During a long ocean voyage, an eristrufa (a first circle demon) tried to kill the circle by attacking them in their dreams. The visions it created were as follows:
You ravenously devour the heart of a crocodile on side of a canal, the beast’s body still thrashing. You are younger, and the blood flows over your teeth, filling you with power. You revel in your greatness, unaware of time passing, until a bright singing interrupts you. (Your dreaming self, so comfortable with the memory you are reliving, is suddenly jarred. It didn’t happen like this did it? you are hazily aware of thinking. It was shouting I heard, not singing. The thought plunges back into the depths of sleep and as the dream reasserts itself.) Taryn looks just as you remember her, her song one of the sweetest sounds you’ve ever heard.
She approaches as she sings, a strange smile on her face. As she gets nearer, she stops and greets you with your name. Her voice contains something you’ve never heard in it before, dusky and almost lustful. You warn her away from you, afraid of what you might do her in your newly exalted state. She gives you a sultry smile and continues to approach, her hands slowly unbuttoning her shirt. “I don’t fear you, Guen,” she says, again in a strange intonation. A sash holds her shirt closed as she unfastens the last button. As she works to untie the sash, you warn her off again, telling her to run away.
“Why?” she half-asks, pulling the sash lose. “What could you do to me that you haven’t done already?” Her shirt falls away. In the center of her chest is a large gaping wound, where her heart has been ripped out. As she gets closer, you see the wound is old, dried blood caked on, and festering with maggots. She laughs at your reaction. “You couldn’t possibly take my heart again.”
“Wait… what?” you say. “I didn’t…” and suddenly you are not sure. “Did I?”
A new voice answers: “Of course you did, you abomination.” Kyndel seems larger, given even more bulk by a huge red jade axe. Without another word he swiftly hefts the axe and, with a silent stroke, removes Taryn’s head. Enraged, you move to attack him, but your feet seem tangled in something. The corpse of the crocodile has sprouted tendrils that enwrap your legs. You hear Taryn’s dismembered head say, “Ow! Bastard”. Meanwhile, her headless body moves behind you and grabs your arms with ease, holding you with an iron grip. As the tendrils wrap further around your legs, Kyndel approaches, lifting his axe high, and slicing it down into your shoulder.
You are back in the meeting with Sundial in Nexus. The meeting proceeds as you remember it, with the hooded figures talking about the deathlords and Rathess and the sword Soul Mirror. Throughout it all, however, is something you notice that you didn’t notice at the time: an additional presence in the room. It takes a while to figure out, distracting you throughout the meeting, but you eventually realize that there is someone hovering at the edge of the darkness, barely visible.
For some reason, this infuriates you, and you jump to your feet demanding to know who is there. Suddenly, the others in your circle are no longer present, and you stand alone across the table from the five cloaked forms of Sundial and the unknown form at the edge of the darkness. Two members of Sundial, Edge and Compass, are on you in a flash, you attempt to repel them, but your limbs suddenly feel like they weigh tons. The two force you into your chair, and Angle (another member of Sundial) climbs up on the table and crosses to stand over you. Pulling back her hood, Angle reveals herself as a thin, middle-aged woman, her attractiveness marred by a disdainful sneer. She holds up her hand in front of you, and suddenly you are naked, bound in iron bands to your chair. The two holding you drag your chair away from the table. Angle, in a sickly-sweet voice, says “Master, the Forsaken awaits you,” and indicates you with her chin.
The presence you felt at the edge of the darkness stirs, and footsteps click behind you. You heard the steely scrape of a sword being drawn. A fit man of indeterminate age enters your field of vision. He is impeccably dressed, carrying a thin blade made of a strange grey metal. In his other hand is a strip of paper covered in strange runes. As he turns to look at you, he holds one end of the paper against the base of his sword with his thumb. “Hello,” he says pleasantly, and you get a brief flash of his eyes, which are striking green, with odd green flecks in the pupils, like emerald stars.
Suddenly the runes on his paper begin to burn with a violet light, and he slowly wraps the paper around the blade, causing it to glow a dull burgundy. “You may not be strong enough to face the deathlords,” he says sadly. “Let us see.” He takes up a very strange martial stance, and with a wicked grin, slashes the burning blade across your chest.
It is night in Nexus. The woman you see jumping from roof to roof above you is just as you remember her: extremely attractive, with jet-black hair in a tight ponytail and a white-purple ring dully glowing on her forehead. Your impulse to talk to her remains just as strong as you remember, and you give chase. She sees you following and drops into an alley, with you right on her heels. Just as you land, she seems to melt into her own shadow and slip under the crack of a door. Boosting your strength, you shatter the door and walk through warily.
You pass into daylight, into a bright courtyard, opening to a picturesque, wooded river bank. Looking behind you, the doorway remains open into Nexus night, but the courtyard is clearly a different time and place. The dark haired woman is not there, but you are not alone. Kerin, the woman who “negotiated” for Divivitch’s moonsilver box in the bell tower, stands across the courtyard looking at you with an amused grin. On the grass outside is a girl in her late teens, sitting on the grass, surrounded by cut flowers which she seems to be chaining together in arrangements. The moonsilver box lies next to her, closed. Beyond, on the bank of the river, you make out the forms of five women, each one hurling a set of manacles into the river, and screaming with delight as they splash in.
You look back at Kerin and see she is no longer there, replaced by the foreign looking servant who accompanied you to Divivitch’s estate. With the same smile, she motions you to approach, but you hesitate. The girl on the lawn says “See?” to the servant and stands up, taking the moonsilver box with her. Sauntering towards you, the girl says “Let me take a look at you.” She walks around you appraisingly, but when her back is to the servant, she mouths to you “watch this.”
She twirls away from you, and walks to the servant. The teen girl opens the moonsilver box and removes a scarlet acorn. She stands directly in front of the servant and holds the seed up expectantly. Still smiling, the servant opens her mouth. The teen gently places the seed into the servant’s mouth. Upon swallowing the seed, the servant’s mood immediately changes, clutching her stomach and grimacing. Her body begins to shake, and the teen steps away from her, giving you a wink. The servant lifts her head up and screams, a loud, terrified shriek. Her features begin to blur and the scream shifts to be slightly lower, but still heart-rending. The face of the servant seems to fall to the floor like a mask, leaving a gorgeous red-haired woman you’ve never seen before. Her striking green eyes grow wide with fear and her voice is choked off as vines begin to grow from her mouth. The sprout quickly, quickly joined by others that spring from her body. Within seconds, she is unrecognizable, ripped to shreds by the plants growing through her.
Within a few seconds, the courtyard is filled with vines, growing without any sign of stopping. The teen begins to laugh, a black smoke staring to billow from her mouth. Outside, you hear the ground screaming as trees and other plants begin to erupt from the earth as far as the eye can see. The black smoke begins to fill the courtyard, swirled around by the thrashing vines, and soon blocks sight beyond a few feet in front of you. From out of the smoke comes a thick, thorny vine, aiming straight at your heart. You dodge it easily, but soon it has companions. Then more. Then more. The vines almost seem to toy with you, herding her around the room as you dodge. Time seems to slow as you dodge two vines, only to realize that your motion has moved right into another. You can still hear the teen laughing as the vine pierces your chest.