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Sunday, April 3rd 1634 H.A. (Human Aeon)

Loris, Capital of Sundast on the coast of the Inner Sea

"Cereneae I never thought you'd turn on us." Cerenae screamed as she turned from the mirror to the horrific view of her family wielding bloody daggers and the body of Lohann on the floor. Their words cut far worse to her. She turned and ran. The vanity she had been sitting at was gone, replaced with a looming darkness as dark as her family's faces. She ran, the daggers nipping at her heels like so many horrifying wolves.

Baying called out from behind her and suddenly she was in a dim, snowy forest of pines. The calls of wolves clung to the air like fog. She was dressed in a thick red cloak that the trees grabbed at menacingly as she ran, causing her to pause and pull vainly at them in fear. Things were silent however as she pulled, the wolves howling gone for the moment. Fear filled her heart at the silence and she wished so that she could freeze into ice rather than live this hellish nightmare. Out of the gloom came a huge figure. Cerenae's first thought was direwolves but what came out was far more frightening. A huge scaly creature came forward from the gloom. Long whiskers flowed in an unseen wind from its muzzle and great antlers rose from the top of its long elegant head. Teeth poked out of its muzzle, stark white against the deep purple scales. She could not see the end of its long snaking body as it coiled off into the gloom. Finally she just unclasped the front of her cloak and ran onward into the dim snowfall, away from the massive dragon. The baying was closer now, the sound of the wolves great paws crunching in the snow heavy on her ears. Or were they the paws of dragons? She wished to scream so badly but her lungs were tight from running, leaving no room for noise.

Something did scream though, loudly and with force and the world around her shattered. As she fell into the endless darkness, the universe around her spinning like so much shattered glass, the great purple dragon glided through the darkness with unmatched grace. His long slender body looped and coiled through the void as Cerenae fell until finally his face was but inches from her own. Her eyes widened as one of his great yellow ones loomed up at her. She felt his presence with such force surely she would faint. But could you feint in a dream? She would never know for the dragon's iris flared suddenly as his presence swelled and a single word rattled through her consciousness.

"Wake!"

Cerenae la'Orater woke with a start, her body and blankets covered in a cold sweat. She sat up, pushing her long, curly brown hair out of her face and clutched at the side of her head. All through the winter her horrifying nightmares had continued, each scene more gruesome than the last. She had expected to become desensitized to it after a while but somehow the nightmare kept throwing curve balls at her. Unable to sleep she tossed the light coverlet off her legs and swung them out over the four poster bed.

The cold floor beneath her feet should have shocked her into greater wakefulness but she was already so awake there was no way it could have helped her any further. She padded softly across her third floor bedroom over to the open window. Spring had finally come to Loris, and with the long, cold winter behind them Sundast and the Crown had hoped for a fresh start. She breathed in the fresh sea air and looked out at the city she had called home most of her life. The city was still quiet. She looked down the street at the church spire at the corner and it's great clock face. That was one thing the One's church had brought that no one complained of, the modern clock tower. It worked with the most amazing assortment of cogs, weights and pulleys. And told the time with such better accuracy than any marked candle or crier.

It marked the hour at half past midnight. Not even that late all things considered. Cerenae sighed and leaned against the sill, letting her hair fall playfully over the edge as she stared out to sea. Cienn was somewhere out there now. She'd received a few enchanting letters throughout the winter. Most simply appearing on her bed during the day but a few were brought in by curious black songbirds that lingered longer than a regular animal should.

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