Solo Dreams of Fire and Poison

Lhavit weekend challenge 8/8/20

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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Dreams of Fire and Poison

Postby Innah on August 10th, 2020, 9:23 pm

35, Summer, 520av


The air around Innah crackled with flame, her vision hazy with the heat and glare of angry fire. There was a form, a person, though they were indistinct.
“You should not be here. I do not want you here!” The voice was cruel and feminine. Behind the figure a larger one appeared, hulking and creaking as it moved.
“LEAVE!”
There was a flash of bright white as the fire roared closer and then pain, so much pain that she thought it would kill her…


Innah bolted upright in her bed, sweat glistening on her skin, her hair in a wild halo around her head. She was breathing hard as if she had just run the length of the Peaks, her eyes darting wildly around her small room in the Solar Wind Apartments. It took her a few moments to calm herself down, though she was still shaking after her heartbeat had returned to something closer to normal. She wiped her sticky palms roughly down her face and scrubbed at her eyes. It would seem that the nightmares had found her too.

Kicking back the covers, Innah extracted herself from the bed and stumbled to the wash basin. The cold water she splashed over her face was blissful and shook away the last tendrils of the nightmare that was clinging to the edges of her subconscious. A glance at the gauzy drapes across her window told her that it was still dark outside, however she did not feel like returning to sleep now. She pulled on a dress, somewhat clumsily in the dark and with still shaking hands, before quietly making her way out of the room and down the steps to the Surya Plaza.

Lhavit, being inhabited by a particular type of person, was not as quiet at night as one would expect. People still milled about and Innah decided to make a beeline for the Alheas Park in the hopes that she would be able to sit quietly and remain undisturbed. Soft, ethereal blue enveloped her as she stepped into the hush of the trees and she wound her way along one of the many paths, guided by the bioluminescent glow of plants.

After walking for some chimes, Innah stopped at a wider section of path. The trees were thinner to one side, and so she sat herself on the ground opposite so that she could look out into the more open view. Innah leaned back, placing her palms on the ground just behind her. As soon as her left hand touched the ground however, she drew it back up with a hiss. She had placed it on something sharp and it had pierced her skin - a tiny bead of blood had already welled up from the wound. She shook her hand roughly, and instead pulled her knees up towards her chest, hugging them to herself.

Innah sat like that for perhaps 10 or 15 chimes before her head started to feel odd. Her vision swam for a moment and she blinked rapidly to try and clear it, being only mildly successful. There was a dull pounding at her temple, and she could feel an ache starting to rise at the base of her skull. Her hand too was itching and with a frown, she raised her palm and squinted at it. Even in the dim bioluminescent light she could see that the small puncture wound didn’t look quite as one would expect from a sharp object. The edges of it were too dark and she could see spidery lines radiating from it.

She stared at her hand dumbly for a moment before moving clumsily to kneel. Bending as close to the ground as she could without falling forwards, she ran her gaze across the patch she had been sitting in. Since it was the edge of a path it was mostly bare save for a few leaves here and there, and for a single plant. It was a strange plant, one she had never seen before, with a purple stem and tiny, almost fluffy looking, blue-white spines. It was quite pretty, she thought.

Before Innah could ponder any more on the plant, her head throbbed and her stomach lurched uncomfortably. She struggled to her feet and began to make her way back to the entrance of the Park. Her vision was blurring in and out, and nausea swept over her in waves as she moved. More than once she was forced to stop, to drop to her knees and retch, though since it was not even near Syna’s rise her stomach was empty and she merely made pitiful noises of pain.

Her legs were shaking terribly by the time she made it to the Plaza again. Innah was starting to panic now, for she had no idea how a sickness could get so bad so quickly or where it had even come from. Perhaps the nightmares were more than they seemed? Perhaps there was someone with awful magic behind them? A passer-by had stopped near her, clearly sensing that she was in trouble. Innah could barely string enough words together to ask them to help her to the Catholicon, but they seemed to grasp the general gist as they took hold of her arm and started to steer her across the Plaza.
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Dreams of Fire and Poison

Postby Innah on August 10th, 2020, 9:24 pm

Innah didn’t remember much of the journey, only that it felt like it took an age, and that she had fallen more than once. Her vision was swimming almost constantly now, her stomach a roiling pit of snakes. She felt as weak and fragile as an empty husk of wheat, convinced she was going to fade out at any moment. She knew the kind stranger had gotten her to the Catholican only because the marble of the hallway was oh-so bright to her poor eyes. Her stomach twisted again, a lance of pain shooting through her head and she vaguely felt her knees hitting something hard before everything went dark.

The air was alight with dancing orange light, shadows flickering on the ground. Innah was lying on her side, cold earth beneath her cheek. She could hear something drawing near, though it did not sound like a person. The steps were light, but they had a strange ring to them, a sound that the soles of shoes wouldn’t make. She opened her eyes a fraction, it was an effort but it allowed her to see a sliver of brown soil stretching away from her. Into her line of sight came four feet, though they did not belong to a human. They looked like animal feet, paw pads. Innah closed her eyes again, confused, and welcomed back the enveloping darkness.

Someone pulled open one of Innah’s eyelids and the light that poured into her unexpecting pupil made her recoil. The hand quickly moved away, and she could hear a male voice she didn’t recognise speaking very quickly. Her whole body hurt, though not as though she had been beaten. It hurt from the inside, all of her muscles bunching and burning, her stomach twisting and her heart hammered too quickly against her chest. She wanted to move, to roll over, but she couldn’t, her body would not respond to her. Even the sound of pain and frustration building in her throat wouldn’t make itself known.

A second voice, this one feminine, urgent. Innah thought she could understand a word this time, ‘Alessia.” Her body twitched involuntarily, and she was able to snap her eyes open. The room was bright and she could see a blurry figure standing over her. The male voice spoke again, slower this time, telling her that she was being helped, they would make her better. But how could anyone get better from a sickness such as this? Was this not how people died?

Another voice floated to her, followed by another outline of person stepping into Innah’s vision. The voices dropped to a murmur that she couldn’t hear and it frustrated her. Another twitch of her body and Innah’s eyes rolled. She managed to blink them once, about the only thing she could do willingly now and it cleared the fog a little. The man and the woman stood close, and as she blinked again, Innah realised the woman had red eyes. She had heard of this doctor, the best the Catholicon had.

The woman reached a hand out to Innah, gently touching places on her body. Her stomach, leg, arms. Innah saw her pause before taking her left arm and gently lifting it off the table. Her neck was stiff, but with effort Innah managed to tilt her head ever so slightly to see what she was doing. A murmur came from the man, telling her not to move. If Innah was able to cry out, she would have done. The veins in her arm were dark, the muscles taught. The doctor turned Innah’s hand over and touched a finger to her palm. White hot fire lanced up her entire arm, and the cry of pain finally escaped her before the darkness claimed Innah once again.
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Dreams of Fire and Poison

Postby Innah on August 10th, 2020, 9:26 pm

Innah didn’t recognise where she was. It looked like both a forest and a cave all at once. Trees towered out of sight, but the ground she sat upon was hard and damp - rock. Ahead as always was the flickering glow of a flame, gentler this time. Footsteps clicked to her right, and Innah turned her head to see a wolf moving towards her from between the trunks. It shone in the faint glow that surrounded them, unnatural material made into a natural form. The wolf stopped directly in front of her and then sat, metal haunches folding neatly beneath it. It had eyes of made of deep black glittering gemstones and the pair stared at each other, neither one blinking. Innah’s arm twitched, an odd sensation, but still she did not blink. Her arm twitched again, and this time the fire in the distance flared. On the third time her arm moved, the fire roared towards Innah and the wolf, becoming an inferno that enveloped them both in a blaze of white.

When Innah opened her eyes once more, she could see individual lines in the stone of the ceiling. It took her a moment to realise the clarity of her vision and she blinked in surprise. Slowly she turned her head to take in the room around her. It was quiet and dim, but unmistakeably the sickroom of the Catholicon. She was lying flat on a soft bed and a drape fluttered over the window near her. Outside it was dark. Had so little time passed? Innah moved to stretch out her arms, the muscles screaming in protest as she did so. Her whole body felt heavy, each muscle set with a deep ache that turned to burning when she tensed.

Soft footsteps approached and Innah turned her head again to see who it was. A man, red haired, came up to where she lay and took a seat in front of her, smiling as he did so. When he spoke, his voice was one she recognised from the hazy time before.
“You are lucky. How do you feel?”
Innah’s lips cracked as she parted them and her voice was raspy and thin. “Like my insides were on fire.” The man gave her another smile. “You had poison in you, it is not surprising you feel that way.”
Innah started at his words, and he placed a hand on her arm to keep her from struggling to sit upright. “Your hand. How did you hurt it?”
She started to shake her head, but quickly stopped as a pain flared in her temple. “I don’t know. I was in the park, I leaned on something sharp but I could only find a plant when I looked.” The man’s lips thinned for a moment. “The Alheas Park?” Innah nodded slowly. “Hm. We thought that is what it was. You are not the first we have seen affected by this poison.”

“There is someone poisoning people?” Innah was confused, her aching head not helping her see clearly. “Not someone, something. A plant. Purple stem, whiteish spines?” Another slow nod from Innah. “What pierced your hand was the Kuhari plant, the most dangerous plant in Lhavit. You wouldn’t have recognised it as it is usually destroyed inside the city. You are very lucky you got here when you did as that poison can kill you very quickly.”

“How did you know what it was?”
“It was Doctor Alessia who guessed immediately. It is not completely uncommon for some of the more adventurous hunters on the Peaks to catch themselves on this plant. Fortunately for them, and you, Doctor Alessia is excellent at recognising poison and we have antidotes to this plant.”
“I thought…” Innah’s voice cracked and trailed off. She licked her lips, though there was little moisture in her mouth to help, and tried again. “I thought I was going to die.”
Sympathy glistened in the man’s eyes. “You very nearly could have done. Like I said, you were lucky to have Doctor Alessia. Where are you living - do you have family we need to find?”

After Innah had told the man - who turned out to be a doctor himself by the name of Senri - where her father lived, someone came by with a pitcher of water. She drank greedily, only slightly regretting the sheer volume of liquid she drained when her stomach roiled again. They warned her she would be sick for a while yet, to expect pain and weakness through her body till at least midsummer. They had also told her, much to her surprise, that it was 2 nights after she had first arrived. Her body had struggled so much to fight the poison off that she had fallen into a deep sleep to recover. Innah gently stretched her arms again, wincing at the aches, before sinking down into the soft sheets and falling into slumber.
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Dreams of Fire and Poison

Postby Innah on August 10th, 2020, 9:27 pm

The dawning of Syna bought Innah out of dreams of fire and metal wolves. She had returned to the forest-that-was-not-a-forest again and had sat with the unnatural beast in silence for what had felt like forever. She was curious about these particular dreams, for they were so unlike the nightmare that had awoken her back in her room at the apartments. That had been vicious, terrifying. These dreams were quiet and very surreal.

By the time her father arrived at the Catholican, Innah had managed to struggle into a seated position and keep down a couple of bites of breakfast. Her hand was wrapped in fresh bandages after salves had been generously smeared over the puncture wound. She was assured it would heal completely, but that she might have a scar on her palm once it did.

Marcus paused when he saw her, sinking slowly into the chair by her bed. Innah knew she looked awful; she had requested a mirror to see for herself after she woke. Her skin was deathly pale and her under eyes were dark, like fresh bruises. Her hands shook with weakness as she reached for her fathers and they sat together in silence for a while.

The kind doctor, Senri, came around to check on her after a while and Innah had him explain to her father what had happened to her. Marcus shook his head at her. “You need to be more careful Innah, stop traipsing around in the dark.” She had enough energy to roll her eyes at him like a child which made him smile, though it did not last long. “You can’t leave me alone in this world now, you hear?” She knew exactly what - who - he was talking about. Innah’s mother had left them when she was a small child and Marcus had been devastated.

Innah’s whole body stilled as a thought came to her, and her father’s gaze snapped to hers in worry. “Innah what is it? Do you need the Doctor?” She shook her head slowly.
“I think… I think I had a dream about her. About mother.” She paused. “Well, a nightmare.” A frown pulled over Marcus’ brow. “I didn’t really see her, but I am sure it was her. She had a thing with her, a huge creature…” Innah trailed off. “She was angry, angry that I had found her. But it was just a dream, wasn’t it.”

“Oh Innah.” Her father’s face was sad. “You were so young, I thought you would not have known what your mother was doing.” At her confusion, Marcus took a breath and continued. “Your mother, she made golems, do you remember those objects she would have do certain tasks? She became obsessed with the idea of creating an advanced automaton, a creature to assist her. Her research led her into deeper and deeper holes until I think she went mad with her need for this power.”

Her father paused for a moment and Innah gently squeezed his hand. “She found information about a people who were most knowledgeable in the creation of these things and decided that is where she needed to be. She kept raving about them and those, those golem things.” He shook his head. “That’s why she left us - to go to that place.”
Innah blinked. “You know where she is?”

Marcus refused to meet her gaze for a moment. “She is in Sahova. Or at least she was the last time I heard.” The place was not somewhere Innah knew much about, only that it was an island off the coast of Sylira, not too far from where they used to live in Zeltiva. She knew she had learned a little more about the place, but her mind was still foggy and she wasn’t sure if she was recalling the right information. “I didn’t think anybody lived on that island?”

“They do. Not many humans though. Sahova is where the Nuit live, Innah.” It took her a moment, but the pieces slowly clicked together in her mind. There had been a Nuit in Lhavit once, a person, though not a living one. They moved from body to body and would, as far as she knew, exist forever. A sick sort of dread crept through her already heavy limbs. A strange silence stretched between Innah and her father, taut as bowstring. “What are you not telling me?”

Marcus shut his eyes as if the words he was about to speak pained him.
“Innah the last time I had word of your mother from someone, they told me… They told me she was trying to find someone to help her become a Nuit herself.”

+++


Innah was still reeling days later, her mind working overtime to comprehend what her father had told her as she recovered in his cottage at the Okomo Estates. Her body was frail, the poison of the plant having done a good job of almost sapping the life from her completely. Her left hand and arm in particular were still especially painful, and Marcus had found her a sturdy stick to lean on so that she could walk around without her legs giving out every five steps. It would be a slow road to full recovery, but there was another road past that, one she was terrified to step onto let alone think about. At the end of that road stood her mother, whoever she might be now, and she knew that to get there Innah would have to twist and turn and walk through dark places she may not want to see.
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