Chapter 9 - Pain
Red roses swayed with the breeze, dancing their beautiful waltz like graceful ladies. The fragrance, almost overpowering and cloying, wafted with the breeze onto a vast portico of marble and granite. The roses danced around a huge temple with columns that rivaled alabaster in purity, a true testament to the Light. In this temple which no human eyes had seen for the last three millennia, stood a man in cloth almost as pure as the temple itself. He gently fingered the petals of the red roses, rubbing them between his white gloved fingers. He was a handsome man, seemingly in his early twenties, with dark blond hair and dark blue eyes. He radiated calm and presence – had he been in rags, men would still have recognized his powerful aura and treated him as a prince.
"It's been three thousand years, my love." He spoke softly in a voice that could have melted females into little puddles of goo. Not caring about the power of his voice, he continued his monologue."Three thousand years since we were forced apart. This time, I swear I won't let you go. I swear we will be together. I'm coming for you, my love." His words were filled with sorrow and conviction. He swore to himself that he would not lose the one he loved to the flows of fate. Not this time. He had waited three thousand years to be reunited with her, the only person he had ever loved so much that it was painful.
"War, pain, suffering, death. All these things will be worth it if we can be together once again. We will never part, my love. I found a way for us to be together forever. We will defy the will of the Balance. Wait for me, my love. The time is coming." Had anyone been watching, they would have seen a light in his blue eyes that was inhuman but eerily beautiful at the same time. This man shone with a light that was more than human, more than mortal.
"Watch me, my love. I'm reborn and I come for you. I, Treize Kushrenada, the general of the forces of Light, swear upon the purity and cleanliness of the Light."
With those words, Treize cast a simple illusion spell to bring forth the image of the one he loved. A beautiful woman with long, flowing chestnut brown hair appeared, her face composed in a serene smile. Treize outlined the misty image with his fingertips, then rained rose petals upon it, as if in a salute. After the petals settled on the ground, Treize released the edges of the spell and let the image dissipate. He would make sure than they did not separate this time. He had lived in agony for three thousand years, driving himself mad with the thoughts of his beloved. He had felt the pain of separation more with each passing day, suffering from the lack of her essence from the world. But she had been reincarnated into this world, just in time for the prophecy. He had felt her soul come back to the ground and fasten itself to a body. It was then that he had released himself from the time spell he had cast during the Apocalypse and stepped out into the world once again. He would find his beloved and bring her to the Child of Prophecy for the Light. Treize smiled. This time, he would not lose to the Darkness. He would keep his love by his side, guide the Child of Prophecy into maturity and make sure the Light won this war. It wasn't just the principle of the thing. It was revenge.
'Am I in a dream?'
Relena asked wonderingly in her mind. Everything around her was purest of white, so much so that she feared that she had gone blind. Relena giggled. White blindness. That was the biggest of all ironies,wasn't it?
Relena turned her body frantically, trying to locate the source of that compelling and frightening voice. No matter how her body turned, all she was a vastness of white, no beginning, no end. She floated in it, drowned in it.
"Who are you? Why do you keep calling me? What do you want from me?"
The dry whiteness crackled with unseen electricity, making her jump. Then she recalled – this was a dream. Her dream.
"Get out of my dream! This is not your place! I order you as the Princess of the Known Empire of Oz and Sanc. GET OUT!"
She had meant to sound authoritative and decisive. But she was badly frightened by this dream and ended up screeching like a scared child. She didn't care. All she wanted was this voice to leave her alone. It was getting harder everyday to go to sleep because she feared this dream and yet wanted it so much. Her awake hours were spent in a daze because she had not slept enough. Her life was becoming a blur of dreamscapes and reality shrouded in the surreal. The hand that had rescued from her dream so long ago had not come back and she felt as if she was losing her mind in little increments every day. Soon, she would be completely crazy, stuck in this mindless white dream of ecstasy until she stopped breathing. Then it all changed.
Suddenly, the searing whiteness dimmed to a pleasant level, like a warm, sunny day in the mildest of springs. The heat toned down and became like a comfortable blanket. The pressure in her mind eased to almost nothing. And the voice acquired a body. Before her eyes, a figure materialized, startling her with its sudden entrance. Relena stepped back, only to realize that the figure was familiar. She recognized his face, his clothes, even the way he smelled. But she did not know who it was.
"Relena, we meet face to face. Please, have a seat." Relena sat in a chair that had appeared out of thin air, just like the man. She should have been scared, or at least a bit suspicious. But she was calm, as if nothing about this dream was amiss. "I know you."
The man smiled indulgently but not patronizingly at her.
"No. Your soul remembers me. You as a person, a physical being, do not yet know me."
Relena was puzzled by his statement but she let it slide. After all, he was speaking to her, not at her. He was treating her like she was an adult. "Who are you?"
The man's smile broadened until his gleaming white teeth showed. He swung out his right arm to his side expansively and bowed from the waist. His blue cape fluttered and swooshed with his movement.
"I am Treize Kushrenada. I am your general, your advisor, your friend. I have been waiting for you, Child of Prophecy."
Relena was stunned but recovered quickly. Then the excitement and the happiness rolled in to fill her mind. She was a legendary being. She was spoken of in prophecy. She was someone more special than anyone had ever anticipated.
"Really? I am? I knew it! I knew I loved magic and foretelling for a reason. I'm a being of prophecy. I'm going to save the world."
Treize laughed with her. She did have an infectious laugh and she was quite a delightful girl with careful manners and exuberant enthusiasm. The Light had chosen better this time.
"Yes, Relena, you are going to save the world. You are going to rescue it from degradation, purify this corrupted, rotting planet. You are going to be the savior."
The waves of excitement and happiness radiating off Relena was unbelievably strong. Finally, she would beable to show everyone how adult she was and prove to all those who treated her like an empty headed doll that she was more. She was the Child of Prophecy. "This is the best dream I've ever had. Is it going to be real when I awake?"
Even though she thought she was an adult, Relena had small seeds of doubt. What if this was just a dream and not real? What if Treize was a figment of her imagination, a face and form conjured from deep memory?
"It's all real. It will be all too real soon."
Treize sounded tired but joyous to Relena. He must have had a hard life to be able to mix disparate emotions so easily and effortlessly.
"Do I get to stay at the Dreamer's Dome? When do I meet the other Children of Prophecy? Are they girls, I mean, women like me?"
Treize reached out and traced a line from Relena's right temple to her chin. It had been a long time since he'd encountered pure innocence, even if it was edged in resentment and a bit of malice.
"You'll meet the other Children soon enough, princess. After all, you will need to fight them."
Puzzled, Relena turned the words over in her head. Why would she be fighting the others? Weren't they allies? Sensing her confusion, Treize clarified. She should not be going into this ignorant, like the last Child.
"My poor Relena. I'm sorry you're confused. You are the Child of Prophecy, the Child of Light. You are the champion of purity, of cleansing. You are the one who is going to remake this world."
Relena's eyes widened until her irises were edged in white. It could not be. The Light.. It was evil. She had been told that all her life. It was a force that consumed all life, an enemy of Darkness. It had no mercy, no compassion. Just a wave of evil intent on destroying life. And she would be its champion. "NO. It isn't true. You are LYING. I am not the Light's vessel. I am not. I'm NOT."
Treize had expected this. In the past three thousand years, people had twisted the philosophy and truth of the Light until it had become nothing more than a warped thing that stood against the only goodness in the world. Relena would have to learn differently. She would unlearn the idiocy these fools had instilled in her head. She would become the Child of Light by choice.
"I want to leave this dream. You are a liar. I am not the destroyer of Darkness. I am not going to be responsible for murdering everyone. I'm not." Near tears, Relena struggled to find a way out. But it was not to be. Treize murmured an ancient spell that no one else even remembered as a legend. In her dream, Relena passed out and Treize caught her lightly in his arms. Then he teleported back to the temple. Relena's physical body phased out of her bed and into the temple. In the morning, no one would find Relena within the palace and she would be declared kidnapped and missing by her grieving father and coldly angry brother.
Dorothy felt a terrible pain in her head and she woke up choking on her own vomit. Her blind eyes could not see the mess she had made but she smelled it. But that was not her concern right now. The pain in her head was receding, but the vision remained. A strong force for the Light had found the Child for its cause. A man so powerful and so frightening that he could only be a man of the past. No one had magic in this world, the art had been forgotten in the centuries after the Apocalypse when chaos reigned supreme. Even the Guide and the Start Dreamers were just the last remnants of a power long forgotten. But someone out there, someone who sided with the Light, had the magic. He had the kind of magic that had been rare even in the time of the True Balance before theApocalypse. And he would be their second most powerful adversary. Dorothy had no doubt that he would train this Child of Prophecy into maturity. The Darkness had no mages to teach its Children how to use their magic.
Dorothy slid out of her bed and walked to her water basin to clean up. Disasters were becoming more frequent, piling up on each other like a landslide. Yes, the Children of Darkness had been found, or so her vision had said, but they were untrained. They probably didn't even know how to tap into their powers. That was a disaster. Now the Child of Light had been found. Another disaster. And the biggest of all the disasters, the Light had a man who could use magic with ease, a man who had infinite power at his disposal. The battle was beginning to look lost before it began. Dorothy threw her water basin across the room. They could not lose. They must not lose. Dorothy steeled herself and reached into her nightgown. Her fingers encountered a small pendant hung on a fine silver chain. Every Guide since the Apocalypse had worn this pendant. It was a piece of a myth. Only the Guide knew of its capabilities. Only the Guide knew of its devastating power. Dorothy clenched her hand around it until the edges of the sharp, green stone pierced her tender flesh. She had to use the pendant. Not now, but soon. She had to make sure that the Darkness would be ready to meet the Light.