Darkness floats all around Amaara. Nothingness everywhere. She feels like she’s sleeping but aware of her dream. Only the dream is of nothing. Absolute void. She sees the amber crystal inside her, down by her gut. Where her belly should be. She sucks in and squeezes the crystal with her core, and it cracks at first, then shatters. Amber energy illuminates the darkness as it seeps out of the crystal. The light in the darkness reveals the second crystal in the dead center of her torso, just above the amber. This one is yellow. She uses the strength of an invisible urge to squeeze the yellow crystal until it too cracks and shatters. It spills its syrup like bright liquid smoke. The yellow cloud illuminates every other crystal in her body.
Suddenly, the darkness around her feels tight and unstable. But she can clearly see five other crystals in the shadows of her inner void. Four above the two open crystals in a perfectly straight line and one down below in her groin.
The voice flows into her like love. The love she had for her mother. She knows it’s my voice.
A blue crystal is up high. She passes two other crystals above the open yellow one, green one, and a turquoise one. The blue one floats right behind her forehead. She focuses all her attention on it. The darkness gets tight again and shakes.
Relax. Stay focused. I tell her.
She trusts me. And obeys. The darkness around her stabilizes. She squeezes the blue crystal. It doesn’t crack. She squeezes harder. Nothing. I decide to break a rule and I slip her an image of her mother. A memory. Queen Nixya holding Amaara while caressing her hair. After a bad dream. Singing softly. The loving emotion that fills Amaara’s darkness is quickly accompanied by sadness and regret. Amaara lets anger distract her. I try to slip the image back in, but Amaara blocks it out and embraces the anger. She squeezes the blue crystal until it pulverizes. The blue spreads out quickly like water and floods the darkness. It swirls and dances elegantly with the yellow and amber clouds.
A gust of cool air startles her. Unsure from where, she waits. She feels it again and breathes it in deep. The first real breath she’s taken since living in a corpse. She waits for it to return. A cold breeze refreshes her face. She opens her once-broken jaw and sucks in the bitter cold air deep into her lungs. Then, something strong shoves her. She’s knocked off her feet and falls.
She falls far through the darkness. As she falls the cool air grows in intensity. The darkness ebbs and she can see light. Soft light. Early morning light. Or maybe late dawn light. Then the light fills the void and she’s falling through a sunless sky. She sees mountains far below her. Snow. Fluffy and untouched snow. She squeezes her imagined eyes shut and wait until she lands. She smacks against the ground hard. She opens her eyes.
Cold, hard, snowy ground. She’s on the top of a mountain. The wind howls and blows hard. She gets to her feet and hugs herself as she attempts to warm her core. The wind shoves her hard enough to force her into leaning towards it, just to stay on her feet. There is nothing but mountains and valleys as far as her eyes can see. It would be beautiful if the cold weren’t so violent. Snow flurries salt the skies. The sun is nowhere to be found, not even in hiding. She’s completely alone in this frozen wasteland. She closes her eyes. Squeezes them shut. And then opens them. Nothing changes. The cold wraps around her tight. Her clothes freeze.
“Uggghhh!” She lets out.
She squeezes her eyes closed as hard as she can and opens them again. Still freezing to death. She looks down and finds only trampled snow under her feet. A steep cliff edge on her left and a wall of frozen mountain rock on her right. The snow covers a trail that climbs up in front of her in a curve that disappears around the frozen rock wall. She trudges through the snow in her awfully thin leather boots, grumbling in confused anger. She follows the curve of the snowy path as the blizzard’s breath continues slapping her face aggressively.
A single red flower holds its ground against the turbulent wind. The red of the flower astonishes her with a deep, vibrant, and powerful hue. The red is so vibrant that it almost seems that the color itself will drip off the pedals that hold it. It is unlike anything Amaara has ever seen. Color just doesn’t exist in Samsara like it does here.
She stops after the curve when she spots the end of the path only a stone-throw ahead. The mountain’s summit peak holds a person. Standing still in this freezing weather. A person of her same height and build. A dark cloak wrapped around the person’s body reveals only black fur boots. A hood shadows the face. Large furs wrap the torso while the bottom flaps violently in the wind.
The person’s head slowly tilts upward. The tip of a small nose breaks through the shadow. The person gazes at her, but she still cannot see the face. The person pushes through the snowy path and walks directly towards her.
“Who are you!?” She shouts barely audible over the blizzard. “Where am I!?”
The person continues marching towards her. She’s tempted to flee, but common sense prevents her from wasting her time. The person reaches out and exposes a feminine yet masculine brown hand. Amaara steels herself. The person grabs her shoulder.
Warmth is the first thing that oozes out from the stranger’s touch. It fills her shoulder with comfort. The warmth spreads like fire. Unburning fire. The burning is replaced with a peculiar tickling sensation. The warmth fills her body entirely, even her fingers and toes. The chill in her bones dissipate, as does her discomfort. The stranger removes their hand and removes their hood. A beautifully handsome and feminine face smiles at her lovingly.
“Who… who are…” Amaara finds it almost impossible to formulate words.
The stranger has only skin where hair should be. Their skin is rich with deep brown color. Vivid and powerful, unlike any skin she’s ever seen. Her large almond shaped eyes display exquisitely beautiful golden-brown irises that are peppered with gold flecks. The ears are almost like human ears and differ only by coming to a distinct point at the top, where ours are round. The stranger bares an odd but not unpleasant mix of feminine and masculine features. Also, unlike anything she’s ever seen before.
“I am Naom. You are my human. I am your faerie.”
“Naom. You’re my faerie godmother… you’re… the voice I’ve been hearing.”
“I am. I’ve been trying to help you ember properly. Embering is how we can communicate with each other.”
“You created the world… you’re a goddess…”
“I am no goddess, nor am I a god. I am not a godmother, nor am I a godfather. Not in the way you mean. But the faeries did in fact create the world. Each one of us are allowed one life to create. You are my creation and responsibility to watch over. I have tried my best to guide you and protect you, but our laws prevent us from interfering directly. I can only help you when you open a line of communication through embering.”
“I-I’m sorry, I… didn’t know… well, if you’re not a woman or man… than what are you?”
“I am a faerie. We do don’t have gender like most species in the physical realm. We do not reproduce like physical species. We simply come into creation by the arcane energy that controls the nether and everything in it.”
“Wow. That’s not something you hear every day. So… Where am I? Is this the Fae?” Amaara asks.
“This is a window into the Fae. Somewhere far from prying eyes, where we can be alone. Listen, I broke a faerie law in bringing you here. I did it so that I can warn you. There is a faerie who is trying to crossover into your physical realm. This is our most cardinal law and can never be broken. Breaking it will create a rift between our worlds and could result in the destruction of our realm and flood your world with magic. Uncontrolled magic could cause violent chaos to your realm. This faerie is powerful and has gone into hiding. Everyone here is desperately trying to find and stop the faerie.” I explain.
“Why does she want to crossover… uh… I mean the faerie… especially if it is so dangerous?”
“We are unsure of that right now. But the other leaders of the Fae have seen Samara’s red crystal accessed. This is the third of Samsara’s seven crystals to be misused. And worse, someone has tainted the red crystal’s powers. The only magic as powerful as ours is that of the Primordials. We’re afraid that the faerie trying to crossover, is somehow working with the Primordials to accomplish a mutually beneficial goal.”
“Right. So, am I abusing the power of the death crystal?” Amaara asks.
“No. The crystal chose you. On its own accord.”
“Good. So, why are you telling me this?” Amaara asks.
“I will use an analogy to simplify the process in a way that is easier to understand. To crossover, two doors must be opened. One on our side, and the other, on your side. But the doors require magic to open. We have magic on our side. There is no magic on Samsara. Except for that of the Primordials, who have been imprisoned in the molten core of the world. I, alone, believe there is a human on Samsara that is helping the faerie crossover. Maybe willingly, maybe unknowingly.”
“You, alone, believe?”
“The other leaders of the Fae do not agree with me. Faeries are a highly rational sort, and they believe my love for humans has exposed me to human emotions greatly enough to be affected by them. One of those emotions being paranoia. I only want to prevent something terrible. I may be wrong, but I believe Nykaara, the self-proclaimed black queen, is the human that is helping the faerie crossover.” I explain.
“Really? Wow. Why do you think it is her? Aside from her obvious malicious intent.” Amaara asks.
“Because the faerie trying to crossover is Nykaara’s faerie ‘godmother’.” I explain.
“Well, that’s a pretty damned good reason…” Amaara says.
“Also, Nykaara’s proficiency in embering is unmatched by any human who has ever lived.”
“That sounds like all the evidence you would need! Why don’t the other leaders believe you?”
“They say it is likely a coincidence, which is possible, though improbable. They say the doorway to cross over is through a human sacrifice. They do not believe that the faerie would use her own human as that sacrifice.”
“Why not? If she is breaking laws, maybe she has lost her morals…” Amaara says.
“The love we have for our humans is something comparable to the love humans usually have for their own children. And I believe she is partially doing this because of the tether she has to Nykaara.”
“Tether?” Amaara asks.
“It is a magical connection between us that allows us to feel everything you feel. Nykaara has experienced a painful life, full of tragedy and misery. It is difficult to watch. One can only imagine experiencing it alongside her. I believe the despair that Nykaara’s faerie is feeling may have surpassed her desire for Nykaara’s preservation and is planning to sacrifice her to bring herself into your world.” I explain.
“You must stop her, Amaara. Take the crystal from her and keep it somewhere safe, away from all humans.”
“How can I stop her? Can you teach me to ember like she does?”
“No, unfortunately I cannot. Embering takes years of constant practice. But I do have a trick up my sleeve. I will break another faerie rule by ‘propping the door open’ on the rifts you have just opened within yourself, through your inner crystals. This will allow you to ember much easier. And the rune under your belly also helps. Even the crystal eases the process for you. When the time comes, I will be able to help you too. I need to release you now.” She says.
“Wait, no, I have so many questions!”
“Forgive me, Amaara, you have been here too long, and your presence has sent ripples through the magic here that will be detected by the others if you linger any longer. I will be with you to communicate. Farewell.”
“Stop Nykaara, at all costs!”
I shove her with two amazingly strong hands. She feels an unnatural force explode from her chest jolting her backwards off the side of the cliff. She screams as she falls through the snowy mist. The bitter cold returns and snatches her scream as it crushes her breath. Another mountain peak below her, rises too quick for comfort. She finds her voice again as she falls right for the jagged peak. She screams, closes her eyes, and braces for impact. Then she returns to the void inside herself. The open crystals continue to bleed gracefully.
She tries waking from the slumber she is trapped in but can’t seem to escape her inner void. She instead decides to practice guiding the flow of the energy.
Pull the energy from your strength. I tell her.
Alright. Amaara answers inside her own mind.
She’s not sure how, but she pulls it. The mixing colors of energy flow thick and fill the void.
Good, now push it into your stamina.
Again, unsure how, she does it. Her heart beats fast. Her mind races. She can hear a loud sloshing in her ears. Her mouth feel full of liquid. Her throat is full. Panic rises. She feels her physical surroundings and remembers she is asleep. But where? She opens her eyes, but they don’t react. She pulls with all the might she has in her facial muscles and finally her eyes open. She wakes.
Something warm and slimy is all over her. Her entire face is covered in slime. It’s impossible to breathe. Gelatinous fluid is everywhere. She twists her body and tries to make some room. The slime over her eyes come off easily enough as she wipes them clean. It takes a moment for her vision to come into focus.
It’s still impossible to fill her lungs with air. Slime occupies her nose and mouth. Her sinus cavity is full of the mucous substance as well as her throat and esophagus. She gags, and her stomach convulses. The gelatinous slime moves up and out, in excess. The fluid triggers painful sneezing as her body attempts to purge the substance.
After a long and uncomfortable moment, most of the slime is gone. Satisfying and refreshing air comes into her lungs but only in between coughs. There is scarcely enough room to turn on her side. Physical exhaustion is heavy. The process requires so much energy that now her only desire is to breathe and sleep. This is not a dream. This current existence is not imagined because, strangely enough, the feeling of true consciousness is too present to ignore.
Movement is limited in this very confined space. The walls are like that of a womb. It’s all very soft and slimy, yet warm and comfortable. Above her face is a thin and translucent membrane. A strange light on the other side is visible. It’s the sun!
Do not panic. The choking is only imagined. Your body doesn’t need to breathe, remember?
“Yea, well, easier said than done.” She says out loud with a raspy voice.
The panic is only in your mind, dear.
Her chest and lungs burn as if she had been coughing too long. She touches the membrane where it is thinnest, and presses it, though her strength is only a fraction of what it should be. She pushes against it again, this time ripping through it.
Warm air bursts through the tear in the membrane and warms soothes her lungs. At least she imagines it so. It would be wonderful if not for the foul stench that stings her nostrils. She rips open the membrane completely and sticks her head out.
Trees move past her and the breeze dries her face. She realizes she is riding something. She looks out and finds the road moving away from her. There are black slimy abominations everywhere. Hundreds. All marching in the same direction. None seem to notice her head sticking out of whatever she is being carried in.
She realizes she is riding passenger on the back of a massive beast, also slimy and reeking of decay. She imagines herself sick again as she realizes that she’s been riding inside the hunchback of the undead creature. She finds a few other large creatures with similar pods.
One of Koru’s Houseguards sleeps inside the creature closest to her. The marching only increases her panic, until she spots a small brown body curled up inside another back pod. The distinct goblin ears trigger her excitement. She jumps from the pod and hits the road hard. Now, the creatures notice her.