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 in which dreams are reality




When Amadhay woke up, she immediately knew that she was in a different bed.

This one wasn’t as soft, the pillows were more like her own, and the covers over her were thicker, warmer. She knew she still wasn’t home, though, even without opening her eyes, because it smelled wrong. While she didn’t have a vampire’s nose, the feline of her aelfe gave her slightly stronger senses than some, and her room smelled like incense and smoke. This room smelled clean and like freshly cut roses. Even so, she hoped that when she opened her eyes, she would be back home.

She wasn’t. Instead, she was in a relatively large room, at least two of her own back on base but still smaller than her old room in the Hakinato homestead. The walls were red, which, honestly, she thought was rather garish even as she wondered if it had been specially painted for her. Sitting up on the bed, she looked the room over and decided that yes, this room had been decorated specially for her. The floor was carpeted in what looked like a soft black carpet, but when she squinted her eyes, she was able to see what looked like intricate, ancient runes in a silver color underneath the fabric.

There was a large, dark, wooden armoire dresser with a matching vanity table that took up almost the entire right wall. That table was covered with long stemmed red roses, which was where that smell was coming from and she didn’t have to give them more than a cursory look to know that they were the same kind of rose from which her middle name derived. Two doors were the only light colored wood, with one that was absolutely coated in wards, and the other opened enough that she could see it led to a bathroom. There were three windows, one on either side of the room and one, wide one that took up a large portion of the wall behind the bed. The bed itself was a canopy bed with a gorgeous overhanging in the center of it, held up like a chandelier and spilling the gauzy curtains down. She dropped onto her back with a heavy sigh, trying to remember falling asleep. She couldn’t, which meant she actually hadn’t, but had somehow been forced into unconsciousness before she could fight it, because she didn’t even remember feeling drowsy. She sighed again and looked up at the overhanging of the canopy.

She stared at the overhanging for a long moment, feeling like there was something she was missing until, suddenly, she recognized it. She had seen it before in her dreams, or at least what she thought had been dreams. The dreams were always of herself and Amaya when they were tiny, playing princess in a castle, the bed being the castle and Amaya being the princess. A man, a man with scaly skin and a wicked smile, had always played the dragon guarding the princess while Amadhay was the brave warrior coming to save her sister, except for those times when Amaya would save herself and they would defeat the dragon together.

Why would Atlas have it? What did that mean?

Shaking her head and deciding to ignore that strangeness, she crawled out of the bed and slid through the opening in the curtains. She didn’t even glance back at the large window, knowing that even if it wasn’t physically barred, that there was no way it wasn’t magically sealed to keep her from going that way. Instead, she went over to the window on the far right of the room, the only one that she could easily reach, and looked out. It took her a few clicks to realize that what she was seeing was snow, piles upon piles of snow clinging to tall trees. Given that it was halfway up her window, Amadhay figured that it was probably in her best interest not to even attempt an escape until she knew for sure where she was on a map.

Her teleporting had limits, and considering she had no idea what the distance was between her and anywhere she knew, she was going to assume that she was outside of her limits and that teleporting from here to base was completely off the table. Atlas seemed to know everything else about her, so she expected that he knew her physical and magical limitations and would have acted accordingly. With that in mind, she decided she would have to go past her limits to get out of this place. But first, she decided, recognizing that she was shaking not from irritation or fear, but from the cold, she needed to find some warm clothes.

She was hesitant to open the armoire, worried that it might be a trap, or worse yet, that she would find clothes for her in there. She wasn’t sure how to handle this entire situation just yet. She hardly knew anything about Atlas, yet he seemed to know her entire life. And for some reason she had yet to determine, he wanted her, or at least for her to be wherever she was. She wasn’t, not even for a click, believing his spiel about trying to give her a better life or whatever he had tried to claim when they were in the other room. He had some ulterior motive, and before she left, she needed to figure that out.

But first, she needed to not be cold. With a deep, calming breath, she swung the armoire open. It was almost empty, save for a pair of warm looking boots with fur lining, a pair of black gloves with red fur lining and a full, red cloak, with similar fur lining. The cloak was a shock to her system, yet another thing that was reminiscent of the dream. Just touching it, she could tell that the red lining wasn’t fake and it didn’t look like dye, which meant that whomever had made the cloak had actually skinned several red animals for it. That didn’t sit with her well at all. While she was all for animals dying for food or their other body parts, animals dying for fashion only served to irritate her.

But she was so cold. She touched the fur to find that it was warm, which she assumed meant some heat spell she didn’t know. She faltered for a few more clicks before deciding her morals could take the backseat to her needs. She kicked her boots off, still slightly intrigued by the fact that Atlas or one of his people hadn’t undressed her. She was happy that they hadn’t, because it made everything easier on her, but she wondered if it was due to respect for her or an attempt to get her comfortable before doing worse to her.

The boots were warm, much warmer than her simple cloth ones had been, and fit her perfectly, which didn’t surprise her in the least. The gloves were just as warm and made her sigh with happiness when she wiggled her fingers to get her circulation flowing correctly. She stared at the cloak for only one more brief click before pulling it out of the wardrobe and over her shoulders. She clasped it with the purple brooch on the front of it and nearly giggled from amusement when she looked in the mirror. It was a sight too large for her just as it had always been in her dream, dragging behind her like the train of a ceremonial dress and nearly swallowed her, but considering it was the warmest thing she had ever felt, she didn’t complain. She pulled the hood onto her head and the heat was complete.

She just stood there for a moment, basking in the warmth before turning her attention to the third window. It was higher than the other, standing above the mirror that was about a head taller than she was. Luckily, the chair seated at the desk beside the mirror looked sturdy enough to take her weight. She moved it in front of the mirror before climbing up onto it, holding onto the mirror to keep her balanced on the chair. This window gave her a better understanding of where she was. There were leagues of fresh snow, just like in the other, but in the distance, she could see smoke, which meant there were living people in that direction. Whether or not those living people would be help to her was still up in the air, but at least it was a start.

“Knock, knock,” an unfamiliar voice called before giving two knocks. Not knowing how many other people were in the same place as her, who the other people were, how big the place was, and still not knowing whether she was in Palnoki or not made the decision not to attack pretty easy. Instead, Amadhay was sitting calmly on the bed when the door opened.

A man walked in with a tray perfectly balanced in his hands as he used his hip to keep the door open. His long, black cloak was the same style as the one she wore, only it fit him perfectly, hanging at his ankles. He had no hair, which wasn’t surprising seeing that his skin was scaly, similar to a lizard or snake’s and a light brown color that seemed to have a slightly green tint to it. He had a wide, lipless mouth and when he smiled at her, she saw two rows of sharp, but small teeth. His bulbous eyes were large pupiled and brown, and as she stared, they blinked once to her five times. Amadhay wasn’t breathing, just staring at the man from her dream, her dragon.

As if he didn’t notice her stillness, the man still walked forward and set the tray on the bed beside her. Hoping for something to help her steady herself from the disorientation his presence had thrown her into, she looked at the tray. That only worked to make her more flustered. On the tray were three chicken and cheese sandwiches cut into precise triangles and six pieces of fruit put into a circular pattern she remembered well from her childhood. It was the pattern she and Amaya developed to counter her obsession with symmetry and Amaya’s obsession with helping her eat everything. In the center was a cup. She didn’t even have to look inside of it to know that it was grapefruit juice, which had been her childhood favorite.

This was getting out of control. What? Were they going to have Amaya walk in next?

“Is there anything else I can get you, Little Warrior?” the man asked, hissing his s’s. When she flinched at the expected nickname, he tilted his head. “Do you not remember me?” his tone was purposely mocking, but she didn’t fall into his trap.

Or maybe she did.

She stood up, not paying attention to see if the tray would fall, and moved so that she was right in front of the man. “Take me to Atlas.”

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November 2016

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