A/N: OH MY GOD. Two chapters in a row where I have to seriously apologize. However, I have made a bit of a New Year's resolution to come back to this story. As such, there's a few things I want to mention, but I'll wait 'till the end of the chapter.
That night, I dreamed, once again, of Wyvern's Court. This time, however, it wasn't a peaceful, pleasant dream of a market day, or of the Dancer's Nest, where skilled performers told ancient stories with the beauty of their bodies…
I stood, clutching someone I couldn't quite see, holding him for dear life. His arms wrapped around me, seeming to promise me safety, but the sights we saw were far, far, far too horrid for that. The Court Wyverns surrounded us, their gleaming armor dulled with blood, and despite their poisons, despite their wings and feathers and scales, boas and sparrows and crows and pit vipers fell to the mundane steel of human blades, and their leader faced me, his eyes dead as the bodies he left in his wake.
The person holding me shoved me behind him, a sword rattling from his sheath. I cried out a name that I couldn't quite hear over the clashing of blades as he charged that terrible, terrible human warlord. His hair was white, but he was young – I'd been cradled in the arms of a white viper.
My own eyes filled with tears, and I cried out again, for I knew that the viper was no match for that terrible, cold man's soulless blade. He wore the uniform of the Wyverns' captain, but my heart said he was even more than that. They clashed, sword to sword, man against man, and ivory scales swarmed over my protector's skin.
They weren't enough. My protector faltered, tired, and the cold man took his chance. A great sword plunged into the viper's heart.
"NOOOOOO!" I cried, and felt a burst of heat come through me, the trademark flames of a wyvern's power….
"NOOOO!" I cried out, shooting straight out of bed. Sweating, shaking, I felt the scales of my Demi form begin to recede as the nightmare lost its grip on me. I closed my eyes again, feeling tears as well slip down my face. The dream had been real – and I'd been beginning to dream more and more with the passing weeks. I didn't want to think about the possible meaning of that – time enough to deal with it if it actually happened.
I woke up with a start. I couldn't understand why; I'd been having an amazing dream. Akihito was there – it's always a good dream when Akihito is there – and Krystal. She'd looked worried, but Krystal always looks worried these days. Alex, too. All four of us were together, and we were talking about something important, and then… I don't really remember what next, except that Krystal was dancing. But, it wasn't just Krystal. Krystal started, and then there had been all sorts of people, dressed in ancient clothing, dancing a dance that told a story, an ancient story, and someone was playing the flute that Krystal and Mr. Cobren were teaching me to play, and I heard someone speaking in a language that I didn't know, but I'd heard Krystal speak occasionally. I had been about to figure the story out, about to make some kind of important realization, when…
I looked down at my hands.
When Krystal had screamed. And I woke up with a start. And there had been fire…
I shook my head. Too much Final Fantasy before bed, I decided; The Dance and Kilika Dusk weren't the greatest cutscenes ever to watch before going to sleep. I checked my alarm clock; three hours until school would call, so I put my head back on my pillow and was snoring within minutes.
My eyes came open, and I lay still in bed, inspecting the far wall.
It wasn't the first time I'd had a dream about Mom's dig, and it wasn't going to be the last, I knew that. I knew a lot more about the ugly sides of archaeology than most people – heard firsthand the descriptions of what Mom found, saw the pictures of skeletons that had been killed however long ago the city had been destroyed. Still, it was weird, because Mom's most recent project had something different about it, something I couldn't quite lay my finger on.
I heard a stifled cry of pain from the room next to me, and I threw off the covers. I knew Alex's voice, and I knew when he was in trouble. Quietly, I slipped from my room and into his.
Alex had reacted almost more strongly than I had when Mom started sending letters about the things that her team was discovering in the ruins of what she'd jokingly started calling The Forgotten City. He's always been the more sensitive of the two of us, but something about the pictures haunted him; Dad didn't really notice, but Dad doesn't know Alex as well as I do. Sad, but true.
I pulled open his door and quickly closed it behind me as I entered his room. It was disorganized, as always, but I didn't even notice.
Alex's bed was a mess; it looked like he'd been tossing and turning all night. I could see sweat standing on his brow, his sheets were tangled around him in a disheveled mess, and his hair looked damp, again probably from sweat. Still asleep, he let another wordless cry, and flung himself over, almost falling. He looked like he was in physical pain.
"Alex!" I cried, running over to where he was sleeping. I put a hand on his shoulder, and tried to shake him awake.
Flames. The city was in flames. Someone was behind me, crying out in choking sobs, her hands tugging me backwards, backwards, but I could not retreat. Blood stained the intricate murals on the walls, and the enemy just kept pouring into the Nest. I cut down so many, trying to protect that sobbing, desperate presence behind me; it was my sworn duty, my sole purpose, elementally focused on that moment. I found myself cornered.
Cold eyes. Dead eyes. Empty, grey eyes that bored into mine, and then I was fighting, fighting, fighting. The city was in flames around us, the colorful silks burning, and if we didn't leave, we'd be burned alive as well, and dead eyes didn't care. Those eyes sent shivers through me and my sword fell to the ground as they pulled away my guard. I could hear a voice screaming my name, and a blade pierced through my skin, my strange skin that wasn't really mine.
"ALEX!" screamed the voice, and I looked up into garnet eyes.
"Alex!" the voice called again, only it was different, somehow.
I grabbed the wrist that was reaching for me, only to realize that at that last moment, I'd snapped awake. I wasn't looking into red eyes anymore; instead, the gaze I met was Ari's slightly-panicked, much more normal brown one.
I sighed, then took a deep breath. I let go of his wrist.
"You look like you've seen a ghost," Ari said. "And you were yelling in your sleep."
Trust Ari to be succinct. I shook my head, sitting up – something that was a little difficult, because I'd managed to tangle myself pretty thoroughly in my sheets. "Yeah," I agreed halfheartedly.
"What was the nightmare about?" he asked me. I looked up, sighed, looked back down. "Don't wanna talk about it?"
It's weird. Even though he's a year and a half younger than I am, Ari and I are incredibly close, sibling rivalry or no. Most guys would have issues telling their little brothers about bad dreams; for me, it's comforting. It could have something to do with the fact that we're only half-brothers, and Ari's dad and I just aren't close; I don't have a dad to talk things out with, so I turn to Ari instead. I don't know. That's just how it is.
"It' s not that I don't want to talk about it. I just can't find the right words…" I closed my eyes; the images felt like they were burned into the back of my mind. "I think it was that city Mom's digging up. And I dreamed… about the day it was destroyed."
Ari was silent; I oened my eyes and looked back at him; he'd sat down on the bed, and was now giing me an incredibly odd look.
He paused a moment. "I dreamed about that place too," he said. "I'd just woken up when I heard you cry out." He looked inquiringly at me. "What did you see?"
"Everything was burning…" I shivered. It had been so… real. "People were fighting. There was a war, just like Mom said there had been. And everything, everything, was on fire. I was… I was protecting someone. And there was a battle, and I… lost…"
It wasn't an uncommon dream for me, really, to be losing something. Someone I cared about, something important, even my own life. They'd been a lot more common when I was a little kid, but they still popped up every so often. I always woke up from one of them feeling as if I had lost some important part of myself along with whatever I had lost in the dream. I didn't mention the red eyes I'd been looking into as I had died… or the feeling of wrongness, as if throughout the entire dream, I'd been missing something incredibly obvious, as if something hadn't been quite right about the people I'd been fighting.
Ari put his hand on my shoulder. "Another one of those dreams, huh?" I nodded.
He patted the shoulder he held. "Hey, it'll be okay," he said. "Just a dream, right?"
I smiled weakly. "Yeah… just a dream." But there was part of me, a big part, that was worried that that wasn't true at all. The whole thing had just felt too real… far too real.
"Now, go back to sleep, okay, man? School comes early tomorrow, and you don't want to miss your huge convention on Friday because you pass out from exhaustion."
I laughed. Somehow, Ari always knows what to say. "Okay. You too, Squirt."
"Hah, hah, very funny." He shoved me a little bit, and then stood up. "Night, Alex."
I closed my eyes, lay back on the bed. But no matter how much I tried to get rid of it, the image of flames consuming that beautiful, peaceful city was etched onto my brain.
A/N: Okay, here's a better place. First of all, A/Ns are now in italics. Big change. Anyway, here we got to see a little bit from every major supporting character - I hope that the break in viewpoints was refreshing, as it was for me.
We're going to end up seeing quite a bit more of that, actually, as the story goes on; during some events, it'll be incredibly important to show what each character is thinking, or even what certain characters at thinking, at a given moment or moments in time.
This chapter ended up being quite a bit different than originally intended, but it serves largely as foreshadowing for future events. I'm interested to know what your ideas as to what's going to hapen next are, since I've packed quite a bit in. Some interesting character information was also divulged - such as the fact that Ari and Alex are only half-brothers, as well as the fact that Alex and his stepfather aren't entirely close - and we got a better look into the inside of the two brothers' relationship. Despite rocky relations with the person who originally inspired him, I have no qualms divulging the information that Alex is my favorite character, so I'm glad I got to portray him a bit more in this chap.
I hope you can forgive the lack of updates. See you next chapter. ~Miri