***A/N*** Hello everyone! I haven't been active for a few years now - thinking of changing that. I've always loved the community of and have to admit I've missed it.

As always - my story, Time of the Gates, and the characters within it, belong to me. Please, respect this! (No thieving, please...yes, I'm paranoid)

It would be great to hear from some of my past reviewers!

This is a revised Chapter One. I'm currently posting this on Wattpad as well under my same pen-name (without hyphens) - Awolfcalledskya. So if I fizzle out on here, check over there. I really like how it displays for reading there, but that's been about it right now.

I hope you enjoy chapter one. As always, please let me know what you think/any critiques you may have, and I'll be happy to R&R in return on request!


The stars had never been so black. Like the fireflies from my father's stories, caught up in the great web of the sky, their lives had flickered out at some point during my persecution; and soon, I would join their ranks.

Sealed away into the mountainside, it was less of a matter of time and more a matter of what would become the death of me. Blood loss seemed the most likely, though it was hard to tell how far along that was now. I'd lost all sensation in my body, pleasantly numbed to my scored back. The stone had initially ground into my wounds like several scorching fire pokers when I'd first been dropped into the pit, but it wasn't so bad after my blood had warmed it some. Then it was just a matter of waiting as first it chilled, and then the rest of me.

After years of being the outsider, and with no hope for reprieve, I'd had little choice in my own mind. I knew what would happen if the Ghedra and the villagers caught me. I knew it all too well, but what other option was left? I'd survived, but surviving is not the same as living, and I was tired of it.

So what, if I failed? At least I could rest; fall into the darkness and never wake up. How could any god possibly fault me for wanting some peace, a respite from the horrors I had been forced to accept as rules in this world?

But now, even that sacred place was being taken from me, if the Ghedra was right and I was wrong.

Was I wrong? Was he right? Was I truly cursed, a demon in woman's guise sent to the village to lead them to the Fall? I certainly had never thought so, but who would?

All the ifs danced before my mind; if he was right, I would be committed to a hell worse than the one called "life". If he was right, the One would never forgive me for whatever terrible sin I had committed in my existence.

If.

Kindness was the bane of my existence.

The companionship of my essence was a perversion of the One and something to be shunned. Something to be excised, like any rotten tumour staining the imperfect perfection of his beloved children.

But I didn't want to be removed.

I didn't want to die.

And as my essence sputtered its last, exhausting itself in its efforts to repair the damage done to my body, I reached to implore it to send one last cry for help. Give up on my body, I whispered to it, stroking its flickering light, and help me save my soul.

The flame of my essence struggled to burn brighter, struggled to do what I asked of it. And then, as I lay there in the pooling dark of blood and smothered light, I felt my only friend in this world die.

A burgeoning hole opened in my mind, in my heart. I thought myself too far gone to notice it as much as I did, but we had always been together, my Essence and I. To suddenly be breathing – however shallowly – without it seemed too cruel a fate.

Perhaps others might beg to differ, and say I finally succumbed to the flailing and torture and bone-shredding cold I'd endured for much too long. But when my Essence left me, so too did my urge to breathe. My struggle to live ceased, and numbed as I was – hollow as I was – for a moment, I didn't care what waited for me in my afterlife.

Hell had found me alive.

For a moment.

That was all the taste I needed to reach out through the absence of my Essence, to a God who wasn't there, to a life that didn't want me, in a silent, deafening plea:

Save me.

To the still rational part of me, it seemed a futile wish, a dream that a dying and desperate mind might conceive, that one who has been abandoned by their people's faith and abused for so long would concoct and build a fantasy around before death could truly claim them. But rationality was silenced when the answer came in the form of white light in the darkness, tendrils of effervescence reaching and tumbling towards me in a curious form that was almost like stumbling. It glowed and pulsed and ensnared me with it's strange beauty, twilit hope growing inside of me as it whispered to me, enfolding me into its embrace of white coils and howling sighs.

It didn't communicate with words, though I suspect it once could, in a time long forgotten to those that now walk the world. It communicated through the mundane and the extraordinary; touch, sight, possibility.

It drew me into another realm entirely and showed me a startlingly blue sky speckled with whitely fluffed clouds, scattered as far as the eye could see, and golden fields of wheat bending to the wind and its perennial moods. In this, I was hale and whole and unseeable, safe and warm in the sun's sight and free of the pain that had consumed me for so long. I played with the golden tuffs of wheat, a gold far more valuable to me than any metal I had ever known, and wandered the fields as the sun died beyond the distant horizon, drowning in waves of blue I had no words for, no memories or knowledge of. Birds swooped and dived and played through waves and wheat alike, and I danced for the joy of life, for the joy of freedom and the promise of hope and love.

Love.

The tears came then; inexplicable and unbidden, and I fell backwards into the mixing green and gold of grass and wheat and felt my heart fold over itself, over and over and over again as emotions I had repressed for so long came to the surface and somersaulted back under it once more.

The darkening sky was jewel bright with stars, fireflies that still sought freedom from the chains of a sky web too cruel to learn the meaning of letting go, and I felt a peace suffuse me as I intuited, somewhere deep within my subconsciousness, the lesson hidden within it.

But I wasn't ready to let go.

The sun fell into the underworld, and I watched as the stars joined it, one by one by one by two until the sky was dark and black and void of wonder, and cold stone crushed all once more, squeezing the life from bleeding wounds and crying lungs.

The presence, the otherness had vanished from sight, but not sense. It waited; silent, implacable. Tired.

I knew what it wanted, and I knew it both terrified me and filled me with such a fierce wanting that I couldn't not answer yes. It had offered me a choice, but it was a choice that was no choice at all. A choice with a price.

What ransom could I offer when I had not even breath to draw or blood to bleed? When the time came to pay the price, what would I be willing to give it in turn of the gift it gave me?

Anything, I whispered, eyes glassy with encroaching death. Anything at all.