Glass and Mirrors


This story takes place directly after the scene "Turbulance" took place. Unnconcious and injured, Tenebrous lays in the Xanadu infirmary, his mind a shattered husk in the wake of his first trip *between*.

Glass and Mirrors

For some reason, Thea had felt the need to drag him through that…thing twice. ‘But…wait…that wasn’t how it happened’ he thought drowsily.
A quiet breeze brushed against his mind and it carried all the promise of spring rains, and of comfort. A gentle voice began to speak, its voice massive, and yet incredibly gentle. «No…» With that simple word, time began to unwind in his mind, memories rolling out in front of him like some bizarre landscape. Almost without thinking, he stepped into one of them—
Tenebrous jumped a little, gripping Thea’s waist a little tighter. Then he blinked and looked around. ‘How did…’ He was on Seryth, Thea’s massive golden Queen, overlooking Rubicon and its surrounds. “It all looks like a map,” he heard himself call. He could feel the dragon’s massive pulse beneath him as she navigated the skies with something akin to bliss…Then Thea turned around to warn him about something…and Lekhin’s face was there instead. “Get ready,” he crooned wickedly, hands reaching up… and the image shattered.

  • * *

‘No…that’s not how it happened,’ he thought. Once again, that gentle voice echoed into the vaults of his mind. «You agreed…» ‘I did…I did?’ And he remembered. The warning, and that sudden, awful lurch. «Mine tried to help you..» The breeze against his mind gusted strongly for a moment, carrying a familiar scent, and more memories. ‘I was…’ He closed his mind’s eye, but the memory came anyway…

When the world comes roaring back into reality, it comes with Tenebrous screaming, "Get him off of me!" His upper body flails around weakly for a few moments, his hands clawing at his throat before reality sets in, Seryth's voice whispering into his mind. His breath heaves into his chest, his eyes wild around the edges. Blood runs freely down several claw marks around his neck, and his hands are stained with it.

‘I couldn’t hear anything,’ he thought to himself. ‘Thea…’
Without meaning to, he turned to face another facet of his memory, and-

  • * *

Someone was shouting his name. He could hear it, but it sounded so far away. Burned lungs tried to draw a breath, but every breath was burning pain. His throat felt like someone had laid it open with a sharp blade and his head lolled down to look at his hands. ‘So much blood,’ he thought. ‘It’s mine…’ He could feel darkness closing in on his world as he looked up again, trying to focus on his assailant. When his eyes finally managed to focus, his world dropped away.
‘Thea…’ She was inches from his face, eyes burning, face enraged. “No one crosses me!” she roared, and then rocked back with one hand raised. The blow to his face was impossibly large. He could feel the impact all over his face…his chest. Even his arms. His body rocked back hard and even before he straightened, he felt his awareness splinter into a thousand shards of ice and darkness.
And then it all exploded into radiant, golden light, like sunlight through storm clouds and rain, and in that light came a thousand dragons’ voices, roaring out in defiance of the cold and the night. The light was a physical impact upon his senses, its warmth uncountable hands to sooth his hurts, and in every touch, quiet words whispered into his mind. «This must not be. You must remember…»

* * *

He sat up suddenly, gasping in air in a room that was cool and quiet, and only dimly lit. One hand reaching for his throat almost instinctively. The flesh was smooth and unblemished beneath his fingertips, and he blinked. “I thought that…” Then his words died off as he looked around.
Xanadu’s infirmary was a place that he knew well, even if he hadn’t spent much time there as a patient. The sights, the smells, even the texture of the bedding beneath his hands were all familiar. “Hello?” His voice echoed eerily around the room, and only then did the abnormality of the situation sink in. ‘Where’s the On Duty’, he wondered to himself. ‘And why are all of the lights out.´ His eyes flickered over to the room’s exit, noting the light that carefully peeked in from under it. “Daytime,” he murmured. ‘Where in the name of Thread is everyone?’ Slowly, he swung his feet around to the edge of the bed, and slid down. Every other bed in the room appeared to be occupied, but despite his calling out, none of them stirred. He padded over to one of the bedsides, peering down at the occupant through the dim light. And then he gasped.
It was him.
He stumbled backwards into another bed, whipping around to eye its occupant, and started again. His own face looked back at him through dead, sightless eyes. Breath quickening, he backed away from the row of beds and started towards the exit again, but before he could get there, it opened of its own accord. Light sliced into his dilated eyes, and he shied back from it, one arm held up. But even as he shielded himself from the blaze, it began to creep into the room, a nimbus of illumination that barely squeezed through the doorway, leaving darkness beyond. The door slammed closed behind it, and above, it, the lights in the room began to shine. Further back into the room the light pressed him, until his back was to the wall. With every bed that light passed, bodies would sit up and then stand, moving around to the foot of their bed with smooth motions. Only when his back was against the wall did the light stop its advance. Then it blazed so brightly that he had to turn his head away. Then the room shook with a gentle voice that vibrated the air and the walls. «This will do.» As suddenly as it had began, the light ceased to be, its luminance shed to the fixtures in the ceiling, and a soft hand touched his forehead. “I thought it would be easier to speak with you in this fashion,” a warm voice murmured. Very gradually, Tenebrous turned his gaze back to the place where the light once was, and then opened his mouth, stunned.
In place of that blazing nimbus stood a rather plain looking woman dressed in a travelling dress of plain, gray linen. Chocolate brown hair fell in a plain fashion to her shoulders, framing a face that could only be described as ordinary, and yet strangely familiar. Eyes of blue stared back at him, their depths swirled with bits of gray over a smallish nose and thin lips. Her form was slender and willowy, though toned forearms suggested strength, and an intricately carved flute hung from her neck around a thong. “You know who I am,” she said quietly.
Tenebrous could only stare for several moments before swallowing. “You can’t be her,” he rasped. “That’s impossible…” He shook his head vigorously before looking back up, but the woman remained, solid and present. “I am…what is left of her,” she offers by way of explanation. “…Where are we?” he asked quietly, his eyes still locked on the woman’s face. She took a step back from him, spreading her arms. “We’re in the Infirmary. Or rather, you are.” She gestures one delicate hand to the exam bed that he had woken up in. Now, however, it was occupied by another version of him, one in hospital scrubs and white bandaging around his throat. Then he moved his eyes away from the man in the bed, and to the other versions of himself around the room. “And them?” The woman shrugged a little, moving to each one in turn to examine it. “They are you. Pieces of you. Possibilities.” And indeed, despite the strangeness of the situation, Tenebrous began to see differences in the men, both subtle and not. “Tell me,” he murmurs as he paces up to each incarnation of himself. “Why did you choose her?” He looks over this shoulder at the woman. “Why that body?”
For a moment, the woman’s face began to glow, and then her features started shifting, moving like melting wax, until Thea stood before him in her flying leathers. “There are only three clear images of females in your mind, and I choose not to manifest in the third,” she says, Thea’s voice rolling around the room. Tenebrous starts slightly, turning away. “Change back,” he said roughly. “I don’t want her in here.” He moves on to another one of his would-be clones, his own face wooden. “I don’t want her to see this,” he adds, his voice softer. Another brief pulse of light shone from the area behind him before Therise’ voice murmured, “Fear not. I will not show her this place…” Tenebrous lowered his head for a moment before mumbling, “Thank you.” Then he resumed his examination of the other men.
Each one seemed to be a reflection of some part of his life over the last few turns. One was obviously a younger representation, fear and nervousness in his eyes. Almost unbidden, memories began to flicker through his mind…hiding in the woods from other children, the ones that mocked him. Trying to move through the healers hall as quickly as possible to avoid notice, to spend as little time as possible in the candidate barracks during his stint there.
Another was clearly supposed to be a possibility, rather than a piece of himself. It was a little older, more bold-looking. Wind-kissed skin was tan, and there were the beginnings of laugh lines by his eyes. “I don’t remember the last time I laughed like that,” he breathed to himself. Another version appeared slightly older as well, without the tan, but a gentle kind of serenity in his eyes. Then he came to a fourth ‘piece’ and faltered, concern on his face.
This man was older as well, but his face was cold, craggy. His lips were thin lines, more accustomed to a frown than any kind of a smile, and his eyes were hard and vengeful. “Must it be this way?” he asks quietly.
“As I said,” Therise murmured in reply, “These represent potential. Only you can decide what you are now, and what you will be. No one can make that choice for you.”
Tenebrous sighed softly. “I don’t even know how to begin…”
Behind him, his mother’s laughter faded into light, and that massive, gentle voice shook his mind again. «Open your eyes, friend of Mine… Open your eyes.»
And he did.

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