It’s cold. So dark and cold and she’s there, watching you, whispering in your head and you can’t escape. You scratch at the sides of your face, a weak gesture. Your blunt fingernails fail to find purchase on skin slick with sweat, blood, and frightened tears.
Alone again, so alone. How nice would it be, to never be alone again? Come closer, child.
You bite back a whimper, sinking your teeth into your arm. Your heaved breaths are stifled, and the pain helps clear your thoughts. Where are the others? You don’t want to open your eyes, don’t want to see her again. The hypnotizing sway of the serpents, so many eyes, so many voices in your head when there should be only one. These voices are not warm like Faylen’s had been, but icy cold and suffocating, drowning out your own.
Your stomach lurches. The taint of that creature’s flesh still sits, vile and corrupting on your tongue, in your teeth. You didn’t know, you didn’t know. You’re so sorry. You bite down on your arm harder, concentrating on the warmth and tang of your own blood as it sears from your skin.
Poor child, sweet child, why do you resist so? I can make this misery pass. Come closer.
A chorus of whispers accent her words and you flinch away from the wall. More of them are out there, searching for us, searching for the others. Where are they?
They left you behind. Why wouldn’t they? What care do they have for you? I care for you.
Stop, go away. Please, I don’t want this.
Oh, but I think you do. I’m here, in your head. Of course I know what you want. You miss them, your family, your friends? They don’t miss you. You did this to them.
Images of fire erupt behind your closed eyelids and you curl in on yourself, more tears sliding down to dilute the blood in your mouth. Your stomach lurches again.
Frantically, your other hand gropes for the totem around your neck, fist closing tightly around it. The carved designs dig into your palm and you try to remember. The sun, the sky, the green of the trees and the song of the birds. So long have these things been denied you.
Forget, child. I can show you much more incredible things, wonders you could never dream of. Let go, child. Let go.
A bellow echoes through the cavern and you freeze. No, they can’t be here, they left. They shouldn’t be here. Dread grips you, prickling across your skin. You led them here, you led them to her. They’ll die too and it’s your fault.
You. How dare you make yourself known to me here!