of memories slowed to a trickle and then stopped.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d stood there, lost in a haze of confused rage. The only thing she was certain of was her true identity… and her newfound purpose.

Small piles of ash encircled her. More  piles lay down every street as far as she could see. The air smelled of death and decay.

The area was still brighter than it should have been; the shadows had not yet reclaimed it.

Her body returned to its normal, decrepit state as she wept. She wept not for the loss of life, but for the futility of everything she’d ever done to save humanity. She wept for the time she’d wasted, and the time she’d lost.

She looked around for her cane, but could not find it.

Hunching as she walked, she stumbled through the streets looking for a substitute. Finding a table leg from the tavern, she sighed and settled into her circumstances.

That was when she remembered.

Her life was not the only thing forgotten.

“Kahnel,” she said in recognition, then shook her head. “Kane,” she corrected, remembering further.

He was the Elder One who had rebelled and fought against her. It was he that inspired the events that led to the breaking of the seals. Kane had taken her memories on Melthax, causing her to meet and make a pact with Vaxtra.

Kane was coming to Ayrelon. It was he that sought the gate.

“Not this time,” she muttered.

Slowly she walked out of the city, plotting and scheming. She remembered all of her past, even if the memories had come at great cost. It was time for her to leverage that past to protect Ayrelon from Kane; a man who could kill Ayrelon’s gods.

The forces of good alone would stand no chance. All her life she had been ‘good’, and where had that gotten her? Where had that gotten the world?

No, I must find balance… I must cause balance. Only balance can defeat him. Only balance can save mortals from themselves.

‘What is evil anyway, if not a simple matter of perspective?’ she’d once been asked. Those words resonated with her now.

With a new perspective and a newfound purpose, she left the city and walked south. She cast her mind back to the man who had uttered those words. He’d uttered many things to her back in those times. He had known things he couldn’t have known, seen things he couldn’t have seen, and done things no man could do.

He had questioned her reality and tried to convince her to be someone else. The man had pleaded with her to change her ways, or rather, not become something he feared. It was as if he knew she’d become what she had just become, eons before it happened.

She decided to take heed of his pleas, but not for the reasons he desired. Instead, she would use the information laced within his words to affect change; to manipulate the world and push toward the only thing that could help its people defeat Kane.

A balance had to be struck.

Heroes need to rise… on both sides.

Nations must be founded.

The sword must be reclaimed.

Kingdoms must fall.

The son of a god must be slain by his brother.

She had a lot of work to do. A particular Toor was waiting to meet her, though it would be decades before he was born. Nevertheless, she had a mission now, and Vaxtra was but a nuisance. They were still bound, and that would need to be addressed. However, after her display, she was certain he would bother her no more.

I will deal with him later.

As she walked into the darkness, into the wilds beyond the city, she thanked the man who had set her upon her path. Without his interference, she might still be lost.

“Thank you, Mordechai. We will meet soon enough.”