Suspiciously Eric squinted his eyes at Leif. “What way?” “We allow them through, but,” he raised his hand to pause the storm of protest that built up and lingered in Eric’s mind. “not to this world. While I was in the other place I learned that the Dragons there brought life, not death, we just have to bring the deadly Dragons to an already dead world and the life giving ones to this world!” Leif felt his fathers disapproval and disappointment almost like a tangible thing. “No.” that single harshly spoken word cut Leif like a knife. Enraged Leif turned his face away, tears of anger burned in his eyes. He knew that Eric would react that way. Yelling a shout of anger he jumped towards his father, was repelled by an invisible force, thrown back on his hind quarter. “Have I truly raised a turncloak?” in his hand a sphere of liquid fire appeared. Did the Naga pass on her magic to him? “I did well to powers from you, if it suited you, you would’ve turned your comrades on me. Only now you betray them as well as me.” He hid those powers all this time? Did he manage to steal them away from me, so I couldn’t inherit the gift? More anger and hatred built up in Leif.”You stubborn old fool.” Leif’s voice was reduced to a hateful hiss. “It was my plan to find women for our people. A brilliant idea! You and the order both agreed on that, so why do you think my plan is foolish now? Why did you make it seem that everything I had said and done since we departed was foolish?” the hilt of his dagger filled his hand. It was a reassuring touch. Not only that it still was with him, but also that he had something to attack Eric with, as he had the magic. “Because so many things you’ve said were folly! You’re still young, thus unwise.” the fire in Eric’s hand flickered. Now!Warmth engulfed Leif’s hand, trickled down his wrist and forearm. Ruby red warmth, soaked up by his sleeve.The fire in Eric’s hand died out. “I didn’t want to believe the ambassadors.” he sighed, watching his blood ooze out of him along the dagger in his stomach, gushing out as Leif yanked his blade free with a turn.”I love you. Although we’ve known each other only for a short time, we shared everything. I love you.”A scream of utter despair and pain filled the tent, Oshun rushed to the young Naga to support her, as she seemed to fall over. Within a heartbeat Lillian caught on. “Where?” “Bane.” was all Fathala could say, pressed through her teeth between breaths. Hastily the Succubi rushed off, Farlyn in her wake. “Come to me! My beloved, I beg of you, come to me!” there wa sno reply. What ever hadn’t already been left in her mind of Eric didn’t come join her. An immense sadness joined her pain and grief. Another agonized scream left her lips.I’m dead! I can’t believe it. What was left of Eric in her mind sent confusion into the storm of emotions inside Fathala. Infuriated the Naga slithered out of the tent, coiled up and sprung herself into the air where she took flight. Guided by the startled shrieks of the Phoenix’s she flew to the top of the pyramid. The clouds of golden shimmering light were gone she noticed, below her Farlyn ascended the steps, before she saw that Lillian had, had the same idea she had. The Succubus had flewn to the pyramidtop.”Don’t!” she turned, losing her cloak. Trying to obstruct her view. Flickering light from the torches on the pillars made shadows dance lightly on the Succubi’s skin, Fathala had not realized that they were there on her previous visits to the bane, as they were outshone by the bane. Sprawled in a pool of blood wa sthe tall man Fathala had lost her heart to. For the blink of an eye she felt as if she looked in the mirror, doubtful she touched herself where the wound gaped in Eric’s body. I felt it. “The bane has been taken!” Lillian shouted down to Farlyn, who already knew by the missing mists of golden light. Tears in her eyes Fathala got down to Eric, gently stroking his cheek and fuzzing his hair. The sadness in his expression told her all she needed to know. Leif. My boy, what have you done? “Word from below is that the imperial ambassador and his attaché are gone.” Farlyn gasped for air upon reaching the top. “They’ll be floating in the sea, or rather below the waves.” Fathala rose. “Leif had done this and seen to their disappearance, to throw us off his tracks.” for a moment she thought the young knight would reappear any time, to tell them he had nothing to do with it, but he didn’t show up. “I’m wearing a rather dismal expression, it was him.” she said, unaware that she spoke of Eric as herself. Either the Succubi and the hermaphrodite chose to ignore it or they overheard it. Morning’s crisp air parted before Fathala, just as the water had three days past when she had given Eric to the waves. Although she had wanted to follow Leif, not knowing where he went had put an end to that. Instead she had washed Eric, meditated, while the Albin prayed, the humans expressed their condolences after a short prayer, the fungals had as well, and the florals in the camp had pointed to a large willow as his resting place, so he’d be with the ancestors. But that wasn’t the Naga way. Nor were the ideas of the other races. Humans wanted to either burn him or bury him. Albin would burn hom and scatter the ashes in the woods. The fungals would lay him in a damp dark cave for mold and other fungi to consume him. No. The waves were our destiny. Consumed by the waters that gave life to me.