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Prologue

Dreams

 

It was the same nightmare as every night- the one that caused him to awaken in a cold sweat, eyes wide and heart pounding a rhythm that could probably be heard all throughout Sanctuary.    He could never remember when he’d begun having it, only that lately, it had occurred far more often than in the past.   Sometimes, it even happened twice- after the first time he woke up shuddering and walked about the rose garden in order for the heady aroma to put him to sleep again, his mind would return him to that accursed, fearful place and the cycle would repeat as soon as his eyes closed.

He was standing in a temple, with what felt like a soft linen chiton blowing around his legs and a soft spring breeze stirring his hair.   A man, taller than he, dressed in battered gray armor, was holding his shoulder roughly to keep him in place.   He was large and powerful, and clearly seemed to be in charge.  Far off, another man- this one slighter, with a crooked form and homely features- was leaning on a twisted cane and making a steadfast effort not to look him in the eyes.

A voice boomed out from above him and as usual, he felt the larger man behind him force his head down, leaving him unable to see the source of the voice.   Try as he might, he could never understand what the man was saying- it was Ancient Greek, and even Sanctuary spoke Modern Greek now.  Some of the Saints who had been born in Greece still understood the ancient language- Saga, most likely, and Aiolos while he’d been still alive- but he had no knowledge of it.   If the mysterious booming voice had spoken Swedish, he’d bitterly think to himself after he awakened, he would understand every word.   Somehow, his inability to understand exactly what was being said made the situation seem more ominous- whatever this decree in Greek was, it seemed to decide his fate.   After the booming voice whose source he could not see had spoken its piece, the more muscular man dragged him away.   Amazingly, he was powerless to resist- it felt as though his cosmos had been hidden away somehow and thus he could not retaliate.

The muscular man would drag him roughly down many flights of stairs, seemingly without end- more stairs even than Sanctuary.    Some nights this journey seemed to last for hours, others it was over fairly quickly.   The only thing that was certain was the final destination- a rose garden, similar to the one he called home but considerably more overgrown and without a temple in sight.   The man would toss him down there and without even looking back, exit the garden and bar a pair of heavy iron gates.    He could only watch this occur, watch himself be sealed in with the roses.   

At this point, he would either wake up or it would take a moment or two of wandering the rose garden to prompt him to do so.    What frightened him most about the dream was that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t find a coherent meaning in it.    Neither the muscular man nor the man with the crooked body were familiar faces, and the booming voice certainly wasn’t one he’d heard before either.    It was all mysterious, and yet something about the events within it seemed somehow life-changing, important- as though he should have known who the two men and the voice were, and what was happening, as though it was something he’d forgotten.

The Gold Saint Pisces Aphrodite stared into his own fearful eyes in the bathroom mirror, clenching the edges of the sink as he racked his brain for answers that didn’t seem forthcoming.

What does it mean?

And why does it terrify me so?