Dreams, sweet dreams one of his only shelters against the cruelties of life. He had complete control here at least when it came to scenes and the environment. Lounging on a comfortable couch he stared up at an impossibly high, and large ceiling. A castle of grandeur filled with all the luxuries and trinkets he’d come across of in his many lives. None of which he actually got to use let alone own in life. Most he had seen from his time as a slave or servant.
Those are the most abundant memories he had now, but there was a time where it had been different. He had been people of importance in a few lives, but the details failed to focus. The lives so long ago, his dream shook as a bit of fear entered his heart. Would he one day completely forget those lives? Forget that he wasn’t always some bootlicker? ‘No, NO,’ he thought he will always remember at least the key parts. That he was something more, important, honored, revered, and he will be again, someday.
A tired sigh escaped him. If only he knew what caused this to happen, then he could fix things, end this ever darkening nightmare.
Another sigh sounded out as he tried to relax while looking at his surroundings. This place was how he’d kept what little of his sanity left alive, surrounded by wonders and pampered by the loveliest women he ever set his eyes on. He wished he could enjoy the food that was placed around him in various trays, but it just wasn't the same. It lacked something he could never place, an extra bit of flare that seemed missing.
The sound of a low note from a large bell ringed out, signaling that his body was about to wake, already he could feel it shifting, the surroundings dissolving away, and then it was gone replaced by darkness.
After some failed attempts he finally forced his eyelids open. He expected the brightness to cause a wave of pain, but the lighting was dim. But somehow he could see perfectly fine, not very far though before things became a haze. The ceiling even blurred was glowing, or more accurately the elaborate designs that were carved into it, full of circles, triangles, and squares.
Even with the pieces blurred he stared in awe and thought of how much time had been spent carving such a thing. More importantly the question of why? If this was art, it would entail he was in a place of high standing, if not, then it made him worry. No matter how many lives he had lived magic always had been taxing. Large projects involving it were only done for an important purpose. A need that forced people to complete the task regardless of the cost.
Then again perhaps he was overthinking it, this realm could be the first of his many lives were magic is simple. Where magic and art have come together, maybe this was their form of a lamp, a large impractical lamp…
‘Oh who am I kidding.’ he thought ‘this screams that something is wrong’. And when something was wrong, it would eventually be one of his many problems. He would like to think it will be his only major problem, but he doubted it. At least it was going to be a distant problem for he already had far more pressing concerns.
The splendor of being a baby, normally the most peaceful time of his life, it was also the most boring. He was sure he'd gone mad from it at least once, especially with how he’d become a master of baby life. Three easy steps sleep, eat, poop and done. The story of his life for however long this breed takes to grow up. He prayed to the gods that it would be quick, painless, and with as few missed meals as possible.
Already bored with such thoughts he focused on moving his hands over his face, since moving his head (which feels like a melon) was out of the question. With some effort (a lot) he succeeded, and even with the dim light, he could clearly make out his features. Five fingers one of them being a thumb. ‘Yay!’ he thought for easy to master digits, no overly large claws for him. Accompanied by extremely pale skin, white and ashen with light pink for his palms. He didn’t see any fur so he was probably going to be cold a lot, not his favorite thing but better than being overly hot. Feeling his head, he found he was also bald. Not all that surprising, though annoying if he was to be found in a cold climate.
He couldn’t check the rest of himself, being wrapped in a tight blanket of sorts, and he wasn't tired. So he began the oldest game of all, waiting. He liked to believe he'd lasted hours before smacking his hands over his eyes and whimpering. It's just he hated the waiting game, it was always the same and if he was honest about it, he rarely won.
Other whimpers began to sound out, growing in magnitude before ascending to a torrent of loud screams. Many decibels higher than the pitch it had when they were birthed.
His hands smash into his ears to spare them from the onslaught. 'This is worse thi—'
He began feeling himself disbelieving the sensations, his ears were HUGE. Each the size of his head, it was no wonder he was in so much pain. ‘Why are these fools making so much noise, it must hurt just as much for them.’ A small whimper of his own escaped him, as he reluctantly admitted to himself he wanted to go back to the waiting game.
The torrent of noise which appeared within moments died just as quickly, ended in the notes of a soothing song. He could literally feel it washing away the pain with each lovely hum. The other children quickly quieted down (thank the heavens), probably lulled back into a peaceful sleep. But him, he was still not tired nor would he let himself fall asleep, not before memorizing this melody. This was to be remembered, so peaceful and soothing, it had to be added to his dream.
‘Perhaps there will be other pleasures to fill it with?’ he wondered. If they were all of this quality he might spend his next life sleeping it away. Well, unless it was a nice life full of decadence, but if it wasn't he would likely be spending most it asleep.
He wanted to get a look at who or what was producing the music, but alas his head continued to be too large. Plus the high sides of his crib he was lying also helped keep him from his desire. Sadly the song ended moments later and boredom began to crawl towards him once more. He was less reluctant to push away its company this time if the alternative was pain.
He heard footsteps and the movement of cloth. It moved a bit then stopped, then moved again, till eventually, a figure was looming over him. Big eyes stared down they seemed a little crazed, something that had seen a little too much. But even bigger were the ears, it was comical in a way but at the same time seemed to fit. Her skin (he thinks it was a woman its features seemed feminine) was a white ashen hue, she could have been taken for a corpse in some of the other realms he’d been born in. She had a lot of hair on her head all bunched up in a knot. Its color was a faded brown as if it was worn fabric past its due.
Well, at least he knew he wasn't going to be bald (hopefully) that was a lot of hair he was seeing. 'Maybe they have a custom of not cutting it.' He wondered, then considered how long it would take before he was annoyed with dealing with that much hair getting in the way. She tilted her head looking at him oddly, this had him worried, he must not have been acting correctly in some manner. Of course, He hadn’t made a sound since she arrived, which could be the source of the problem. ‘Alright,’ he thought ‘time for my well-honed skills.’
He outstretched his arms towards her making what he hoped were normal baby giggles, forcing a foolish smile on his face. Her hand reaches down and caresses his cheek, a small smile of her own marked her face. He tried to wrap his arms around her hand, but she pulled away moving on to the next crib.
If she had come back or stayed a moment longer she would have witnessed a sour look marking the child. Plus a tiny fist lightly hitting the crib floor. Not that he noticed this un-baby like actions, as he was lost in dark thoughts.
‘That’s it? A small bit of touch? What’s the matter with these people! I demand affection overflowing amounts of it to bury my woes away in.’
As time passed and the woman didn't reappear he set himself in the most comfortable position he could, and sighed…. ‘Oh waiting game, my old hated friend, it seems it’s time to play again.’
She didn’t know what caused the children to cry out so, they made her heart skip with all the racket they produced. ‘Last thing we need right now, at least most returned to sleep. All seemed healthy, but that last one seemed numb in the head, thank the Giver that it was male, perfect fodder.’
A series of scratching noise echoed around her, causing her vessel to go rigid, and her hands to begin to shake ‘No oh, Giver no’. Looking up she saw the Wards pulsating, saw Nightmares were trying to get in. ‘But he said we still had time, they shouldn’t be here, not yet!’
The pulsing stopped, and the Ward returned to its original state glowing dimly, its calming white glow trying to show that everything was fine. Her heart however thought differently, fully alert she could pick up the low vibrations of them moving around looking for a weak point or area that was Ward free.
‘Deep breaths, deep breaths these Wards even of Lowly work can stand the test of time. They're well maintained, everything is fine, the children are safe, the adorable little girls are safe.’ The vibrations began to slowly decrease and eventually stop. ‘Good they moved on. That’s right Nightmares, no quick meal here.’
Making her way towards the exit, she gave one last look back around the room making sure all the Wards showed safety before rushing down the tunnel.
Her steps light as she weaved through less-used passages, some of the Wards dimmer than they should be allowed, in dire need of replenishment. ‘I’m going to wring Vernac neck, that joke of an Anointed. Oh, we can wait a while longer, the Guards are holding them at bay, lying fool!’
Many twists and turns later, down passages with Wards that were far above the quality of the Soulless she reached his chamber. She didn’t even bother calling out to be let in, opening the doors to find Vernac instead of working, slumped over his desk fast asleep.
If it were anyone else at any other time or the possibility that their enemy was crawling outside these walls. Her shouts of rage would have had him crashing to the floor. Instead, she calmly walked over and began shaking him softly, relentlessly preventing herself from slamming his head into the desk over and over. Something that Anger was making quite difficult with its constant whispers, pushing her to commit the act.
The Worthless shrieked awake pushing upright nearly knocking her and him over. He was sputtering “wha—what!” before she closed her hand around his mouth.
“Softer Vernac the enemy is checking the walls” His pupils shrank and his complexion paled. Worst of all he began shaking like a rumbling stone. If only he wasn’t a Chanter of such age. Then the other Anointed would have put her in charge or at least someone better qualified than him ‘We would already be heading to a proper Settlement, away from this joke of a colony.’
“But that’s impossible, I was assured they were being held at bay” Vernac voiced, barely reaching what could be considered a whisper. His eyes round looking from wall to wall expecting them to appear at any moment. “How many? How could they have breached the walls? I had them fully charged they couldn’t have gotten in yet.” He began shaking, even more, eyes focusing on her. “Were you followed? You, you didn’t lead them to me did you?”
Fighting down her disgust and keeping her face from showing any of her displeasure, “No I haven’t, the Wards still hold, but many are showing signs of great force being used against them.”
His shaking died down, replaced by nervous laughter, as he patted her shoulders. “Oh Zenjel, you shouldn’t do that to me,” more laughter and short breaths as he seemed to collect himself “ I’m not as young as I used to be, not made for such desperate situations”
She restrained her growing anger “This is a desperate situation, they're at the walls and we have few Guardsmen to patrol the tunnels, it’ll take one unknown section to fail for it to spell disaster. That and we have over fifty newborns to care for.”
He winces at their mention, did he perhaps forget about them? “Yes the children, oh dear, even with the Wards in place that Chorus will make quite a bit of vibration in the stones.” He was pacing back and forth an annoying habit of his. Was it so hard to stand in one place?
“Yes”, she said “The Chorus, it would have been done by now, you know, if you hadn’t delayed it with your talks of there still being time.” she bit her tongue her Anger getting out before she had a chance to think.
Vernac stopped and stared coldly at her. “How was I to know the Guards words were false, that the Scouts would fail their only Task? Do you think me some Sightseer, able to know all that’s to unfold?” He’d walked up to her, one of his fingers poking her in the chest. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed you meddling in my affairs giving orders to those you shouldn’t. Acting as if you’re in charge, well you’re not!” He finished that statement with a jab to the chest.
“But since you’re so eager to tell others what to do, go let everyone know to prepare the Chorus.” A smile spreading across his face “especially the ones posted with the Guards at the front”
Her blood ran cold, her words shaky “But Anointed surely a lowly Scout should be sent to.”
“I gave you an order Zenjel!” His hands making familiar motions, dangerous motions. She crept back towards the door bowing as she did so “I understand Anointed one, I do as you say."
His hands slide back down, a calm smile spreading across his face “Good, good, you know how I hate messes. Now hurry along, as you said they're at the walls”. She didn’t reply, only sped out the door, away from the dolt that will get them killed.
She quickened her stride as more Wards were sending warnings, shaking, oh Giver how she was shaking. 'The front!' she wailed in her mind. How dare he said her to the front. ‘I’m needed, My Worth far above any Scout, any male. I'll make him pay for this.' Sniffling “If I make it back alive.”