Closing her fists in the sand she steeled herself and pushed herself heavily to her feet, missing the buoyancy of the water already. She brushed the sand from herself as best she could, glad for the thin scraps of cloth wrapped around her breasts and hips and wishing she could have brought more. Even in the warmer breeze of summer, island seemed chill. She touched the rough twined rope that held the bag she carried tight to her back. If the stories were correct she needed a sacrifice to trade for favors. She only hoped that what she had brought would be acceptable.
Taking a deep breath to steady herself, she stepped forward, toward the darkness beneath the trees.
As she took another, then a third, she watched the shadows seem to lengthen, stretching toward her. She hesitated only briefly as her steps brought her to the edge of the jungle. She stared at the shadows then raised her head, squared her shoulder, and took a deliberate step forward, into the darkness.
The stories said that the Island of Eros had become home to a darkness so great that it threatened the world of Faetalia itself. She could sense the magic around her, pressing on her and found the stories easy to believe as she moved through the trees as quickly as she could manage in the darkness. Her eyes, accustomed to the depths of the ocean, were able to penetrate the dark with less success than she had been expecting. She knew that under normal circumstances the world should have been awash with colors that only Mer and other creatures of the water typically saw when there was little or no light available. And yet she could not pierce the shadows fully as she made her way forward.
She tripped, her foot catching against a root that she had not seen. While she grimaced with pain she picked herself up again without making a sound of protest and continued forward. She would not be deterred. Her journey through the darkness continued. The further forward she went the darker it became and the icier the chill. She knew as she struggled to pierce through to the center of the island that she was not welcome here. Not wanted. She felt that had anything else been living in this place she would have already fallen to a creature that wished her ill.
So the stories were right about that too.
Nothing was said to remain on the island of Eros except for its Master who ruled his kingdom of death with an iron fist. That many brave souls had risked his wrath before her made no difference in her dark and cold journey. She would never have come had she not been desperate. She would not have been desperate had she not meet him, but she had and she was. She continued to slip, falling frequently as she pushed forward. She seemed to have been swallowed fully by the darkness as she forced her way forward blindly. She accepted the bruises, the scrapes, the pain. If it meant she could have a chance with the man she loved with her whole heart then she would risk everything. She was risking everything, for this one chance. She hadn’t even told him where she was going, only asked that he wait long enough for her to go and return. She might already be too late as it was.
Something cracked just below her right knee, hard enough to bring a strangled cry to her lips as she fell yet again to the jungle’s floor. She swallowed the sound as best she could and struggled to her feet, limping forward.
And the darkness was gone, just like that.
She stopped, dazed and looked around. She seemed to be in a clearing filled once more with the silvery light of the full moon above her. The whole place seemed alive with magic, her sight restored to her as she stared around at the shifting, luminescent colors in wonder. Slowly, she limped further into the clearing, continuing to gaze around. The ground beneath her feet glowed a soft, but vivid green as she moved forward. She reached out; brushing her fingers against the intense blue glow of a flower she had never seen before. It uncurled beneath her fingers, a gentle scent swirling around her and making her feel lightheaded as she watched tiny golden beads of light drift from the open petals. This place… she knew that he had to be nearby. The stories had been right about so much she had to believe they would be right about the rest.