Prayer for the Dying Prologue

Left Senseless

By Hyper Angel

"You there… Girl… Wake up!"

Young Vitani Angiao’s jade eyes opened reluctantly, still heavy from the deep slumber she had meant to be only a short nap.
Night had already begun to set in, as the former resident of zeal sleepily noted. The wan firelight from the hearth at the hut’s edge now made a much greater effort in warding off the darkness from the decrepit shelter she had been assigned, or as she saw it forced, to remain in for the past several hours.

The first thing she became aware of, even before the biting chill from the growing twilight outside, was the shadowed figure standing ominously in the doorway.

She need ask no questions of the newcomer, she was too groggy to do so as it was. Without a word, he stepped into the hut, careful not to step on the two ‘foreigners’ whom Vitani had been assigned to watch as he came forward into the firelight. This was the owner of the voice who had woken her, as she guessed in the moment of eyeing him. However, his low voice, which seemed even colder than the outside’s winds, did not place at all within her memory as belonging to any of the other survivors she had grown to know in the past days.

Finally, as he stepped forward into the light, and as Vitani’s own senses began to clear a little from her sleep, she was able to make out the features beyond his voice. Now even the weak flames across from him seemed to dance wildly in his presence, as though they opted to communicate some mad signal there was something odd about him.

The newcomer stood at least six feet tall, his head nearly scraped against the laughable excuse for a roof to the hut. His head of flowing blue hair, though a bit lighter than Vitani’s own, was a clear sign that he was a, or rather a former, Zealian.

Thus, although he was a stranger, any of her own were a welcome sight to Vitani’s eyes. She still despised the fact the great residents of the fallen kingdom were forced to live with the wretched underlings of the Terra.
‘It’s for the better this way’, the self-proclaimed leaders of their shattered community declared. The people have Zeal had lost their powers as it were, it made them no better than the earthbound ones now.

What a disgrace it was, to be forced to live with slaves in order to survive. Yet Vitani, sadly the now orphaned daughter of the great Kajaran Scholar, Gryvaes, was still reluctant to except the new life she had been thrust into. Her upbringing meant of course she wasn’t one to question this stranger’s sudden appearance in the hut. By the looks of him, he must have been a very high ranking advisor or scholar of Zeal, even if Vitani still couldn’t ever remember seeing him before, and even if his clothes did look a bit odd considering the usual Zeal fashions.

His skin was deathly pale, so much so that even the snow that covered the ground outside just might have been nearly darker than its’ tone. His sapphire hair, though a bit darker in tint than most Zealian’s, was swept back smoothly so that the length of it cascade along his back and danced about from the chilling winds that blew in from the hut’s open doorway. To Vitani, the most intriguing aspect of his appearance, other than his sharply pointed ears, was the cold, brooding look within his crimson colored eyes.
If only she could read his aura as she could do before Zeal fell! His would definitely be an interesting psyche, just judging by the look of him it was clear that had to be true.

It was just then, in an odd, almost disturbing twist, the stranger glanced up to her in the very exact instant the thoughts crossed Vitani’s mind. The dark, malicious look upon his face deepened still. This being the first time Vitani looked directly into his face, her first reaction was that of terrible fright, but at the same time it was intertwined with a feeling of purely ecstatic intrigue and excitement.

The stranger shifted his weight to a casual stance, his crimson eyes still fixed intently upon her.
Those eyes… it felt as if their very gaze was slicing into Vitani’s soul.

"You…" His voice was deep and stern, the very sound of it sent chills racing along Vitani’s spine as he spoke. "You are in charge of these two here, correct?"

His gaze upon her was unwavering, as if he intended to hold it upon her until she broke. If that was the case, he was doing a good job of it, Vitani felt nearly driven to drop to her knees out of both fear and respect from this stranger, a notion she could make no sense of otherwise. What made her feel this way about him though? Never had she seen this cold shadow of a man in her life, he should mean nothing to her. Yet his gaze, so dark and piercing, evoked some primal fear within she could never hope to place. Her father had spoken of this feeling once before, one that comes from the very darkness and…

"Well?" The stranger’s impatient words tore Vitani from her thoughts. "Are you?"

"Oh…" Vitani barely managed to find her voice amongst the awe, fear, and confusion that bubbled within her. "Yes… I am… Uh, for the time being that is. You see, it’s my shift to keep watch, and… and the Chief wants to know as soon as they awake because…"

"Yes, yes…" The man literally waved her words away with a quick flip of his gloved hand. "But… These are the only two you found after the fall?"

"Oh… yes." Said Vitani. "Rumor has it they were right in the center of all the chaos… That’s why the chief wants them watched so closely. It’s been three days now since we found them. Yet, since it’s said they managed to survive all… all that, then."

"I’m sure it is all very intriguing."
Again, the stranger quickly interjected. Vitani noticed, even in the dim flicker of the hearth’s firelight, that his morose, thoughtful looks had deepened slightly as he spoke now. "That will do…" He paused, glancing to her as a cue.

She nearly froze within his gaze instead of answering. "Uh… Vitani! My name is Vitani Angiao, sir."

"Well then." The stranger said curtly. "Thank you… Vitani, that is I wanted to know."

The man turned abruptly, his deep crimson cape even brushing against Vitani from where she half stood, half sat, from her place in the make-shift hammock of the hut’s one firm corner.
In that moment, that action, above anything else, all Vitani wanted was to call out to him, beg him to stay. The words failed her though, and she could only sit back, dumbfounded, as the mysterious man left just as quickly and as silently as he had entered.

This was all so strange, too strange. There was no way she could explain any of this when it came time for one of the others to relieve her from her watch. So I just will not tell them. She told herself with an inward smile.

Still, she didn’t understand it. What was so special about these two strangers that the Elders wanted them to be watched so closely? Vitani slowly shifted down from the hammock as she pondered this, kneeling down as so to get a closer look at them. It made no real difference, even as she could make out their features more clearly in the dim light, there was till nothing special about them.

They were simply freaks as Vitani saw them, never had she heard of a Terran or Zealian like them before, and their clothes were just as strange to match.

One of the two was a girl, about the same age as Vitani herself. Her hair, an odd fiery red color, was tied back into a tight ponytail, though several loose strands dangled upon her still, sleeping face. The clothes she wore were made of a billowing white garment, neither like the rags of the Terrans or the regal gowns of the Zealians. What intrigued Vitani most was the pendant draped over her shoulder, the Elder appointed out of the survivors of the fall had left it on her as it had been when the search teams had found those two. He had given strict orders that no one, not even assigned guards such as Vitani, were to touch it.

By far, the oddest, even disturbing, of the duo, was the second foreigner they had found amongst the snow plains. Vitani had never seen anything like this creature before in her life.
It was not totally a man, but like a combination of some other thing. Vitani had remembered hearing of something like it before amongst one of Zeal’s libraries of ancient species, it was some creature called a frog if she remembered correctly. The sight of that one send chills down her spine every time she looked upon it, its eyes were huge golden orbs, and though they had been closed in its unconsciousness for nearly two days now, it looked almost as if they were open still.

Vitani had kept her distance from the two since her watch had started several hours ago. Too afraid to look closer upon them, she instead took sanctuary in the near threadbare hammock one of the earthbound ones had placed within the hut for the watchers. The sun had long since made its retreat over the thawing horizon, making the wan flicker from the hearth in the corner a great deal more visible as darkness had crept in, even if it was a sad excuse for a flame.

Silence was the only sound to be heard within the makeshift hovel, it seemed even more so as Vitani surveyed her two charges for what felt like the thousandth time on her shift. After all, there was no one awake to converse with, and the other survivors of the fall were more than likely gathered at the commons with the elder, desperately trying to adjust to their new surroundings, even lifestyle. In fact, the stranger that had intruded upon her watch was nearly the first person she had seen all evening, much less talked to.

A rustling howl of the wind was heard from outside. The cold stillness that followed wouldn’t have concerned Vitani otherwise, yet it left chance for the one sound to penetrate it to seem even louder.
The red-haired girl stirred, lazily raising one hand in a yawn as if she had only just woken from a long, pleasant sleep. The expression on her face proved otherwise. Though her eyes were still closed, Vitani could clearly see the look of distraught anguish upon her pale face.

A split second after, the girl’s eyes snapped open, and with it she jerked upright with the shattering cry of "Crono!" Vitani simply froze where she sat, the two had been unconscious for three days; why now, on her watch, did they have to come to?

Nearly falling over herself as she bolted upright to her feet. The cold earthen floor stabbed through the nearly threadbare fabric of her shoes as she lighted upon the ground. Not once looking back to the now fully awake foreign girl, Vitani made a mad dash though the hut’s door and into the snowy covered wilderness outside. The firelight of the commons was in clear sight from where she exited out into. She wasted no time making this, what was to her terrifying, event, to the others of the gathering.

Though stricken back by the biting cold of the night, Vitani began waving her hands about wildly, even if it was nearly impossible to see in the darkness. "Everyone! Everyone!" She cried at the top of her voice. "They’re up! They’ve awoken!"

And then, much to her own relief, several shadowed figures emerged from the wall of trees that lined the common ground, one of which struggled to stagger full speed with the aide of a gnarled wooden cane. Breathing a small sigh of relief, and now filled with renewed confidence from seeing the others were coming, Vitani turned back to the hut behind her.

The red-haired girl was sitting up already, and her frog-man companion two, had awoken in the time Vitani had left (It would have been hard not to from the din she had just created). His huge golden eyes rose to meet her as she strode shakily back into the warmth of the hut, and the girl, still only half awake, did the same several seconds later.

Her mesmerizing green eyes stared up at Vitani with a look of weary despair. "Where is he…?" She murmured, though it didn’t appear she had asked it t anyone in particular, least of all Vitani.

Still too confused and shaken to answer the strange girl question, Vitani gave a slight shake of her head to signal she did not know how to answer it. And finally, as if he knew someone had to end all the tension, the frog-man stood up. He couldn’t have been taller than four heads by Zeal measure, at the most. Even more surprising, he spoke.

A distorted, though apparently reassuring smile, crossed upon the frog-man’s ghastly lips. "Mayhap it would be best if we gave all this some time... From the looks of it…" He gestured to the hut they stood in. "Quite a lot has happened now, and I’m sure there is quite a lot to be explained, correct?"

He finished speaking just as the Terran elder and a small group of curious others entered into the suddenly cramped space of the hut. Vitani, as it seemed like she would never be able to compose herself from all the sudden chain of events that had been triggered in her watch, simple nodded and gasped "Y-yes… That would help…"

They were simple, terse words, but they were enough. There was a lot to be talked of… The appearance of Lavos. Queen Zeal, who had apparently lost her mind totally in those final hours. The continent of Zeal itself, which now lay deep below the ocean along with the lost Ocean Palace. It was impossible to know where to begin, but the Elder, who now staggered slowly forward from the small group of former Zealians, Nu, and Terrans, obviously intended to find some way, some place, to begin to make sense of it all.
For the first time, Vitani saw these two strangers were the key to unlocking these mysteries, perhaps even mores beyond those.

They sought to make sense of what, in reality, made no sense at all…


To be continued….


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