The dream plays over and over in her head.
She looks up and sees the Marksman, weapon trained upon her. She tries to speak to him as he curses her and lets his arrows fly. Ice saves her, but instead of frozen armour, she sees Azalen’s body take the arrows and fall inanimate at her feet. He looks up at her while dying, his three gemstone eyes glowing and grins wickedly. The body dissolves into a black patch of corruption, eating the already plagued grasses.
In horror, she looks up just in time to see the next arrow as it puts out her eye.
She is falling, and she can feel the hiss of the blackness as it begins to dissolve her skin away.
She cries out, flailing helplessly but the dream does not end.
Rapidly she heads into oblivion until she feels the tug of another. A skeletal hand grabs hers and pulls her closer. She is nothing but bones now, and her witch-light eyes flicker so she can again see.
Naxevo desperately claws down at her, trying to pull her out of the pit. His face is smeared with silver blood and his eyes are full of panic as she reaches for him. Below her, three glowing gemstone eyes melt back into Azalen’s face and he tries to pull her down with eight of his skeletal hands. Both faces open their mouths to shout at her, but the words intoned resonate with the dual baritone voice of the abomination Sigmah:
“Love is a lie.”
Her eyes go dark with the sound of snapping bones.
Insein starts awake and looks back at Naxevo, who has fallen to rest around her. She is scared, and with a kiss gently disentangles herself from him. She needs to go find a place of peace for the day. With barely a glance in the direction of her shambled paperwork, she collects a half dozen pinkish books from her collection, stowed behind more illustrious tomes as they are, and crams them in her satchel. With a trip to her kitchen she collects leaves for tea and a pot as well as the remainder of her more fresh biscuits.
She almost jumps as she notices Shame sleeping on one of the beds downstairs, but then relaxes and gives a nod to Grolmok standing silent and immobile in the shadows nearby. Lily watches from the other bed with a look of pure disgust towards the necromancer and her guardian, then glares at Insein.
“I need to be alone today. Do not worry, I will be someplace safe. Treat Shame and Grolmok as guests, and ensure Naxevo is not worried. I will be home soon.”
Hastily, she slips out of the door and mounts her skeletal wyrm. It knows the way, and knows what its master wants. Deep into the Plaguelands she flies until she is at the crypt. The Master is not in, but she feels his energy in the wards and in the myriad undead that line the pitch black walls as she descends. It is safe here, soothing. Everything is dead and they ignore her just as she wants them to.
She crawls into a small corner of an almost forgotten hallway and makes a cup of tea. It is during this small ritual that she notices that there is another presence. She had almost forgotten about the living captive, but his unmistakable heartbeat resonates in perfect clarity throughout the silent halls, and every undead listens and knows he is there.
With purpose, Insein walks down the hallway towards the circle. The elf sits there, eyes closed, listening perhaps. There is no light to see. Almost delicately she places the biscuits next to him, as well as a small glass of water. She leaves the room as silently as she came.
Back in her hallway, Insein sits and takes a sip of tea. Opening her book, she attempts to drown out the heartbeat and reads the title of the first story:
The Very Virile Virkul
Love can be a lie, but if it was then she would continue down the path of the damned. It was only a matter of time.