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Reuel's Writing > Chapter 6

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message 1: by Reuel (new)

Reuel | 23 comments “What do you mean welcome back?” Had I heard him wrong? I have never been here before. Here isn’t even real, this is all just a dream. I’ll wake up soon enough. It’s all in my head.
“Exactly as it sounds like, welcome back,” he repeats his words so calmly that it almost seems impossible next to my spiraling thoughts. How can he say something so strange so calmly? What kind of crazy is he?
“I’m not sure what you mean by that, I’ve never been here before,” suddenly I feel filled with angst, or whatever you call that tight feeling that coils like a spring. I feel like I’m right about to jump loose so I quickly get up and start pacing. I have to do something, anything to release this nervous energy. “In fact, here isn’t even a real place. All of this is just a figment of my imagination, none of this is real. Not you, not these talon things, not even that weird unicorn horse thing, and what exactly is that thing? It’s so huge it’s like you put the damn thing on steroids.” My mouth is going faster and faster, outpacing my mind two to one as my pacing increases from left to right and back again. “Nothing about this place makes any sense! The sky is white, the talons are so fricken huge and worst of all are the people.” At that thought I round on him, “ I mean seriously how many cuts do you have on your chest? That many injuries is not normal, and you want to know what else is not normal,” my body poises itself directly at him as my words seethe from my lips. “Tying people up in their sleep with weird mystic rope is not normal. I saved your life from those guys back there! And who were those guy? They seemed to really want to kill you. What could you have possibly done to make someone that mad? Did you tie them up too, because maybe then I can understand their feelings.” My lungs are burning by the end of my rant, I forgot to breathe. As I take a breath in he takes that moment to interrupt my rampage.
“I was caught stealing,” the randomness of his statement catches me off guard. That is, until I connect it back to my remarks.
“That’s why they wanted to kill you?” my query only receives a slight nod. I pause for a moment, formulating more questions in my mind. A lot of them pushed to get out, but my mouth only let them through one at a time. “What did you steal?”
“The crown,” he states this simply as if I should know what he means. Luckily by now he’s learned that the confused look on my face means I need further explanation. “The royal crown, the one Prince Cyrus is particularly fond of.”
“Well of course he’s fond of it, he’s a prince, it’s his crown,” my line of logic seems plain to me but obviously it wasn’t to Daric because he’s looking at me with a strange expression, a mix of incredulity and skepticism.
“That crown is for the sovereign, not Prince Cyrus.” Now it’s my turn to look at him with a strange expression.
“A prince becomes a king, who is the ruler,” my words are meant to assuage his expression, yet it is still there. The method of succession is not rocket science, why is he giving me that look?
“A prince does not necessarily become king, so until he actually becomes King that crown is not his,” he huffs with annoyance at my lack of knowledge of his weird politics.
“Well it’s not yours either, thief,” I huff back at him, crossing my arms across my chest in the process.
“Don’t judge what you don’t know, foreigner,” he stands up as he says this. He’s at least a foot taller than me and I can tell from his arrogant stature that he’s used to intimidating people with those extra inches. Unfortunately for him, I was taught never to back down to a bully, no matter what size. I grind my heels into the ground and glare up at him.
“Don’t flatter yourself on being unique, thieves are universal,” I can see my comment hit its mark when his eyes narrow at me. Serves him right. He tied me up, interrogated me, and now admits to being a thief. I have no reason to trust him or tolerate his arrogance at this point. I transfer these thoughts into gestures as I lean back, crossing my arms tighter against my chest.
“Riding a horse does not make someone a stable boy, just like how one theft does not automatically make someone a thief. You are so quick to judge something that you know nothing about,” his words bite me with their intensity and harshness. I know that I should stop this argument right now, I’m not finding out what I need to know anymore, but my mouth seems to have a mind of its own.
“And how am I supposed to know that was your only theft? Just because you haven’t admitted all of your crimes doesn’t mean you haven’t committed them. Most people don’t just start off stealing by going after the royal crown,” oh gosh, where am I going with this? Daric balls his fists and I see his posture become extremely rigid. He stands there, glaring down at me.
“You’re right, you don’t know what I’ve done,” whoa, what? “You haven’t asked what I’ve done in my past, so there is no obligation for me to tell you. Don’t treat me with distrust and suspicion when I’m not the one who lies,” I know his words have the effect his was hoping for on me when I see a smug smile tug at his lips. Surprise falls on me like a veil but I quickly shake it away as I recover from his words.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about but I haven’t lied about anything!” My defense comes out too rushed, like I’m trying to cover something up, and I know he can tell. His narrow glare turns into something else. It feels like his eyes are saying that I’m not even worth looking at as he looks down his nose at me. My arms fall from my chest at my defense and my hands ball up. He can judge me however he wants, I don’t care about judgement from a thief.
“You’ve been here before. You may be a foreigner, but you’re marked. There’s no use denying it, the proof is there on your neck,” he nods towards my right side. Now it’s my turn for my eyes to judge him. He must be crazy, I think as I raise my hand to my neck. I feel for any sort of raised skin, but nothing is there. I watch him as he watches my hand. “I can’t feel any mark,” I even lightly push down to see if he means a bruise. Nope, no pain.
Instead of arguing with me, he just sighs. It’s not his silence that gets me though, it’s his eyes. Disappointment is radiating out of them at me. What did I do? Just because there isn’t a mark on me where he claims there is one, he gets to be disappointed? I let out a frustrated groan as my head starts to throb. Great, just what I need, a migraine. You know what, screw him. Turning away from him I stomp towards my pack, ignoring his disappointed stare. I don’t care about the opinion of a thief, I tell myself for a second time.
Getting on my knees, I rifle through my pack, searching for my medicine container. I pick out two Tylenol from it and swallow them dry. I don’t bother with the water, I’m not in the mood to disrupt all the things in my pack to search for it. I place the medicine container back in the side pocket I found it in and zip it shut. Across the fire, I hear Daric settle back down on the moss. Our argument seems to be at a standstill. That’s just fine with me, I have more important things to worry about.
At that moment my stomach decides to let out a loud a growl. Speaking of more important things, I haven’t eaten all day. It’s not unusual that I’ll forget to eat if I’m busy, but now that I have a limited supply of food I really start to wonder if I should eat. If I skip today, then I can make my supply last longer. I don’t know when I’ll come across food next, or even if it will be edible. Can you eat in a dream? Emotions are all caused by the brain, but hunger is an actual thing related to real food. Dreaming of food will not fill my stomach. Even if I eat I’ll still be hungry, right?
My ponderings are startled to a stop as something lands in my lap. I look down at the dark object. It’s something wrapped in a kind of paper. It’s long but light. I easily hold it with two hands. I look back up at where the object came from. Daric is looking down at me but then moves away as my attention turns to him. He sits back down across the fire from me.
“Thought you might be hungry,” his statement is clearly meant to clarify something but it still doesn’t tell me what exactly is wrapped in this package. His clipped tone though does tell me that he’s still angry. Whatever. I glance once more down at the package and then back at him. When I look back I see he has his own and is unwrapping it. He takes out a long dark strip and bites a piece off of it. It looks similar to dried meat, like beef jerky or something. If he’s willing to eat it then at least I know it’s edible. I open one end of the package and pull out a piece of meat like Daric did. I examine the meat in the firelight then take an experimental sniff. The smoky scent confirms my original hypothesis of jerky and I hastily take a bite.
“Lyra.” This time I did let my eyes shut as he said my name. I let him think that it was from the meat because I haven’t eaten in all day. I am quite hungry, but I can’t lie to myself. The way he says my name sounds like magic. My brief moment is interrupted by a weird cough-clearing-his-throat thing sound he makes. I open my eyes, not surprised to find him staring at me. Onyx, that’s what his eyes look like, especially as they reflect the light of the fire. The glow seems so purely reflected that for a moment I wonder if part of it didn’t come from him, as if he has his own inner light, shining out through his onyx eyes.
“I’m not lying about the mark. I don’t have a mirror, but it is there,” his tone is so firm, his voice so serious. I can’t stop myself from wondering. I let out an exasperated sigh, guess there’s only one way to settle this. I set my jerky aside and reach for my pack. After not wanting to dislodge everything by digging through it, I now have to move almost everything to find a mirror I may or may not have put in here. A mirror wasn’t high on my list of necessities but if I could have fit it then I would have snuck it in somewhere. Somewhere near the bottom my fingers grasped something small, smooth, and round. I retrieved the compact and put it on the ground beside me before repacking my bag.
Turning towards the fire, I open the compact and angle it towards my neck. There it is. Just like he said, it looks like a black tattoo, only about three or four inches big. I can’t tell what stops my heart, the fact that I have a tattoo on my neck, or what the tattoo actually is. Scrawling down my neck are three talons. The resemblance to the talons that surround our little campsite completely shuts down my brain. My eyes are the only things that are working, and they’re transfixed on my compact. The three talons combine at their base, almost resembling a claw.
I’m pulled back into my mind by the sound of something. I tear my eyes away from the image, suddenly feeling as if I can’t look at it any longer. My hands shut the compact and clasp it tightly. I can’t let it go, but I can’t look into it again. I hear a noise again and this time I look up at Daric sitting across the fire. His expression is a mixture of things I can’t read clearly. The only one I can vaguely make out is confusion.
“That mark is proof,” there is no doubt in my mind that he believes his words, but I can’t seem to accept them. How could I have already been in a place I’ve never visited? This is definitely a place I would have remembered visiting, so it’s not like I’ve forgotten. Even more than that is that this is a dream. That’s all it is. You can’t dream of the same thing twice, can you? I don’t always remember my dreams. Actually, I’m lucky if I can remember even parts of my dreams. If I dreamt of this place before, is it possible that I forgot all about it? Something so intense, how could I forget this? If I manage to wake up right now, will I remember everything that’s happened?

message 2: by Reuel (new)

Reuel | 23 comments I glance at Daric who’s still staring at me, watching me evaluate his words. He seems so real. My hand softly traces the mark on my neck. That’s real too. But maybe all dreams are this real until you wake up. No, this doesn’t feel like an ordinary dream. Pain, hunger, fatigue, I don’t normally feel like this in dreams. Nothing about this is normal. Regardless of what this is though, it’s not something I’ll easily forget. There’s no way I could forget Daric, or these strange talons, or the twisted personality of Blondie, or the breathtaking beauty of the lake. It’s all too much, too intense, too real. If I had been here before, wouldn’t I have some sort of déja vu feeling? It couldn’t all disappear. But that’s what dreams do, they disappear. I wonder if this is what Alice felt like when she went to Wonderland. In the end she did wake up, maybe I will too.
At this point I finally realize how long I’ve been silent for. By the look in Daric’s face, I’m guessing he is waiting for some kind of response. Despite all the questions crowding my mind, there’s only one that I choose to ask.
“So, where am I?” Somehow, that seems to be the question he’s been waiting for because he only pauses for a moment before responding.

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