Images of training spin inside her head. Sylvie watches herself hitting the bag, sparring against faceless opponents, and running sprints with the competitive team.
Did I hit my head?
Was I knocked out?
No, that isn't it.
The world slows to a stop. Her orange boxing gloves become the focus of attention. They hang from a rope above the ring, the left one much higher than the right. She reaches for them, wanting the familiar items on her hands, the symbols of her strength.
A shimmer appears in the air. The form coalesces into a ghostly blue flame. It traces a symbol from the cave, the one resembling a scale. Is this a zodiac sign? She isn't a Libra, far from it. Her birthday is late in the spring, a Gemini.
The symbol pulses, growing brighter with each rhythmic beat. It bathes all the color around it in a monochromatic blue-grey scheme. Sylvie shields her eyes with a hand. The light flares like a dwarf star forming in the center of the ring, then dies out. In its place is a black hole, a rip in the essence of her dream, shimmering with miniature specks of diamond dust.
The gym's empty around her. Equipment litters the ground. The veil invites her in, an impossible passage to another world. There's a choice, of course. She can remain here amongst items she's trained with most of her life. It's so tempting. Sylvie almost believes she can forget - go back to normal, to safe.
Don't fool yourself.
That normal, that safe, isn't available anymore. It leaves her half dead inside, with this ring the only place she truly feels alive. Sylvie shakes her head with the knowledge that her path is already decided.
She steps through the veil.
Her senses return one by one, as is usual upon arrival on... what had the man called this place? Oh yeah, the dream paths. The last to return is always her vision.
She's once more in the middle of a great forest, this one dark and full of evergreens whose sharp apexes spear towards a cloud filled sky. A fairy crouches in the tree next to her. They're half way up, well hidden within heavy drooping boughs covered in needles. Sylvie, never having climbed quite so high up in a tree before, fights the urge to wrap her hands and legs around the thick branch supporting them. She concentrates instead on her dark haired companion.
The warrior, a sword hanging from its scabbard makes this much obvious, wears a tight sleeveless vest and a pair of loose fitting pants, both brown and covered with carefully sewn green patches. A pale scar slashes across her right cheek and ends under her chin. It somehow enhances the brown eyed woman's fierce natural beauty. The left side of her face is covered in symbols arcing gracefully from forehead to chin before disappearing down her neckline into the vest. She surveys the ground while a hand clenches and unclenches around the hilt of her sword.
Below, a procession silently courses over the bed of needles littering the forest floor. Blue lights float above the soldiers to the front and back serving as honour guard to four men carrying a stretcher between them. On it is a man-shaped body wrapped in white gauze.
"Chancen, please forgive me for leaving. I should have stayed. Instead I ran. I'm nothing but a coward. Now you're gone and this is no less my fault as the arrow which took you from us." The warrior woman furiously wipes away tears with the back of her hand and stands. "I'll see you off, dear brother. I can never return to Greythorn, nor would I want to, not without my brothers at my side."
The woman leaps off the branch.
Sylvie follows without thinking, curiosity once more in full swing. The procession continues throughout the night, the balls of lights bobbing as they trail above in the darkness. By morning the landscape changes and the evergreens surrender space to their deciduous cousins. The soldiers stop near a river and deposit the stretcher with a care which speaks volumes of their respect for the fallen man. The warrior lands high in the trees above the, well, burial site, for lack of a better term. A few of the soldiers wipe their eyes, some hold hands, offering some small measure of comfort.
YOU ARE READING
The Paths of GreythornFantasy
The dream paths, accessed by a chosen few, reveal the most likely future following any given choice. Unfortunately for the human dreamwalker Daystorm, the decisions made by the fairies of Greythorn make her long for the simpler days of sweat-induced...