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He isn’t the only human in that dominion of shade. He spies natives in the distance, primitive and murderous people who roam the land in small bands. They ride on the backs of shaggy mammoth beasts with scorpion tails.

He sees phasing fliers, unstable bats the size of whales. They soar low through the undine fog and howl at the ground as they search for prey. Their riders are horned humanoids with staffs of dark fire and cloaks of mirrored scales.

He is a stranger there, a refugee. He walks and walks and dreams of escape, but he has been there for so long he’s almost given up hope. The shadow world has him, and it will never let him go. He tries to remember the world he once belonged to. It was a scarred world, damaged beyond measure, but it was his home. He’d protected it from danger more times than he could remember. Never before had he appreciated it as much as he does now.

The worst times for him are when he looks into the water. He hugs himself tight in his cloak to shield his body against the freezing wind as he stands over clear pools of ice and salt. There are only a few of those pools, derelict bodies of steaming cold liquid so utterly pale they are like liquid suns on the face of the ebon landscape. They stare like white eyes up to the darkness of the sky.

When he stands near them he sees into the world he used to call home. The visions are always random flashes that last just a few moments, but he finds himself staring into them more and more as the years go by.

After a time, he seeks the pools out. He evades shadowy pack beasts with knife-teeth and lumbering humanoid walkers with limbs like bladed poles. He braves those creatures in exchange for glimpsing snapshots of a place from his past.

He sees his sister’s grave. He sees faces of people he once knew and cared for, just as they’d been before his actions brought about their deaths. The fact that he can’t remember their names means little.

He drinks filthy fluid from the ground, something like blood and brine. He lives off of fibrous plants and small game, shadow-drenched creatures with cold eyes and black blood. He doesn’t actually need food in that world of darkness, but the memory of eating is with him, and he nourishes it.

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