Shrieking from the woods behind them grew louder as Scythes, monsters from the Darkunder, hunted Rebecca.
“Aunt Vi, how can you see? I can’t see in this inky blackness,” Rebecca complained.
“I don’t need to see. The path is lit, as it has been for generations. If we survive a few more minutes, the path will remain lit for eons to come. You will learn,” Aunt Vi said between frantic breaths.
Stopping suddenly, she knelt down and plucked a solitary violet from its stem. She watched the flower brighten at her touch.
Aunt Vi turned to Rebecca. “Take it. Hurry,” she said, pressing the flower into Rebecca’s palm. Rebecca nodded, carefully closing her hand, trying not to crush it.
Rebecca’s Aunt pressed forward, following the glimmering guides.
“There!” Aunt Vi said, breathing heavily as they broke into a clearing.
A black sky full of stars and luminous half-moon poured ancient light into the clearing, falling upon a set of grey carved stone stairs.
“Quick, up there!” urged Aunt Vi, pushing Rebecca to the top.
The Scythes shrieking drew closer.
“There’s nothing there,” Rebecca protested.
“Offer the flower,” Aunt Vi whispered.
Rebecca proffered the flower to the empty air before her. Moments later, the flower rose from her hand glowing and spinning quickly as the air split apart. Before Rebecca, a shimmering vortex emerged.
“Rebecca, remember, always find and follow the flowers. We are guides, and the violets guide us along the path of Te’ora,” said Aunt Vi, shoving Rebecca forward into the swirling portal.
“Aunt Vi!” Rebecca shouted as she blinked out of existence in this realm.
A single petal fell atop the stairs. Aunt Vi snatched it up. Clutching it tightly in her hand, she turned to face the looming Scythes.
At the edge of the clearing, two pairs of glowing midnight blue eyes flared in anger in the dark. Tree branches snapped as the large Scythes emerged into the clearing, snarling loudly.
With the luminous portal swirling behind her, Aunt Vi screamed at the Scythes.