Authors: Cameron Jace
Alice was wearing the necklace Loki had given her; the pendant was dangling down her chest.
“What is Loki’s necklace doing around your neck?” Shew did her best not to draw her fangs.
Sensing the anger on Shew’s face, Alice retreated against the wall. She didn’t look like she intended to give it back though, “I’m not your enemy, Shew,” Alice said. “Calm down. I’m here to help you, and you’re not making this easy.”
“I don’t care who you are. Give me the necklace!” Shew demanded. “Why do you even have it?”
“I was trying to read it for you. It’s one of the things Wilhelm sent me to do,” Alice said. “I will give it back to you if you listen to what I have to say.”
“I’m not listening to any of your crap!” Shew was astonished at her own reaction. Loki’s necklace meant a lot to her and this dream.
“Please trust me. I know why Loki was so vague in the World Between Dreams.”
“You what?” Shew’s anger eased, just a little, out of curiosity. “How do you know about the World Between Dreams? He said it’s a private place.”
a private place,” Alice said, and leaned a bit forward. Shew had underestimated her, thinking she was just an ordinary girl from the Waking World. “I only guessed he met you there because of the necklace. Wilhelm taught me that such a place exists deep in our minds. The World in Between Dreams is a personal place in Loki’s psyche. Very few people have access to it. They have to be people he loves dearly. There are usually only three to five people in each one’s life who can enter. And here is the good news about the World Between Dreams; Carmilla can’t see it,” Alice explained.
“He told me the same thing, but I don’t understand why it’s so important that Carmilla can’t see the World Between Dreams,” Shew’s anger had flown out the window.
“It’s because Carmilla can see everything else going on in this dream.” Alice said.
“Everything?” Shew’s brows furrowed. She was looking around, feeling as if she were trapped inside a snow globe in a witch’s hand.
“Every bit of it, through Loki’s Fleece,” Alice said slowly. “It’s like she’s looking through a crystal ball. All except the World Between Dreams. Thank God that the only way she can interfere in this world is through Loki.”
Shew sat on the edge of the window, trying to analyze every crazy detail she’d learned so far.
“But there is a catch about the World Between Dreams,” Alice said. “Whenever Loki’s inner soul reaches for you through this world, he can’t do it for long because she’ll notice his disappearance from her crystal ball. She has her own way to bring him back if he disappears, and torture him every time his soul longs for you.”
“Then why doesn’t he use the damn World in Between Dreams to freakin’ tell me what he wants to tell me?” Shew asked.
“Don’t you get it? Sometimes lovers prefer if their partners read their minds or pick up on the hints they send them, without having to be told” Alice’s eyes showed compassion when she said it, as if she wished someone loved her the way Loki loved Shew. “What’s the point of a relationship if two people have to explain everything to each other?”
“But I can’t read the damn necklace,” Shew’s face tensed and she did her best not to cry. It only took her a moment before she gathered her strength and stared back at Alice. She stood up again and gained her composure. She was stronger than she thought. “All right, I want my necklace back after I listen to you. So please tell me something useful,” she demanded.
“I will tell you something useful. It’s the one thing I wanted to tell you from the beginning, but you doubted me and kept asking too many questions,” Alice said, raising her eyes to meet Shew’s. “I will tell you how to wake up from this dream.”
“Finally,” Shew sighed with relief. “I’ve been trying to wake up from this dream since forever. Why has it been so long? I keep telling myself Axel and Fable should’ve broken the mirrors in the Dream Temple and disconnected the Dreamworld, but I don’t understand why this hasn’t happened yet.”
“It’s because they can’t,” Alice explained. “This dream is locked with a spell. Neither the dreamer nor the Dreamhunter controls this dream. Still, I
tell you how to wake up from it.”
“Come on, tell me,” Shew urged her. “I really wonder why you haven’t told me until now, since you’ve been following me for a while now.”
“Had I told you earlier, you wouldn’t have remembered Cerené or understood important information about your own life. And you wouldn’t have listened to me,” Alice said. “The only way to break free of this dream is going to be a hard decision for you.”
“OK? Can you just spit it out? She demanded. “In plain English please, and without riddles, how can I wake up from this dream?”
Alice shrugged, and her penetrating stare softened. What she was going to tell Shew was going to shatter her to pieces.
A Cruel Choice
“Enough, Axel,” Fable said.
Since she’d woken up after her shivering seizure, he’d been feeding her everything from his bag. To Axel, the only way to help someone or elevate their mood was food.
“OK,” he said. “Don’t be so grouchy. I was worried about you.”
Fable on the other hand woke up feeling different in ways she couldn’t explain. She’d asked Axel about her hallucinations and he’d told her all about the Queen and Furry Tell. Never had she felt so connected to an otherworld. She had experimented with all kinds of magic before, but this was different.
“So you want to talk about what happened?” Axel wondered.
“Like I said, I think I was there in the Dreamworld with Loki and Shew,” she couldn’t stop glancing at the purple light.
“Did you actually see them?” he asked, still skeptical. He didn’t know why Fable believed she was in the Dreamworld. Maybe she was hallucinating out of hunger, lack of sleep, or the incredible adventures they had been on since Loki’s arrival to Sorrow.
“I didn’t see Shew,” she turned and faced Axel.
Fable looked as if she was afraid to speak Loki’s name, “I did,” she lowered her head.
“What’s wrong, Fable?”
“Loki,” she said softly. “It was horrible.”
“Take it easy, sis,” Axel said. “We don’t have to talk about it now.”
“I have to talk about it!” Fable snapped, raising her head again. Axel noticed her temper had increased since the shivering.
“OK,” he said. “Tell me whatever makes you feel better.”
“Loki was so evil, Axel,” Fable said. “I saw him as the Huntsman, working for the Queen.”
“It was him you were calling a Queen’s bastard?”
“Yes,” Fable said.
“So you were really there in the Dreamworld with him, two centuries ago?” Axel scratched his head.
“In a small village called Furry Tell,” Fable said. “He almost…”
“He almost killed me, Axel.”
“Loki. Killing you? He is crazy about you. You’re probably his only human weakness,” Axel said.
“That’s what hurts,” she said. “He had the Queen’s yellow snake eyes, just like when he was in the kitchen with Carmilla.”
“Why did he want to kill you?” Axel said.
“I don’t remember exactly,” Fable said. “It was a strange seizure. I felt like I was there in the Dreamworld but I also felt like I was here in the Schloss. I can’t explain it."
“Are you keeping anything from me, Fable?” Axel wondered. “I feel like you’re lying to me. There is something you’re not telling me.”
“Why would I lie to you, Axel? You need to stop being so suspicious of everything.”
“It’s just that I feel you’re different since what just happened.”
“I’m trying to remember, Axel. Why can’t you understand that?” she touched the small wound that Axel had taken care of.
“Don’t worry,” Axel said. “I took care of it. I stopped the bleeding.”
“Thank you, bro,” Fable said. “But the bleeding was the least of my worries.”
“I’ll take that as a thank you,” Axel rolled his eyes.
“Think about it. I was hurt in the Dreamworld, and bled in the Waking World. That was really scary,” Fable said.
“Are you saying Loki did that to you?” Axel stood up. “I am going to kick his sorry ass when he wakes up,” he made his hands into fists and stared at the purple light.
“If they wake up,” Fable commented.
Axel fidgeted, not meeting her eyes.
“Don’t you think it’s time to admit you deleted the part about how this dream could be broken?” Fable eyed Axel without hesitation.
Axel said nothing, tapping the phone in his hand. He had no doubt Fable was going to do whatever it took to find out how to unlock the dream.
Was it time to tell her? She would not like the answer.
“Do you know what it means that I am wounded here in the Waking World?” Fable pressed harder. “It means that I’m already connected to this Dreamworld somehow.”
“And I wonder how,” Axel confronted her with another suspicious gaze.
“How should I know? Didn’t you see me have a seizure a while ago? What’s gotten into you,” she stood up, still feeling weary. “Someone could kill me in the Dreamworld, and I’ll end up dead here.”
“This is all gibberish, Fable,” Axel said. “Why would you be in the Dreamworld? You’re not one of them. There is no place for you in the Dreamworld. What happened to you is some kind of magic or something, probably because you keep circling this stupid purple light. I told you to keep away from it.”
“You’re right, Axel,” Fable lowered her tone. “It doesn’t make sense that I was in the Dreamworld. I am not a fairy tale character. I have never been that special,” she let out a tight laugh. “But what if one of them is reaching out for us? Maybe they need us to help them. Remember when Loki said you should break the mirror in case they don’t wake in the previous dreams? Now, that we can’t reach it, they could be sending us a message with their minds. What if, Axel?” She walked closer to him, talking politely. “How would you live with yourself if you learned that they needed our help and you stood here, eating your useless food, and doing nothing?”
“I agree with you, Fable,” he said. “I would do anything to help, Loki. You know he is my only and best friend—I don’t care so much about Shew, to be honest. But I can’t help Loki, not even with the information I deleted from the phone—” he realized he was too late. He’d spilled the beans already.
“So you admit deleting how Loki and Shew can unlock the dream,” Fable said.
“Yes, I did,” Axel waved his hands and walked away from her toward the purple light. “So what?”
“So if we’re not going to be able to help them anymore, why can’t you just tell me?” Fable said.
“I guess I have to get it off of my chest,” Axel said. “But you’re not going to like it.”
“It’s been a very unlikable day,” Fable said. “I can live with one more letdown.”
“In order to break free from a locked dream,” Axel turned to face his sister. “The Dreamer or the Dreamhunter has to kill the other to break the spell. Only one of them can wake up alive.”
A Splintered Clue
“Are you crazy?” Shew snapped. It wasn’t as if killing the Huntsman was easy, but the thought of even trying to hurt Loki was unacceptable.
“I know it’s hard, but you will stay trapped in this dream forever if you don’t do it,” Alice tried to pat her on the shoulder but Shew pushed her away. “Carmilla has locked this dream with a spell, which means the Dreamworld’s connection is too strong for the Waker to wake Loki up. Even Carmilla can’t do anything about it—she probably didn’t know that, or else she didn’t care.”
“I don’t care either,” Shew brushed Alice away and walked closer to a window, longing to breathe some air of logic.
“Alright, Shew,” Alice lowered her voice to ease the tension. “I need to tell you a little story, if you don’t mind.”
“I thought you didn’t even have much time,” Shew said. “Now you want to tell me a story?”
“It’s the only way to explain the consequences of you staying trapped in this dream,” Alice said. “And what Cerené’s real role is.”
“Cerené?” Shew considered. Even in her darkest hour, she couldn’t resist knowing more about her enigmatic childhood friend. “You have my attention,” she nodded.
“It’s a simple story, just like any other fairy tale,” Alice said, “only much darker.”
“Loki likes those,” Shew mused. “I’m all ears.”
“Since the beginning of time, a mysterious artifact called the Anderson Mirror has been of interest to the forces of the so called good and evil sides,” Alice said.
“Why are you calling them ‘so called’?”
“Because there is no absolute good and evil,” Alice said.
“Also, mirror and glass hadn’t been invented until recently, Alice” Shew interrupted again.
“In our world, yes,” Alice said. “But not in the cosmic world. The Anderson Mirror has existed since long ago. It’s even rumored that Justus Von Liebig, presumably the first man to invent a shiny silvered mirror, was actually trying to replicate the Anderson Mirror,” Alice stopped for a breath. She started walking back and forth in the bathhouse like a teacher in a lecture, lacing her hands together. “No one ever knew who created the mirror or what its purpose was. All we know is that it reflected the worst in people.”
“The worst? You mean the way the mirrors in my room show my mother’s true ugly nature?” Shew asked.
“Not exactly,” Alice said. “Ordinary mirrors show the Queen’s nature because that’s what mirrors are supposed to do. The Anderson Mirror shows a person’s darker side whether he is good or bad. It just shows the worst in people. Period.”
“Why would the world fight over such a mirror, then?” Shew wondered.
“The quest for the mirror wasn’t as bloody in the beginning as it is now, before it fell into the hands of the devil,” Alice explained.
“Oh, there’s even a devil in this story,” Shew didn’t know what to believe anymore.
“He’s an ugly troll. Long story short, the devil broke the mirror accidentally and its splinters spread all over the world,” Alice explained.