"Mirror, mirror, she must be seen. What is she doing? Where is my queen?" Beritra ordered the artifact in hope it will give him at least one postive information, since it was unable to find any functional or repairable portal leading to Hyperion. But he was disappointed again. The woman he made his queen was still in a bed, as the previous day, but the bed was different. And around her there weren't Dragonbound, they were daevas! How could that happen! Yesterday she was still in Sillus fortress! No army was marching there, no one had conquered it. How could she disappear from a fortress guarded by half of his army?!

He raged. After few moments he left his room, went to the roof and changed his form. Venting his anger on his underlings was one thing, but punishing them for their incompetence was something completely different. And he will make sure they'll remember that.

~ x ~

He was dreaming. Since he returned from the fotress occupied by Balaur he's been dreaming. There was fire. There was always fire, but it didn't feel hostile and burning but rather friendly and warm. And then there was the kiss. Every time, just before he woke up a perfect person appeared in his dream and kissed him. He always tried to spot how she looked like, but the more he tried, the faster the dream ended. He could only remember a red colour of a sunset. And he woke up. He was resting in his bed, staring at the ceiling and remembering the dream. A kiss among fires. He wasn't even sure if it really happened. He was half delirious and his last memory were two hazy figures flying towards him.

"So you're awake, young man, hm?" an older strict nurse entered his room and put a tray with soup and bread on a small dresser next to his bed. Then she checked his temperature and irises. "You finally look alive today. Eat it before it gets cold," she ordered him and left the room. It was harsh behaviour, but he couldn't blame her. He was an Elyos inside of Asmodian base, any portion of hostility was expected. He recollected the past few days. They brought him here ten days ago, feverish, delirious and with almost all his organs malfunctioning. Once they stabilised him and his fever dropped off, the Empyrean lords immediately demanded interrogation. He would expect only lady Triniel's visit, but also lords Vaizel, Marchutan and Nezekan came, all of them wanted to hear what happened in the Sillus fortress. Fortunately for him they all came at once so he didn't have to repeat his report. They weren't happy to hear that, but before they left, lord Nezekan sincerely thanked him for bringing Chellia back, even if it was against her will. After their questioning ended, no one came to visit him. Except the old nurse, who considered him an annoyance. But despite of her cold behaviour she treated him as every other patient. He didn't suffer from lack of food or medical care here, the only thing he missed was warm word. And the ending of his dream.

He sat up and put the food plate on his lap. The soup was hot and filling, but not too demanding for his body to digest. Even the taste was surprisingly good. He was terribly hungry, but controlled himself and ate slowly. It would be no good if he returned the meal after he just finished it. Half an hour later he was still alone in his room, so he tried to get up and walk a bit. He was trying since the day he fully regained consciousness and to his surprise, it wasn't as bad as he expected. He was weak, of course, but he was able to walk across his room and back to his bed without collapsing. It drained him, but his muscles, no matter how feeble, obeyed his will until he was in his bed again. He planned to keep these exercises secret from the old nurse, but she found out pretty quickly. She didn't scold him, only ordered him to go back to the bed and became even grumpier than before.

"It's good to see you're recovering well," a voice used to command said from the door.

"Oh... good morning, general Vard," Shade turned towards his visitor.

"I have few questions for you."

"I thought the interrogation was over," the assassin objected.

"Yes, the Empyrean lords have all the information they wanted from you," the general nodded. "But that doesn't mean I do."

"Alright, general, ask then," Shade smiled politely and sat at the edge of his bed. He still wasn't in a shape good enough.

"Why did you choose Danuar Spire over Kaisinel's Beacon?"

"They cut me off at Torn land, if I were alone, I would sneak around them, but I wasn't. Danuar Spire was my best chance how to get her from Beritra. I knew there were those truce negotiations, I didn't know the outcome, but even if we still were at war, I would rather hand her over to Asmodians than Balaur."

"What happened at the crossroad? How did your pursuers die?" the commander of this fortress was frowning. Apparently that event has cost him something, but Shade couldn't tell what.

"I'm sorry, general, but I don't remember. My only thought was to keep running, but then I saw some people, daevas I think. I wanted to ask for help, but I don't know if I did. All I remember after that was fire. But I have no idea if it was real or my mind was just burning," he kept the kiss secret, there was no need to tell this Asmodian about that.

"That's all I needed. And since you're healthy enough now, you're leaving tomorrow. You can walk freely away, or be teleported to Kamar or Kaisinel's Beacon, that's up to you," Vard told him of his decision and left the room.

~ x ~

She was dreaming. Since the day she arrived at Kaisinel's Beacon, she had the same dream over and over. It was full of fire. Everything was burning and the wildfire consumed every single thing in its way. It started with Balaur, then some unknown Elyos and Asmodian soldiers and then familiar faces appeared. That templar called Wolf, then Canta, then her brother, then... NO! When the face of the current Lady of Life was surrounded by those hungry flames, she woke up with icy fear clutching her heart. She was sitting on her bed, sweat was soaking into her night dress and tears were flowing from her eyes like waterfalls.

"I don't have that much power," she kept whispering in order to calm down. "I don't have that much power."

"What's wrong?" Canta sleepily rolled on her bed on the other side of their room and tried to see through the darkness of Katalamian night. "Bad dream again?"

"Uh... hm..."

"And will you tell me about it? It could help you."

"That's none of your business, Canta. Go back to sleep," Shien replied without even looking at her.

"You're wrong, it is my business," the songweaver got up and half blind crossed the room to sit next to her roommate. "You're my friend, Shien... well, at least I consider you friend, I know you don't like that idea. But our spells resonated..."

"Don't talk about that! And I'm not your friend!" Shien raised her voice and ran out of the room. She was running through the half empty halls of Kaisinel's Beacon, her bare feet flapped on the cold stone floor. As if it wasn't enough that she was alone in the fortress full of those sun-blasted, white-winged, cruel Elyos! No, there was that dream of destruction, one dream repeating every night or any time she closed her eyes. She tried not to sleep at all, but it didn't help. After two days she was so tired she just lost her consciousness and the dream returned again. There was no escape from it. She stopped near one of the windows and looked outside. The moon, which was never seen in Asmodae, was casting its dim silver light over the land and making the night as bright as Asmodian day.

"Shien, tell me, what's wrong," the young songweaver appeared out of nowhere, she had a cloak over her night dress and her harp ready in her hands. "I'm really trying to help you."

"Why?" she snapped at her. "Why would any Elyos try to help me?"

"Because you're a good person and you're suffering. Don't think I didn't notice it. You're pale, you wake up every night in tears... It's so sad, Shien. Do you really hate this place that much?"

"It's full of Elyos," Shien replied bitterly. "How can I ever feel comfortable here?"

"But we are not all that bad. We are just people, like you or... anyone..." Canta was puzzled. "I really wish you trusted me, I..." she took a deep breath. "I know you're afraid of your power. But you don't need to be!"

"I'm not afraid," the sorceress objected. But it was a lie. Deep inside her soul she was always terrified of being unable to control the power she had. And the resonance, or as Canta called it, unison, just triggered something and those fears surfaced. "And you... mind your own business."

"As I told you, your health is my business."

"No, it's not!"

"Could you return to our room? I want to talk with you in private, without being overheard by some random people," the songweaver suggested with serious face. Shien has never seen her with an expression like this.

"Fine," she gave up. It was getting cold being barefoot here anyway.

They returned into their room in silence. Shien immediately crawled under her blanket, but Canta took a lamp and brought it to her.

"Can you light it up?"

"I can see fine," Shien refused.

"But I cannot. And I don't like speaking with someone whos face I can't see. Please, Shien, light it up."

The sorceress sat and stretched her hand towards the lamp. After few seconds she withdrew it and shook her head.

"No, I won't do that."

"As I thought," Canta sighed sadly and put the lamp on the table. Then she took her harp and played few tones, until a little flame appeared inside the lamp and the warm light filled the room. "Now, tell me what's worrying you," she smiled and sat next to her friend.

"You wanted to talk with me, so tell me what do you want and don't ask stupid questions," Shien frowned.

"Alright, but I might be wrong with my theories, it would be better if you told me. You're acting strange, Shien. I know it's hard for you to be here, I felt terrible when I was in Danuar Spire and it was only for a short time," she sighed. "But that's not the saddest thing. I've heard you're a good sorceress. Especially tallented with fire spells. And I confirmed that when we were leaving Danuar Spire. But since then you haven't cast a single elemental spell, no fire, no ice, no wind... And few days before, when the Balaur attacked this place, instead of fighting them you just created a shield! Where have all your spells gone?"

"You have a ton of sorcerers here, you don't need my spells."

"It's not about if we need you or not!" Canta raised her voice in anger. "It's about you being hurt by something and I want to help you! And don't make excuses like 'I don't want your help 'cause you're Elyos', lady May is Elyos too and you were willing to defend her even at the cost of your own life!"

"Don't drag her into this, she had nothing to do with it."

"But she also cares about you and she will be very sad, when she finds out you're like this."

"Don't you dare to tell her anything about me."

"I don't have to, she'll read the reports from the Beacon," Canta shrugged. "Now, tell me, please, what's going on. Why are you waking up in the middle of night and repeating 'I don't have that much power'?"

"You heard that?"

"We're in the same room, of course I heard that."

"I... I have nightmares," Shien admitted. "About that day we... defeated those Balaur at the crossroad. I thought I had it under control, but when I unleashed that spell, it was... too strong, that power... if it was mine, then I... I don't want to hurt anyone with it, if it goes out of control again."

"But you did have it under control," Canta objected. "You burned only those Balaur. We stayed safe. Even Shade and that girl he carried, they didn't have single burn on them. I'm sorry, that I caused this, Shien. But I panicked and I just knew you couldn't defeat them alone, so I tried to give you more power, to feed your spell with mine... And you controlled it perfectly!"

"No, Canta, I... I should have known what the spell will do before I threw it at them. Even if half of it was your power, not mine, I should have known what happens. But I didn't. That's the worst part. I didn't know what I was casting."

"I know you didn't expect the unison, but otherwise you did great. The Balaur are dead and we're all alive. At least I hope Shade made it, he looked really bad."

"Shade? You know that man?" Shien herself didn't know anyone called Shade, but it was obvious who is Canta talking about. There was only one non-Balaur man on that crossroad at that time. And it was about time to change the topic.

"Yes, me, Wolf, Shade and few others who Ascended in the same month had the initial Daeva lessons together," the songweaver smiled. "The flying lessons were the amazing. I was really bad at flying, but we had fun. But after all that we went our separate ways. Wolf became one of Miragent's Holy Templars, Shade is now one of the best spies and he gets orders from lady Ariel herself. There was one really nice guy, I think his name was Freedo, but I've never seen him after that. I think he went to Inggison. He was a sorcerer like you," Canta's smile became a bit sad. "Everyone I met there achieved something they could be proud of. But me... I wasted my life in safety of Sanctum, I'm nothing..."

"What? Who told you that?" Shien asked in disbelief. "You're not nothing!"

"Than what am I?" she looked at her helplessly.

"Ehm... not what, but who. You're not a thing, you're a person."

"Yeah, person... right..."

"Come here," Shien hugged her. "I guess we're meant to stick together, we're both helpless..."

"It sounds really bad if you say it like this..."

"It sounds as you want to hear it. Now go back to sleep, dawn is near and we'll need to be fresh tomorrow."

"But... will you be alright?" Canta looked at her friend with concern.

"Maybe," the sorceress shrugged. "I don't know. But I don't have this nightmare more than once a night."

~ x ~

"No, I won't allow that. Not even if it's you asking for it," Triniel resolutely shook her head and angrily glared at Kahrun, who was sitting behind his desk and watching her with calm of his own.

"Your spiritmasters were unable to cure her, so there's no other way," her son objected. "And I don't like her being Beritra's toy. That's dangerous not only for her, but also for everyone around."

"I will find the cure myself, I will even give up my life for it, but I won't let that freak touch her," the Lady of Death was adamant.

"He won't hurt her, Triniel," Nezekan said.

"But he tried to kill her, you said that yourself!"

"Calm down, please. There's no way I would let anyone to hurt Chellia. And she's hurt right now, she needs cure. Not for her only, but for all of us. Beritra's Balaur increased their attacks on Danuar Spire and Kaisinel's Beacon after she was taken from Sillus. We need to know what she knows. We need her on our side now."

"And what side is that, Nezekan? Elyos?" a jolt of fear of losing her daughter again struck her heart.

"Yes, Elyos," the Lord of Justice replied firmly. "Or Asmodian. Or Reian. I have no problem with either of the three, it's up to her to choose. With you or Kahrun, she'll be in a good care. But I do have a problem when my daugther is siding with the Balaur. I trust Kaisinel enough to let him look into her mind and repair any damage Beritra has left there."

"But he hates her..."

"I asked him already, he gave me his word he won't do her any harm," Nezekan took her hand gently. "If you wish, I will be there the whole time when he'll be looking at her, you can be there too. But he's the best and he can help her."

"I don't trust him, Nezekan, I... can't trust him."

"Mother, stop this," Kahrun said suddenly. "Stop worrying about her as if she was a little baby. She's a daeva. As I understand what you told me, Kaisinel already looked into her mind, he will then know what to look for. I agree with father, we have no other option."

"Even you, Kahrun..."

"And after she's cured, I'd like to have her here in Kamar," the Reian leader continued. "With her status as a child of two Empyrean lords she should remain in a neutral land, until she grows and learns enough. And I want to keep secret I'm her brother for now."

"You're right," Triniel gave up. "I'll give orders to general Vard to expect Kaisinel's arrival."

"Thank you, Triniel," Nezekan smiled with relief. "I will protect her no matter what."

"I know. I will be there too. Take care, both of you," with these words the Lady of Death left the office.

"I've never seen her like this," Kahrun looked at his father. "She looks so fragile, as if she should break at any moment."

"When she lost you, it broke her heart. And then the same thing happened with Chellia. And though she would never admit it, she's still grieving over Yustiel. They were very close before the Cataclysm," Nezekan explained. "I can't even imagine what's going through her mind right now."

"But you're worried too, right?"

"Yes, I'm worried sick," the Lord of Justice nodded. "But I can trust Kaisinel he'll do his best. I can trust him he'll never hurt Chellia. Triniel can't do that. There's too much hatred between them."

"Care to share?"

"No, Kahrun, that's between them. Even I don't dare to interfere in it. I'd better go, the sooner I see Kaisinel, the sooner he can start."

~ x ~

The old nurse brought Shade his old clothes, armour, weapons and everything he had the day he collapsed in front of Danuar Spire and let him dress up. He thanked her and enjoyed the feeling of wearing something else than generic infirmary shirt. Everything was cleaned, the weapons were properly polished and nothing was missing. Even the few very rare poisons he carried around on his missions were on their places. He changed the dress, tied up the straps on his armour and tried his grip on the weapons. He sighed in relief, the feeling of familiarity didn't disappear and he could use the weapons as naturally as he did before. The only thing he lacked was physical strength.

He sat on the bed and patiently waited for someone to take him out of here. He would be able to find the way if he tried, but he decided not to, as roaming around alone in an Asmodian fortress could look suspicious. The truce was still too fresh, he didn't want to risk accusations of spying. After half an hour the door opened and the old nurse entered the room accompanied by a guard.

"You're leaving the Spire," the nurse said. "We can arrange you teleport to Kaisinel's Beacon or Kamar, or you can walk away on your own."

"Beacon then, thank you," Shade nodded and followed her. Originally he wanted to go to Sarpan and from there back to Elysea, where he was ordered to spend few weeks in training and recuperating his strength, but the dialogue between him and general Vard made him change his plans. He was told the people he met on that crossroad, were on their way to the Beacon, so he hoped to find them there and finally get to know what happened. If the general himself was distressed like this about that, something really strange must have happened there.

Without other words the nurse led him out of the fortress to the teleport station. There she instructed the Elyos sorcerer and within few minutes Shade appeared in front of Kaisinel's Beacon. It was quite calming to see the Elyos around him. In the Spire he learnt that he met the one person who was supposed to be stationed here for creating portals to the Asmodian fortress. It shouldn't be so hard to find one Asmodian in a place full of Elyos. He still had time, so he decided to do a bit of sightseeing and absorb the current mood here before he starts to act.

"Shade!" he heard a familiar voice and suddenly someone hugged him.

"Oh, Canta, what are you doing here?" he was really surprised, the songweaver never wanted to leave Sanctum.

"I was transferred here," she smiled and let him go. "But more importantly are you okay? Well, you look pale, but otherwise good, a bit weak, though, but they wouldn't let you go if you weren't, right? I was so scared whenIsawyoucollapsingthere but the Balaur were so closesoIhadtohelpShientoget rid of them and then Ihadnoaethertohealyou, so I ran for the clerics tothefortressandShienkeptyoualivesomehow... what?" she frowned when she saw him sighing.

"You should pay more attention on what you're saying, I could understand Balaur, rid of them and clerics," he smiled. "So why don't you start again, slowly and tell me how do you know I was... in a bad shape?"

"Uh, well, that's what I'm trying to say... I saw you collapsing on that crossroad."

"What?" Shade just stared at her for a moment. He liked Canta, she was cute, but she was a city person, she never understood someone could care about different thing than pretty dress, gossips, art... dangers of a warzone were completely unknown to her. "You want to say you were there when the Balaur chasing me were killed?"

"Yes and I helped Shien to kill them," she looked miffed. "Things changed a bit, I'm learning how to use aether to cast spells now. But if you don't believe me, find someone else who can tell you this story."

"I do believe you, Canta," he said with calming voice. "If anyone else told me you fought the Balaur, I wouldn't believe them, but I can tell you're not making this up. It's just unexpected, okay? Now tell me what happened. How did you end up on that crossroad?"

"Well, that's a bit long story, let's go sit somewhere, there's nice view from that wall," she smiled and dragged him to that place. Canta willingly sitting on a wall without a pillow under her. Wow. "So, it started in Kamar. After that peace conference lady Lumiel assigned Shien to Kaisinel's Beacon, so if someone needs to get quickly from here to Danuar Spire, she'll create a portal there. You must have met someone from our side there, right?"

"Yeah," he nodded.

"And me..." she sighed. "I realized I was really being stupid since my Ascension so I asked lady May to assign me to Kamar or somewhere where I can be more useful than in Sanctum. So she sent me here, with Shien, to keep an eye on her. I heard she, I mean lady May now, went directly against lady Lumiel's wishes to send Shien here alone. But that would be complete disaster! Shien hates the Elyos, she doesn't trust us. Well, she trusts me a bit, because I talked with her in Kamar, but even with me here she's still suffering. And I don't know what should I do to cheer her up. She's a genius sorceress, at least I think so, I haven't seen many good sorcerers in action, but since that event on that crossroad she refuses to cast any spell! Well, except the portal and some kind of shield..." Canta shrugged helplessly.

"What happened on the crossroad?"

"She killed the Balaur. Well, at first she tried to do it alone, but there were too many of them and she didn't have enough power. So I tried to fuel her spell with mine. She used fire, it was easy for me to create and she could control it perfectly. And suddenly our spells resonated. What she threw at those Balaur far exceeded her and mine powers combined. It was amazing, she got them all in one single spell! And then we were both out of aether and I couldn't heal you, so I ran back to the fortress to get clerics and Shien said she'll try to keep you alive... I don't know what she did, but I'm glad it worked."

"So this Shien saved my life? Will you introduce me to her?"

"Why?" Canta looked at him with suspicion. "I just told you she hates the Elyos... And she has a good reason for that."

"I just want to thank her. It doesn't happen every day to be saved by an Asmodian."

"Ah, alright, I can do that. But be nice, okay?"

"I'm always nice."

"Yeah, sure. Ha! There she is! Wait here, I'll bring her," Canta jumped down from the low wall and ran towards a person who just stepped out from the fortress. Shade recognized red hair and held his breath for a moment. Could it be true? That person in his dream had also hair in the colour of a sunset. They came back to him, Canta with shining smile, the other woman was frowning and her face was full of doubts. Shade jumped off the wall to greet them.

"So, Shien, this is Shade, I told you about him," Canta introduced them. "And Shade, this is Shien, she saved your life."

"Thank you, miss Shien," the assassin smiled, gently took her hand and kissed it. "It's an honour to meet you."

"You're welcome," she replied, but her voice was more formal and less sincere. "And the name Shien is only for people who know me well. For you it's Shienar."

"My apologies, miss Shienar," he didn't stop smiling. "If you don't mind, it would be nice to get to know you more."

Sparks appeared in the sorceress's eyes and her expression froze.

"Go to hell," she turned around and walked away.

"I already did," Shade replied and his voice got serious. "And you pulled me out. You have my thanks for that."

Shien's muscles tensed as if she was deciding if she should turn back, but after a split second she increased her speed and disappeared into the fortress.

"Why did you do that, Shade?" Canta looked at him helplessly. "I told you she hates the Elyos and you... you just had to try to seduce her."

"Hm..." he nodded, still watching the entrance to the fortress. "Why does she hate the us that much?"

"It's..." Canta bit her lip. "I'm sorry, I can't tell you. It's really bad."

"Yeah, I can see that," Shade muttered. "Alright, time to go. I'll go to our regular teleporter, I think asking miss Shien if I can use her portal would get me very evil gaze."

"You haven't changed. Nope. Not at all."

~ x ~

The daevas at Danuar Spire didn't look happy when the Empyrean Lord of Justice stepped out of the portal closely followed by the Lord of Illusions. Of course there was the Lady of Death waiting for them, but there have been rumors that, to put it mildly, she has not been feeling well since that girl's arrival. Some would say she has lost her mind.

"Where is she?" Kaisinel went right to the point of their visit.

"Follow me," Triniel turned around and walked into the tower, where she led them through few corridors until they reached the infirmary department. Before opening the door she stopped and looked at the master of spirits. "I want your word you won't hurt her."

"I will not attempt to do her any harm," Kaisinel frowned and silently added: "She's Nezekan's too, in case you forgot."

Triniel glared at him, but she opened the door without any other words and entered the room. As the curtains on the window were drawn, the light in there was dim, but it was enough even for the Elyos to recognize the interior. The girl was sleeping on her bed and from the flow of aether he instantly knew it was no natural sleep. But that was expected. When she was awake she was repeatedly trying to escape and return to Beritra. Kaisinel watched the girl for few moments. Even in sleep her expression was full of pain. That wasn't right. No one could possibly suffer this much while sleeping, unless there wasn't something serious happening in her mind. Which was the reason why he came here in the first place. But he didn't imagine it would be this bad.

"No matter what happens, don't disturb me," he turned to Triniel. "You can stay, but if the procedure is interrupted, it may kill us both."

"I'm not asking miracles of you, Kaisinel," Nezekan said. "Just do your best to save her."

"She's young, her mind is still untrained. I believe I can bring her back," the lord of Illusions replied and sat on a chair next to the bed. "I only hope she wants to come back," he added, softly touched the girl's forehead and delved into her mind.