I placed my hands on the smooth scales of Sayeh’s back and took a deep breath. As I let it out, I tried to call back the stone that ran over her body, but it resisted. I pulled harder, fighting against an unseen force. Her body had been wrapped in the stone for too long, and it didn’t want to let go.
Reacting to the flame’s loss, several geysers burst open at once, raising the temperature within to melting point. Thunder and rumbling reverberated off the walls. Cracks grew across the bridge and the ceiling as liquid earth simmered and roiled around us.
I heard the sound of my heart shattering, taking with it the last glint of hope. I fell to my knees, letting out a howl from the depth of my soul. Selene cradled me in her arms as we rocked back and forth together. Sayeh was lost to me forever.
I turned to leave as a cool breeze blew through the cave with a haunting howl, sending a violent shudder through me. The curse. The curse is now mine to bear, I thought as I made my way back up and out of the cavern.
The things I did for my family. That made me remember the words burned on Tuttook’s hind leg. Words I’d seen before on an ancient scripture. A truth I’d come to learn since my return to the Pantheon. A truth we’d need to remember to finish our quest successfully.
They still saw the illusion, and I had a feeling no matter how many times they walked across the bridge, they’d end up at the beginning. “You have to trust me. I think this is part of a test. We have to trust each other and have enough faith to get through each challenge.”
You’re supposed to be the steady one, the one who dreams. But in those dreams, you’re focusing your attention on improving the world, and the heavens above. Heavenly spirit. Anime mundi…the world soul.
“Oh, but I am. I am you. The real you. What would your precious family say if they saw the real you? Do you think they would still love you? Would they love the Athena we both know you really are? Take a good look! This is who you really are. Who WE are.”