By: Aaron E. Smith

Chendrelle expected to see the images blink instantly away, but she found that the less she focused, the slower they became. She released all control of her will and closed her mind�s eye until she could feel the images come to rest before her.

For a moment she held this half of her attention still, afraid to make any further effort. With delicate care, Chendrelle offered her vision in submission to his. Simeon�s vision wavered a moment considering. When it accepted, they drifted into each other.

As their visions became one, her Qelltalis pulsed noticeably, opening an unfamiliar door within her understanding. When she opened her eyes to look upon the visions again she understood� they were her memories.

The memories of all the mortals Chendrelle had ever seen killed poured into Simeon�s mind. Thousands of year�s worth of death assaulted him, along with the garish faces of the Fey who had preyed upon them. Chendrelle began to cry as she watched, feeling Simeon�s Qelltalis flare violently and erupt in gouts of anger. He let out a guttural scream from far within and lashed out to sever the visions and burn them away.

When they all were destroyed, Chendrelle sang a sorrowful tune to him across the distance, her broken voice leading him through the darkness of his mind; a harmony that echoed in discord with the song the Fey around her sang.

The powerful, final crescendo of the Fey�s ritual/song brought Chendrelle to the other half of her awareness once more. With a quick, dismissive gesture Nettamion severed her weaving upon Simeon, his limp body crashing hard to the ground. Chendrelle moved to tend him, but was rebuffed by the bat-winged Fey�s glare. She bowed her head in obedience and waited for Nettamion to speak.

The bat-winged Fey flew around the expanse of the massive tower of trees announcing, �Our sister comes before us with a claim of great blessing to the wood!�

Nettamion took pause in her speech to make eye contact with as many of the gathered Fey as she could, her malformed face in a scowl. When her circuit brought her back to face Chendrelle she added, �But I contend that such a claim is for us to decide.�

Chendrelle scanned the faces before her for support, but nearly all nodded in agreement with Nettamion, with some even offering whispered criticism. Chendrelle lowered her head again in submission, casting a concealed glance at Simeon�s twitching body.

�I am here,� she spoke into in his mind. Faintly, she could hear his distant response echo back to her.

�I am coming��

Chendrelle smiled behind her flowing golden hair.

�Not only has she abandoned all sense of responsibility,� Nettamion continued mockingly. �She would dare have us believe that this mortal can do what no other in the past four hundred years could accomplish... free Queen Sephron.�

A ripple of amusement spread among the gathering, causing Nettamion to raise her clawed, molted hand for silence. Chendrelle lifted her head slightly, peeking through her dangling hair toward Tahletha, who looked directly at her, expressionless.

�The remains of over fifty humanoids lay dead at Khorrus�s base, Chendrelle. The Deth �Hrlasz that he has created to serve him is equal to ten mortal men,� Nettamion lamented. �To send another would only add to the debt of blood we all bear upon us.�

�He is unlike the others,� Chendrelle said firmly.

A ripple of amusement spread throughout the council, causing Nettamion to feign a hearty laugh. As her laughter trailed off, she landed beside Simeon and took a deep breath. With a quick, staccato movement, Nettamion pushed her breath and hand at Simeon, the sharp spell sending him rolling across the ground like a floundering fish.

The bat-winged fey then drew her deeply pocked face into a contemptuous sneer and walked toward him as he laid face up for the council to see. �He seems no more useful than the others to me,� she mocked as the gathering erupted into catcalls and mirth.

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