Chapter 1

Dread hits her like a punch to the stomach. She doubles over, clutching her head with trembling fingers. Her breath comes in rapid gasps as she reels, staggers against the wall. She closes her eyes and sinks to the ground, trying not to vomit as her body rebels against the domination of her gift. She forces herself to give in, forces herself to be nothing, a mere vessel of the images she Sees.

Fear rumbles in her, resonates, like the tolling of a bell. Something is wrong. Something is here. The end is here.

Like a drunkard, she clambers to her feet, brushing away the doting hands and supportive arms. Dark lashes part, revealing silver eyes that gleam with sudden clarity. She staggers forward, tremulous at first but gaining stability with every step.

"Sibyl Eris," someone calls out to her, but she is running now, sprinting away from her startled attendants. She bursts from the building and charges down a set of marble stairs, stumbling briefly on her long dress before picking herself up and dashing forward again.

Her heart pounds against her ribs and she's afraid, more afraid than she's ever been before, yet she continues to flee - not from the terror, but toward its source.

She reaches the city's massive gate and skids to a halt, her sides heaving. Whatever or whoever it is, it is there, just outside the city. She must find it. Dread continues to pulse through her, its rhythm picking up with every inch forward she moves. She gains her breath for only a moment before turning to the gatekeepers.

"Open the gate," she pants. Startled, the gatekeepers gape at her for a moment before complying.

"Anything else we can do, Lady Eris?" they begin to ask but she is already in motion. As the gate begins to rise, she crawls underneath it, unable to bear another second of feeling such anxiety. When she climbs to her feet, what meets her eyes surprises her.

Blue eyes blink at her, vivid with concern and confusion. "Are you alright?" asks the owner of those eyes, a male around her age.

She stares at him, feeling the same dread that had pushed her into running here. Yet something is different. The feeling is diluted, weaker.

"Who are you?" she asks, taking a hesitant step closer to him. Despite her fear, she is drawn to him, unable to look away.

"My name is Ren," he answers cautiously, his face guarded. "What do you want with me?"

She glances over him for a moment, taking in his dusty clothes, inky hair, the bag of books slung over his muscled shoulder. Nothing about him is abnormal, yet he is far from ordinary. Something about him is wrong.

She shakes her head, trying to shake off the apprehension she is feeling. She sways on her feet, unable to remove her gaze from his, despite the feeling, the knowledge that he might destroy everything.

The man, Ren, looks at her curiously. "Hey, are you all right? Do you need to sit down?" He reaches out and tries to steady her, his fingers brushing her elbow.

She lurches back from him as if his touch had burned her, but it is too late. Images overtake her again, and she sees the city - her city - crumbling, burning, ruined. All because of him.

With a muffled thud, she crumbles to the sandy ground beneath her feet, her body once again fighting against the intensity of the images that threaten to overwhelm her. She shudders, curling into a trembling ball.

"Hey, what's wrong? Hold together," comes a different voice. Deeper. Rougher. A strong hand clasps her shoulder and she opens her eyes, peering at him from behind her latticed fingers.

Inky-haired Ren is nowhere to be seen, and instead, a stranger crouches next to her. His hair is tawny beige, his eyes a shade of golden brown. His brows furrow as he assesses her disheveled hair, pallid face, and bare feet.

She sits up, looks at him in puzzlement. "Where'd the black-haired man go?" she mumbles, her silver eyes searching for him. She scrambles back to her feet, trying to push through the waves of dread that continue to course through her veins. She takes a step back, her eyes wide and wild. "And who are you?"

"Take it easy," the man says, rising to his feet. "Are you sick?"

She says nothing as she begins to realize something. The fear isn't just lingering; it's coming from this man too. Something is wrong.

"Who are you?" she asks, slowly, deliberately. With every passing second, she grows more aware, more perplexed. This man wears the same clothes that the dark-haired man did, he holds the same bag of books slung over his shoulder. Yet he is different. He is taller, his shoulders broader. He is a different man, and yet, he isn't.

"Keir, my name is Keir," he answers, slowly drawing close to her the way he might approach a wounded animal. Predatory. Calm. Everything in her tells her to back away, but she needs to know - she must know - whether what she'll see from him will match the images she just witnessed.

This time, she reaches out to him, lets her fingers brush the pulse of his wrist. Once again, images sear through her mind, pictures of events she had hoped never to see.

She struggles through images of burning buildings and broken bodies until she can picture them again. Blue-eyed Ren and gold-eyed Keir. As her body finally gives in to the attacks of her mind, she burns their faces into her mind. One of them will lead to the destruction of her city. Yet as she slips into unconsciousness, she realizes she doesn't know who it will be.

[A/N: This is the first thing I've written in a while, so sorry for how rusty I am! I'll try to update soon! Please let me know what you all think! :) Happy reading and writing, everyone! ~DarkHawk14]