9: Awakenings In Cold Sweat

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A few days after the attack, Dex was up late drawing invention designs by the glow of the moon coming in from his window when he heard Biana screaming. Quickly, before anyone else could be stirred, Dex ran into her bedroom, hardly closing the door as he made his way to her side, and gently shook her awake as she cried out for Tam.

"Princess, Princess... Biana," he said softly as she hiccuped through tears, waking up. "It was just a dream, you're okay."

"Dex?" she croaked, and in the light streaming from the hall from the cracked of the door, he could see her sitting up and blindly reaching for him, her newly shoulder-length shortened hair ary. When he gave her his hands, she gripped them tightly, and he kneeled at her side.

"I'm here," promised Dex. "You were screaming, having a nightmare."

"Oh dear, did I wake you up? I'm sorry," she sniffled.

"I don't sleep much," he admitted, "I was already awake. Don't worry about me, do you want to talk about your dream?"

Slowly, Biana said, "It was about the Neverseen attacks... and Tam... Tam-"

Noticing she was starting to get upset, Dex shushed her softly, "I'm sorry, I know nightmares are hard, especially when they involve someone you love."

Hiccupping, she asked, "Why don't you sleep?"

After a deep breath, Dex answered, "I get nightmares too, from the war. I get them almost every time I fall asleep."

"What're they about?"

Dex hesitated for a moment, "It depends. Sometimes it's my comrades being killed, sometimes it's Sophie and the triplets being upset with me for going to war, getting hurt because of me, or even dying."

"Why would they be upset with you for serving your kingdom?" she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, not letting go of Dex's.

"I was gone for three years, leaving Sophie to take care of the triplets for so long on her own, and I wasn't there for the triplets in that time, and then there's the fact that I..." he swallowed, "I didn't just go for the money. I wanted glory. I wanted to be more than a broken orphan boy with the weight of four worlds on his shoulders."

When Biana didn't say anything for a moment, Dex was about to excuse himself, but he stopped himself when she placed a hand on his shoulder. Carefully, she responded, "There is nothing wrong with questing for glory, and I understand why you chose war to find it. To learn how to keep people safe so you could prevent instances where you lose people you love. You lost your parents and aunt and uncle at a young age, and you couldn't stop it from happening, it only makes sense that you became a knight and have the need to rewrite yourself to the world as a powerful figure."

"Yes, but it cost my family dearly."

"True, but your shoulders are stronger now, you can take on more. You and Sophie grew stronger when you were apart, and your family is better for it, especially in these troubling times."

Dex took a breath, "I don't know if we're better for it. So many things have changed... Sophie has really changed, but anyways, let's not worry about that tonight, shall we?" He pulled her blankets more snugly around her, and coaxed her to lay back down. "You should get back to sleep, Princess."

"What if I get another nightmare?"

"I'll stay and protect you," he promised. "I'll be here if you have another nightmare, and if I see you start to get upset, I'll wake you up."

She took a breath, "Okay. I trust you... but what about you? You need sleep too."

"I'll be fine, I'll get about as much sleep as I usually do, but if I do drift off, don't be afraid to wake me up, okay?" Dex pulled a chair up next to her bed and sat down.

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