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The black mire was all around him, a dark swath of midnight stars. Ravenwing turned slowly, eyes flitting from one faerie-light to another. They floated noiselessly in front, behind, beside him, burning with a cold, distant light—like the stars. He glanced up, but there were no stars overhead.

 

The Pyero began to walk, the thick grasses brushing his palms. His mind new they should be hissing as he shifted their thick stalks, but no sound came from the ground, the air, the world. He felt the silence muffle his ears, like cotton, pressing tightly against his face. He clapped his hands together sharply in front of his face, but—no sound.

 

He took another step forward and stumbled into waist deep slime, black as the sky, or lack thereof. Confused, he turned back to find the shore and wade around the pool. Horizon to horizon there was nothing but the thick dark mud: the grass was gone.

 

The grime began to rise, lifting great bubbles that popped noiselessly. Ravenwing felt it grip his legs and feet, trying to pull him under. He took a wrenching step forward with a mute cry, fighting to keep moving. The black sloshed his hands, clothes, hair, smeared on his face.

 

An ethereal voice—one he felt rather than heard—called to him. The Pyero glanced up in surprise; a white light glistened on the horizon. It looked endlessly far away, but he started forward, using his arms for momentum to pull through the swamp.

 

The light grew brighter, forming the outline of a tall, slender person. Ravenwing gasped. “Kersymm!” he felt his lips form the word, his throat contract as he called her name, but no sound came out. Had he gone deaf?

 

The white shape turned an indistinct face towards him, held out a hand. The faerie-lamps shuddered, pulsing as if they had leapt through time and space to float closer, only feet away now. Watching. Staring.

 

Ravenwing jerked through the mud with large leaps, a hand reaching out to the white figure. The fingers were just within his grasp—he clasped them tightly with a growing smile. The white glow touched his face.

 

The glowing fingers gripped his hand painfully, pulling him in. He felt them burning then, as if he had plunged his hand into a smelting fire that did not recognize his call and rebelled against the soothing words of control he sang. He could feel his skin peeling from his bones, his bones charring, crumbling, falling to the ground in fine trickles of dust. The Pyero jerked back, a scream pressing on his throat as the first doubt crept to the back of his mind.

 

The white face grinned, a pair of scarlet eyes bleeding through the glow, and the white was swallowed in a sharp smile and hair as black as the filth that clung to him. Aazurud pulled him in, his mouth opening, widening, stretching his face into a great black orifice that leaned forward to swallow him, tear his flesh, rip his head from his shoulders.

 

Ravenwing’s scream was so loud in his own ears that he awoke, shocked from his deaf dream by his own noise of utter fear. A ghostly face loomed into his blurred vision and a strong hand gripped his shoulder. “Ravenwing?”

 

Ravenwing blinked nervously at Masule. Geion hovered in the background, his highly angled face shadowed with green light from his glowing stone.

 

The Pyero sighed shakily, dashing sweat from his brow. He was drenched and shivering, but he was alive...and miles from that person. “I’m fine,” he said. His voice didn’t sound as steady or as confident as he had hoped. He cleared his throat. “Just a dream.”

 

“Said the farmer to his wife, ‘It’s just a snake’,” Geion said tonelessly. “Until the viper bit his hand and he died.”

 

Ravenwing blinked and shrugged. “I’m fine,” he said, harder. “I just need sleep.”

 

“Shall I guard your dreams then?” Geion asked, raising his brows.

 

“No.”

 

The gryff smiled and tugged at the ruff on the side of his jaw. “I will stay with you tonight,” Masule said, and his voice courted no dispute. “So that your sleep is, at the least, undisturbed.”

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:hmm: hmmm. . .not sure about like or dislike. . .very descriptive, but considering I don't know the characters or what a Pyero or gryff is, slightly confusing.

like I said, not sure about like or dislike.

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