Ivan, Sheba, and Kraden accidentally put the whole world in peril while investigating the buried ruins of the Venus Tribe.
Ivan ran through the streets of Lalivero, his panicked breath thin and hurried. The dust his feet kicked up hung momentarily in the dry air before falling to earth once more, leaving his footprints behind among the myriad imprints of those who had come before him.
It was difficult to see by the crescent moonlight, but Lalivero's streets were fairly clean so he avoided stumbling. This was a good thing, as stumbling was the last thing he wanted to happen right now. All he wanted to do was run, run, and keep running until he was as far from the thing behind him as he could get.
Unfortunately, he couldn't run any more. Even with the adrenaline pumping through his system, he was completely out of breath. He couldn't make his legs move any farther. He came to a panting stop, and supported himself on the pole of a nearby awning. He leaned against it, anticipating a blow to come from behind at any moment.
Much to his surprise it did not. After a moment he realized that what had been chasing him had abandoned the chase. He was alone in the street.
Relief soared through him. His pursuer had, for whatever reason, given up the chase. The feeling lasted for only a moment before a bucket of ice water was suddenly thrown on him as he realized why he was no longer being chased.
She had been right behind him! He looked around desperately, trying to find some trace of her, but she was nowhere to be found. And his stomach plummeted as he realized why.
What was behind him had caught her.
He couldn't just leave her, could he? It was his fault she was there in the first place. And if he had been the one left behind, he would have wanted her to come back for him too.
He didn't want to go back. What was waiting for him back there scared him. It terrified him. He'd travelled the world and seen ancient civilizations, colossal dragons, and all four Elemental Lighthouses, but he'd never been frightened like this. He forced himself to put one foot in front of the other as he wandered back into the darkness he had just left. Sheba was in there somewhere, and with her was the creature he had just fled.
As he walked forward, his mind scrolled back through his memory. How had this happened? How did they get to this point? Pushing his fear away, he walked forward into the darkness, and he remembered.
It all began with Kraden.