She took a deep breath; her choice was anything but ambiguous. She’d embraced her fate long ago, ever since that evening everything changed for her. She remembered it so precisely almost 15 years later. She’d been playing hide-and-seek with Sally and Beatrice. The girls had hidden so well, she wondered if they hadn’t gone back home altogether. She’d sought them in their usual hideouts. They weren’t anywhere. But she wasn’t going to give up. She never lost at hide-and-seek. This wouldn’t become the first time. It would be embarrassing. Sally and Beatrice would never let her live it down and everyone at school would know. The shame!
She walked to the forest; they could get in trouble for playing there. The teachers weren’t keen on the students going for a stroll in the woods. They weren’t always safe. But it was spring and mostly there’d be no dangerous creatures. Still, none of them would dare go too far. Still after a half hour, she wasn’t anywhere nearer to finding her playmates. Where could they have hidden? There was no way… NO! They wouldn’t dare. That was cheating. But there was no other way. Well and so, so would she. She stood still and focused. Taking a deep breath, she smelled the forest; there were animals, small and big, disturbing it, but not in a way that would speak of an unnatural presence within. They had cheated.
She reached for her own power reluctantly; she never really liked it. It was the reason she was here and not at home with Helia after all. But she never lost; and she had her pride. It wasn’t hard. In fact, it was becoming easier by the day. The simplicity with which she used it was… weird. She felt the girls; they had gone back to the dorm when she reached the woods. They’d used an invisibility spell. That was so not fair! If anyone found her now, she’d be in trouble. Again.
She released her hold on her power but it seemed to not go. Everything around her changed. The light as the sun set behind her; the entire world turned red, but for a shadow that was approaching her. The pulse of the woods around her became… physical. Intent. She could… by the gods. It seemed the forest was a beating heart. And it wasn’t threatened by the shadow. It wasn’t afraid. She was. How in the name of all the gods could she feel the forest? What was happening? Why couldn’t she move? Her feet refused to move.
She was so warm… like she was on fire. But different. It didn’t hurt. Something agreeable. What did that mean? The shadow stood a few feet away from her. It was tall and broad. But it looked human, somewhat. A man, a big man. Bigger than Master Gideon. And stronger than her father by the look of his arms.
She covered her ears. But it was as if the shadow spoke in her head.
“There is a war coming. Everything you know and hold dear… it will be destroyed. This world all the worlds… it will all change. The Guardians must prepare. You must prepare.”
That made no sense. Why would war come? Why should she prepare? And who?
“I will be waiting for you Ezariah.”
And now she was to go to him. He had come, he had destroyed the world. And she was here to destroy him. Her fate was so simple. Die so that the worlds may be saved. She embraced her fate even though she hadn’t known – how could she? – that death wasn’t so easy as she’d thought. The path that led to her death went through him. And nothing was a simple as she’d imagined. The simplicity of death wasn’t hers to have. And she’d embraced that too.