Kel gazed at the glowing stone before her, the purple grooves glowing like twisted snakes.

She knew what she had to do: touch the stone. It was such a simple act, yet part of her was afraid. A responsibility she could not even begin to fathom would be thrust upon her shoulders. Her heart was already gone, and she knew that the false sense of security that kept her sane would leave her too.

But the stakes were too high. She couldn't selfishly elude this duty; she had to protect her people.

Kel sighed.

There was just so much. She shook her head, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, steeling herself for the upheaval of her world. She reached out, fingers trembling as they stretched in the air, before they slid against cool rock.

The purple lines flared, piercing her eyelids. A sudden warmth traveled through her chest before disappating into oblivion. She heard a soft thud.

Her eyes flew open, hand at the dagger tied to her waist.

A man stood before her, tall and built. He carried a shield on one arm and a sword in the other. His shaggy red hair threatened to cover his green eyes. He drew himself up to his full height, an intimidating figure, and raised his hand. A mark on his hand glowed for a moment, and Kel could feel her own scar imitating the strange pulsating pattern.

The man nodded, then dropped to one knee.

Kel heard rustling behind her and turned, watching with reserved awe as the slew of pawns knelt before her. She was afraid, oh yes, there was no doubting that, but the knowledge of this vast pool of assistance helped to put her mind at ease.

Kel turned to face the man again. He was standing, garbed in simple clothes, pensive eyes waiting.

"Who are you?" she asked, giving a slight nod of her head.

"This pawn is called Tacitus," he replied, his voice smooth, deep, and reassuring all at the same time.

Kel smiled to herself.

"And this Arisen is called Kel."

They stood a moment longer, eyes locked. Both could feel a strange sort of familiarity about the other, a sense of ease that years of friendship could cultivate, despite the fact that they had never laid eyes on the other before.

Kel shook her head; no doubt there was business to attend to.

"Whenever you are ready, Arisen," said Tacitus, calmly awaiting her orders.

Kel nodded, breathing deeply once again, before turning to face the camp.

"Let's go."