The screech of a bird. The clash of steel. Smoke choking the lungs. The frigid bite of cold weather across the skin. Fires burning all around. Shadows dancing beyond the light of the flames.
The young warrior turned at hearing his name. Something felt familiar about this. He knew the voice calling for him. His younger sister. Where?
In an instant Chesed was running. He followed the cry as fast s he could. Around burning buildings, around roaring fires, around the desolate nothingness that surrounded him.
A scream split the air making the warrior frantic. “Lyssa!?” He shouted as he tried to pinpoint her location. A flash of white. Chesed’s head snapped to the side. A white feather drifted in front of him. Chesed caught it, but he didn’t need to be told who it belonged to. He turned slowly as another feather drifted past. His voice caught in his throat as horror sank into his chest.
His little sister was on the ground huddled over a prone body. Blood streaked her face and soaked her hair; Chesed couldn’t even tell if it was hers or not. There was so much blood…
“Lyssa…” he whispered, but the warrior couldn’t move forward. It was like someone had weighed his feet, his arms, his entire being down.
“Chesed…” she spoke through tears. His sister looked up and Chesed felt everything fall away. In Lyssandra’s arms was their older sister. Sera was scratched, burned, gored… but worst of all were the bloody stubs still dotted with feathers on her back. Another feather fluttered by Chesed’s face as he stood in shock.
“Chesed…” Lyssandra choked out, her blue eyes fading in the light, “How could you…”
The crack of wood made Chesed turn immediately. The flash of golden scales and a roar deafened his ears. The feeling of teeth sinking into his shoulder took his breath away. The world spun in confusion as he felt his feet leave the ground, beating wings carrying him into the air.
A clear voice cut through the chaotic noise. Chesed’s eyes snapped open as he gasped for air. He snapped up from the bed, but gentle hands caught his face. It was dark… and smelled odd. The inn…
“Shh… you’re fine,” he heard Shalelu’s quiet whisper as he tried to recover his breath, “I’m right here.”
Shalelu pressed her forehead against his as Chesed closed his eyes again. What the hell had he just dreamt? Something didn’t feel right. It could just be the effects of whatever magic he was hit with the previous day… maybe… It had all been a dream. Just a dream…
“Are you all right?” she asked, still in the quiet whisper.
He was going to say fine. He wanted to say yes. But the image of his dead sisters made him hesitate. “I need some air,” he finally managed.
“All right,” she responded, “If you need me, you know I’m here.”
A slight smile crossed Chesed’s face before he got up. He swiped his shirt from the small table and pulled it on. His fingers brushing over covered scales made him pause again as he straightened the fabric over his torso. Something didn’t feel right, but he wasn’t going to say anything. It was probably the magic still hitting him.
The warrior left the room and headed for the front door of the inn. Just some air… He would clear his head and then go back to bed. He passed the small lobby.
“Oh look, Mr. Grumpy Scales is finally up.”
Chesed rolled his eyes. Only one person dared poke that name at him. He looked over and found Erin shuffling his card deck, feet up on the low table in front of the couch. Dammit Mvashti.
“What are you doing up?” Chesed asked him.
“Could ask the same for you,” Erin responded, “Figured I’d get an early start to the day. Y’know, spells and all.”
“The sun’s not even up,” Chesed stated, mostly to himself. Honestly, he didn’t understand half the things Erin did. Maybe it was better that way.
“Something up?” Erin asked as he flipped a card from his pile.
“I’m fine,” Chesed stated before he could stop himself. Erin shook his head. “What?” Chesed said.
Erin raised an eyebrow, “Seriously? I know you well enough Chesed, and this isn’t exactly normal for you to be up before dawn unless we’re kicking you out of bed.”
“Says the guy who’s lazier than me,” Chesed retorted.
“Ow,” Erin pretended to be hurt, “Remind me to never talk to you when you’re grumpy.” An awkward silence fell. Chesed was about to head outside as he had intended, but Erin spoke up again, “But seriously, what’s up?”
Chesed was about to tell him off when he caught the concerned look Erin was giving him.
“I… bad dreams…” Chesed responded. He plopped down on the other cushion next to the Harrower.
“Ah, I hear ya,” Erin nodded, “Chased by women again?”
“No,” Chesed snapped.
His friend let out a chuckle. Ugh. Was that all Mvashti had on his mind? “So if it wasn’t women, let me guess-”
“My sisters were there,” Chesed cut him off. He really didn’t want to hear anymore crazy ideas or he would have nightmares of them too. “Everything was burning… and… I’m worried about them.”
“Ah younger women, same bloodline. Awkward. Well we could look at some cards,” Erin stated. Chesed gave him a skeptical look. It wasn’t that he doubted Erin’s abilities, it was just… was that really a good solution?
“If you think it will help,” Chesed mumbled.
“C’mon man, it’s better than nothing,” the Harrower responded. Erin shoved the deck into Chesed’s hands a moment later, “Shuffle it.”
Chesed did as he was told. They had done a reading before. Nothing had really come from it. Why not? He handed the deck back and Erin deftly laid a spread of cards out on the table. “Pick a line…” Erin stated.
Chesed’s hand hovered over the cards for a moment as he decided. The first one was the only one. The second one. The third one. The fourth one….
“Oh,” Erin exhaled.
“Oh,” Erin repeated. He studied the cards for another moment, “Definitely whatever’s on your mind… you’ll need to find it on your own. Something in your past has affected you til now, and you can’t rely on anyone but yourself to understand and find it. But…”
Chesed raised an eyebrow. It was pretty obvious to both of them what exactly was the bother. Chesed rubbed the scales on his face absentmindedly. Yea…
“You need to follow the rules man. What will happen will happen… and if you don’t let it… well, it won’t be a good thing.”
“Hm.” Chesed pondered on the reading. Vague. It could mean a lot of things. He would keep it in mind. What happens will happen…
“Well, I really can’t promise good things even if you do let stuff happen. Y’know?” Erin commented.
“Yea…” Chesed chuckled. Why did that lighten his mood suddenly? Things that will happen, will happen… and they couldn’t change it. “Thanks Erin… you’re damned well crazy, but you’re a good friend.”
“Thank you,” Erin responded with a grin, “You’re grumpy, but a good friend too.” Chesed shook his head.