Monday, March 9, 2015

Day Eight-Hundred-Thirty: I Spy(der)

At some point - whether from fear, or exhaustion, or a lack of magical energy, or a desire to simply do something else - Julius fell asleep.

He dreamed, but his dreams were so vivid as to be real. The colours, the textures, the emotions, the sensations, everything seemed just a bit too there for Julius to accept it all as an everyday dream. The crisp winter air on his fur kept hinting that he was, in fact, in extreme bodily danger, and the distant heat of fire, growing closer by the second, said basically the same.

Yet it was a dream. Because Julius was asleep. He knew he was asleep. So he couldn’t reconcile the fact that he was asleep, yet witnessing everything. Eventually he decided that it must be part of his life as a familiar, and let well enough be well enough.

A man came to their rescue in Julius’s dream. He was rugged but young, his face lined with the worries of youth rather than the toil of old age. The great, crouching wolf, once focused on easier prey, immediately jumped for the young man, and the pair danced a deadly, high-speed minuet that both appeared to have practiced a thousand times. Julius could barely follow their progress as they leaped from building to building, the wolf lunging to grab the man.

Despite himself, the man smiled from time to time. Julius wondered why. He knew he would have to ask if he survived the dream.

The man and the wolf floated away, and for an interminable time Julius was left to dream on his own, the only other participant an ex-monarch who was too damned unconscious to join in. Julius felt vaguely annoyed by that. He wanted someone to talk to. Yet no gentle dream prods or soft, non-venomous dream nips could awaken Daena.

That’s quite a bump on her face, Julius thought, peering dozily at the goose egg sprouting beneath Daena’s left eye. She’s going to be sore when she wakes up. But when she does, will she be in my dream? Or will she bypass it and leap straight to consciousness? The latter would be quite rude, I think.

Daena had no opinion on that.

A wolf howled in the distance, its voice made tinny and ridiculous by the dream. Julius thought the sound to be quite rude, as well, though he couldn’t say why. Perhaps he’d always thought of howling as rude, and he’d only just realized as such. Anything was possible. Julius waved his forelegs in irritation, as though swatting away flies, but the howling persisted.

The man returned. The wolf was not with him. Julius was quite happy to see that it was not. He’d decided that wolves - No, no, old chap, they’re werewolves - yes, he’d decided that werewolves could go throw themselves off a bridge somewhere, what with all their howling and running about, trying to kill people. They could just hang, for all he cared.

The man lifted Daena from the ground, taking Julius with her. Her body rocked in the man’s grasp, Julius nestled against her stomach, and the spider felt quite contented by it all. He wondered if his mother had ever rocked him in the same way, trying to comfort a spiderling temper tantrum in the dead of night.

No, probably not, Julius thought. She probably tried to eat me. How uncouth.

The wavering, purple-and-brown-and-mauve-and-fire-coloured dream streets vanished, ripped away from existence itself like gaudy wallpaper, and the scene that replaced it was much more boring: a house. It appeared to not be on fire at all. Julius disapproved of this, because he found fire to be rather pretty.

June always had a fire in her fireplace, Julius remembered. The old turd. She left me behind to die on a werewolf. But she always had a fire in her fireplace. I guess I’ll give her that much, even if she was a devil.

June was not standing over Julius now. Nor, indeed, was the man, or Daena. It was, instead, a gangly, tall youth, dark-skinned and uncertain. Julius suspected that he’d met this boy once, or at least heard about him. The face, if nothing else, reminded Julius… of… someone.

Julius waved. He hoped to beckon the boy into his dream realm. He wanted company. The dream was, after all, more pleasant than reality. He refused to be a party to reality any longer. It always proved too painful.

The boy reached for Julius, flattening his palm. Hunched on a table, legs quavering - the table seemed to be undergoing an earthquake, or perhaps it was pitching about on the high seas - Julius crawled into the boy’s hand. Electricity pricked at Julius’s legs -

- and all at once, he came awake. Entirely, utterly, fantastically awake.

Though he’d touched the souls of others many times, Julius had only ever retained a single master as a familiar: June. He could claim no other master, as forcibly breaking the connection with her would, very literally, shatter his soul. She’d invested too much magic in him for it not to be so. Nevertheless, their long absence from one another had gradually eroded their connection to the point of collapse -

- and when Julius came in contact with another magic user, one more powerful than June, he instinctively cast aside the tattered remains of the now-powerless connection… and forged a new one.

Brilliant green light flooded the room, pouring out of the eyes of Julius and his master. The boy - Fynn, Julius thought, his name is Fynn - struggled to control his energies, and Julius, much more practiced at the art of magic, had to focus his being into settling Fynn’s destructive capacities back into the lad’s skin. The room shook for a long minute, the structural integrity of the building almost faltering, before it came to an uneasy rest.

Backed against a bed, one arm protectively slung over his mother, Logan stared at the Non and his new familiar. “W… what in the hell was that?

Fynn didn’t answer immediately. Instead, with Julius on his shoulder, he raised a hand into the air experimentally. Green-and-white energy poured out of his fingertips, pooling together and forming a shield around his entire body. He closed his glowing eyes, concentrating -

- and Julius, assisting, concentrated as well -

- and the shield trebled in size, almost ramming Logan into a wall. The older man goggled, surprised, furious, and oddly amused.

Fynn dropped the shield, blushing apologetically. He hadn’t broken a sweat. “Uh, I think the plan might work now.” 

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