You stand at the shoreline, watching as the water rides the sand in and out. The sky is bright and blue overhead and all around you, people bustle up and down the beach, throwing beach balls or laughing in groups or lounging around under broad umbrellas. You try to ignore all of them and soon the only thing you can hear is the crash of the waves, each the song of a siren calling you toward the deep.
The lots were cast and Hain ben Zedekiah was chosen amongst the many to lead the goat of expiation into the wilderness. His family huddled unto each other and could not face him; the others in his tribe cried out wailing and averted their eyes as he passed. Only the high priest caught his eye, and then only for a moment as he passed the tether into into Hain’s trembling hand.
For MS and DD.
Lightning strikes behind me. I waver at the sound of thunder, the vibrations that pulse through my veins and throb against me like giant hands shaking me backwards and fore. I teeter upon this edge I stand. I struggle to maintain my balance when all the world is chaos in my midst.
There is a pool beneath me. It is an enchanted pool, one of wonders too deep to be probed by man’s mind, too profound to be made sense of by philosophers or astrologers. What resides within it is beyond all belief.
They call it Sela Dor. And when they speak of it, they tell this tale.
I forged forward, pushing through the thicket with my sword at my side. The thorns scratched against my arm as twigs and leaves crunched beneath my feet. Coupled with the sounds of crows and crickets from behind me, I was sick in my stomach.
For all the water surrounding the island, this dead hill rising out of the endless swamp, I couldn’t believe all the plants here were lifeless, dry to the core. I stared up through the branches as I ducked under a thicker branch I couldn’t easily push aside and saw the gray sky. I wondered if it ever rained or if the clouds were always distant and dry.
I could see a bit of light up ahead and hoped it was the end of this tiresome copse. It had crept up upon me as quickly as I’d stepped on the island, and so long I’d been stuck in here I couldn’t be certain if I was still headed in the right direction at all. For how small the island had looked when I spotted it, I should have been back in the swamp before long. Any other knight would have been discouraged, but for me, it only confirmed I had found the place. Now if only I could get past this trap and into it.
Leliana Levoir stood in her chambers, finishing her last binding ritual, Nin tying the spell into a series of knots along the rope that would bind the last two gods when they, too, were raised to find them.
And once they were bound, the threat would at least be offset until Leliana could find the man behind all of this and banish him once and for all.
“Come along,” the Priestess said to her apprentice as she began walking away.
Nin nodded and scurried after. “Lady, what next?”
Leliana was silent a moment before she replied. “We must simply wait for Heart and Soul, and when they have been bound, we will be safe.”
Three days passed before news reached them–but such as it was surprised them both. Instead of reports of blights or savagery or anything they would have suspected, they instead listened as the messenger explained the trembling earth and swirling winds and erupting wells of the city in question.
“Bring extra supplies, Nin,” Leliana said, finding all this information unusual for reasons she could not quite place, “we may need more than mere binding for this one.”
And they were off.