Croix looked around at his surroundings. Before, he was sitting in the back pew of the Church of the Holy Maiden. But in the midst of his reading of the Holy Book, he was slammed in the head by a stray boomerang that had gotten away from someone. Then, the young man slipped into delirium.
However, when he woke up, he didn't see the central chamber of the church, the hospital, nor his own room. Instead, it was a world of swirling blue air and ground. He could see nothing besides himself and the energy that consumed this strange void. Croix turned to his left and began walking forward in hopes of figuring out what was going on. Hopefully, he would come across someone who could tell him how to get out of here and back to where he had come from.
"I sometimes wonder why I put up with this," Croix muttered, "My life is one big oddity."
Suddenly, he heard footsteps coming up behind him. Turning on a dime, the young man gasped! It was Prier. But she was dressed in a long black dress with a white shirt underneath, had a black headband in her magenta hair, black slipper-like shoes on her feet, and carried a gold cross in her hands. There was a blankness about her brown eyes, and her mouth reflected neither smile nor frown.
"Croix! I've been looking everywhere for you. Let's go back home," she whispered in a voice not her own and yet familiar at the same time. Then, her hair grew long and changed to a honey color.
The young man held onto his head and knelt on the ground. This was her, the girl who had haunted his visions ever since the first time he'd laid eyes on Prier. And her voice, it was so…memorable. She closed her eyes and smiled, looking more peaceful than the Goddess Herself. Then, the mysterious lady held out her hand as if to beckon him closer to her. Croix rose to his feet and stepped forward with a hope that his questions would be answered at last. This woman was the key to his past, he just knew it.
Just as he neared the girl, he heard her scream in terror. Flames suddenly began to rise up from the ground, glowing with a deathly black aura. Then, he could see the woman was beginning to dissolve, blood pouring over the ground and into the inferno. Finally, all was still.
It began snowing. Croix saw the void around him turn to a white hill with a lone tree providing the only greenery. As he stared at it, the ground beneath it began rippling. Then, a thick crimson substance began flowing down from the peak. Shock began to creep up on the man's face as the young woman from his visions appeared, lying on her side and bleeding from a wound in the stomach. As he began lurching forward to help her, the young girl became awash in light. When it faded, it was no longer the form of the woman who haunted Croix's vision; the body had become that of Prier.
As if he were possessed, the distress on Croix's face began shooting up exponentially. He ran to the young woman and cradled her dead body in his arms. Tears escaped his horrified eyes as he felt her lifeblood run down the front of his blue overcoat.
Just then, a voice called out, "Fight, Croix Raoul. Only I can help you to avenge this woman."
Croix became hyper aware of his surroundings as he began looking from side to side for the source of the mysterious call. "And how will you be able to do that? Who killed her and why? If I know that, I can figure out how best to avenge my friend. The Demon who did this will pay dearly for its transgression. Nobody messes with Prier and avoids my wrath."
"It wasn't a Demon, but a human," the voice called back, "You must awaken, then we can avenge her slaughter. She did not deserve her fate, only you can free her spirit…"
Croix sat up straight in the hospital bed. He was sweating profusely, gasping for every single breath, and his eyes were filled with a stark terror. The young man held onto his head and found that it had been bandaged by someone; the most likely candidate was Sister Cherrie, the head nurse. Why had he dreamed something so horrible? And about Prier of all people; she wasn't likely to be injured easily.
"That strange voice, it was so familiar. Was that a memory gone awry, or a premonition of the future? I hope Prier isn't going to be hurt on account of me," he managed to sputter out.
At that moment, the woman in question entered the room. She had heard about his little accident and had come to see if her friend would be ok. Prier could clearly sense the fear housed inside of him, and lay a cool hand on his broad shoulder. It was quite uncharacteristic of the fiery Sister to worry so much so openly about anyone. Then again, to her at least, it was uncharacteristic of the mysterious bad ass freelancer to be this scared of anything.
Prier inquired, "What's wrong Croix? I've never seen that look in your eyes before."
Looking up at her, the young man was greatly relieved. "I had a dream. The girl from my visions was dead on a hill. But as I stepped forward…I saw your body lying there instead."
"It's just a dream Croix," she reassured him, "You don't have to be afraid." But in reality, Prier's heart was pounding. She knew that it must have been graphic to have riled him up. Poor Croix had the eyes of an abused child. It perplexed her as to why her death in a dream was getting that kind of reaction. However, the young huntress decided to chalk it up to the girl in his visions worrying him more than she. After all, she was most likely a key to his past, someone important to him long ago. What was Prier? Just a friend who he'd only known for a few short weeks, that's all.
"It didn't feel that way. There was something so real about it. And there was this voice that called out to me to avenge you. He said it was humans that took you away, not Demons. But why would our own kind kill you? You're one of humanity's defenders," Croix inquired of her.
Prier replied, "Your head was probably just spinning from that boomerang hit. Just relax Croix."
He sighed. "If you had a dream like that, what would you think? Would you worry for the future of whoever was pictured? Or would you still brush it off like nothing happened? I don't think that anyone can understand this feeling unless it happened to them. Please, just leave me alone to think for a little. I'll be OK Prier, just need some rest to get the fear out of my head."
She didn't believe him. But Prier respected Croix's decision and left the infirmary. She went down to the chapel and knelt down in prayer. Her eyes were closed but her heart was open. Something was definitely going on here and the young Sister wanted to get to the bottom of it.
"Oh Goddess Poitreene," she whispered, "Please, help ease the burden on Croix's soul that resulted from his lost memories. And help me to do whatever I can to aid him. He's the first male, excluding my father and brother, that I've felt this close to. I want to slow his suffering as best as I can. If I was the one feeling that way, I know he would be the first person to come to me and try to protect me, my heart tells me this. So if it's him, I want to do the same. I've never felt this way before, help me to deal with this problem." As she continued to speak, tears began to form in her eyes and flow down her ashen cheeks. But Prier didn't care. Even if another Sister came by and saw her crying, it didn't matter now. All that mattered to her was one man's pain, and her efforts to protect him from it and his dreams.
Other Sisters were passing by the chapel, noticing Prier's prayers. But none of them went to her side, lest she see they saw her weak moment. Everyone who worked with the fiery huntress knew of her pride problems. They knew that if she was upset over something, it had to be big. Best to let her show her feelings to the Goddess, she would help the girl with her problems.
Only one person came over to sit by her, her younger brother. Culotte looked much like his sister, only his hair was light brown with a tint of red like Croix's. He was in his blue ceremonial robes instead of his usual clothes because he had come to do some cleaning in the chapel. But upon seeing his older sister, the pillar of strength in his harsh life, kneeling and crying in front of a stone statue of the Goddess, he walked over and sat by her side. A single hand was placed on her shoulder as he wished he was strong enough to help her with whatever was troubling her soul.
'Sis, I don't know what to do. How can I help you?' he asked himself.
Teefa's Last Words...
I was depressed and stressed when I wrote this chapter. My last semester was hectic and I had at least four or five mental breakdowns. This was written during one of them. I just had to write something with a lot of inner demons, pains, fears, and drama in order to get through that distress. It actually helped me cope a little and my professor loved the different pace, seeing as all my other stories were light and airy. And no this doesn't mean that Croix is only thinking of Prier as Angelique. His dream is based on the fact that he already lost someone he cared about once and he fears that it will happen again.