Not every fantasy has a tragic beginning. Not every struggle sees a happy ending. Sometimes the ones we think will carry the world on their shoulders end up tearing it to pieces as they plummet into the darkness. And sometimes, there is no hope.

     The blood from the chalice traced rivulets from the corners of Shalena's mouth, meeting under her chin to continue down her throat as a more prominant stream. With her skin the color of the night sky, shifting hues of dark blues and blacks, the blood was inconspicuous and could have been any sort of liquid. The splatter of red that flecked her star-white hair and the corpse of a fledgeling dwen indicated blood. There was a dark pool seeping from a fresh slash across the dwen's throat and it's translucent wings were wrapped around it's frail body, cradling itself in death. 

     Shalena turned her gaze to the one other being in the dark, cold chamber, golden irises twinkling as she eyed him.

     "Human... our agreement will go smoothly it seems."

     She spoke without speaking; her words seemed more to bloom in the depths of the human's mind and flower into comprehension. His eyes unfocused and he stared straight ahead.

     "The artifact is yours to do with as your please as long as you heed my desires. You will know what I want and when I want it."

     The human tried to open his mouth to respond, but was unable. What crossed his mind, though, she knew, and so she replied.

     "I will call you 'human' for that is what you are and nothing more. Leave me."

     She withdrew from his mind and he stumbled backwards. His eyes refocused and he barely met her glare before turning and making his way quickly from her presence.

                                                                       *     *     *

     Dakrand slowed his pace as he got clear of the ebony archway to the witch's dark palace. He felt foolish hurrying like some scolded child, but he knew Shalena was beyond him to cross. She may be helping him, but to her it was a steal; she had no use for the artifact he now held in his hand, and if she felt he would be a waste of her time... well, she wouldn't be disappointed; Dakrand always kept his deals.

     He took a moment to place the artifact in the sachel at his side and continued down the path and away from the palace, which seemed to fade away as if it were a mirage. Once out from beneath the protective enchantments that were in place in the area, Dakrand lifted his left hand, arm outstretched and palm facing outward. He closed his eyes for just a fraction of a second and was enveloped in shadows. 

                                                                       *     *     *

                                                                  It isn't too late.

                                                                 It is still there,


                                                       The Light within you heart.


                                                            Don't be consumed

The End

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