Hi everyone! And welcome to the 10th chapter of Door To Dawn! I know, I know, you've all been waiting patiently for this chapter, and I'm sorry for the delay. But I'm now a college student with 17 hours and a workload that's trying hard to kill me. I will try to update as much as I can, but you may not be seeing many updates until I'm vacationing at home at various points in the year. But, should that occur, I will hopefully have several chapters typed up and will be able to post them at the same time. I AM planning on finishing this story, and have two sequels lined up, but I'm not sure how long it will take to finish.
This story is finally to the double digits! Hurray for the tenth chapter! Thanks to Abeo Umbra and Sarah the Slayer for reviewing last chapter, and thanks to everyone that added this story to their Alerts. To Abeo Umbra: Thanks for all your help with this chapter! Your ideas were great, and so here they are! I would like to add one note before we begin this chapter: the first part will be in Riku's POV, and will shift to Rael's POV for the rest of the chapter. A POV shift will be denoted by 's POV . And now, without further ado, on to the tenth chapter of Door To Dawn!
-Door To Dawn-
I awoke in a cold sweat, looking for the source of the noise that had disturbed my light slumber. Rolling over to face Rael, I saw she was shaking and mumbling incoherently. I tried to listen to the words, but they were foreign to my ears. It was probably Solunarian, since it sounded like humming, all liquid polysyllables running together like ocean waves. But whatever she was saying, it was obvious she was in the throes of a nightmare.
I got up to try and wake her up. Kneeling beside her, I said her name softly, "Rael?" There was no response, so I tried again, this time louder. "Rael, wake up!" Once again, there was no response. I gripped her shoulder and shook her lightly, "RAEL!" I shouted into her ear. She quieted briefly, but resumed shaking not long after.
Moving my arm to her other shoulder, my coat sleeve rode up so my bare wrist brushed against her cheek. I froze in that position, a strange feeling in my stomach, and I found myself unable to tear away from her. Then, the scene before my eyes melted away as I was thrust in the middle of Rael's nightmare…
I watched as the scene before me unfolded. A girl in a fire red nightgown embroidered in golden suns slept soundly, black hair splayed out behind her. I quickly recognized the sleeping figure. "Rael!" I tried to say, but no sound came out of my mouth.
As the sun came over the horizon, the dim globes that had slightly illuminated the bedchamber were extinguished, and the golden rays flooded into the room, dappling themselves across Rael's still form. As the source of life and warmth made its presence known, she stirred, blearily opening her eyes, green-gold orbs widening into full alertness.
Her mouth opened. "Naniel? Adiren?" drifted up to my spot in the darkness. I had no idea what that meant, until her voice whispered through my mind again, this time speaking a tongue I understood. "Mother? Father?" echoed through my skull.
She got up, stretching slightly, before moving to the doorway. My position shifted again until I was directly in front of her. She stared through me, her face drained of all color. A single word came from her lips this time. "Kira…" No translation accompanied that whisper, so I assumed that Kira was the name of a person. My view shifted again and this time I was directly behind her.
A body lay at the end of the hallway. The lady appeared to be in her mid-twenties, in a red robe styled much like the nightgown Rael was wearing. She appeared to be sleeping, blonde hair askew and eyes closed, but her unnatural stiffness gave lie to that assumption.
Rael rushed down the hallway as I trailed more slowly behind her. She knelt by the body, reaching for the figure's wrist. When she couldn't register a pulse, Rael's eyes widened and she gasped in disbelief. "No… Kira, no, please! Please wake up! You said… you promised… you wouldn't… leave me behind."
My heart was constricting in my chest as I watched the painful scene, a silent watcher of a horrible tragedy. Silent tears trickled down Rael's face, and muffled sobs reached my ears as she buried her head in the folds of her friend's robe. Her tears soon subsided however, and turned to rage.
Standing swiftly, she looked down at the form below and whispered, "Whoever did this to you will pay, I promise." Having reached the end of the hallway, she turned left. I was pulled behind her by an unseen force. Exiting the hall through the nearest door, she halted as soon as the door had opened.
Had I not been insubstantial, I would have run her over. As it was, I passed through her and was halfway through the room before my silent progress was checked. There was only one figure in the room, and could dimly be seen through the light from the hallway. Silver thread reflected the light in the shapes of moons and stars.
Rael's mouth opened, but before she could speak, the figure did. "Good. You are awake, my daughter. I assume you have seen the tragedy that has befallen us?" The voice was low, obviously male, with an odd, hollowed timbre to it.
My jaw dropped in shock as the figure moved into the shaft of light provided by the hallway. This was Asi? Rael's father? The middle-aged man, hair silvered not unlike my own and falling past his shoulders, with amber eyes and delicately pointed ears, smiled eerily.
"Adiren? How did this happen? Where is Naniel?" Rael asked swiftly, puffy eyes, which were swollen from crying, narrowing slightly.
He did not respond, merely staring her down with impossibly amber eyes that betrayed nothing and, combined with his stiff countenance, created an impenetrable mask over his thoughts.
"Your Naniel is no more. She fell defending the temple. The light will soon be swallowed, without her bow to lead it." His tone was casual, as if he were simply commenting on the weather and not delivering news of Rael's mother's, and his wife's, death, as well as the failure of the light to fight the encroaching darkness.
Her eyes widened in grief again, silver pools welling up in her eyes and spilling over her cheeks. "What? Not Naniel! No, you lie, you lie, she's fine, she must be!" Her voice had risen in volume until she was shouting at the end.
He raised an eyebrow, before reaching behind him and pulling out a large object. Upon further inspection, it proved to be a bow much like Rael's, only larger and with more etchings upon it's surface. What was most noticeable was the clean break down the middle and the snapped bowstring. "You know as well as I that our weapons do not fail until their users do. And you cannot deny that this bow belonged to your mother."
"How can you be so calm about this?! Stop talking like that! You may be a Blue(1), but even we feel… Have you not even mourned her death?" Rael cried, tears still trickling down her cheeks.
"You are correct. I am not that coldhearted, I am more, for I no longer have a heart. And why should I mourn a death made for the greater good?" There was a mocking inflection in the last two words that twisted my stomach. He continued, "As for my color… I am no longer Blue, but Black!" With that statement, his aura, which had been dark blue, deepened to black as the façade he had so carefully preserved was stripped away.
Rael stepped back in horror. "How… when? How long has it been since you abandoned the true path? How did you conceal your aura from the sight? When did you become this… thing?!" The questions tumbled from her mouth rapidly.
He waved his hand airily. "The youth are ever impetuous. But I shall answer your questions. I have not abandoned the so-called 'true path', but have merely chosen another route. As for my aura, you should know better than most the connection between a Lightbearer and her Warder is absolute. I merely borrowed from her aura, drawing on that connection between us. I am not a thing, I am a Nobody." His smirk must have made something inside Rael snap; for I saw her clench her fists and grit her teeth in rage.
"You are not my Adiren! " she ground out, before coiling her body into a fighting stance and shooting forward, arm cocked at her ear before bringing it ahead of her body in what normally would have been a devastating right hook, had her father not caught it in his hand.
His savage smile grew wider as he twisted her arm sharply, making her wrist bones grind against each other so hard I was sure they would snap from the kinetic energy being applied to them.
Somehow they didn't snap, and although her fist was held fast, Rael's fighting spirit had not been dampened, and her left leg came around in a kick so fast my eyes only saw a blur.
Asi staggered slightly from the blow, and his grip on Rael's fist loosened enough for her to wrench it free. His expression changed as shock briefly flitted across his features before being replaced with grudging admiration. "Very good, my daughter. I had not realized you had practiced the dasha forms so well. But that will not help you defeat me." He said as he brought his leg around in a sweeping move, hooking her behind the ankles; a swift tug brought her crashing to the floor.
Instead of pressing his attack, however, he allowed Rael the chance to rise before attacking once again, this time with a flurry of punches designed to overwhelm the guard of even the most experienced fighter. Rael put her arms in the classic 'x' blocking position before her face, and only half the punches got through. The force behind the blows was enough to send her into the wall not five feet away, however.
He approached her body, which lay crumpled on the floor from the impact with the wall. "Giving up so soon? I would have thought you had more fight in you. Foolish daughter, I could have killed you within five seconds of your first punch, had I so desired. But I didn't. Do you know why?"
Blood was running from her lip where a fist had struck it, and one eye was swollen around the edges, turning a painful shade of purple. There was still fire in her eyes as she responded. "To make me suffer like you did all the rest? Or is it because, deep inside, you remember what it was like to feel, and to love, and you can't do it! You can't kill me!"
He chuckled, the sound coming dry and raspy from his throat. "No. It is because I need you to do something for me. I need you to survive. Live, travel throughout the worlds and tell them this story. Now come. We have much to do, and little time in which to do it," Asi said, gripping her by the arm and hauling her roughly to her feet.
She looked up at him, sorrow in her eyes as one word left her mouth. "Why?" There were volumes of expression in that single sound, but mostly sadness and grief.
He responded with likewise with another single word, "Power."
I once again tried calling out to her, but though my mouth moved, no sound reached my ears. The vision pulled me relentlessly behind them. As Asi dragged Rael past Kira's body, a ragged sob, a hiss of breath from overburdened lungs, drifted up to my insubstantial ears.
His smirk grew yet again. "For whom are you mourning, my daughter? Your mother? Your friend Kira, perhaps? Or better yet, for yourself, the sole survivor of a horrible tragedy, cast out from your world and all you know? Emotions are for the weak. They are a means through which you can be controlled." He had reached the door of Rael's room by this point, and slammed it open, shoving her inside and closing the door behind her. He called through the wooden barrier, "You have fifteen minutes to pack. Take only what you need most dearly. And change clothes. Your sleeping attire is hardly fitting for hard travel."
Fifteen minutes later, Rael emerged, dressed in her familiar silver clothes with a matching rucksack slung over one shoulder. Her cheeks were still streaked with tears, but no more fell from her eyes, which were narrowed in cold fury at the man standing before her, who smiled as he eyed her outfit.
"The ancient garb of the rizan, hmmm? How appropriate, since you will be as one of them, wandering in exile as long as you live, never to set eyes on your people again."
His laughter echoed in my ears as the scene before me faded into darkness. My remaining senses of taste, smell and touch returned, along with a fierce headache, as I was slammed back into my body by whatever force had drawn me into Rael's nightmare in the first place. My wrist was still on her cheek, and I quickly pulled away as she shifted restlessly yet again. "Rael?" I asked softly, hoping she would wake up this time.
The familiar nightmare that had haunted my dreams for over a year faded as the sound of a voice calling my name interposed itself over the images and sounds I had been experiencing. I had a swift moment of disorientation as I was unable to place the voice or language, being submerged in the familiarity of my temple home and language, before the image of a silver-haired young man, along with a name, Riku, floated before my dream-vision. "Rael?" I heard out of the blackness around me. A jolt of alarm shot through me, dispelling the sorrow I felt in the wake of my dream. He needed me!
My eyes shot open and were confronted with the visage of that same man, his eyes boring into my own; the worry in his aura palpable. "What? What's wrong? Are you ok?" I asked.
His look of worry faded to one of confusion followed by shock. "It was you I was worried about; I'm fine. Except, somehow, I think I saw what you were dreaming, and now… Rael, what's happening to me? I can understand you perfectly!" he exclaimed, voice rising in volume until the last sentence ended in a shout.
I was confused by his last statement. What was he talking about? "Of course you can understand me. I am speaking your tongue…" my voice trailed off as he shook his head in denial. "I am not?" The actual sounds of the words I was speaking began to flow through my mind. The soothing rhythmic patterns of the syllables, so foreign to the tongue I had been speaking for the past year, did indeed mean that I was speaking in Solunarian. But how could he have understood me, unless… "Riku, did you touch me while I was dreaming?"
"Yes, I did. I woke up and saw you thrashing and moaning, and tried calling out your name to wake you up, but that didn't work so I had to touch you." he responded, brushing his hair out of his eyes to fully look at me. "But what does that have to do with my being able to understand you?"
"Are your shields up?" I asked, noticing a quivering in his aura.
"They are now, but I don't think they were when I touched you," he said.
"When you touched me, you entered my mind and picked up what I was feeling, which is why you saw my nightmare. Since I was immersed in Solunarian thoughts, you picked up some of the language." I replied after a brief pause in coming to the only possible conclusion. I sighed. "It's my fault. I'm sorry. I took the chance of expanding my shields around the entire camp so we would have some warning should an enemy try and attack during the night. That left my mind open to you once you touched me."
"Oh. So will this be permanent? Or will I not be able to understand Solunarian after a while?" he asked.
"I'm not sure. It is most likely permanent, but I do not have any experience with a case such as yours, since it was an accidental mind-scan and not an intentional one. Normally we have our mental shields up at all times and only let in people whom we trust or who break our defenses." I said, sitting up and coming to full awareness as my mind shook off the last vestiges of my nightmare and sleep.
"Ok. It's not that I mind, really I don't, but… I don't know, I guess this is all still so new to me that to add a language on top of everything else is… exhausting." The corners of his mouth turned upwards into a wry smile at this confession of weariness before he became serious again. His next, inevitable question made me freeze in my sitting position just as I was about to rise. "Who's Kira?"
My throat closed up and I had to choke back a small sob at his question. I wasn't truly ready to answer the question, but I had to, for all our sakes: Riku's, Kira's and mine. I answered him slowly, voice thick with emotion. "Kira was my best friend in the temple. Even though she was several years older than me, she was closest in age to me and so she looked after me when I was younger, like an older sister would. The bond we formed later developed into deep friendship once I was starting my training as an acolyte. She was already over halfway through the acolyte training program and had progressed through it at an astonishing rate, but once I began my training she held herself back for me. When it was time for her to complete her acolyte training and become a minor priest, she turned down the promotion. When I asked her why, she said, 'I never want to be above you, only beside you in everything. That means I am going to wait to move up until you are ready so we can be together.'"
I took a deep breath before continuing, feeling tears creeping into the corners of my eyes. "She was the only true friend I ever had, the only one I shared all my secrets with and let down all my mental shields willingly for. We had so many plans together; I promised to appoint her as my Second once I became Lightbearer so we could stay close. Having her as my Second meant that she would help me in my duties as Lightbearer and was required to stay with me at all times while I was on duty, a task that she was already accomplishing in our acolyte years. But now… she's gone."
Riku put his hand on my arm, being careful not to touch my skin again. His grip was comforting, and I looked at him. "I shouldn't have asked you that. I'm sorry. The friendship the two of you had reminds me of the way Sora and I used to be, a long time ago. I couldn't imagine what would happen to Sora if I… went away like that. But I'll tell you what His Majesty King Mickey told me, 'No matter how far apart you are from your friends, your heart will always be able to find them,' or something like that. So even though Kira is gone physically, she's still alive in your memories and in your heart, and nothing can take that away from you. So, c'mon, cheer up, okay?"
"Thank you, Riku. I needed to hear that. I just miss her physical presence so much that I forgot she's with me in spirit." I replied, standing up. "Now how about some breakfast?" I asked, rolling up my bedroll and reaching into my knapsack for some dried fruit. Pulling out a handful of slices, I handed half to Riku and kept the rest for myself.
"Breakfast sounds good, but how much do we have left? Didn't you say last night our supplies were running low?" he asked as he took a nibble of one of the slices. Swallowing, he continued, "Can we augment what we have left with some foraging? I mean, I haven't seen much around here to eat, but maybe if we find some kind of grain we can have that. I mean, aren't we surrounded by fields? Surely there's some kind of edible plant we can eat."
"Good suggestion. I was hoping that we would have come across a town by now, but it is always helpful to have a second idea." I said thoughtfully, chewing my own fruit.
We ate the rest of our breakfast in silence. Riku was doing his best not to look me in the eye, and was keeping his head down as he finished off his fruit. I was looking at the ravine wall behind him, mentally tallying our supplies to get an estimate of how long we could stretch out our remaining food if we rationed it. I had just finished my last slice as Riku was tidying up his bedroll and started to do the same.
As we headed out, I prepared to draw my shields in from where they were spread around the ravine, when I felt a thud against them. Someone or something was trying to enter the camp. As the pounding continued, I hastened my climb up the ravine, brushing past a startled Riku. Ignoring the stinging of my palms as they protested the rough abuse I was putting on them, I finally hauled myself up to the top of the embankment to find what was causing my shields to tremor.
What I found made my heart stop briefly in shock and worry. Not taking my eyes off the scene before me, I called down to Riku, who still had not finished the climb, "Riku? You had better get up here quickly. We have a… situation." I stared at the veritable army of Heartless that stood in our path, many of them kinds that I did not recognize from the earlier encounters I had had with the creatures.
He finished his ascent a minute after I said this. "What kind of a sit – oh. That kind. You ready?" he asked as SoulEater appeared in his hand.
I reached back into my quiver for my bow and a string, and in a few seconds had it strung and tight in my left hand. Once again reaching back into my quiver, this time for an arrow, I nocked it and drew it back into firing position. Though I had no idea how two of us were supposed to beat more than one thousand Heartless by ourselves, I didn't let any of my doubt seep into my voice as I said, "Let's go."
Well, that's the end of the tenth chapter. Was there enough action for you? If not, it will definitely be in the next one! Please be kind and review; I'd love to know what you thought! I know that not everyone that has reviewed before is reviewing now, and I'm wondering why. The more reviews I get, hopefully the faster I'll get the next chapter out!