The water was freezing. It was the sort of cold that went right through your bones. The problem was that it happened to be filling her lungs. She tried to push it out, was certain she had a spell to fix this, but couldn’t seem to pull her magic to the surface. Her vision was filled with just as much water as her lungs. The fear that gripped her was just as horrible as the first time, and that thought alone let her know this wasn’t real, not even a memory. She was dreaming.
As soon as the thought occurred to her she was back in the alley behind the teahouse. Her perspective shifted and she screamed in her head because she was trapped here, in the hell that lurked at the darkest reaches of her mind. She felt every single injury a second time and couldn’t suppress the tears she’d cried when it had actually happened.
The worst was coming though, and she knew it. She tried to change it, run away, escape like she hadn’t been able to in reality. She didn’t want to feel it again. She’d lived through it once, but she’d dreamt about it so many times since. Internally she raged and clawed at her own mind, trying with everything she had to get away from it, but the horrible sound of the snaps rang out again along with her screams. The screaming was cut off again with a sharp kick to her throat.
Her mind filled with fire, and she wished she could show these people who she was now. The pain she could inflict on them. Let them see just how much she actually was the demon they’d claimed her to be. She knew now that they weren’t normal, that it was the two of them who were monsters.
In her mind she’s raging and calling her fire to her but in this horrible dream she’s curled up on the docks bleeding out again. Until she’s not. Fire surrounds her as far as she can see, and the ground is littered with brimstone and ash. In the distance she spots a figure that looks familiar though she can’t be sure it’s him.
As she runs towards whoever it is she spots wings and she starts screaming Nyx’s name, but the closer she gets the more she realizes it’s not him. With a vicious certainty she suddenly knows it’s Asmodeus and she stops running and screaming. Her steps are measured and quiet now. She makes as little noise as possible as she approaches the so-called King of the 9 Hells.
When she gets within reach of him, she stops. She still can’t make out his face, his features keep morphing and changing, the flames and the shadows hiding his face from her. She looks up at him, as if to make eye contact, and waits for him to speak. She’s still not in control but at least now she’s not that terrified child.
Eventually he speaks but his voice is implacable, changing pitch, tone and cadence too fast for her to really describe. “What is it godling?”
She wonders if he just doesn’t know she’s a Nephilim or he only cares about her ability to ascend. She can’t imagine that he doesn’t know the entirety of what she is.
“What do I have to offer for you to consider the debt Nyx owes you paid and leave him be?”
As soon as the words leave her mouth the figure disappears in blue flames. It’s too close to her own fire and the thought just enrages her further. Always more questions, never enough answers. She’s not egotistical enough to think only she can make blue flames, but it feels like hers, and it’s the exact same color. It’s not normal. No two magic users have the exact same representation of their spells. It’s an immutable rule of magic and she doesn’t know if it’s just her mind fixating in the dream or if it’s her subconscious telling her something she’s not realized while awake.
As she stares at the flames, she starts seeing little red and blue motes floating in it. The little orbs grow bigger and start to take shape. Suddenly there are little fire and ice elementals floating around her, telling her how pretty she is and marveling at the flames she didn’t make.
There are so many of them but the first two, the ones that remind her of Dyrillium, reach out and brush her cheeks. As they connect with her skin she ignites in a burst of her own blue fire and the little creatures all swirl around her completely obscuring her vision. When they calm down and start to disappear, she’s in front of a door.
It’s a door she knows and as soon as she sets eyes one it the lullaby starts trilling through her mind. She knows she’s not making a sound, but she can hear the song clearly in her head even as she’s trying to fight her body. She’s moving forward with her hand outstretched but it’s not what she wants. What she wants is to wake up already.
Instead, her hand brushes the door, her flames seem to jump off her skin and disintegrate the door to Thanatos’ demi plane. As the last of the ashes float away in the wind two men stand in front of her. One she knows is Nyx’s brother and the other is Thanatos. Her heart hurts for the both of them and she can feel her tears freezing to her face as they fall, only to break off and descend to the ground. Some of them shatter in the air but others hit the ground, they all sound like glass breaking though.
Her voice is clear when she asks how she can save them both, but they both just smile at her sadly and she feels how weak her knees are. She’s so tired of feeling useless, she doesn’t need this dream to remind her that she hasn’t done a damn thing, hasn’t saved a single person. God she couldn’t even help Tali escape from the fucking temple. She couldn’t ease Zildath’s pain, and she knew that the power Nyx had given him hurt him immensely. Could see it in every single breathe their bloodhunter had taken.
Fómher hadn’t told her what he was doing so she’d been unable to help him, had been forced to watch him die, only to find out he was still alive but trapped. Trapped just as much as Nyx was in that vault. She knew Nyx was safe but a life in a cage is no better than a life on the run. She’d watched Také fall, she’d seen Tali both terrified and enraged in turns, watched Devlin lose faith in them all, and then Sariel had been so frustrated and upset. It had hurt.
They’d had a huge misunderstanding when they first met but when they actually talked it was like a veil had been lifted. And yet when Sariel had clearly needed her to understand she’d failed. It was similar to the feeling she’d gotten when they’d had to leave Nyx in the vault.
As she thought of leaving Nyx in the vault, she felt her control over her magic snap. It was like fire and ice ran through her veins and she could see the sigils that Zildath had told her about. It was a beautiful script flaring out in blinding teal, similar to the color of her hair. When it passed the threshold of her ability to contain it and started to overpower her, she felt familiar arms wrap around her. She sagged into the hug as Fómher held her carefully and regulated her well of magic.
From the safety of his hold, she screamed and engulfed them both in her fire, but he just whispered in her ear. “Feet on the path, eyes on the trees ni ama.”
When her vision cleared, and she could see past the flames Sariel was standing in front of her. She ran forward and hugged Sariel tight to her. She hadn’t been able to offer any sort of comfort earlier, but she ignored it and held fast to her sister. As she stood there, hugging Sariel she felt the rest of the pack surround them both in hugs of their own and she pressed her face into Sariel’s neck. With conviction she murmured into Sariel’s skin. “Fuck the path, I make my own way.”