Xia awoke when the moon rose. Though she was unaware of it, as she could not see its light, she felt the silvery goodness send cool, soothing waves of refreshment through her feverish body. She lifted an arm, intending to sweep the remnants of sleep away from her eyes with her fingertips, but could only grunt in surprise as the limb flopped uselessly back to her side.
She hurriedly moistened her parched lips with her equally dry tongue and tried to call for help. Her mouth creaked as it opened, and her voice was a mere whisper. Worried, Xia commanded her body to a sitting position; dismay crashed into her as her command was rejected and all she could do was twitch.
Panic flooded her brain. She rocked, twisted, scooted; none worked. She only twitched harder and faster, and she noticed, belatedly, that either she was being held captive in a dark, dark room, or she was blind. Her breathing quickened, and her heart raced. She allowed herself to think her darkest thoughts, and assumed that she was finally going to die.
Strong grips tightened around her arms and legs, confirming her fears. She struggled, refusing to go quietly, then felt her body and mind relax in direct opposition to her will. The calming scents of lavender and vanilla filled her nostrils. A warm, damp cloth pressed against her eyes, and moved slowly across her face. She felt her body being being washed and patted dry with fluffy warmth. Scented oils were rubbed into her hot, sore skin, and she was draped in a soft fabric as the finished touch.
Strong arms lifted her, and Xia felt herself floating through through the air. Chants, so soft at first that she had missed them, swelled in volume and enveloped her. A chill ran up and down her spine. She realized that whatever was being sang was about her, perhaps even to her, and that was unnerving. She wondered if her voice had been restored, but before she could test it, her unseen transportation came to an abrupt stop. Slowly, she was lowered onto a soft, firm surface and positioned with appeared to be several pillows behind her back. Was she on a bed, then? She wished that she could see for herself just what was taking place.
As the chanting died down, a familiar voice spoke. “Loyal believers, we witness a new day!” Rei shouted with joy. A loud cheer went up, leaving Xia to wonder just how many people were around her. Now that she thought about it, she had no clue as to where she was, or what had happened since –
Greeley. I killed Greeley.
Xia immediately felt sick, and her body tipped dangerously to the side. Her thoughts swam furiously in her head, accusing her, taunting her, and dragging her to the edge of madness. With a start, she realized that Rei was still speaking. Struggling to right herself, she attempted to focus on the speech.
“It is time for us to rip off these shackles and march toward our destiny, to take back what is rightly ours. My friends, I present to you, The Heir!” Xia, in her befuddled mental state, heard Rei say “Beware,” but quickly dismissed it. No one with “beware” emblazoned on their brow would be the destiny of anything, she scoffed to herself.
The crowd, as it certainly sounded like a crowd to Xia’s ears, fell into a reverent silence. Xia heard soft footsteps tap toward her and stop. The voice that spoke froze her to her very core.
“Yes,” The Child hissed. “We welcome you, I welcome, for now you are mine, and I am yours, you see? I am so glad that you are here.”
“And where,” Xia asked, astonishing herself by speaking, “is here?”
“Here there be monsters,” The Child said slowly, “of which you and I are the biggest, yes? Open your eyes and See!” At the command, Xia’s eyes slowly opened, and her head, now out of her control, turned to face the horror that she knew awaited her.