Several years passed after that one faithful day. The tribe suffered over the years from disasters they had no control of. They desperately looked for the Vidat child to stop the calamities, but each year, they failed. It was only when the dust storms settled did the tribe give up in their pursuit and accepted their doom.
Some fled the tribe, never to be seen again. Others tried to create a legacy to leave behind to warn other nomads of their affliction. And the remaining ones quietly waited for their turn to perish under the hot sun. Cyrus and Sam's mother were one of those people. She died from a disease ravaging the tribe. The twin sisters stayed on their mother's side, trying desperately to aid in her recovery. But on one peaceful night, she died sleeping on her bed without the chance to say goodbye.
Cyrus watched the floating tent above them as they move across the desert. She saw the light from the priest slowly dying. Her light was no longer bright enough to blind Cyrus. Once they arrived at the oasis where it all began, Cyrus looked across the pond and watched the priest's light dim as night overtook day.
She left shortly after and returned to her family. Her father gathered them around their firepit and told them to leave him and the tribe. "What? We can't leave, not without you." Sam protested.
"No, I can't go with you. I have too much connection with the tribe, and the curse will only follow me."
"Yes," Their father explained to them the curse that afflicted their tribe for generations. A curse placed on them by their wrathful and jealous god after their ancestors began worshipping a golden statue of a camel. And the only way to appease the god was to sacrifice a child with the most potential to become a master of magic. The god called it Vidat, and every 30 years, the tribe searched for a Vidat amongst their flock. When they found the first Vidat, they burned him at stakes. And they continued to burn the Vidats until the fifth one. While the fifth Vidat burned, he told the tribe that someday, a Vidat would escape this cycle of suffering, and the tribe will suffer for its sins.
Sam could not believe what his father told her and tried to reject reality. Then she realized that her sister, Cyrus, could have been one of those Vidats, and her grief turned to anger. "You knew all of this!" She grabbed her father's shoulder, "And you were willing to send Cyrus to them to get killed. Why would you do that?"
"We had no choice. None of us did." The father shielded his disgraceful face with his hands. "We bore the sins of our forefathers. And we can't do anything about it. But you two can. None of you have committed our crimes. You have a chance to live."
"Because I was scared to lose you. I love both of you, and I'm sorry." The father got up and brought them two bags.
"What are those?"
"You're going to need it."
"You're really trying to kick us out."
"You have to! Before things any worse. I will stay here and face my sin. You two go." He hugged his daughters with tears in his eyes. "I love you."
The twins left the tent and snuck out the camp. They looked back on top of a desert hill and saw the disease-infested tribe and its gloomy inhabitants carrying the bodies of the dead. The sisters traveled across the desert with their goat. They plan to sell her in the city and buy supplies before embarking north towards the sea. "I'm sorry Sam," Cyrus said while they walk, "If only I pass,"
"Don't say that. I don't want to lose you. If anything, I'm glad we are out of there."
Cyrus wiped away her tears. She couldn't help but blame herself for her mother's death. She could not accept the fact her parents were willing to sacrifice her to their god, but she did not blame them. Cyrus could only recall one person to blame, the priest. If she was so strong, why couldn't she protect them? Her light burned itself on Cyrus' mind, but it was still not strong enough to fight their merciless god.
They rested at night when the air is cold, and they traveled during the day. The blazing hot sun was melting their resolve every day. The twins cursed at the sun for their suffering, but the sun could not hear their fleeting calls. After three days and three nights, the twins finally arrived at a large town where they sold their goat and used the money to travel with a group of merchants.
The camels carried them across the desert until they reached the coast. A large citadel could be seen standing on the cliffside and a breathing city beneath its protection. The city had no walls or watchtowers. The large desert is enough to protect them from raiders coming from inland. It is the sea that the people both loved and fear that they worry about. The shipyard was full of armed guards marching on the docks accompanied by high ranking officials doing their daily inspections of newly arrived ships.
The docks were the busiest area of the city, and they were always looking for people to hire. Luckily for the sisters, they found a quartermaster setting up a table where the people could sign up. The pay was horribly low, with one voyage barely able to buy them another goat, but they needed the money. They signed up and joined a brigade of women in charge of the kitchen.
Soon they set sail. They traveled the seas for two weeks, stopping by different towns and cities before eventually landing on a city called Ubec. The captain of the ship, the heir of a highly reputable banking family, lost his inheritance while he was away and ended the voyage before it was completed to return home and deal with his family. This meant the workers were never paid the full voyage and had to look for work in a foreign city.
The sisters managed to find a group of adventurers hiring. They planned to go on an expedition with other adventures into a forest inhabited by creatures known as goblins. The sisters have never seen goblins before, but the adventurers assured them they are nothing more than a pest, not unlike rats.
They joined the adventurers in their quest as the camp maids. Other helpers were there with them. They came from all over the continent and had customs the sisters found very strange. But they learned to get along with them during their trip.
There was one particular woman Cyrus grew fond of named Mari. She was a kind gentlewoman and treated everyone with sincerity and care. The adventures looked down on them, bossing them around. Some of the adventures acted kind, but everyone could hear their condescending tone from a mile away whenever they speak to the helpers. Most of the camp eventually avoided the adventurers, but Mari not only approached them, but she was always so pleasant around them. While they were avoiding them with a cold shoulder, Mari welcomed the adventures and was eager to hear their grand tales even if those tales were just lies.
Cyrus admired her and wanted to emulate Mari, but she was nothing like her. And it did not help that Cyrus feared the adventurers. Many of them do not look human to her but instead looked more like a ball of fire that could burn her eyes if she gets too close. But she could at least get closer to her. And so she tried, but she never managed to get over the wall. Sam was always by her side, and she was not keen on making friends. She lost too much, and she was not willing to lose more. She kept herself and her sister away from other people as much as she could to avoid any trouble.
Little did she know that their worst enemies are outside the walls of their camp. While in the middle of their chores, a troop of goblins attacked the camp, killed all the guards, and kidnapped the weak helpers.
On that faithful night, the sisters experience their worst hell of all. The women were brought into the red-roofed building surrounded by the goblins led by a large red goblin sitting on its throne. The red one approached Cyrus and grabbed her hair. Sam pushed herself up her feet and lunged at the red one, but the goblins piled on top of her before she could reach her sister. Sam tried to fight back, but a sword on her sister's neck kept her submissive. She did everything she could to spare her Cyrus from the horror they will soon go through, but the goblins do not care.
The women soon got pregnant with the goblin spawns and were unable to move their bodies. The female goblins fed an odd colored porridge, which tasted disgusting. Cyrus could not help but barf out some of it on herself.
Eventually, her spawn was born, and the spawnling looked horrifying. Cyrus tried to push it away, but the goblin forced it on her arms and shoved its mouth on her breast to suckle. While it was sucking on her, she started to regain some control of her hands. She doesn't know how, but her fingers could move.
She looked at her sister, trying to speak to her; nothing came out of her mouth. Her voice was gone, and her throat too sore from the nights before. She stared at the rest of the women she used to work with. Her eyes floated across the room, then she stopped. She saw a dim light inside the dark barn. It was coming out of Mari. The light was growing stronger, but it wasn't killing her eyes.
Later that night, the spawning began to have seizures during its sleep. It was growing rapidly. Cyrus woke from the spawnling's cries. It looked in pain as if trying to free itself from the garment holding it in prison. Cyrus, unconsciously moved her hands and held the clothing around the spawning and tightened it around its body. Cyrus watched it, squirming around, struggling to move. Its cries grew louder, but they fell on deaf ears. Eventually, its cries died down, and it died on her chest with its limbs distorted inside the garment.
In the morning, the red-haired goblin grabbed her curls and pulled it in anger. She yelled at the other goblins while pointing at the dead spawnlings on the floor; one of them was Cyrus' spawnling. The goblins moved her out of the barn, exposing her to the daylight's rays. She was free for a brief moment, only to return in hell once more.
They dragged her and the other two women in a room filled with restless male goblins. Cyrus laid on the floor with the goblins on top of her. Her mind disappeared, leaving her body to escape reality. They grabbed her legs, pulled on her hair, and bit on her flesh, and for hours on end, her hell continued. Every now and then, she would wake up, and the only thing in her mind was regret, regret that she killed the spawnling keeping her away from these hungry monsters. And just when things were about to get worse, the female goblins entered the room.
They pushed the hungry goblins away and took Cyrus out of the room with another woman. They returned to the barn and gave them the spawnlings that killed their mothers. Cyrus returned to her limbo with a new spawnling around her arms. She did not feel happy.
She wallowed in the darkness, but a shining light kept the shadows away. She looked at the soft glowing orb across the room and saw Mari inside it, enveloped by it. The light was radiant and gentle, bright, but not intense. It was like a sun rising in the morning, tenderly waking up the people of the world. Cyrus sincerely smiled for the first time in her life ever since she held that doll. Cyrus couldn't help but think Mari was the light in the tunnel that she has been looking for in her life.
But the halo around her was slowly disappearing. On Mari's chest was a spawnling sleeping on her chest. And it also had light resonating inside of it, and it was getting stronger and hotter. Cyrus' hands began to shake, and she held her spawnling close to her chest, not to embrace it, but to hide behind it from the blazing orb across her. She watched it consume Mari and her light, and it was terrifying.