"Th Th Th-Thooyah-ah ah," the voice echoed both before and after the actual word. She knew that she should understand the word. It seemed of vital importance, though she could not discern why. "Th-Th-Thuja."
"Y-Y-Yes," she responded. Her own voice sounded strange, with the same reverse echo, as if her thought was semi-audible before she spoke. Thuja, she realized, was her own name.
"Thuja, you have been chosen."
Thuja perceived now that she was standing, perhaps on a stone surface, and a figure hovered before her, a woman in white, wearing a crown, kept aloft by enormous wings which caused the breeze around Thuja. The power flowed around her with the air. It was the winged figure who spoke.
Remembering the pain now, Thuja looked again at her body. She had been slain. The forces supporting Zareph the prince had defeated King Aedraxis, his brother. Thuja had been part of the legion led by Carwin the bastard, half brother to the King and supporter of his other brother Zareph. Something terrible had happened, as Aedraxis, in defeat, had unleashed foul majicks upon the opposing troops at Thedeor Fields.
Thuja, confused, said to the Messenger of the Vigil, "But I am but one soldier, and not devout."
"You have been given the power to defeat Regulos. You will have assistance: Allies, both at your side, and guiding your blade."
The light had dimmed and Thuja found herself in the Cathedral of Ardenburgh, still close to the battlefield. The Messenger was still there.
"Go now, Paragon. Join the other Ascended. Your Soul is great. You will be triumphant."
The cacophony of a distant battle reached her ears. Thuja turned and saw a figure standing on the balcony of the Cathedral, silhouetted against the aubergine and tangerine sky. Zareph. She joined him there. The prince stared across the valley in shock and disbelief.
"By the Vigil!" breathed the prince. "Aedraxis, what have you done?"
Thuja followed his gaze. In the distance, the sky gaped open like a bruised and festering wound. A rift in the very fabric of reality yawned open like a maw, set to devour the landscape below. A foul darkness spread over the ground where the rebels, including Thuja herself, had been slain.