Dark Winds Chapter 4
Pearls of Thunder
A thousand images howled past Crono as he stood in the midst of a raging hurricane, poised to strike in the eye of the storm. Marle beckoned, terror in her eyes as her arms outstretched to him. Lucca's words fell on deaf ears, sucked away by the winds. Glenn appeared as nothing more then a floating corpse, cradled in the metallic arms of Robo. And Crono sat helplessly in the middle, watching them float by, then upwards, away from him. Flung into the void beyond.
*Crono!* voices begin to howl, shifting tenor and pitch from a deep bass to a rippling soprano, flicking back and forth like a chaotic choir. His sword fell to the white ground at his feet as his hands clapped over his ears to block out the noise.
Crono jerked up in bed, covers flung to the side immediately, sweat rolling off his brow, down his temples. The dream shattered into a thousand pieces, dissipating into the recesses of his mind, yet the panic remained. His eyes, adjusted to the darkness long ago, flicked across the shadows of his room. The hair on the back of his neck bristled, something was horridly wrong, and yet his groggy mind couldn't put a finger on exactly what.
The window revealed a gibbous moon outside, nearly pregnant with lunar beauty, and a smattering of glittering stars. A thin stream from a moonbeam glowed silver against the floor. The desk, the table and chairs, all of it sat harmlessly as they had before he slept. It was all innocuous, clearly the dream had only created his paranoia. Yet even as he closed his eyes, the foreboding sense of danger increased till he opened them again and sat up in bed.
Heaving a tired sigh, he rose, slipping into his clothing. There would be no sleep for him until he had patrolled the keep and quelled his intuitions. The dream was either too vivid, or there was something more. In any case, it was always better to be safe rather then sorry.
The door to his room squeaked as he opened it, the hinges always protesting being moved. He rubbed at his eye as his free hand closed the door behind him, yet the moment he heard the familiar 'thump' and 'click', a cold chill ran through his body, causing him to shiver. He realized suddenly that he was not alone.
The hall was dark, too dark, for Janus left torches along the corridor night and day when he kept guests. Only a thin beam of moonlight from the balcony at the far end of the hall provided him any way to see. A pair of glowing eyes winked before him, then suddenly two pairs. Instinctively he reached for his sword.
With a shrill shriek, they leapt at him, the first instantly beheaded with a single stroke. Blood splashed Crono's face, the body landing at his feet as the severed head flew down the hall, hitting the wall with a dull splat. The second creature, suddenly more wary, held back, out of the reach of Crono's blade. He took a moment to judge this creature, mentally preparing a spell.
Unconciousness was a bitter surprise to him, in the end. Something hard bludgeoned him from behind, the spell evaporating before he could launch it. The last he heard was his sword clattering against the stone floor as it rushed up to meet him.
The gholem nearly scraped the ground as it bowed low to the Mistress, bobbing back and forth as it bubbled forward with its news, "They are here, Mistress. Gholem do good, Mistress. Mistress no be unhappy with Gholem. Yes?"
From the shadowy recesses of the throne, a woman's laughter pealed like chimes, "Then at last the Magus is mine. Yes, you have indeed done well. See that they are kept tightly bound."
The gholem bowed and scraped as it backed away, finally disappearing through the door, leaving the woman in silence. The shadows surrounded her, leaving only selected light to shine on her hand, or on a leg left stretched too far forward.
"I promised him to you," she said, as if speaking to the air itself. "He is here now."
"Is he truly as you say? You have no doubts?" a voice responded, like a whispering wind.
"No doubts. I feel him even now my dear, and you shall be reunited with him. We shall both be reunited with him."
The Mistress' smile appeared from the shadows, only her lips, the rest of her kept sequestered from view. Silence filled the chamber again. She had nothing more now but to wait.
*Vengeance shall be mine, my Lord Magus. Mine.*
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