She tried to keep her mind still as she walked along the corridor, which curved around and sloped down, so that it became a spiral, arcing forever. Down and down and down, the firelight hissing and smoking around her, the silken cords of her robes swaying in a perfect rhythm as she moved. She clasped her hands. She unclasped them. She thought of her mother, far away and alone, and felt quite sad. And even when the voice filled her head suddenly, golden and majestic, she could not forget her loneliness. It spoke her name, her new one, her old one, names she’d never heard before but suddenly remembered, all her names from all her lives until now. It called her. It called her. And she was filled with new longing, felt tears falling from her eyes, and she ran now, ran down and down and down, nearly tripping, forgetting ritual and reverence. A light grew around her, and burned her eyes, and now she could feel him, and sobbed aloud in some strange joy.
She ran into the last chamber, sweaty and exhausted, her hair clinging to her face. Light was everywhere, everything was light. She felt him move near, and brought trembling fingers to her eyes, brushed aside veil and hair and wet. She saw white, she saw gold. She saw blue and sapphire and rust colored clouds, she saw burning mountains and broken seas and torn skies drowning in stars. Warm gentle hands took hers and lifted her up, and now she dared to look into his face. She was ready. She was prepared.
She saw the writhing tentacles just before they pierced her face, the sharp little maw before it began to feed. Dead little eyes stared somewhere past her, black and unmoving, like scars. She thought she heard chanting. Or screaming. Her mind was going. She remembered thinking, It is a lie. It was all a cruel dream.
And then another thought in her mind, not her own. Yes. It was a cruel dream.
I gave it to you.
And then, perfectly, nothing.