It felt like she was in a dream within a dream.
In the back of her mind, Scarlett knew what she was doing. She was an eighteen year old trainee of the Karai tribe, undergoing the second to last trial to become a Karaina. After fighting a tiger spirit beast, she had entered the spirit realm to face the remembrance and learn what she needed to know to face the dangers of the future.
But at the same time, she was someone else, a spectator in a scene that made no sense.
She stood in a long and tall throne room, all alone. There were skylights above, letting in a grayish light. Something white that she had never seen fell on the glass. All of a sudden she felt cold, and a word popped into her head.
The white things falling over the skylights was snow.
This was certainly not her memory, for she had never even heard of such a thing. Water. It was water, turned to something else by the cold.
A door slammed open behind her, and she turned to see two tall Hovas walking down the hall towards the throne. For a moment, she felt the urge to run, but the two Hovas had no idea she was there.
She reminded herself this wasn't real. It was just a memory. But whose? Why was she seeing Hovas?
The two Hovas spoke in whispers as they walked past her without even looking at her. The taller Hova sat on the throne, and the other stood beside him.
With their mouths closed, they would have looked exactly like normal humans, except for their greyish skin and abnormal stature. They were both dressed in dark blue attires, with golden epaulets and ornaments decorating their chests.
They are brothers, she realized. Who are they?
As soon as this thought crossed her mind, the taller Hova looked up.
A human woman who looked not too older than Scarlett, walked through the open door. Her hair was dark blonde, and she wore a plum colored dress that was clearly not made for the cold weather. She shivered as she moved.
"Dav! What on earth are you still doing here?" yelled the woman, striding towards the throne.
"I am not abandoning my place," said the man in the chair. The other one stood awkwardly by him with downcast eyes, not even looking at the woman.
"They are coming for you. For you both," she said, pleading with the two men.
For some reason, it looked like the standing Hova was purposely trying to avoid meeting eyes with the woman. He looked to the ceiling and sighed.
Scarlett moved closer to the throne. She wanted to see what the woman's expression was. Before she reached the stairs where the woman stood, the woman let out a cry.
"I'm pregnant," she said. "If they find out what… who, I'm carrying, they will kill us all."
This caught the attention of both Hovas. For the first time, the expressions of their faces revealed more than stoicism. The Hova in the throne looked angry, and his breathing became harder. The other Hova looked perplexed, but there was an underlying sadness in his eyes.
"Thorm, this changes everything," said the Hova called Dav, all of a sudden.
The other Hova, Thorm, closed his silver eyes very slowly. Then he looked down at Dav.
"What would you have me do, brother?"
"You must leave with Olive."
"What about you?" said Thorm.
"I already said what I would do. I am not abandoning my place."
Thorm let out a longer sigh this time, and he bowed to his brother before turning abruptly towards the woman.
"Come," he said brusquely, as if dreading to condescend himself by speaking to the woman called Olive.
"Dav… Please. Think about the future. You can't fix this mess if you're dead," said Olive, moving closer to the throne.
Before she could get any closer, Thorm grabbed her by the arm and pulled her away. They looked at each other for a moment, and tears began to fall down her eyes.
"If I never see you again, I want you to know one thing. I would have loved you until the end of time," she said, and then she let herself be pulled by Thorm, without looking back at Dav.
Her last words had been for him.
They walked past Scarlett, leaving Dav all alone in the hall. He placed both hands on his head and roared, his cry echoing through the empty room.
Then it was as if someone pulled a black curtain over Scarlett's eyes, and the world went dark again. A few seconds later, she found herself somewhere else.
As she took in the new environment, she tried to make sense of what she just saw. This couldn't be the past. The Hova and the humans had been enemies since the dawn of time. The woman named Olive was clearly carrying Dav's baby. Who were these two people?
She stood in an open meadow, and this time the sun shone above her, warming her body.
Then she heard a groan from behind, making her turn around. What she saw, made her wish she had never entered the spirit world.
Mutilated corpses covered the rest of the meadow behind her, hundreds and hundreds of rotting bodies being picked on by vultures.
Scarlett froze when she saw what was left of their clothes. They were the Tupa, from the kingdoms to the west. The blue drop that symbolized their affinity for water magic stood out from the torn and ragged banners and tabards. She scanned the bodies closer to her, trying to figure out where the groan had come from. But everyone was dead, and had been dead at least for a few days. Most of the bodies were bloated and turning green.
"Help," croaked someone, and Scarlett saw who it was.
An older soldier, perhaps around forty, was trying to pull himself out from under a mass of rotting corpses.
Scarlett ran down the slope and the smell hit her. She fell to the ground and threw up. She realized her arm no longer hurt as she got up again, trying to reach the man. Trying to avert her eyes from the rest of the bodies, she looked down. If she was going to reach him, she'd have to find a way to walk over the body parts and corpses surrounding him.
The heads were the worst ones. Several of them no longer had eyes, but those that did, showed that the last thing that had been on their faces was pure, infinite terror.
"Please," croaked out the soldier again.
She made her way towards him, trying not to step on the remains of anyone. When she finally reached him, she knelt down. What could she do? It'd take her hours to remove the bodies piled up on top of him, and she'd never have the strength to pull him out. Only his head and shoulders were showing.
"I don't know what to do. I…"
Then she realized the man couldn't see or hear her. He was crying out to no one.
The last survivor of a battle that hadn't fared well for the humans.
Other men weren't capable of such violent slaughter. This could have only been done by the Hova.
As she rose, fighting back tears of hatred, the world went dark again one last time.
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