At the bridge (Talia, p. 104)

The long stone hall stretched before her.  The tiles dull with age, crumbling in places from neglect.  Her soft boots stepped carefully over the litter and debris.  Behind her, a woman and a man followed, a few paces back.  They whispered quietly to one another as she picked the path and led them on.  There was little light to see by, only a soft glow, but it was enough.  The hall opened up into a large chamber before her.  The floor dropped away on either side leaving a wide stone bridge in its place.  She took a deep breath and stepped forward.  The bridge was as she remembered.  It ended abruptly in the center of the chamber, a wide gap before her where a section had fallen away.  As she walked to the edge she felt the silence as much as heard it.  The echoing footsteps behind her had ceased.  She turned.  The woman and man had stopped by the wall, their uneasiness apparent on their faces.

“Come. It is here.”  She smiled, beckoning with an outstretched hand.  The woman shook her head and the man frowned.  “Come forward, see for yourself.”

“No.  It is not safe.  It is not right.”  The woman took a step backwards and the man waited, on his guard.

She took a few easy steps towards the couple, hand still outstretched.  “This is what you had asked to see.  You cannot come this far and turn back now.”  As she stepped forward, the woman stepped away, maintaining the distance between them.  The man waited, ready, and in a moment she was standing beside him.  “You cannot go back, there is only forward.”  She let her hand drop to her side.

The woman paused as she did so and spoke.  “I’ll not be part of this.”  The woman turned away and strode purposefully down the hall, back the way they had come.

Seven steps.  Seven steps and seven again did the woman cross before the air changed.  Its thickness could be felt even from this distance.  Three figures in green robes stepped from the shadows before the woman.  Three figures locked hands and raised their arms high.  The woman froze a moment, turned to face her, eyes wide.  Fear played over the woman’s face.  Fear and determination.  The choice was made.  The woman faced the figures again and taking a deep breath, stepped in their direction.  Their raised arms dropped and the shadows leapt from the walls, filling the hall, quenching the soft light and muffling the woman’s screams.  In a heartbeat it was over.  The shadows settled and the hall was empty, woman and figures nowhere to be seen.

“There is only forward.”  She said, and nodded to the man.  She turned and walked towards the bridge.


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