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Return To Manitou Island: Part 1

Darkness Awakens

FOR WHAT FELT to be ages upon ages, he awoke, slowly and gradually. It might have taken him a moment to open his eye; it might have taken a year. All he knew was that once he finally got it open...he was just a little bit late.

She was gone. The one whose energy he'd felt, who had prompted him to finally awaken himself...she was no longer there. The process of awakening had taken longer than he'd thought it would. Still, traces of her lingered in the air, and he could still sense her, not too far away. And so he didn't worry about her. One with much weaker medicine than his own had convinced her to come, so he could do the same. He had more important things to worry about first.

He opened his other eye, at last, and then attempted to stretch a leg. It took a moment or two before he could feel his body again; that was to be expected, considering how long he felt he must have been asleep. So much had changed since he'd last been awake. For one thing...

He paused and frowned at another significant change that had apparently taken place. The demoness. He couldn't sense her energy anywhere.

How much had happened since the last time he'd been awake?

He sent out a feeler, attempting to locate her. It took a while before he could, and he was surprised to find her sleeping, much as he had been, only not as willingly. Somebody had put her to sleep. Some medicine, stronger than her own, had done this.

He was impressed. The girl obviously had talent, to be able to do such a thing. He smiled to himself as he continued picking up on her dissipated energy. With each bit he learned more about her, until he knew her very thoughts as she had had them upon the Island. He knew how she'd come to be there, how she'd felt when she'd gone, how she was feeling now. The girl was smart, but she had a weak spot. He picked up on it almost immediately and his smile grew. It wouldn't take very much to convince her to come back, so he could see her for himself. Somebody powerful enough to put the demoness to sleep, he had to meet them personally.

After all, what was the point of waking up without a decent challenge to face? It had been a while since he'd had a good fight...the mainlander had proven she had a good fight in her. She'd been able to subdue the demon and save the Island.

He doubted she'd ever met anyone like himself, though.

A coldness entered the air, sending a breeze across the field, and the deer shied. Its dainty hooves thumped against the ground and its rider had to calm it before craning his neck and scenting the wind. He frowned.

There's something to it. Something not right.

It took him a moment or two to realize where and when he had felt this feeling before. With a surge of anxiety, he nudged the deer in the flanks and it sped off across the field, bounding through forest and over crags of rock and meandering streams. When it finally skidded to a halt he found himself staring at a pile of rubble, panting, and confused.

The gateway...

This wasn't where the feeling had come from, then. It couldn't have. But...the gateway was the only place they could get through to this realm...

Where could the feeling have come from if not the gateway...?

The breeze picked up again, and if he had been a more skittish person, he would have sworn the wind was laughing at him. He lifted his head to look at the sky but there was nothing to see. Just stars. And the hint of a sunrise in the east.

Where could it be coming from...?

The deer whistled and stamped a hoof. He lowered his wings, which had been tensed for flight although he had a mount; his brow furrowed and he clutched the reins tighter. That wasn't the question that was bothering him the most.

If it passes the gateway somehow...if it gets through...then what?

He couldn't bear to think about it. He had other more important things to do, rather than worry about a breeze and an uneasy feeling. Chiding himself for acting like a silly child, he turned the deer about and they raced back the way they had come, his inspection finished for the night. Someone else would take over now while he rested.

On their way back he sensed, however, that his rest would not be pleasant.

Not as long as this feeling loomed over the Island.

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