Chapter 1 – Batseba

Batseba pulled herself over the cliff’s edge onto the mountain plateau. Hot wind struck her face, swirling up her black-blue hair. She straightened up, then stared back into the abyss. Only the fiery glow of lava flows lit the darkness around her. The chasm was deep, deep enough. She leaned forward.

“Good riddance.”

Batseba winced at the unexpected sound of a male voice. Stepping away from the precipice, she turned around, and caught sight of a dark silhouette. He was tall, with a heavy black robe flaunting from broad shoulders. A hood was hiding his face.

Batseba tried to explain, “Well, I just wanted to put our immortality to a test.”

“There is no need to justify your actions to me,” he answered.

A sudden flash of light prompted both to turn their heads. Light was rare in the eternal darkness of their prison. The brightness increased. Its source seemed to be located behind a big boulder. Driven by curiosity, Batseba walked toward it. She passed the boulder. Behind the rock, Batseba discovered something she had never seen before: there was a shining rip in the air. It widened while she was watching.

Keeping her eyes on the glowing gap, Batseba drew her swords, which were fastened on her back. Something emerged from the opening. A black orb appeared, hovering in midair. It looked like polished obsidian, with a perfectly smooth surface, and had a diameter of about six inches. The ball continued its soundless movement forward. When it came near Batseba, it stopped abruptly. She sidestepped, but the orb followed her. No matter in which direction she moved, the sphere mirrored her maneuver. Losing her patience, she stabbed a sword at it. The orb eluded her thrust effortlessly. Batseba noticed a humming sound. She leapt aside just in time to avoid a thunderbolt striking at her position.

“That thing shot at me!”

“No wonder, you attacked it with your blade,” mumbled the figure in black robes, who had placed himself behind the boulder.

“What happened to ‘testing our immortality’,” he asked.

“Hmm, you’ve got a point there.”

Batseba spread out her arms, swords directed toward the left and right, and presented herself to the orb. The humming sound started over. With a loud crackling, a flash of lightning shot forth from the orb. It struck Batseba’s chest. The impact hurled her several yards backward. She hit the ground hard, landing flat on her back. The lightning had singed her leather harness and ripped open her dark-blue skin. Black smoke oozed from the wound. The sphere began to fly toward Batseba. As it passed the boulder, the man in robes raised his arms in a swift motion. Waves of raw energy wafted around his body. His hood dropped, revealing long silvery hair. The ground in front of the man named Samyaza was torn apart. A wall of lava and flames shot upward, engulfing the orb. When the fire subsided, there was nothing left of the black ball.

Batseba groaned, “Maybe we are immortal, but we sure aren’t invulnerable.”

She sat up, readjusting the remains of her armor over her bosom. Now Samyaza approached the shimmering opening, where the orb had emerged. The gap started to close slowly. He reached out with his forefinger, cautiously touching the bright rip. The finger passed unharmed.

“Time to get out of here.” Samyaza entered the light.

The robed man vanished from sight. The fissure would soon be too narrow to allow passage. Batseba came to a decision. She hurried and jumped.