A/N: I hope you guys like the second chapter! It really drove me nuts. ;; Thanks again to Saturday Smoke, my beta! R&R please!
"Mommy," Ehrian squealed loudly, latching herself onto Triin in an instant. "Me and 'Lan made dinner for you!"
With some difficulty, Triin managed to remove Ehrian from around her legs and made her way through the door, setting down her bags. "What? You shouldn't have, dear," she said as she picked up her daughter and kissed the top of her head.
She carried Ehrian into the kitchen where Behlan was hastily trying to clean up the mess he had made while preparing the food. There were dishes everywhere, and the wash basin was full of vegetable peels.
"M-mom--you're home? Aw, Ehri, I told you to warn me when she was coming!" With an audible sigh, he dropped the cloth he was holding onto the counter beside him. He darted over to where his mother stood and took the bags from at her feet and began to unpack them and put things away.
"Oh, Behlan, don't," she said warmly. She set down Ehrian and said, "I'll do that, and clean up the kitchen after we eat."
"No, mom! You go sit down with dad. I'll finish this up and call you when it's ready."
With that, Triin was shooed out of the kitchen only to look back and see Ehrian standing watch at the doorway. She couldn't help but laugh at the sight of her little girl mock-scowling at her, like she were a city guard..
Triin sat down beside her husband on the couch in the common room.
"Isn't she adorable?" she said, still laughing.
"Just like her mother," he said. Then, Eldar pulled her into a quick, though very passionate, kiss.
"Oh, Eldar, stop," Triin said quietly. Her face was so red that it nearly matched the curtains that hung over the window behind them.
"Mom! Dad! Dinner's ready."
Eldar wrapped his arms tightly around Triin as they laid down to go to sleep. He nuzzled his face in her hair, taking in her scent.
"I love you, dear," Eldar said, kissing her neck gently.
"I love you, too," Triin replied. "Sweet dreams."
Triin gladly took in Eldar's warmth, and fell asleep with her hand clasped around his. But her serenity did not last long, as she tossed and turned all night long, haunted by uneasy dreams.
White-hot flames surround Triin, forming high walls on either side of her. Gingerly, she reaches out to touch the flames, guided by some strange curiosity. For a moment, her fingers make contact with the wall without being burned at all. But suddenly she feels a torturous pain shoot up her arm, through her veins, and into her chest.
Triin falls to the ground, clutching at her heart. She has never felt such pain and heartache. She senses something move and looks back up at the flames to see a dark-haired woman staring back at her from within the fire.
"Wh...who are you?" she manages to gasp through the pain. With difficulty, she manages to back up a little bit.
The woman does not reply; she merely raises her hands to the heavens and soundlessly mouths words.
Within moments, images begin to flash through Triin's mind. First Dayin's face flashes into her mind's eye before disappearing. Then she sees her family at home, happy and untroubled before they are all engulfed in flames.
Her skin scrawls with despair and she cries out. Barely able to stand, Triin struggles to her feet.
"What do you want with me?!" she screams, forcing herself not to pound her fists against the flickering walls.
Finally, the woman's silent words bear sound. But as soon as Triin hears Cern's Prayer, she wishes all were quiet again. She falls to her knees, begging for forgiveness; but she knows it is already too late when Cern has been sent from the Heavens.
Hold your Curse,
That we may atone.
"Dark One,Take not my breath.Cern,
Bring not your Death."
Again, Triin sees Dayin. But this time he is not alone. She is with him, locked in an embrace. Her pain eases just at the thought of her lover. But it quickly returns when the image changes to that of her children's lifeless bodies.
All throughout the morbid images Triin can hear Cern's Prayer repeating over and over.
"I'll end it!" Triin shouts in anger. "I'll end it!" This time, she falls back to her knees sobbing. She knows she can't disobey the Gods.
Triin woke up, shaking violently. Her throat was raw from screaming and Eldar was holding her, speaking words that she couldn't quite understand. Slowly, reality came into focus for her and she looked over at her husband.
"Are you alright, honey?" he asked. By the look on his face, he was just as frightened as Triin was.
"I'm fine. I'm fine," she repeated, trying to hide how much she was still shaking. "It was just a bad dream. Go back to sleep," she said, kissing Eldar lightly on the cheek.
"If you're sure," Eldar said. He clasped her hand and kissed her back before going lying back down and quickly falling back to sleep.
Triin, though, didn't fall back asleep again that night. She tossed and turned, finally getting out of bed to pace around the house nervously.
Her thoughts were fragmented and confused. She held her hands to her head, as if to anchor her unstable mind.
It was so... real, Triin thought. That was exactly how we met... exactly hot I felt that first time. She put a hand to her heart as tears fell down her cheeks. But the Prayer... do I dare take it as a coincidence?
She pulled at her hair, trying hard not to scream. By all measures, Triin was usually a calm woman, but this was her limit. A deity appearing in her dreams... Cern, the Goddess of Fire and Death. And there was absolutely no question in Triin's mind about what the Gods were asking her to do.
"I..." she said, pausing to get up and walk back upstairs. She looked into her children's bedrooms, crying quietly. "I have to do it," she whispered. "For them."