15. Daydreams and Nightmares
“Now Rory,” a cool voice said, “We need to ask you some questions.”
“Fine,” I snarled and heard a whistling noise through the air near my head and the ropes tying my legs together dropped away. Rough hands helped me to my feet and shoved me into a chair behind me. I turned my head to see the speaker – Jake, of course. “What do you want?”
“Well,” he started, “To start I would like to say that if you do happen to get out of this room the exits to the camp are all booby-trapped.”
“That sounds like a Magician’s work,” I remarked, “I thought you were opposed to them.”
“I am,” he agreed, “but that’s beside the point. The point is there is no escape.”
“Hypocrite,” I muttered.
“What did you just say?” he demanded, his anger spilling over for a brief second. Jake had always had a hot temper.
“Nothing that you didn’t need to hear,” I replied sweetly. If only I could escape, but I could feel the effects of witch-weed so I knew magic was out of the question. If the part about booby traps was true, it meant there was another magic-user nearby – he wouldn’t have warned me about any non-magical traps since I could easily detect and neutralize them. If so it would be difficult for me to escape even if I managed to break the witch-weed binding. I was sure I could – but not easily. For now, I would just stay here where it was safe. Although, being here – with Jake – was definitely not my idea of safe either.
“Hello? Rory?” his voice cut through my plans, “Earth to Rory!”
“Yeah?” I asked frigidly.
“What are you thinking right now?” he asked curiously.
“What. Was. The. Question?” I spat the words out of my mouth slowly.
“Oh. Oh yes,” he said looking taken aback – an effect I found I often had on enemies… especially the ones who never ceased to underestimate me. “The question… right. Where are Rowan and the rest of the crew?”
“How should I know? You said you’d seen them the day you captured me. You know the bluff that you used to distract me,” I snarled back.
“No,” he said, “I didn’t bluff. I’d seen them. I was heading back here and I saw them. They were heading somewhere. Which leads to my next question: Where were they going?”
“I don’t know,” I said, knowing perfectly well where they’d been heading – but let’s say I didn’t.
“Really?” he asked, surveying me suspiciously.
“You know what Jake?” I screamed, losing my temper. “You can take your questions and . . . and . . .” I tried and failed to find something suitable for him go off and do.
“Rory,” he murmured looking more amused than annoyed – the opposite of what I’d intended. I’d wanted him to get angry. “I hope you didn’t mean that. I can make your life extremely miserable you know.”
“I’m sure,” I laughed hysterically, “I think you achieved that goal years ago when you betrayed our friendship. You were a part of something and you THREW IT ALL AWAY! For what? This! This is hardly any better than what we had - if anything it’s worse because your friends are convinced you’re a . . . you’re a. . . .” I stopped, afraid to go on.
“My friends are convinced I’m a what?” Jake spoke with a deadly soft voice I knew very well. I’d made him angry - very angry - and the last time I’d seen him this angry he’d tried to kill us all.
“Nothing,” I muttered.
“It seems you still don’t understand Aurora. I have all the power here. I suggest that, if you want to live, you keep your opinions to yourself. Understood?” He reminded me of his power by pressing the point of his sword into the soft flesh under my chin. His words were slow and calm but I could hear his anger bubbling under the surface.
I hated it when people treated me as if I was a little kid who didn’t understand anything. Let’s just say I didn’t react well. I looked straight into his eyes and spat at him. The next thing I knew his hand had slapped me hard across my face. What can I say? He’d told me to keep my opinions to myself, I’d assumed that meant inside my head. I hadn’t said anything, just implied my feelings.
“That’s it,” he hissed, his eyes blazing. “Rory, I’ve tried being reasonable but this time you’ve gone too far. I’m sorry. I really am.” He signaled with his hands to his guards. “Maybe a couple of days in the Nightmare Hall will loosen you up.”
With eager, slavish grins on their faces, two guards stepped forward and grabbed my arms. They proceeded to drag my struggling form towards the door of the tent.
“I don’t know Jake!” I screamed in my wake. “I think I’m already living my worst nightmare!”
Laughter haunted me on the way to that awful cave. His laughter. Not the laugh he’d had when he’d been younger. This sounded truly evil and sinister. The guards plopped me into a chair and waved a handful of witch-weed in my face as they started to braid it into my hair, untangling the last of the previous concoction from my hair and replacing it. I felt the little power I’d regained in the past few hours drain away. It was still there, just inaccessible.
When they’d finished one of the men stood next to me and forced my mouth open while the other poured a vile mixture down my throat. I coughed and spluttered but they just forced more of it down my throat. When the goblet was empty, they released my arms and carried me over to a bed at the side of the cavern. As they placed me in it, I realized that beds lined the whole cavity. I screamed and started to struggle wildly. Laughing, they just forced me flat in the bed and fastened my arms and legs to its sides. “Sweet dreams princess,” one growled before they left me. Slowly I became drowsy and fell into a deep sleep.
I opened my eyes. Someone was calling my name. Struggling I tried to focus on my surroundings. As my eyes focused, I saw that I was in my tent in Tent City. I could vividly remember Jake and his camp; what he’d done to me. What? How had I gotten here? Just then, Rowan entered my tent. “Up and at ‘em sleepy head!” he laughed. “Time’s wasting.”
“But… But…” I protested. “How did I get here? I was in Jake’s camp. He’d captured me and… and…”
Rowan gripped my shoulder. “Rory, relax. Everything’s fine. It was just a bad dream. Jake’s right here,” he said, and, sure enough, Jake entered the tent beaming.
“Hey!” he said briskly. “I thought you had things you wanted to do today. Why aren’t you up?”
“I-I-I don’t know,” I said slowly, starting to smile at him. This was the friendly, efficient Jake I remembered from before the Uprising… I hadn't liked him then for other reasons.
He beamed. “Why are you smiling like that?” he joked. “You never smile at me.”
”Well maybe you want to tell me about it then,” he said with a small grimace that made me remember my dream. There was something fishy about this – like it wasn’t quite right.
“Oh, but you’re right about that,” said a voice behind me – one that was totally familiar. I turned and found myself staring at the nightmare Jake. “You’re not awake right now. This is your punishment. Wait and see Rory. This will get much, much worse.”
“What are you doing here?” I hissed angrily.
“Oh I thought you might want a warning,” he said coolly blowing on his nails. “I guess I was wrong. I’ll go then.”
“Rory? Rory? Hello Rory?” A hand waved in front of my face. I blinked and turned toward the voice.
“Yeah?” I mumbled, confused by the appearance of the second Jake.
“Rory,” Rowan said, “Who were you talking to? There was no one there.”
Oh, that was great. I start having nightmares and then they start to appear in my everyday life – and only I could see them. “No one,” I muttered, looking back to where the other Jake had stood a couple minutes before. This was bad; I was definitely hallucinating. This was getting disturbingly freaky. There was something queer going on.
Time to think, girl, I thought to myself. Okay, the dream starts around 3-4 years after we escape from the Slavery - that’s when the Uprising happens and Jake and Samantha betray us. What happens in my actual life? I realized I didn’t actually know. I could remember everything that had happened in the dream but nothing about my actual past . . . suggesting I either had amnesia (highly unlikely) or this was a dream – and I was betting on the second option. And if I had made all the correct conclusions, then this dream was going to get a whole lot more nightmarish.
“I like your deductions’ Rory,” a silky voice said and this time I didn’t turn. I knew who it was already. “You’re right. It’s going to get a whole lot more fun in the next few minutes. I suggest that you start running now.”
I banished him from my thoughts and concentrated on the nightmare. Rowan and Jake were standing there looking at me peculiarly. “Come on,” I urged them, grabbing clothes and pulling them on as quickly as possible. “We need to get out of camp now!”
”Is that such a good idea?” a feminine voice asked from the tent’s entrance and I turned to see a Magician standing there. One I recognized to be Francesca Medici. She started chanting and light surrounded us. It trapped us and carried us away to whatever horrible fate awaited us in her clutches.
Okay, so if this is a dream, then reality is somewhere outside my unconsciousness and I’m asleep there right now, I thought. That means that somewhere out there Jake is meddling with my thoughts. How, I don’t know – unless he’s using a Magician… This is possible because he practically admitted to having a Magician in his ranks earlier. And in turn that means the potion the guards forced me to drink was something to make me sleep. That also means that I can’t do magic for another two to three hours because of the witch-weed binding in my hair. I immediately checked how much power I could gather – almost all of it, making me certain that more time had passed in the real world than in my mind. And if I know Jake, he’s going to forget to renew the witch-weed, meaning I can escape in less than half an hour – less probably. I would have to stay in my prison a bit longer, but until then I could relax. I would break free soon.ns 220.127.116.11da2