Chapter Seventeen: Jasmine

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The soft brown eyes blinked. They were looking directly at me, but were focused on some spot behind my head, as though I wasn't there. "Brae?" I asked tentatively but received no acknowledgement.

"Brae." It wasn't me who spoke this time but another voice, somewhere behind me, honey sweet and authoritative all at once.

It was at this point that I realised I was standing on a slope. Below me a city of mirrored glass sparkled under an unnatural light. Before me was a giant wave of heat, blistering and dangerous, yet still more comfortable than anything I had felt in the Arcan Realm.

The second voice had come from a girl, her hair ablaze with furious red streaks. She was surrounded by a semi-circle of cloaked figures with hoods pulled down over their faces.

"Brae," she said again. "Turn towards me then walk to the edge."

I wasn't entirely sure why but every cell in my body was telling me that walking towards the heat was a really, really bad idea. "No! Brae, don't!" I called out in desperation, but he wasn't listening to me. He was listening to the other voice - the one that was telling him to turn and face her, to look into her eyes as he stepped backwards to what I was certain would be his death.

"Brae! Stop! Please, you have to listen to me. It's not safe. It's not-" But he couldn't hear me. He was too busy stepping backwards as everything around me faded rapidly to black.

I woke up still screaming Brae's name and drenched in sweat, clutching desperately at the purple steaks in my hair. There was only one thought running through my mind: Brae was in trouble.

The clock on the wall across from my bed indicated that it was 4:30; too early to get up, but I was far too awake to go back to sleep. I needed to warn Brae. But warn him of what exactly? That I had a bad dream? It was hardly a reason to raise the alarm. But it had felt like more than a dream somehow. It was too vivid, too real. What if the scene had already happened, what if I had been watching it live?

More tears welled up immediately, falling onto the bedding in a hot stream. As painful as it was, I tried to run over the details of the dream in my mind. The heat was the hardest thing to image I had dreamt up. I had never felt something so intense before; my skin had seemed to yearn for it. But it was also dangerous - that I was certain of - I had studied the second sun in a project last year and that was definitely what had been producing the deadly heat in my dream and Brae had been about to willingly walk into it.

Well, the Brae in my dream had been about to at any rate. I could hardly tell Brae to come home from the most important political mission he had ever had based on a dream. Besides, it wasn't as if I even had a way to contact him. His switch wouldn't have any signal in the Helian Realm, they used their own techs, and I couldn't exactly just pop over there.

I got out of bed, still drenched in sweat, and went to the bathroom for a shower. Pausing in front of the mirror I noticed how numerous the purple streaks had grown. Groaning, I headed straight to the shower and began washing my hair furiously in a vain attempt to shampoo them away.

It was getting harder and harder to put my hair up without any of the colour showing and that morning it was especially difficult, since my mind was still focusing on the dream. After three attempts, I finally made my way downstairs. I was still up earlier than usual, but fixing my hair had taken long enough that my appearance wouldn't look too strange.

Noni was baking. The smell hit me before I had even made it to the top of the stairs and I let it guide me down into the kitchen where she was piping vanilla icing onto muffins. "Mmm, smells good, what's the occasion?" I asked, my mouth watering.

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