Prologue


'Today I'll be spinning on a Wheel
I'm a slave to a Wheel
And there isn't any stopping
What mistake could I have made?
I'm a slave serving time for a life that I've forgotten.'

Karma Slave ~ Splashdown


Overhead the sky darkened with the approaching storm. Lighting flashed jaggedly in angry blue-white streaks. Thunder rolled across the sky, like the sound of an army of Dwarves marching to war.

Down below, on the ground, a battered wagon creaked along a winding uphill road that was little more then a path. Two figures moved alongside the pair of horses that pulled the wagon, one on either side. Both were enveloped in mud-splattered cloaks.

It seemed that the Gods were not giving these two any blessing, unless it was the blessing of bad luck. Somehow, though all the others had avoided it, one of the rear wheels hit a rather large rock and the wagon groaned as it bounced over it. The weight of what it carried shifted slightly in doing so. After it settled with a groan, the other wheel found a sizeable rut causing the wagon to bounce a second time, and again the cargo shifted.

This time though, one of the long boxes it was carrying slid back some. As the wagon and those that accompanied it continued, the loud rumble of thunder covered the sound of the box sliding more as the wagon swayed. A final jounce and it was free, hitting the ground with a thud.

The box rested there only a moment before slowly sliding down the steep incline. It looked as if someone was plowing a row as the box continued on its way. A thin layer of dirt flew up, piling up on top of it.

At last it came to a sudden stop at the bottom of the steep incline, crashing into a rock. The dirt settled on and about the dark ebony box.

The jagged flashes of light continued across the sky, followed by the angry rumblings of thunder. Rain came down in hard sheets across the land. Dry ground soaked up the liquid until it could hold no more. Having no where else to go, the water settled across the ground in ever-increasing puddles.

*Thump thump*

A heartbeat where there had been none, followed by a pained gasp. Pitch black. A suffocating closeness. Air still and stagnant, unmoving.

*Thump thump thump thump*

The heavy feel of over-long enforce stillness. Somewhere beyond the darkness, something rumbled distantly. A sense of blind panic followed.

'Where am I?.' A groggy thought.

Hands moving, reaching up only to hit something hard several inches away. Anger replaced panic as those hands fisted then struck out at the offending surface. The sound of flesh hitting wood was both loud and muffled.

'By the abyss, where am I? What happened?'

Eyes opened, blinking several times. The darkness was replaced by grayness. Things came into focus. The surface in front of her face was smooth wood, darker in some places then others. Tilting her head to the side she saw that the wood enclosed her on all sides. All she knew was that she had to get out of that suddenly encroaching stillness.

With a growl she put her palms flat against the wood and pushed. Nothing happened at first. Then she heard it. The creak as one of the sides shifted some. She eased back, letting the wood settle again. She shoved again. The other side gave this time. Dark, oozing mud trickled into the coffin though the cracks. She knew she had to get out of there as soon as she could before it filled with the thick, cold muck.

She shoved the wood again, this time with all her strength. The wood above her creaked ominously then shattered outwards. She was showered with splinters, and several inches of dirt that was rapidly turning to mud. Not pausing for a moment to even think, she grabbed all that was in that wooden coffin with her and scrambled out.

Ice cold rain pelted her body as she lay sprawled across the ground, gasping the fresh air. The lightning blinding her momentarily until her vision switched from dark-vision back to normal vision.

"Gods above and below. What has happened to me this time around?" she muttered to herself in a musical yet husky soft voice.