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by Michael Bard

The corridors were dark, and the room they led to was dark. Unlit, naked wraithbone. Empty but for one.

“Shakarandras…?” The harsh rustle of wraithbone stretching and contracting echoed from throughout the room, and two dim reddish sparks appeared looking at him.

“What do you see?” The words sounded unnatural, melodious yet sourceless.

“What do you mean?”

“What do you see?”

“See? Well, I see darkness, and your eyes--"

“They’re not my eyes!”

He bowed. “Yes Seer Phoenix-Lord.”

Again the room was filled with the harsh dry rustle of wraithbone. “I see fire. Dreams of life engulfed by blackness. I see war. I see death. Why are you here Milannus?”

“If I am to lead, I… I want, no I need… I need to know why.”

“Because I order you.”

“Seer…,” he swallowed, “Seer, even when Yriel abandoned us, that was never our way. It is the way of the Mon Keigh!”

Dry rustles filled the room, punctuated by the thud of wraithbone walking on wraithbone. “I lead here.”

“Shakaradras,” he stood up straighter, “you lead here -- but I lead on Syl ag Iadel by your order. I demand to know why we fight!” Silver fire flashed through the wraithbone as the dead came to watch, a thousand dancing cold lights glistening off the Wraithlord-Seer standing in front of him.

“That the gate is there has meaning. You must find it out.”

“But why aid the Enemy?” All around the cold sparks stopped, watching, peering, examining.

“We do not fight with them. We use them.”

“How?”

“You must decide. Let each destroy the other. Give each the words they wish to hear. Make their blood flow into the dry sands, make their lives serve us.”

“Phoenix-Lord--"

“Show them death!”

This was not right. “Phoenix-Lord -- you cannot stay here. Come into the forest, into the warmth of the living. Your people--"

“My people are here!”

“Seer--"

“Go! You have your orders! Go!”

Milannus bowed and fled from the gathered dead.

“All I see are dreams of life…”

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