“Help us! We’re trapped!”
Andred’s eyelids burst open as she let out a cry, staring blankly up at the ceiling and not knowing if she really had called out of not. As the dream tumbled into place, she reached across a shaking hand to turn the lamp on, needing the comfort of the glow around her bedroom. As the bulb burst into life, shining on every corner of the room, she eased herself up. Her flesh still trembled from the nightmare, and she wiped a hand across her face, staring down at it with wide eyes as she realised she was coated in cold sweat. It had drenched her bedsheets, all of them twisted and tangled up in her legs and half on the floor.
Letting out a shaky breath, the goddess leaned her head back against the headboard, her chest heaving like a pump. The nightmare had been too real, too vivid. So many wailing voices and cries, all trapped together in the darkness. And that feeling that hovered over them all, a being of unimaginable terror that prevented any of them from ever leaving. And the Andred herself had been one of the many, calling out names of people who would never come, who would never hear them, shrieking until her vocal chords gave out.
As she rubbed her sore eyes with her fingers, trying to ease herself back into some form of calm, she heard footsteps hammering down the hallways outside. A second later, the door burst open to reveal Vladimir, out of breath with flashing eyes. Casting a quick glance around the room, he came over to Andred’s side, taking in her frightened expression and soaked bedsheets. Shaking his head, he grasped her cheeks gently in his palms, forcing her to stare into his piercing eyes. “Andred, what happened? I heard you screaming.”
“Oh, Vladimir,” Andred whispered, her own voice croaky and weak, as though she really had been screaming endlessly in that horrifying void. Her eyes fell to his side, unable to look him in the eyes, and they fell on the sight of his sword, hanging by his side. He was dressed only in pyjama bottoms, but he had still found time to arm himself. Throwing her arms around his neck, uncaring what the implications might be, she let out a sob.
“Hey, ssh. Was it a nightmare?” the vampire asked gently, concern thickening his accent as he rubbed a hand over her back soothingly. Andred could feel his palms pressing her closer with each motion, willing her to be alright.
Nodding her head profusely so he would know she was otherwise unaffected, she pulled away and leaned against her headboard again, locking puffy red eyes with his fierce gaze. “Vladimir, it was a terrible nightmare. And the worst part is…it was real,” she whispered.
“No, not if it was a nightmare. It will—“
“If I dreamt it, it was a nightmare, Vladimir,” she countered firmly, clasping his hand so tightly her nails dug into his skin. Throwing the sheet off herself, she drew her knees up to her chest and let go of him, hugging them into her chin. “You’ve never asked about my ancient years. I was known then by my formal name of Andraste. My sister was Brigitania, and between us, we were in charge of the land now known as Britain—here, in short. She had the north, and I had the south. We were older than those names, of course, but it’s the name we were known by when we were truly known as Goddesses of the Green Isle. I had the gift of divination, and I could bestow it on anyone I chose. But it also means when I dream, I see into other worlds, other places.” She gave an involuntary shudder. “And I saw somewhere terrible tonight.”
Searching her face, Vladimir asked quietly, “Where was it?”
Andred screwed up her face to catch onto a fragment of the dream, a memory which was fast fading away with being awake in the light and safety of her room. “I’m not sure, but…it wasn’t here. It was somewhere else, another plane. Like the Otherworld, but not there. And there were voices, so many voices. All calling out and crying our names. Like they knew us. And…I think they do.”
Vladimir’s features paled, and he shifted on the bedspread, pulling one leg up to see the goddess better. Giving a shrug, he asked, “Are you going to give me a clue?”
His mouth fell open as he let out a soft gasp, and he blinked a few times, carding his hand through his hair. Finally he uttered, “But it can’t be. All those years ago, they helped us to fight the demons. We knew they were going to the Otherworld—“
“They never got there,” Andred interrupted, shaking her head slowly. Biting her lip, she fisted her hands against the sheet, scrunching it in her palms. “I’m not sure what’s happened, but they’re trapped somewhere. Someone—or something—is keeping them there. And I don’t know why.”
Taken from Creator of Shadows, Copyright © Miranda Stork 2014
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