Fire. It was bright.
Fire burned. But this didn’t. What did that mean?
Clank. Clank. Clankclank. Indistinct sounds, unpleasant but with a sense of fierce satisfaction. Ache, heavy, but comforting.
What was this?
Shhhhhhhhhhhhh……the voice of wind rushing, hissing. Whirling in a vortex around a dim figure, blurred by the tempestuous air. Small, large, small, large, no constant. There is a voice, calling, calling….
Where is this?
More noises, voices, vocal torture to the chaotic tumble of the dream. Words… the descriptions are added almost unconsciously by the mind, before the thoughts are lost again amid the sea of enveloping green fire….
What is it?
There was movement now. Tight, rubbing, chafing, holding, the feeling of tugging, jerking, everywhere! The words were coming, then going just as quickly. Legs, ankles, arms, wrists.
Why is this…?
There was another feeling now. It was searing, tearing, ripping, gouging, clawing….words twisted and turned in the draining void, the mind, a consciousness clutching at the fraying edges of knowledge, of clarity, of memory.
The word came.
Blackness opened. Green fire brightened, voices soared…
In a deep, dark room, a body suddenly went taut. A mouth opened, and a voice screamed, as the last tether to the world of waking was severed, and a mind plummeted into the abyss…
* ~ *
It was soft, whatever it was. Smooth, silky, clean. Warm…
Long dark lashes fluttered and opened, revealing unfocused, moss-green eyes. They blinked blankly up into the richly draped canopy for a time, before the mind behind the eyes caught up.
Answering an instinctual signal, the upper body, supported by lithe, pale-skinned arms, was levered up, and the young woman was able to sit up and take in her surroundings.
Like the bed, the word promptly supplied by her mind, the rest of the room was elegantly dressed, endowed with such bright fabrics, ensuring the pleasant moods of its occupants.
However, the richness of the room did nothing to ease the mind of its current occupant.
A quick sweep of the room with her eyes revealed nothing.
And with the revelation of no answers, no messages provided by the room she wakes to, the young woman is suddenly struck by emptiness in her heart. And not just in her heart.
Sifting through her mind, she finds…..nothing.
Where there should have been faces, sounds, images to recall, something to explain why she was here and where this was, there was nothing but an empty void, a suffocating blanket of darkness that swallowed her mind.
A loud thudding pulsed in her ears, quickening with each passing minute. A small noise escapes from her mouth, as her lips part in a half-formed motion to voice the fluttering panic burning just beneath the surface of her thoughts.
“Wh….Th….” came the voice, making the young woman jump upon hearing the full, rich tenor of a noise she couldn’t remember ever hearing.
Her own voice, and she did not recognise the sound of it.
Along with the thudding in her ears, the growing anxiety, confusion and panic writhed and twisted in her chest, her hand coming to press against her heart, almost as if to try to calm it from the unpleasant sensation.
A glance down at her hand, upon feeling her palm meeting fabric, found that her body was draped in a simple white shift. She could feel the material around her legs, beneath the thin quilt covering her lower body. The sleeves were long and loose; bunching at her elbows when bent. Cascading down over her shoulders and coming within her line of sight, contrasting with the white of the gown, fell dark, straight brown hair.
The sight of the hair, her hair, somehow calmed her racing heart. Picking up a dark lock, she held it up to her face. Her eyes gazed over the strands carefully, as if to memorise the scattered threads of gold mixed with chocolate and charcoal black. Letting the strands fall slowly away from her fingers, the lock fell back down, the tips coming to rest on the sheets on which she sat.
Abruptly, an image flashed in front of her mind. A face, reflected back and distorted by a strange rippling, as if someone dropped a pebble into a pond.
And as soon as it had come, it vanished.
The hollow sensation left by the image’s disappearance caused a gasp to tear itself from between her lips, and the panic returned.
Disturbed by the emptiness in her mind, she dug deeper, trying to find something that could explain…anything.
The deeper she went the more her panic and fear increased.
She found nothing.
The thudding had returned; the painful pulsing in her ears against her brain. A pained hiss escaped her and she clutched her head between her hands.
It only got louder…
The throbbing grew and grew, until it was both outside and inside her mind.
Then the door opened.
“Oredia! Thank the Three; you are awake!” cried a female voice.
She did not react to the words, the noise only serving to cause more pain. An agonised moan tore itself from between her clenched teeth, her fingers curling, almost clawing down the sides of head as the pain grew, fuelled by the panic and fear of nothingness.
“Oredia! Whats wrong?” The voice changed from its previous relieved tone, concern and fright instead seeping into it.
Hands grabbed at hers, pulling them away from her face.
The touches caused something to burst from within herself.
From the deepest, darkest, primal part of her mind, her body reacted in in one of the two ways one would react when confronted with danger.
Fight, or flight.
Her reaction was fight.
The ensuing struggle caught whoever it was by surprise; cries of alarm and attempts at calming her, both the first female voice, and the new male voice repeatedly using the word ‘Oredia’.
The word was said loud and clear, her eyes open wide, staring straight into a matching pair, hands on either side of her face forcing her to stare straight back.
The eye contact cleared her mind, shocked into stillness by the calm pools of green.
“Nathalie, it is alright. You are home.” The woman let her hands drop from her face, her full lips curving into a gentle smile.
Wide eyes blinked, her shock clearing as she took in the woman’s appearance. Clear, olive skin, a tumble of dark, almost burnt-brown hair, tied back in intricate braids, falling to the woman’s slender waist. Her almond-shaped eyes turned up slightly at the sides, accentuating her exotic features, features shared to an extent by her male companion. He too had olive skin and slanted eyes, though his were a dark, dark brown, and his hair surrounded his face in dark curls, framing and softening the hard, chiselled lines of his face. They were both tall and strong, and their garments were exquisitely made.
The woman, now calmed down, stared up at the two, feeling strangely unnerved by their ‘soothing’ smiles.
“It is alright, Nathalie, nothing will harm you” said the woman again, while gently sitting down on the bed next to her and stroking her hair.
The woman stared at the both of them, still unable to think of what to say. The other woman, who appeared slightly older, gave a small nod, and looked up at the man, who hovered anxiously over them.
“Dante, could you please give S í on the good news?”
The man, who had been gazing intently at her with an unreadable expression, gave a start, and then straightened.
He bent down for a moment, his open hand almost reaching for her cheek. Stopping just short of her skin, the hand froze. She blinked wide in surprise at this near-touch, before his hand dropped, and he left the room.
His departure left a strange relief, as if a burden was lifted…
“Are you hale? Is there any lingering discomfort?” came the gentle, concerned query. The young woman looked at the other. She was silent for a time, not sure what to say.
Then, the words came, almost unbidden from her lips.
“I…” she began, again startled by the sound of her own voice. The other woman listened, waited patiently for her to speak again.
“I do not….remember…” the other woman blinked, then her eyes widened, her mouth forming a silent ‘o’ of understanding.
“Ah, you do not remember what happened? Is that it?”
Before she could open her mouth to elaborate, the other woman continued.
“You had an accident. You fell from your horse on our daily ride in the grounds and hit your head. There was some damage, but the healers assure us that there should be no lasting effects.” She smiled reassuringly and wrapped her arms around her, pulling her into an embrace, one that was full of familiarity…
The other woman jerked in surprise when the younger pulled away, shaking her head vehemently.
“No! That is not what I mean! Or…not all that I mean…” The other woman looked on in confusion as she tried to collect herself, feeling the pressure of the dark void in her mind all too heavily.
“I mean…I…I cannot remember….anything…” She looked up, her hands clasped in front of her, twisting and folding nervously.
“I do not know where I am, who you are, who that man was, and…” she broke off and her voice faltered, and she barely managed to whisper the last part, “…I do not know who I am.”
The woman was silent, staring blankly at her. Then her hand rose to her mouth, lips parting in distressed astonishment.
“Oh by the Three, you..” the woman grabbed her hand, understanding concern etched on her beautiful features.
“You truly cannot remember anything from your life?” At the weak shake of her head, the woman’s mouth curved into another gentle-like smile.
“Your name is Nathalie. Nathalie Aresta. I am Isabella, and you are my younger sister.”
The woman, whom the lady had identified as ‘Nathalie’, jerked her head up and stared at the older woman.
“Sister?” The woman nodded at the ever-so-slightly faltering question.
“The man who just left is called Dante Rekme, and you are currently inside our home, in the Akhathe Empire.”
Isabella reached out and clasped one of the amnesiac woman’s hands in both of her own, her eyes gazing into hers. She was silent for a moment, simply searching the matching pair for…
What they found would remain a mystery as she eventually continued.
“Two days ago, while we were riding through the estate’s grounds, your horse stumbled and you were tossed off. The healer’s say that your head took a hard hit; this was two days ago.”
Isabella fell silent again, as the other woman stared down into her lap, absorbing this information. Inwardly, she tried to match the claims with something, anything that she could grasp from her empty memory. She had recalled something before, why not again?
But it was for naught; the woman’s tale had not drawn up any further images, nor had it caused any recall at all. She felt something like a leaf caught in the wind, with no beginning nor end, simply existing, blown about and onward by a force she could not see nor comprehend.
Finally, the woman called Nathalie, released a quiet sigh, opening eyes that had closed in contemplation, to see Isabella still looking at her, now with a startling fierce intensity, one that made Nathalie blink, then offer a confused smile.
“I’m sorry, I still don’t remember anything, but as you say, we are family; being with people I have known all my life, something should come back to me, perhaps with time?”
The woman, Isabella, was quiet for a moment, before her lips spread into a smile that both warmed the other woman, and triggered an unfamiliar/familiar unease which settled uncomfortably in the back of her mind, and was quickly suppressed.
After all, in present company, such irrational emotions will surely disappear in time, after the shock of re-awakening into her life fades.
“ S í on will be relieved to learn of your recovery!”
The mention of the name again brought it to the front of the woman’s mind.
“You mentioned him earlier to that other man. Who is he?” Isabella blinked, and her expression changed, as if something alarming had occurred to her.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Nathalie asked anxiously.
Isabella waved her hands, her smile returning, but still with some worry etched into her face.
“No nothing is wrong, I just realised that you don’t even know who Dante is” she bit her lip, eyeing the younger woman hesitantly. Nathalie’s eyes watched her inquiringly, encouraging her to continue.
“Well, S í on…. S í on is our older brother. He was in the middle of a training exercise with the younger soldiers when you had the accident. But, more importantly, I am worried about how Dante will react to your memory loss.”
“Because you and Dante were supposed to be married a month.”
Nathalie stared at her sister, her mouth opening and closing a couple of times. She was completely at loss for words.
That handsome man was her betrothed?
A/N: This is the first chapter of an original story I plan (hope) to make into a novel (and published). I hadn't planned on uploading it at least until I'd finished writing it, but eventually I decided to upload the first few chapters to gauge if it is worth continuing. Read & Review please!!