While fleeing for her life, Amaryllis is transported to an entirely different realm.
| A curse escaped her lips as her body began to plunge towards the forest floor. Her hands instinctively reached out to catch herself. Her left wrist rolled, causing her arm to lurch awkwardly to the side. "Damn," she cried quietly into the damp earth. Her pain was met with frustration as her bag flew several feet in front of her. The soft thuds of her possessions rolling across the pine needles arose further panic. 'The cards.' Ignoring the pain, she crawled forward; darting her hands in the dark, her fingers desperately searching for the small velvet pouch. She nearly shouted with relief when the pouch connected with her palm; only the thought of the impending danger kept her moving along quietly. As she ran through the trees, she couldn't help but think her beloved tarot cards could have mentioned this ordeal earlier. 'You never asked,' they remarked snidely, their eye-roll quite audible. Their attitude never shocked her anymore, and this instance, as she fled for her life, was no exception. As she continued to run forward, she began to wonder if she was going to get herself lost. What a predicament, she thought; to die at the hands of a deranged and disgruntled client, or of exposure out in the middle of nowhere? 'Ask,' they whispered. "What can I do to survive this?" She panted, hovering her hand over the pouch and closing her eyes. She felt the energy reach out to her as she opened her mind. The Moon card came forward, the illustration appearing in her mind's eye, a dog and a wolf with upturned snouts pointed at the moon in the sky. A path lays between them, leading from the pool of water at their feet to the mountains in the distance. As she increased her focus, the imagery came to life. The moon began to shimmer and glisten, the water flowed and moved with life and vibrant activity. The dog and wolf leaped at the sky and howled. The card exited her mind as quickly as it had come. She gasped, her focus returning to her surroundings. She looked up at the sky, the moon was off to her left. Following her instincts, and the cards direction, she ran in the direction of the moon. This choice could be risky. There was a good chance that veering left could lead her closer to her assailant. The cards seemed to think there was an escape route this way, and that was enough for her. They had never let her down. For good measure, she quickened her pace, rushing through the trees as swiftly as she could without damning herself to a second fall. A howl rolled through the air, causing her to take pause. She was headed in the right direction. As a second howl answered, she caught the sound of branches snapping not too far from her location. Her heart lurched and her breath quickened. He had almost caught up with her. She had to hurry, or she was going to die. She took off into a sprint, missing solid trees by mere centimeters. Her vision blurred for a split second as the Eight of Wands flew through her mind. The card of quick action, no hesitation. She heeded the warning, shaking it out of her head in time to dodge another tree. "Noted," she gasped, bolting towards the sound of the howls. The branches breaking behind her were getting closer, the rate at which they snapped increasing rapidly. He could hear her; he was officially on the chase now. She stifled the panic rising in her chest. Now was not the time to let it slow her. No hesitation. "You can't outrun me much longer!" He shouted. His voice sounded close, it sent ripples of fear through her body. She could hear his breathing now, even over the labored sound of her own. The air was knocked out of her body as her feet plunged into cold, dark water. The water. Pushing forward, forgoing any hesitation, she continued her path into the icy lake. As the water came up to her hips, she heard the splash of his feet behind her. "Shit," she heard him gasp as he trudged after her. Her feet could no longer touch the bottom of the lake, and she lost her pace. He was taller than her, using his footing to quickly close the distance between them. She felt his hand grab her sprained wrist as he yanked her back through the water. Her cry of pain was interrupted by the lake water filling her lungs. The water burned her nose and chest as she sputtered helplessly. He mercilessly raised her out of the water by her injured wrist, relishing in the unexpected advantage he had gained. He had plenty of height on her, lifting her to face him with ease. The bright radiance of the moon cast a light over the lake, illuminating his face. His eyes were cold as always; cold and cruel. They hadn't always looked this way. "I didn't want to do this," he growled angrily, his blame thrown at her fiercely. He submerged her head just under the water, her eyes still able to see his in the moonlight. She struggled, trying to tear his hands off of her neck. 'Ask,' she heard the echo in her head, faded and weak. 'How do I survive this?' She pleaded to the cards. Her vision blurred and her struggle slowed. An image of the Five of Swords flashed before her. Win at all costs. She mustered her strength, and thought through her next move, trying to hold on to consciousness. She released her hands from his fingers and let her body go limp. She held on, remaining perfectly still until she could feel his grip loosen and his guard lower. With one calculated swipe, she ripped her hand through the flesh on his face, digging her nails deep when she felt the socket of his eyes as she kicked herself off into his stomach with all of her strength. As he fell backward in shock, she flung herself deeper into the water. She knew it wasn't the wisest decision, plunging deeper into the unknown lake as weak and dizzy as she was. She only knew she wanted to be further away from him, for him to lose track of her. She was unable to take a breath before diving under the surface. She needed to swim as far as she could underwater until he lost sight of her. Her body kept moving, struggling to keep moving forward. She could feel her lungs giving up, refusing to put up with any further abuse. She needed to breathe. Her body begged for her to resurface, but she knew she couldn't risk it. Further and further out she swam. She could still feel him floundering around in the water, searching for her. No distance felt safe enough. Time suddenly felt like it slowed down. She could no longer feel him disturbing the water. Had she swum far enough? Was she safe now? Her heart began to freeze with despair as she realized how deep in the water she really was. Her fear had turned her completely around, she had no sense of direction under the water. She couldn't see the moon shining from above. The only thing around her was darkness and the cold. Her body began to slow, her energy levels now completely depleted from the struggle.
She was going to die here after all. Her brain began to calm itself, accepting her fate. So she wasn't going to make it out of this. That was okay now, she hadn't given him the satisfaction of killing her himself. Maybe if she was lucky, her body would never be recovered, and he would live in fear of her return and vengeance for years to come. Her thoughts drifted away, replaced by empty nothingness. Her cards remained silent, the lake remained still and undisturbed. She relaxed, submitting fully to the lake and its claim on her life.
# She didn't register the feeling of someone pulling her body to the shore at first. It felt dream-like, unreal and irrelevant. It was the wrist pain that drew her back into awareness. The person dragging her out of the water was not gentle, yanking her up the shore with strength. She had no energy to open her eyes, but she could see sunlight through her closed lids. When the movement stopped, her arms were dropped carelessly to her sides, slamming the wrist into the rocks beneath her. She released a small whimper of pain, catching the attention of whoever stood above her. Whoever they were, they were smaller than her attempted murderer, the sound of her rescuer's steps was lighter, quiet, and calculated. She felt them kneel near her, their breath warming her cheek. She strained with every remaining ounce of energy to turn her head. She wanted desperately to open her eyes, to see where she was and who she was with. She felt fingers brush her wet hair off of her forehead. The touch was swift, a polite formality. A soft, formal voice was speaking. Her mental fog wouldn't lift enough to allow her to comprehend what was being said. The words sounded far away and garbled, even though she could feel their close proximity. Her cards were trying to tell her something, the images flashed weakly in her mind. She couldn't comprehend their message. What were they saying? The person speaking kept repeating something. Something with the word 'same'? What was the same? What? Her name? "Amaryllis," she forced the sounds out, pushing each syllable out with intent. It came out as nothing more than a whisper. "My name is Amaryllis. Am I dead?"