I stared at the ground, searching for the shrine. It has to be here somewhere... I thought numbly before my eyes landed on the altar piece. A trickle of feeling with through me upon seeing it: satisfaction, followed by hesitation. Do you really want to do this? A voice seemed to ask me.

Yes... It was my fault... I shivered as I moved closer to the shrine, a strong hum of power was emitting from it. I could feel how thin the Veil between this world and the next was; apparently my informant had been correct. I allowed myself a soft smile. Soon, I will be reunited with my Lanna and Eriko, just as the man promised. The voice sighed. No, you won't... I frowned at it but then an image of Eriko and Lanna pressed down on me.

Eriko held Lanna in his arms, dark eyes dancing with laughter as he spun her giggling form around. "Look Mommy!" She yelled, wrapping her arms around his neck, laughing harder, before throwing them outwards and leaning back. He chuckled, shaking his head, but kept spinning. I grinned at them, pausing as I folded a shirt.

"Be careful, Lanna-fae!" I shouted towards them, only half serious.

"I am, Mommy..."

My hand grasped the hilt of the hunting knife in the sheath at my side as tears streamed down my face. I held my other hand over the shrine and without another moment of hesitation, slashed the blade of the knife across my palm. Blood weld up quickly and I turned my hand over, letting the blood spill across the altar and its peculiar symbol.

For a moment, nothing happened, and fury started to build in me. Then I felt it. A pulse. Suddenly, an explosion of energy and pain ripped through the air like a giant lightning bolt, causing me to collapse to my knees. Dark spots danced across my vision, but my gaze was drawn to the shrine, which had started glowing.

A white, jagged-looking line of light ran horizontally above it for about ten feet into the air. Rip-zone... Slowly, a man stepped from it. My mind stopped, stunned. The man had some resemblance to Eriko... I succeeded! But there were some differences... This man was darker, somehow...

But I didn't care. "Eriko..." I whispered. My heart, which had been almost dead, was suddenly beating, racing, and leaping for joy. But there was pain, too. Where is Lanna? The rip-zone abruptly sealed itself shut behind him, almost bringing a cry from my lips as he looked at me. Then I saw the cold, calculating expression in his eyes. "Eriko?"

He nodded, recognition obvious, but the look didn't vanish. Instead, a cruel smile started growing on his face. "You are powerful, Gate. More powerful than they thought." He laughed and my blood chilled, the numbness trying to seep back in. Gate? Who are they? What do you mean?

I sat there, staring in confused silence, as he walked calmly over until he stood right over me. A tender softening went through his eyes before his right hand slammed into my face and pain exploded in my skull, bringing darkness and oblivion.