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  • Writer's pictureSharon Sheridan

Prologue - Original - Callophrys - 13 Years ago

I wasn’t allowed to watch.

It was forbidden.

It was impossible to prevent.

I had discovered it was to be tonight, after months of whispered discussions, the hushed tones behind closed doors; it was finally to take place this very day. Father had not thought to seal the openings within our own home and so, like a thief, I had stolen knowledge.

I watched him leave with my uncles, from my position, huddled in the corner beyond sight, before scurrying back to the privacy of my chambers to observe. Placing my hand upon the glass, letting my essence flow, the silver coating parted, revealing the vision hidden beyond.

The place I saw was a tree-filled land, deserted, darkness wrapped around every branch, long fingers of shadows spreading into the gloom. The rainclouds above had begun to part, leaving behind the remnants of their visit, like tiny shards of broken glass scattered upon the path, pooling together here and there, leaving open portals upon the ground.

I watched, my heart racing with anticipation, my breath fogging on the glass before me.

After smearing my sleeve across the cold surface for the eighth time, I decided to go, nothing would be seen tonight, when a sudden movement crystallized in the periphery of my vision. I scrabbled to resume my place, still hidden from the prying eyes of my mother, were she to choose to come looking.

The being appeared, his essence glowing brightly in the darkness. The image faded and reappeared, as he passed each reflected surface, I saw him, I watched him. He was walking upon the path, his pace unhurried, he glanced toward me, I dived down below the glass, panting.

It took me a few moments to gather myself, he could not see me, it was clear that he could not. I pulled back up to watch once more. I saw them ascend through the openings, three cloaked figures rising through the reflected skies. They did not bother to check their surroundings, safe in the already-owned knowledge that this was a rarely trodden path. They stalked. Their pace matching his in exact synchronization.

I felt a low ache in the pit of my stomach, a tightening band, as I watched the creature. They knew of him, his essence was very much in abundance; it is how they had found him, for he had unwittingly made use of it and in his folly, had revealed himself. As my eyes remained transfixed, his behaviour changed infinitesimally; but they knew what to look for; the slight change of pace, the furtive glance over his shoulder, the sense of being watched, or followed, or both. I stared, filled with morbid fascination. These beings were so basic, so remedial and yet in many ways, exactly like us.

The cloaked figures drew up slowly, surrounding him. Faster than anticipated the being lunged, shoving one of his attackers aside, he fled; long strong legs carrying him away. Or so he thought.

I found him again through the window, as he finally burst through the trees, he paused, hands clasped to his knees, doubled over as he sought to gather breath. A backwards glance showed no pursuers, but his error was grave indeed. He had run from grass and woodland to stone paving, mirrored liquid gathered in large clusters around him. He sprinted to a box shaped vessel, speaking rapidly into the equipment within. My view of him was clear now, as mirrors surrounded him on all sides. He glowed and was a handsome being, his eyes though filled with panic, were large, his skin darker, his hair too. I held my breath knowing, only knowing, unable to prevent the monstrous acts that would soon come. Terror clung at my chest.

They rose, as I knew they would, passing through the openings, a cloaked figure before him once more; the being stood unmoving, disbelief and silent resolve upon his features. He stepped back from his attacker, only to find hands that arose at his rear, a vice like grip on his ankle, another pair of hands rising simultaneously to grip his other leg. With both ankles gripped there could be no escape. Fully through the portal they surrounded him once more, panic-stricken eyes reflected in theirs. They were unmoved by his plight; but I was shaking, feeling his dread, as the blades rose before him ready to devour his terror. A small swift motion and his garments were slashed. His glowing skin exposed; I was horrified, yet fascinated, I swiped the small beads of sweat from my brow, watching, horrified by my own family’s actions.

He didn’t scream but spoke, his words made no sense, like garbled sounds falling on deaf ears, his feeble attempt to barter for his life. But their hands were already on him, on that strange, glowing, bronzed skin; the feeding had begun. His voice, lulled to small whimpers with each renewed wave of pain, as they gorged, ripping from within, satiating their immense hunger, feeding their power, stealing from a weaker, lesser creature as this. They drew from every inch of his exposed and fragile skin, until finally it ended, he glowed no more. His agony was gone, so too was the life, yet still I continued to watch, even as bile ascended my throat, perspiration descended my back, unable to look away.

They dropped his corpse like discarded scraps. It slumped to the ground, his head split against stone paving and the dark, almost black liquid, began to ooze from the gash, forming a strange halo around him. But worse still were the eyes, fixed, vacant pools of emptiness, hollow and staring, frozen in death.

They left him there on the ground, escaping the same way they had come, back to our realm, returning home with their spoils. I could not take my eyes from the being. Long moments seemed to pass, I saw a female, carrying her young, his other half – it had to be. My tears fell as I saw her on the ground, trying to save him…he was already long gone to eternal sleep.

Then I saw her, the young one, and my heart leapt in my chest. I wanted to see her, I called to her, beckoning her fruitlessly to the mirror. Then to my amazement, she heard me, somehow, she heard me, she came towards the glass, hand outstretched. The connection was instant, the seal set.

It wasn’t long after the creature’s demise that they came. Father could not fathom how Isis had learned of his trip to Myriad, but she had known, and she sent Maat’s giant Elite Guard to issue punishment and the last, secret, illegal portal to that strange and plentiful world was sealed forever...

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