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The Reality of Dreams: a Witcher Modern AU

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Prologue.

 

             His shadow was stark against the moonlit ground. The shape of it startled him; two long, hilt-shaped shadows protruded from his right shoulder. Reaching up in a smooth, practiced motion, he drew one of the swords to inspect it. The silver blade sparkled in the moonlight, its hilt simple in design and wrapped in leather. It felt right in his hand. He made a few passes with it, then paused to investigate his surroundings.

             It was suddenly very cold. His lungs burned, his breath a silvery cloud in the still air. Despite the lack of wind, the grass rustled softly. When he looked up, the sky was completely black and empty, except for the waxing moon. The lack of stars disturbed him.

             A strange sound made him turn, his grip tightening on the hilt of the sword. The palm of his free hand moved almost of its own accord until it was parallel to the ground, a tingling surge bursting from his skin. Glowing purple signs appeared in the grass in a large circle around his feet as a hideous, spectral figure moved into the strange moonlight. The otherworldly shadow revealed itself to be a skeletal, corpse-like woman in a tattered, pale green dress. Her gray hair was stringy and tangled, floating around her gaunt, eyeless face. As he watched, the creature opened her desiccated jaw and let out an unearthly, grating shriek that sent chills down his spine. His body shifted before he could control it, and he sank into a guarded stance.

             “Come on, you old hag,” he heard himself say. The creature screeched with rage and threw herself at him. He saw a flash of rotted teeth and sunken, dried eye sockets…

 

             Eskel sat bolt upright in bed, gasping for air. Clammy sweat covered his skin. Taking a deep breath, he rubbed his face then dared a glance at his bedside clock. It was only 4:37 in the morning. He ran cold fingers through his hair and flopped back onto his mattress, reaching for his phone.

             I had that dream again, he typed, then sent the message. A minute later, the phone vibrated.

             Again? Y can't u dream of something better, like puppies or some shit? the response read. Eskel grinned tiredly and typed his answer.

             I dunno dude, I’m not great at controlling my dreams. Didn’t you tell me to let you know if I had that dream again? It took another minute or so for a response to light up his screen.

             …Yeah, I did. What of it?

             Eskel sighed.

             Stop being a prick, Geralt. I’m going back to bed. Night. He plugged his phone in again and rolled over, ignoring the clock. As he closed his eyes the image of the skeletal woman appeared in his vision as if it were burned into the backs of his eyelids.

             He’d had the same dream for months, but every time he faced a different monster. Sometimes the monsters looked more like humans. Once or twice the creature had worn one of his friends’ faces, but their eyes had glowed a sinister yellow. After a month of having the dream he had broken down and told his closest friend. Although he’d expected mockery, Geralt had listened to his story in sober silence, then told him to send a text whenever he had the same dream.

             Trying to empty his mind, Eskel rolled over again and soon fell back into darkness.