When Will opened his eyes again, he was not in the Sanctuary. 'Wuh?' he murmured, his head ringing with pain as he led on a different ground to the one he had fallen on. He gazed up and inhaled deeply, and the moment he smelt the smoky, slightly metallic scent in the air, and saw the bleak, smoggy sky, he knew that he was in Vincula.
Had the carriage returned and taken him to Vincula, all whilst he was unconscious? What had happened to the peryton? Was Wilhelmina nearby?
No. Something felt wrong, his body felt strange, like the ache and headrush of being suspended upside down, as if he was torn between two different realities...
'You are right, Willow Avaric,' said a voice he recognised. 'You are not awake.' Will turned and looked up, standing above him was a strange man. He had pale, lucid skin and long, white blond hair, but by no means looked dainty. He had a strong jaw and sharp cheekbones, his frame neither muscular nor thin. His eyes were frightening and abnormal, beady and solid black. All of his clothes were white excepting a cloak which dragged the ground, made of vibrantly coloured feathers.
'You're - you're the peryton,' Will said with incredulity, slowly pushing himself up, his elbows kneading into the sludge beneath him.
'In this form, I prefer Eirian. But yes, 'tis I. Please, stand.' His voice no longer seemed odd, not when it belonged to a man, it matched his appearance perfectly, deep, charming and urbane.
'What - how is this possible?' Will sat up, expecting his back to be caked in mud, but he was perfectly clean. He experimented, pressing his hand into the mud, though it left a print, he lifted it and found no trace of dirt, nothing that belonged to his surroundings.
'As I told you,' said Eirian, 'I am more than I appear to be. The form of the peryton is but my chosen anima form. This is my true form, my past form, before my death on the bare earth. I chose this existence, to assist, and to guide. Tonight, it is you who I guide.'
'Guide me where? Is this Vincula?'
'It is,' he nodded, 'as you remember it some years ago.' It is a memory that has remained hidden from you, bound by weak troll magick. It was simple enough to access, and it is what shall remind you of why you belong away from here.' Eirian noticed Will's interest in his surroundings. 'Though this is a memory, we are not of the past. We are like dust on a lens, imprinted on the image, yet unable to truly be a part of it. Another takes your place.'
Eirian gestured behind Will, and he saw that he stood in front of '13' Illicit Street. Sitting on the steps of the veranda was a boy, Will's past self. His hair was shorter, though just as unkempt, and his skin was a shade darker from the dust and mud caking him like a new skin. He was worryingly thin, Will thought him to be no older than eleven.
Will walked toward and waved a hand across the boy's trail of sight. 'He can't see us,' he mused, seeing no reaction.
'As I have said, we are imprinted here, but unable to alter or interact. We are like ghosts of the future to him. Observe the past, Willow Avaric, see who you used to be; and who you can never become again...'