The Half Light

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[5.0] - The Fine Art of Dreaming

~ The Fine Art of Dreaming ~

The year 2034 post bellum
Ten weeks till Moonset Equinox

It was one of those dreams again. Aryial could feel all of it vividly before she saw it.

This time, there was a light fragrance of freesias, mixed with the smell of something sweet, sweet and bitter.

As the world faded into view, Aryial could hear the soft fall of rain, felt it on her skin. It was that warm, misty rain that fell on broken spring nights.

The air was now tinged with the smell of wet earth as darkness bloomed around her.

Darkness like a lovers embrace as you crawl into bed, darkness like the relief of falling asleep, painting the sky in splendours of black and purple and blue.

Aryial was breathless. Everything was so vivid, so calm, so different from the turmoil and confusion that she felt in the city. She had never been here before, in real life nor in any of her dreams.

Aryial looked down to find herself clothes in a gown of white, shimmery cloth that brushed against her skin like light silk.

She stood upon a balcony, looking over a sleeping city. Lights sparkled among the pristine marble buildings covered in vines and roses, trees and gardens adorning every doorstep, intertwined with the very architecture.

Aryial wasn’t sure if she wanted to wake up. A look around showed her the two large balcony doors behind her, made of glass that seemed silver in the dark.

Like in all her dreams, the doors opened easily and without a sound. It led straight into a room, the most stunning room she had ever seen.

Gold leaves and vines elegantly draped across the walls, numerous gems glinting in the soft moonlight.

Aryial’s gaze was drawn to the bed, or more accurately, the figure now sitting upright and gazing curiously at her.

She let out a small sigh.

The man’s lips curled into a wry grin. “You don’t look flustered for one caught in the act of trespassing. Pray, do give me your name.”

Aryial sighed again. What she wouldn’t give to be free of all the word games for once. Must she deal with them, even in her sleep?

“I’ll give you mine if you gift yours first,” she answered. “But, in the meantime, you may call me Aryial.”

The man only seemed vaguely amused by her answer as he lifted his hand and twirled his fingers.

In reply, the torches around the room lit up noiselessly. The soft light seemed to be absorbed into the black curls settled upon his head, perfectly contrasting with his flawless skin.

Aryial blamed it on the light. It was the light that made him look like a blessing from the Mother above.

She couldn’t stop staring, and he returned the favour, looking her up and down with a curiosity that reflected in his eyes, sparkling with mirth.

“So, what brings you here into my chambers,” he met her gaze. “Aryial?”

There was no answer she could give that would make any semblance of sense.

Most of her dreams were just snippets of things that mashed together, absolutely ridiculous things that made no sense more often than not. Then there were those dreams, the ones that felt unbelievably realistic.

The ones she had never told Ivan about.

Aryial found herself looking for a truth to twist. Her attention was drawn towards the assortment of creams and a hairbrush sitting on the vanity counter.

Taking a gamble, Aryial brushed her hair over her shoulder.

“I’m here as your entertainment for the evening,” she purred, adjusting the sleeves on her dress.

The man chuckled darkly, leaning back against the pillows. “No, you’re not. Not in the way you were implying.”

Aryial cocked her head to the side. Had she been wrong? Those products were most likely not for male use, and if it was for one special lady, surely she would be here with him.

Therefore, the conclusion that he must have different female guests seemed reasonable.

The man had closed his eyes, obviously not at all concerned for his safety with a stranger in his room. “You’re entertainment alright, so do something interesting before I get bored,” he drawled.

It was Aryial’s turn to laugh this time. “As if I’m ever boring,” she said. “How did you know I wasn’t entirely truthful? What gave it away?”

The man smiled. “Nobody is ever entirely truthful. Besides, nobody ever dares to enter my chambers, and I’m sure I would’ve remembered you if I asked you to come.” At that, with what seemed like flawless timing, three knocks sounded at the door.

He still had his eyes shut as if he really were about to doze off to sleep again. “Yes?”

“Sorry to interrupt sir, but we have sufficient evidence that there is an assassin here tonight,” the voice was slightly muffled from behind that door, but the message was clear.

Aryial inwardly groaned. Her imagination was just so helpful. At least make it an interesting dream.

“I am in no immediate danger,” he said impassively. Aryial turned away as he spoke, realising he didn’t see her as a threat. “I see no assassin either. You may leave.”

Aryial’s head flicked to the figure on the bed. Did he truly see her as so vulnerable he couldn’t comprehend her as an assassin?

She was surprised to find he had leant his head back and let his eyes flutter shut.

Aryial couldn’t hear any shuffling of feet. Still, the guards must have left seeing as the man felt comfortable enough to reach the bedside table and pour himself a glass of wine.

“Shouldn’t you have told them I was here?” Aryial asked.

A smile danced on the man’s lips. “Now, what would be the fun in that?”

He gave an elegant sweep of his hand, wafting the aroma of wine towards him, the liquid dancing in circles as he swirled the glass. “Are you here to kill me?”

“Would you believe me if I said no?”

“A simple no can be interpreted in many ways.”

“Then, I have no answer.”

“Hmm,” was all he said. Aryial was starting to wonder if she really should just kill this beautiful being, just to liven things up a little.

She straightened. The man also stopped moving. Both looked around, suddenly aware of the presence of another stranger.

Aryial located them first, perched upon the cupboard, hidden amongst the shadows. They must’ve gotten in through the balcony doors as well.

The dagger glinted, and a gust of wind blew out all the torches. With her limited vision, Aryial could only see the faint outline of the attacker as she barrelled into them, knocking them away from the bed.

Her eyes had to blink a few times to adjust when the torches flickered alive once more. The attacker was lean and small, most likely female.

Gold vines on the wall, vines that Aryial thought were merely decoration, curled around the attacker in a deadly grip. She didn’t have to look behind her to know the man was the reason for it.

Aryial felt a light tug in her belly, it was the feeling of withdrawal. The vines pulled at the attacker’s hood and mask, but Aryial knew she wouldn’t be there to see it.

Ugh, why does this always happen when it gets interesting.

Aryial felt the pull, felt the world strip away, piece by piece until she was back in that nothingness.

She woke up.

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