I'm sprinting through a murky forest. When I can see the sky, it's a red deeper than blood. An invader is coming after my family and me, and before long several others have joined in on the ruthless, taunting chase. "Hey, honey!" One calls to me. "We'll let you go if you do us a little favor!" This puts he and the others into hysterics as they whip their sweaty beasts, part tiger, part horse, urging them into an even faster gallop. In seconds they're no more than a meter behind us. I can feel the animal's heavy breathing on the back of my neck, and the stomping of their tired, heavy paws shakes the earth beneath me.
My body is saturated with salty perspiration as I make the choice. Abandoning my father and brother, I dive off the trail and into the foliage. Suddenly I'm safe, if only for a moment. I try to control my panting, so I won't be found. If I let anything hear me, I'm better off dead.
I hear a noise from behind, a tick, tick, click like an angry beetle. It's loud and near, as if the pathetic bug was multiplied a hundred thousand times in size, and I was caught between its tough, burly jaws. I pivot slowly to face the threat, closing my eyes and raising my hands, going off of instinct to protect my face.
In that instant the sound is gone. Every echo I'd been hearing – the rustling of the trees, the distant cachinnating of the invaders and the still-audible heaving breaths of their crossbred pets – evaporated. Cautiously I let my eyes slip open, to discover nothing but pure blackness. My hands still in front of me, I watch in amazement as somehow they begin to generate the only light, like one dim candle in the center of a global blackout.
"There you are." A man whispers from behind me. I jump but make no sound – in this place, my vocal cords refuse to operate. I twist to the direction of the voice, but see nothing. "It's ok. I won't harm you. I would never harm you." I take a step forward, being credulous when I shouldn't. "Come closer," He calms me. "Trust me."
I put my hands out farther, blind in this gloom, and take another step. I continue to advance toward his assuring words until finally, I begin to see a figure.
His face is sweet; soft stubble glints off the sides of his face, his hair is knotted and dark. He is dressed in the robes of royalty, a red the same shade as the sky had been. My eyes go wide with recognition.
Trohndeem takes another step, and the light from my palms goes beneath his chin, casting iniquitous shadows across the middle of his beautiful face.
"Surprise." The prince of the invaders laughs as an evil smirk consumes his face and his eyes turn black.