Chapter 7

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Dyson felt restless again, a never changing feeling ever since he found out that Kasia remembered. It had become increasingly more difficult to sneak around or hide the various memory surges that left him breathless. It didn't just make him miss Kasia, but also his friends and family. He was careful, but on the one day he got a heavy envelope with his name on it, he knew he hadn't been careful enough. It was a summoning from the Velcry Council, something that could be either a great honour or eternal doom.

Alaya came up behind him and put a hand on his back. She rested it right where his tattoo ran parallel to his spine under the light fabric of his shirt. It felt burning and raw under her touch. "Are you ready?"

He simply nodded and faced his own reflection in the mirror. He looked older, there was no denying it and for the briefest of moments Dyson wondered if Kasia would even recognise him, were they ever to see each other again. He hadn't aged that much, but as time wore on, he wouldn't get any younger. The insecurity made him angry at himself. He had to keep believing, he had to pretend he knew that they would meet again somewhere, sometime. That they would be reunited and that they could lead the life together that they had always planned for. Yet there were still questions bothering him that kept him at a constant unease. Questions he barely allowed himself to think about, afraid of what the answers might be.

He took a deep breath and then stepped through the mirror. He could technically breathe in the realm between destinations, but for some reason he preferred not to. There was always the hope that it would make him less nauseous when he came out on the other side, but even more so he hoped that it would be one less temptation to worry about. As convenient as travelling by mirror was, it was used only very rarely. The Inbetween was a luring place and even the strongest of Velcrys were careful not to stray from their paths when they crossed through its realms. It was the connection between all places with reflective surfaces, a multiverse of possibilities crammed into one point in time and space. There was danger around every corner. If you listened closely, you might have heard the voice of a lost loved one. If you were caught in a rare breeze, you might have smelt the essence your childhood was made of. Or, if you didn't focus your sight on your destination, you might just see the very thing you didn't even know you were seeking. Once you gave in to those wonders, there was no coming back from the Inbetween. So, sending in a human, even a proven one like Dyson, could have only been warranted by a real emergency in the Council.

When he pushed through the silver surface in City Hall, there were already guards waiting on both sides of the mirror. They barely let him catch his breath, before dragging him to the side to make room for Alaya, who had followed closely behind him. There was always a haunted look on her face whenever she came through a gate like this one and he couldn't help but wonder what she saw. It couldn't possibly be the sunny forest he used to play hide and seek in with Kasia, because every traveller who went through the Inbetween saw something different.

Unlike him, Alaya recovered quickly and strode along the corridor with determination. Dyson scrambled to follow her and tried his best to compose himself as well. The guards didn't bother to follow them. They never did when it came to Alaya, because if she was in charge, no one dared to fall out of line. He kept his gaze fixed on the marble floor, avoiding looking outside in the process. The memory of him training in the court and prepping for his trials was still fresh and painful, it was difficult to quell the constant anger he had felt at the time from rising up again. He liked to believe there was only resignation on his side now, but recent events had led him to hope again. Hope was a dangerous commodity and he couldn't afford for his emotions to run high on such an important meeting.

The farther they got into the depths of the building, the bigger the doors seemed to become. It was as if they wanted you to feel as small as possible when you finally stepped in front of the Council. They were told to wait in front of the final set of double doors, likely because the councilwomen were still discussing a previous case. He wanted to know why he was brought here, what he had done, but there was no one he could ask. Alaya had been suspiciously absent the past days and he could hardly ask her now. Word travelled fast in these halls, and not just because there was a terrible echo from the stone walls. You simply never knew who was listening. Dyson did his best not to pace the length of the hallway, but stood very still instead, keeping his hands behind his back so that no one would see him fidgeting with his bracelet.

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