Mercy

There was a screeching, and a crashing of thunder, and a keening wail the likes of which Yan had never heard; still, his feet remained firmly planted while the terrified porters ran and jumped and tumbled down the hillside in an attempt to escape. He shouted into the swirling portal, “I hear you, Master, but I don’t understand. I fear you are in distress, but—”

“Oh, he is very much in distress.”

He turned to look. A girl had appeared, young, dressed in a bride’s robes, hair tied up in flowers and vines. Agreste. He shared the porters’ terror now, but there was no sense in running; the die was cast. “What have you done?”

“What I did, I did long ago, Priest of Troyal. He cannot be brought back in this way. All it grants him is pain.”

“Why…” There was another screech, short and knife-sharp. “…Why should I believe you?”

“You hear his pain. If you are truly faithful, you even feel it. The closer he gets, the more he is crushed.” She shuddered. “My brother’s punishment for opposing me was banishment, not this. Close the rift.”

Yan looked back into the swirling maw. “But…”

“For his sake.”

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