“No!” Gwynivara screamed. A gargoyle with long fangs hovered over a man in bed. The creature saw her and lunged towards her direction. She slammed his bathroom door shut, but it still burst through, sending her flying backwards! Gwynivara landed on her back with both the door and the beast on top of her! Her sword laid just out of reach, and her breath started to run out. The creature leered over her, snarling and drooling over her. All she could think was that if she died, all of her efforts would have been for nothing. She wouldn’t have been able to help the Rebellion at all. Being a soldier down would make it harder for them to find a cure, and more people would get hurt, like the lady in the video! And the man in bed! His fate could end up just like the lady in the video! No, she couldn’t let that happen!
Her body ignored the fact that it was running out of breath as rage burned deep inside her heart, and when it got to the height of its fervor, she saw a ball of light rise from her chest. It had a warm glow but beamed a vibe of powerful energy. Without thinking, she moved her arms back and pushed them forward, which sent the ball of light flying towards the gargoyle. The creature shrieked and shot backwards, crashing into the back wall of the man’s bedroom!
She tried to push the door off of herself, but the ordeal had, apparently, weakened her since it wouldn’t budge. Before she could groan from self disgrace, a man, whose thick, medium-length, dark hair covered his smooth, peach face, picked up the door and moved it out of the way. He gruffly offerd a hand to her, which she accepted. When she got up she felt a small jolt of surprise from his crystal-like blue eyes. His strong jawline and short stubble made his visage very becoming, but her stupor of his looks quickly vanished as she observed a deep scowl. He bellowed, “What the hell were you thinking?”
His words stung, but before she could really process the motive of his temper, Emorick, using a master key, unlocked the man’s door and entered with a few concerned bystanders. They saw the gargoyle’s body in his room, but they heard shouting from Gwynivara’s room, so they craned their heads that way. Gwynivara defended herself, “I saved your life!”
“You don’t think I had a plan?” he yelled. “You put yourself in danger for no reason! You’re lucky you didn’t get killed!”
“That wasn’t luck!” Gwynivara argued. Now she was thoroughly vexed from his attitude. “I’ve had Venenatus Sanguis for ten years-I’ve got skills!”
He seemed unruffled by her response. “That doesn’t give you the right to help when it’s unwanted! Next time, mind your own damn business and-!”
“Kierram!” Emorick scolded. “That’s enough!” Kierram huffed and walked away. Gwynivara’s ire ebbed slightly, but she also felt a little guilty. Kierram had made a good argument, and she questioned her judgment now. Emorick observed both of them and noted, “Besides bruised egos, it looks like no one got hurt. Thank god! Do you want us to remove the body or do you wanna wait a couple hours for it to disappear on its own?”
Kierram snided, “Put it in her room since it was her fault!”
“I didn’t create this beast!” Gwynivara snapped. “If you had fought the thing yourself, it still would’ve died in your room, you know!”
Kierram looked as though he wanted to utter a mean retort, but he saw his father’s non-verbal warning, so instead, he pouted. After a moment, Emorick lamented, “I thought the nightmares stopped.”
“I can’t help what I dream!” Kierram spat. “Sorry, I can’t forget what I went through as easy as you did! I still get…visions…!”
“What, you think I don’t see them too?” Emorick shot back.
“No, you don’t!” Kierram cried. “You sent people like me to the front lines! Don’t act like you know what I’m going through ‘cause you don’t!”
“Stop it!” an African-American woman about Gwynivara’s age stood between the two men, both of whom wanted to continue arguing but stopped themselves by her mere presence. Beneath her silky robe and elegant up-do was an air of sheer strength. She didn’t even need to raise her voice much to get their attention! “If you two don’t calm down, we’ll have another beast in here, so stop acting stupid!”
They realized that she was right, but neither of them admitted it. Each of them took a moment to compose themselves, and then Emorick coolly told Kierram, “Since you’re not gonna sleep anyways, why don’t you go relieve Niqun from guard duty?”
“Fine!” Kierram picked up a book and stormed off.
Emorick exhaled loudly, clearly venting his frustration. Gwynivara felt compelled to apologize, “I’m sorry!”
Emorick had forgotten she was there and almost jumped when she spoke. “What are you sorry for? Killing a monster?”
“Speaking of which…” The girl who broke up the fight studied the body of the gargoyle. “How did you kill this thing?”
“I saw this ball of light,” Gwynivara explained, “and I just threw it at the beast. I mean, I didn’t touch it, but I made it move…”
“Wait, you did an incantation?” Emorick’s mood instantly lifted upon hearing this information.
The woman from before congratulated her, “Nice going! It took me weeks of training to conjure anything! Oh, I’m Bernadette by the way.” She extended her hand.
Gwynivara shook Bernadette’s hand. “I’m Gwyn.”
“Glad to meet another female officer!” Bernadette grinned.
Emorick addressed the bystanders, “Alright, show’s over folks! We gotta a lot of work to do in the morning!”
A man in the crowd sarcastically joked, “What? Finding a cure for this disease is hard?” Emorick gave him a dirty look, so he quickly iterated, “It was a joke! Sheesh!”
After the bystanders left, Emorick turned to Gwynivara and assured her, “Don’t worry about Kierram. You did the right thing!”
“Really?” Gwynivara’s confidence had gotten shaken by Kierram’s reaction, so she really needed to hear this.
“Not everyone will appreciate your help,” Emorick remarked sagely. “That shouldn’t stop you from helping those in need, just keep that in mind.”
As he left, Bernadette whispered, “Kierram has a huge chip on his shoulder, but deep down, he’s a good guy. If he’s a jerk to you, don’t pay any mind to it.” She winked and left.
Once everyone had left, Gwynivara stood still in her place. She felt like she just woke up from a strange dream, and yet her wildest dreams were never this strange! She saw the creature’s body still lying in Kierram’s apartment and cringed. She didn’t need any reminders of their ugly exchange, so she shut the door. After she did so, she realized that Kierram’s bathroom door was still in her space, so there was no escaping it, she figured. She got into bed but didn’t lie down. She sat up, wide awake from the adrenaline of it all. She sighed, “How can I sleep after all of that?”
She turned on her radio and listened to the music playing for a moment. She rested her head between her knees, not really knowing how to feel. When the disc-jockey began talking, she startled herself when she realized that she hadn’t actually heard the song that had played previously. She felt a little disturbed that she could listen to something and not hear it. She then noticed some dirt that had got onto her from the fight and tried to rub it off.
The disc-jockey went on, “…only days away, so don’t forget to vote! Now, we gotta go to commercial, but stay tuned everyone! We’ve got more funky hits right after the break!”
The dirt wouldn’t come off, but Gwynivara didn’t feel like getting up to wash it, especially since the gargoyle’s body probably hadn’t disappeared yet. She licked her thumb and scrubbed her skin as a very calm female’s voice sounded, “Deadly disease-it can happen to anyone, which is why the Public Health Center of Great Dismal Falls works tirelessly every day to research treatments and cures for fatal illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and even Venenatus Sanguis.” Gwynivara dropped her focus from cleaning herself and paid attention the announcement. “But we can’t do it without your help. Please, act now and save a life today! For information on how to donate or volunteer, please call us at one eight hundred…”
The announcement concluded after she listed the rest of the phone number, but the wheels in Gwynivara’s head began turning. She didn’t know how much progress Emorick had made in finding the cure, but judging from their small clinic, she figured that the researchers at the Public Health Center probably had made more progress. She wondered what the Rebellion knew about the government’s understanding of Venenatus Sanguis. Even if they got it completely wrong, in order to solve this thing, they still need all of the facts and figures on the disease. And if the Public Health Center was looking for volunteers…
On top of a craggy rock, a woman sat on a throne made of dark crystals. Thunder clapped and lightning clashed as snarling beasts tugged on their chains. Men wearing animal-skin capes and loin cloths marched near the edge of the surface. None of the things that made Gwynivara nervous phased the woman on the throne. In fact, she sat regally as she lorded over the scene. Upon creeping closer, Gwynivara noticed that this woman had light green skin. At first, she thought her eyes were playing tricks on her, but the closer she got, the more she knew she saw it right. Despite her strange skin color, the woman had a well sculpted body draped in a low-cut, golden dress as well as long, jet black hair and beady, black eyes. Despite her appealing allure, her expression was menacing, and her vibe made Gwynivara scared enough to stay rooted to the spot. When she spoke, her voice had a booming echo, “The more you learn, the closer you come to your demise! Stay away from the source!” Her eyes glared angrily, and then…
Gwynivara’s alarm went off. She had no clue that she had fallen asleep until now! That nightmare didn’t make sense to her, and she had no idea why such a thing would even pop into her head! However, she decided to shrug it off. It seemed pointless to dwell on it. “It’s not like dreams are even real!” She got up and went into the bathroom. Peeking cautiously into Kierram’s room, she felt relieved to see that the gargoyle had vanished. Kierram hadn’t come back either, which was probably for the best since they still needed to fix his bathroom door. As she brushed her teeth, she gazed into the mirror, and as she looked into her own eyes, she suddenly got deja-vu so overwhelming that she actually shuddered. She began to second guess her previous conclusion. “Dreams aren’t real…right?”