The Stone was finally in my hands. I'd waited so long for this moment. It was smooth, perfectly round and a deep grey, polished so it shone silver in the moonlight. Its surface was carved with runes, then the Stone had been polished again so I could not feel them, only see them. As I watched, they began to glow, orange at first then red, like the coals in the bottom of one of our campfires. Then the rest of the stone began to glow the same color, getting brighter and brighter until it glowed white-hot, the runes were a bright florescent orange. Flames seemed to leap around the Stone, but my bare hands didnt burn. I was nearly blinded by the glow, but still, I kept staring. . .

The very sky is on fire. Hava castle burns. A massive army swarms across the plains. I am standing on the battlefield, a sword in my hand. I recognize this place. This nightmare. It is the battle that ended the war twelve years ago. I'd dreamed of this for a week after learning of the event. I turn and see trees fall, smoke rising from the burning forest. The sea is boiling, frothing from the fights taking place in the shallows. A warrior runs toward me, a battle axe raised, but the warrior falls before they reach me. Their helmet comes off on impact. Its Brena, she is covered in blood. Arrows fly over my head, and strike Zahkon down. I race toward the beach, Lyra is lying face up in the sand, her blue eyes pale with the peace death brings. Yara is standing in the waves, her fair hair streaming in the wind, she looks wild, her eyes are black and her teeth sharp. She raises her knife above her head, set to strike me down. I kneel before her, surrendering. The knife falls. . .

I woke with my heart pounding in my chest to see Valak returning from some sort of outing. I barely gave him more than a cursory glance before stirring the fire and thinking about my dream.

I'd dreamt about the Stone. Maybe it was a sign that we were getting close. I looked at Yara, I had promised the old man that I would put the Stone out of my mind and try to chase after Yara instead, but that dream. The Stone had been the only good thing in it. Maybe the dream had been a warning to forget finding the stone, to leave it hidden and prevent war from happening again? But if we found the Stone, then we could unite the races against Sethos and destroy him and his evil plots.

I glanced at Valenstar, gritting my teeth. I got the feeling he was stalling, trying to keep us away from the Stone. I couldnt go home empty handed, and I didnt want to restart the war, not when things were still raw between races. But our little band, so diverse, we could be a symbol of peace. I looked at Valenstar again, just as he murmured something crude in his sleep, and sighed. He was not helping the peace cause anymore than he was helping me find the Stone. He was a nuisance, and I kept hoping he was a necessary one, but so far, all he'd really done was try to kill himself, then eat all our supplies when it didnt work. A couple chance life savings didnt make him a hero, just a bigger nuisance. Sighing and resigning myself to the fact that he was our guide, I rolled over and tried to get back to sleep.

The End

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