1.1 Elysa

The white light remained for minutes.


I can… think?

Is this the afterlife?

My parents… are they here?

I wanted to see them, to hug them. I wanted them to tell me they still loved me, even though I survived and they didn’t.

Not a day went by where I didn’t think back to that day, where their lives were so suddenly cut short by the same race that ended my own life seemingly moments ago.

Rage welled up inside me. Despite my training and anger management, I still couldn’t help but feel infuriated whenever I thought back to that one moment, to the travesties that humans had committed upon my family many years ago.

“Kealyna?” A soothing female voice called out.

Who was there?

I couldn’t see anything. The light was too bright.

“H-hello?” I managed to speak.

“Kealyna Swiftflare?” The same voice called out my name once more.

Nobody had called me by my last name in years. Who did this voice belong to?

The light dimmed and I could make out shapes as my vision cleared. When my vision was no longer hazy, I saw a familiar figure sitting on a chair behind a simple wooden desk.

I got to my knees and bowed my head down as low as I could.

There was no mistaking it. This was our goddess, Elysa. The long elven ears, blond hair, shining blue eyes, and most noticeably, the golden wreath of vines with purple flowers on her head, confirmed it. She was exactly like all of the depictions I knew.

I kept my head low, not wanting to offend her, when I heard a soft giggle coming from her.

“Rise, Kealyna.”

I did as she told me, but didn’t dare to look at her. Instead, I looked at my surroundings.

I found myself in some kind of stone building. There were no doors, no windows, no decorations, nothing. It was just grey stone. The only oddities were the goddess before me, some sort of low pedestal that I stood on that was raised a mere inch from the floor, and a rectangular blue portal behind me.

Another soft giggle came from the goddess. “It’s okay, you can look at me.”

I obeyed her once more, and felt myself relax at her smile.

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“Where am I?” I asked the first question that came to mind.

“I pulled you into my ‘office’ so to say, after you died.”

“Are they…” I started.

She nodded. “Your sacrifice bought enough time and saved them. It’s the reason I pulled you here.”

I sighed in relief. At least those girls wouldn’t have to go through the misery of growing up without their parents… like me.

My parents and I had been traveling by carriage before we got ambushed by humans. We didn’t have much protection. We could only enlist four soldiers who had been killed within a minute before my parents were slain after being forcibly dragged out of the vehicle. They planned to do the same to me, but one of the bandits had the idea to sell me as a slave.

I had been spared that fate at least, when elven soldiers later found the bandit camp and left no man alive. They had taken me back to the nearest elven city and left me at an orphanage.

My life had been harsh every day in that shithole. The food was cold, the beds hard, and the staff rough. As soon as I had come of age, I enlisted for knight training, pretty much the only escape available to orphans.

I’d learned how to wield a weapon and how to control magic. I’d learned discipline and had grown strong to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. I had vowed to not let the same fate befall anyone else as long as I could help it.

I guess that was exactly what led me to end up here… If the goddess’s words were anything to go by…

“I see that the events of that day still weigh heavily on your heart,” The goddess continued.

I nodded, a tear forming in my eye.

“I’ve chosen to reward you for your noble deeds. I wish to give you the happiness that has eluded you. Would you like to start over from before that day? I’d wipe your memories of all the pain you’ve been through, so you can live as happy a life as I can offer.”

I could be with my parents again? Where I was loved and protected? Where kindness was shown to me every day of my life?

I wanted to. I had wished for this every day. Even if it cost me all that I’d become, I wished for nothing more than to see their smiles again.

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“Your parents are already waiting for you on the other side of the portal behind you.”

I turned around and watched the blue portal. Upon closer inspection, I could see that the blue color was that of the sky, and that there were several small clouds in it. The perfect summer day was waiting on the other side, as was a perfect life…

“Is it okay?” I asked. “Can I really have all this?”

I didn’t know why I asked this to a goddess of all beings. If anyone knew about this, it would be her. I guessed I still couldn’t believe any of it.

“Yes,” Elysa spoke with her gentle voice. “You can.”

I turned around to face the goddess once more and bowed my head, paying my respects. “Thank you. I don’t know what to say…”

“You don’t have to say anything,” Elysa said with a warm smile on her face. “Just go to your parents and enjoy life as it should be.”

“Thank you,” I said once more as I turned around and walked to the portal. I knew most of my memories would be wiped, but I would gladly give them up for what awaited me.

I was about to step through the portal when suddenly the blue sky beyond it turned pitch black. At the same time, a gust of cold air came from it and sent shivers down my spine. I knew at that moment that something had gone wrong.

The darkness beyond the portal felt unnatural, and I could see it expanding from out of the portal. I turned around to get away, but found that I couldn’t move after facing the other way. Black tendrils of shadowy energy had grown from the portal and entangled themselves around my arms and legs. I could see that Elysa was standing upright with shock in her eyes.

Panic flooded through me when I noticed the look on Elysa’s face. I wanted to ask what was going on, but the cold, dark that grasped me had also somehow muted me as my entire body went limp. I couldn’t utter a single word.

The tendrils then started pulling me into the portal behind me. My strength had left my body and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

“Kealyna!” Elysa let out as I saw her extend an arm.

It was obvious that none of this was of her doing. The goddess clearly wasn’t sure what was going on herself.

I was about to be pulled into the portal when I saw a blue stream of energy shoot from Elysa’s extended arm. It was aimed directly at me and for a moment I thought I would be saved. The stream connected with my torso and I felt an immense amount of energy enter my body. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to be enough as the grasp on me didn’t weaken.

I was then pulled through the portal and everything around me went black.

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