As Emmeline slept, a voice entered her dreams. It was similar to Mara, but not quite. “Twice you have sought us. Twice have we been of use to you,” the voice said. “Let us help you a third time so you may learn the true secrets. We offer them freely, just choose what you wish to unburden yourself from, or whom you wish bound by your will. We can help. We are there for you. Just ask, and you shall receive…”
“Who is it that calls on me?” Emmeline asked, as a cold nervousness sent a chill down her spine.
“We are many. We are hopes. We are cast off dreams, forgotten slights, empty vengeance, and love unrequited. We are all the possibilities and none.” the voice replied.
“I’m not at all certain I want to learn the secrets you keep, whoever you are,” Emmeline said, peering about in the dreamworld mist. “Some secrets kill. Others betray.”
“You know who we are. For generations we were the instrument of your pain, now we can be the instrument of your rise.” said the voice.
“You are the thing at the ruined temple! The last follower of yours I met turned into a horrific monster that nearly killed my friends. Why would I trust something so precious as my entire future, to you?” Emmeline demanded. “I belong to someone else, not gods.”
“Yes, his rage and pain welled up and consumed him. All the hate and suffering he absolved came back to him because he could not channel it properly, safely. We are not a thing. We are you, your friends, and everyone. All the cast away fears, loves, hates, and desires. All those abandoned dreams, skins of evil, and husks of good unnoticed and unrecognized. We are all that and more. You do not understand the hatred in the heart of that you serve, but we do. Embrace us and know her hate, know why she does what she does, know whom she wished to destroy. She is not what she seems. Compared to us, she is but a pebble on a beach of souls. But that pebble is sharp and cuts at the feet of those who pass by her, and it cuts at her spirit. We showed you all your lives, you experienced all that came before. All the loves, all the hates. Serve us and you can truly help her. Through you, her pain, like yours, can be lifted, but truly forever. She can be like she was, pure and innocent, a fay of light and summer. We can help, through you, do this for her.” the voices said.
“No,” Emmeline said, shaking her head. “She who I serve may be angry at what happened to her. She has a right to be! But what was done to her is part of her now. Being pure and innocent is a dream and I doubt she was ever really that.
“I’m part of her too,” she continued. “I can still show her there are good things in the world and how to really enjoy life. She’ll know love because I love her. I care. I will never, ever try to take something away from someone I love that’s so deeply a part of them!”
“Of course you are a part of her, as we are a part of all, including you and her. Through you; however, we can help her, free her. But you must know she is not you as well. She is beyond your understanding, alien, and incapable of truly feeling what you feel. We on the otherhand empathize with you. You are right, she will know love through you, but only through you. She is distant and cold. She could be here and together with you and ther rest. But, you do not trust us. That is fair. We are here, should you need us, reach out. We will listen…”
The voice fades and the mist of the dream is full of eyes and teeth of white briefly before disappearing. Emmeline awakes with a start realizing she is being held by the Baron. “My lady, you were screaming at something in your dreams.”
Tears born of fear marked her cheeks and she tried to get her bearings. It took a long moment to drag her mind fully from the mists of the dream and then she huddled in Baron’s arms and shook.
At first she didn’t know why she was so terrified. The tears didn’t stop and she realized it was because she felt invaded, violated by the alien thing of hate. That might not have even been its intent, but she still felt that way. Mara had never approached her in a way that undermined her sense of security and safety. This thing that she had touched in order to escape the curse wasn’t far away and it also terrified her that she’d be weak one day, call out to it, and do what it wanted her to out of desperation. There was always a terrible price for “gifts” from such a creature. Witness what had happened to its own priest.
She shuddered, then turned and clung to her Baron. “I’m sorry,” she murmured, “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be like this. What happened at that temple haunts me.” More than any hags or undead that crawled from the sea, even more than assassins, the invasion of her mind and simple offer of assistance from Haté had shaken her.
The Baron held her close, “Priests of ancient gods of evil are terrible to encounter. It is okay. I am here. I know you are strong, but for tonight let me be strong for you.”
She wanted to tell him the evil god was worse. She wanted to tell him it was all eyes and mouths and teeth and it hungered to devour more pain and anger and fear. She didn’t. It felt as if, should she speak of what she saw, it would only make it somehow more real and even more dangerous. Instead, she tried to let it go.
It took long minutes, but eventually she relaxed in the safety of her Baron’s arms. She offered a silent prayer. Oh Mara. Please be the Fey Lady your people need you to be and not what this world tried to make you.