After finding his silver sword, dreams became very frequent - whether waking visions or slumber's imaginings. Rider saw much of his wife, becoming more and more surreal, both clearer and more distant. Her earthy beauty was daily fading into something more unusual and yet all the more lovely in this waif-like, otherworldly quality, crisper still in this new facade. He was altogether angry, confounded, and enchanted all at once.
Even as such dreams, so striking a woman, entrapped him, he felt oddly paranoid, as if something was out there watching him - something shifting in the shadows.
How foolish of him - he was alone in this world.
Or was he?
That moment he could only think of the wedding, a dusty old memory mangled with age. And yet, it was given new life, fantasies' wild whim piecing together the broken picture.
There were many onlookers, all the people of the town, but they were all a meaningless background to the foreground, the stunning young woman gowned in white. Her face was blurred with a mask of delicate veil, but even then, he could see her radiant smile and warm eyes...
...The surrounding scenery melted seamlessly into another, and he and Aya were alone in a shadowy, unfamiliar wood. He stepped forward, but she shrank back, dropping the sweet wedding bouquet she had been holding. Confused, he offered his gentle hands, a soft murmur. But like a deer once frozen with fear, Aya darted away appearing as a ghost in her pallid skirts and sheers.
He chased her desperately, only catching a stray thread of her here and there, drifting farther and farther away. He was only lost in the wood - no trace of adored Aya.
Just as he thought himself alone, forever separated from his new wife, there was the masked face peering from behind a tree, looking to his slumped, defeated form.
He did not move, unspeaking. She solemnly stepped from her hiding place and slowly came to his side, putting a soft, bone white hand at his shoulder. He turned, and seeing she still remained, he cautiously took the fragile veil and lifted it. Before him the face of an angel was revealed, a changed expression, skin almost silver, hair, once blonde, pure and white in the faint moonlight...
They were in a small room now. This woman, whether his wife or not, stood trapped in a small chamber of diamond. In the silence, she stared at him with freakish, unblinking eyes.
A shadow slipped, masterless, into the room. It moved smoothly before the woman, yet to notice his own watching presence.
"Aura," came the demanding voice. "Aura, awaken! I am in no mood to play your games."
Her lips moved in reply, but he could not hear. He could only watch as the evil being stood taller and darker, fury growing. It advanced on the woman in white. He stepped forward, hoping to intervene, fearing the demon may harm her, but he felt himself drawn back, the scene as a whole darkening around him until all was black.
Rider woke a ragdoll in his saddle. His horse was running wildly, snorting with alarm. He tried to calm the anxious animal, tightening the reins, attempting to sooth this unusual behavior. Rider was finally able to pull up his horse, which, while panting with exhaustion, still resisted his hold, ears still flicking in every which way, relentlessly moving about.
He slowly looked down to his side, the blade hanging at his hip glowing furiously, warm against his side. He took its hilt in his hand and lifted it. Around him the sword made a great orb of light, burning against the rain.
And with it came the trolls of the mud, emerging from the obscurity to advance with demented hunger.