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Whispers filled my restless dreams.

I stood in my living room—or what I assumed to be my living room, given how the walls didn't quite match my recollection of them, too tall in places and too short in others, and I had never seen such strange patterns in the ceiling before. Whorls of color pulsed and faded, iridescent in the vision's gray-scale rendition, interspersed with oblique shapes like broken mirror shards caught, spiraling slowly.

I followed them with my gaze. White light poured against my back where the window should look out on the yard. Nothing but oblivion waited there now.

"I'm...asleep." My breath curled from my mouth in white puffs as I spoke and waved a hand, watching how the edges blurred indistinct and wavering. I knew I was asleep—and yet, I couldn't recollect a time I'd ever dreamed so lucidly, if this malformed half-world could be considered "lucid."

When did I fall asleep? Why was I seeing this?

In the deeper shadows thrown by the bulbous, disproportioned furniture, something stirred and hummed a low, resonating note that echoed in the crushing silence. The Sin of Pride leaned forward from his place on my armchair, the white, corrosive light harsh upon his severe face, and he apparently didn't see me because no acerbic, biting comment came. Instead, the demon stared ahead, unseeing, deep lines marring his brow.

He shifted. His eyes were the only constant color in the otherwise bleak, turgid space—and they glowed a brilliant blue.

"...Darius?" I said aloud, and though I heard my own voice echo, he didn't react.

Shadows thickened, bunching and pulling apart at the edges like thick curtains to admit a towering figure into the room. The darkness didn't quite leave his frame, holding him back, and as I watched, the light rippled and moved upon the hard, smooth planes of his face. There was an eerie, off-putting perfection to his complexion and the symmetry of his features, and not a single mark blemished his skin aside from the dark smudges under his eyes.

Those eyes looked like dying suns hung in an otherwise starless sky.

Breathing past the sudden lump tightening my throat, I struggled to say something—anything—as the looming man—creature, monster, towering, unearthly titan with clawed hands and a mouth of sharp teeth—reached for the Sin of Pride and—.

"Darius!" I shouted, and still the Sin didn't react—but the creature did. The terrifying man whirled about and met my gaze. His eyes widened, and the vision fell to pieces.


I woke with a choked gasp, sucking in great, lung-straining gulps of air. Perspiration dripped from my temples and clung in a sickly sheen to my trembling arms. My bedroom was dark, but early, pre-dawn light sat patiently upon the windowsill, waiting to mature, the air warm, humid. Tara's cat sat on the spare pillow, and his eyes rested on my face, tail moving from side to side with all the assurance of a metronome.

What had that been? Who had that been? The sheets laid twisted into malformed lumps at my feet. What had happened? Where was Darius—?!

The bedroom door creaked open, and the Sin himself stood at the threshold, leaning a solitary shoulder on the frame as the glow of lights left lit in the living room cast his body in silhouette. "Sara?"

It had been nothing. Darius was whole and unplagued by any fanged aberration, irritation riding his sleep-roughened voice. I must have woken him when I panicked, I thought as I rubbed a damp palm against my thundering chest. It was nothing but a nightmare.

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