The Wisps danced in the air, their mouth sucking it like void… and they disappeared, leaving behind the afterglow of their blue flames – the glitter and gleam, which stayed in this reality, like a trace made by their ethereal bodies.
Tiyan knew that it’s the place. Dark night around them seemed to catch at their clothes with wind, which resumed to blow with renewed strength, the wail of the gusts piercing his ears with mourning dirge.
The wind knew.
This was the place, where two realities clashed, a door to the faerie realm. A hole in the world. A gate to horrors.
And he had to silence his fear, which wailed just like the wind, and pass it.
He remembered how for a moment, back then, in his house, he played with a thought to not go. To leave Mina and try to save himself. What chances did he have, after all? He will die with Mina. Mina is already lost.
But these were wrong thoughts, thoughts of a lost man, who replaced his heart with cowardice. He maybe was not a hero, but would never leave his sister for death.
He rather felt Ona, than saw her, how she put her hand on his arm and squeezed. Her presence, even if they knew each other so short, was already a poultice in a weeping wound. She taught him that even the weak can win. And that fear doesn’t define us.
Noyd passed his mind and he thought of the promise. When, if. While he promised her to return, he knew – and she knew as well – that it doesn’t depend on him. But if he returns, he will pay up for all mistakes. He will return her years which they lost. Love her as she deserves. And be a friend, he always was – but more.
“So here we are,” said Ona. That was enough. He didn’t expect her to go with him. She certainly had her own deals to settle. She never told him… but during her sleep, she was saying a name and he understood, she had a mission too. And as she didn’t try to force him to fulfill his promise to her, he won’t do that to her.
“I am afraid” admitted Tiyan and it was honest and natural.
Ona laughed bitterly.
“We all are.”
Tiyan approached the place where Wisps disappeared. His hand stretched. Cautiously, he moved closer and his hand passed the soft barrier. A tiny blue energy sparks enveloped his hand and started to crawl up. Tiyan quickly removed hand and the sparks dispersed, sinking into the ground, where they fell.
“You must know something” Ona’s voice was doubtful. Hollow and mute.
He turned to her, his gaze inquisitive. The barrier behind him started to be more visible, like a glass, like a face of the water.
“You… you burn, Tiyan” he clearly could see how hard it is for her. But not for him… not as hard as he would think, when he started his journey. In his dreams, he burned many times. So many times, during last nights. He didn’t feel the flames, but he was setting the world on fire, fearfully watching as he scorched it to a cinder. “When you sleep. The fae…”
He swallowed a hard bile. Perhaps Ona thought that he may stop his mission. He sensed her will to talk. Explain. Try to find common sense in it.
“They want something from me, aren’t they?”
Ona looked at him, with a well concealed shock on her painted face. Her eyes… They changed color again. Now they were blue and green at once. Strange.
Just like him.
“Yes, Tiyan. They want you. And when the fae want something, it’s never good.”
“Maybe I am not good, ” chuckled Tiyan darkly and a shiver went through his spine. How easily he accepts the reality in which a mortal enemy of humankind wants him – for whatever purpose. That he burns – really burns, not only in his dreams. A casual thought. An unimportant detail.
The barrier behind him started to move, releasing water-like tendrils in his direction.
“Now it’s too late to think if I am good or not ” he said, darkness creeping into his voice again. “But I am not a coward.”
“No” Ona looked at him, intensely. “No, you are not.”
He felt unreal. Unreal world to which he was going, wanted him, desired him, like a dark lover. And he was going to submit.
His hand met the tendrils. They slowly pulled him closer, hungry, so hungry. He felt as his breath stopped and his feet carried him closer. So close. He caught a sudden scent of pines, so real, like taken straight from his past, when everything was easier and sun didn’t shine on the frozen land.
He was already face to face with the glass-like structure of the now completely visible door to Ain’asel.
He didn’t turn to Ona. Ona didn’t expect that.
Do not turn back.
He was saying that to himself so often, that he believed that if he turns back, he will lose all strength and will run, run as fast as he can and hide under branches – like a coward.
Who he was not.
You can still turn back. You can still save yourself, like you have always did.
His face met the gate, his body sucked in, like a rock sinking into the dark lake. He disappeared, eaten by the maw of a different world.
Ona looked at the dispersing gate with hope and doubt. She looked long. Like she wanted to find an answer in the light afterglow it left – just like the Wisps.
Until reality didn’t force her to set a camp and think of her risky plan of freeing Isnan. She was only three days’ walk from Arelt.
Good luck Tiyan.
Do not let them use you.
Do not let them kill you.
We have all our dark scores to settle.