A Wonderful Nightmare

What was her name? It had been so long that she had carried on in this world apart from the one she'd known for so long that she seemed to be losing herself, the one thing Mr. Andrews told her to never do, lest she be lost in the annex of her mind forever. Though, as she examined her journal she had come to wonder why anyone should ever want to awaken from such a wonderful nightmare?

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3. Strange Encounters

      His feet came to rest upon yet another thick black branch to where he nestled me into the crook of where several branches came together as one. Leaning up against the separating trunk of the tree he withdrew a handkerchief and wiped his brow quickly before replacing it into his breast pocket and exhaling a deep sigh as his body caught up to him and he began to evenly inhale and exhale to return his body to its original unstressed state.

   "Are we safe now?" I asked a bit flustered from the whole affair. "I don't really think I want to be here anymore, I want to wake up I think." Mr. Andrews looked at me with a minor despairity in his face that soon vanished into a smirk of wild whimsy.

   "And I thought you were fearless," he chuckled, "But I suppose a girl was not fit for such a task, I'll be taking the ring then." He approached with hand outstretched, expecting the ring, instead he got a right and proper slap. "Well then, I suppose that means you're not giving up then."

   "You'd be correct in your assumption," I huffed, "Now, let's get down so we may accomplish what we came here for, shall we?" Taking me in hand he lept from the branch and plummeted like a stone to the ground. I was well aware of the dream we were in now for as we touched down, his feet made not a sound nor left even the slightest imprint as to indicate anyone had ever touched the soil where we stood.

   "We shalls't begin here I suppose," he waved his hand and like it was dust, the fog vanished and revealed a rather disheartening sight; a small village laid to waste, resembling more of a cemetery as it lay here and now. The shacks were fallen in, some were missing their roofs while others were horribly dilapidated and warped with age and exposure to the elements. Headstones danced in motionless rings around the village as if they were to form some impenetrable wall to which none could enter... or escape.

   "What a dreadful place," I mumbled as I wandered past the grave markers and into the town through a tight alley way with Mr. Andrews in tow. Most girls by now would've ran screaming a long time ago but not I, no, this world as warped as it was came to me as a wonderfully hypnotizing place of wonder and mystery. The wonder that was suffocating me soon let up as a snap was heard followed by a low but audible growl and moan.

   "Ms. Carrie!" shouted Mr. Andrews, "Come to me quickly! There's evil afoot!" Running to his side just in time as a beast on four ragged limbs sprang forth from the shadows and tried to cut into me with its razor sharp claws, only to be  cut down by my protector as he now had a bloody looking blade in hand that had just cut through into the rotting beast's flesh. Its howls were of the most ungodly and most unholy resonance I had ever heard in all my life as it slumped against one of the houses before getting once again to its feet, its gnarled teeth beared in aggression against us. 

   "What on God's green Earth is that thing!?" I wailed in a minor fit of terror as Mr. Andrews stepped in front of me, complete lifelessness in his once calm and lively eyes. His blade was that of a magnificent sword forged of some strange material that was clad in a rosy red to the hilt where it suddenly turned deep crimson, the handle further morphed to a deep black. Its general shape was somewhere between a rapier and a fine cavalry officer's sword. 

   "That thing of most repulsiveness is the twisted nightmare of an individual who couldn't come to terms with his fears," Mr. Andrews growled in disgust at the sight of the creature. "notice the collar on its neck? That means the person who created this thing is alive still, if it didn't then it would be a remnant." The beast seemed to grow irritated with Mr. Andrew's explanation as it roared and charged at him. He swung the sword but, as if expecting it, the beast lunged to the side evading the blade and bit him; the blade dropped onto the cobblestone ground and spun in my general direction.

   "Mr. Andrews!" I screamed in terror, attempting to aid him.

   "I'll be fine!" he yelled as he began to wrestle with the beast violently, "You just go and hide until this is finished!" Normal women would've listened to a man in such a situation and, in this moment so would I, yet the allure of his sword and the hatred I had of the beast welled up inside me and in one foul swoop I stole the blade from the ground and and with a warrior's yell plunged the blade into the writhing beast, running it through and leaving the tip of the blade within only inches of my guide's abdomen. The beast writhed in agony and screamed once and then fell limp and died.

   ********************

   "AHHH!" I screamed in pain and fright as I shot up from my desk where I fell asleep. My caretaker burst suddenly into the room upon hearing my screams to see what had happened. He raced over as I was holding onto my chest in pain and fear.

   "Young lord! What has happened!?" He pushed my hand aside and undid my vest and shirt to examine my body to which in his fear and disgust he saw a growing stream of blood. "What happened?"

   "She stabbed me!" I cried in pain, "That bloody bitch stabbed me!" I cringed as Alister plunged his fingers into my wound causing me to cough a bit of blood onto the desk. "Alister... what are you... doing!?" I cringed in searing pain as he continued to dig around inside me. Satisfied at whatever he found, or didn't find, he withdrew his fingers and picked me up into his arms and cradled me as he moved from my study into the hall and moved towards my room.

   "I was seeing if they punctured anything vital, forgive me young lord," he spoke with cool calm as we moved into my room where he placed me duly onto the bed and stripped me of my coat, bow-tie, vest and shirt. He then left me there, only for a moment or two as he returned with medical wraps, some tape and a bowl of sterilizing fluids. Sitting on the bed beside me he wasted not a single breath as he began to wipe up the spilled blood, dabbing my body with the sterilizing solution caused me to arch my back backwards slightly in pain.

   "Bleedin' Christ that stings!" I shrieked as he then softly but firmly pressed me back down onto the bed, the wrapping now in his hand. "That girl's going to pay for this..." I spat out in agony through gritted teeth. 

   "There we go, all better," Alister finished. His small smile vanished as he suddenly did something incredibly bold; my face stung as the shock set in that he had actually hit me, the burning sensation was new to me as a tear escaped my eye.

   "Why...?"

   "Because you scared me senseless," he fell on the bed beside me, taking me into a tender and caring embrace so as not to undo the work he'd just finished. "You know the dangers of dream transgression and yet you did so anyways...why?"

   "Because.... I just wanted to... see Carrie again..."

********************

   We walked in reverent silence as we moved to the other side of town. I didn't know where we were going but Mr. Andrews seemed to have a faint clue as to where we needed to be (yet another red flag as to why he unsettled me). Leaving the town we came to a hill that, upon climbing I noticed a gradual sloping scenery before me that descended into a forest which surrounded what was clearly a lake to which in the middle appeared to be an island which had sunken to one side with what seemed like a white castle.. or perhaps a cathedral on it that was also partially submerged in the lake.

   "That's the sinking old sanctuary of Elysium," Mr. Andrews spoke as if he had read my mind. "We may very well have to go there at some point but for now, I think I know where we need to go." He continued to speak as he turned away from the hilltop and ventured down into the strange looking ruins below.

   "What is this place?" I whispered to myself but not one moment after I uttered those words came the voices of two others.

   "What's a girl doing here?" called one with a dark tone to it Spinning on my heels I watched as from seemingly nowhere a boy in black appeared. He was adorned in a black and silver rimmed cloak with blood staining the edges of his cloak. His hair hung limp and low over his face though I could make out the icy blue eyes that were his. Under the cloak I could make out that he wore somewhat baggy pants like those a pirate from stories of old would wear with what almost looked like a pair of soldier's boots. A short sword was hitched to his side along with wearing a crimson red undershirt covered by a black vest. 

   "She looks lovely," came the soft but mournful voice of a second boy as another one appeared, seemingly out of the first one's shadow. This one was also in a cloak, that of a fine Ivory color, almost white and again, blood stained the edges of his cloak. Underneath was a light tan pair of hunting boots and a greyish-white pair of trousers which accompanied a leather chest protector which, underneath seemed to be an cream or ivory colored dress shirt with frills at the end of the sleeves, much like a duelist's shirt. This one two had a short sword hitched to his side as well, but on the other side of him.

   "Well, two boys, that's just dandy," I smiled a bit as I tried to catch up to Mr. Andrews who had somehow managed to disappear. Looking around the the ruins I couldn't find the man which began to wear on my patience. My aimless wandering lead me to a large courtyard within the ruins to which a large tree of deep dark blackness grew up tall and mighty amongst the fallen and broken stone. It was bare but from what I could see, there was something entangled in it's branches, a large mass that had fringes which were gently blowing in the breeze. 

   "That's the key... I think," came Mr. Andrew's voice from behind, "Up there in that bundle is the key to the first codex." He looked different as his overcoat fluttered in the breeze and his top hat seemed to bounce about on his head as if the little wings on the back were trying to take flight.

   "Fine, I'll go get it," I sighed as I began to climb the tree, "You best not look up my dress!" 

   "You've my word that I shall not!" I climbed higher and higher into the tree, edging nearer and nearer to the mass which to my horror was beginning to look more like a person than a mass or nest. As I got higher I heard the clashing of metal and pausing to look below I saw that Mr. Andrews was locked in combat with the dark haired boy whilst the other just stared at me.

   "A... A boy?" I stammered in surprise and fear as I looked upon the figure with intrigue and wonder. He looked as though he was simply asleep but there was no pulse nor breathing, dead then? No, he was still minorly warm when I touched him. Then it happened, when I touched him with the ring that I had forgotten was on my finger there was a light and then SNAP, the branch I was on gave way and the two of us plummeted to the ground. 

   "Ms. Carrie, No!" Mr. Andrews tried to catch me but he was stopped as the dark haired boy managed to slash him in the leg to which in fury he retaliated. I thought I was going to hit the ground and die when all of a sudden there he was, the boy who not moments before was looking quite rather dead was holding me and managed to land on his feet with the same gentleness as Mr. Andrews. I stood there a moment clutched in his arms before I stepped back to get a better look at him.

   Before me I beheld a boy of a scheme of blacks, whites and grey. White dress shirt and socks, covered by a black satin vest of a most curious design accompanied by pants and shoes of the same color and make. The white he wore seemed to glow off his pale, almost ashen colored skin. His thick and dark hair was somewhat wavy and, very unruly as it sprouted forth from his scalp. His eyes were of that of the purest form of grey so much so that, when we made eye contact, I felt my soul pierced to its core by them. Finally he spoke and when he did it was soft, his voice, calm... almost soothing in contrast to his emotionless face and demeanor.

   "Are you hurt Miss?" he spoke with even gentility. The world around us seemed to stand still as he approached, appearing to be looking me over he then stepped back as he must've concluded that I was fine. "Ah, Ebony, Ivory, how I've missed you two, come, be with me once again as we were when I was last awake." Like obedient little dogs, the two boys approached their master and upon each grasping a hold of one of his hands, they morphed into what appeared to be hand guns to which he then slid them into one of his two respective pants pockets.

   "Who... are you?" I asked. His face twitched for a moment but quickly regained its neutral composure as he seemed to go blank.

   "My...name?" he answered, "Well, I... I don't exactly... remember....." he left off as he seemed to be saddened by the fact. "Who... are you?"

   "I'm Carrie Scarborough, pleasure to meet you," I smiled as I outstretched my hand. He looked puzzled for a moment but then swiftly clutched it and shook it. That's when I noticed the brass cuff-links on his wrists with the initials M. on one but there were small puncture holes were a second set would've been but were no longer. "Hmm, well whatever your name was.. It started with an M so... How about for now I call you Monochrome?"

   "What's monochrome?" he asked seemingly perplexed.

   "Means of one color scheme, very fitting considering you are nothing but one color scheme; look at you, all nothing but black, white and grey... Monochrome," I smiled to which he echoed with a small smile of his own. At that point Mr. Andrews looked at his pocket watch and sighed. 

   "We need to find shelter, it will be dark soon and you'll be waking up mistress," he answered as he moved some stone aside, revealing a secret passage. "This way, if you would kindly." Following his lead, Monochrome, his two 'friends' and I followed after Mr. Andrews until we arrived at a small chamber that had beds oddly enough. It was a circular room of stone below the ground with four beds along varying sections of the wall. Two passageways led off in different directions (one was the way we just came from). There was a fire pit in the center with a chimney like hole in the middle of the room along with a doorway to an adjoining room that was filled with a pool of water and a small fountain. Light came from four small hanging chandeliers above us.

   "We should all get some rest," came the voice of the dark haired boy as he returned to a human form along with the other. "Here we go, a bed for our master, one for the two of us, one for the master swordsman over there in the damn bat hat and overcoat..." he grumbled as he crawled into his bed followed by what I was beginning to guess was his brother. Monochrome fell into the one beside them and Mr. Andrews on the one next to mine.

   "And one for the lady.." I smiled to myself as I fell into the comforting grasp of the bed. Its crimson sheets and bedding wrapping me in warmth. Almost immediately I became drowsy and soon found myself falling into blackness as the only thought to cross my mind was of the sudden amount of strange encounters I had experienced in the past few days in the Crawford Manor.....

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