Chapter 37: A Plan In Need

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Libro sat at the dinner table nodding along to the sound of conversation. A roaring fire burned nearby, filling the room with warmth. Elena laughed and placed a hand on his forearm, making his skin prickle up. A bowl of rabbit stew was set before him and he attacked it with a ravenous hunger.

Elena leaned in close and said something, but her voice was lost to the din around him. So many voices were talking at once and the stew was so delectable that he just couldn't focus on what she was saying.

"What was that?" He asked, but even his own voice sounded like he speaking through cotton. Elena leaned in closer, her lips practically brushing against his ear. Something plopped into his stew.

"Could you get that for me?" She asked. Libro looked down. An eye with a purple iris stared up at him. He turned to Elena, eyes wide as he finally looked at her. She stared at him with her good eye, smiling with missing teeth and a broken jaw. The left side of her head was bloody and caved in, her hair crusted and stained with old gore.

"Could you get that for me?" Elena repeated, her words slurred and gibbering. Libro flung himself away from her, tripping over his feet. The others rose from the table. Elena's Fater, and Mater, and Granmater, and her little braters too. All bloodied and beaten. Watching him with bruised eyes. Smiling through busted teeth.

"Why did you kill me?" Elena lurched towards him.

"Why did you kill her?" Her family asked.

"I didn't want too." Libro begged, his eyes boggling as he searched for a way out, but there was none. No entrance ways. No doors. Only the dining room, the table and the fireplace were there.

Elena's voice rasped against his ear. "Why did you kill me?" She demanded again. The fire roared up, the flames cackling as they consumed the wall, spreading upwards towards the ceiling.

Elena's Granmater was consumed first by the fire. Her scream popped out her throat as her lungs burst. She toppled into a heap and the flames jumped onto the table, ravishing the stew and turnips. One by one, Elena's family was burned alive before the fire turned on her next.

Even as the flames licked up her body she stood there, glaring at Libro with her one good eye. "Why did you kill me!" She screamed as the fire burned her, turning her creamy white flesh into char.

"I'm sorry!" Libro wailed. His stomach churned as he vomited blood onto the floor. The stink of roasted flesh and smoke nipped at his nose and eyes. The fire singed at his clothes, bathing him in heat that was almost blistering.

"Libro!" A hand grabbed at him and shook him. He shot up from bed, pulling his knife from his belt. The little metal glinted in the air before a rough hand grabbed his wrist and twisted. He yelped and dropped the knife as he was thrown back against the headboard.

Regis held him there, eyes hard as he bore into him. "Libro." He said his name slowly. "It's me. It's okay. You're okay."

Libro sucked in a cold breath. His heart hammered in his chest, his temples beating like mad. He wasn't in the dining room. Elena was gone, he reminded himself. But the dream had been so real. So maddeningly real. He looked down at the knife embedded in the mattress before turning his gaze up to Regis.

"I'm sorry. I had a bad dream." Libro muttered. Regis let him go. He stood back up, never taking his eyes off him or the knife.

"It's okay." Regis said. "I just came to tell you that Dux called in a meeting. Come to the war room when you're ready." His gaze shifted downward. "And you'll want to clean up beforehand."

Libro looked down at the wet stain in the blanket and cursed. In his fit he'd gone and pissed himself. Heat flushed up to his cheeks as he muttered an apology, but by then Regis was already gone.

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