Abadona shivers in the cool of the judging chamber, unwarmed by the lone spotlight above. The ordeal to reach this place has been torturous, and though stoically motionless, she is weary beyond the telling. Engulfed in the fathomless shadows surrounding the stage, a buzzing voice, a sound that is not properly a voice at all, breaks her anxious reverie with a single word.
She rises to obey, tracing with her finger tip a curious sigil upon the air... cold, stale air, that now begins to swell with a tide of strange music. Giving one last, silent prayer to Queen Hecate for strength, Abadona begins her dance. She cannot see those who watch her now, but she feels their presence, and her indigo flesh crawls as eyes — and other, less-familiar sensory organs — press upon her from the darkness beyond this tiny pool of light.
She has no rationale to explain her blasphemous actions. Merely the intuition, grown to an obsession... that true power, lies not in the repetition of dead formalities, but in grasping for the living and elusive Truth! The dance she now performs is her own, and knowing that these may well be her final moments, she flings herself into motion with redoubled passion.
Dark streaks now smear across the stone with each step of her bare feet, but the air she draws with each ragged breath is not so stale as it was, and the chill has abated. Her strength should be exhausted... but enduring the discomfort, Abadona has discovered a well of inner resolve. The dance is nearly finished, and she does not intend to falter.
Somewhere, unseen in the blackness, an agitated chittering erupts, but is suppressed when a command rings out.
The harshness of the word is an almost physical blow, but the chittering stops abruptly, and Abadona feels a victorious thrill. She has broken the thrall of a spell older than memory — let the Elders do with her what they may. Eyes gleaming defiance, she resumes the ready stance.
JUDGE: "Yourrr performanzz hazz nnot dizzapointed uzzz..."
Shocked by these words of unexpected approbation, Abadona's heartbeat pounds in her ears. The buzzing continues, like a maddening itch within her skull.
JUDGE: "Yourrr zzzspirit izz zzstrong... bbbut yyouu rrrequire temperrringg..."
Her skin crackles with an electric charge — she has time only to wonder at the scent of vanilla now saturating the air, before she is struck senseless.
Recovering, she rises slowly to find herself in an unfamiliar place, wearing an unfamiliar visage. Her mind is filled with alien words, implanted knowledge—even a new name!—to ensure that her presence here will raise no alarms.
Clearly though, the Elders have sent her to this place for a purpose, and she will master this new challenge, just as she did the last. The gleam returns to her eye, and "Else Barnard" sets off in search of her new "dormitory"...