Excerpt: The Tree & the Egg


Excerpt from The Tree & the Egg

Naya was frozen and trapped inside herself, and yet she was aware. At first all she could feel was a dull pain. But gradually, her mind sorted through the different layers of misery and distinguished bad to worst. The closest spell to her skin was metallic and hard. It was solid and immovable, but it wasn’t as painful as the other two layers. The next layer stung like touching your finger on a hot stove or being stung by a dozen wasps. It made her skin feel like it was swelling with pain and heat. It was a spell made out of fire: not warm fire in a fireplace or even a raging forest fire, but hellfire. Every time she felt she would get accustomed to it another spark would hit, and she would try to flinch away all over again, but she could not move because of the first spell.

The third spell was not hot but cold, but it was an unearthly level of cold that burned as much as the fire. It was larger and surrounded her completely, and overtime it grew worse and worse as the cold seeped deep into her metal body. She could feel herself growing brittle.

All three spells were laced with darkness, which made it impossible for her to free herself from any of them. But in addition to the darkness there was also elemental magic. Naya concentrated on that. Stone, fire, water. In and of themselves, these were not bad things. Like a peacemaker soothing angry tribes, she soothed the elements and made peace with them. And they allowed her consciousness to pass by them and expand further into the psychic space beyond.

Physically, she had not moved but now her spirit was able to flitter around searching and exploring. The first thing she touched were the minds of the other Guardians who were trapped with her. Almost all of them were here but a few notable exceptions were missing.

She extended her mind further and found that there were not just 14 trapped souls nearby but dozens. Expanding further she found hundreds, and further she realized there were thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of trapped souls. Yet she sensed this was not Darkpyre. The souls were not chained to the Infernal Machine through their own addictions but caged like animals behind bars. The distinction was important because if the curse around the souls was broken, they would surge into freedom. 

Then, deep beneath the surface of the land, she touched very powerful and very somnolent minds. Some were powerful enchanters of elemental water, river dragons; the others were equally powerful adepts of Elemental Stone. Stone Dragons.

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