PART THREE: THE SAGE’S NIGHTMARE
Denise was beaming with pride as she witnessed her step-daughter Iara get bonded with her chosen mate. As every Mermaid bride, Iara was a true vision, with her unusually long and untamed hair partially braided into an elegant French crown braid at the front whilst falling easily past her shoulders onto her tail fin at the back, adorned in fine Mermaid jewelry and oceanic floral accessories. The groom was faceless, but he wore the distinguishing bracelets of royalty on his upper arms. Denise focused more on Iara as she beamed at her faceless groom, holding his hand as the completion of the Merfolk wedding ceremony drew nearer with the Sage officiating the event placing her hands on top of their intertwined hands and blessed them in the last ritual to complete a Merfolk marriage ceremony.
Denise was bursting with joy. She turned to face the other guests who appeared to be faceless as well but paid no heed to it. Her daughter’s joy was her primary focus especially after all Iara had been through. And yet upon turning to face Iara, she was faceless as well and Denise’s trying to swim towards her made Iara suddenly burst into a flurry of bubbles in varying, splendid colors. Suddenly, all the guests burst into a kaleidoscope of colored bubbles that soon engulfed Denise and she felt herself falling as if through one colored canvas scene onto another less colored one but unlike her first canvas that had been conveyed in the Ocean’s Mesopelagic layer, Denise had no idea where she was the second canvas was taking place but had a bad feeling about it anyway.
After falling for what felt like infinity, she finally crashed onto the shifty sand surface of a desert of sorts, a lethal environment for a Sprite like her. The new canvas brought on an excruciating pain unlike any other Denise had ever experienced. The intense heat of the desert plain seemed to burn straight through her skin all the way through to her internal organs that seemed to melt away each second that passed.
Denise heard echoing back and forth across the desert but it took a while for her to realize that it was her own screaming being played back to her over and over again outlining the horrific pain she was feeling. Her heart beat erratically and uncomfortably and she could feel parts of her body beginning to melt away from her body like butter on a hot summer’s day. Denise tried to claim the canvas and make it her own but was met by an unseen obstacle.
She swallowed her saliva that felt like sawdust in whatever was left of her rapidly melting mouth and tasted the distinguishing sea-salt taste that constituted Sprite blood- she was dying in this place and somehow, Denise had a feeling that this was no ordinary nightmare and that when she died here, she’d die in real life as well.
Denise looked around her for the caster responsible for her entrapment in such a horrid place. It was clear that the caster wanted her to die slowly- that they were enjoying seeing her torment and she could not let whoever that caster was to have the final laugh. She had to fight. This was her dreamscape too after all… She must be able to influence it.
Denise shut her eyes and remembered how she loved the rain. She envisioned the cool waters of the rain as they sprinkled on her skin, recalled the earthy smell it left when it watered the lands and remembered the taste of it in her mouth as she stood in the rain. Most importantly, the day she had met her Protector Basil, it had been raining. Rain marked so many important occasions in her life and she knew it would aid her then.
No sooner had she began thinking of rain than her nightmare provided just what she needed to fight fairly. The skies above her opened and poured rain in buckets. Suddenly, her hell was more tolerable, and she could stand up and face whichever caster was responsible for the nightmare.
The caster’s mocking cackling announced her arrival first and then she began to clap for her as if Denise’s torment had been the greatest of entertainment shows. The caster then appeared out of thin air shrouded in mystery. She was flanked by what Denise thought was a warrior of sorts though his face was veiled and shrouded in mystery.
“He is magnificent, isn’t he?” asked the cackling caster responding to Denise’s inner thoughts. She appeared to be very proud of her warrior and Denise was able to deduce simply by their interactions that they shared a twisted version of the Protector’s Bond.
“Oh bravo! And I thought the rain was an excellent touch! Your intelligence though is clearly underrated. Just through simple observation, you’ve been able to see the true bond I share with my warrior though I wouldn’t blame my other less fortunate opponents for not noticing. They were after all, so terrified of me and my warrior that they couldn’t see past their fear, poor souls,” said the woman with a smirk that stretched rather unnaturally across her face.
“Who are you? And why are you invading my dreamscape?”
The woman smirked yet again and Denise shook involuntarily at it. She looked even more sinister.
“My work speaks for me, I’m sure, Denise. I am sure you can come up with a brilliant deduction as to who I really am with that brilliant mind of yours,”
Denise shook her head as she tried to wrap her mind behind the woman’s words. Her thoughts immediately directed her to memories of her attendance of the funeral of the former prince of Wintria, Prince Stilbe the second and had heard that it was not an isolated case. Something dark and unseen was killing seers across the realms and the deaths all left distinguishing markings- mouths affixed open in horror and eyes burned straight through their sockets; the unmistakable signs of very dark magic at play and the deaths always happened during the night when the victims were asleep…
The woman’s deep smirk widened and Denise began to seek a way out of certain death by remaining in this twisted nightmare.
“Oh come now, Denise, everything was going on so well until now. Where is that famous Sprite bravado? Surely you can indulge me and my warrior in battle for old times sake, huh, old friend?”
“Do I know you?” asked Denise surprised to hear such a malevolent woman make such utterances.
The woman cackled and said, “You have known me before, I suppose but that is all irrelevant. I am more interested in seeing how you match up to my warrior.”
The evil woman then planted a kiss on her warrior’s right cheek and nodded to him and without further ado, he began attacking Denise missing her by mere inches in his first attack. The evil woman clapped and cackled egging her warrior on. Denise fought him off as best she could but there was really not much she could do in the desert landscape even when it was raining heavily.
“Oh come now Denise, you are really holding back! Fight him with every last fiber of your being! Give it your all!” the woman taunted her as Denise battled the warrior barely evading his brutal attacks.
“Ah, I see. You require… motivation,” the woman declared before summoning Denise’s protector to the battle.
“No!” Denise shouted in horror. Protector Basil immediately sought her out until he saw her and rushed to protect her from the danger they were in.
“No, stay away my love, please!” Denise begged him, but it was no use. He would do whatever it took to save her even give his soul to this dastardly woman.
The warrior turned to face him instead as the evil woman cheered.
“Now this is more like it! And don’t worry Denise, there’s plenty of entertainment to go around so don’t feel left out,” the woman said then proceeding to engage Denise in fierce battle.
After a while, it became apparent that the evil woman and her warrior were too powerful to defeat and Denise used all the remaining influence she had in that realm to evict her protector from the nightmare thus isolating herself to her enemies’ mercy.
The evil woman cackled as she struck Denise in the heart with lightning from the stormy sky making her fall down thoroughly defeated and at the point of death.
“Thank you, dearest Denise for making this truly a battle to remember. I only wished it would have lasted longer. Perhaps you shall reflect on your choice to worship the Goddess and how that’s worked out for you. Perhaps you will choose better in your next life,” said the woman mockingly.
Denise’s vision began to fade as she resigned herself to her fate even as the woman’s mocking words sunk into her mind. She knew the evil woman would not stop with her- she would kill the only other person that could inherit the gifts bestowed upon her and claim the power of the Sage of Undine Pillars for her own once she inevitably killed Denise’s daughter, Calliope and Denise was powerless to stop her. The evil woman smirked as she moved to deliver the final blow to her opponent but was abruptly stopped by an unseen force that drove both the woman and her Protector from the desert landscape to the previous Mesopelagic layer canvas where Denise felt her strength returning.
The woman continued to cackle even as she continued to torpedo towards the bottom of the oceanic scene with her warrior right behind her. Denise knew the moment the woman had escaped her dreamscape and woke up in her protector’s arms. Her protector had been weeping and when she woke up, he held onto her even more tightly.
Denise was still dazed and weak from the nightmare even as her daughters burst into her room.
“Mom, are you okay? Mom?” asked Calliope looking up at her father for answers.
Denise wanted to reassure her daughters that she was alright and the worst had already passed but fainted instead. She was terrified that the woman would return but the enemy didn’t return and when she actually had peaceful slumber only to arise in an unfamiliar room on a cozy hospital bed of sorts with her husband caressing her hair.
“Darling, where are we?” she asked her husband.
“With friends, darling. Please, get some more rest-”
“I- I can’t see here. Why can’t I see?” Denise asked in a panic referring to her Seer’s gift being disabled in the suddenly new environment.
“Please calm down, darling, we are safe here, trust me, okay?”
“It’s really okay, she can’t hurt us here,”
“How did we- how did we escape? That woman was going to kill me,” Denise said frightened.
“Our daughters saved us. It was great. Calliope had a bad feeling that something evil was stalking us and so she choose to monitor the Kingdom and the second she realized you were in danger, she called to Iara and channeled her power. Their collective power in addition to our own was enough to drive that evil woman out of your dreamscape..”
Denise nodded held onto Basil tightly scanning the room for any signs of danger and nearly jumped out of her skin when a handsome gentleman walked into the room with the air and demeanor of a majestic King.
“Good evening, your Holiness. Please pardon my interruption and kindly allow me to introduce myself. I am Ember, son of Penny Roth and Lord Blaize of the Fairy Kingdom and I’m the one who brought you and your husband here. There are some important matters to discuss with you and I should like very much to explain them all to you,” said the gentleman.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Don’t miss a beat. Please type these into the address bar to read the previous parts:
- The Seer’s Nightmare Part 1
- The Seer’s Nightmare Part 2
- Of Lilies and Pearls: Iara’s Tale: Part 1
- Of Lilies and Pearls: Part 2