As Kallima stepped through a heavy door, she found herself once again in the freshman lobby, now completely empty. A haze clouded Kallima’s eyes, giving her a headache as she moved slowly into the girl’s hall and towards her room, pressing her hands to her temples.
Kallima tried to open the door to her room, but it stayed firm in the frame. She leaned into the wood, infuriated by the resolve of the door. As she did, though, a noise inside caught her attention. A whimper, a snap, then a short cry.
Desperate to get inside, Kallima, took a step back and kicked at the door, stumbling when the wood flew backwards before she even touched it.
But this room was not hers. The walls shrugged under the age of the wood composing them. Almost no light found its way into the darkness. One corner overflowed with laundry, though dirty or clean, Kallima could not tell. Sable’s quartz sphere lay cracked and flickering on the floor. Its owner curled up into herself a few feet away, sobbing under a massive, barely human shadow. Kallima stumbled back as she noticed two figures lying lifelessly on the floor: a man with black hair and green eyes and a woman with long blonde hair and sapphire eyes. Their still forms, blued skin, and unblinking eyes made Kallima tremble violently. As she watched, the black figure raised an arm, revealing a thick, heavy whip in its hand. It hit Sable’s arm with a loud, hard snap, making the small girl scream and clutch the wound. Blood leaked over her fingers as she cried.
“Look what you did, you little bitch,” the shadow growled in a voice Kallima swore she knew. “You killed them. It’s all your fault.”
Sable wailed as the figure brought the whip down on her back. Kallima flinched at the crack of the leather on the girl’s flesh. Rage and adrenaline rushed through Kallima’s body as she sped towards Sable. The redhead let loose a battle cry, scooping the orb from the floor and thrusting it towards the shadow man. As the orb touched the mass, it erupted into a blinding flash, dispelling the the figure with a shriek of fury.
Kallima gasped and sat up in her bed, her hair brushing the ceiling. A soft pink glow appeared next to her head. She turned towards it to see Sable, once more dark and stony with black, frightened eyes.
“Why did you do that?” she demanded in a hushed growl.
“You were in my dream.”
“So what? You were in my dream.”
“No,” Sable corrected, “You didn’t have a dream. Like, that was my dream.”
Kallima tipped her head in confusion and rubbed her eyes.
“Sable, I’ve had a long day. Can we talk about this in the morning?”
“You really are a dream fae, aren’t you?”
“I don’t know!” Kallima said. “It’s not as if anyone told me. I thought I was human until this morning!”
“Who did you say your father was? Harvard?”
“Are you sure he’s human?”
“Are you sure he’s your father?”
But she stopped. Could she really, with absolute certainty, say that the perfectly normal human who had helped raise her was definitely her biological father?
You’ve never been any less than a daughter to me.
As Kallima’s promise replayed in her ears, the epiphany that she was the last to know lighted on her. She began crying again.
“I don’t- He is! He has to be,” Kallima said. “He’s still my dad…”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t, like… I didn’t mean to upset you…”
Kallima brushed her off, saying, “So what, then? What if I am a- a dream fae? What even is that?”
“Well, like Shay said, they’re, like, really rare,” said Sable, shaking, “and dangerous and powerful. I only know of a few, and they’re all, like, high authority.”
“But what is it?”
“You were in my dream, Kali,” Sable said. “And that’s, like, only the start of it. If you learn to control it... My stars, you could be, like, deadly.”
“From getting into dreams?” Kallima asked in amused disbelief.
Sable scoffed and said, “Look at my arm, Kali!”
Sable climbed the bunk ladder at sat on one of the steps. Pulling her sleeve up, she tried to show Kallima… something.
“I don’t see anything.”
“Poo. I can feel it. The whip. It, like, really hurts! Just… Don’t tell anyone. Like, you’d be dead before you knew you were in trouble.”
Kallima said, “Why? It’s not like I did anything.”
Sable crawled back into her bed, muttering, “Crown Prince Reginald? He wants to be a dream fae. He’s, like, really not happy that he isn’t, you know.”
Kallima leaned over the edge of the bunk to stare down at her roommate. A long, thick welt on the gargoyle’s arm drew her eyes as she stammered her next question.
“W-why? Should he be?”
Sable groaned, stretching, “King Titanus is a dream fae. But it can skip around.”
Kallima let out a soft “oh” and slipped back under her own covers. She struggled with her pillow, the fluff inside somehow feeling lumpier than before.
“Oh, an’ Kali?”
“Stay outta ma head.”
Kallima whispered her agreement into the night air with a short nod. Too many thoughts distracted her to even attempt sleep again.
A dream fae. A rare, powerful, and, according to Sable, deadly dream fae. But what was that? In all her father’s stories, Kallima had never heard of one. Granted, she had never heard of air fae, nature fae, shadow fae, or spirit fae either. Sorcerer was a familiar enough term, though she had never seen her mother demonstrate an ounce of whatever power everyone claimed she had. Werewolf, of course, held a certain familiarity. Ogres, trolls, brownies, dwarfs, and elves she had all seen already.
Wary of what Shay had said earlier about her amulet, she retrieved it from under her pillow, returned it to her neck, and fiddled with it until her eyes fell shut again, praying the whole day had just been one long, bad dream.
Kallima pulled at the fabric of her skirt and shook her damp head as Sable sat on her bed. The shorter girl tried to ignore how her uniform fit, though her skin had hardened a great deal when she saw how it fit. Jasmine had already abandoned the quest to comfort the redheaded roommate, but Sable insisted on calming her. Kallima growled angrily at the short blue cloth, insisting on wearing her jeans.
“What pervert came up with this stupid outfit?”
“It goes halfway down your thigh,” Sable muttered, twisting her thin black hair around one stone finger.
“That does not help, Sable.”
“Come on, Kali. We’ll, like, miss breakfast!”
“Well, I’m not going out like this! Is there any way to get a longer skirt?”
With a sudden gasp of memory, Sable stood up, strode over to the fiery young woman, and knelt in front of her. Kallima blushed as her roommate grabbed hold of the hem, gave two short tugs, and then pulled the fabric down. Kallima let a short yelp out. The too-short skirt suddenly reached the tops of her knees.
“Better?” Sable asked, standing back up.
“Yes, actually. Um, thank you.”
“Is there a trick to that, or...”
“The fabric’s enchanted,” Sable explained as they left the room. “Two tugs, then pull it to the length you want. They don’t do that in the Mortal Realm?”
“Er, no. But that’s it? Really?”
“That’s it. Sorry I didn't mention it earlier.”
Sable stopped at the door to the lobby and demonstrated on her own skirt, pulling the covering a good inch below her own knees.
“You put it back up like a shade. One short tug, then slowly let it up.”
Kallima ran a hand over her amulet to make sure it was hidden, pushed open the door to the lobby, and froze. Instead of the comfortable living area that had been there, the dining hall greeted the two girls. Sable sighed at the buzz of the room and glanced over to her companion.
“You have to get that, like, under control,” she said.
“I don’t even know what I did!” Kallima half-whispered.
“Just shut it before someone, like, sees.”
Kallima pressed the door shut behind her, glanced nervously around, then cracked it back open and peeked out. The main hall stood dutifully on the other side. Frightened, Kallima rushed back to her roommate.
“What just happened?” Kallima asked.
“Remember that thing from last night that you’re, like, not supposed to tell anyone about? That happened. Like, it’s what they do.”
Sable reached the food tables and grabbed a small plate. Kallima, suddenly famished, picked up a large one.
“What who do?”
“Dream fae,” Sable shot through her teeth, wide-eyed.
Kallima stacked sausage, eggs, and toast on her plate. Sable shuddered at the stack and opted instead for an apple and a single hard-boiled egg.
“And be careful how much you eat,” Sable warned. “People will catch on if you act, like, all famished in the morning.”
“But I am.”
Kallima groaned at Sable’s rules, but followed her to the same table from the night before, where Shay lounged, eyes shut. When the girls sat down, a single chocolate eye peeped open. Then he flinched, face blanching.
“I’m s-sorry, K-k-Kali. I didn’t mah-mean to-”
“I do not tolerate,” Kallima said, holding up a finger, “people calling my mum a slut or a drunk. Understand?”
“I’m the only one who gets to insult my mother, okay?”
“Okay. So, um,” Shay asked, “did you have pl-pleasant dreams, ladies?”
“Pleasant enough. You?” Sable blushed.
“Peaceful. I was a bit worried about being invaded, but…”
Minding her roommate’s advice, Kallima picked at her food as she had the night before, though her stomach roared in protest. Shay observed her a moment before scowling.
“I told you to wear your amulet,” Shay said, leaning towards Kallima. “It’s going to help. You can’t control it yet.”
A tray clattered softly in front of Shay as Acacia appeared next to him. He smiled up at the dark girl and thanked her before turning back to Kallima sternly. As he continued, Acacia slipped nervously into her own seat.
“Shay, there’s a sylph coming this way,” she said.
“What? Oh, not hi-h-him…” Shay groaned.
“Is it okay if I join you, Sweetheart?”
Kallima gasped at the voice, spinning to see Gabriel’s puzzled yet pleased face behind her. As he sat down, Shay turned away.
“Tucker,” he hissed.
“Orion. I see you’ve met my new friend,” Gabriel said, smiling and brushing Kallima’s arm with a thin finger.
“Your f-friend?” Shay said.
Gabriel laughed as Shay clapped a hand over his own mouth.
“So that’s why you’re so quiet!”
“Don’t you dare laugh at him,” Sable said.
Gabriel glared at the small girl, who shrank back meekly under his stern eye.
“Please,” Kallima added, twisting her hand into Gabriel’s. “I know I decked Shay yesterday, but that was my fault. I don’t like people insulting Mum. It’s one of my triggers.”
“Do you have many of those?” Gabriel asked.
“Why are you ha-hanging out with a bunch of- of f-f-freshman, anyway?” Shay said. “You’re a junior.”
“Because Kali here intrigues me. And I promised to show her around Greston if she stays.”
“You know wh-what?” Shay said. “Knock yourself out. Her temper’s fiery as her hair.”
“I have a soft spot for girls willing to put a snot like you in his place.”
“Gabriel, please,” Kallima said, “I’d like to have some friends. I could use a few. God knows I didn’t have any at my last school.”
Gabriel sighed and said, “Okay, okay. So. Class starts soon. Are you going to eat that toast?”
Kallima chuckled and handed the boy her food, though her stomach protested loudly. Gabriel raised a brow.
“Sorry. Long night,” Kallima said.
“Oh? If you don’t mind my asking-?” Gabriel started.
“Swear it,” Shay said, cutting the sylph off. “Swear on the stars, you won’t tell anyone ever.”
“Shay, you don’t have to-,” Kallima began.
“For your own protection, Kali.”
“Ah, okay... I swear on the stars that I’ll not repeat what I hear at this table to another soul as long as I live,” Gabriel said hesitantly.
“I’ll accept that,” Shay said, dropping his voice and his head low again. “Kali’s a dream fae.”
Gabriel’s eyes went wide, as did his smile.
Gabriel asked, “Seriously? You really are a dream fae?”
“That’s what he tells me,” Kallima said.
“Well, you are,” said Sable. “Did you ever fall asleep last night, or did you invade some other kid’s dream?”
“God, Sable. I’m sorry.”
“Well, what do you expect?” Shay said. “You’ve slept with that beacon since you were seven.”
Sable blushed as Acacia began to laugh.
“Really, Sable? You sleep with a beacon?” she said.
“Shut up,” the grey girl spat over the crackling of her hardening skin. “It’s not a security thing. It’s an orphan thing.”
“Okay, so what now?” Kallima asked. “And why is it so important to keep it secret?”
Shay shrugged, “In short? The twins will kill you if they find out. Dream fae always hold positions of authority.”
“Right, Sable said King Titanium-”
“Titanus,” Gabriel corrected.
“Whatever. He’s a dream fae, right?”
“Yes. What classes are you taking?” Shay said, rubbing his temples. “You need to learn to control your subconscious.”
Kallima dug in her bag and handed the boy the folder containing her two years of class schedules. As Shay looked them over, he became more and more confused. His eyes flickered between the schedule and its owner several times.
“I thin-think you’ll be f-f-fine. B-but I’ll help you where I can. Dream magic is the most difficult to use, so you’ll need a lot of training. But, um, t-try not to draw attention. You’ll want to keep it secret.”
“But why?” Kallima questioned again. “‘Powerful and dangerous and rare.’ I get it. But why keep it secret? What’s so dangerous about it? About me?”
“You saw how we got down here, Kali,” her roommate muttered back. “What, like, you think that was a glitch or something?”
“They’re called dream fae because dreams are the easiest worlds to access,” Shay said. “They’ve been known to visit all sorts of worlds, though. Even completely ‘fictional’ ones! I actually get jealous sometimes.”
“So… what? They travel across worlds? Like with the fairy circles?”
“Just like a fairy circle,” Gabriel said.
Shay nodded, “Some say that the stronger ones can even cross time.”
“No bloody way,” Kallima said.
“It’s just a rumor, Kali,” Acacia said. “Still, be careful.”
The sharp tone of the bell interrupted her, though, and her new confidants quickly rose from their seats. Shay handed Kallima’s course schedule back to her.
“Sorry, Kali,” he said. “I’ll explain more later. Right now, we have gymnasium.”
Kallima groaned again as Sable patted her back gently then left with the others. With one last sigh, Kallima stood up and followed after her new companions, waving to Gabriel as they parted ways. The sylph waved back with a longing smile that made Kallima blush again. Then Sable dragged her away to class.