Note to Reader: I've made this story a long time ago. Admittedly, this is the 2nd time I'm posting it here. I guess it was overshadowed by the thousands of stories posted in FPnet. But that can't be helped, neh? I'm turning over a new leaf, and I am hoping against all the negative energies in the world that this is good enough to warrant a review (I'm a pessimist).
That you clicked the link to this already gives me hope. I thank you, beforehand, for reading this. I'll hug you for reviewing this! Whatever you give me, I shall accept. Constructive criticism is much welcomed--I know I'm bound to be off at some place, if not one. Thanks again!
Chapter ONE: Real Dream?
The sky was very dark, a significant sign of rain. Or was it? It was simply too dark and black, and gloomy, as though in deepest mourning. The animals of a certain wood seemed to have noticed it as well; birds stayed in their nests watching over their hatchlings; rabbits hid under their holes; wolves and bears remained in their own caves, guarding over their cubs. Even the sightless snakes felt the change in weather as they slithered into their hiding places.
A young man, however, stood still and watching, oblivious of everything. His face was in his hands as though confused and angry. The soft rustle of grass made him look up, as though he were expecting something all the while. And something did come, in the form of a large procession. The air was filled with buzzing as the crowd muttered strange and cryptic incantations. Leading them slowly was one beautiful, unveiled individual wearing a long white satin gown, which hung loosely over her sides and arms. She glanced at him with a look as though beckoning him to follow. The man, at first, hesitated then walked at the back of the crowd.
They reached an opening at the side of a hill and they entered. The endless chanting seemed to reverberate through the very walls of the cave. Suddenly they all came to a halt. The woman turned to face them searchingly as if looking for a familiar face. Finally, her eyes found the man's. Fleeting sorrow glazed those eyes for a moment. With a slow, unsteady breathing, she raised her arms gracefully and clasped her hands above her breasts in prayer. She levitated to a platform high up on the rocky walls. Light formed over her fingertips gradually forming a ball of bright fire. The ground began to shake roughly for some minutes yet the people did not seem troubled. A concerned look passed over the man's face.
All of a sudden, a black wind swept into the cave, like hundreds of bees. It formed into a slimy demon-like shape, screaming and flailing its arms as it was pulled into the golden ball held by the woman. Light and darkness battled yet the latter lost. Slowly, she looked at him with a sad look in her face. Tears streaked her pallid cheeks, and with effort, the corners of her mouth moved into a lonely smile. She whispered something with the utmost tenderness. The man was too far to hear her words but near enough to read her lips…
"I love you…"
Lawrence Ark woke with a start. The rain has been falling with vengeance making the atmosphere cool and foggy, yet his shirt was drenched with sweat. He sat up on the couch, gingerly rubbing his face with his fist. His heart thudded fast. Shaking his head, he tried to recall the contents of his dream. There was a woman…and a man—no—was he the man? It was still too vague to recollect. There was a long procession…and a cave…and then what?
There was a lot of light. Then, a demon appeared out of nowhere…then she was crying…and she said…
The young man of eighteen years gulped at the memory. He rubbed his dark, disheveled hair roughly to calm himself.
Why, he thought, angrily, why am I so affected? Anyone can easily dream of a pretty lady saying that she loves him, right?
But then, he knew that it wasn't. The look on her eyes, the picture of her sweet face, and the sincerity of the words were all real. At least, it felt real. And…it wasn't the first time he dreamed of her after all; he's been seeing her in his dreams for months! He closed his eyes in thought. All of those dreams—didn't they always end up with that infernal cave? But today's dream, he thought, is just too vivid for comfort.
I love you…
He never actually heard her say the words before. Today—she was too real.
He stared at his own hands. As though doing it for the first time, his dark brown eyes probed his surroundings. A laptop sat on one side of his desk. A telephone hung on the wall. Then, there was his bed. And his suitcases were strewn on the floor. The bathroom door lay open. The other room was the kitchen. Simply put, everything was in place. There was no crowd, no pretty lady, no cave, and definitely no monster, not that he would be eager for the last part. Still, there was this disconcerting feel of loneliness and gloom which remained within him. Scratching his head somberly, he reluctantly brushed off his thoughts and decided to make the most of his vacation instead.
"Well, I really should be enjoying," he said loudly to himself since there was no one to speak to, "I definitely need a break from the university and the city." Yawning loudly, he proceeded to taking a short shower.
Later, Lawrence reappeared from the bathroom and rampaged his suitcases in search of clothes. He took his time moving, sporting a baggy six-pocket pants and a loose T-shirt. Leisurely he looked at himself in front of the mirror and grinned. His brown hair was flecked with jet-black and his skin tone was similar to those living in the tropics: rich tan. His eyes were dark and deep with a mysterious, somewhat sober look in them. His nose was slightly crooked yet pleasing while his lips were thin and firm. Lawrence slowly looked down to study his masculine features and smirked. Women would have admired him for his looks yet somehow, he never seemed to have time for them. Or maybe he just didn't care. The last time he dated girls was…well, years ago. It didn't even flower into a serious relationship. With a slight frown, Lawrence thought of these things.
So what? he thought, Maybe girls just aren't my thing. Maybe I'm just not the romantic type.
Or maybe, just maybe, the woman of his dreams was yet to be born. Lawrence frowned and pushed the ridiculous thought from his head.
Wanting to preoccupy himself, Lawrence walked over to the pile of clothes that he had pulled out from his suitcase and tried to tidy them one by one. When he found it too boring, his mind unconsciously drifted to other thoughts. He remembered his conversation with his parents a few days ago…
"Renz, dear," her mother had said, calling him by his nickname after peering closely at him. Lawrence got the color of his eyes and skin from her mother, Diana Ark, a native Filipina.
"Hmm?" was his sole reply as he sat by the kitchen table, idly fiddling with his eggs and sausages.
"You look tired." She had declared.
"Yeah, mum. You know, lots of school stuff and things."
"Is that all?" she had raised an eyebrow.
"What do you mean, mum?" he asked, meeting her gaze for the first time.
"I mean, is there some "other" reason for your misery? A girl perhaps?" she had added hopefully, knowing how lifeless her son's love life is.
"No!" he had said, almost shouting in surprise at the suggestion.
"Well…" she said rather slowly, "maybe you need a break…a vacation…"
"Oh, right," he had exasperated, "Well then, give me ten reasons to go to a vacation."
"Renz, other boys would be whooping for joy at the suggestion. Dear, is this really necessary?"
"Lawrence! Isn't it your semester break? Isn't that more than ten reasons enough?"
"Oh, dear, don't be so difficult! Alfred, darling, come and help me persuade our son."
Sure enough, Mr. Ark had appeared from the living room holding a newspaper in one hand and a glass of milk in the other. He was a tall man with pleasing looks. From him, Lawrence inherited his thick, brown-black hair.
"Son," he had said with a wise almost comical look on his face,"I would seriously take your mother's advice if I were you. Of course, I wouldn't want to get hurt—"
"Alfred," she said reproachfully. "Please be serious, dear."
"I was serious," he said with a low chuckle and added in a more serious tone. "Well, joking aside, I think you should have a vacation, son."
"See, Renz, dear. I knew your father would agree!"
"Of course I would agree!" said a surprised Mr. Ark.
"Of course he would agree!" snorted Lawrence.
"Now, Lawrence, since your mother and I both agree that you look a bit sick, you will have your vacation."
"No buts, son."
"Don't worry. You'll go alone if that's what you want. I know you want your peace and quiet—"
"WAIT!!!" shouted a voice from the living room. A girl that slightly resembled Lawrence because of the shape of her jaw and color of eyes entered the kitchen imperiously. It was Reena, Lawrence's fourteen-year old sister.
"Dad! What do you mean that Lawrence is going alone?"
"Well, that means, of course, that he won't have any company," Mr. Ark replied good-naturedly.
"I know that, daddy. But…why?"
"Because, as dad said before, you dummy, I need peace and quiet."
"Shut up, smarty-pants! I'm not talking to you."
"Please, no name-calling, kids," Mrs. Ark warned.
"But—but—," sniffed Reena, pleading to Mr. Ark with wide eyes, completely ignoring their mother, "How about me?"
"Oh, you can stay here and invite your girlfriends…"
"Great!" she exclaimed and quickly left the room to call her friends over.
"So…" said Mr. Ark when Reena could no longer be heard, "An isolated cottage is what you want right? I recall you telling me that the other day."
Mr. Ark glanced at his wife at the exact moment she chanced to look at him and grinned.
"I've got just the thing."
Lawrence remembered it quickly and surveyed the room again. This place was Mr. Ark's getaway. As a young boy, he had lived in this house with his parents. When Mr. And Mrs. Ark got married, they spent their honeymoon here. The exciting thing about this cabin was the fact that it is twenty-five kilometers from civilization. It was built in the middle of a lush green forest and beside small hills and mountains, which practically meant that he was in the middle of nowhere. Though Lawrence enjoyed the company of friends and family, he also loved isolation and silence once in a while. Often, he did this to clear his mind. But now it was impossible, the dream made it impossible…
It was some time later that Lawrence realized that he was no longer fixing the clothes but staring at them. He stood up and gave up on his things. He could not help thinking of her. Lawrence sighed and sat on the couch once more. He lazily eyed his laptop. A nagging urge to fiddle with it pitted his stomach. Yet, he knew he shouldn't be spending the first days of his vacation in front of the glare of his screen.
Well, there was no law against laptops, was there? Lawrence's hand automatically reached for it, a small wicked smile on his face. Suddenly, his hand stopped in midair and his jaw dropped. Instead of a laptop, there stood the woman: the one from his dreams.
She just stood there, tears falling from her eyes. Yet somehow, she seemed to be happy.
Lawrence shook his head and closed his eyes in disbelief.
She was gone, leaving Lawrence in stupor. The mysterious woman had disappeared. He quickly stood up to confirm whether he had been dreaming or had just plainly hallucinated. He slapped himself twice, thrice and pinched his nose. Again, he shook his head.
"It was a dream it was a dream it was a dream," he repeated to himself several times.
When he finally calmed down, he sat on the bed; elbows on his knees and face on his hands.
"Am I going crazy?" he thought, "Is she a ghost—or a vision? If she is, she definitely looked alive, and real." Her face flashed in his memory. Her damned sweet face streaked with tears… Why was she crying? Who was she? What was she?
"A dream," he whispered back to himself, "she is a dream." then the words came back to him.
"Lawrence, I love you."
Would a dream seriously say such things? Was there a fantasy that looked as real as she had?
"Damn it!" he cursed loudly, dispelling his train of thought, "What the hell is happening to me?"
Lawrence ran his fingers along his hair and sighed, easing his tension a little. He didn't know the answer and that confused him. He never liked feeling confused and now it annoyed him too much. I'm hallucinating, that's what. Maybe my mum is right—I should get me a love life.
But an alternative solution—more viable and interesting—entered his head: take a hike.
This idea brought some new light to his befuddled brain.
Ten minutes later, he emerged from the cabin wearing a jacket over his clothes, sporting sturdy boots. The rain had been reduced to a drizzle and the sun was beginning to peep from behind the clouds, giving the forest a lively and slightly haunting effect. His boots squashed mud and weeds as he paced leisurely along the path. When the light rain was truly gone, the sun's rays pierced through the clouds and brought him more light. Yet it was silent. Very silent. His ears pricked slightly at the chirping of birds. After some time, his walk started to become tiresome and boring.
Something captured his interest and he instinctively stopped in his tracks and stared at the crowded trees at the sides of the muddy, under-developed road. It was awfully dark there and strangely misty, too. No roads, no paths, nothing to lead him back to the cabin. Then, a wild idea entered from the adventurous and bold side of his character. His curiosity of what lies there got the better of him. Even a few second thoughts failed to remove that dangerous "idea." Should there be wild animals there, he could easily run, couldn't he? Anyways, he had brought his pocketknife with him. And no one would be stupid enough to be lost here. Could anything possibly go wrong? Before another crucial consideration could stop him, Lawrence plunged into the sea of trees.
He took his time, carefully examining every stone and plant. He even hummed a simple tune while admiring his surroundings. The air here was fresher and cooler, maybe because the sunlight could not penetrate the thick growth of leaves and branches. He noticed, later on, that the trees on this region were old. He knew, not because of the size or the thickness of the trunks but the odd feeling it gave him: the strange sensation of familiarity. He couldn't describe it. It was just…odd. A frown passed though his dark eyes. Yet he went on, and the more he walked the more cheerless and eerie the place grew. A shiver passed through him but he knew that it wasn't due to the increasing mist and cold. He tried to trace his way back to the path in vain. He couldn't remember the way out. At that moment, Lawrence realized one horrible truth: he was lost.
This discovery both sickened and horrified him. The mist by now was thick, too thick, so as to make breathing difficult. A sound made him jump. Something was moving from behind some bushes and he knew that it most likely was some wild creature. He didn't bother to find out. All he did was run as fast as he could, agilely dodging some branches and brushing off leaves that hit his face as he went. He had to go away or, he thought, he would die in the jaws of some ferocious beast. Only now did he realize the stupidity of his decision.
It simply happened, like some suspenseful thriller. Lawrence tripped on a fallen tree trunk and fell face down. Luckily, he didn't pass out. However, his lower lip and right eyebrow bled slightly and his left leg winced with pain when he tried to move it. Anger and frustration hit him like a punch on his sore body.
"Damn it! Stupid, lousy, fu— " he cursed vehemently, punctuating the last ones by pushing himself up. He leaned on the first tree he could reach and desperately tried to move. Yet his efforts were all made in vain. But in the middle of his string of curses, he heard something which made him freeze, and even forget his pain.
He swung his head around but there was no one behind him.
"Lawrence…I'm here…look at me…"
Lawrence looked ahead and there she was. The young and beautiful woman is there in her white, almost ethereal clothes. He was transfixed by the image. Hope filled his heart without knowing why.
"Please," she whispered, her voice hardly audible yet musical, "please…help me."
But I can't, he thought miserably.
"Only you can," she answered back as if knowing what was in his mind.
"Please…I need you…I—need you…"
Then, she gradually faded.
"No," shouted Lawrence, "Hey, don't—don't go yet!"
And with Herculean effort, he ran off, constantly limping now and then. Her voice still echoing in his head spared him his last reserves of strength. Strange as it was, he felt as though he knew where exactly to go. At the moment, nothing made sense and he followed his instincts like a dog at the ends of a hot trail.
After what seemed like a lifetime, he finally reached his destination. There was the hill, and at the foot there was an opening. A cave—the cave from his dream. Lawrence entered, limping and at the same time staring in awe at the beauty of the interior. Bright rocks growing from the ceiling produced dim rainbow lights, giving the place a haunted countenance.
Lawrence reached a dead end. A vast wall of rock and earth was all that there is. He was about to lose hope when he remembered something. Instinctively, he looked up and there she was; the beautiful apparition. The light focused on her features told that she was made of white stone. He stepped back a bit and observed her thoroughly from his position. The woman looked exactly as she had been in the dream. The golden ball was in her hand, too. Somehow, she seemed so much alive…
"Lawrence…" whispered the hauntingly beautiful voice, "Please…"
"Please help me. Release me from my prison. I need to be free…"
"But how?" he asked loudly, "I don't know how."
"Call me…please…I know you, Lawrence."
Softly, she added, "I know you know me, too…"
Lawrence closed his eyes and suddenly, he knew her name.
"Cyaminth! Wake up!"
For a whole breathless second, there was nothing. Then, the statue chipped and exploded in loud white. The beauty of the transformation was indescribable. All he knew was that from a marble effigy, she became all flesh and life. Her long auburn hair glistened against the light. Her lips were pink once more. The dull gray skin has grown soft and pale once again. Her lifeless eyes danced with a strange light. She gasped for breath and smiled. Her gaze focused on him, and Lawrence was mesmerized with the swirl of emotions he saw in it.
The look was instantly replaced by a look of fear as the mysterious golden ball in her hand convulsed violently. Then, it, too, exploded and a fearful dark being flew out, screeching with the vilest rage. It gave the two mortals one look and, with a parting scream of fury, disappeared.
The woman named Cyaminth staggered, weakened. And fell.
Lawrence jumped forward, ignoring the fresh stab of pain that ignited once more from his leg to catch her. She fell on top of him while his back hit the ground with a thud
Never before had Lawrence thought of anything like this happening to him. His arms were wrapped protectively over her, a woman he had never met before. His mother would have been delighted had she seen this happening. He gritted his teeth and sat up, with her still on his lap, trying to untangle himself. Then, she woke up.
A dreamy expression was on her face as she looked up. Lawrence's heart thudded madly. Had he known how flushed and hot he had looked, his heartbeat would probably have raced faster. Her face was near…too near.
Then, her right hand lightly touched his left leg. Warmth and light spread quickly on the injured part, the pain gradually receding. When the light disappeared he knew his leg has been healed. She did the same to his face. Lawrence was too surprised to move.
"Lawrence…I've waited long…too long for this moment." She murmured with a sweet and tender smile on her lips, "I never thought we would meet again. I missed you so—so much."
To Lawrence's surprise, Cyaminth closed the distance between their faces with a soft, ardent kiss. Her lips were cold and he longed to give them some of his warmth. Yet before he could have responded, her head fell on his shoulder, fast asleep. With a contented sigh, she murmured sweet and wonderful words that both warmed and mystified Lawrence Ark.
"I love you…"
The whole incident left Lawrence in the silent contemplation of all that had happened.
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