Magic's Heir Chapter 1
By Loren Leah
It was a place of wonders.
Nash walked through the garden, marveling at the splendor and color laid before him. Lush grass of a green more vibrant than he'd ever known carpeted the floor, seeming to meld with the vines that snaked up and down the many trellises scattered about. Flowers of all shapes and sizes grew, bursting out of unexpected nooks and crannies just for the joy of surprise. The whole area was pervaded with the scent of life, of growth; little *somethings* flitted by--Nash could just, *almost*, catch them with his gaze before they would disappear past the corners of his eyes.
He would gladly have explored the place forever.
A tiny girl walked up to him. Was she a girl? Nash wasn't sure. The child walked over and flew--perhaps not a mere girl, then--flew, transparent wings flapping, up to sit on his shoulder. She leaned against his neck and whispered into his ear with a voice like honey.
"Hello, dear Nash. I wish you would come and visit us sometime."
He wished he would, too.
But before he could answer, he opened his eyes.
* * *
"Good morning, Nash."
Mia was shaking him awake.
"W-wha...?" He shook his head, clearing the last vestiges of confusion from his mind as he sat up. "Er, oh," he mumbled, looking over and noticing the unusual sight of Mia Ausa in his bedroom. What was she doing here? "Good morning." Pushing back the sheets, he rose and walked over to the window, opening the curtains. "Beautiful day," he observed, looking out at the sky...the sun was so high up already... maybe a bit *too* high...?
"Um, Nash..." Mia's voice sounded a bit embarrassed, but worried all the same. "I don't mean to pry, but...is something wrong?"
He turned toward her. "What do you mean?"
"Well, it's just that I've never known you to be late for anything, and here you've slept in for over an hour, four days in a row..." She shrugged sheepishly. "That's why I came in here this morning. I'm sorry if I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but...I was just a little worried."
"...Oh. I--I see." Looking down at himself, he adjusted his pajamas nervously. He didn't want to tell her about his dream. Why was that? There shouldn't be any reason not to...but no. He would not tell her. "Um, well, that is... you see... There's this, um, thing--"
"Is it some kind of bad dream?" Mia burst out suddenly. "Are you having nightmares!? Have they woken you up, and then you couldn't get back to sleep, and then when you did you slept in late to make up for lost time and I came in here and nagged at you about it like a jerk and now you'd have every right to be mad at me and oh, Nash, I'm sorry and I hope you're not having nightmares!!" Somehow she got it all out in one breath.
Nash stared for just a moment. "...er."
She blushed, thorougly embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I don't know where that came from," she mumured quickly before fleeing the room, cheeks still afire.
"Mia! Wait!" Forgetting his pajamas and his prior compulsion, Nash rushed after her, catching her by the arm. She turned silently to look at him.
"Look, I'm the one who should be sorry," he told her. "I didn't realize I'd worried you so much. Um..." He looked down at himself, then around the very public hall, and then back at Mia, grinning embarrassedly. "Let's go back to my room and I'll explain."
Mia followed his gaze around the hall. Some other people at the far end were staring at them, and most particularly at Nash. Laughing, she followed the young mage back into his room.
* * *
"It's kind of scary, in a way."
Nash sat on his bed, now in his Magic Guild uniform. He had quickly changed clothes in the bathroom before recounting to Mia the details of his wondrous dream.
"Why do you say that?" she asked him.
"Well, when I'm in the dream, I feel like I never want to leave," he replied, staring out the window. "Like I could just...stay there forever. It doesn't feel like a dream when I'm actually...in it." He frowned. "I think I just discovered another scary part this morning... Up until you rushed out of here earlier, I felt a really strong compulsion not to tell you anything about this dream. I'm still straining a bit against it right now."
"I see." Mia sat down beside him. "So, have you ever had any similar dreams before this week?"
"Hm..." He crossed his arms over his chest as he thought back. He didn't always remember his dreams...but this one...
"That night." His eyes widened suddenly.
"The night...after we killed Ghaleon. I had a dream then that I was walking through a garden. It might even have been the same garden." He nodded. "I'm not quite sure, though...I mean, it was over a year ago. But I think they were pretty similar."
"I wonder if..." The look on Mia's face was unreadable. "The Grindery..."
"The Grindery?" Now it was Nash's turn to be confused. "What does that thing have to do with any of this?"
Mia shook her head, expression now thoughtful. "I'm not quite sure, but... Well, just let me think about this for a bit, all right?"
Nash blinked. "Okay. Sure."
She smiled, reaching over to pat his hand. "I'll let you know if I figure anything out. See you at lunch." Rising, she headed out the door and left him to himself.
He looked over at his pillow. It seemed so inviting... he could just lie down for a few more minutes, and then--
He clamped a lid shut on that thought and rose to go fix his hair. Late or not, he had work to do today.
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