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[Image: 7a33a231806ff98fed0360cdbc4801e8.jpg]

Sometimes she arose in the void, a half-place, unknowing and afraid.

Or maybe it had always been this way, and now she only remembered it more often.

“Jon?” She twisted to the call of old ghosts, seeking a foothold on where she was. On who she was. Around her the world swirled all its colours together like a cruel trick, and he was known for them (once?). Her surroundings dizzied her, a nauseous storm, leaching into a darkness that cloyed until it swept like a hand across her shoulder, turning her about. Presence lingered in her peripheral, unseen. A whispered voice, acid sharp, a puncture to the heart: “It was easy,” it said; smooth, feminine, and beautifully cruel. “To leave you.”

She did not listen. Refused to.

Her hand clenched a fist, then pressed tight to her chest; a lid, a lock, a plea. Eyes closed, afraid afraid afraid of that pulling feeling, like life and soul were naught but a tightly coiled thread, and one violent yank was all it might take to become nothing. Dream, memory, less than.


She reached out wild and desperate, soul tossed about like a storm-wrecked ship seeking safe harbour, until when she next swiped tears from her cheeks the world had finally stilled. She blinked, no longer seeing an empty ‘scape of nothing, but the heavy shadows of deep underground. Her skin was cold beneath her pale garments, and colder where her palms patted the cool metal beneath her. She rested within a giant iron fetter, so large it curved around her body like a babe’s cradle. It should have been a nightmare. But she was not sure even Mara’s pets ever came here.

Her breathing stilled, but not her sense of disquiet. This was wrong, and she could not place the tip of her finger as to why, but it permeated until she trembled.

Beside her something moved, alive; something slow, and unfathomably large. More than one. Soft clinks stuttered in the silence, and her perch swung lazily in the air. A fetid lizard stink filled her nose and mouth as coiling bodies moved and shifted amidst their chains. Then, the scorched carrion-heat of a soft sighing breath, and a return to peace; the creatures were unperturbed by her intrusion, because they were used to it. Her fingers found the edges of a scale in the dark. Comfort and mystery.

“Do you dream?” she whispered.

If they did, perhaps it was somewhere else their souls fled. A constellation of worlds might lie behind those stone eyelids, for all she knew. They did not speak of it.

Her eyes closed, too. Content.

She visited because no one else ever did. If her grandmother ever troubled herself with dreams, it was not to look upon that which she presided over in the waking world. No one else would even dare, except perhaps Him, and never for this reason.

The thought suddenly left her mouth dry, and she wasn’t sure why. Her hands rose to press against the contours of her own face, panic beginning to beat again, but it was just a face. Seeking calm, she waded memory for her name. A touchstone. An anchor. But the one that came felt jagged on her tongue. Startled, her eyes flared wide.

The world lurched again, and settled again, and she curled into herself, barely daring to look.

Had it been a memory, or a dream? She did not know. It lingered like a taste of the Tiber waters that Noctua had decried. Not because it had felt bad, but because the peace found had not been a memory of hers. Old things surfaced from time to time; things she knew that she shouldn’t know; an awareness of others that transcended flesh and blood shells and recognised something older. But such things drifted away just as quickly. They never consumed like that, as fresh of feeling as if they had happened yesterday.

“My name is Nimeda.” She spoke the name into her knees, body curled tight. And prayed that it was true.
"Rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
[Image: thal-banner-scaled.jpg]
 | Sothis Lethe Alethea | Miraseia |
Time passed before she raised her attention from that desperate sense of self. It was her normal proclivity to seek the old and wild places, particularly when she was alone, but though she was somewhere old now, it was nowhere wild. Chin on her knees, she stared at the gold and gilt, the vaulted ceilings impossibly high and sloping beyond what she could see without raising her head. She felt very small.

After some time of silent staring, Nimeda realised where she was -- in the loosest sense of understanding -- with the sadness of a bad parting. Though she had looked, she had not found Noctua in the dream, else he had not allowed her to find him. Sometimes she lingered over his star in the inbetween place. No sense of moral rightness had ever dampened her regular explorations into the dreams of others, and she did it often enough with strangers, but with him she never had. He clung so tightly to the title of No One that it would have felt like a betrayal to unearth secrets he did not give willingly, just because she missed him.

Eventually she pushed herself to her feet. The occasional ghost drifted; dreamers and memories, and none of them aware of the white-clad girl wandering barefoot in their midst. Sometimes she watched their progress through these halls, but it only plucked at the melancholy string of loneliness inside her to do so, and so mostly she explored the things that did not shift and flicker so readily. Her fingers brushed a cross like the one carved on the pebble Noctua had given her, the very same trinket weighing warm in the curve of her other palm as she thought of it. She did not know what it meant, of course, beyond that she held it sometimes as a talisman. And that, not because of what it was, but because of who had given it.

This place felt old; like there was a great sense of history, in this Age certainly, but nothing sparked against her own longevity. No memories or intrusive knowings.

What a peaceful feeling.

The ebb and flow of her existence quieted. Nothing pulled or distorted. Such a rare gift. Or, today at least it was a gift.

She laid herself out on the floor, as though it were nothing so different from a grassy knoll, and stared up at the painted ceiling. Let herself drift in that bubble of sanctuary.
"Rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart."
[Image: thal-banner-scaled.jpg]
 | Sothis Lethe Alethea | Miraseia |

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