Heroes & Gods : The Master of Dreams

- Reading time 17 minutes -

Card Raclira

The work had gotten desperately boring but not any less rewarding. A band of merchants and traders was no more difficult to put down than it was to swat a fly. Flies at least know how to be quiet when the night comes. Merchants though, they never know when to stop talking.

“And so I says to her,” the one leading the caravan said, “if that’s not a jackass, I don’t know what is!”

They laugh at the joke as I plunge a dirk into the throat of the armed guard bringing up the rear. A muffled whisper and he's slipping into darkness as I hold him in my arms. They don’t hear him fall. They just buzz on until none of their rear guards are left alive. Ellina and Bragnor were charging the front of the caravan and they had been discovered judging by the screams and the sound of blades hitting metal. They still needed to learn how to do this quietly. It is quick and for the most part painless if you do it right; I slide through the trees, catching the other

caravan guards from behind as they were trying to reach the front of their convoy, taking them out quickly by cutting throats and piercing hearts.

Now it is time to collect. As the merchants realized they were left without protection, they started to scream and shout at each other; some of them tried to make it out running through the forest but I bet they won't get very far—Tarr does not allow anyone to live and tell the tale. Dead men cannot speak.

I finally got close to the loot. A tall merchant armed with a lance looked me in the eyes and I could tell he was as scared as a child left on a forest road at night. I did not stop; I never stop when I am charging a target. He tried a jab to my right, which I quickly parried and continued my way toward him. The unforgiving blade plunged into his heart swiftly and without any obstacles in its way. I kissed his forehead and sent him into the darkness.

"Death is beautiful," I whispered to myself. One after another, they fell easily enough . . . save for the final man. Like the lancer, he thought it would be wise to fight.

“You don’t scare me, Basharii!” he shouted while cowering behind a tall shield.

“You think it is wise to tell me such things?” I asked measuring my angles of attack trying to find the best and quickest way to breach his defenses. He faltered at that, stopped, and threw the shield on the ground.

"I surrender," he muttered lifting his hands in the air."I have a very valuable item with me," he continued, "but you see, it's a rhatalast and it can only be given and not taken."

A rhatalast, he thought that I was stupid enough to believe that. I stopped and had a better look at him. Leather boots encrusted with magic symbols, a pair of new red pants kept tight by a heavy leather girdle filled with small pockets holding vials of some kind. A chainmail shirt of good quality was hanging down like a rag, clearly not his. His face wrinkled with fear. Could he really be telling the truth?

"Come closer," I asked him. "Slowly and with your hands above your head."

He started to approach me and everything seemed fine. A tiny light flicker barely noticeable underneath his right sleeve. Thoughts started crossing my mind like lightning strikes: potions, red pants, magic symbols . . . he's a bloody alchemist and we will all burn or worse freeze like statues. I slid to the left and turned my left shoulder toward him to minimize the impact zone. Using the shoulder as a ram, I hit his chest as his hands were trying to come together and smash the hidden vial. I caught his left hand and it was that moment I used to plunge my dagger into his chest. He shrieked like a wounded rabbit and fell to the dusty ground, his blood black in the Second Sister's light.

The forest was quiet now. In the dark of the night, we scavenged the caravan and its travelers leaving their bodies for the night crawlers. I hear the alchemist cry out as I count his coins: "You . . . are cursed . . . cur . . . " and then the sound of the forest continued its majestic symphony uninterrupted.

That was how I’d intended my life to go; raids followed by early mornings in the Bloody Goose tavern, drinking shika ale and watching the world twist and turn. In the city of Idas’Duul, that’s the highlight of entertainment and that’s what I wanted for me and my crew.

Until that night.

The figure was cloaked and a thick darkness swam below the hood hiding their face. While my crew ate, played, and pouted, I motioned the stranger to sit by me. My business was common enough that people knew how to be brief and to the point about exactly who they wanted knocked off, where, and how. This stranger in the hood was no different.

“Davriol . . . a Red Priest . . . thirty gold.”

“You are very generous. At the parish?” I asked, between sips of ale.

A nod. “Sleeping quarters, second room, first bed from the entrance,” he continued.



I took the gold bag from his palm and I left the tavern—my companions wouldn’t need to join me for this little job. Killing fat priests is as easy as pushing a pumpkin out a window. The mess really looks about the same in all honesty. And I enjoy a good mess. As I crept over the wall of the parish and looked into the garden, I realized that the moon was blood red. It is an ill omen to be out for blood under a Red Sister. But what the heck . . . gold for blood is always a good trade. As long as the blood is not yours to give.

Sitting on top of the wall, I suddenly felt something strong begin to pull me upward. My legs detached from the stonewall and started to float. "What is this trickery?" I whisper to myself. I tried to get a grip with my hands but they slipped over the edge and I was now floating upward toward the red clouds. I checked to see if I was being deceived by a mirage or . . . what was I drinking in the tavern, I had shika ale and . . . but then the clouds around the moon parted revealing an intricate construction of some sort. In the Sister's bright red light, I saw the buttresses and pillars of a massive palace in the sky. And, yes, I was being pulled toward it by some unseen force.

As I was being lifted into the air, I did not scream, nor did I fight it. To fight what you cannot see is futile. In order to fight something, you must understand it first . . . that is the true way to life. Darkness took me, and before I reached the castle, I lost myself in a nightmare. Screaming and whispering filled my mind and the clouds gathered around me, whispering nightmarish promises. They were bound to drop me at any moment if they sensed fear . . . but there I was hung over the land without a single touch of it.

While my mind struggled to escape the maddening sounds, a door formed and opened before me.

“Come,” called a whispered voice. “Come, my herald . . . come to me.”

The voice was beyond my comprehension—a multitude of feelings were mixed into it somehow and I obeyed it without question. As I walked through the door, construction shifted and the walls around me expanded, becoming a massive dining hall made of red clouds. A grand table formed from the smoking piles of clouds that were holding the floor together, and all around it were the shadows . . . of servants—shadows of forgotten creatures put to work.

Sitting at the head of the table, with the back to a roaring wall of fire, sat what in one moment looked to be a woman and in the same instant the mother of nightmares, and dark spawn. Her posture was as inconstant as her form, standing, sitting, reclining, slouching all at once as she beckoned me to the table.

“Sit,” she said. “Eat. Let us know each other better.”

Again, I did as I was asked. I sat at the opposite end of the table and—despite the strange, red glimmer of the meal before me—I ate.

“Do you know me, Raclira?” she asked. I had never seen her before in my life, but I had felt her. I had felt her before and oh so often. I swallowed the food—an immense sense of pleasure mixing all the tastes known to a mortal exploded in my mouth. I tried to block the pleasure's trap and said, “Yes. I believe you are Kotessa, Goddess of Fear.”

“You know me well,” Kotessa said. “That is why I have brought you here. You, more than any other of your sort, have inspired me, used my guidance, and worshiped me. That is why I have decided to bestow a blessing upon you.”

In that moment, I laughed in the face of fear. Not out of disrespect, but out of sheer impatience. "About time someone noticed the blood trails I left behind me," I said. She, in return, smiled and continued.

"My sweet child, there is a very delicate thing that I will ask of you, my brothers should not know of this nor should they ever find out that I am behind this . . . because if they do, they will wipe you from the face of this world . . . you along with me." Her face glittered with light while her eyes turned into two red-dark pits. "I need the A'raimun ancient relic . . . to feed the fires of knowledge with the wisdom of its pages, I seek to know why Death can never die!"

A million thoughts crossed my mind . . . an alliance with a God that came with a terrible price. I might bring the wrath of her kin upon myself. But what if I refused her? Why is she telling me the details unless . . . I have no way out of this.

"Do you think you are up to the task?" she whispered softly.

"What do I need to do then?" I replied.

"My child knows her place and trusts her skills. Good, I am pleased," she answered while her face shifted its form and mirrored mine.

"The relics are all kept locked away in the Vault of Time, where no mortal or, lately, other Gods than the keepers can have access to. My brothers and sisters seized it as soon as our conflict begun. I have been working on this plan long enough to know that there is only one being in our world that can help you get inside it, and that being is capricious at best."

She continued slightly moving in my direction, a pair of hands which materialized a second before she finished talking.

"The Maker blessed us with three realms of existence. Yours, where mortals thrive and where us Gods may be challenged and killed if caught wondering, ours, where us immortals live and where mortals can become Gods if they are strong and clever enough to ascend to, and the most terrible of all—Deaths realm, where she, Darva, brings and grinds the souls of those she captures into life powder, renewing the cycles of existence by spreading it afterward throughout the realms," she continued while a couple of shadow servants brought a new course which looked like a dessert.

"The Vault of Time is hidden deep at the border between the mortal and ascended realms, so majestic and powerful the magic that binds it that even Death cannot sense its presence. But I know how to deceive my brothers . . . I know. Pay attention to what I am about to tell you. With great sacrifice, I have crafted these portal stones which can help you traverse the realms hastily. Simply throw the magic stone on the ground and chant—Ha'alith Menar—and the portal should open and send you to your destination. The black stone will send you to Darva’s lair.

Once she has sensed your presence she will follow you wherever you go. With her on your trail use the green stone to traverse the realms again and reach the hidden isle where the Vault of Time is hidden. The keepers of the Vault are cunning and cautious. While two of them research ancient materials inside the Vault, the other three patrol its borders and will send into nothingness any uninvited guest. The only thing that can fight them is Darva. The moment she follows you through the green portal, the fight will begin . . . keep your distance from them, seek the Vault, and enter while they are busy repelling her. Once inside the Vault, locate the relic and return to me," she concluded.

I felt like an idiot standing there at the table, listening to such a complicated endeavor. How am I going to pull this off?

"If you don't mind me saying . . . I think it's all quite impossible," I told her as much, but Kotessa only smiled at me.

“You bear a curse,” she said, pointing at the scales on my skin. Her words seemed to come out of nowhere and at first the anger flared up inside of me when she mentioned it. Everyone who knew me was clever enough to never, ever, bring attention to my abnormality. Those who did, seldom left with all of their parts intact. But when the goddess of fear smiles like that, you are quick to put aside such trivial matters.

“I do,” I said, sipping what I thought to be wine from a crystal cup before me.

“The scales are not yours, they belong to a powerful creature, did you know that?” she said. “And power is what is needed to accomplish this task. I know I have not chosen poorly" she continued.

Raising my courage and taking the risk, I asked,"What if I refuse you?"

"You will do this, or you will die. That is the truth.”

“Is that a threat?” I asked. She laughed at me, and as she did I felt myself falling backward. I grabbed for the table but it faded beneath my hands, betraying me at the final moment.

“Not a threat!”she called to me as I fell. “Only the truth!”

I fell through the cloud castle, spinning as I went down, a scream escaping my throat. I had just enough power to turn and face the ground before I struck it. Blackness. And then . . .“Isn’t that right, Raclira?”

“What?” I jumped to my feet, hitting the table and spilling the shika ale from the pints, instinctively putting my hands on my daggers. Bragnor, one of my merry band, looked at me as if I had turned into a goat; if I had been aware of some danger coming our way, they would have sensed it too. Useless . . .

“Are you alright?” he asked through his thick beard.

“Yes,” I spat shaking my head vigorously. “Fine. What did you want?”

He looked at me sheepishly.

“I was just pointing out the landlord’s daughter . . . she’s got really big—”

“Bloody hell,” I hissed, sitting back down. But when I did, the pouch on my side felt much heavier than I remembered it being. I reached inside and discovered—to my horror and amazement—three glowing round stones.

“So, we have a new job to do,” I whispered to myself. Then, before I could talk myself out of it, I said, “Pack up, we’ve got a job to do.”

“A job,” Ellina said, not fully paying attention. She was about to win a pittance at a game of cards and that meant more than anything else at the moment. “You mean now?”

I snatched her cards from her and slammed them face up on the table.

“What the—” she protested, but I grabbed her by the shoulder, jerked her up, and flashed a glance at what was inside my pouch. When her face went slack, Bragnor and Tarr looked in as well. They shut their mouths and fell into line.

Just as we were leaving the table, I saw the cloaked figure entering the tavern—the one who had hired me to kill the priest. “Sorry, pal. You’ll have to find someone else for the job,” I thought.

“So,” Tarr began from beneath the shroud of his hood, as we stood out in the field outside of town, “you’re telling us that the Goddess of Fear pulled you up into a castle of clouds, fed you, and gave you three stones to pull of some ethereal heist?”

“Yes,” I answered, checking the supplies in my pack one last time.

“And we are trying to steal a book?”


“And did the Goddess say why?”

“No.”Telling them this part would not help them in any way but make the things more complicated.

Tarr nodded, stood up from his spot on the cold patch of earth, and began to walk away. I clutched the black stone in my hand, turned, and threw it over his head chanting "Ha'alith Menar." It crashed against a rock and suddenly a dark portal opened before him. He screamed like a child, fell backwards, and crawled away. I smiled at him and continued.

“We are to go in, lure Darva into a portal to the Vault of Time, and have her distract the keepers so we can break in and steal the book. You know the stories, so let’s not beat around the bush. We might die trying, but isn’t the favor of a god something to die for?”

The three looked at each other for a moment and then Bragnor lifted his arms into the sky and gave a mighty bellow. He then charged through the portal, laughing like a crazed fool. Ellina followed with less enthusiasm and before I could go through, Tarr grabbed my arm—the arm with the scales. “Alright, let’s get this over with.”And with that, we walked through the portal and into the realm of Death.

At first, it seemed as if we hadn’t gone anywhere. The field looked much the same as it had back on our end except for the low-lying mist that hid the ground beneath us. Behind us, a large mountain was where the city had been. Before us,mist and black ice seemed to cover the trees and the grass in the distance. Bragnor’s battle cries had died in his throat, but the echo still circled us. The longer we looked off in the horizon, the less sure we were about that sound’s true identity.

“This isn’t right,” Tarr said, bending down and blowing the mist away from the ground. When he saw what lay beneath the mist, he covered his mouth and stood still. It was a skull. But it was not a skull of any creature we had ever seen before. It looked as if it was born into agony with its brow twisted through its eye holes and a mouth that was too small to eat. There were others too, all deformed and monstrous that, as we soon discovered, created a path that led down the hill side and into a field littered with bones and remains.

“There was a battle here,” Ellina said, picking up a rusted scimitar.

“Look…” Bragnor said pointing his hand at something behind us. We turned to follow his gaze and when we did, I felt the first pangs of doubt about our success. The mist had become a writhing pool of specters, reaching up as if drowning in a lake and clawing for aid. They began to moan and wail, begging us for help, threatening us if we did not save them. I climbed upon the remains of some long dead beast clad in purple armor and looked off to the west, searching for any sign of where to go. Then all at once, the specter's cries stopped and a bone-chilling silence covered the battlefield. All of us looked back where we had started. The mountain—or what we had foolishly mistaken as a mountain began to move. No, not move—writhe. I felt my will begin to falter and watched as my companions fared no better.

“Oh Gods…” Ellina moaned.

“Run . . . we have to run!” Tarr cried out. But as the thing the size of a mountain turned to face us—it had no real face, just a writhing mass of bones and flesh, with only a weeping mass of teeth and tentacles—we remained frozen in our places. Large, bulbous eyes opened upon us and bathed us in a damp, green light. I raised my arms to shield my vision, and only when I saw my scaly arm did my nerve return to me once again.

“We are where we need to be! It’s her! It’s still part of the damned plan!” I leapt off of the dead carcass, hit the shoulders of Tarr and Ellina with my palms and began to run across the field of bones. I plunged my hand into the pouch and pulled out the next stone—the green one—and chucked it in front of us across the field.

"Ha'alith Menar"I screamed, hoping to cover the cursed sound of Death. The green gate materialized not far from where we were."Quickly get through the portal, I will be right behind you," I shouted as Ellina and Tarr continued to run toward it. “It won’t fit!” Ellina screamed. “There’s no way it will—” I pushed her toward the portal and turned to see Tarr right behind me. But Bragnor was still staring up at the thing in the mist. It was moving toward us at a terrifying pace.

“Bragnoooor,"I screamed at the top of my lungs. I picked up a bone off of the ground and flung it at him. It brained him in the back of the head and, like a magic object being shattered, a spell seemed to have been broken. He realized that he was far behind, turned, and started to run towards us. If I had turned to face the portal, I wouldn’t have seen what followed. But I refused to leave him behind. The others were not as brave and why should they have to be? That was my role. It was also part of the job to face the consequences of my actions. The spirits grabbed him and held him in place. He fell and tried to claw his way forward, tearing his fingernails out among the bones of the fallen. And as Death loomed over him in all of her eldritch might, he and I locked eyes and said goodbye from afar. The dark form fell on him like a thousand blades covered in wyvern spit. I watched as he was torn into pieces that melted into a brown goo. Again, his howls echoed far longer than they should have. They continued in my mind for quite some time afterward. I burst through the portal, knowing time was limited and that he was already gone.

Before us in the distance was the Vault of Time; hovering above an enormous canyon, a great white ball laden with golden windows of odd shapes and strange blinking lines drawn on it. Chained to the edges of the chasmfrom its bottom with massive shackles emanating a white mist, it glimmered in the dim light of the setting sun of a new and brilliant realm. As did the forms of the two keepers who materialized near the portal at the shrilling sound of Death arriving through it.

Tarr grabbed me and pulled me behind a large pillar of stone just as they turned to look our way.

“Damn your eyes,” Tarr hissed. “We are sitting ducks. How are we going to—” the portal grew dark and then a being emerged from it. A being far less grotesque and horrifying but Her nonetheless. In this realm, Darva was a tall, mighty creature clad in the ragged robes of a reaper that swirled around her like mist.

A voice like thunder rang out. “Hold, varmint,” shouted one of the Gods, Wahir, holding a shining golden battle axe before him.

“Trespassers…”Darva replied. “Spies and thieves have come into my domain!”

“You don't belong here! Be gone!” this was the other guardian, Zorisai, wearing a white and golden armor across her chest with tattered robes underneath it. She raised her scepter and summoned her children—just like in the old stories, I thought—cyclone and storm, and the two powerful forces flew down from the darkening sky and began to hold Darva down.

“A battle of the Gods…” Tarr muttered. I grabbed him and jerked him away from the pending battle.

“We have other business to attend to,” I said. I pulled my two companions into a clump and chanted the invisibility spell to shield us from their busy eyes.

“There is a gate just beyond the pillars on the edge of the canyon. We have to go around and reach the entrance—”

“How do you know?” Tarr hissed.

“I have been blessed by fear,” I replied almost smiling. Fear can often times inspire the best answers to a problem. We ran that way as the keepers battled Darva.

Sure enough, there was the entrance where the massive structure reached the edge of the canyon. A shimmering door made by interlocking pulsating circles of light, more like a curtain, was covering an immense cathedral like door. We gathered our wits, looked at each other, and passed through it.

There was a violent scream as we came through on the other side. A sign that the magic of the door recognized we did not belong in here. Inside, massive corridors wound this way and that and large eyes encrusted into the ceiling stone looked upon us as if they saw us beneath the invisibility spell.

“I can't believe my eyes, we are robbing the Gods,” I muttered.

“What do we do now?” Tarr asked.

Just then, Zorisai flew past us, cursing. She was covered in shining red blood and muttering to herself.

“The tears!” called Wahir from the open portal. “Bring them quick . . . life is flowing from me.”

“Damn . . . DAMN!” Zorisai cried. She glided forward and we followed her, hidden still by the spell.

Without her, we would have been lost; The corridors changed and spun as we ran, turning the Vault into a confusing labyrinth. Many times, my instincts would have failed me and, once again, I thanked my inspiration to follow Zorisai. She led us to a massive door and unlocked the giant lock on the front using spells and chants of some kind; we could see her lips moving but there was no sound coming out of her mouth. All of a sudden, the glowing cogs and levers started to pull themselves from their locks and the massive door was opening slowly. And when that door opened, Zorisai vanished.

We all looked inside and we were frozen with awe. We plunged in and saw the massive collection of treasures hidden within. The room seemed to be nothing but empty space, filled with stars and distant explosions. Floating artifacts, each more shiny than the other, each more intricate and complex than the last. A round globe made of swirling circles perfectly aligned passed nearby, a staff that was always in motion rearranging itself, a huge pyramid made of geometrical golden objects pulsating like a heart. All of this and more filled our eyes with wonder, yet I knew what we sought.

“Raclira,” Tarr hissed, “look!” I looked at the large polished dish before him and saw what it was he had seen. Our reflections. Something was interfering with the invisibility spell.

“Be quick. Search for the book,” I whispered back, taking cover behind the artifacts.

As Zorisai appeared and disappeared again searching for the tears, we slid around the room, searching for the book. As I looked among the items, a terrible feeling crept over me. I turned and saw a small glass eye, floating behind me. At first, I thought it was just another artifact, but then it began to glow bright red and suddenly a shrill, piercing sound stabbed my mind. The stars in the room erupted and Zorisai materialized in front of me.

“THIEVES!” she cried.

“I’ve got it!” Ellina shouted, holding a large book over her head. The goddess turned and summoned her children. The wind swept around Ellina and trapped her in a gale. The book’s pages flapped wildly as if calling out to someone unseen. I roared and, fool that I am, charged at the goddess with my blades drawn. Glowing red, the blades seemed to have been blessed by Fear herself and, as I brought them down, they sank into one of the immortal’s arms. She shrieked and drew back, obviously shocked to the core that a mere mortal like me could harm her. Ellina fell under the wind’s pressure, the book swept from her hands landing right at Tarr’s feet.

He stood there, arms and pockets filled with treasures of untold value. He looked at the book, then at me, then at the goddess. And ran. I can’t say I blame him. I have left many to die who I had sworn to protect. It is the way of the rogue. But a coward should only expect a coward’s death. As he ran, spilling treasure form his arms, the hulking giant Wahir appeared in the doorway and with a swipe of his axe, cleaved Tarr in two. It happened so fast I still don’t think he realized his death. His body vanished into a red mist and Wahir made the sound of a man who has crushed a fly. Ellina, however, had made it past him, using our comrade’s death as a distraction. And when she ran past him and into the corridor, she became invisible once more. I looked back and saw that the book was still there. But before I could grab for it, it was picked up by a gust of wind and flew into Zorisai’s hands.

“Damn,” I cursed as I turned and charged forward and did a flying leap over the axe-wielding god. Once back in the main corridor, Ellina and I ran with all our might. The floor began to melt under our feet and the watchful eyes on the walls were following us as we tried to put as much distance as possible between us and the raging gods.

“We have to go back,” I called. “I can’t leave empty handed!”

“That’s suicide and you know it,” Ellina called back. Then she showed me something clutched in her hand . . . a page from the book. “It’s better than nothing,” she continued, “which is all you will be if we—” But then her words were cut short. Directly ahead of us, right next to the entrance to the Vault of Time, were the other three keepers. The Three Sisters: Sviga,Farea, and Drikka.

“STOP THEM!” Wahir's thundering voice cried out from behind us. They lifted their arms above their heads. I threw the white stone at our feet and did not dare to look back.

“Jump in,” I cried as I leapt through with Ellina’s hand in mine. A cold blast shot over my head as I fell onto the wet grass of the field outside of the city. Screams of fury and anger came from the portal and I turned to see that Ellina had been crushed by a giant ice block, her body sliced and diced by the jagged surface. I looked at her hand that was still clasped in mine—detached from her body—and snatched the page from it just as the portal sealed and I was left completely and utterly alone. I had failed.

I do not know how I found my way back to the tavern. I was praying that all of this had been a nightmare. . . some horrible nightmare.

But then I heard the rumors trickling around the drinking hall.

“That’s right,” a maid said. “Talbus is dead . . . approached by a man in a hood. Wanted him to kill a priest. Apparently, there was a whole battalion waiting for him—”

“Pity,” another said. “Always taking jobs he couldn’t handle.”

The Goddess of Fear had been right. Had I not taken her quest, I would have met my own death—but having failed her now, would it be any different?

I spent the day drinking away my sorrow and as the night approached I climbed to one of the tavern's dirty rooms. I closed the door behind me and sat on the pile of dirty hay. I shed tears, not just for the fallen comrades, but for what they may do to me in the afterlife. Maybe not today or tomorrow but someday they will find me there. How could I tell them it was all for the greater good when we had failed?

A heavy sleep took me without realizing and there I was in an instant standing in the great hall of the palace from the clouds again. Kotessa was standing right in front of me with her hands crossed across her chest.

“You brought me my prize?” her deep voice asked.

“I have failed,” I quickly replied, prepared for death or worse. She snapped her fingers and the crumpled page taken from the book flew from my pocket. As it did, in midair it began to grow. Like a flower grows its leaves, it started to grow other pages until it turned into a smaller white glowing book.

Kotessa clutched it to her breast and sighed. “For this,” she said, “you shall be rewarded. No foe will be able to look at you without quaking in fear. As for the friends you lost, I cannot return them to you as they are already life dust—”

She waved an arm continuing the gesture with her long fingers and a necklace in the form of a snake slipped from nowhere around my neck. “He is your new companion. He served me well along the millennia, and he really does like your scales,” she said smiling. “Call on it, and it will aid you, my herald. Now come close and kneel to receive my true gift.”

I knelt before her and she touched my head. Visions of enemies destroyed by a single word, of majestic and powerful creatures paralyzed in fear at the sight of a single trinket. I was becoming her herald. The Herald of Fear.

To be continued...

by Yarael Za

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