More Than Skin Deep

Erin Arnette is having nightmares and it becomes apparent that he is finally manifesting some sort of power, after all these years of waiting. When a night of pleasure becomes deadly, can this new gift save him?


1. Sweet Dreams

Fear gripped his heart as Erin bolted upright, finally awake. The scream came out involuntarily, and it was a moment before he realised that it was coming from him. The sorrow of a bereaved father with ink black tears had unnerved him. The dark, shadowy eyes had been a maelstrom of emotions; rage giving into hatred, and laced with the bitterness of heartbreak. 
It was a dream, and surely nothing more.
Yet there was that unmistakable sense of kinship, as if he had known the man. The man had spoken indiscernible words, and roared silent screams: A dream with no sound.
 It was not long before someone knocked on the door and entered to help him. He expected a servant, but instead it was his dearest friend, Stefan. The rays of moonlight that dared enter through the drapes illuminated his stark white hair. His blue eyes twinkled with concern, and he ran to Erin’s bed and held him.
“Ssh… What is the matter?” Stefan asked.
Erin was at a loss for words. He shook in Stefan’s embrace, a cold sweat passing through him. He attempted to speak but his words were nonsensical, his breaths sharp and shallow.
“You need to breathe. Come on. In. Out.” Stefan aided Erin in breathing exercises that had him feeling like a silly child. Erin could faintly hear the chugging of the train, and he had to remind himself that he was on his way to Stefan’s palace in Tykir.
When Erin was calmer he finally spoke. “I had a nightmare.”
 “That much I gathered. This is the second time tonight, Erin.  Are you sure you are not being plagued by a Mara?”
Maras were fey who fed on fea, particularly at night. Erin couldn’t be sure of anything, so he didn’t want to talk about it.
 “How did you know it was the second time?” Erin asked, diverting the question. “I told David —”
“To keep a secret from his prince?” Stefan asked. “Not a particularly well thought out plan.”
 Erin shrugged his shoulders, embarrassed but hoping to pass for uncaring. “I didn’t want you to worry.”
“You’re my brother. Of course I’m going to worry, and rightly so.”
 Erin still liked that word. Brother. Not bound by blood, but rather by oath, the two were inseparable. Well, they had been as children. Now, as they were growing into their trades — Stefan, the prince and future king, and Erin, still seeking his trade — things had changed dramatically.
 “Good to know that the Prickly Prince still has emotions,” Erin said.
“Prickly Prince? I suppose that is better than what some of the people call me.”
  The people called him a heretic for using the once forbidden sheut magick — magick born of one’s shadow. If Stefan was a heretic it wasn’t for using his gods given abilities, but rather for not believing in the gods.
 “I would still feel better if you would see someone about this,” Stefan said. “Perhaps you should see an ib manipulator, or some sort of healer if it is a Mara possession. I don’t think that Aten symbol you have outside your room is a particularly good ward against fey.”
Erin grasped his sheets. He didn’t want to ask this question but he could see no other way. “Can I borrow your Dream Catcher?” Erin asked, staring at his hands. He knew how much Stefan relied on the Dream Catcher. It was a gift from his godfather.  
 “Of course,” Stefan said, not even pausing to think about it. I’ll be back in a moment.”
 When Stefan returned, he turned on the lamps and set up the Dream Catcher. He touched the centre with his index finger and black mist encased the dream catcher, and then evaporated.
 “Okay, it’s activated.”
“You know, your sheut magic will distrupt with the symbol of Aten outside my door,” Erin said. “Do you want the Dream Catcher or not?”
Erin bit his lip. “Yes. I’ll take down the symbol myself.” Having an argument over their religious differences this late would not do. “Thanks.”
Erin reached his hand towards Stefan’s, but the Prince flinched away before he could reach it. “What’s wrong?”
 “When I held you earlier, I sensed something strange,” Stefan admitted. He let the words hang in the air for a moment until Erin became impatient.
 “Yes, and what was this strangeness?”
“I’m not sure what it was. I felt an intrusive presence. Magick I think. It was all I could do not to knock you unconscious.” The fact that he could have threatened Stefan was a shock to Erin. Stefan had power most Terrahgonians could dream of. How could Erin have come close to overstepping Stefan’s magickal defences?
 “That is very strange,” Erin finally agreed.
“Don’t worry about it. I need to go do some meditation.” Stefan stood up and switched the light off. In the pale moonlight, he was but a darkened figure. A true Shadow Weaver. “Sweet dreams.”


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