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Dominique and the Lost Memories
Author's note: This is an incomplete story at the moment, but I will publish more chapters soon.
A set of wheels rolled up to the dark and menacing estate. As the car pulled up to a curve, a pair of familiar faces looked out and nearly trembled with fear. They never thought they’d return to this dismal place after the birth of their twin granddaughters, but as soon as they reached the news of another new granddaughter. This time, they planned to take a risk that would mean grave consequences. But they also knew it meant the safety of their loved one…
They approached the front door with ornate yet foreboding decorating. It was made of ebony wood, but it was also clad in iron bars. They knocked on the grotesque door knocker three times, each one in a resonating echo. They were considering about leaving when the door was ajar. Beside it was the head butler, tall yet gaunt. He said in a low voice, “Mr. and Mrs. Miele. They’re waiting for you.”
He showed them in, and it was just as scary as last time. The walls, painted black and red, held portraits of past generations of Dreds. Ah, that fearful name. How its history had rocked the core of even the bravest. How the Mieles wished that their only daughter never married one. She was attracted to bad boys; thus, that led her down a dark path.
No matter how much they wanted to leave, they were determined to see their newest granddaughter. They were led upstairs to the now darker chambers. The walls were purple and were decorated with the pictures of the newborns before they were to be changed. Mrs. Miele couldn’t help but stare at the pictures in chronological order. Soon, they neared Devon’s baby photo and soon found an empty place with a nail ready to hold what would be the picture of the new baby. They thought as they gulped, Before she gets changed, too.
The butler opened the door to reveal the family, already impatiently waiting. Two rambunctious voices rang out, “Grandma! Grandpa!” They looked down to see their twin granddaughters running towards them. They were scampering around them as Deborah pointed out, “They’re in the terrible twos.” “And so I see,” Grandpa Miele replied.
The grandparents didn’t fail to see the difference in the twins since they last saw them. That time, they were perfectly normal and innocent babies. But now, something had happened to them. That something was called the Dark Baptism. On the second full moon after a Dred baby is born, a Dark Baptism is held. With the help of someone experienced in the art, the Dreds would baptize their baby by a mysterious mixture that would set the infant on its dark destiny. It would also change its entire personality and made it evil and cruel, everything a Dred was supposed to be.
It would also explain why all generations of Dreds looked the same. They had black hair, black eyes, and pale skin. It’s often easy to confuse them for a vampire, but they lacked fangs and a Transylvanian accent. All that’s known is that the Dreds were not the most popular people in the area. They came to be known as the most fearsome and malicious. Dreds at a young age were like wild animals until they were disciplined like animals. As they became older, they became more cold and calculating.
George and Alma Miele didn’t want that for their infant granddaughter, so they came up with a plan. But first, they had to be congenial. George asked, “So, what’s her name?” Deborah replied, “She is Dominique.”
For the rest of the day, George and Alma kept their cool when the twins, Donna and Deirdre, were playing rough with them. When the grandparents got a break, Alma said to George in displeasure, “They’re monsters! The twins are absolutely horrid! If this is to be Dominique’s fate…” George held up a hand to stop her and he said, “But it won’t be. Remember what we came here for?”
Alma sighed, “You’re right. We have to get her away from here. What else are we here for?” George said, “We’re going to have to make our move tonight. We have to be ready. We cannot afford to wait anymore.”
That night, George and Alma slept in the guest room close to the nursery. At the stroke of midnight, the grandparents made their move. They crept into the nursery and carefully lifted the sleeping newborn from her cradle. Swiftly and quietly, George packed their bags while Alma got Dominique to the car. Five minutes later, Alma pulled up to the door and George flew out of the door. Quickly, the car sped away from the dark estate. By the time the family knew Dominique had been taken, she and her grandparents were long gone.
The Mieles had to change their address after they planned to take Dominique away from her dismal fate. They settled in India in a home surrounded by jungle. They had safely raised Dominique as their own for eight years. She had grown to be a beautiful and lively young girl. She had golden hair and light brown eyes. She played with children from the nearby villages. With each passing day, Dominique reminded her grandparents of her mother before she changed. Dominique lived a marvelous lifestyle, but all that would change forever.
On her eighth birthday, her grandparents threw a party for her. All her friends were invited and Dominique had a great time. After the party had ended, her grandparents shared a special gift with Dominique. She was amazed when she had been given a swan with features she could twist. Her grandmother told her, “Turn the right wing twice, the head once, and the tail feathers three times.” Dominique did as she was told and something incredible happened. As the twisted appendages were turning, two doors opened in the middle of the swan’s back to reveal a message.
Dominique gasped with delight when it read: “You are a wonderful granddaughter.” She embraced her grandparents and thanked them. They also gave her a list of appendage combinations, each for a different message. She cherished her swan more than anything she ever owned. She was entirely grateful for everything her grandparents did, but she did not know what would happen next.
She played with her swan almost until her bedtime. She was in her bedroom when she heard the door knock. Just a moment later, her grandpa rushed to her bedroom and whispered, “You must hide, Dominique!” Dominique was confused and alarmed, but after her grandpa left, she hid underneath her bed. She lied in silence as if waiting for something to happen.
She heard the distant voices of her grandparents and tried to make out what was being said. “Devon, Deborah. What are you doing here?” Grandpa asked. “We came to take back what is ours,” an unfamiliar female voice replied. This was a voice Dominique hadn’t heard before, and yet it gave her chills.
“You took our daughter,” said a menacing male voice, “and we want her back.” “No chance,” Grandpa refused. “You’re not turning her into someone she’s not like you did to our other granddaughters.” Dominique let in a small gasp as she thought, Other granddaughters? Do I have sisters?
“You cannot keep her from us forever,” the male voice threatened. “We will have her back, even if it means prying her from your cold, dead fingers.” “We will still protect her even from you, Deborah,” Grandma said in a clear tone. “You’re not the person you used to be, and I don’t want her ending up like you.” “Maybe I’ve changed for the better, and perhaps she will, too,” the female voice begged to differ.
“Get out of here…now!” Grandpa ordered in a tone that shook Dominique. She never heard her Grandpa that way before and was pretty sure she didn’t ever want to cross him. “We will reclaim our child, even if we have to kill you for her!” the male voice boomed before the door was slammed shut. Now Dominique was more scared than ever. After she was fairly certain the visitors were gone (of course she knew who it was), she crept out from under the bed. Just then, her grandpa came into her bedroom. He had a solemn look on his face, and Dominique knew what it was.
“Was that…?” Dominique began to ask. “…your parents,” Grandpa finished for her. “Yes. They came to take you back.” “Grandpa,” she asked again, “will they hold up to their promise and kill you just to get to me?” Grandpa shook his head and replied, “Darling, I will fight till my last breath just to see you’re safe. Me and your grandma both.”
Tears welled up in her eyes and she embraced her grandpa. She said to him, “Grandpa, I don’t want to let you or Grandma die for me. Isn’t there another way?” Grandpa comforted her, “I’m sure we’ll come up with something to keep you away from your parents. Unfortunately, that would probably have to involve moving.”
Dominique knew perfectly well what he meant. At an early age, she asked about her parents. She was told that they were bad people and her grandparents needed to get her away from them. Until now, she had no idea just how bad her parents were. Nor did she completely understand until later on.
In the dead of night, Dominique was sleeping in her bed after almost having difficulty getting to sleep. Her grandparents were up conjuring up a plan to move to a new place. Suddenly, they were gagged and dragged outside. Before they could even see their assailants, the last thing they each saw was a knife.
The assailants’ work was clean and swift. Now Dominique was without the two guardians she truly cared for. The assailants quickly ran inside and were careful not to disturb the resting child. They gently lifted her from her bed and placed her into a bag. They took her outside the house and set her down. One of them took a bow and arrow, lit the arrow, and shot it at the house. The house almost immediately caught on fire and seemed like a bonfire.
Dominique, who was still in the bag, woke to such bright lights. She knew immediately that something had to be wrong. She pounded at the bag shouting, “Let me out! Let me go!” But they paid no mind to what she said and carried her further away from the lights.
At this point, she screamed, “No! Grandma! Grandpa! Help me! Save me!” It was April 30th, 2004.
She was unhappily taken back to Dred Manor. When she arrived at her family home, she felt like a stranger to it. She came back to her father, mother, twin sisters, and a younger brother. His name was Dietrich and he was four years younger than Dominique was. “Welcome back home, Dominique,” her father said in a sincere tone that seem faked. “I hope you’ll learn to readjust yourself back into our family.” Dominique wasn’t even sure she ever would.
Nine years had passed since she came back to Dred Manor. Needless to say, nothing much about her routine changed except the occasional death here and there. Dominique became quieter than she had been when she was living in India. She felt pretty helpless living with her malicious family after all those years considering how her parents treated her and her siblings. They were expected to be just like their elders.
They, like those before them, were home-schooled to learn the ways of the Dreds. The children weren’t supposed to think for themselves until they were older. If they ever disobeyed their elders, the punishment would be harsh. Here are the twelve punishments in order of severity:
No eating for the rest of the day.
No eating for three days.
No eating for a week.
Being sent to their room for a week.
Being sent to their room for two weeks.
Being grounded for a month.
Being bound in chains
The Dreds’ reputation preceded them when it came to harshness. They were not ones for leniency. They would even kill their own children if they did something to deserve the punishment. The death punishment varied from beheading to hanging. It all depended on the level of disobedience and defiance. Only few Dred children have died as a punishment. Most often, the children were very loyal to their parents and hardly ever disobeyed.
When the parents would get close to death, usually the son got the house. However, if there was more than one of them, there would be a contest amongst them to see who is worthiest of receiving the household. When the successor was chosen, his siblings, if he had any, would be released from the family curse and revert to their pre-cursed selves. Then, they would set out into the world to make a living for themselves. They were a lot nicer when they were not under the influence of the curse and often regretted their past actions.
Sometimes, it would be a female who became the heir to the Dred Manor, whether an only daughter, the worthiest of just daughters, or if the only boy/s in her family were unable to inherit it. But it was unlikely that Dominique or her sisters would inherit the manor since Dietrich seemed competent of being the new patriarch when the time came. Not only was he competent, but he was also very smart and sneaky. Since he was their only son, he got away with mostly everything and was spoiled rotten. But it was different for Dominique and her sisters. Whenever they sassed, disobeyed, or defied their parents, they were punished, Dominique most of all.
Since she was raised in India for most of her childhood, she still kept much of her personality. That got her into a lot of trouble a lot. For days at a time, she went without food. But much of the time, she was so secretly admired by her servants that they brought her food. However, coming to her aid had its price. Several had died as a result of trying to help her.
Other than that and her state of living, Dominique had the only possession of her past that continued to instill hope in her: her swan. She was sleeping with it and the list of combinations the night she was taken. Every now and then, she twisted certain combinations of appendages to get different messages of hope. That was one of the things that enabled Dominique to keep her beauty and not appear like a Dred. Her parents wanted to give her a Dark Baptism if they could, but as long as she remained this way, she was virtually untouchable by darkness. There was one other person who helped her stay the way she was: her sister Donna.
Donna, the eldest of the children, was the only sibling who cared for Dominique and guided her. It was she who taught her when to be careful and when to be herself. Donna, now the only light in Dominique’s world since the passing of her grandparents, had helped her throughout the nine years Dominique had lived with her family. In return for her sister’s services, Dominique told her stories about her childhood in India. Donna’s eyes gleamed with wonder as Dominique told her every detail about the life that Donna herself never knew. That was the only thing that set her apart from her siblings: her eyes.
Even at seven years old, Donna was as malevolent as her sister and parents. She was pretty sure her infant brother would turn out like them, too. She, like her family, lacked emotions and understood only malice and cruelty. She and her sister still acted a little like wild animals and required some more discipline. They understood the concept of rules and punishment. They both knew death would be the ultimate consequence.
Donna was chasing frogs through their backyard marsh. One frog stopped in the middle of a bog. Donna got ready to jump to snatch it. But when she attempted to leap, she fell in. When she surfaced, she felt strange. She felt as if she understood everything about her family from the POV of the good side. She felt like her eyes were opened for the first time.
She suddenly became aware of the bad things she and her family had done and regretted it. She now knew she had to be careful around her family or risk being killed. However, shortly after she came inside, her family sensed a change in her. They forced her to reveal what happened to her and recognized the effects of magical water. They tried to revert her to what she was before, but they failed. When they considered killing her, she pleaded for her life and was sworn to absolute loyalty and obedience to the family.
After she was let off with a warning, she went to her room. As she passed the mirror on her vanity, she noticed something different about her. She looked closely at herself and immediately noticed something. Ever since she fell into the bog, she had deep blue eyes! This got her into thinking, Maybe that was why they knew I changed. I’m going to have to please my family, but I don’t want to be like them anymore.
And so began three years of torment and guilt. After she changed for the better, she found it rather hard to abide by their rules. As a result, she was being punished from time to time. It ranged from going without food to being burned. The punishment of being burned involved coming into contact with red-hot irons. The burns usually took weeks to heal.
Ever since the servants found out that she was a good Dred, they started helping Donna out. They usually died for it. One servant, who was close to her, offered to help her escape. But when they got close to the wall, they were caught. Donna ended up being electrified and when the process was paused, she was forced to watch her servant die in front of her. After this, Donna vowed never to let a single soul die for her; she was afraid of death until then. From then on, she would guarantee the safety of those close to her. Fortunately, she didn’t have to wait long to prove it, for Dominique was returned home.
When Dominique was reunited with her family, she didn’t know how to act around them. Luckily for her, Donna was the only family member who was good to her. Donna showed her all the dos and don’ts of behavior in the Dred household. They both had a lot in common, including having different features and being good. Almost immediately after Dominique had settled in, Donna and she were as close as sisters could be.
It was true that Donna had a twin sister, but she wasn’t very close to her after that day in the bog. Deirdre was almost like the bad side of Donna. Since Donna was the eldest of the two, Deirdre wanted to overrule her. She was the more malicious of the two and grew resentful of her sisters since they were the white sheep. Deirdre was determined to prove that she was the best daughter. Needless to say, her plan was working.
But Donna and Dominique could care less about that. All that mattered was that they looked out for each other and avoid getting into trouble most often. Donna’s love and care for Dominique helped the latter retain her beauty. As long as her older sister was around, nothing was going to change Dominique. Their bond also benefited Donna. She gained more courage and was willing to put herself on the line when standing up for others.
They had each other’s back for nine years as they got through every punishment thrown at them and aiding each other in their time of need. They also dug up secrets of the Dred family history. They learned that the Dreds and their lifestyle had existed way back in the 1600’s. Their first thought was that the Dreds have been rooted from devout Puritans who took their way of life seriously. They discarded that theory and soon came up with a new theory: the first Dreds were witches who were hiding during the Salem Witch Trials. But Donna and Dominique would soon learn something shocking that would change their view of the Dreds forever.
The sound of soft whispers and light nudges woke Dominique from her slumber. She soon met the eyes of her sister, Donna. “Donna,” she said sleepily, “what’s wrong?” “I’ve discovered a secret passage and we have to explore it tonight,” Donna explained, “or else, we’ll never get another chance at this. So, get up.” “Alright, alright,” Dominique slowly rose from her bed.
With flashlights and essentials handy, Donna and Dominique found the secret passage and carefully made their way downwards. They were surprised with what they found: a massive stone room with items of sorcery shelved and organized. In the middle of the room sat a large pool that was for observing only. They searched for something that might help provide more answers. “Hey, Donna,” Dominique drew Donna’s attention towards her. She held a very white and luminescent orb. “Do you think this might help us in a way?”
Donna shrugged, “I don’t know. I’ll check the book over there.” She made her way across the room to the book on display. She flipped the pages and found a chapter on the orb. She read aloud, “‘This particular orb serves to contain a memory of a certain event.’”
She turned to Dominique and asked, “Is there more than one of them?” Dominique shook her head and said, “This was the only one. How do we activate the memory?” Donna continued to read, “’To see a memory, place the orb in the water and the memory will appear.’ Okay, let’s put it in the water and see what memory it is.” They carefully set it in the pool and something incredible happened. There was an explosion of white light and the water began to form a moving image.
In the image, two beings in cloaks were standing before a dark being only seen with his frightening eyes. “Please give us much-needed power and intimidation,” the first man implored. “I will give you those…” the dark figure rumbled, “…for the price of the souls of you and your future generations.” The brothers agreed to that, for they were power-hungry and blind with greed. A black cloud surrounded them and groaning was heard. Only seconds later, the black cloud dissipated to reveal a new change in the brothers. Their skin was pure white and like their new hair, their eyes were black as pitch.
The memory in the pool seemed to instill fear into Donna and Dominique as it faded away. “We have to leave,” Donna told Dominique. “You’re not leaving…physically,” an authorative voice echoed throughout the room as the sisters looked up in fear to see their family on the stairs.
The sisters were immediately seized and taken to the basement to be locked up in chains. They spent the whole night worrying what the consequences would be. Donna moaned, “This is all my fault. I should’ve never brought you into this.” Dominique disagreed, “I would gladly die with you if this is what sacrifice meant. I would rather spend the rest of eternity with you than remain here where I can suffer more.”
“No,” Donna raised her voice, “I cannot let you die!” She sighed and continued, “After I became good and before you came back, servants were sacrificing themselves for me. And all because I was afraid of death. I was afraid to stand up for myself. After that servant who almost helped me escape died, I promised myself I wouldn’t let others die because of me. I’m willing to go to great lengths to protect you, even if it means I can’t be around anymore.”
Dominique gasped, “I can’t let you sacrifice yourself for me! You’re the only sister I’ve ever truly loved.” Donna said, “Then let me prove myself to you. Let me die for you so that you’ll be safe, but please promise me that you’ll never let our family change you…ever. Do whatever you can to remain who you are. Just please be yourself after I’m gone. Do that for me, Dominique.”
Dominique’s heart beat with pity as Donna stared at her with pleading eyes. Finally, she couldn’t resist saying, “Alright, I promise I’ll never change.” Donna smiled gratefully, “Thank you…for being a wonderful little sister.” They both knew it was the end for either of them, so they made what little time they had left together. They waited solemnly for the sun to rise one last time.
When dawn came, they were retrieved by two hulking servants and dragged outside for execution. For which one, they didn’t know, but they were about to find out. The servants unwrapped the chains around the girls and brought them in front of their parents. Their parents looked very crossed and stood as tall as judges. The only plausible explanation for that was that Donna and Dominique were almost at their knees.
“Donna and Dominique Dred,” their father started in a fearsome tone, “you have been caught where you shouldn’t have been last night. This calls for serious consequences and the penalty of death.” The parents turned to Donna as the girls’ mother said, “Donna…” This caused Donna to drop her head in disgrace. “…twelve years ago, you made a vow that you swore absolute loyalty and obedience to us,” she continued in a tone equal to her husband’s. “Last night, you have broken that promise in the most disobedient way. What have you to say for yourself?”
Donna looked up in the most pitiful way for a Dred: with tears in the eyes. But she replied in an angry tone, “I just want you to stay away from Dominique. No matter what you do to me or her, she will never change, and don’t you DARE change the way she is!” Her mother looked back in an offended way. Then, her father ordered the servant holding Dominique, “Pull Dominique back!”
Dominique knew what this meant, but she also knew that further resistance will make the consequences worse. She couldn’t do anything but stand there and watch. Donna was thrown in front of her parents as her father withdrew a knife. Her mother grabbed her and Donna cooperated. Her father got ready to strike as he said, “Donna Dred, you have been released.” Dominique watched in horror as he ran the blade through Donna’s body, rendering her lifeless and cold.
The servant released Dominique from his grip as Donna fell to the ground. She turned the body to face her and wept with deep sorrow, “Donna…” The rest of her family thought that they would let Dominique wallow in despair for five minutes before she was to receive her punishment. A few minutes later, Dominique noticed something in Donna’s clenched hand. She opened it to find a golden locket. It wasn’t any locket; it was one of the pair of lockets that Donna gave to the both of them containing pictures of the other. More tears sprang from Dominique’s eyes when she opened it to see her own photo.
The punishment that followed was being stabbed in multiple areas. Although the stabs weren’t usually fatal, the victims did lose a lot of blood. Dominique seemed to care less about it, for the pain from Donna’s death seemed to have dulled the pain of piercing. However, after a second day of this, she could barely keep conscious. Dietrich came to deliver the final stab. Dominique couldn’t see it, but she could feel that familiar thud.
Suddenly, she felt weak and woozy. As she fell to the floor and succumbed to unconsciousness, she heard the words, “I think we broke her…”
Dominique had no idea what they meant. It was the first thing she remembered when she woke up. A few moments later, she found that she was in her room again. When she was fully conscious, she searched her pockets. She was relieved when she pulled out Donna’s locket. She opened her drawer and pulled out her own. She opened it to see Donna’s picture.
She couldn’t help but cry for her lost sister. Then she noticed that she ached terribly. The pain was not just in her heart, but on her wounds, too. She wanted to see where her wounds were, so she slowly got out of bed. She couldn’t help but groan in pain as she made her way to her vanity mirror. But when she looked into it, her wounds were not the first thing she saw was different.
She noticed her hair was darkening! Oh, no, she thought as she gasped. I’m turning into a Dred! While she calmed herself down, she remembered what Donna had told her before she died. “Please promise me that you’ll never let our family change you…ever,” Donna had said. “Do whatever you can to remain who you are.” Dominique reflected on her words and took special notice of “Do whatever you can to remain who you are.”
Then, Dominique knew what she had to do.
After Dominique had fully healed from her wounds, she went down for breakfast with her family. There, she saw an empty place where Donna once sat. As she sat down, Deirdre taunted, “So, how do you feel now that Donna’s gone? Your shield can’t be there for you anymore, so you’ll have to fend for yourself. Oh, wait. That’s right. You won’t have to, because you’re becoming one of us.”
But Dominique disagreed, “No matter how much my hair will change color, I’ll still be me. You can’t change who I am.” “Face it, Dominique,” her mother said. “You’ve lost all hope in your heart. You’ve lost the only person who cared for you. There’s nothing left for you to do but become one of us.”
It was mostly true; when Dominique lost her sister, she felt as if all hope was gone, but Donna had told her to fight. “I’ll never be like you,” Dominique scowled. “It won’t be that impossible,” her father sneered, “once you’ve completed the Dark Baptism.” Dominique was confused, but she knew it couldn’t be good. She asked, “Dark Baptism?”
He father explained, “When a Dred is born, it must go through the Dark Baptism. It happens every second full moon of the infant’s life. On that night, the infant will be initiated by being submerged in a special mixture that will allow it to become a true Dred. One with all the qualities and appearance it should possess. But you were taken away from us at a young age. You could not be initiated then.”
“Then why wasn’t I initiated when I returned home?” Dominique asked. “Since you grew up far away from us, you had changed from the being you were meant to be,” her father continued. “When you came back, we were unable to do it because you had hope in her heart and it had allowed you to stay the same. There was also someone else who kept that hope burning: Donna. As long as she was around and you remained unchanged, we could not touch you with darkness. So we have tried to break you with our punishments, but nothing worked. But now with Donna deceased, I think we have broken you.”
“You’re changing now,” her mother pointed out, “and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” Dominique couldn’t believe her and refused to do so. She vowed, “I will find a way out. You cannot change who I am, and you never will. I’ll still be me and I’ll never be like you.” “You will go through that baptism and that is that,” her father scowled. “And there will be not another word on the matter.”
Dominique knew not to say any more about it, but she also knew the only way out that was inevitable: escape.
In the dead of night, Dominique quietly packed her bags very lightly. She took only the essentials and her most prized possessions: her swan and her lockets. A few of the servants helped her clear the way for her departure. But it wasn’t enough, for when she made her way down the hall, the atmosphere became very red. She knew it couldn’t be alarms, but also that it couldn’t be good. She ran for her life as she heard footsteps nearing her. She made it to the front door, but found it was locked.
Just then, a voice whispered to her, “Dominique! Over here!” She turned to see a teenage boy gesturing her to come with him. He beckoned, “Follow me!” He opened a secret door and led her outside. They were outside in the garden and ran towards the wall.
Before Dominique pointed out that they were trapped, the servant boy hunched down and put his palms together. “Let me hoist you up,” he said. Dominique hesitantly complied and she was lifted up towards the top of the wall. “Grab the vines!” he told her. She grabbed hold of the vines and climbed up to the top of the wall. She looked down and asked, “But what about you?”
“Don’t worry about me,” he replied. “Just get going. You’re free.” There was nothing she could do now but give her thanks and scaled down the other side of the wall. Just then, the door opened and guards came pouring out. One of them scolded to the boy, “You fool! You let her escape!”
Before the boy could react, he was knocked unconscious.
Dominique was fleeing for her life and getting farther away from the Manor. There was nothing before her but open plains. She ran as fast as she could before she ran into a mysterious figure. She was afraid the guards might’ve caught up to her, so she put her arms to her face. Suddenly, the being grabbed one of her arms and pulled her. Before she knew it, she was running again and a burst of light blinded her eyes. When her sight adjusted, she saw a portal tearing at the ground.
By now, she could see the stranger in bright light. He was at the edge and he beckoned, “Come with me if you want to live!” She was hesitant at first, but then considered the consequences should she go back. She sought no other choice than to do what he told. She took his hand and they leapt into the portal. When they got through, the portal vanished completely. By the time the guards were on the open plains, Dominique was gone.