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CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Dreslya blinked, opening her eyes and rising from the bed on weary legs. The room had grown cold-a strong draft blew from beneath the door. Resting her head in her hands, she tried to recapture all that she'd been shown, the horror and wonder of a strange dream. Taking a deep breath, she looked out the window. The candle had gone out, leaving the room in darkness save for flashes of lightning outside.

No, she thought. That was no dream. "Elisandrya is alive," she whispered. The moment of relief was quickly overcome as the vision reasserted itself in her mind's eye. She shivered, afraid of what was to come. Clenching her eyes shut, she squeezed her hands together. She steeled her nerves that had too often sought shelter behind the walls of the temple and the tenets of her faith. Exhaling a long, slow breath, she eased herself off the bed and knelt on the floor. Beneath the bed was a small box she'd touched almost every night but had never opened. She cradled it in her arms and stood, setting it down on the windowsill beside the unlit candle. Unhooking the latch, she opened the container and gazed upon her birthright, the only items recovered from her mother's body. On top, wrapped in a soft cloth that had been the hem of her mother's robe, was a silver dagger, curved in the hunter's style and emblazoned with the eye of Savras at the center of the crossguard. She felt its unfamiliar weight in her hand and wondered at its hidden power, tracing the tiny runes burned into the edge of the blade, careful not to cut herself. She placed it in the old leather sheath her father had made for it and thrust it beneath her belt. Turning her attention to the other object in the box, her hand wavered, feeling doubt clouding her judgment. "I can do this. I have to," she told herself forcefully. Wrapped in a small square of red velvet at the bottom of the box was a ring. It too was silver and bore Savras's eye in the center. She let it rest in her palm, feeling its warmth. Placing it on the ring finger of her left hand, she looked east, picturing the unbarred gate and the forest beyond. The ring responded quickly, turning her thoughts into reality. The ring glowed white and heat traveled up to her wrist, searing and pure. Dreslya gasped and concentrated harder. The ring showed her what she sought, carried her sight to its target. The gates appeared and flew past her as she watched for movement through the rain. Lightning flashed and was reflected in a sliver of metal near the forest. A tiny figure stood at the edge of the tree line, wielding the curved blade of a hunter. "No! Come back, Eli! They're coming!"



***** | Bloodwalk | *****