There must be a way out, there must be, must be…
It heard. It listened. Calling for it. Closer than it ever remembered a waking thought.
The summons wasn’t quite curiosity, it was… affinity. Belief drew it.
But now the thoughts were quiet. The Fade-walker that had drawn it looked, but did not see, did not move.
Could it help?
It reached out and touched.
Something tugged at the edges of its essence. It drew back, or tried to.
It couldn’t. Within was a void, and the inexorable strength of it needing to be filled overwhelmed the presence.
There was a moment of alarm, and then, like stepping from a cliff, it fell into darkness.
Everything felt… heavy. Something pressed upon her body from all sides, and it took a long moment for her mind to supply the information that it was clothes.
Bits and pieces filtered through the hazy mist that hung over her consciousness, but they came with no rhyme or direction or order. She was handy with blades. Her favourite colour was red. She’d never really liked horses. Those things that you opened to enter buildings were called doors. Sunrises were beautiful. None of it had proper meaning or sense, and none of it could take away from the pervasive sense of wrongness that she could feel. It permeated every aspect of her, from the top of her head to the tips of her… toes. They were called toes.
She could see nothing. Ten seconds passed before she realised it was because she hadn’t opened her eyes. It took another five before she remembered how to do that.
The first thing that struck her was how solid her surroundings looked, and a moment later, that came with the uneasy knowledge that she didn’t understand why that should be so strange. Walls, floors, ceilings, those existed, right? It shouldn’t feel so odd that they were there. Listening to such reason was immensely difficult when more than half of her was confused as to how she even knew that in the first place. Wasn’t it just, just, well, a fact? Except… no, she was convinced that at some time, in some place, the rules hadn’t been the same. Had they?
That was ridiculous though. She was from… Ostwick. Yes, Ostwick. There was a vague sense of a city, people, home-but-not-home. No, wait, she came from – no, it was Ostwick, even though a part of her wanted to suggest that it wasn’t quite right. But no, now she remembered, she was Trevelyan.
…What was Trevelyan?
This was too much. She needed time to think, away from this heaviness, away from the confines of wherever this was. There was a moment where she tried to will it all away, and then further confusion, both in trying to work out why she’d done that and the fact that it hadn’t worked. That was silly though, you couldn’t just think something and have it happen. She wasn’t a mage, that wasn’t how … wasn’t it?
She tried to lift her arms and then blinked. More weight. She looked down. There were some kind of manacles around her …wrists. Yes. Wrists. A blank stare as her achingly, desperately slow thoughts shifted through that. That meant imprisonment, captors. A keening sense of sadness swiped through her chest, and she could not fully explain why. It went deeper than knowing she was being held prisoner, and yet she couldn’t place a finger on it.
Captivity. Cages. No way out. No chances left.
Those thoughts swept across her in an instant and were gone just as quickly. What could have landed her in chains? She wasn’t a criminal. Granted, she wasn’t sure what a criminal was, but she definitely had the sense that criminals were the kind of people that got locked up, or at least, the kind that got locked up and actually deserved it.
Had she perhaps done something wrong? Again, a queasy and sick feeling ran through her. She remembered that there had been something. Quiet where before there had been noise, trying to help, and instead, instead…
Something else. She couldn’t remember.
She felt the person enter before even looking up from her bonds. Anger, anguish. A short haired woman, a hooded figure behind her.
Accusations were snarled. Questions, demands. She wanted to answer, but couldn’t work out how to speak. She could recall talking. She spoke all the time, to everyone. Except knowing that and putting it into practice were apparently different things. It had something to do with the tongue, but also the lips, and then there was breathing, too. How did it all work?
Silence was apparently taken for defiance, impudence, or both. The first woman grew even angrier before the second spoke, interceding, but not altruistically.
We need her. Not wanted, not welcomed, needed.
She understood need. She understood…
Despair. Death. The only survivor. The only one that may be able to do something.
“Stay silent if you wish. So long as you follow my instructions, I do not care if you speak.”
She gave a slight nod to the woman. Cassandra. That was what the other had called her. Why didn’t the name describe her? Names should… tell you about… no, names were just names. Just like she was Trevelyan. Well, no, not exactly like it, because there were other parts too, she wasn’t just Trevelyan, but she couldn’t focus on them, couldn’t grasp the memories, still elusive, still difficult.
Cassandra led her outside, wobbling unsteadily on her feet. Balancing was difficult, as if putting one foot in front of the other was somehow new, and somehow it was. Her body felt strange, like a familiar old coat that had been retailored to someone larger than herself, and now no longer fitted properly. She stopped and stared as she emerged into the open. A hole in the sky. A hole to- Cassandra was speaking, saying something about the world of demons, and Trevelyan felt a pang of something that may have been indignation, just another inexplicable thought and emotion to go with all the rest. It wasn’t just demons that resided in the Fade, yet when she tried to concentrate on how she knew that, she turned a blank. She’d heard something from the sisters, probably.
She had sisters, didn’t she? But it wasn’t those sisters that she would hear something like that from. How could one word be two things at once? Relatives and priests. That scarcely made sense.
The hole thrummed with energy, and a bolt of pain slammed into her hand. She cried out, the first sound she’d made since awaking. What- what was- that wasn’t right, that wasn’t how feelings worked. She grasped at her hand, a green mark pulsing, twisting, writhing, sending that agony all the way up her arm.
There was concern from Cassandra, but something else too, a sense of emotion that was both concealed and yet plain as day.
Crisis. Catastrophe. She is responsible. She is our only…