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Please Be Strong

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12:01 AM, February 29th, 2016.

Claremont, Academy.


They were usually good dreams.  Of fire.  Often without the smoke, without the consequences of the fire.  Freud would have a field day with them, or the school's counselors would.


In dreams they were like waves, like liquid dancing in impossible manners and forms.  Held only to dream logic, and the coaxing of her subconscious.  Behaving like fire would in a place devoid of logic.  Through this veil were forms, not engulfed by the flames, but something else.  Beyond them, beyond her grasp.  They were myriad and indistinct, shifting and murmuring over the crackling of the flames themselves.


It was the recognition of this that things seemed to focus down to a point, to a form.  It shifted and moved towards her, shaking away whatever un-definition it had.  Calcifying, and shedding the rigidity as it approached the fire and pressed against it.


He, and she knew it was a he before the shape was so distinct, pushed through, charring, searing as he did, until before her he stood.  Imperious and grotesque, like a nightmare from childhood.  The armored and antlered countenance rose before her, shuddering as the gaps of the armor revealed a roiling, shuddering thing.  Then he exhaled, and the soot and char fell away, carried away on his voice booming and soaring like a church's prized organ.  "Child of Angel's Mound.  Well met.  This one is here at the behest of others, of Lords and Ladies impressed with what you are.  What you have been.  What you might be."


From under that antlered helm were eyes, human eyes, vibrant green.  Earnest and honest, and this was not... a dream.

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Raina loved to dream of fire. Even when she'd been little, before she'd come into her powers, fire had never scared her. It was so warm, so bright, so useful. Humanity's first best friend among the elements, the one to provide comfort instead of the most base succor. In her dreams she was powerful and deliciously warm, alone only if she wished to be, surrounded by the kind of peace that showed up in the middle of a skydive, tenuous and razor-edged and perfect. The fire in her dreams did not immolate, it illuminated. 


Which is why, perhaps, it was so easy to pick out the one dark-edged element to her dreams, the one thing that didn't belong. The stranger was foreboding, but also exciting. It changed the rules of her world in an unpredictable way. Anything could happen in a chaotic dream like this. So she walked up to him and looked him in the eyes. "Well met to the stranger," she said in return. "What do you think I'm going to be?" 

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He stepped back from her then, just a little, backing towards the flames.  it was not a sign of fear, it was hard to imagine a massive armored figure to hold fear as he looked at her.  "That is not for this one to say.  He comes as an agent.  A herald.  He comes seeking one such as you."  The broad shoulders moved a little, it might have been a shrug.


"You have supped on power, and this one comes because that has earned the attention of those he serves.  And on a day that does not exist it is easy to come to speak about these things.  About portents and futures, if it holds interest."  She could feel the smile behind the helm, even if it was obscured, it touched his voice as he spoke to her.  He didn't move towards her, allowing a bit of space for her to have comfort in as he intruded in her dream.

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Raina scooped up a handful of nearby fire, cupping the flames in her hands like a baby animal. "He speaks in third person and doesn't give any straight answers," she replied dryly, giving the herald a raised brow. He was undeniably intimidating, but that just tended to bring out Raina's belligerent side. Besides, whose dream was this, anyhow? "Who is it that you work for, and what exactly do you want from me?" In her hands, the flames turned blue and then brilliant purple, then began creeping up her wrists. "I'm always interested in getting a heads-up about my future, if you've got one to give." 

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He brought a gauntleted hand up to touch his fingers over his heart as he laughed softly.  "This one wishes nothing out of this, he just comes to offer a chance.  A choice.  Your radiant dreams burn brightly.  And all fire is a living, hungry thing.  Isn't it?  It seeks to grow, and through growth, to devour."  That choral voice turning melodious as he approached her, and she could see more of the ash fall away from his armor.  See the thorns across the surface of it's plates, how it's links and rings were like burls and thickets.  His eyes... they were the same as before, human in something not.


"This one comes at the behest of the Welcoming and Ravenous Host, on a day that does not exist, to offer you the chance to become more than a spark."  And then the hand that had been at his heart moved to hold out to her, palm upraised for her to take, if she desired.

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Raina extended her hand, her brow furrowed in thought as she looked at the herald. She wasn't totally stupid when it came to arcane matters, she did her homework. Prophetic and portentious dreams were a thing, and agreements made while sleeping could wind up binding the waking body as well. And she knew a little bit about the Welcoming and Ravenous Host. They weren't evil, but they were chaotic, her books warned her that one could never be sure whose side they were on when it came to conflict. That didn't necessarily seem like a bad thing. Raina certainly didn't know whose side she was supposed to be on most of the time. 


She paused with her hand over the herald's outstretched hand, then turned her wrist, pouring purple flames like water over his fingers, his wrist. They spilled harmlessly over his skin, or whatever it was that covered him. When he did not flinch, she took his hand. "I'm interested. Show me what you've got." 

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He laughed a little as she said that little thing, it was an amused sound, rich and filled with charm.  No menace or threat to it.  Or the way he took her hand now.  "Raina... this one said it is not on his own behest he comes for you.  He comes because you call, you call and others listened.  There are rules, and this one is who must come here.  Now the next step is for you," said as he leaned in, his eyes locked to her, that height becoming more apparent, "To wake up, this is not a conversation to have here."

And with that the dream ended, and when she rose the window was open, and the night sky was calling.  And there was a fire waiting for her.

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