Period 17: Birth of the Dark Gospel
Mero blinked. The dream was still solidifying around her. She looked down at herself, she was no longer in her physical body. The magic had transported her consciences into Evangeline's dream. Her spirit body was naked and half-transparent. Attached to the top of her head was a ghostly tendril of energy that stretched up high above and disappeared into the void. This was the tether to her real body. She had no mass or weight; she was a ghost, floating through the void.
"An odd sensation. . ." She had been capable of performing this spell ever since she first awoke in the grave keeper's palace, but she'd never actually done it before. She adjusted to the weightlessness as the world finished materializing. She was in the room of a medieval castle. Sitting on a bed beneath her was Evangeline, or at least she assumed it was, but this girl was very different from the Evangeline she knew. She was wearing a frilly European style dress, in contrast to the dark vampire robes she had worn the other night. But most surprising was her face. Instead of the smug conceited grin she usually wore, the smile on her face now was honest, and full of innocence and happiness.
"This isn't just a dream is it?" Mero said to herself. "It's a memory." For just a second Evangeline's eyes flicked upward towards the ceiling. Before she could identify whatever, she was looking for, someone else entered the room.
"Mommy!" Evangeline bounded up to the woman and tackled her into a hug. The woman shared Evangeline's long blonde hair, but when Mero drifted closer to get a look at her face, her features were blurred and indistinct. "That's odd. Maybe Evangeline doesn't remember her face?"
"Are you still awake?" The woman said. "Shouldn't you be asleep by now?" Evangeline shook her head.
"Of course not! There's no way I would be able to sleep."
"Are you scared?" Evangeline's smile disappeared and she drew away from the woman.
"I-I was really nervous but. . ." The young Evangeline clenched her fist and shook her head. "But I believe in Mommy. So, I'm not scared!"
"Good girl." The woman stroked her hair gently. "You're such a good girl Evangelina. Don't worry, everything will be alright. But right now, you need to rest. "After all, you have a big day tomorrow." Evangeline's smile returned in full force.
The scene started to dissolve. The bedroom disappeared, replaced by another room of the castle. Evangeline was sitting on the floor wearing a nightgown stained with blood. She looked down at herself, at the viscous red liquid that covered her, and began trembling. For just a moment, Mero thought she saw a pair of bloody fangs, peeking out from behind her lips.
"What. . . what happened?" Mero wondered. She looked towards the other side of the room. Her eyes couldn't focus on what she saw. The image was incredibly fuzzy, and it hurt her eyes to look at it directly. The only thing she could make out clearly was the pool of blood. She began to feel nauseous. But how was that possible? She wasn't even physically there. Was she experiencing Evangeline's feelings? She watched as Evangeline took rapid shuddering breaths.
"W-What. . . why. . ?" Tears streamed down her face, as her eyes darted frantically around the room. "Mommy? Mommy, where are you?!" Her gaze finally landed on the figure crumpled in front of her. She inhaled sharply and her pupils dilated. Then she doubled over and retched onto the floor. Mero's head was pounding. If she'd been in her body, she would surely be vomiting right alongside her. "Waa! Waaaah!" When she finally stopped convulsing, she simply hugged her knees to her chest and sobbed to herself.
". . ."
The dream shifted again. The castle was gone, now she was hovering above a dirt road. Evangeline was running as fast as her bare feet could carry her. She was wearing the same dress, now covered in dirt and grime. In one hand was half a loaf of bread, and in the other a doll, that Mero recognized as Chacha-zero. But this Chacha-zero wasn't a familiar or a golem, just an ordinary doll. Voices shouted after her in the distance.
"Her? But she's just a little girl?"
"That's no girl, that's a witch!"
"I know her, she's that street performer girl."
"Don't let her appearance fool you. She may look like a little girl, but she's a demon. A demon!"
"Then we have to do something don't we?"
"If we don't take care of her somehow, we'll all pay the price."
"We have to defend our village!"
There were no people to connect the voices to. She'd probably heard things like that ever since she'd left that castle. Evangeline turned a corner and finally stopped running. She sat down in a secluded alley and practically inhaled her bread. Once her food was gone, she stared off into the distance. . . in the direction of Mero. It was almost as if she could see her. But that was impossible. A moment later Evangeline laid her head down and drifted off to sleep. The scenery changed around her. Evangeline remained balled up on the floor, but her surroundings shifted from back alleys, to caves to old ruins. She wasn't sure how much time was passing, but it seemed like months or years were just blurring together. And of course, Evangeline herself showed no visible signs of aging. When the dream finally settled, she was collapsed in a wasteland, surrounded by discarded weapons, covered in dried blood and dressed in nothing but a tattered cloak. She started to get up, but apparently decided against it, and just threw herself back onto the floor, staring at nothing. She laid there for an unknown amount of time, until she was approached by a tall heavy-set woman, in an expensive dress and feathered hat.
"Well, what do we have here?" She said. "One of us?"
"Please," Evangeline said weakly. "Please. . . kill me." The woman narrowed her eyes at her.
"Little one, do you understand what you ask?"
"Please. . . I beg you . . . kill me." She insisted. The woman sighed.
"Fine, I suppose I'll take you with me." She hoisted Evangeline over her shoulder and walked off with her.
The next transition was so sudden Mero barely registered it. They were now in another castle, but this one was far more extravagant than the one they'd started in, with stained glass windows decorating the walls, ice sculptures in every corner. In the center of the hall was Evangeline, but this wasn't the same little girl. She had the body of young woman, dressed in a gown of black silk. Her expression was dull and lifeless, almost corpse-like. Yet she radiated power. This was no longer just Evangeline; this was the dark Evangel. The eerie silence was broken instantly when a swordswoman came crashing through the window.
"You're mine! Demon queen!" The assassin cried as she flew across the room. Evangeline barely acknowledged her existence as her sword came down on her neck. She raised her arm and the swordswoman's entire torso froze solid. She ran her through with her sword as her body shattered. Evangeline's head hit the floor, along with the two halves of the assassin's body.
"I did it . . . I cut you." The dying woman breathed. "The blade is poisoned. You will suffer for ten years." Tears swelled up in her eyes. "My brother. . . is avenged. . ." Then she was gone. Evangeline strode over to where her head landed, and carefully placed it back onto her neck.
"Urp!" She immediately began coughing up blood. "A ten-year poison is it? I see." She looked down at the body of her attacker. "You're so young, and you used her life for revenge? I pray that your next life at least. . . will be full of peace and joy."
". . ." Mero was at a loss. This was not the dark Evangel she had read about. She was convinced that she was out to destroy their entire plan. Now, she wasn't so sure.
"Well, I suppose you're next?" Mero wondered who she was talking to. The swordswoman was already dead, and there was no one else there. Then she turned and looked directly at Mero.
"You, hiding up there. Are you going to come out?"
"What?!" Impossible! She was only there as a mental projection, and the Evangeline in front of her was only a part of her dream. There should be no way to detect her.
"Are you going to stay up there all day?" Hesitantly, Mero drifted down so that she was eye level with Evangeline.
"Can you really see me?" She asked. Evangeline paused for a few moments. I assume you're wondering if I can see you. Well, I can't exactly see you. But I can certainly sense a spell when it's this close." She looked around. "In fact, it feels like your spell is all around us. But despite being caught you haven't attacked or retreated yet. So I'm assuming you aren't physically here. But I definitely feel a presence. That narrows it down to only a few spells." She made a magic circle, then a spell book rose out of it and floated in front of her. "Let's see. . ." The book's pages flipped through on their own until it reached the appropriate citation. "Iuxta ostium ad somnium." [Close the door to the dream]
Mero's entire form glowed white. Her body solidified, gravity pulled her down, and she crumpled onto the floor.
"W-What?!" She touched the top of her head. Her tether was gone. She was completely cut off from her physical body. She wrapped her arms around herself. She felt naked and vulnerable.
"That's better." Evangeline said. "Now we can have a proper conversation."
"How did you do that?" A faint smile traced Evangeline's lips.
"Well, I do know a thing or two about magic. I didn't study with the witch of rift for nothing." As she talked, she sounded more and more like the version of herself that Mero knew. "So, who are you little one? Based on your appearance, I don't think you're here to kill me."
". . ."
"Alright. Then maybe you can explain why you were revealed with a dream sharing spell." Mero couldn't keep silent at that.
"So you aren't the real Evangeline then? You're part of the dream itself right?"
"Dream? Am I sleeping now? But- wait, you entered through 'the door to dream' right? Then that can only mean . . ." Her voice trailed off. "Ngth!" She put her hand to her head and squeezed her eyes shut. All around them the castle dissolved into whiteness, and the two girls were floating in an empty void. And Evangeline was a girl again, in the same juvenile body Mero had dueled two nights before. Was she waking up?
"Evangeline?" The vampire looked up with a smirk.
"Mero Averruncus. You followed me even here? Heh, cheeky brat."
"You remember me. So you must be the real Evangeline.",
"Yes. You went and stirred up my memories, of course I would notice. It looks like my conscience mind wandered in here." She looked around at the empty white space. "Let's move somewhere a bit more comfortable." She snapped her fingers, and they were transported to the suspension bridge on the border of Mahora academy. "Much better."
"How are you able to use magic?" Mero demanded. "The school's barrier is still active. Moreover this is a dream." Evangeline scoffed.
"You really don't understand anything about magic do you? It's because this is a dream. This is a mental world. The state of our physical bodies has no bearing here. Of course, that means we can use magic without restrictions."
"Interesting." She held out her hand and formed a magic circle. "So, I can take you out right here?"
"Go right ahead." She said crossing her arms over her chest. There was several seconds of silence.
"Are you mad?" Mero said finally.
"Like I said, I don't think you came all the way here to kill me. Since you went through all the trouble to get me alone, let's have a chat Mero Averruncus."