Nightmares’ Quest Part 3
Part 47 of Quest
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The sun casts gold spears
that pricked her skin and lit fires
burning from inside…
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Undreal glared at the sun stealing in through the window pane. Nyctophilia since her transformation from mortal to Undeem, the sun’s golden touch stabbed needles into her exposed skin. She bit her lip, her black eyes shifting back to regard the three sleepers–Henneth under the duvet on the bed, Chero and Anasril asleep on small pallets on the table. A tear tracked down her cheek; the babe in her arms kissed it away and then licked the saltiness from his lips. He blinked a few times, not sure what to make of the flavor and then chewed on his chubby fist.
“Wake up, please.”She rose from the rocking chair and flattened herself against the wall farthest from the window where shadows lurked.
dark things can’t adjust to light–
hide in soothing dark.
Shadows siphon pain
they apply a soothing balm
healing Dark beings.
Sunlight streamed, coalescing into a human shape that divided into two separate beings. Clothed in its gold glory, the children of the Sun, Solara and Solan, stood backlit by the sunshine that infused their being.
Undreal cried out and turned, putting her back to their too-bright countenances. Her garments steamed and she bit back a scream as she folded, her body curling around the bemused baby in her arms. He babbled something in his baby language and reached for the bright demigods by the window.
“Novitiate,” said one of them; their power enriched the foreign word, enhancing its meaning.
Her knees struck the carpet that had gotten wadded up in the corner when she’d retreated from the light. Daisies picked out in white and yellow bordered by green leaves met her half-blind eyes.
“Don’t hurt her,” Anasril shouted as a blue blur flew past and then circled back to land on Undreal’s thigh. The tiny girl regarded Undreal from under sleep-matted hair that matched her blue wings.
“Without her help, we’d never have escaped,” Chero added from very close by judging from the low thrum of his wings.
“Are you hurt lass?” Henneth, attired in a nightshirt and carrying a blanket wrapped Guardian blade lowered himself into a crouch next to her.
Was she hurt? Undreal blinked a few times in surprise; her skin no longer burned and what she could see of her flesh, where her sleeve had been pushed back looked unsinged. Why was she not hurt? She shook her head and risked a glance over her shoulder at the Children of the Sun.
“Not all things of the Dark are evil just as not all things of the Light are good. It’s the heart that determines good or evil not the designation,” said the long haired twin, Solara with a shrug.
Perhaps more creatures these days were switching sides; what did that even mean? Did it matter? Her glance took in Henneth, Chero and Anasril and the baby, who was smiling– all of them friends of a sort. Perhaps it didn’t matter after all.
“The Nightmares came while you all slept. They’re gone now but they may come again–” she faltered seeing their surprise. Taking a breath, she pushed on. “I think they were an advanced party. The Undeem Queen won’t stop hunting you.”
“No she won’t, not while you have something she wants.” Solan’s words stabbed Undreal with icicles, chilling her.
“Why did you call her novitiate?” Henneth eased himself down to a sit and rubbed his knee, which had swollen in the night. “Arthritis,” he grunted when everyone except the demigods regarded him with worried eyes. “Don’t get old. All this questing about, sleeping on the ground and running from evildoers is hell on an aging body.”
The baby stirred at this news and squirmed; his little hands reached out for Henneth who held up a hand to forestall him. “You best hold him.”
However, the baby wouldn’t take no for an answer and Undreal set him down on the floor. He crawled to Henneth and using fistfuls of his nightshirt, pulled himself to his feet. Straining, the baby went up on tiptoe but his hand fell short.
“What are you doing?” Henneth shifted his leg over, grimacing at the pain that movement sent shooting through his knee.
“Testing a theory, hold still.” Undreal caught the baby under his arms and received a smile for her effort as she lifted him those last few inches.
The baby stuck his fingers in his mouth, rooted around in there for something and then his hand came down with a wet slap on Henneth’s swollen knee.
“Ouch!” Henneth’s grimace melted into awe.
A babe’s healing hands
ease pain and banish swelling
with a touch and smiles.
Henneth flexed his knee in wonder. For his part, the baby laughed, clapped his hands and kicked his feet. All eyes swung from the miracle child to the Children of the Sun. Undreal reeled the baby in until he nestled in her arms again where she could protect him.
Henneth pointed at the child. “That’s why you’re here. Not for us, you want the baby for your own ends.”
“He needs a name. I’m tired of calling him ‘the baby’.” Anasril folded her arms and looked at the sun twins. “And just so we’re clear, you can’t have him.”
Solara held up a hand and shook her head. “That’s not why we came.”
“Why did you come?” Chero flew close to examine the baby; under his breath he repeated The Litany seeking a match in one of its stanzas for the child in their midst. Since it was an epic poem covering all the allies, enemies and other folk, it might take him awhile to find the correct reference.
“Novitiate,” Henneth said again. “What did you mean when you called her that?”
Ever the eristic, Solara took a step towards them at a nod from her twin. “We offer a bargain. We can grant some protection from the sun’s rays in exchange for service.”
“What kind of service?” An irregular one obviously–Unreal’s heart beat a rapid tattoo. Could she be free of night’s chains? Could she walk in sunlight with this strange child who heals with a touch? Unreal’s gaze dropped to the crown of the baby’s head where wisps of no determinate color had begun to sprout. Was he the reason she was not burning in the sunlight? The baby tilted his head back to smile up at her and slap a palm saturated in dool against her cheek.
A bargain’s structure–
the foundations must be true,
fair clauses for walls,
all roofed by a good outcome
sealed with the best intentions…
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