In the swirl of battle, it was all too easy to become separated – but it had happened before, and it didn’t truly bother Nightpetal like it used to. Cael was quite capable of taking care of herself, thank you very much, and she trusted her to come back in one piece, whatever happened. At this point, the only real worry she had was how much blood she’d wash out of fur, and whether or not her Knight would need another set of stitches.

And this made it easier to focus – especially now that she’d been neatly separated from not only her Worgen, but the rest of the 7th that was taking on an invasion of Naga in the Storm’s Wake highlands. It was uncanny, and it bothered her – the nagging suspicion that every move she made, every step, every plan to rejoin her battle group was countered.

Every time, her plans failed, and she was forced farther into the valley – her route to get back to the lines was blocked time and again by Brudes or Tidemistresses and their retinue that seemed to know right where she was, through every illusion and even her warbling, shifting greater invisibility invocations. Nothing worked – they pursued her, harried her, and she felt.. driven, somehow.

On top of that, it had started raining.

More than once, she’d felt the presence of something.. watching. A great eye seemed to sweep over the battlefield, looking hard for her – and each time the naga came with it. It never seemed to find her directly, but it was looking – and each time it came near the pain behind her eyes increased, breaking her concentration, leaving her with few options besides running.

It was almost no surprise when a twist of her fingers sent a Myrmidon spinning away into a rock, and she broke out of the hillsides into a circular, cleared space among the standing stones, the bones of the earth stark around an altar so old that she thought it was just another stone until a chance shift in the storm brought her attention to the swirling, primitive tentacles carved into the slabs that made up its ‘legs’.

“Ah. We’ve been waiting. Finally. Honestly, you would think that you’d be punctual – it’s written into your very magic, after all.”

HE was there.

The faceless man, leaning on his cane, his tattered robes unaffected by the storm. And she turned to run.. and then couldn’t anymore. Her limbs locked, and she could only stumble once before she could move no more.

Around her, three of the naga sorceresses emerged from the shadow of the stones, grinning widely – sharp teeth filled her vision, in each direction she looked.

She felt herself lifted. Placed on the stone.

“Peace, dear girl. Peace – my master brings a gift.” The faceless man touched her cheek, and her body recoiled at it. “He has dreamed your destiny. The hour comes – that which is sunken shall rise! All that were sleeping shall be awakened. Receive his gift, Ye Hua – see all truths before you.”

He raised his hand – and the spike of glowing /wrongness/ in it led her to scream, but no sound left her lips. He drove it down – and her mind exploded into visions.

Visions of great obslisks in a kingdom that went on forever, a great shadow at its back. Visions of the races kneeling, serving in an empire beyond imagining, and a great titan made of shadowed stars, laughing in empty madness at an empty universe. She felt the ripple of time – of infinite possibilities, and saw this future in all of them, and at the moment when madness would claim her..

… it stopped.

And she was alone, on the hill – the pain behind her eyes was gone. But she felt the eye watching her, and she could still hear the words again.  She heard them whispering as she stumbled back through the battle lines, as her footing firmed – and she found her magic coming easier than it ever had, stronger than it ever had been.  As it sang within her.  As she saw possibilities she hadn’t seen before – as her spells became more precise.  It was so.. easy.  So laughably easy – why hadn’t she seen it before?  

Predictable.  You could see what would come, a moment before it did.  And there – a change in her gesture, and.. With contemptuous ease, her spell ripped apart a behemoth fighting a group of 7th Legionaires – and she wondered at how simple it really was.  How much stronger she’d become.  

Some part of her was afraid, but it was a small part.  And when she saw Cael, she smiled as she hadn’t in /months/, flinging herself at the worgen.  Happy.  She felt more alive than she had in months.


Author Aunne
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