I was sitting on a boat. On an endless body of water.
The waves gently lapped at the smooth wood as I yawned, scratching my head.
It was peaceful. I lay back and stared at the tranquil blue above me as the boat gently rocked with the water.
That was, until I heard the faint sounds of a scuffle.
I sat back up and squinted at what looked like fuzzy black blobs maybe fifty yards away, floating above the water.
I dipped my hands into the surprisingly cold water and started paddling towards the blobs, trying to discern what I was seeing.
I quickly recognized a huge pair of fluffy white wings against a head of raven hair, and the occasional glimpse of a chiseled jaw. What the other blobs were…well, it was anybody’s guess.
When I got close enough I realized, to my horror, that they were…blobs. Kind of like the wraith I had fought, but…blobbier.
They were scarier than I’m describing.
“Cupid, what are those?” I yelled, waving my hands over my head.
He grunted as he turned to look at me for a split-second.
“Keep some distance between you and them. I’ll fend them off, get some rest.”
“What?” I asked incredulously, “You want me to go sleep while you’re trying to fight these things?”
“In a word, yes.”
I let out a sound of exasperation and stood up in the boat, drawing my sword.
“Come here, uglies!”
A few blobs turned, as if in recognition, and moved disturbingly fast towards me.
I swiped with my sword and as it moved the blob disintegrated and reformed around it.
“Um…” I started, apprehension in my voice, “Cupid? How do I…kill these things?”
I continued my aimless swinging, turning to try and make sure I was facing all three of the blobs at once.
It was hard. Not only was the boat jerking precariously beneath me, but the blobs were a lot bigger and wider than I had expected.
Not to mention, up close, they made really creepy hissing noises.
I’d turned just a bit too fast and I fell on my butt back onto the boat, my wrist hitting the side and the sword splashing into the water. Before I could get up the blobs all rushed in and surrounded me.
It was something like being in the Styx. I was surrounded by a pulsating, suffocating darkness. I started to lose awareness of my limbs. I tried to hold my breath, to claw them off, but it quickly became more and more difficult.
I suddenly became aware of a disturbance in the darkness. Every few seconds there would be a sudden flash of light, as if the blobs were temporarily ripped away.
I felt something on my cheek, and then I heard a whisper in my ear.
I jerked and my eyes flew open.
I wasn’t on a boat.
I was in my tent, lying on my bed, and Cupid was sitting beside me, cross-legged.
“Jesus.” I coughed, trying to get rid of the rank taste in my throat, “What was that?”
Cupid shrugged apologetically.
“Charon’s not the only dream weaver around these parts. Though he’s probably better at it than I am.”
“So…” I started, propping myself up on an elbow, “You…designed that dream?”
“The first part. And then they showed up.”
I felt cold at the idea that those horrific things could have anything to do with me.
“And you were…fighting them?”
“I didn’t want to wake you up. But now I might have ended up making things worse.”
I tried to keep the surprise from registering on my face.
“No…um…thanks. You didn’t have to…”
The first few rays of sunlight began to illuminate the outside of the tent, and I blinked.
“Cupid, how long have you been here? Fighting those things?”
I turned to him with my eyes narrowed.
“Were you here the whole night?”
He looked as though he was about to dismiss the question but I glared at him, and he scrunched up his face.
I gave him an incredulous look.
“So you didn’t get any sleep whatsoever?!”
“Technically, I did.” He affirmed, trying to give me a convincing smile.
In the early light, I could tell he was tired.
“Sleep, okay?” I muttered, getting up and yawning as I searched for my shoes.
There was no reply.
When I turned back he was lying sprawled on the bed, and it didn’t take a genius to tell he was off in lalaland.
I threw the blanket over him and went about getting dressed.
I was in the process of buttoning my shirt when the tent flap swished and Manara walked in holding a plate, looking from me to Cupid with her mouth agape.
“So you…with him? After I told you he was a bad idea?”
“It’s not what it looks like.” I hissed, fixing my collar and starting to pull my pants on.
“Do you want to know what it looks like?” she asked with acid in her voice, “Because it’s looking pretty bad from where I’m standing.”
“First of all, I didn’t…ugh,” I sighed, “Even if I did, I can’t see why you’re getting so worked up about it.”
“Z, he’s a god. As his lover you’re essentially dooming yourself to all kinds of trouble.”
“I’m not his lover.”
“So what’s he doing in your bed?”
Fighting my nightmares after he essentially proposed I kill the king? Yeah, no.
It was harder to make up an excuse than I thought.
“I can’t believe this.” She huffed, “And this whole time, I was under the impression that you actually gave a damn about the things I said to you.”
She turned on her heel and stomped out of the tent, and I groaned inwardly.
What a mess.