This time the vision felt different, as if she were no longer part of a dream. Her surroundings were blurry, and she couldn't make out exactly where she was. All he could see was yellow, orange and red, as if she were in the middle of the sun itself.
"Who are you, and why do you come here?" said a grave, raspy voice. It came from nowhere and everywhere at the same time.
Somehow, she knew the voice was speaking to her.
"I am Scarlett of the Karai," she replied. Her voice came out stronger than she thought it would.
"No, you are not," said the voice.
"Why do you come here?
"I wish to be a Karaina," replied Scarlett, unsure of what she was supposed to answer.
"No, you do not."
"Yes I do," said Scarlett, without thinking.
Who was this voice who told her everything she was saying was a lie?
"The path you seek is not the one you must tread. But for now, you must pave your own way. We will meet again," said the voice.
The ground beneath Scarlett disappeared without warning, and she was transported into the final vision she would have to face.
Her deepest fear.
She was in a white room, tied to a chair. There were no visible ropes around her body, but she could feel the grip of something holding her down. Struggling to move, she wiggled and pushed, but nothing budged. If anything, the invisible ropes seemed to tighten with every futile struggle.
Being a prisoner? Was that what she feared the most?
On the wall in front of her, a window appeared. Through the glass, women and children came and went, walking casually past her without noticing her. There was something familiar about them that she could place, but at the same time, she had never seen any of those faces before.
Scarlett tried to scream out, but she had no voice.
After a while of sitting there, watching the scene unfold in front of her, she half expected some creature or Hova to walk in. But nothing happened.
Something had to have gone wrong. The trial couldn't last more than a few hours, could it? Or was time warped inside the spirit world?
Her body didn't feel the tiredness or stiffness of sitting in the same place. She closed her eyes, opened them, wiggled her tongue, sniffled. She tried to do anything that meant she was still sane and alive.
A few more hours passed. She could tell that in the scene outside the window, the sun had gone down.
When the last people walked past, and no one else could be seen, she started to panic.
Was she trapped in the spirit world? Had she failed the trial, unable to leave? Panic settled into her, and she continued trying to get lose of the invisible bindings that held her to the chair. She screamed at the top of her lungs, even if no sound came out. Then the world began to fade, as if she were falling asleep.
That was when she understood.
Her biggest fear wasn't a cage, or being trapped.
It was being forgotten, alone in the world with no one caring whether she lived or died. Unheard, unseen, left behind.
So she took a deep breath, and spoke out once more.
This time, her voice had sound.
"I am Scarlett, of the Karainas, and as long as I have them, I will never be alone."
She understood now, that there was more to being a Karaina than fighting with strength or magic. Yes, it was their calling to protect the humans from the Hova. But all men and women could fight, one way, or another.
What made them different was what they fought for.
The other realms protected their lands and their own. The Karainas fought for no crown, no ruler.
They fought to keep the fire kindled, so that hope would never be extinguished in realms of man.
They signified that even though they were physically weaker and slower than the Hova, they still fought. That they would resist the Hova for as long as there was a human standing, and they would never succumb to the monsters who wished to use them as slaves.
And she would be that hope, until her dying breath.
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