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Excerpt from Kaila's story. Black Tide Rising.


500 B.C.


            Andes mountains snowstorm.  A tiny figure climbs toward the top.  The landscape is hazardous with jagged stones, icy cliffs and a fierce blizzard.  It's a veritable no-man's land.

            Beating back the wind and blinding snow, the figure pulls themselves up on a ledge and gasps at what they see.  “Is this it? I've found it.”  A cave, high in the mountain, hidden from view by two large boulders which seem to be guarding the entrance. A harsh breeze blows a whirlwind of snow through the small opening of the cave.


            Overcome with exhaustion and anticipation, the figure collapses, crumpling to the ground.  Removing their goggles and brushing wet snow from their face the figure is revealed.  It is a young girl, about twelve.


            She enters the dark cave and steps toward a glimmer of light coming from a crack in one of the walls.  Her gloved hand touches the wall. "I must get in," she says to herself. 


            She takes what looks like a metal pencil out of the pack on her back, and points it at the cave wall. A thin red laser streams from it, slicing the rock like paper.  She cuts a hole big enough for her to enter then pushes it through. One would not believe a girl like her would be able to accomplish such a feat.  She is unusually strong for her age and size.


            The slab falls into the room behind it.  White light fills the cave.  At first, it is blinding.  There is no electricity here, but the girl recognizes the source of the light.


            "Villonious!" she gasps, rushing toward a glowing light in the center of the room.  The sight of it fills her with joy and sorrow simultaneously. Before her is a large, clear tube, glowing with white light.  It hangs in the air with no visible means of support.  Within it, the figure of a man, early twenties, floats surrounded by a glowing bluish-white mist.  Tears swell in her eyes as she looks down at him softly.   "I found you, at last."


            To her horror, he looks at her.  "You're awake? You are not supposed to be awake.  No one has ever awakened in stasis and survived for long.  What torture you must be going through.”


            Her tears freeze as they roll down her flushed cheeks.  Though he cannot move, she is certain he is happy to see her.  His eyes light up as he looks up at her. She senses he desperately wants to tell her something.  Her heart is pounding hard in her chest.  Her breath freezes in front of her.  "I'll get you out."


            She tries to free him with every gadget in her pack, but fails.  She tries to use her powers and visualizes him free, but she can’t.  She hasn’t mastered them yet.  Venting all her frustration in one powerful move, she yells and leaps at the tube. "No!"  Pounding it and kicking it with all her force it remains pristine, untouched and defiant.  All she has to show for her efforts is a badly stubbed toe.


            Removing her gloves, she places her palms on the face of the tube and peers at the man inside.  As their eyes meet, it is obvious that there is an eternal bond between them. Warm tears melt the frozen one's on the girl's cheeks, dropping onto the surface of the tube and rolling down the side like rain.  She doesn't even try to hold them back.


            She doesn't remember how long she stayed there, but, they both knew when it was time for her to go.  It was clear in their sunken expressions.


            "I will return," she tells him, "And I will free you.  I promise."


            Slowly, she begins, backing out of the cave.  Not wanting to take her eyes off him.  "I promise." 


            A tear runs down the side of Villonious’ face as he watches as she makes her way out of the cave until her shadow is engulfed in a blanket of white. 


            Heartbroken, she knows she will never forget the look on his face as he watched her walk away and leave him there.

            Moments later, a flash of green light renders her unconscious. She wakes up in her bed at home. Theros tells her it must have been a dream. That she's been sleeping for days. He was worried about her.


           She goes back to the cave with his help, only to discover there is no such entrance. Scanning reveals the mountain is solid.

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