Chapter XLI

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I was covered in peace, in bliss, and wind. They all were a balm to my spirit.

There was rock, and there was light, and there was also the sound of life, the sound of the world, the sound of sounds. My beating heart, the veins pulsing in my insides, the feeling of my eyelashes trying to open, my hands touching the empty space, re learning the shape of it all. There was also a smell of leaves in the air, of flowers, of a rain, of dust, of smoke, of fire in the distance.

My eyes opened then.

Colors, shapes, curves, lines, textures, designs... I could barely recognize the garden room, its walls made of elven crystal, the ceiling with little cherubs painted with pastel tones, soft lines that blended themselves with the shape of clouds and wings.

I couldn't move my body. I was trapped, but not in panic. My arms, my legs, my head, my whole being started to awake, while a shock of electricity traveled through my bones, infusing life and breath in my flesh.

How many times I had imagined that moment, the time when I woke up from the shadows, when I returned to my home, my land, my Sel, and how wrong I had been, trying to get even near to what it would feel, trying to guess what I would think, while now that I lived in the right moment I had coveted, my mind couldn't fully understand or process it.

Despite that, the first thing I saw when I tried to get up, was that of a little body, cold, purple-colored, rotting, right in the middle of my legs. I trembled so much that I ended up throwing that to the ground, while I felt something that pulled from my sex. My throat dried when the thought crossed my mind like a lightning bolt.

I lowered a hand that didn't stop shaking, feeling my chest about to explode. I held the air in my lungs, forced my muscles to react and pull as soon as I touched the umbulical cord. I managed to drown the scream that was about to be born when something broke inside me, leaving me a void where I did not think there could be any.

"A deal is a deal, Majesty." I could barely recognize that voice. "I fulfilled and so you just did."

"Vi-vigilan-te," I mumbled between teeth, half concious.

"Yes, Princess Alynne."

"You. You, you lied to us." Tears fell as I spoke, barely controlling the tremors.

"I did not, Majesty. I said you would be able to stay, and so you did, but I never promised The Tenth would be forbidden to enter."

"You lied, you lied," I didn't know if I was exhausted, horrified or furious. Maybe the three of them.

"I swear in the Holy name of the Land of Blood that I did as I said. I exactly gave you a place for you to inhabit for as long as you wishes, and it's time for me to take what is mine."

"That child, where did they came from?" I moved a little, ignoring the pain in my belly and abdomen, not wanting to see my unborn child.

"Thank your beloved witch for this, Majesty," explained the vigilant, still invisible to my eyes. "The Tenth spellbound a prince to rape you, destining you to die with the grace the Fae are devoid of. They simple exist, holding no life inside. But your witch wields more power that it seems. Her healing magic is powerful as no other I have ever seen."

"The Tenth?" I struggled to understand the full meaning of what the vigilante was saying.

"Yes, Majesty." The sound of sand being moved by the air came to me as the creature kept talking. "Know I have no duty in this plane and only cared to explain while I took what is rightful mine. Consider this barter now fulfilled. I have no interest in the Land of Blood, and I shall now return to my own home. I bid you farewell, Majesty."

When the presence of the vigilante was no more, the strength I had increased, letting me stand up, as slowly as never before, only to see wounds all over my body, closing, healing at an abnormal speed. The bruises, the cuts, the scratches, all of them were disappearing as I breathed in and out. Tiny lines of bright, blue light covered my skin as all of them went away, just as if they had never been in there, leaving small pink lines that would also disappear.

My head felt dizzy. It was as if I had been in a tornado once again and just had the chance to get out of it. There were the sounds of war, the screams, the cries, but it was nothing compared to what had happened before, and they were so distant, yet so clear, I couldn't understand where they were taking place, if they were real at all.

There was with no sign of a dead body of any kind. The checkered floor was intact, , as was the entire room. I got up very carefully, approaching the widest window. The wine-colored curtain was worn, but it maintained its shape. My body ached, but it was an acceptable result. I withdrew it, not before repeating to myself that my kingdom was still at war, that a massacre was taking place between the royal guard and the army of The Tenth.

I gasped in horror. Still, I wasn't prepared to see the image that greeted me.

The bodies lay on the ground while carrion birds devoured them slowly. The earth was stained with ashes and blood, the sky was covered with smoke, surrounded by dark dragons and harpies. A handful of warriors, badly wounded, were being devoured by injured vampires right in the front door.

"Pandora," I mumbled, noting how strange it felt to move my tongue. Wiese. Gail. Even thinking confused me, now that it was all stronger, all the sensations were more vivid, more intense.

I walked carefully until I reached the door, and after several frustrated attempts, I was able to remove the lock. I felt frustrated. I had been able to do so much in Dreamare, I never had problems with moving, but now that I was in total control of my senses, they overwhelmed me.

It was too much, everything was growing as the seconds passed, disorienting me more and more.

The corridor that connected the secret exit with the room was neglected, some cracks covered the walls and ceiling, but I could walk without any problem. I was crushed by the silence that there was, and yet a corner of my mind appreciated that piece of peace that the real world granted me.

There was some water in the floor, my bare feet trembled when they touched it for the first time before starting to enjoy it. I knew I was smiling and also was about to cry. Joy, fear, bliss, tragedy, horror, love. Dreamare never allowed us to feel that much, to be so alive as inside as outside, reaching out of our bodies to become more than just a bunch of flesh, bones and blood.

Blood. The Land of Blood.

It came to me, as I walked towards the exit, that maybe this was the meaning of the world. Blood. Life and death, joy and fear, light and dark. Blood could either mean the birth of life of the last breath of dead, it could greet of dismiss. And in the middle of that, there was I, there was Pandora, there were my kids, my children, there was my family.

We were mere pawns, tiny dots in an infinite picture, the littlest of shadows in the greatest of pictures. And yet, after being imprisoned in the Land of Death, fighting the dead shadows, the dark elves, the vampires, escaping to the Land of Dream, keeping those I cared about alive, facing The Tenth, I was alive.

I am alive. I live.

Pandora. Wiese. Gail.

We were tiny dots, but even the marvelous of shapes were made of them. Recovering, walking, I found my way out of my haven, and just as I had found them, I was going to do it again.

 Recovering, walking, I found my way out of my haven, and just as I had found them, I was going to do it again

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