I touched down in Roah Fortress’ courtyard and nodded politely to one of the Gallowglass’ on patrol. Nepech landed beside me, jaw set in a hard line, his temper clearly outlined in the furrow marring his brow. He looked me up and down and his look softened slightly. I straightened and rolled my shoulders and tried to hide my weariness, but I knew that it was too late and he had seen.
“You did good out there girl. You’ve earned your aches and there’s no shame in being tired.” He tipped his head from side to side, audible popping sounds emanating from his neck as bones slid back into alignment. I was filthy and stooped with exhaustion I wanted a bath, a meal and my bed, I would settle for a basin of water, some rations and a cot or a corner. I stood waiting for any additional orders. Nepech looked at me for several moments before reluctantly muttering
“Your dismissed, eat something, clean yourself up and be ready to go back out tomorrow morning. There is a room for you passed the artifact chamber. Mine is two doors down from yours.” I saluted nonchalantly and dragged myself toward the ramps leading down. First I found my self a shugo and sent the message to Aalairius that I was well, then I found myself some hot gruel, a washbasin and sighed with relief that there was an armor rack in my room. I hated leaving my gear in a pile, just didn’t feel like I was taking proper care of it. I shucked off my chain and hung it properly before collapsing onto the thin but sturdy mattress on the battle scarred bed frame.
“I’m dreaming aren’t I?” I asked him. He bowed his head and nodded. I stood in the white dress on the vast expanse of snow and I was not cold. I looked at my bare feet, whole and unscarred and knew it was indeed just a dream. Aion that hurt. I gazed lovingly upon Elethor’s face as the flakes began to fall and closed my eyes as the tears welled. When I opened them is when the nightmare took over.
Jade green eyes, as cold as the snow had looked andso terribly calculating much like kirin’s were inches from my own, he drew back just a little, and brought the glowing metal of his heated sword between us, letting me look, letting the dawning cross my face before drawing the blade slowly away, making certain I followed it with my eyes and it travelled lower and lower over my body before pressing into the flesh just below my knee. The sizzling is what did it, the sizzling and the smoke rising and my voice rose with it into an earsplitting scream that boiled in my chest and poured from my throat in a scalding wave…
Hands gripped my shoulders pinning me down, pinning me back as I arched, body bowing taught and I heard a voice screaming my name.
“Sirona! Wake up girl!” Nepech shook me violently and after a moment of disorientation I snapped my teeth together and came back to myself and the borrowed chamber in Roah. The abyss, I was safe… I closed my eyes a moment and felt his fingers dig painfully into my upper arms, and I knew there would be bruises. I swallowed hard and turned my face, hiding behind my own hair, shamed.
“What was that?” he demanded, his grip loosened on me but he did not let go.
“I’m sorry. A bad dream is all” I swallowed hard and repeated it, more for myself than anything, “Just a bad dream.”
We were quiet for a moment when finally the rumble of his voice came, asking “This happen a lot?” I nodded, but did not speak.
“Aion.” He said, and let me go. “How does Aal do it? You woke the whole damned Fortress and set the guards on edge on the battlements. We thought the damned Balaur were falling from the sky til we figured out it was you.” He scratched his chin through his beard and I looked at him then wide eyed.
“I… I’m sorry.” I stuttered lamely, at a loss for words.
“Its fine now baby doll.” He drawled. “You ever have any of these bad dreams while you’re awake?” he asked. I frowned at him.
“I’m a Cleric of Aion’s light and a healer, not some green recruit damnit. I know what a flashback is Nepech, and no it only happens when I sleep.” I crossed my arms over my breasts, the thin undershirt not leaving much to the imagination before realizing I was being foolish, and blushing. Nepech, ever quick caught on right away, and started laughing at me, which colored me an even deeper red.
“No you’re correct. I may love Astat but I notice women too, so does he.” He stood up and stretched. “You okay now?” he searched my face. I nodded and scooched down, bringing the regulation issue, stiff Fess blanket to my chin.
“Good night Nepech. Sorry again.” He nodded at me and went for the door, I watched the rectangle of light cast on the floor from the hall disappear as he shut it behind him and I was plunged into the dark once more. For a fleeting moment I missed Aalairius and then the dark, and the beginning of my dream reminded me… and I missed Elethor, a sharp ache emanated from my cracked heart and I closed my eyes, shoving all of it from my mind. When sleep came again it was complete, and I did not dream again.