“Rahym? Rahym Tezel? Is that you?”
I still, recognizing the voice. A million and one memories seem to physically hit me, sucking the air out of my lungs.
“Yes, it’s me,” I say warily. “Who are you?”
Please don’t let it be him. Please don’t… both my subconscious and I chant.
I really don’t want to deal with that asshole right now. Or ever again, for that matter.
I get my answer. One of the hooded riders dismounts, landing in the sand. He lifts the hood back and looks at me, his emerald green eyes glowing with unearthly power. The sharp planes of his face are exaggerated by the light from the Door as he gives me a lopsided smile.
“Nakir,” I say, with a false sense of bravado, and I wish I were seeing him under different circumstances. I’ “What are you doing here?”
The smile grows, as a second rider swings a leg over the side of their horse. The rider strides up next to the asshole that I blame for the shattered remains of my life. This much closer, I can see that it’s a woman, although she doesn’t lift her hood, so I can’t see her face.
“We’re on the road, Rahym,” Nakir says, drawing my attention back to him. “And we need your help.”
“My help?” I ask.
“I’m flattered, but I don’t do that anymore. People tend to die around you.”
To my surprise, the woman next to Nakir chuckles mirthlessly. She may be crazier than I am. Not a good sign.
Nakir smirks. “Dying. Right. That’s exactly why we need you, Rahym.”
Nakir exchanges a glance with the woman. She pulls back her hood, and from the depths of my memory, I recall her.
Well, this night has taken an unexpected turn.
“Jennet,” I say, calling out her name. It’s been years, and the last time I saw her, we were teenagers, but the curve of her lips tells me that I identified her correctly. A new sort of horror overtakes me; what is Jennet doing with Nakir?
“Hello, Rahym,” she says in a clear voice. “We’re going to lift the curse. And we need you to lead us through the Door to Hell.”