She Knows

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       It’s a portal.                                                                                                                   It’s more than a portal.

 It’s more than anchor.                                                                                                                It’s an anchor.

 

Sariel stood inside the room.

Her hand on the spawning stone.

She was missing something important here, her mind whispered to her in the chaos. Something that she wasn’t seeing. The portal shifted, the nature of it changing –

“Sariel.”

Her name pulled her out of the trance.

“Are you okay?” The question drifted over her senses as she registered the moon once again. She could hear in Nethrali’s voice that she was worried.

——–

Sariel peered into an old wooden chest, inside was a uniform. Her delicate fingers touched the intricate designs that adorned the armor. She had never seen anything like it before. Her gaze lifted to her grandmother and the older woman smiled softly before she turned to reach into the chest. Sariel didn’t hear her mother approach, her presence announced with the sudden white knuckled grip on the lid. Her mother’s voice was stern, in a way Sariel hadn’t heard before. For her uttered, “No”, was more than a denial.

The color of the memory bled into the room, and she was once again staring at the portal as it shifted, the nature of it changing from one of creation to…its absence. Planar energy pulsed from the rip in reality, like it was trying to push her away. Sariel lifted her hands to block the cutting wind as it attempted to —

“Sariel.”

Her name pulled her out of the trance, and the sound of the river grounded her in reality.

“Are you okay?”

It was the first time that Sariel had seen the bard stutter, that all her witty comments and graceful way of speaking failed her. It was amusing. She watched as her lithe form retreated back, a slow smile spreading over her lips.

The first real smile since she left that cursed room.

——

“What if I can’t? What if I’m not enough?” Her voice sounded small even to her own ears.

Vardin grinned at her, “Then I guess we’re screwed.”

The cave fell apart, falling piece by piece to be replaced by the room.

Sariel lifted her hands to block the cutting wind as it attempted to force her from the room. Her eyes jerked to the form standing on the other side of the Scranton Reality Stabilizer. Her feet shifted trying to hold onto her footing.

“It’s been a long time since a planes walker has come to the chaos plane.” Niall smiled as he turned to look at her, “Reach out.”

Sariel reached for him instead, her fingers starting to glow with planar radiation, the fabric of the plane bending around her hand —

“Sariel.”

“Are you okay?”

She came out of her trance, blinking once. She was in the forest once again.

Zildath’s gaze had changed from one of annoyance to…something else, and the change caused her heart to beat faster.

——

The portal screamed and the ground shook, no longer pushing her away, but pulling her in. Her hair whipped over her face, flying loose from the ties that bound it. But Niall was no longer standing there. It was a shadowy figure dressed in the horizon walker uniform. Not unlike herself. It was facing the portal, their hand on the spawning stone as Sariel’s eyes widened in horror.

“Sariel.”

She came back to herself with a slow inhale, before her was Andraste.

“Zildath has a request.” She said quietly, “He needs help growing trees.”

Sariel released the breath and nodded.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m not fond of answering the same question multiple times.”

Andraste hesitated, “Nethrali wants to know if you want to talk. It’s a subtle thing, I think she’s trying to ask but not ask.”

“No. I just want to focus on the gift for Take.”

——

Sariel climbed into a tree, one that was far enough away from the fort that it would be difficult to find, but not so far that she couldn’t watch the fort. She could see the lights on in the rooms. They would be asleep soon. Her gaze lingered, it seemed so far away compared to her forest.

After a moment, she leaned back against the comforting wood, crossing her legs with a book in her lap. It was a tale of a horizon walker who rode dragons. Sariel had never heard such a thing before. Her fingers gently traced the image on the book, she supposed it made sense. Dragons often traveled the planes and with a horizon walker it would be less dangerous for them, less of a chance of them getting stuck somewhere. She wanted to read it. But…her mind wasn’t done yet. She could feel the tease of something along the edge of her awareness.

Sariel took a slow deep breath and stared at the book, the world started to fall away but this time she was met with darkness.

Darkness and Zildath’s voice as he spoke of the world eater.

The room manifested in startling suddenness. The wind whipped around her, pulling at her clothes as she stared down one of the largest planar disturbances she had seen since Niall went missing. The portal pulsed and her eyes glowed with the deadly radiation. The plane itself bent around her as the weight of the rift’s own existence started to fold in on itself.

She heard a sound.

Laughter.

The unexpected hand on her shoulder caused her to turned abruptly. There was no one there, but the laughter stayed, followed by figures running past the room.

“What in the hells was this?”

Eliza Neil
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