It was a dark room. Except it wasn’t dark. Nor was it really a room. I had no words for what it was though, so it was a dark room.
In the dark room, there were four presences. They were familiar. The Boy, the Man, the Woman, and the Girl.
“It was an unexpected ending,” The Boy spoke, his reserved voice soft and melodious.
“I didn’t see it coming either,” The Man agreed reluctantly, as if holding the same opinion was somehow distasteful for him.
“Isn’t that why this is so much fun?” The Girl chimed in with a voice reminiscent of birdsong. “Since they are free to act, you can never predict what they will do for sure!”
“True,” The Boy agreed. “What was the original plan again? The demon girl was supposed to die, wasn’t she?”
“That was the first draft,” The Man grunted. “And she is not a demon, she is an Abyssal.”
“Insistent on terminology as always,” Came the playful rebuke from the soft voice of the Woman. “Nice work ladies and gentlemen.”
I stared at the Woman. She was… was it even a ‘she’? I presumed she was female because of the voice, but when I looked at her, I saw nothing. Well, no. It wasn’t nothing. It was vast oceans of ruby under olive skies. She was immeasurable and inscrutable… but at the same time, she felt small and feminine and… familiar? Did I know her? Did I ever make acquaintances with ruby oceans?
“I have to say,” She spoke again, her voice full of mirth after a job well done; “I have to say that it never occurred to me to have more than one free actors at the same time. Whose idea was that anyways? It was brilliant.”
The other three exchanged confused glances, or what equaled as glances between timeless black barren moons and deserts stirred by glowing sulfuric winds under eternally dark skies.
“Wasn’t that your doing?” The Boy asked uncertainly.
“No, I thought it was one of you. Specifically, I thought it was you, ********”
There were words spoken, except they weren’t words. They were images, dreams of endless clouds raining molten silicon while majestic orbital rings turned and turned without end above them. Trying to ‘listen’ too closely made my… something hurt. I wanted to say ‘head’, but I wasn’t sure where that was.
In the meantime, the Girl shook her head. Strange. She had one. Shouldn’t I have one too?
“So it really wasn’t any of you?”
“No! I tell you, we didn’t add another actor!” The Man exclaimed.
After his voice died down there was a brief moment of deafeningly loud silence before the dark room exploded into activity.
“It’s him!” The Woman yelled. “It has to be him! Quick, check the records!”
“But how! We didn’t pick up anything!” The Boy complained with a voice on the edge of tears.
“It’s not his style either,” The Girl mused with a mischievous tone. “He was never the type that would go around all subtle and sneaky.”
“Yeah,” The Boy agreed, “I was looking out for burning pigs falling from the skies, so I never thought about…”
“Less talking, more working!” The Woman snapped at the others and they reluctantly began doing… something.
I had a feeling I shouldn’t be staying around, so I left the dark room… except I didn’t. It is hard to explain, but the inside of the dark room was infinite and the outside was infinite too, and moving between one infinite and the other was… it was complicated.
I was moving for a while. I don’t really know how long. I was in another dark room now. Or maybe it was the same. Or maybe I was somewhere else. Or some other time. Either way, this new dark room, which was neither new, nor dark, nor a room, felt strangely comforting. I decided to stay there for the time being. Somehow I felt I deserved a break.
Why did I deserve a break again? Oh, right… I was injured. Suddenly the memories rushed back into my head, and they came with confusion, regret and self-derision. Hindsight made all my stupid decisions show up on the canvas of my memories like they were highlighted with fluorescent markers.
First and foremost, the barrier. I came to the conclusion that I could circumvent it using the roof and I never looked for alternatives even after it became obvious it was not a viable option.
Amelia was a geomancer. She could have easily tunneled under the barrier and let us through without a problem. Her magic could have also shifted the ground on which the glyphs were placed and disturb the barrier that way. I even told her to do that later. It was really easy to do once I pinpointed the anchors.
Then there was Angeline. She could fly. I could have sent her in to scout out the area and she could have immediately discovered the fact that the roof was warded. Furthermore, she could have carried us over the barrier one by one by flying over it. It would have taken a while and she would have been exhausted by it, but that way we could have had the element of surprise.
Moreover, while the windows were indeed warded, the walls weren’t. The golem or Eleanor could have easily broken through one and created a new opening in the barrier for us. Or on the roof, they could have destroyed part of the building itself to crumble the fence-posts and break the wards that way.
Speaking of the fence-posts, technically they didn’t even need to wait for me to get the Chimera there. They could have grabbed a Faun and used him as a battering ram. Speaking of which, why did I even bother with trying to kill the Chimera? It was a threat, but my goal was to rescue Josh and Snowy. I could have just Blinked to the roof at my earliest convenience and saved a lot of time. Maybe I would have even recognized some of the aforementioned mistakes and rectified them. But no. It was more important to douse the monster in acid, and so now I was… now I was…
What happened to me? Why was I here again? I couldn’t remember. Did I die? I don’t think so. I would have remembered if I died. I tried to close my eyes in order to think, but then I wondered why I couldn’t find them. I found something else though. A red dot. A familiar red dot. I slowly reached out towards it, and before I knew it, I was sucked through another infinite space.
I was looking down from the ceiling of a room. It was a familiar room. It was my room. It had familiar people in it. There was Judy, sitting on a chair by the window, and there was Eleanor, sitting on the floor by the bed, and on the bed. … I was on the bed. I was sleeping. Ah. So that’s where my head was.
Still, sleeping. That sounded nice. I tried closing my eyes again, and this time it worked. Or maybe it didn’t. I was back in the not new not dark not room. Then, I slept anyway. Not for long though. Just a little. A nap, if you will. I would soon become me again, the me in that bed, but for now I was tired. I deserved some sleep every once in a while.
So I dreamed. I dreamed of oceans of ruby. I dreamed of barren moons. I dreamed of glowing winds. I dreamed of molten rain. And finally, I dreamed of vast, immortal red suns. And then I woke up. But that is another story altogether…