"But I want to know about you," came Valour's pleading, insistent voice. I had heard enough of his chatter and his pesky disturbance of Alexican.

I sat myself up slightly, "Oh, give it a rest, Valour. Leave the girl alone, I'm tired of hearing your prattle."

"Women," he scoffed, rolling his eyes as he stood. "Well, I can see I'm not wanted. Alexican, you can take care of these two I'm sure, I'm going to wet my lips in the tavern below." With that, the door slammed behind him. I wish that boy wouldn't cause so much trouble-flaunting around telling those "stories" of his, sounding like the old village fools.

"Well, thank God for that," I murmured, laying back down on my pillow.

"Thank you," Alexican said softly, gently adjusting my pillows. "Is there anything I can get for you?"

"I think I just need more rest," my eyes dropped closed. "Which wasn't easy to do with him around."

Soon, it was easy to drift into the darkness of my mind without the constant noise of Valour. In the shadows of my dreams, those silvery butterflies fluttered in an electric dance, shimmering like hot metal. They seemed to float farther away, and I chased after them, yet they always seemed out of my reach.

Color began to dash across the blackness, the tallest of narrow trees creating pillars all around me, stretching to a sky which appeared to glow white. Stair steps rose before me, smooth marble veiled with emerald moss. At the top of the stairs stood a man, tall and narrow like the trees with a strong, clean expression, though his eyes appeared aged as if worn by the weather. His eyes beamed silver as mine, flickering with something of joy as one of the butterflies landed on his own shoulder.

With a slow, graceful motion, he lifted his arm, calling, "Arien...." though the rest of his words I did not hear, as if they were swept away by the wind, yet the air was still. Curiously, I climbed toward him, the silver ring about my finger beginning to shimmer like water. I neared the strange man, but an arms-length away from him as a smile tugged at his melancholy face. The enchanted butterflies swirled about us, both them and my ring beaming brighter and brighter as they quickened their furious dance......

I cried out, falling to my knees as the wound on my neck burned like a raging fire as if it was being cut open once more. My vision blurred, the scene blending around me until all the colors had drained and returned to solitary darkness, though the voice still echoed, Arien, Arien, Arien.....

"Arien! Arien!" I was shaken awake. My eyes fluttered open, realizing almost all of my companions stood about me. My limbs were greased with sweat, my hands trembling as the ring still shone with light like the sun on my finger. I felt the urge to reach up and touch my injury, the group watching with wide eyes as I reached for my neck.

The skin was smooth, soft and flawless as if there had never been an injury there. My heart raced and my eyes immediately flickered to Jevin, who's beady yellow goblin eyes still lingered on the ring upon my finger, full of suspicion and something of worry.



The End

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