She grew on me. She ("she" because any Visitors who I trusted with her existence insisted the pronoun "it" was rude, and said "she" seemed more feminine) was the embodiment of purity and sweetness. To her, the world was beautiful and free. She was untainted by Wizeman's cruelty, unaware of her origins.
I named her DReaMS.
It seemed kind of ironic - a creature born of Nightmare, named DReaMS. Reala wouldn't like it.
Of course, that was part of why I did it.
I couldn't let Reala find out. At least, not yet. Not until she was old enough to fight back. Not until she was old enough to understand good and bad, and that she didn't need to be like Reala. She didn't need to follow Wizeman's instructions. When she's old enough to understand that Wizeman threatens the very purity she so admires in the world... maybe then. Until then I'll hold her to my chest, hold her hand while she explores. Maybe soon I'll help her fly.
Reala didn't stay quiet for long. Less than a week later he appeared to stir up trouble at the Dream Gate. With DReaMS tucked safely (or as safely as she could be with Reala near) in the cave, I used the updraft to propel myself out of the cave before Reala could come looking.
"Reala!" I called to get his attention. "What do you want?"
"I just wanted to visit my dear old brother, is that so wrong?"
"Don't call me that,"I spat, feeling sick at the thought. Technically, we weren't genetically related. But the idea made my skin crawl nonetheless.
"Ashamed to be related to me, NiGHTS?"
"Reala. I don't know what you're trying to accomplish here. That kind of banter only works when there are Visitors around. In case you haven't noticed, it doesn't even work then!" But before I could catch his answer, a sharp cry caught my attention. I recognized that voice... and it wasn't Reala. I dashed toward the cave - DReaMS must have followed me up into the updraft! I saw her flying into the air, flailing. I shot up and pulled her safely into my arms before she could fall. With DReaMS held closely to my chest, I turned back, reluctantly.
"Well, well, what's this? This is a young Nightmaren..." I shielded her protectively as Reala considered. At last he seemed to realize what had happened. His eyes widened, he swore, and I felt the world shiver as he took his leave. I breathed a silent sigh of relief.
Definitely not according to plan.
What could I do? The question echoed through my mind for what must have been hours - but felt like decades. It phrased itself a million different ways. But every phrasing got the same answer: I have no clue. Reala knew. It was only a matter of time before he reported to Wizeman and Wizeman gave the obvious answer: Take that kid. Get it away from the traitor. Make it ours. The sleeping child had no idea the trouble she had caused, nor the danger she was in.
"What's her name?" came a soft voice from behind me. I leapt up, placing myself protectively between Reala and my child.
"What do you want? Why are you -"
"I'm not here for Wizeman," Reala assured, in the same soft voice. "I'm not here to cause trouble this time. I just want to talk." I eyed him suspiciously, and he threw up his arms as if to show me he was unarmed. Not that that made much of a difference; being a Nightmaren meant you didn't need weapons. He seemed sincere. I settled back down, nerves still jumping, and pulled DReaMS into my lap.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
I laughed scornfully.
"Reala, do you really need to ask that? We've been on different sides for years. We haven't been friends in..." I trailed off and sighed. "I had no way to know how you'd react. Do you blame me?"
"No," he answered, a pained whisper.
"I'm sorry, Reala."
"What for? Why are you sorry?"
"For the way things have become. I never wanted to be enemies. We were always good friends... I didn't want that to change."
"Then come back," Reala urged. "Master Wizeman would-"
"Punish me? It'll go past that. You were always the good Nightmaren. I was a liability. He only wants me back because he doesn't want me as an enemy. I can't," I answered. He nodded sadly.
"I understand. I guess I have nothing else to say, then... Bye, little bro."
"Bye, Reala. Do what you need to do." He nodded once in understanding. I would put my life on the line to protect DReaMS. I wouldn't ask him to do the same. But he looked me in the eye.
"I don't know anything about it." He disappeared in a bright flash of light, and I smiled down at DReaMS. My beautiful little baby girl.
Maybe there was some hope for Reala after all.
A/n Sorry this took so long, it's actually been written for a while and I fail at typing. ...So really I have absolutely no idea where this is going. Bear with me, it may be a while before I figure the next chapter out. I apologize in advance.