I come to gradually, the terror still hot in my body as I hesitate to open my eyes, frightened about what I will find. I allow all my other senses to play out first, I feel the earth beneath my body - I'm lying down - I hear strange noises all mixed together, voices, horns, birds, drumming footsteps, and the air is cool, comfortable unlike the chilling through my limbs I had felt before. Am I dead? Is it possible for me to die twice, and if so, where did I go?
Suddenly, I hear an odd buzzing next to my ear, then a flick on my ear, like from little teeth or - fingers? "Wake up," a voice suddenly squeaks, too close for comfort, the flicking happening again. "Wake up." I decide to open my eyes, and at the corner of one I see, with utter amazement, a faery. I double-take, perhaps not a faery, not the ones I'd always imagined with staffs and elegant silken dresses, mostly because this one is a boy. He has wings though, red and transparent like stained glass, speckled with patterns and sparkling veins trailing up from his back. He has ears that curve up into little points, and small pink lips like a cherub. This close up I see his cheeks are freckled and his eyes are blue, the irises pinpointed.
Pinpointed. Memory surges back to me of a little boy with eyes wrinkled and pinpoint like a snake. Is this him in another form? Fearing the worst, I jerk away and roll onto my side, looking around and seeing that I am surrounded by trees, but higher than that there are...buildings? Impossibly high buildings, seeming to bend towards me and skyward, with at least twenty floors of little windows, everything made from metal! My head floods with wonder, where am I and how is any of this real?
"You're a lazy one, aren't you?" I look at the faery-thing, his arms are crossed, a lot like the way Akantha would cross hers, fed-up of me just ten minutes into the day. Akantha...
"What?" I groan, my voice echoing in my head, throbbing.
"A deaf one too, it seems. Lord high, I knew I was going to get an invalid at some point, but I didn't think today."
I narrow my eyes, wanting to snap back, but I know there are things more important. "What's going on? Who the heck - actually, what the heck - are you and where am I?"
The thing sighs, and in a voice of recital says, "I am Brennikan, a sprite by nature, your spirit guide by trade, and you, Miss Netea, are on Earth." Completely untoward, he bows before me and gestures around, and I have the sudden feeling that Brennikan's the kind looking forward to retirement from the day he was born.