Chapter 1: Avalon

He felt as if he was suffocating, as if the air he breathed was instead water. His lungs fervently tried to take in the sweet air around him, but the task was difficult. His breathing was raw and labored; an odd wheezing sound emitted from his throat. Instinctively, he gripped his chest with his left hand while his right arm remained limp and wounded.

Death seemed imminent. Never in his life had he been subject to such profuse pain. The once hot and dripping blood from his wounds were now cold and drying. Perhaps his body had simply run out of blood to spare. Whatever was the case, he merely felt like resting—resting for an eternity. The thought didn't seem so horrifying as the deep pain continued to wrack his entire body. Anything would be better than feeling this. If he had to give his life to escape this torture, then he didn't see the dilemma in doing so.

He still wheezed noisily as his world finally began to dim.

"See! I told you! There's the man I saw in the forest," exclaimed a little girl's voice.

"You're right. He's in need of immediate medical attention. Marie, go back for some more help, I may not be able to carry him myself," said a woman's voice.

He saw as the woman lowered herself to her knees where she was level with him. The face was young with green eyes and auburn hair. Her expression seemed rather pensive. A strange sense of familiarity washed over him.

"Don't…I…Don't I…know…you…?"

"Shhh," the woman hushed, "Don't speak. You're in no condition. I don't know how you survived, but you're here now and I don't allow anyone to die if I can help it."

His eyelids began to flutter as he tried to stay conscious.

"It's alright. Rest if you must. You're in safe hands. I won't let you die."

When he finally did lose consciousness, he fell forward from his sitting position. He had been propped up against the trunk of a tree, now he lied unmoving in the woman's arms. The woman shook her head slowly as she listened to his ragged breathing. Not only did he have obvious external wounds, he also had internal ones. She would wager that some damage inflicted at least one of his lungs or maybe something was lodged in his throat. It was too early to make any definite diagnosis, but she could at least help him a little in the present.

A flash of blue light sparked beside her and then formed her origin, Rivas.

"Maya, do you truly wish to save this man?"

"I can't leave him to die like this. Look at him-he's helpless."

"He may be helpless now, but if you bring him back to health, he will be a threat to this entire world."

"Maybe…but we don't get to pick and choose when to heal someone, then we'd be just like him."

"I won't fight you on this, Maya; I only suggest that you think long and hard before proceeding."

"Even Avalon needs the help of others, but that is something he's never experienced. Perhaps we could provide that experience for him…Maybe he'll change…"