The blood flowed from Ameriana's deep wound. Bright-red blood which dyed the Bark a deathly hue. But the young Matis paid no attention. She didn't feel the pain. The energy of Atys crackled in her hands. The sap flowed through her entire body, while she concentrated on channelling her destructive magic forces. For the first time, she was doing battle in the name of Jena. And in her golden eyes shone the light of the Goddess.
Ameriana had been waiting for this day for a long time. Since her arrival in Yrkanis, the capital of the Matis kingdom, she had been on the lookout for signs. Signs from Jena, Goddess of the Sun, Mother of Atys and of all homins. She had searched in vain for a temple where she could gather her thoughts. The Chosen Ones of the holy Karavan had tried to dispel her doubts, without ever really succeeding.
For the flame of faith flickered deep within her. So many homins had already rejected the teachings of the Goddess! The barbaric Fyros, who dug into the Bark despite the Karavan's warnings, looking for the Dragon that in their madness they believed they could defeat. The mysterious Zoraï, who hid behind their masks and venerated the diabolical Kami. Many Trykers, who lost their way on illusory paths in the name of freedom. Even among the Matis, a noble and most faithful people, seditious discourse was now widespread, calling for a rejection of the powers which had led them till now. The imminence of a holy war frightened the homins, and many preferred to deny the evidence rather than face reality.
Ameriana, however, had refused to turn her back on the Mother of Atys. She had simply needed to be confirmed in her faith.
So, when a Karavan envoy had announced the construction of a temple to the glory of Jena, the magician had been immensely relieved. Finally, a sign from the Goddess! The time had come for the faithful to gather. Ameriana had eagerly gone to the chosen site, not far from Yrkanis, to offer her help. No matter what mission she was given, she would be honoured to accept it. A black-clad Karavaneer combatant had entrusted her with the task of protecting the gatherers, who were assigned to collect the raw materials needed by the craftsmen. The precious resources had been located on the far-off islets of the old lands, but the distance posed no problem thanks to the Technolords' powers. Ameriana had been teleported to the heart of the Dunes of Aelius, to a camp established close to the supply fields.
The place was a hive of activity. The fences crackled with some unknown energy protecting the installations. Large metal columns stood as watchtowers, surrounded by halos of light. Several Karavan vessels hovered above the camp, reassuring silhouettes outlined against the late-afternoon sun. Soldiers armed with pikes were patrolling to prevent attack. Groups of the faithful were organising themselves into expedition parties. The young Matis had been tempted to join one, but in the end had decided to explore the island a little. She had left the encampment to venture into the west, following the cliff which edged the area.
An arid wind had begun to blow, its burning currents sculpting the sand on the dunes. With it came the sound of fighting. Ameriana looked into the distance and saw lights. Silhouettes were running to and fro. The gatherers and their protectors were under enemy attack! Fyros supporting the Kami were trying to plunder the sites on behalf of their masters. Apeing the Karavan, the Kami had decided to build their own mockeries of sanctuaries in honour of their leader. Ameriana threw herself into battle without a moment's hesitation, driven by a fierce desire to defend the cause of the Goddess.
The magician completed her incantation despite her assailant's blows. The shaggy-haired Fyros cried out in pain when the acid clouds crashed headlong into him, greedily devouring his flesh. Despite the serious wound that he had inflicted upon the young Matis, he realised that he had lost the advantage of surprise. Ameriana noticed his hesitation and invoked the elements once again. The barbarian brandished his cleven axe and attempted to strike a powerful blow with it to break his enemy's concentration, but he was too late. Amplified by the gloves wrapped around the magician's hands, the energy from the depths of Atys poured onto him. He collapsed in a death rattle and sank into unconsciousness. Ameriana remained on the look-out, fearing the intervention of a Kami healer. But soon the body of the Fyros disappeared. The demons had taken it to their infernal dwelling-place, so that it could be brought back for a new life of servitude.
The young Matis looked around her. The Kami's followers seemed to be beating a retreat. Many homins were still lying in the hollows of the dunes, evidence of the fighting's violence. Ameriana briefly inspected her wound. The blood had finally stopped flowing from it. The magician thanked Jena for her protection, and quickly healed herself. A great pride filled her heart. In bringing down her enemy, she had shown herself to be worthy of the Goddess.
Suddenly, she heard a crackling. Ameriana felt her long black hair stand on end. A pungent odour attacked her nostrils. Before she could react, a flash of lightening struck her with full force.
Dazed, the young Matis almost fell to the ground. A Zoraï stared at her, impassive, his mask adorned with four menacing horns. Sparks pirouetted around his gloved hands.
The battle wasn't over.
To be continued...