It was cold. But I knew the cold — I had been baptized by it. And the darkness. And the First. I could handle the cold.
But wait…. I wasn’t me. I was dreaming.
I was Darrow.
His voice slithered out of the nothingness as soon as I had the realization.
“Grant me your strength, grant me — fervor…. Oh, supreme. Grant me….”
The sound faded in and out. I didn’t catch everything he said. He chanted breathlessly and grunted like every word was a chore, like he had to exert great effort to choke out each syllable.
What was he doing? Where was he? Who was he talking to? I could see nothing in the darkness.
He hissed. The breath was sharp in his lungs. He tasted blood. And salt. He was cold as ice but covered in sweat.
“Oh — supreme.” Another hiss. “Grant me your fortitude. Grant me your fervor.”
Cold. Salt. Blood.
Then pain. Small, but burning. Constant. Building.
Something clicked into place.
Triumph. A laugh in this cold, bitter place.
“Thank you, oh thank you.”
And then the pain exploded.