Chapter 1: The Perfection Dies

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I was lurched from sleep, and my breath seemed to be stuck in my throat. Beeping. A rhythmical beat inside my head. I turned to my alarm and pressed the snooze, but the beeping continued, slower now. I pressed the snooze again and again, but it did nothing. I quickly unplugged the clock and threw it across the room, but the beeping only became slower and slower. I threw myself off the bed, trying to get to the window. My body was on fire. I barely managed to climb up to the window frame before the beeping became consistent. With the last bit of life I had, I pushed my head through the window doors and gasp! It felt as if my lungs had been lurched back from the lands of the dead. I would've commented on how nice the weather was if I wasn't so busy giving up my dinner from last night's festivities. However, the weather was always great in the Forest, so it would've been unnecessary anyway. I wiped the sick from my chin, stepped away from the window, and collapsed back on the bed. "What was that?" I pondered, "Nothing like that has ever happened before." I stared at the cottage ceiling, sunbeams shooting from openings in the twigs and leaves above; dust particles drifting through the light.

I began to fade back into sleep, when something struck my memory. I sharply sat upright, "Oh yeah! Tuck's inauguration is today! He wanted to take me to lunch before he had to do his speech." I groaned as I got up and lazily walked towards the mirror. It wasn't pretty. And by it, I mean me. Abstract locks of my brown hair stuck out, I had bags under my eyes, and dried sick all over my face. "I look hideous!" I proclaimed, "I guess I can start with a bath." I went to the water basin, removed my garments, and dove in. The water felt great, as usual. I soaked my hair, and let myself sink under; completely submersed in warmth. Sometimes I wished I had gills, just so I never had to leave the comfort. My eyes opened wide, the salt of the water tingling them. "Why does that sound so...", I paused, "Why does that sound so familiar?" I tried to dig through my brain, find where I might've said that before. I thought harder and harder, and strangely, the warmth of the water began to fade, replaced with cold emptiness. I was no longer submerged in comfort, but in a broad landscape of nothing. No longer floating, but falling into some unknown labyrinth far beyond comprehension. Some instinct was awoken, as my body expected my bed to catch me, just as it did every time I awoke from paradise. However, nothing caught me. I was simply falling through a crevice of barren darkness. I began to panic, and as I pulled myself from thought, I felt the warmth again. I rose to the top and gasped for air, pulled myself out of the basin, and wrapped myself in a towel. "Something is wrong. I can't put my finger on it now, but I'm sure it'll come to me in due time. Maybe I just need food. Yeah, Tuck is waiting for me." I opened my wardrobe and pulled out some leather greaves and a tan tunic. I dressed, stepped into my boots, and began my journey down the market path, the auburn sun lying over my destination.

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