Jourd’Althea, 16th Trinnia
In the quiet of the camp before the attack at midnight, Bellica Yarrow, last hope of Athering, slept and dreamt.
In her dreams was bloodshed and pain, caused by her and stopped by none. Caused by others, and reached by her too late. Desperately she tried to wake, and failed at every attempt, for her dreams were the sea, and Yarrow was drowning.
Her stomach twisted in pain and she curled up into a ball, protecting the child she carried within.
I’ve doomed us both, her dream-self said, apologising to the young woman with light hair that stood before her.
Then do something about it, her daughter replied.
What shall I do? The woman was already fading away, gone in the twilight.
Yarrow walked alone on a road that stretched away, far as the eye could see, neither coming from one place nor going to another.
She started to run.
Faster and faster in the dusk, her booted feet pounding heavily on the ground beneath her. A shadow on the horizon rose up and she put on speed. She ran and ran until she was sure her feet lifted from the ground, and she flew.
The shadow was not Atherton, as she’d thought.
A woman the size of a tree loomed up, and Yarrow skidded to a stop, fear freezing her heart in her chest. She turned to run away but a wall had come up behind her, and it was against this she fell, quaking in her terror.
The woman, whose hair was the sky and whose eyes the moons, leaned down and smiled with the radiance of the sun.
Why do you run, Bellica? Does your Goddess terrify you so?
Yarrow gasped and tried to regain her footing. Goddess? What Deity would bother with one such as I?
The woman laughed; it boomed around Yarrow like thunder and she clapped her hands to her ears. Come. Kore has called you forth into battle against the Dark One.
I don’t know what You’re talking about, Yarrow said, trying to scramble over the wall. This is just a dream; You’re not real.
Would you forsake your people so easily? The Goddess was angry now; She picked Yarrow up by the scruff of her jerkin and Yarrow dangled in the air, in front of the Goddess’ face.
I’ve never been the most patriotic of people, the bellica protested weakly. Choosing me is a doomed venture.
I will decide what is doomed or not, Bellica, Kore boomed. Chosen you are and chosen you will stay. Now. Suffer a small death and be reborn through Me to lead your people to victory and dispel the Dark One from Her stolen throne.
What? Yarrow started to ask, but Kore opened Her mouth and swallowed the bellica whole.
Yarrow tumbled through darkness for what seemed like hours.
A light came on.
She fell towards it.
And abruptly, woke up.
Lord Exsil Vis stood in her tent, carrying a lantern. “Come, Bellica,” he said with a smile. “It’s time.”