Clara covered her mouth to stifle the noise. She was far enough away to catch her breath, but they weren’t far behind. She didn’t know why they were chasing her, but she knew that she didn’t want to be caught.
As she raced farther into the forest, she tried not to think of Diana, lying dead on the ground. She bit back the tears and focused on surviving. As she burst into a clearing, her fear heightened. She was completely exposed.
She barely registered the multitude of flowers beneath her feet, or the bright sun shining above her. A yellow dress flashed out of the corner of her eye before it disappeared into the forest. She ran toward it. Both her lungs and muscles were aching. Only the adrenaline in her body and the shouts at her back propelled her forward. They’d spotted her!
A moment after she stepped beneath the tree cover, she was running out of it again. There were two cliffs in the distance. They were so close together that they might have been a single slab of stone cleaved into two.
The area between the cliffs tapered narrowly, as she rushed between them. Eventually, the space became so narrow that Clara was forced to halt. She caught her breath for only a moment as she surveyed the crack. It was big enough for her to squeeze through, and there was light on the other side. If it wasn’t a dead end it could be her best escape.
Clara expected the stone to scrape against her as she pressed through. Instead, she was sucked through the opening. Astonishment and wonder filled her senses as she surveyed her surroundings. The gap had widened by a full car length. The cliff walls were smooth and polished, driving straight up to the sky. Where only moments before, it had been mid-day, now the sun was replaced by a thin, crescent moon and a field of stars.
She turned to face the crevice, but there was only smooth unbroken stone. Clara took a deep breath. I wasn’t going back, anyway. Facing forward, she walked between the two cliffs.
Small lanterns lit the pathway, and a brighter glow emanated ahead of her. When she reached the source, she was met by an immense stone structure. Everything around it was illuminated.
That was when she saw her. Her breath caught in her throat, at the sight of that yellow dress. It glowed in the shimmering light, but it was nothing compared to her face. Diana stood a moment longer before stepping through an archway and into the darkness.
Clara didn’t hesitate to follow. Something surged through her as she crossed the threshold. At first, it felt like flames, burning and devouring her. Then Diana was beside her. She wrapped her body around Clara and dissolved into her.
The pain was instantly transformed into indescribable joy. Clara held her chest. A light bloomed within her. It grew and expanded, consuming her entire body. She was momentarily blinded as everything faded to white.
When her sight returned, she was back in the field. The men were rushing toward her, but she could clearly see that they were not men. A dark evil pervaded their eyes. It seemed to ripple beneath their skin.
She stood still as they charged her. She held out her arms, and a bright light filled the clearing. Something that was not quite flame but more solid than light rushed from her, consuming the creatures. Their roars became a distant echo, before fading into nothing.
The men stared uncertainly around them. Confusion filled their now human eyes. They didn’t know where they were. She decided not to tell them.
Her skin had returned to normal, but the sensation remained. It felt a lot like love. Diana’s voice whispered inside of her, and their purpose ignited within her mind. A spark flashed at Clara’s fingertips as she disappeared into the trees.
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