Feeling the depression upon her sister’s side of the nest lessening, Elamara quickly opened her eyes and pulled herself into a sitting position.
In the darkness of their burrow, a shadow hastily stilled itself and stood frozen beside the wall.
“Ula?” She called out, only for the shadow to suddenly drop to the ground. “I know it’s you, Ulamara. Stop it already and come back to sleep.”
“No!” The shadow stubbornly answered and stood back up again. “This is my chance.”
“Chance? You heard the Shii. Mother and father too. We are not allowed to leave anymore.” She tiredly reasoned, wanting nothing more than to continue forgetting the day’s unforgettable events.
“That’s never stopped you before, why should it stop me?” A swift and defiant rebuttal, it was very unlike Ulamara’s usual passiveness.
“That’s…” Stumped by the truth, “Be- because I can open my own portals.” Elamara countered, plopping back onto the bed of fine fiber, “Who’s going to do it for you? Yourself? You can’t eve-” She quickly held her tongue.
Listening as Ulamara’s muffled silence shuffled itself along the walls and toward the doorway, “I’m sorry, okay? I’m really tired.” She apologized whilst trying to fall back asleep, “I’ll help you in the morning so just come back.”
There was no answer. Instead, she heard Ulamara pull aside the flap of cloth that is their chamber door.
“I… I can do it too, you know? I can feel it.” Her sister finally proclaimed.
“Feel it?” Repeating it in confusion, “You can’t just feel it, Ula.” She sat back up once more, only to see that Ulamara was already gone. “Ula?” She called, but nothing answered this time.
Begrudgingly getting up, she slowly shambled toward the doorway. Taking one look down the tunnel that connected to their parent’s burrow, “Ula?” Elamara whisper anxiously before moving in the opposite direction of their parent’s room.
Maneuvering her way through a large chamber for guests, she carefully descended a flight of stairs and soon found herself outside, standing before the ancestral tree in which they all lived.
“Ulamara?!” Elamara screamed as a tinge of fear instilled itself inside her.
Looking around, the echoes of Anah’thela had pierced through the veil separating the worlds and was illuminating her surroundings in streams of soft white glows. Yet no matter where she turned, Ulamara was nowhere to be found.
“Answer me!” Again, her cries were drowned by the silence of the night.
“… Where did you go?!” She shouted as her eyes anxiously scoured the darkness beyond.
“Ela?” Someone else answered her from behind.
Startled, she quickly turned to see their father coming down the stairs. “P- Papa? W- what are you doing up?” Elamara hastily replied, trying her best to sound innocent.
“What am I doing up? Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” There was an inquisitive but knowing tone to his voice, “Why were you screaming, and where is your sister?”
“She uhm- Ula was…” Locking her arms together guiltily, “we… I- I don’t know.” She relented, unable to come up with a plausible excuse.
His eyes narrowed and she quickly looked away as he began to slowly approach her. Yet without stopping, her father walked past her.
“Ela… go wake the Shii.”
Glancing back at her father, his focus was on something else. Elamara quickly turned to look in the same direction and her eyes widened.
Shining in the distant gloom, there was a dim light flickering on the outskirts of the village—beyond where the wards of protection for the village had been set.
“Go now!” Her father commanded and a fierce wind hastily rushed him in the direction of the light.
Trying to do as she was told, her body quickly braced itself as a familiar sensation swept through her.
“Ulamara, you…” Eyes agape, she voiced in disbelief as a wave of primordial mana surged into Trasevenesae.
Unlike the careful bindings they all used in the creation of passages to the human world, the fabric of space separating the three realms itself had been punctured.
“I… I did it…” Ulamara shuddered as the words escaped her mouth.
Though it had felt like all the strength within her body was gone, she could not help but tear up as she stared at the beautiful window shimmering before her.
Shining brightly with the light of Lovis, it had not been opened by her sister or someone else, but by her own thoughts and her own desires.
“I-“ The memories of all the times she had spent in pain while others freely employed their gifts flooded her and, “I did it!” She cried out as the will of Dinasthirea continued coursing within her core. Only this time, it was without the excruciating agony that accompanied it.
The birthright of her kind that she had given up on so long ago was no longer a dream, but reality and she knew just who to thank for it.
“I can do this… I will do this!” Fighting back more tears, she turned around and took a final look at the large luminous ancestral tree in the distance.
Her father’s voice pierced through the darkness and the events of their return earlier that day instantly unfurled within her thoughts. Glowering at the memory, she turned back and leapt into the portal without hesitation.
A raw rush of power spilled into the mortal realm and Kaidus instantly closed his mind.
Stopping his outpouring of mana and severing the links to his spirits, with a thought, the shelter of earth around him divvied itself to reveal the moonlit night.
‘What is it?’ He wondered, cautiously looking in the direction of the anomaly that had disturbed his meditation.
In the distance and beyond the perimeters of the clearing, there was a glow flickering upon one of the trees. “Hm?”
His curiosity was quickly extinguished as a small presence suddenly burst into existence, emerging from the disturbance.
Panicked but also filled with a sense of exhilaration and surprise, it stood motionless for a brief moment then, “AIIEEEEE!” It shrieked, sending a soundwave into the trees and across the clearing.
Like it was searching for something, as soon as the high-pitched scream reached him, the presence quickly altered itself. Became one with the mana surrounding it, another brighter light burst into life.
Not taking his eyes away, Kaidus watched as the light soared through the air, moving quickly in his direction.
The corner of his mouth slowly crept upward into an amused smile as it got closer and not wanting to be rude, he extended his right arm forward to welcome the tiny guest.
Encased in a layer of elegant flowing mana and glowing beautifully in the moonlight, Ulamara clumsily and frantically crashed into the palm of his hand, forcing him to catch her momentum with his body.
“Y- you’re still here!!” She shouted with excitement, and he could feel her heart-like core beating swiftly.
“Of course. Where else would I be?” He replied, pulling her away from his chest only to see how winded she looked, “That was quite the landing. Was that your first time flying?”
“Y, yes!” The tiny spirit answered gleefully. “I, I didn’t think I could, but I had a feeling. And then it- it just happened!” Still glowing radiantly, a euphoric grin had emerged upon her childish face. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
“Why thank me? I didn’t do anything.” Carefully observing the tiny phrae, it did not appear to look like his assistance had altered her body in any way.
Ulamara shook her head, “Nnn. You did though,” Placing both hands upon the center of her chest above her core, “I can feel it. This warmth… this fire that no longer burns me from within… thank you.”
Seeing the joy on her face, “Is that so?” He could not help but smile.
As a phrae, she should have been capable of utilizing mana at will. Yet, whether it was due to the particularities of her peculiar gift or something else, her core had been damaged.
All he had done, was reinforce it with his own mana.
“Hehe!” The young girl returned a laugh and then as if recalling something, her elated expression suddenly drooped, “Um… Honored one?” Her way of speaking had also reverted back to being formal.
“What are you apologizing for?” He questioned and her tiny mouth quivered, “Does it have something to do with you being here right now?”
Quietly looking at her, before she could answer, his attention was abruptly twisted toward the direction of the portal that was still glowing in the distance.
From it, another presence had stepped through into the mortal plane of existence.
A true phrae spirit, one capable of great magic.
Within moments of their emergence, the thick mana that was circling the portal was quickly absorb by the new phrae and just like Ulamara, their presence quickly latched onto the air and began moving in his direction.
Staring at the cluster of raw power that was approaching, “Who is that?” He questioned as Ulamara rushed to hide behind his fingers.
“Our f- father… Osfurun En’Kalinsor, Guardian of the Eight Glyphic wards.” The young phrae replied, each word quieter than the last.
“Your father, huh?” He echoed in intrigue as blast of winds announced the guardian’s arrival.
Stopping to hover in the air before them, two pitch-black eyes immediately locked onto his own. Carefully and cautiously assessing him, they naturally fell upon what was in his hand.
“Release my daughter, human.’
A voice filled with tense hostility suddenly demanded, directly assaulting his thoughts.
Humanoid in form, the spirit’s body was glowing violently with an array of translucent light while the might of Lagus spiraled around him in threatening forks of intertwining coils. About twice as tall as the twins, the menacing spirit stood with dignity and grandeur in the air like he was a part of it. Upon the center of the phrae’s forehead, his telltale horn was also emanating with a raw destructive power even more dangerous than his overflowing mana core itself.
Judging purely on magic alone, the phrae’s strength was comparable to that of a master of the three academies. And wordlessly staring in awe, Kaidus could not help but imagine how the filths of the old world would have coveted such a fine specimen.
‘I will not repeat myself again.’
The voice echoed with bitter fury and mana quickly converged within the air. There was a sudden flash and three large bolts of lightning descended from the night sky, striking the grounds behind the phrae.
Mildly surprised by the show of strength, Kaidus glanced behind himself and gave a dismissive wave with his free hand. Within the darkness, the young serpent who had been awakened by the display lazily turned its silver eyes away and buried itself in its body once more.
“There appears to be a misunderstanding. I do not know what happened, but your daughter is not my prisoner.” He calmly answered the wary spirit before him and raised the hand with Ulamara upon it forward.
“Ulamara… so it was you.” Unlike the one in his head, what came out of the phrae’s mouth was a wispy yet solemn voice. “I don’t know how you did it, but come. Let us go home.”
In his hand, Ulamara quickly clung onto one of his fingers, “I won’t go back!” The young phrae sharply snapped in defiance.
“W- what is the meaning of this?”
A stern question came from the phrae and he could sense a tinge of confusion in its voice as Ulamara shook within his hand.
Feeling how tightly she was clinging onto him, “Ulamara.” Kaidus spoke, keeping his own curiosity steady, “Whatever it was that happened between you two, let it go. Your father has come all this way to bring you back. Go with-”
“I’m never going back!” She cried out and tears began stemming upon her eyes. “They- they didn’t believe me! *Sniff!* N… No one believed me! They even called you a… a devious and scheming human after everything I told them!” She began to wail, burying her face against his finger.
“That’s why you’re doing this?” Ulamara’s father questioned, “You are being unreasonable because your request to open the entangled troves for this… this human, was denied?”
“I told you already! He- He is-”
“Yes, yes, your ‘honored’ one. I’ve heard.” Voice filling with impatience, the phrae stared down at his daughter, “Can you not hear how silly you sound? Enough with these childish fantasies. You and your sister have been spending too much time with the splintered ancestors…”
Ignoring the phrae in the air, Kaidus turned his attention to the trees again as another presence flashed into existence.
As if she had also sensed it, the young phrae glanced up at him, her eyes begging him for help.
With a smile, he brought her up to his face.
“Ulamara En’Muryd, beloved daughter of Night, sacred child of Dinasthirea.” He spoke, and her eyes glistened at his words. “Though fleeting it may be, it was my greatest pleasure to have met you and your sister. To have been shown such compassion and consideration, I am eternally grateful.”
Without minding the individual that was quickly approaching or the one hovering before them, he closed his eyes and nodded to the young girl graciously.
“But this must be where we part. For right now, your emotions are not your own.”
Her vigorous demeanor buckled and she looked as if she was about to cry again.
“Know that you are loved here. Go back with your father and sister. Give it a few days and these feelings should settle. Stay. Surrounded by your loved ones, in time, I too will be nothing but a painless memory.”
“NO!” Ulamara tearfully exclaimed, “I don’t want that! I don’t want to forget you…”
“Enough!!” Her father finally interrupted, his powerful voice thundering throughout the clearing. “You are but a child. You know naught of what you want. Do not trouble the human any further and let us go back.”
“Ula!!!” Elamara’s frantic voice screeched through the darkness.
Surprisingly unshaken by her father’s fury or Ela’s proximity, Ulamara’s two tearful eyes continued staring up into his own, “Please don’t make me go. It’s too sad…” She whimpered, sniveling painfully in between words.
Finally arriving, Elamara rushed past her father and just as she did earlier that day, landed gracefully on his palm.
“Ula you dummy! Why!?!” Elamara cried out, embracing Ulamara.
“You dummy! Dummy! Big dummy! I said I would help you tomorrow! Why did you come alone?!”
“*Sniff* Ela!” Releasing her hold on his finger, the young phrae quickly latched onto her sister.
Having not moved at all, “Elamara… where are the others? Where is the Shii?” The twin’s father queried from where he stood within the air.
Looking up at her father, Elamara stood up in his hand and moved in front of her sister.
Much like what she had done earlier that day, the young phrae quickly stretched her hands out to shield Ulamara.
With a resolute expression upon her face, “No one is coming!” Elamara shouted loudly. “Everything that Ula said, everything that happened today was true! And if none of you will believe Ula about her visions, then I WILL!” The young girl snarled bravely at her father.
“Both of you…”
The twin’s father spoke calmly and they visibly flinched at his tone.
“Even though I am the Guardian, I have always overlooked your transgressions into the overworld… do you know why?”
Neither of the twins answered.
“It is because your actions are the results of youthful curiosity, and had never brought any problems to the clan.”
The layer of thick primal mana swirling around him instantly dissolved into mist, leaving his glowing body behind.
“No, papa! You must not!” Elamara shouted.
“But it seems I have allowed your willfulness too far…”
Ignoring his daughter, the phrae’s body began to darken and his glow slowly shifted and surge into the tips of his arms and legs.
“You are both old enough to know our rules.”
As if a part of the night, starting from his chest, the phrae began vanishing as the light within him spilled out into the darkness.
“If you will not come back quietly, then I have no other options than to bring you both back even if by force.”
Having fully dissolved completely with the night, “And for that, I shall begin with your ‘honored’ one.”
“No! PAPA!” Ulamara screamed.
Feeling the air around him becoming denser, “I suggest you stop before you get hurt. I would hate for these young ones to be without a father.” Kaidus calmly warned, staring blankly into the distance as their surroundings grew even darker.
“Empty words from a human?” An odd wind swirled around him. “You may have deceived my children, but do not think you can deceive me.”
“You can’t even see the gifts bestowed upon those closest to you.” He retorted as his eyes darted to track the invisible phrae’s movements. “In that, you have deceived yourself.”
‘Y-you can see me?’
A voice filled with astonishment entered his mind and, “As clear as day.” He replied, thrusting his left hand out before trouble could fully manifest itself.
Catching the air, he willed it and the illusion that had been carefully constructed shattered, revealing Ulamara and Elamara’s father in his hand.
Gasps came from the two young phrae and without looking at them, he insipidly tossed their father back into the air.
“Y-you… you are not of men!” Disheveled and barely able to keep himself afloat, “What manner of deceitful beast are you!? Reveal your true self!” The phrae commanded, shock and fear aplenty upon his composed mask.
“For one who carries of the blood of En’ to be resorting to violence… Vasalus would be disappointed.” He casually replied.
“You dare to speak the Great Mother’s name? Who are you?!”
“Papa please!” Ulamara frantically shouted from where she was kneeling on his hand.
Bending downward but not taking his eyes away from the phrae before him, he lowered the two young girls onto the ground.
““Please don’t hurt him!”” And they both pleaded in unison.
“There is nothing to worry about.” With a reassuring smile, Kaidus turned back to the father of the twins. “You wish to know who I am?” Reaching out with this right hand, *SNAP!*.
“This… this is…” Osfurun, Guardian of the Eight Glyphic wards of Nieleth trembled.
He was right.
The monster before him was not human, for no human could possibly possess such authority over the elements. With only a snap of its fingers, the night had vanished, replaced by a prison of white light.
No longer an unassuming and powerless human, a being of pure radiance was standing before him. What used to be black hair was glowing even brighter than the light surrounding them, and from the creature’s pale body, came an endless flow of mana.
He shuddered, and the image of a cocoon resting upon the very plains in which he was standing came to mind.
Oozing with terrible and incomprehensible power, even the elders of the clan had warned one such as himself to stay away.
He had thought nothing of it for such were the problems of the outside world, but now it was no longer avoidable.
“The Destroyer…” The words escaped him as his lips shook unsteadily.
“I am Rhultal Vox Treval AnDargus, last of the An’Daralites and heir to the Silver Plains of Andarg.”
The air upon which he was standing began vibrating as the creature named itself and like the night that had disappeared, all the mana within his body evaporated.
Were the destroyers just Humans who hunted these people or where they something different?