Chapter 14: The Nightmare
They chose to attack when Storm and I were asleep.
Our arms were tied behind our backs before we were fully awake, and the guards of the dungeon were forcing us to our feet. I glanced at mom and my siblings. They were surrounded by the dungeon’s guards. All of them…
There was a needle in the back of my neck, and they were trying to drag me away. But I watched as my mom was forced to kneel, with a sword about to go into the back of her neck and…
There was a sudden flame in my veins, and a lust for blood. I launched myself off of the guards keeping me back, breaking the chains that held my arms back, and hit the guard about to kill my mom, locking my fingers tightly around his neck, his metal neck guard crushed under my fingers.
Around me was chaos. Dark auras- not only mine, but Storm’s as well. I heard him behind me, standing in front of our mom, growling at the guards who had been pushed back. Daring them to try to do anything. And to my sides, and behind the guard, my siblings had begun to fight back as well. All who were big enough, or had magic, or knew how, were hitting back at the guards, hissing and spitting at them.
And then the wall crashed down, and the other Chimeras came through- Scout, Sentinel, Snitch, and so many others. I felt the last of the life drain out of the guard in my hands, and I began to stand up, the dark fire still coursing through my veins. My upper lip was curled as I turned to the other dungeon guards. They were trapped- between me and Storm, and the men they had tried to turn into monsters.
The slaughter was gruesome- but it felt like such a weight was being lifted from us, every time a dungeon guard died. But we couldn’t kill them all ourselves- burning rafters were falling from the ceiling. The dungeon was collapsing, and freedom was calling for us.
But so close to outside, as we were all running, a burning rafter fell on my back and pinned me to the ground, crushing my belly under me. I yelped, and struggled, and everyone turned back. I felt my brother’s aura around me, as he and Rune and our mom and everyone else tried to pull the rafter off of me.
By the time I was free, I couldn’t feel my legs…
I jumped awake. The sting on my back had become a dull, throbbing pain. I was lying on my stomach and breathing heavily. It didn’t feel swollen. It took me a second to remember where I was. I was on the porch, with bandages around my back and a bowl of ash and burning blackberry leaves.
“I’m sorry, Gray, I didn’t want to wake you up but you started just… whining in your sleep…”
I winced. “I had another nightmare. That’s all.”
“Was it about-”
“Yeah. The dungeon.”
Storm sighed, leaning against the wall next to me. I leaned my chin on my arms. “Where’s mom?”
“She went to go pick up some food- Dew and Torchlight accepted the meat and wanted to prepare it quickly so that they could give some of it back to us while it was still fresh, and dry the rest for the snow season.”
I nodded. “How is Rune doing?”
“He’s with Red and Rain. They’ve been busy lately and haven’t really spoken to him, so I encouraged him to hang out with them. He… still seems a little upset, though…”
“Well, yeah. We didn’t get anything we wanted to done.”
Storm sighed. “We got some meat for the village… and we somehow got Scout back inside the village, too, and he seems to like being around us all. Heck, even the kids who are too young to have remembered him from before it fell, a lot of them are sleeping next to him or on him like they do to mom.”
I smiled. “That’s good to hear. But Rune… he’s always been focused on his goals, Storm, and we didn’t get any progress on his goals.”
Storm slowly shook his head, closing his eyes. “I just don’t want him to give up.”
“Oh, he won’t give up,” I said. “I’m more worried he’ll become cynical and jaded.”
“So you’re worried he’ll become like you?”
“But you’re a good person, Gray.”
I opened my mouth to ask if I really was, but stopped. I could still remember how satisfying feeling the blood oozing out of the humans in the dungeon had felt, how much I had wanted to paint the entire forest red with their blood… how much I had enjoyed killing them. I put my head down silently.
“Storm… do you remember the battle right before the dungeon fell?” I looked up at him, and he blinked in surprise. “The one that we both lost control in?”
“Of course,” he said, lowering his voice. Neither of us wanted the others in the house to hear us. “Is that what you had a nightmare about…?”
“Yeah. But it wasn’t just that…” I pushed myself up so that I was sitting on my knees, then let myself lean against the wall. “Storm. Did you… enjoy fighting?”
He closed his eyes, and swallowed. “I… think that’s something that just… happens to us.”
“So you did?”
“Yeah. In a way.”
I sighed. “It worries me. What if those powers come back and one of us wants to hurt an innocent person…?”
“I don’t enjoy thinking about that…”
“Neither do I. But… I just can’t stop worrying about it, you know?”
“I know. But what can we do about it?”
I closed my eyes. “Nothing. And that’s what scares me.”
“But think about it. Neither of us have had those powers surface like that since the dungeon fell. And even though they’re still there, definitely… I think the people who matter to us are safe. It would take something getting one of us really angry, and being a genuine threat, to make them surface again.”
I nodded. “I know you’re right. But I can’t help but worry.”
Storm sighed. “Yeah… I wish I could tell you it’ll all be okay but… I can’t even honestly tell myself that.”
We sat there in silence for a long time. The silence was only broken when we heard our siblings and Scout beginning to wake up.