Wind laid Lars' body in the bed and stood back as Tong Pow arranged the pillows and covers to make him more comfortable. "Will you be needing anything else, Master?" inquired Tong Pow.
"No, you've done well Tong, you can go about your duties, I'll stay here a little longer, thank you." answered Wind. Tong Pow bowed and left the room. The half elf had sustained a mortal wound with an ensorcelled sword in a fight with a Dark Elf and was almost gone when he was found.
The elf pulled up a chair and sat down next to the bed. He looked at the half elf and said more to himself "Well my friend, someone must really want you dead, to use such strong magic on you. Thank the gods Alexa and Lord Nothing were here to aid you. Very powerful magic between those two. I'm still amazed that Cameron fell in love with her despite his loathing of magic. But I have to admit she is not your ordinary scheming and plotting wizard, great heart and beauty to match. Her friend still gives me the creeps though."
Wind decided to make a quick scan of Lars' mind and see if he was resting in mind as well as body. He was satisfied to get back the image of green fields in which Lars walked hand in hand with Amadan, their horses grazing in the background. He stood up and said to Lars "All right my friend, I think you'll be ok for a while now, you don't seem to need me here. I'll go check on Arachne. Sleep well my friend," and left the room.
Lars was happy, Oh yes, he was. He had Amadan at his side, and they loved each other. They walked close together, talking about everything and nothing, sharing their thoughts, warm in each other's love. They had been married after the Battle of the Stones, as it became known. The balance had been restored and all of them had returned to their former lives. Some began anew... like them.
He could still remember the simple yet beautiful ceremony in which three couples had sworn love eternal, Alexa and Cameron, Wind and Arianne, Amadan and himself. He smiled at the memory of the three of them waiting for their brides, and their arrival had made their hearts feel like bursting with love at the sight of them, two china white skinned, red haired beauties flanking an ebony skinned, black haired one, the three of them resplendent in snow white gowns and flowers.
Lars looked down at his wife's face, Amadan smiled and lifted it to be kissed. He kissed her long and lovingly, their dueling tongues exploring each other's mouths as if it were the first time, bodies pressing against each other in mounting desire. When they parted they looked into each other's eyes, the unspoken promise heavy between them and so he led her to the cottage they shared in the forest clearing by the lake. Once they got there he playfully lifted her in his arms, kissed her deeply again and gave the door a small kick to open it. Then they got inside...
As Lars' eyes made the transition from the brightness outside to the gloom inside the cottage, he knew something was amiss. He felt a sharp pain in his right side and he almost dropped Amadan. He looked down and was surprised to see his tunic grow a dark spot on the right side, just below the rib cage. Putting a hand to it, he was surprised to see blood on his fingers.
At that moment, several things happened at once, the cozy interior of the cottage changed into a vast cavern dimly lit with flickering torches, full of whispering shadows and unearthly sounds; the pain in his side grew to unbearable intensity, making him collapse to the ground and Amadan's well known and loved face turned into that of...
"Alexandra?" he gasped, "what is this? Where's Amadan?"
Alexandra looked at the man writhing in pain at her feet with open contempt, and proceeded to kick the fallen half-elf in the ribs, his stomach, his face, making him cry out in pain, obviously taking enormous satisfaction in the act. When she grew tired of abusing the half-breed, she said in a strange voice, as if there were two voices talking at once "Your little bitch is nowhere near here, half-breed, but she will be here soon, just as the others will be." And as she broke in cruel strange laughter, Lars thought again of two voices laughing in tandem.
"You're not the Lady Alexa! Who are you?" asked Lars, to which Alexa replied "No shit Sherlock! If I told you, you wouldn't believe me, half-breed. Anyway, you're here by the request of my new master, Lord Nothing. He instructed me to give each one of you the most imaginative nightmares I could think of, and being a mistress of the kingdom of Dark Dreams, that should prove no hard task."
Then, lowering herself to a crouch and looking down at Lars she said in a hissing voice full of hatred "Welcome to my nightmare, I think I'm gonna like it."
Lars felt the floor open beneath him and himself falling for what seemed a lifetime, then landing with a painful thud on a stone floor. He sat up gingerly and after shaking his head looked around him. He seemed to be in the summoning room of a necromancer.
It was filled with various dead and dismembered creatures, some animal, some human, and some of such strange nature that his mind refused to accept them, either littering every surface or nailed to the wall. The smell of blood and decay was overpowering, making him gag and retch until he couldn't control himself and emptied his stomach on the blood splattered floor, adding to the existing filth. Lars wiped his mouth on his sleeve and steeling himself looked around. "What kind of place is this? Am I inside the tower?" asked Lars to himself.
Just then, Alexa's strange voice filled his mind, making him feel somewhat violated. "No half-breed, you're in my new and improved home, in the Nightmare Realm!" And again that grating laughter, making his flesh break into goosebumps.
He got up, feeling a little dizzy from the fall, covered in blood, decayed flesh and his own vomit and walked to a door at the end of the abattoir, trying not to step in the bits of flesh on the floor, but unable to avoid it. He almost fell a few times as he slipped on the blood. As Lars got to the door, it disappeared, and he saw a dim light coming from the far end of a corridor.
Lars tried to think clearly, how could he get out of here? then he looked again in the direction of the light and decided he might as well take that way. As he stepped through the open portal, it closed with a boom that made him jump, "Fuck! I have to get myself together, hmpf! Scared by a closing door!" But no sooner had he turned that he heard a screech that made his blood freeze for a moment, and after it the sound of something coming after him. Something big and judging from the sound, clawed.
Since he had no weapons with which to defend himself, he took the only available option... RUN!!! He ran like he had never done before, ignoring as best he could the pain in his side, his breath burning in his lungs. But no matter how fast he ran, the thing behind him sounded like it was about to overcome him. He didn't dare look back, he only focused on the light ahead and possible freedom. He was so concentrated on this that he didn't see the raised stone until he tripped over it and went sprawling on the floor. The thing pursuing him gave a triumphant screech and Lars got up and began running again towards the lit doorway. He couldn't see what was after him, but he sure wasn't going to stop and find out. He only knew for certain that if it killed him here, his spirit would be lost forever and his body would die.
He saw he was closer to his goal when, to his horror, he heard the creature had gained on him and was about to overtake him. He chanced a look behind him and what he saw made him shiver. For there was a creature found only in nightmares. It had a shapeless black body and ten long tentacles, suckers in double row and ending in a claw. But what made him pause and almost cause him to get caught was the fact that this horrible creature had Amadan's face, contorted now in an ugly mask of rage.
"Amadan..." he whispered and then shouted "this is a trick, it must be!" and with that he was galvanized into action and headed again for the door.
He was almost at the door, freedom would be his! And as his foot touched the ground in front of it, the monster shot a long tentacle around him, the claw at the tip digging in the small of his back, dragging him painfully towards it. It then wrapped the slimy appendage around his body and lifting him, brought him closer to it's face. And when it had him at eye level, it spoke to him in a mockery of Amadan's voice.
"My dear Lars, how do you like my arm wrapped around you? You always liked to be close to me, why the sour face? Don't you like me anymore?" Then it began to slowly squeeze him, relentlessly, making him gasp helplessly for air. And all throughout this, he could hear Alexandra's strange evil laughter. His vision dimmed, stars swam behind his eyelids, his head seemed about to explode and when he began to feel the snapping of bones, he found himself...
...sitting bolt upright on the bed he shared with Amadan at the Tower, breath coming in gasps and a cold sweat covering his body. He tried to get up and found he couldn't, he was too weak. So he fell back on the bed and tried to piece together the fragments of the nightmare he just had. But as hard as he tried, it eluded him until he just couldn't remember what it was about.
Exhausted, he closed his eyes and fell into a dreamless sleep. He never noticed the shape standing in a corner of the room, and as he fell asleep, the shape moved to reveal Alexa, a cruel smile twisting her beautiful face...
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Nightmare © 2000 by Lotusnoir
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