My footsteps rang out across the empty pathway. I looked around in curiosity as I walked. Tall, almost medieval style buildings with doors on alleyways were reaching to the sky behind the quaint shops and stalls lining the road. Everything was brown and grey, with splashes of coloured banners. The ground was dusty, my steps kicking up more.

I walked on.

Something told me the city was waiting. Waiting to be awoken from its slumber.

I continued on, my feet moving of their own accord. The city seemed to pass by in a blur with crystal clear clarity. No sooner would I look away from a vivid sight would it then fade. I didn't care. I kept walking.

I didn't know how I got there, up the steps of an almost palace-like residence. It also had the feel of a military fortress. Through hallways that were so familiar yet so new I walked. Further and further in, through twisting passages that made perfect sense one moment then none the next.

At some point I found myself aware of others. I nearly succeed in pausing as I looked over my shoulder. No one. I was alone. Still, I couldn't shake the feeling that others walked with me. They felt familiar, but I couldn't see them. Shaking my head I walked on.

I pushed through double doors. And I stopped dead.

My breath was snatched from me as I gazed in wonder. It was . . . simply incredible. Large, wide, black marble steps descended down into the centre from all sides. On the far side, down the wall, down the steps, a waterfall flowed smoothly to gather in a pool still than glass. Brazier dishes of bronze were set in the corners of the room with smouldering embers. Leafy vines curled in the crevices, strikingly green against the black of the room. Up in the centre of the roof was a square hole, letting in beautiful liquid sunlight. Little bubble-like dust motes floated in the air in graceful droves. They seemed to be glowing different colours; red, orange, yellow, green, pale blue, deep blue, lavender.

Miraculously I pulled myself away from the captivating, glorious sight and stepped in. Down one step, and I felt a shift. When I looked back, I caught the briefest glimpse of three people. A girl, tall, bulky, with chestnut brown hair. Another girl, smaller than I, her light brown hair curled and tinged with gold. And a boy, taller - only just - with a shaggy mop of dark hair. For the smallest fraction of a second I saw them, before they dissolved before my eyes.

I found myself turning away and walking down to the magically still pool. I turned my head down and gazed into its dark depths. At first I saw myself yet not myself. My hair a brighter, more brilliant shade of red-gold. My skin paler and more nicely freckled. My features formed more gracefully. My eyes were the same, though. When I tilted my head, I found a streak of a striking bright blue in the left of my hair.

Then it changed. Images, swirling so quickly I couldn't make sense. Tidal waves rising. Volcanoes erupting. Mountains splitting open. Tornados ripping. Flashes of blades. Battle cries. Screams. Weeping. The whiz and thud of arrows. Horses neighed. Birds screamed. Dog howled. Cats hissed. Blood spurted from bodies. People fell to the ground. War took over, pictures so horrifying they chilled my blood.

Splash. The water rippled, disrupting the flow of wild images. Splash. I realized with a shock they were tears falling silently from my eyes. I didn't cry. I never cried. Another one fell, sending out ripples and waves.

"Too much," I heard myself whisper. "Too much for me to bear, yet bear it I shall."

"Bear it you will . . ." a voice both inside and out of me breathed. "And bear it well, Water . . ."

I felt a chill. Abruptly everything went dark. And I found myself curled up in my bed, heart pounding and skin clammy. I pried my eyes open. It had been a dream. A very vivid dream. So rarely did I get them, with that intensity . . . Already I could feel the details of it fading. But I didn't want to forget. I wouldn't forget. I knew what this was. It wouldn't pass me by.

"I will remember," I hissed into the dark. "I will not forget. I will remember. I will forever know what happened. I will remember the night I glimpsed the Hall." I was barely aware of myself saying these words, or where they came from.

As soon as I spoke them, I felt a weariness wash over me. Frowning fiercely I allowed my eyelids to sag shut and for the dark realm of sleep to claim me. The song of the dream still stained me.