It was day, but the sky was dark and stained with threads of smoke rising from the charred landscape.
Cratered and torn, corpses of men and beasts littered the land; the land which was writhing and boiling like an anguished bed of thorns.
The once-lush land was reduced to nothing but black smoldering ruin; it would take many years for the land to recover life from what was happening.
The blackened land rumbled with the weight of marching armies, and the very air was full to the brim with shouts and smell of blood. Steel clashed against another, throwing sparks visible from far away.
At the center of the darkness was a shimmering mass of blackness from which monstrosities emerged to attack the living. The grand army of the Coalition of Man marched to stem the tide of corrupting darkness and finally, just before the vanguard was the goal itself; The maelstrom of darkness hissing and growling, lashing out with fangs and claws.
But instead of charging forth, the men of the vanguard formed a perimeter and faced their shields outward.
“This is it, Madam. Years of effort and countless sacrifices have led to this moment. Are you ready?” A tall muscular and heavily scarred man asked his commander. Standing resolutely before him was a silver armor clad warrior with red mantle over her right shoulder.
She took off her helmet and looked down at her black and red saber. Her golden blonde hair swayed in the melancholy wind of the dying land; sticky and ever stained with blood from years of battle and war.
Her hands were shaking as terror gripped her heart. But she somehow managed to keep the cold fear at bay for now. She returned the saber to its sheath and looked resolutely towards her goal. And as she walked, the light seemed to bathe her in luminous, brilliant white veil.
“We worked so hard to get here. And now we are almost done with our quest. Just a bit more and this nightmare can end.” The silver clad commander replied. She took hold of her red mantle and tore it off. She cast it aside and also discarded her helmet.
From the center of darkness, a figure began to emerge. The scarred man turned to face his soldiers.
“Here it comes! Brace yourselves, brave warriors! Victory is finally at hand!”
The tired and battered men gave shout to strengthen their weary heart and prepare for whatever was to happen.
“It’s now or never madam.” The man informed the silver knight once finishing rallying the men.
“I understand. Go join your men.” she commanded, her voice carrying a faint drop of uncertainty.
“Come, Nana. Show me where your life had led you!” A black figure shouted, finally releasing malevolent energies.
The sky itself seemed to shudder and darken as the whirling darkness around the black figure began to move more rapidly.
“Good bye. I’ll always remember you.” Nana whispered one last time. She allowed just one tear to leak from her eyes. It followed the shape of her face before falling upon the dry and dead land, making a small circle of damp patch upon the scorched earth.
With a shout, Nana rushed forward to clash sword with the source of all calamities.
“Mommy!” Nana screamed, sitting up from bed. The room was dark, but soon there was footsteps of someone running. The doors opened, flooding the bedroom with torchlight from the hallway.
“Miss?” A voice from the doorway asked, filled with concern.
“Meli?” Nana asked, shielding her eyes from the sudden light and blinking to adjust.
“Whats wrong?” Meli asked, walking into the bedroom and pushing aside the translucent bed curtains.
The familiar sight of Meli helped calm Nana down. Meli wore her usual black and white maid outfit, white buttoned collars accentuating the wrists and her neck. Around the neck was a black leather collar denoting her servile status. Her hands were white as snow and fuzzy, with large long ears rising up from the top of her head displaying her Bunny Demihuman roots. Her snow white long and straight hair were tied up neatly behind her into a bun and held in place by a long pin.
Meli sat on the bedside close to Nana and placed her warm and fuzzy hand upon Nana’s cheeks.
“Did you have a nightmare?” Meli asked, worry covering her otherwise beautiful features.
Nana nodded and moved forward, burying her face into Meli’s side and hugged her close for comfort. Meli placed her hands on Nana’s head and gently brushed her disheveled hair.
“Shall I call Wynette?” Meli offered. Nana shook her head, her face still buried in Meli’s clothes. Meli sat there silently brushing Nana’s hair until eventually Nana loosened her grip.
“Do you think you can go back to sleep?” Meli asked.
Nana nodded and laid back down.
“I hope you can get some rest until the morning, Miss.” Meli said as she headed for the door.
“Good night,” Nana said quietly.
“Good night.” Meli responded with a kind smile.
The door was slowly shut once more, plunging the room into moonlit darkness.
Nana looked up at the ceiling and thought about her dreams. Of the world being consumed by darkness and shadows. Shuddering in fear, Nana tried once again to return to sleep. But any night touched by the chilling hands of nightmare were bound to be restless and without relief.
Nana sighed and tossed and turned to see if she can somehow coax the sleep back to her. It was deep at night, judging from the angle of the moonlight which splashed across her room floor. Nana looked past the veil of her bed and was able to make out the location of the portable lamp sitting on her desk.
For a moment she considered taking the lamp and going for a stroll, but she felt it might keep her awake even more so she gave up on the idea.
“Stupid nightmares…” Nana squeezed one of her plushies extra hard as if the doll was to blame.
Nana kicked away her blanket because the warmth was annoying her. She buried her face into the cooler under side of the pillow. The slight chill of the soft pillow felt great, but the nightmare played on and on in an endless repetition within her head.
Nana felt everything so vividly. The despair and hopelessness, the tremor of war, the fear of the unknown… it was difficult for a twelve year old child to process it by herself.
She placed her right leg over the top of the pile of blanket she had pushed aside and tapped her toes in rhythm.
“I see veil, ceiling, moonlight, bed frames, and the line between the light and dark. I hear insects of the night from the outside, sound of my breathing and voice, the crackle of flames somewhere inside of the manor, and the rustle of my sheets. I feel the warmth and coolness of my sheets, the slightly cool night air, sweat out my forehead, the beating of my heart, the softness of my plushie doll…
Nana whispered to herself to keep her mind off of the nightmare and to help calm herself back down. Anything to distract her from the traumatizing visions which haunted her nights. Anything to distract her from the terrified screams of dying men. Anything to distract herself from the sickening smell of blood.
Her dream was relentless. Nana had seen no battle, watched no one die,heard no shrill and gurgling death throes. But through her dreams, she felt it all, saw it all, heard it all, smelled it all, tasted it all; the ugliness of war and horrors of battle.
Nana may be a child of twelve, but her mental age had no choice but to mature far earlier than her body.
Yet another night for any other child, yet another bloody battle for Nana.
“You look tired, miss.” Wynette quipped as she helped Nana into a dress. Wynette was a brunette human girl slightly taller than Nana. She also wore the Black and white maid uniform, but instead of black leather collar around her neck, she wore a red mantle around her right shoulder with the insignia of her knightly family.
“I had nightmare again.” Nana complained with her eyes shut close. Wynette was busily brushing Nana’s golden blonde hair.
“You know, the maid ladies gossip that dreams sometimes show the future. Something like Day…Day job? Day…”
“You mean Deja vu?” Nana offered.
“Right! Day Job boo. Anyway apparently sometimes you can predict the future!” Wynette said excitedly. Nana chose not to correct her pronunciation.
“I wonder why I never see mother in my dreams. I can’t imagine anything that could prevent her from rescuing me.” Nana said, thinking about her mother in real life.
“Maybe you’re worried about something? Maybe your worries are manifesting as nightmares?”
“What am I worried about?” Nana asked aloud, looking up to think.
“I’m not sure. But, well, today is a beautiful day so we should put aside our worries and just enjoy the day ahead!” Wynette suggested energetically, putting away the brush with big motions.
Nana stood up and inspected herself. The dress was fairly inconspicuous by Wynette’s standards; Simple white dress with some frills going down the hems in a spiral pattern. Looking in the mirror, she saw that her hair was tied up in the back with white ribbons and a bit was left to fall to the side fashionably. Nana lifted her leg to poke her feet from below the hem of the dress to inspect her lace sandals.
“Now, miss, you’re ready!” Wynette announced happily. Nana turned around and gazed into Wynette’s hazel eyes. In some ways Nana was jealous of Wynette. Energetic and confident; she seemed more suited to be the daughter of Deria then she herself.
“Well then, I’ll be back. Don’t get in trouble.” Nana said, heading towards the door. Wynette rushed forward and held the door open for Nana.
“Have good day. See you at breakfast!” Wynette said. Nana walked out gracefully, as any daughter of an Earl ought to.
Heading to the main dining hall, Nana sat at the end of the table. Meli soon entered with a small tray.
“Morning, miss.” She greeted Nana with a warm smile. “Did you sleep ok?”
“Mhmm.” Nana nodded, taking a napkin and placing it over her lap. Meli placed the tray and removed the lid, revealing the breakfast. Simple salad with a small plate of meat. Picking up the closest fork she was about to begin her meal when she was interrupted by Meli’s question.
“I noticed that you’re having nightmares quite often these days. Is there anything in particular that bothers you?” Meli asked once Nana began the meal.
“I don’t know, Meli. It’s always a variation on the same dream. I’m getting tired of waking up sweating and shaking.” Nana said as she sighed into the salad.
“I’ll call for a doctor and see what he thinks.” Meli offered. Nana nodded.
“Well, please eat well so you can have a bit more energy for the rest of the day.” Meli indicated the untouched breakfast. “You can look forward to today’s lessons.”
“Oh? Better not disappoint me then.” Nana replied with a beaming smile.
Nana used her fork to stab at few of the lettuces.
“Anything interesting happen?” Nana asked shortly before taking her first bite. The sweet and sourness of vinaigrette on the salad filled her mouth,
“Nothing that would be of interest for you, I’m afraid to say.” Meli reported
“How are our towns?”
“Well, Madam Deria pays the royal tithe almost exclusively off of auctions at the end of her voyages, so towns pay virtually no tax. It would be more surprising to hear that there was a town not doing so well.”
Not too long after Nana and Meli started to converse, there was a knock at the door.
“It’s me!” Wynette announced enthusiastically.
“Done with chores?” Nana asked as wynette stepped into the dining room.
“Of course!” Wynette confidently asserted.
“Since Wynette is here I’ll let her attend to you.” Meli informed Nana. Nana nodded in acknowledgement.
“Thank you, Meli.” Nana said as she watched Meli leave the room.
“Hello miss!” Wynette greeted her again. “How is the salad?”
“Very good. You did a great job with the lettuce.” Nana complimented Wynette.
“It was a lot of fun watching them grow. I watered them just now before I headed up here. However… is that it? Just salad?” Wynette asked looking concerned.
“Meli seemed to think that I might have nightmares because of my eating habit, and she suggested I try eating healthier.
“Ma’m… Miss Meli is a bunny demihuman! Of course she thinks the problem lies with meat! Humans are omnivores so meat is necessary!”
“I don’t think it hurts to try as she says. She was telling me stuff about toxins and stuff…”
“Miss Nana, Plants literally have toxins to defend themselves from insects and animals. That’s why most plants are inedible when most meats are safe to eat for humans. Don’t take Meli’s advice on food too seriously.”
“What if it helps? You know, with nightmares.”
“Ok fine, be that way. I’ll stop you if I feel it’s starting to do harm to you though.” Wynette proclaimed.
“Thank you. Are you eating with me today?” Nana asked, noticing that there was a lack of tray for Wynette.
“Not for now. I am just going to be on standby in case you need me.”
“Thank you for that.” Nana said to Wynette.
“Are you sure you don’t want at least an egg or something?” Wynette offered for the last time.
“…” Nana hesitated. But that was all Wynette needed to see to understand what Nana was hoping for.
“I’ll go cook you an egg.” Wynette declared.
Nana bowed her head in shame.
If you like it, let me know so I can work on it more