Eyes. Eyes everywhere. Eyes on the ground. On the trees. Eyes growing from the walls and cliffs and the caverns and the doomed, corrupted beasts of the wild.
But when I turn to strike out their hideous light? To plunge my blade deep into their damnable gaze? They are gone! Sunken back into the earth, or closed to the bright light of my holy sword. The Goddess keeps me safe, the Goddess keeps me strong.
And yet. My pumera was unsteady and weak.
For days now, my constant companion, a cub who had known me my entire life, had eaten little, growing thin and wiry. Her fur had begun to fall out in patches, while cankers and boils appeared where the hair was gone. I feared for her. I prayed to the Goddess to help her.
The Goddess did nothing for my pumera. She did not keep my companion safe, did not keep her strong. And as I watched the creature that trusted me suffer more and more, suffer to the point where she lashed out, even at me, I saw it.
The boils and cankers were not boils and cankers at all. And as they blinked open, their terrible yellow orbs knew my very soul, and I did not hear the Goddess again.
I drove my blade through the largest of the eyes, transfixing the howling beast. She did not die right away. Over and over I had to strike, until the eyes were a ruined mess of gore and rot. But my friend suffers no more.
Yet still the eyes are all around me.
I cannot put them all out, not if I had all the time in the world. Do I even want to? My pumera suffered and died, but what if it was being reborn into something new?
What if I, too, will be reborn? What if these wounds on my arms and legs are… yes. Yes.
I am being watched. But I do not fear the eyes. They watch over me now, as the Goddess once did. The Goddess who betrayed me, and betrayed my pumera. She made us weak. The Strain will make us strong. Stronger. Better. Deadlier. Victorious.