Zora Tonné woke up screaming. She thrashed around, tangled in blankets. It felt like someone had split her head with an ax, mind broken open, visions pouring out into the room: sadistic giants, wailing spirits, and blood-hungry demons. She’d been slipping into the timestream for years, but over the past few months, what were once exhausting visions, had become destructive episodes.
Muscles twitched, and tendons strained as Zora began to convulse. She reached out for the bed frame. The uneven legs pounded into the floorboards. “Enough,” she moaned and dug her nails deep into the wood.
“Enough. That’s enough!” The whole room was shaking. The window rattled, and she watched with one open eye as the latch that held it from swinging open loosened. “No,” Zora shouted, but the window slid free, and she closed eyes tight, waiting for the sound of broken glass.
But the sound never came, and in an instant, the vision was over. Just the sharp creak of a rusty hinge and Zora’s own heavy breaths.
For a while, Zora laid there in bed, throat dried out and nauseous from dehydration. She stared at the window and breathed a sigh of relief that she wouldn’t have to replace it again. Hopefully, not tonight, at least.
Thirsty, she reached out toward a small table where a water jug sat; finely decorated and out of place in her little home. A gift from her son, the great war hero. The black clay jug was inlaid with gold and depicted the four factions of Vigil underneath a rain of crystals; fragments of a long forgotten god’s prison.
The day the shards came down was the day Zora had her first vision: she watched her son dragged to his death on Azerax’s Hook, killed for a handful of those awful black shards. Ever the skeptic, she failed to warn him, and the jug remained a harsh reminder of the reality of her divinations.
Zora put the spout to her lips and drank in huge gulps, water trickling down her cheek. Stopped to breathe, and swallowed again. The thirst was gone, but her head still ached. She placed the jug on the floor, closed her eyes and pressed her hands to her temples, a futile attempt to squeeze the pain out.
A sudden flash of light and she fell forward, hit the ground hard, and tumbled into the wall. The window swung open, she reached up, almost instinctively, and caught it before it smashed against the frame.
The jug was tipped over, water pooling up by the rim, and dripping down between floorboards. Zora stared into the pooling water. Bubbles started to form in the liquid, and a moment later it was boiling, evaporating into steam, filling the room.
Visions appeared all around her in the mist, this time much more clearly than before. Not a blurred hallucination or a murky scene in a puddle of water, this was something more precise, more vivid. She felt as though she was somewhere else, not seeing the future, but experiencing the present from a timeless place.
A dark-skinned monk in a red robe hovered in the center of a barren marble room. Golden ribbons of cloth spiraled around him like the rings of a planet. His eyes were closed, and he seemed to be meditating.
“Who are you?” Zora asked.
“I am…” the monk whispered. “I am…” He paused, and He furrowed his brow. Contemplating the question, not quite able to find the answer.
“Why am I here?”
“I brought you-” He stopped, the room fell silent. The monk twisted his head, cracked the bones in his neck, and started again: “I wanted-”
His eyes burst open. White fire burned from underneath his eyelids. “ I…am.” The monk bit off the words.
Zora screamed, turned to run, but behind here there was only empty space. Nowhere to run.
There was a crack of thunder, and the monk’s head began to split open along the crown of his skull, blinding white light beamed out. He pressed his hand on the crack as if to hold in the energy.
The monk was repeating his words, “I-am-I-am-I-am-I-am-,” mumbling like a madman. All the energies of the universe spiraled around him, and Zora could feel an unfathomable power reaching out. The monk was something more, not a man, but a god.
“No more,” she cried.
In an instant, they were face to face. He was gripping Zora’s shoulders. She could feel the fire from his eyes, burning her skin. “You must…,” he hissed.
“Let me go, it burns, let me go.” She was sobbing now, trying to rip his hands off her shoulders, but they were heavy as the mountains.
“You must…get help.” Void energy, thick as blood, poured out of his mouth, dripped onto the ground.
“Please,” she begged. “Let me go.”
A thousand voices filled the room, “We will all die!” A chorus of madness. “You will see.”
Visions appeared all around her: clockwork forests billowing smoke, liquid energy from the void pulsing through human veins, organic metals growing from the ground and cultivated by mechanized druids. The realms unraveling and then blending together, technologies merging, Vigil turned upside down and shaken like some mad alchemists brew.
The monk lifted her off the ground, “I will unmake us all,” he hissed. Then hurled her into her room. Zora skidded across the floor, hit her head hard on the corner of the bed. The last thing she saw before she passed out was the moon’s shining light through the unbroken window.
Zora woke up to the sound of rain. She dragged herself to her feet and looked out into the distance, droplets of rain rattled against the window. The world had a new glow to it, the forest outside her home seemed distorted, the birds slightly misshapen. A result of hitting her head or was the world truly different?
She inhaled deeply, and in the back of her head: a voice. Her lips parted, and she said a word. A name. His name.
And the window shattered.