XXII: Lead Us Down That Path

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A powerful and familiar aroma filled the air, creating a tingle to prickle at her senses.

Diana's ears were greeted by the buzzing of wildlife, and footsteps in the distance. Taking in a deep breath, she felt alive, rejuvenated even, as if she were waking to a new dawn. However, she saw nothing when she tried to open her eyes. The earth was flat against her back, grass and flowers from what she could feel served as a bed in her current state. The light touch of harmless insects tickled her bare feet, feeling the sensation of fluttering butterflies trailing up her bared arms. The air was so thick with the essence of its thriving flora that she could taste it, fragrant and bitter, yet sweet like honey laced with herb and a vanilla aftertaste.

The grass rustled beneath her as she sat up, but when she tried to open her eyes again, she felt her lashes scrape along a blinding cloth. Without sight, she created the imagery of her surroundings, trying to feel out where she was based on her senses. Diana scrambled to her feet, hardly surprised she could use the ankle she'd thought she twisted when she tumbled down the hill.

She felt someone walk past her, cutting through the teasing rays of color that peeked beneath the shield that was fastened to her eyes. Raising her hands to the cloth on her face, she tugged and pulled and scraped—but it would not budge.

A charming voice hummed somewhere behind her, and when she turned, it transferred to her back again. Diana recognized the song as the hymn "Oh, The Bliss", which was favored by their sister, Faith. As she recalled the face she'd seen prior to her blackout, it didn't take Diana much longer to realize that it was once again a spell of Bliss.

"W-where am I?" She called out, turning her head side to side, calling out to a presence she sensed in front of her.

Faith giggled, and no matter which way she turned, her sister's voice was over her shoulder.

"Faith, I don't have time for games—"

"Shh..." The girl's thin finger touched her lips, hushing her at once.

Faith reached down to take her hand and a gust of wind blew past her as they moved. They flew across the stretch of what she assumed was the garden of Bliss. "The river runs red. The howls of the mountains are silent. Yet, the darkness in the valley thrives... I can feel them though. Our family. They're alive, and they need you."

When they stopped, Faith continued to hum the hymn's verse. She was incredibly close, her body nearly pressed against Diana when she loosened the blindfold. Another whisper of wind whooshed by them, swirling outward and around in the green mist, until a path cleared before her. Sure enough, the heavenly visage of Faith was there.

Everything was just as she'd imagined, grey skies looming high above her, crisp freshness of Spring before rain, with wisps of clouds like soft cotton moving swiftly in the passing storm. Deer, elk and other peaceful creatures wandered around her, picking at the grass. She was looking at this realm of Montana through green lenses, as if her irises oversaturated the colors here.

The lithe fae of the Bliss stepped aside to present another clue to what she might have to face. She continued to sing, humming through the chorus until finally singing the lyrics.

"Oh, the Bliss will set you free...

Oh, the Bliss is gonna make you see..."

It was haunting, Faith's voice, the apparition twirling on the balls of her feet. She was as lackadaisical as ever, a specter of the alluring poison.

Diana took a beat to focus, and when she could clearly see through the smoke, there were people here, ones she didn't recognize, walking about. They didn't see her, however, as if they were ghosts among the mass of aimless wanderers strolling past them.

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