Chapter One: The Beginning
I opened my eyes to two brilliant full moons that bathed my surroundings in a halo of white light. A small breeze breathed through the meadow, rustling the leaves of the trees and the tall, thick green grass I lied in. I sat up to examine the small clearing. Little purple and blue flowers decorated the meadow's floor in sparkling colours as if a rain of silver glitter had fallen over them.
As I got to my feet I glanced upwards towards the navy sky. It was hard to believe that many stars existed. The entire horizon was dotted with balls of light that seemed to continue into infinity. I ran my fingers along the grass. The tall strands tickled my shins as I began walking towards the lake I spotted at the edge of the meadow. Its water glistened like the stars and flowers and even at night with the moon's reflections dancing off its surface it still appeared to be a beautiful deep blue. I stood on its shallow sandy beach with my feet in the soft white sand wondering what the water might feel like if I stepped in when a small snap caught my attention.
I turned to investigate, finding a large Golden Eagle perched on the lowest branch of the closest tree. It watched me with knowing golden eyes that seemed to look directly through me and into my soul. It didn't frighten me, and it definitely didn't seem frightened by me. Curious I began to approach it; all the while it sat there comfortably with its eyes locked on me. There was something about the bird that drew me to it and I wasn't sure what. It didn't move an inch even when I stopped in front of it.
"Hello," I said to it. The bird just continued staring at me, blinking slowly. It gave no response but for some reason I felt as if it understood me anyways.
The Eagle rustled its feathers and spread its wings, making me take a slight step back in precaution, but made no other move. After standing there for a moment I reached out to it, not really thinking about my actions. I gently placed my hand on it and it leaned its head to me, happily accepting my touch. I smiled and started to stroke its soft feathers. A small tingle flowed through my hand on its back and up my arm causing me to shudder.
I sat down and the Eagle and I shared silent thoughts for a while. It wasn't until the air seemed to become unnaturally cold suddenly that I pulled myself back to the rest of the world around me. The Eagle made a small noise of distress, shuffling on its feet anxiously. Uncertainty began forming in the pit of my stomach. The bird looked alarmed, but why?
I stood and looked around but nothing seemed amiss. The meadow was just as it had been before I had turned my attention to the bird. It could have just been my mind playing tricks on me. I tried to tell myself it was nothing more than that and that my paranoia was just caused by the late night horror movie marathon I had had the other night. When I turned back to the bird it made a sudden loud cry, hoped off the branch and took off into the sky. I watched as it flew away, its golden feathers lit by the nights light.
The temperature seemed to drop again and I hugged myself, a cold shiver running through me. I was only wearing a light white dress that brushed my knees; I wasn't suited for colder weather. What was going on? The bad feeling I had gotten earlier amplified and I felt nauseous. I didn't want anything to ruin this beautiful dream.
I started back towards the center of the meadow when I stopped myself in my tracks. I swallowed and turned slowly back around. My stomach twisted when I saw the figure standing there. I couldn't see his face; it was covered by the hood of a cloak. At his hip was a sword, the red gem on its handle glistening like the eye of a snake. The bad feeling had been growing in my stomach worsened as I looked at him.
"Amazing creatures, Eagles, aren't they?" he said, his voice unmistakably masculine. I didn't need to see his face to know he was smiling, I could hear it in his tone. With one hand on the hilt of his weapon he began walking towards me. I stumbled back, mirroring his movements.
"Don't come near me," I said. To my surprise he listened.
He stopped and paused for a moment before lifting his hands and pulling back his hood. The first thing that struck me was his eyes. They were a deep, ruby red, and even deadlier than the jewel on his sword. They bore into me with an intensity that made me want to shrink until I couldn't be seen anymore.
The next thing I noticed was his tattoos. A line of black flames marked the left side of his face, travelling up from his jawline to the corner of his eye.
"Who are you?" I asked. I hated how my voice wavered as I spoke.
He curled his lips in a slight smirk. "Who I am is not important. You don't know me…But I know everything about you." He took another step towards me and I took another step back. This was just a dream. I just had to keep telling myself that. But whether it was real or not, I didn't want to play this game.
"Who are you?" I demanded this time, attempting to put a little more force behind my words. He just tilted his head to me as if I had done something interesting. I felt suddenly self-conscious under his gaze but restrained myself from looking away.
"You are persistent, aren't you? Alright, fine. My name is Spiro," he introduced himself, bowing formally. I could hear the amusement in his tone.
"What do you want?"
"I'm not here to take anything from you, Leah," he replied. The emphasis he put on my name made my skin crawl. His tone had gone from playful to dark and that unnerved me more than anything else so far. Nothing about him felt good. All my instincts were telling me to run, to get out of there. Everything about this guy screamed bad news but for some reason I couldn't make myself turn away. "I'm here to show you…certain things." He looked up at the sky as if judging the time. For a moment everything went hazy before coming back into focus again. "I'll tell you everything eventually but I am running out of time here now."
"What so you mean…?" I asked hesitantly. When his eyes came back to me I felt my entire body freeze. It felt like someone put a spell over me. I got lost in the red abyss of his eyes, locked there with no way out. I could feel an old anger that coursed deep within him and it chilled me to the bone.
"You're…special," he said. He was drawing out his words like he was purposefully wasting time.
His figure seemed to waver. I shut my eyes tight for a moment and when I opened them back up I snapped out of the trance I had been under and found him standing directly in front of me. I hadn't even notice he had moved. Fear tore at me and my stomach twisted.
Now that he was closer though, I could see his face in more detail and realised he wasn't very much older than I was. "But there's no time for this right now. If you have any questions try and remember them when you wake up. I'll see you tomorrow."
That's all he said before he turned his back to me and began walking away. I stood there confused for a moment as I watched him leave. Part of me was glad he was leaving, and the other part was still wondering if that had really just happened. But my curiosity began gnawing at me already and before I could even think about it I found myself running after him.
"Hey, wait!" I said, reaching out to stop him. My hand had only brushed his cloak before my feet left the ground and my back slapped against the ground, something sharp and cold pressed to my neck. My heart was beating fast and I was struck silent again by those piercing red eyes bearing down at me. I hadn't paid much attention to it before but now that I was only inches from him, his warm breath brushing my face, I realised how striking he was.
"I'm not a person you should sneak up behind. Not that you did a good job at it anyways." I narrowed my eyes at him but didn't move. He just regarded me with a blank stare for a moment before easing his knife away from my neck and sliding it back into his belt. He pulled me up as he stood and I gasped as an electric current shot up my arm. He pulled his hand away quickly but made no other sign that he had felt it as well.
"Goodbye, Leah, and goodnight. It's time you wake up."
He reached a hand out to me and touched my forehead, whispering a word under his breath I didn't understand. Another jolt went through me but this time it seemed to paralyze me.
This time when he walked off I could only stand there and watch. My surroundings began to blur and things seemed to become oddly transparent. Something bothered me greatly, though. His words, his touch, the eagle, it all had felt too real to be a dream. But that was just me being ridiculous, right? I knew I was dreaming. This was all part of my imagination,,,
It felt like I was being pulled backwards, falling back into nothing, and soon enough I was pulled back into the darkness I had opened my eyes to the meadow from and left with nothing more than an eerie memory.
I jumped awake when the sound of my alarm pierced through my slumber. Heart racing I sighed and turned off my phone entirely. I pulled a pillow over my head to block out the bright light of the sun as I recovered from the heart attack I had just had before deciding to get up.
Sitting up I ran a hand over my eyes, yawning as I stretched. The sun was casting a golden glow through my bedroom window curtains and the birds were already happily chirping away outside. I could hear the sound of a lawnmower in the distance and the occasional car driving up the road. I kicked off my covers and walked over to the window, taking in a long breath of fresh air to wake my senses.
After I washed up I threw on a pair of jean shorts and a t-shirt and headed downstairs. My mother and father were already awake and waiting. They had probably been up in the ungodly hours along with the birds. Thankfully I was greeted with the smell of fresh coffee and bacon.
"Good morning," my mom greeted me with a smile, her blonde hair pulled up in a bun and her brown eyes twinkling as always. My mother was always in a good mood, nothing seemed to bring her down, but something about having a full two weeks off of work seemed to lift her spirits even more.
My father was sitting at the breakfast bar reading the morning's paper already. I kissed him on the cheek before taking my own seat. His brow was furrowed in a determined line, his dark eyes concentrated on his readings. "Morning dad," I said. He just waved a hand at me absently, distracted by some sports article. I just rolled my eyes in exasperation and turned back to my mother. "So when are you guys leaving?" I asked.
My mother laughed. "Eager to get rid of us I see. Soon, dear. As soon as we're done breakfast we'll pack the car and be out of your way."
My mother and father had won a two week vacation to the Caribbean. I was still a little bitter about being left behind, but it would be my first time staying home alone for that long and my friend Natalie and I already had a laundry list of plans. Of course my parents didn't need to know that. The less they knew the better. My father would refuse to leave if he knew I had plans to even just go see movies.
After breakfast my parents wasted no time getting out the door. They had a flight to catch and couldn't be late for it.
"Steven, let's go!" My mother was trying to usher my father out the door quicker, but he kept stopping to make sure I remembered all the house rules I was to follow while they were gone. It's not that he didn't have any trust in me it's that he worried too much and never really came to terms with the fact that I wasn't a little kid anymore.
"No parties, you understand me? And make sure you keep the house clean. And don't get into any trouble. Oh, and absolutely no boys," he said sternly.
I rolled my eyes at him again. He was too protective sometimes. "Yes, dad, I know the rules. Now you guys are going to be late."
We said our final goodbyes and I stood on the front porch and waved to them as they left. As soon as the car was out of sight I skipped back into the house and bee-lined for the stereo. It wasn't often that I got to play my music as loud as I wanted. My parents worked a lot so they couldn't really use the distraction. My mother was a teacher and my father worked between the bank and the local record studio.
I danced back into the kitchen and grabbed some coffee, taking up my regular seat at the bar and flipping half-heartedly through the newspaper. I found the more I went through it the less I really took in. My music seemed to become nothing more than background noise.
I was trying hard to forget my dream but it seemed that the more I did that the more I remembered. Now that I was home alone in the house I really had nothing better to do than think. I couldn't shake off that feeling I had gotten around Spiro, and it was odd to me thinking about someone my imagination had conjured up, but for some reason I didn't completely believe that.
Taking a sip of coffee I let the warm liquid ease my nerves. I was getting all worked up for nothing. It was summer; there was a lot more to do other than sit around contemplating reality. Since my friends all had jobs or had gone on vacation I was pretty much alone for the next couple of months. The only thing that kept me from going into withdrawal was the thought that Natalie would be back in a few days.
I wondered for a moment if I should call my grandmother. I wouldn't be surprised if she had some explanation as to why I felt so off. I don't think there was one thing she didn't know the answer to.
I glanced over at the picture of her sitting on dining room buffet. It was an image of her holding me on our old couch the day I had been brought home from the hospital. It always made me a little sad that we didn't have any pictures of my grandfather. He had died before I had been born and apparently he and my father had had a falling out, so I had no memory of him. I had no idea what he had looked like either.
I missed my grandmother greatly though. She owned a winery outside of town and worked hard to keep it up and running. When I was younger we had used to visit all the time. For some reason we stopped going as often and I couldn't remember why. I guess we were just too busy.
After mulling it over for a couple of minutes I decided not to call her. I had plans to go see her this summer anyways and could talk to her about it then. I'm sure I was just over thinking.
With a sigh I walked back around to the living room and turned off my music. It was a nice day and not too hot out quite yet so decided I was going to go for a jog to clear my head.
I changed and grabbed my Ipod, locking the door before I stepped out and turned up my jogging playlist. Some of my neighbours were out doing yard work already, grooming their lawns or conversing on their porches. I lived in a nice neighbourhood. Things were quiet and here, not much happened, but it was nice. Medium sized houses with large lawns. A lot of new families and retired couples lived here. It wasn't too far from anything and not too far down the road was the local park. It was my favourite place in town, but it wasn't my destination today.
The closest Tim Horton's was up the road and conveniently along my jogging route, so I decided to stop in.
When I got there I pulled out my ear buds and stepped through the door, the smell of freshly brewed coffee filled the air. A feeling of unease crashed over me like a tidal wave though, causing me to falter. I paused and glanced around but nothing was out of the ordinary. I shook it off and went to stand in line. As I waited I couldn't stop fidgeting. This weird prickle was running up and down my spine and I couldn't make it go away. Every so often I would glance around but everything seemed normal. No one stood out, no one was watching me.
When I finally got my order and turned around I gasped as I almost ran right into someone.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" I exclaimed, frantically checking to make sure I hadn't spilled my Iced Cap all over me or the stranger.
"No problem, it was my fault," the guy said.
I looked up at him and apologized, fumbling over my own words when I saw him. He was looking at me expectantly, as if waiting for something. I had a weird sense of deja-vu as I looked at him. Something about this guy felt strangely familiar. His anticipation faded into a faint smile when I didn't say anything and simply stared at him before stepping around me. My skin prickled just as vividly as it had in my dream after I had touched the Eagle and Spiro. And his eyes…I had never seen someone with blue eyes that dark. It wasn't natural, I don't think. They made me think back to Spiro's deep red eyes.
Shaking it off and attempting to keep my composure even though I knew people were now staring at me and stepped back outside. Outside I mentally kicked myself for not only being incredibly awkward but thinking all of the sudden everything was connected to my dream.
When I got home I kicked off my shoes and started towards the kitchen again, not exactly sure what to do with all my spare time. Halfway there I froze, my stomach sinking. I pulled out my earphones and backtracked to the front door again.
I could feel my heart racing faster, my breathing accelerating. Panic gripped me and I could do nothing but stand there.
There he stood, a casual smile on his face, leaning against the doorway to my living room as if it were completely natural. His eyes were an even deeper red than I remembered. Only now he didn't have a cloak and sword, he was dressed in jeans and a simple black t-shirt.
"Hi there," he said languidly.
"You – you're not – how can…Oh god…" I felt extremely light headed all of the sudden and all of the oxygen seemed to be sucked out of the room. One moment I was on my feet and the next I found the floor coming up to meet me, but before I hit it everything went black.