‘Gods, I must be dreaming,’ Tanos muttered. ‘A nightmare.’
No reaction from the insubstantial form. Tanos studied it carefully. A nigromant was an apparition, an ethereal messenger from the mind of a tangible being, and able to traverse great distances in an instant. A nifty trick if the source needed to share something from afar...or needed to do so without risk. Which was it? Was the source afar or was it afraid of direct confrontation?
‘What do you want?’ Tanos demanded.
‘You are to accompany me.’
‘And where are we going?’
‘Infinity sent you?’ Tanos almost laughed. The dara-witch was slippery, but he didn’t think her clever enough for this kind of ruse.
'I am commanded by the Arcana.’
He lost the power of speech then, and the ability to think coherently. What roiled in his mind was the meeting with Infinity on Mir 4 two weeks ago. He went because she threatened to poison Mir’s water sources. She spoke of the Arcana and a rift and he laughed in her face. As he left, she swore she would prove their existence...and here this creature was.
Power of speech returned. ‘I don't believe you.’
‘I am able to force compliance, Guardian. I suggest you choose the easier path.’
Loss of breath. Unable to think about why, he believed this apparition was exactly what it claimed to be. He felt it in icy shivers over clammy skin. He swallowed dryly.
‘Are you going to kill me?’
A hiss of a laugh. ‘You would be dead now. No, I am your means to proof.’
‘The Arcana are real. The dara-witch Infinity found us and we have agreed to be the leverage she requires. If you desire to save Valaris from annihilation, come with me. You will be returned to your bed after, I swear.’
Heat wave: cold skin. The night was not what it was when he set the air to circulate faster. Tanos rose and dressed, retrieved his sword from the floor, strapped it on. If he was returned to his bed, he would not be sleeping in it too soon.
‘I am ready,’ he whispered, and silently prayed to all the gods in the universe to watch over him.