[5.1] - The Fine Art of Dreaming
It was once again dark. Not the calm, motherly darkness she just awoke from, but a sinister darkness heavy with premonition.
A clap of thunder illuminated the room, shining light on three women hunched over a desk. It didn’t take Aryial long to realise she was still dreaming.
Each woman had a ring adorning her finger.
Each woman was young, blessed with youth that made their skin glow and their bodies brim with life. A maiden fair.
Each woman had eyes that were as black as the greed tainted by shadows. Cold, pitiless cages that imprisoned anything that stared into it. Soulless. Timeless. Heartless. As if they had long detached themselves from mortal emotions. And somehow, Aryial knew what they were. Something very deep in her soul cried out in fear at these ancient sisters. Their names echoed in her head, uninvited.
The storm outside howled upon the city, gnashing its relentless jaws of wind and ripping through the streets. Rain pelted and attacked windows, scouring the rooftops and lifting objects into the night. Lighting tore great rifts in the sky, fracturing into thousands of pathways. Aryial stumbled silently into the walls, heart beating in her throat.
The women, on the other hand, did not flinch. They did not sway nor did they even seem to see her. Aryial had a feeling that if the sophisticated building itself had collapsed, they would have no qualms about continuing their task, regardless of the storm.
Through the darkness, a single candelabra flickered, imposing a warm light on the harsh white of the thread littered over the table. Aryial watched as their fingers worked meticulously, weaving glinting thread into a patchwork of impending doom.
A woman stiffened, her fingers abruptly halting. Raven hair cascaded down her back, ringlets framing her face as her eyes pierced through the darkness.
“Lyon,” she hissed, eyes darting around the room. Her sisters slowly raised their eyes and raked their gaze over the darkness, over Aryial. She tensed, but the three unnatural beings took no notice of her.
“I do not see him, Ethaeli. Calm your nerves,” said another maiden. The light of the candle cast shadows on the golden gleam of her hair.
The last woman settled her gaze on a dark corner of the room, her eyes knowing yet empty. Her hair was as white as fallen snow, streaked by shadows into the face of a dying moon. Silent knowledge pushed the tip of her tongue.
The rings started to radiate a slow pulsing gleam. One ring was adorned with black obsidian, malicious and gleaming. Another ring was fiery red, stained with the rich crimson of blood. The last, was a ring of glistening white, as clear and unblemished as the glass their reflection was unveiled in.
“Lyon.” The statement came out quiet, but incredibly deadly. It was cold and dissonant, grating over the two syllables she uttered. Her eyes never strayed from the dark, concealed corner.
The other women stilled as the word passed her lips. The candelabra flickered and dissipated, plunging the world once again into darkness. The twilight was broken by another split of thunder, casting an eerie light upon the room for the slightest of moments.
But the women were gone.
Aryial was about to get up from where she had stumbled but stopped as a hooded figure hastily emerged from the corner, his movements stiff from inactivity. A hand appeared out of his cloak as he raised his palm in the air. A ball of light formed in the palm of his hand, casting a warm light over the room as he stalked towards the table.
“Damn it!” His other hand abruptly came down as he saw the empty table. Gritting his teeth, he paced around the room. The presence was still there, Aryial could feel it, the magic just as suffocating as it was before the women disappeared.
“I know you’re there,” his voice was quiet and burning with rage, eyes flashing dangerously. Aryial cringed, her voice longing to say something. A distrusting laugh resounded around the room and a flash of gold glinted in the mirror. Lyon spun around to stare into it as the candelabra flickered on once more. He wasn’t speaking to Aryial, she let out a quiet breath of relief.
Reflected in the crystalline mirror was a woman. Iashonea. Her slender hands were folded delicately over her lap, a long leg draped over her other leg as she gently leaned into the rigid back of the Savonarola chair, her golden hair loosely tied in an elegant chignon.
Lyon took a subtle step backwards, keeping his eyes trained on the figure in the mirror.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” her melodious voice flowed like a spring stream trickling over smooth water-worn pebbles, a hint of a valid warning fringing on the sweet syllables of her words. Lyon immediately stiffened, his muscles straining to stay still. Every hair on Aryial’s skin stood up. This was wrong, something was wrong, she needed to leave right now. But, she couldn’t move. She could only watch.
“Do you know what you are doing?” The man said, disgust marred his striking features. The dark cloak almost covered him entirely, like death itself decided to grace these immortal lands. His eyes were glinting with unbridled fury.
Iashonea scoffed, leaning forward to rest her head gracefully on her hand. “I have been alive for much longer than you. I have seen horrors you can only begin to see.”
She rose from her seat, gently tucking back a strand of her hair.
“What are you but a mere boy, trying so desperately to right the world.” She said, her laugh tinkling over the sound of rain. “You can’t change fate. The sooner you accept it, the happier you’ll be.”
Aryial watched, nothing but a bystander, as Lyon’s fists clenched with anger, his teeth started to grind against one another. Iashonea’s lips curved into an alluring smirk.
Lyon’s hand, which had finally reached his sword, grabbed tightly to the plain hilt. His breathing thickened. The two immortals locked gazes.
Lyon spun around, brandishing his sword that flashed as his magic wound around it like a twine as his entire focus was hurled towards the nonchalant figure.
“Change it!” He roared, unleashing the full might of his magic onto Iashonea. Before he could blink, Lyon was lifted into the air, his magic buried by an ancient, ugly force. Iashonea’s face was dangerously close.
“You know nothing!” she hissed, her voice low and deadly. “You are young, naive and foolish.” Her hands tightened around his neck, blood seeping out from where her fingernails pierced his skin. Lyon struggled, hopeless gasping for air.
The flame flickered.
A pleasant but unfamiliar voice echoed around the room. “You didn’t invite me?”
Iashonea dropped Lyon and placidly turned around. She studied the person in front of her.
He donned a black shirt with gold embellishing with brown fabric boots. His face was as enthralling as the Evergreen trees, his smile as heavenly as the break of dawn. His eyes offered the oceans, the clouds, the world. It commanded trust, stole inhibitions and offered mischief.
Aryial’s heart caught.
Currently, he had claimed the chair, carelessly throwing and catching his dagger with one hand. Iashonea waved her hand dismissively, rolling her eyes.
“Another boy? You are even younger, you can’t be more than…” she studied him more closely, “a hundred years perhaps?” Her eyes held curiosity, for his aura held such vibrance and dynamic. It was intimidating, his aura. It held talent.
So. Much. Power.
“Jaz, at your service, my lady,” He said with a wink before standing and sweeping into a bow. “Correct assumption about my age, give or take eighty years.”
“You are twenty.” She stated slowly, her curiosity piqued as she gracefully stalked around the chair, observing Jaz. He was not concerned however and lounged comfortably in the chair.
Iashonea gently cocked her head to the side, her sisters sliding out of the darkness as a response. With the flick of her wrist, Haenelan created fire and kindled the kerosene lamps along the walls. The fire dulled and swelled, the lamps circling the entire of the rounded room, basking it in soft light.
“Twenty,” Iashonea mused again. “Twenty years. So delightfully young for a Fae.” Her mocking tone did not affect Jaz, he knew his strengths and weaknesses, it was her presence that intimidated him.
Lyon had just recovered, his hands steadying himself on the cold, glazed wooden floor.
“Why did you come?” He coughed out. Jaz rolled his eyes.
“I just saved your life, can’t you be a little bit grateful?”
“I want nothing to do with you.”
Just as Jaz was about to answer, he locked gazes with Aryial, something pulling him forwards as he stuttered.
The storm broke and a gust of wind blew out the lamps. The room was once again plunged into darkness. The two men were snatched back to the harsh reality of the situation as they felt the Sisters disappear. The chilling atmosphere had almost entirely faded. It was only now that Aryial could finally move, using a vanity desk to help her up onto the rafters.
That man, Lyon, had conjured another ball of light in both palms and was frantically searching the room. It was desolate. Not a single trace of the Sisters remained. Aryial’s ears were filled with nothing but the uproar of the storm outside, the intensity raising by the minute.
Lyon screamed something to Jaz, but his words fell on deaf ears as Jaz’s gaze searched the room for what he glimpsed earlier. Iashonea’s voice rang loud and clear in their heads as Lyon struggled to leave the room.
Jaz stood there, transfixed. The building groaned, threatening to collapse as a single name fell out of his lips.
The whole room disappeared as if sucked away by some invisible force. Aryial couldn’t move, couldn’t see anything, couldn’t wake. Just sat in that darkness, her heart in her throat as the name bounced around her head.
Allayria Allayria Allayria