Tiuku lay on her back, unable to sleep. There was a storm raging outside, and they always put her on edge. The thunder wasn’t even the worst part; it was the constant pattering of rain on the rooftop. She would have thought that the stone ceiling of her room on the Bastion would stop most of the sound, but it was as loud as ever. It blotted out everything else, making it harder to hear the important things, like footsteps coming towards her bed, or the unsheathing of a knife. If the rain was slow enough, it sometimes sounded like footsteps itself, which was even worse.
Those were footsteps.
They weren’t coming towards her, but Tiuku was certain she could hear gentle footfalls outside. She could tell it was the gait of someone unused to moving stealthily.
Curious, she rolled out of bed. She grabbed her whip from the nightstand, then silently left her room.
Within seconds, her fur was soaked from the downpour. That was one of the other reasons she hated the rain. Her fur took hours to dry.
She moved forward with trepidation, unsure of what she would find out here. Who in the world would willingly go out during such an intense storm?
As soon as she saw him, she realized the answer was glaringly obvious. Radiant stood, his back to Tiuku, just a dozen paces ahead. He wasn’t moving, just standing there, letting the rain wash over him.
She approached him slowly, making sure her footsteps could be heard.
As she drew near, Radiant tilted his head back to stare up at the sky. Tiuku followed his gaze, and her eyes widened when she saw what he was looking at.
The moon hung in the sky. Despite the fact that it should be hidden behind the oppressive storm clouds, it shone through as bright as ever. It was huge and luminous and much too close.
Trembling, Tiuku looked back at Radiant. Water was dripping from his chin, but from this angle, she couldn’t tell if it was rain, or tears.
Looking closer, she started to wonder if it was water at all. It was too dirty, too dark.
Even less sure of her actions now, Tiuku slowly placed a hand on his shoulder.
Radiant turned, and looked straight at Tiuku. She gasped.
His eyes were entirely black, like they had been torn out and filled in with pure darkness. From them flowed rivers of deep black liquid, mingling with the rain and dripping off his face.
Behind Tiuku, a bolt of lightning cracked, fully illuminating Radiant for a split second.
Radiant’s scar glowed in time with the lightning. It stemmed from his horn, extending up his crest and running down the entirety of his face. Splitting it in half.
He opened his mouth to speak.
Tiuku sat bolt upright, gasping for air. She looked around, trying to get a grip on her surroundings. She saw wood paneling, a sparsely furnished room, and felt a gentle rocking motion. A train, she was on a train. She had been in Toulaine with Zara, and now they were heading home.
She breathed in deeply, then exhaled. It had just been a dream. She wasn’t in any danger.
Still, it had felt very real. Much more so than the dreams she usually had. As she lay back down to stare at the ceiling, she wondered:
Had that been a dream, or a premonition?