The Dreamscape was where a mind wondered as the body slept, it was a world where reality shifted and anything was possible. Those with a strong mind could bend elements of the Dreamscape to their will, influencing their own dreams. Mages and some of those of Elvish descent, could train to not only influence and bend the Dreamscape totally to their own wills, but they could even navigate the Dreamscape between other people’s dreams, and those that mastered this skill could even enter the dreams of others. DreamWalkers were born with this natural ability and could take this skill a step further, by not only entering other people’s but also influencing and manipulating others' Dreamscapes to their own liking. DreamWalkers were, however a rarity to come by, for two simple facts, one, it was not a common ability to be born with, and second, DreamWalking was frowned upon, and therefore those that could DreamWalk tended to keep this fact to themselves, making it seem that there were far fewer DreamWalkers then there actually were in the world.
Mylea was one such person. She had from a young age displayed the ability, and would regularly find herself in her siblings' dreams by accident, and more often than not it was the embarrassing ones too. It had taken her some time to learn how to control this on her own. She trained herself to stay confined within her own Dreamscape, to the point that she no longer had to actively stop herself from wondering, and could dream almost as others did. Allowing the DreamScape itself to lead and define her dream rather than Mylea leading it herself.
That night the dream was of her Wedding day, her brothers and father had arrived back just in time and Mylea was now being rushed along so that the ceremony could take place. Her mother and Olaia were hurrying her from one thing to another, but something about it was starting to feel wrong to her. As she flowed along with the dream something tugged at the back of her mind, distracting her focus, from the dream playing out in front of her. She did her best to ignore it and push back the feeling, trying to enjoy what she could of the dream. But the feeling just pulled at her harder. Someone or something was forcing its way into her Dreamscape.
Before Mylea could react to this realisation, she was ripped from her Dreamscape. Mylea was pulled backwards, down into a darkness that surrounded her enveloping her completely for a single moment before a different Dreamscape rushed up to meet her. Mylea was dropped into a deep cavern, its bottom coming up to meet her at speed. Mylea threw her hands out in an attempt to slow her decent, trying to bring the Dreamscape under her control, but no matter how hard she tried to force her will she was powerless, panic started to fill her just as her hands caught the edge of a large ledge, that might have once been part of a bridge, but had long ago given away to age and decay, protruding from one of the cavern walls. Mylea clung to it, desperate to get a better hold. Trying desperately to pull herself up, but her body felt heavy as if she was made of lead, and her own weight was dragging her down. Mylea was so focused on pulling herself up onto the ledge that she had yet to notice what awaited her several feet below her.
It was the roar that first made her look down, it was a sound that you could feel, it reverberated through every bone in her body and caused her heart to skip a beat. The next thing made her look down was the feeling of something huge, throbbing and convulsing below her. As she looked down Mylea froze, as pure terror took over. Far beneath her, at the bottom of the cavern was a massing hoard of the corrupted swarming and writhing around an enormous beast. The Corrupted mother. The beast raised its great horned head and glared straight up at Mylea letting out another thunderous and terrifying roar that shook the walls of the cavern, loose stone crumbled and tumbled down into the pit below. If things could get any worse, Mylea felt the stone beneath her fingers crack and crumble before giving away completely. Mylea had enough time to gasp in horror before she was falling down into the pit, straight into the middle of the swarming hoard below.
Mylea’s body did what she could not, and broke her from the dream by giving a violent jerk, snapping her from the nightmare into the land of the waking, her eyes flew open as she sat bolt upright. She was panting heavily as her heart raced, she felt a cold sweat on her forehead, which she quickly wiped away as she tried to regain control of her breathing.
It took a few long deep breaths before her heart started to settle and her hands stopped shaking, Mylea was about to take a moment to try and process what had just happened, however a distant scream caught her attention. Mylea looked towards her door confused, wondering if she had imagined the sound, if it had been a trick of her mind following her nightmare. But this theory was quickly dashed when a second scream sounded and this time much closer. Arex leapt up and started to growl at the door. This was sign enough for Mylea, she threw the covers back and quickly getting out of bed, she knelt down beside it reaching underneath the bed she pulled out a small trunk.
She quickly threw the trunk open and pulled out the light armour she kept there along with the armour undershirt, which she quickly dressed in. She had just finished buckling herself into the chest plate and battle skirt armour, and was starting to strap her two rangers swords to her back when the sound of hurried feet then an almighty banging on her door caused her to freeze a moment straining to hear, staying as still as she dared for fear of alerting the wrong person of her presence.
It only took a few more moments however to discover who the knocker was. A call of;
“Lady Mylea! Lady Mylea”
Told her all she needed to know. The voice belonged to none other than her old nan Shea. Mylea dashed across the room and flung the door open, so that Mylea came face to face with the elderly woman, who instantly fell into Mylea’s arms in relief.
Shea crushed Mylea to her, sobbing gently.
“Mylea! You’re alright! Thank the Founders! I had feared the worst!” Shea’s voice cracked as tears streamed down her cheeks, as Shea put her hands on Mylea’s shoulders and held her at arm's length so that Shea could look into Mylea’s face.
“I thought they had got you too!” Shea whimpered weeping anew.
Mylea’s heart leapt into her throat as it began to race once again, a panic rising, that Mylea forced back. Now was not the time to panic. Now was the time to be calm and level headed. Just as her mother had taught.
“What do you mean ‘me too’? Shea what is happening?” Mylea said gently but firmly.
“It’s the Earls men!” Shea sobbed. “Earl Hieres, his men stormed the castle! They are killing anyone and everyone in their way! They aren’t even taking prisoners! May the Founders have Mercy!”
She trembled and shook, unable to talk for weeping. When she could control her voice again her voice trembled as she told Mylea the whole extent of the horror.
“They even killed the babies, they murdered them! The bastards, They murdered them?”
“Murdered who?” Mylea demanded, already knowing the answer, Mylea wasn’t going to believe it until her old nanny said it out loud.
“They killed the little masters and Mistress! Findir, Nesterian, Sheaira! They are gone! All gone! Those bastards” She shouted bursting into great racking sobs that shook her whole body. Mylea had to hold Shea’s boney frame to keep her on her feet. As Mylea’s own mind went reeling at this information. She had feared the worst, but nothing could soften the truth of it. She squeezed her eyes shut against the tears that weld up threatening to leak out between her lashes. She took a calming breath. She had to focus. She had to work out what to do next. After another deep breath Mylea opened her eyes. Determination setting her shoulders as she looked at her elderly friend, and as calmly as she could manage asked.
“What of my Ofara? Olaia? Do you know what happened to them? Are they dead also?”
Shea swallowed back tears, and shook her head. “Your mother I have yet to see, but Olaia fell with the children” Mylea had to grit her teeth to keep control of the rage that rose up inside her like a sickness. She breathed heavily as she fought to keep control. She focused instead on what was right in front of her.
“Shea, listen to me, we need to get out of the castle, if we can find my Ofara and Morhell we should, but we must not hang about. If they have survived we will be no good to them dead. Do you understand?”
Shea nodded sniffling slightly as she said “But Lady Mylea how are we going to get past all of the Earl’s Men? They are all over the castle!”
Mylea reached behind her and touched the sword handle that peaked over the top of her shoulder.
“Leave that to me, now just stay behind me and do as I say, and we will make it out, do you hear me?”
Shea although clearly not happy with the idea nodded and gave her young girl a weak but confident and proud smile.
“I’m with -”
Shea was cut off by an arrow burying itself into her throat cutting straight through, the arrows tip exiting the other side. Mylea lost her composure to pure shock and horror. Screaming in panic and despair, Mylea caught the older woman as she crumpled up, Mylea sinking to her knees with the woman clutched in her arms.
“Shea No” Mylea whimpered as pure defiance could change the horrible reality in front of her. Tears threatened once more as the sound of someone tutting coursed her to look round. At the other end of the hall stood a lone bowman, he was staring at them with a look of frustration on his youthful face.
“Second time lucky” He muttered as he pulled another arrow from his quiver and slipped it into place. He raised the bow and took aim. Mylea sat mesmerised unable to move, she felt like a deer caught in a hunters trap. Just as her instantics finally gained control of her rattled brian and her hand came up ready, Arex leapt over her head and placed himself firmly between her and the archer. Mylea was about to call him back when there was a sickening thwack and squelching sound. The archer gave the smallest of jerks, his mouth dropping open as his eyes rolled back, his arms dropping as his body crumpled in on itself dropping to the floor motionless. Sticking out the back of the archer's head was a blade buried to the hilt.
Arex relaxed his tail even wagging a little as he padded back to his master’s side, for stood just in the doorway behind where the archer had once stood was her mother, hand still raised from where she had thrown the dagger, dressed in her own battle armour. Mylea felt her heart swell in desperate relief. Tears of joy at the sight of her mother stung at her eyes.
Hiriel stood staring at the body of the archer settling her breathing before she dropped her arm and stepped into the corridor, stepping over the fallen foe. She spotted Mylea and a look of relief washed over her face.
“By the Founders! My Hiron! You are alright! I thought it was you he had shot” Hiriel said, starting to hurry forward until she spotted the body in her daughter’s arms, and slowed as realisation over took the expression of relief, to be quickly replaced by sorrow and pity. Mylea was unable to hold back the tears that started to trickle down her cheeks, as she followed her mothers gaze. She shook her head, still not quite ready to accept what had happened. Her voice cracked as she voiced what she most desperately wished to deny.
“Nar Ofara, it, it was” Mylea’s voice trembled and wavered.
“It was Shea, He killed Shea!” Mylea openly sobbed. Holding the lifeless body to her, desperate wishing she could hug life back into it. Hug life back into her Nan, her brother, her sister, her nephew and sister-in-law. Desperate to have them back for just one more moment, so that she could at least say goodbye. But it was no good. No amount of wishing or magic could change what had already happened.
Hiriel knelt beside her daughter, her own lavender eyes red rimmed from tears of her own. She gently placed a hand on Mylea’s shoulder.
“My poor Inya, I am so sorry, but now is not the time to mourn. We must move, if we do not we will be joining her, and your siblings at the Founders side” Mylea looked up into her mothers face, filled with sorrow, yet set in a determined calm. Ever the voice of reason. Mylea snuffled a moment but nodded, and very gently set down the body of her oldest friend. Wishing her a safe journey to the Founders side, and taking her mothers hand pulled herself to her feet. She wiped away the tears with the back of her hand, and after taking a calming breath set her shoulders determined. Mylea nodded at her mother, as Arex came up beside her nuzzling at her hand. Mylea gently stroked at the wolf-dogs head as she said in a determined tone.
“Alright let us go”
Hiriel gave an encouraging smile. “Bro Minra, we should try and find your father then use the servants passage that leads out underneath the castle”
“Very well Ofara, lead on” Hiriel gave a quick nod and moved off back down the corridor, Mylea followed with Arex close on her heels. As Mylea ran behind her mother she noticed that she had come well equipped, the family sword was strapped to her back, along with the family shield, both had once been the property of the house's Noble founder Mo’Thell Rathiain. A quiver of arrows hung at her waist while her short bow was slung over the other shoulder slipped up under the shield. Mylea had forgotten that her mother had once been one of the region's shield maidens. She had fought alongside her father when she had been younger, but that was of course before she had Faelen. This was an acceptable practice during times of a long drawn out war. But her mother had not seen a battle in years.
But Mylea was happy to see her mother had not lost her touch, not if that dagger throw back there was anything to go by. As they picked up into a run Hiriel began to explain.
“Your Father went down to the main gate the moment the fighting broke out in the town, he told me to come and find you and the others and to meet him at the servants passage. But I was too late, some of the guards had slipped in some how and”
She broke off a moment swallowing back her grief before continuing. “So I came straight to you, when I saw that archer I had feared the worst! Those damn Codarilim, Damn that Cordaril of a Earl!” Hiriel snarled in utter contempt, as they ran down the stairs to the lower levels.
“Do not worry Ofara, he will pay for this” Mylea said ice in her voice as she imagined all the ways she would like the Earl to pay for what he did. They turned into the main corridor that led to the great hall, and ran straight into four of Earl Heires’ men. By some small mercy the men had been facing the other way. Mylea a little faster in her reactions now that she had a focus to ground her, grabbed her mother quickly and pulled them both back out of side round the corner. The pair pushed themselves flat against the wall, while Arex shifted in against his mistress’ leg sensing the need to be as quiet and still as possible. The pair stood breathing heavily, they looked at each other and without a word understood, then silently agreed. Nodding, they pulled their weapons, and stepped quietly into the corridor beyond.
They managed to go a good few steps before the first guard turned, quickly spotting the two women, he caught his colleagues' attention by yelling.
“Hey, what do we have here?” The snarky tone the guard used was enough to make Mylea want to slit his throat open at this point, but she bit back her anger, focusing on making herself unnoticeable. When Mylea had helped her brothers practice their sword master had suggested that Mylea study the style of a rogue fighter. For her small size and lack of brute strength it was perfect for her. It relied on speed, wit and cunning, it also went hand in hand with Mylea’s magical skill. One skill she excelled at most was the technique of camouflage, forcing her foe’s focus away from her turning her practically invisible. She had never tried it on more than two people before, as she had only had her brothers to practice on, so now was a perfect time to put it to the test.
Mylea and her mother continued to approach as the other guard answered the first.
“Looks like we have two women playing at, what are you meant to be warriors? Soldiers?” He said in a mocking laugh.
“Whatever it is they are wearing pretty fancy armour for a pair of maid servants” The third guard dropped in. Mylea noted that he carried a cross bow, which although it was pointed at the ground it was already bolted and pulled back. All he would need to do is take aim and fire, and at this increasingly short distance he was unlikely to miss, even if he was an awful shot. Which Mylea would not count on.
“That would be because young man” Hiriel answered with venom in her voice.
“I am Lady Hiriel Rathiain” The mens faces, those that were visible underneath their helmets fell in panicked realisation at who they were facing.
“And I think the Founder would not mind me making the score even, for my children” Hiriel almost spat, as she broke into a sprint, diving at the two guards on the right, all four however made the mistake of following her progress, as they fumbled for their weapons.
The guard with the crossbow quickly raised the weapon and took aim, a shadow shifted and Mylea appeared inches from him, he had time to gasp before Mylea’s blade slipped its way between the join in his armour at his waist burying itself deep, the other came up, and glided across his throat opening it and pouring out his crimson life blood. Mylea used the blade at the guards throat to push the body away from her releasing her other blade, and in one motion brought the newly realised blade up and stabbed it into the waiting juguler of the second guard who, was struck dumb by the sudden of his friend, his body falling to meet his friend, as Hiriel parted the third guards head from his shoulders. While Arex who had snuck up behind the two men slammed into the terrified final guard, ripping great chunks from throat and face, he only stopped biting when the body stopped thrashing about.
Hiriel stood staring down at the small pile of bodies, a distant look in her eyes. Mylea sheathed her weapons and was about to reach out and touch her mothers arm to ask if she was alright when her mother spoke.
“I hate this. I had forgotten how much I hated this, this emotionless feeling I get when I remove an enemy from this world. It makes me feel cold and sick inside. That is not who I am, who I truly am. I belong in a court not armour” Her voice trembled. She looked up at Mylea with a sorrowful desperation in her eyes.
“It’s why after Faelen I swore I would never pick up a sword again. I was not going to let the battle take away the mother you knew and needed. Please do not let this change you either, please, war affects everyone, but you must decide if you let it define you. Please, do not let it take everything you have worked hard for away”
Mylea stared at her mother, confused for a moment and quickly agreed. “I promise”
Hiriel sagged a little at this recurrence. Hiriel gave herself a little shake.
“Come your father is waiting” Hiriel said in control of her voice more and straightening up, and began moving on down the corridor towards the kitchens and the servants passage. Mylea watched her go a moment as Arex padded up beside her. Mylea patted his head lightly and praised him for good work, then motioned for him to follow. “Come on boy, let us get going” Mylea muttered as she moved quickly to catch up to her mother.
The rest of the way down to the kitchens was clear of guards, they had already moved on to other areas, but the evidence of their distraction littered the corridors. Bodies of long time servants, long turned friends, as well as new faces, of those hoping to make a good living for themselves, yet to be truly known.
Here and there among those of their own house lay a few of the Earls men which the castle guards had been able to strike down before, having their own life ripped from them. The pair carefully picked their way between the bodies, trying not to step on anyone, their bodies were packed so close together in some places. Hiriel hardened to the scene much faster than her daughter. Setting her face against the horrors in front of her she led the way to the kitchen picking up speed wanting to put this horrifying scene behind her as quickly as she could.
It wasn’t until the corridor to the kitchens that they ran into another group of guards, having run up behind them they took the guards by surprise meaning the clash ended quickly, but not before Mylea took the pommel of a sword to the nose. The skin split open and poured blood, and Mylea had the horrible feeling that it might even be broken. She had however returned the favour by shattering the guards jaw with the pommel of her own sword right before removing head from shoulders. It had been pointless, but it had made Mylea feel a little better, even if it was only for a moment.
The pair hurried forward to find the door to the kitchen open. They pressed themselves against the wall once again and peered carefully around the doorway, to survey the scene beyond. On the opposite side of the room stood Arandris and the Watcher Lashur stood side by side, pushing back against three of the Earls men. A small pile of their fallen comrades lay at their feet. Mylea’s heart jumped at seeing her father alive and fighting back, but this joy quickly sunk in seeing how he wavered, uneary on his feet, struggling to stay on his feet, one arm dangling useless at his side. The other struggled to support the weight of his sword. Mylea had to think fast, as the guards advanced weary of the fighters not wanting to end up like their fellows on the floor, but strongly aware that Arandris was waning fast. Mylea cast her eyes around the room making sure there weren’t going to be any nasty surprises of someone sneaking up on them. Once she was satisfied, she turned to her mother and quickly pointed at her mothers bow.
Hiriel nodded, understanding and pulled her bow from her shoulder and pulled an arrow from her quiver.
Mylea motioned to Arex to move forward, which he did stroking low, as if understanding the urgency of the moment. Mylea knelt down and gently guided the Wolf forward, pointed out the guard she wanted him to focus on, and then held him there, she motioned to her mother to move. Hiriel stepped into the doorway, took aim and shot just as Mylea whispered.
“Fetch” to Arex, who stretched forward slamming into the back of his appointed guard. Hiriel’s arrow hit true as the second and third guard turned to see what had slammed into their comrade, before turning to see where he had come from, just for the second to get the arrow to the face, shot neatly in the middle of his forehead. With the two guards down and the last distracted, Lashure took advantage of the moment and ran his sword through the last from behind.
With the guards now taken care of, Arandris collapsed into a heaving crumple unable to keep himself standing any longer. Hiriel and Mylea dashed forward calling his name as they came to his aid. Kneeling beside him they managed to pull him up into a seated position propped up against Hiriels shoulder. Arandris looked from one to the other relief washing over his face.
“My Hiron, My nairell, thank the founders, I thought I had lost you both”
“We are both right here, we are going to get you out of here” Hiriel said firmly.
“We must inform the boys and the King of what has happened! Zeph will not get away with this” She continued coldly, setting out a plan of action, a goal for them all to focus on achieving. It was her way of dealing. Something that Mylea had always admired about her mother.
“And he will,” Arandris said heavily, his breathing becoming visibly more painful.
“But I will not be joining you my nairell, you must take Mylea and do this” Mylea and Hiriel looked at him in defiant horror.
“No!” They exclaimed together
“Do not be ridiculous, you are coming with us” Hireil said shortly and matter of factly.
“Please morhell, we can all leave together the passage is just over there, it is not that far” Mylea pleaded. Arandris gave them both a weak smile. He placed a hand on each of their cheeks.
“I would just slow you both down, I can barely stand, let alone walk, no matter how much I may want to” Arandris said breathlessly, it was becoming a struggle for him to speak.
“Then we will support you, we will get you out of here and find you a healer” Mylea said refusing to give up, not now. Arandris smiled at her with a mixture of pride and sorrow in his storm grey eyes.
“I am sorry my hiron, but I would bleed out before I cleared the passage, now please, do not throw your life away trying to save me. I have lived a good life, a happy life, I am not afraid to meet death, not if I know it was to ensure you some extra time to get to safety”
“But morhell” Mylea began.
“Nar” Arandris cut her off.
“I am sorry” Lashur said gently stepping forward. He had respectfully stepped back allowing the family the time they needed to process, with Arex sat at his side watching with a dropped head and ears. But time was now pressing and they needed to come to a decision and soon.
“Earl Heires men do not know of this passage yet but it will not be long until they do, we must move quickly if we are to leave” Arandris nodded in agreement, he looked at his two girls.
“Lashur is right, you do not have much time. I will try and hold them off for as long as I can to bide you time”
“Morhell” Mylea said desperately, not yet ready to give up. Hiriel on the other hand had made her choice and turned to her daughter.
“Go Mylea, warn your brothers, warn the king” Mylea looked to her mother, panic rising, she could not lose her too, and hoped that her mother was not thinking what she thought she was. Arandris must have been thinking the same thing because he instantly answered.
Hiriel gave him a sad smile. “My place is at your side, right to the very end”
“Then we all stay and fight” Mylea snapped definitely. Both her parents looked at her with a mixture of pride and sorrow.
“No my hiron, your brothers must know what has taken place here. You must survive, you must get to them and tell them, you must do what we can not. I know my inya, it is a heavy task to bear, but I know you will bear it well!”
Mylea opened her mouth to argue but on seeing her parents determined expressions she knew it would be pointless.
“Morhell, ofara, bi nair sha na emid” They smiled and gave her what would be their final hug together and said.
“Ve nair sha coa, iwa net, iwa hiron”
As they broke apart Mylea had to blink back tears again, as tears openly spilled down her mothers cheeks.
“Lashur” Arandris said looking up at the Watcher.
“Yes my lord?”
“Please see my daughter safely to the King’s camp. Safely to her brothers side, that is all I ask”
Lashur bowed. “Of course, I will do all I can old friend”
“That is all I ask” Arandris turned back to Mylea.
“Now go inya, go and see to it that Earl Heires faces justice!”
Mylea swallowed back the lump in her throat nodding. “I will I promise” As Mylea rose her mother said quickly.
“Take these with you” and she unclipped the family shield from her back and unslung the sword from her shoulder. “I will not have them fall into the Earls hands”
Mylea took the shield and sword, wordlessly, as there was nothing left to say, she gave them both one final pleading look before, Lashur gently placed a hand on her shoulder signalling that it was time to leave. He quickly walked over to where the hidden door was located, and opened it. After one last look at her parents, she entered the passageway, Arex slinking after her Lashur, followed suit and closed and locked the door on the life Mylea had once known, which now lay in shattered pieces. Mylea stared at the door for a moment, faintly hoping that her parents would change their minds and knock on the door to be allowed to follow. But the knock never came, there was only silence and the faint whistle of wind further off down the passage. Finally Lashur touched her shoulder once more.
“Come my lady, we had better get moving” Mylea silently nodded, tying the sword to her belt and clipping the shield to her back. She then turned her back on the door, on her old life, and turned to take on the unknown.