The room is so cold that I can see my breath in the air. The entire city has a coldness about it, but this room is the worst. The shadows crawl across the floor, an infestation of evil fiends. Our lanterns struggle to penetrate the otherworldly darkness. The walls are caked with blood, and the rancid smell of rotting flesh burns my nose. Suddenly my body feels heavy, my chest feels like it's being crushed. I can hardly breathe, time slows to a standstill. He's looking at me now. I couldn't describe him if I tried. Horrible, awful, unnatural. The darkest of Evils.
“I've been waiting for you.” His voice grates inside my skull. He speaks to me from the inside, and the pain is more than I can take. “Do you see now, why your father killed himself? Do you still think him a coward, for wanting to avoid an eternity of torture?”
A strange sensation rises from the pit of my stomach. Rage. That worthless pig. Even standing here, knowing full well what horrors await my failure, I would still choose to fight. My father was a coward, darkness like this cannot be allowed to exist. The great one gave everything, even his soul, to stop this monster. Still, what chance do I have against him when his stare alone is enough to break me? My hands are shaking as I reach for my daggers. I have to try.
Before I can even attempt to raise my blades he crosses the room and punches me squarely in the throat. I stumble backwards and another blow impales my lower back. He's everywhere at once, juggling me like a rag doll. The darkness is closing in. Blow after blow, I can't even tell where he's hitting me from. The magic shield I'd summoned offers little protection from the endless assault. I desperately swing my blade, but he catches my arm at the wrist and effortlessly folds my bones in half. My snapping bones echo through the darkness, followed by his cold laugh inside my head.
“You're such a weak disappointment, Nikolai. How I wish I could torture the great one like I'm going to torture you. My thirst for revenge will never be sated... but if I can't have him, his grandson is the next best thing I suppose.” He trails off into a sinister cackle as he raises my body into the air. The point of a cold blade touches my back, right over my heart. He drives it through slowly.
“NOOO!” I wake up screaming and gagging. I can taste the blood in my mouth. It was only a dream, but even now the pain is so real. It takes a few moments for the darkness to fade. By the time I can see my surroundings the feeling of the blade retreats from my insides and I can breathe again.
“Niko! Wake up!” Her voice is coming at me from the end of a long tunnel, slowly bringing me back to reality.
“Aja..? How did we get out here?” I'm face down on the roof with my arms behind my back. Her knee is pressed into my back.
“You were sleep walking again.. if you can call it that. Sleep ass kicking is more like it.” She keeps a firm grip on my arm as she dismounts my back and pulls me to my feet. Once I've gotten my balance back she releases my arm and perches herself a few steps away on the peak of the roof. Her long black hair is a fuzzy mess, and the front of her silky blue pajamas are spattered with blood. When she turns to sit I realize her left eye is swollen shut, and her nose is bleeding.
“Oh no.. Aja.. I'm so sorry!” In my hurry to apologize I lose my balance and stumble a little. How did I manage to get out onto the roof in my sleep?
“I'll be alright. You were screaming bloody murder out here Niko. I've never seen someone in so much pain. I tried to wake you up, but you were consumed in the struggle.”
Her voice seems more timid than usual. She knows how disturbing my dreams have been lately. They've slowly been getting worse over the past few months.
“I think he's getting stronger.”
I wish I could tell her more, but that's all I can manage to say.
“We'll get through this, Niko. I'm sure she can help you.” She nods and looks up at the moon.
I can't help but think pessimistically. Maybe this healer can stop the dreams, but it doesn't change the fact that somebody has to stand up to him. If somebody doesn't stop him soon, it'll be too late for any of us.