Instead of doing as the dragon intended, the sleeping spell he placed on Nina did not render unaware of what was going on in the world, at least not completely. Her link to the unmagic barrier was deeper than any of the others, and once the dragon suppressed her consciousness, it filtered into the link that bound the Seven together. Flashes of the Seven’s lives became her memories; flying over the land as fire raced through her blood, the feel of Hyacinthia’s rough tongue touching her lips (whisker brushing her cheeks), swimming through the ocean and watching all the brightly coloured organisms as they fed, walking through forests as old as the elves she kept an eye on, finding the last piece of a puzzle that clarified an old mystery, killing an old acquaintance in the presence of a woman with a changing face. Moments of intense feeling that were not her own that seared her mind.
An so, as she watched the blue inferno devour the dragon, something snapped, pulling her through the fire until she came into her own body. She screamed to relieve the pressure, all those flashes of stolen time condensing at once and setting her sense of self off-balance. She was not made to be more than herself, and the memories of her old life were being crushed together. Her lover’s smile, her nephew’s first footsteps, receiving a scholarship as a child; without these, she was not.
Instead of breaking, her mind bent, drawing on her magic heavily to install a barrier around her. The oppressive visions faded to the back of her mind, but a lingering sense of worongness pervaded the moment.
Her body was still trembling from the effort of preserving her sanity when Nina tried to sit up. All of her muscles protested, even her eyes filled with tears. Frustration, pain, uncertainty, confusion. Her lungs filled and deflated rapidly as she fought against her flesh. She barely noticed the soft bed on which she rested, or the glowing white stones that cast a soft glow throughout the small cave. Falling back onto the bed, she panted as she looked around. The earth beneath her was trembling, a hum that became ear-splitting as the mountain shifted.
Eventually, she closed her eyes and tried to isolate herself from everything.
They found her crying with her eyes closed on the sweat-soaked sheets, her breathing ragged. Coral was the first one to rush forward, wrapping the terrified human in a hug. “Hey Nina-honey kiddie, calm down okay? You know I can keep the creepy evil people away from you- it’s Coral!” Her voice dripped with sedative magic, but the mage would not calm down. She thrashed against the siren’s hold, whimpering.
Nina screamed again and looked at the assembled creatures with the eyes of a madwoman. Suddenly, her cries dissolved into a coughing fit. Coral helped her sit up, looking as bewildered as Camelia felt.
“What’s wrong with her?” Tifa asked Anar, who had a resigned look on his face.
“She’s been in a suspended state for fifty years,” the elf explained sadly, “human bodies are too delicate to stay in status for so long. Mrr and I kept a time-lock on her to prevent the worse, helped her walk as she slept among other things; but there’s bound to be side-effects from a sudden awakening.” He frowned as she started to cough up blood.
“We don’t have very long.” Ilee pointed out, face devoid of emotion.
“Why is she so scared Mommy?” Tifa asked meekly, peering at the human curiously.
“She just woke up from a long sleep honey, so she’s not quite sure where she is.”
“Where’s her mommy then?”
“She never said.” Ilee answered, going over to the bed. “Nina Goldenthread, born Nina of Tiren, calm down. You are in a cave within Mt. Mirrar. We need to leave immediately. Do I need to put restraints on you or will you co-operate.”
“Aziza…” The woman looked up, eyes a little more focused. She opened her mouth to continue but fell back into another fit of coughing. Without a word to ask how she knew that name, Ilee wrapped the human in her old cloak, and lifted her easily cradling her. She did not even protest when Nina clung to her weakly. “Lets go.”
“That way.” Anar pointed, his arm shaking.
“Coral, help Camelia with Anar.” Ilee ordered, walking ahead of the group.
The path was long and twisted, staglacites threatening to fall as they passed.
Oh Mighty Mirrar,
Yer roots are deep
And yer too old
To be in such a state.
Sh….” Coral sang softly.
The mountain, and Nina, seemed to calm as the Siren continued to hum. The rumbling from Mirrar’s roots continued, but the threat of a sudden collapse diminished.
They reached a large shelf high up the mountain, just the right size for a full-grown dragon to rest.
“He always watches-watched the sun come up here.” Anar whispered, taking a few faltering steps away from Camelia. He took in a deep lungful of air and seemed to gain some strength from it.
Nina squinted at the sun, its rays burning away some of the fog in her mind. She felt strangely at ease in Ilee’s arms in the light. “It’s steep.” The human murmured, eyes greedily taking in every detail. “I’ve never seen that kind of bird before.”
Ilee looked over the cliff’s face, but the only bird in sight was beyond the limits of human perception. She heard Anar mutter something in high Elf, and knew he was thinking along the same lines.
“Icy, I can’t fly.”
“I know.” The ice queen said. If there were no injured, she could have made an ice slide; but Anar was in a poorer state than he claimed. “How big can you go?” She asked Camelia.
“I can take the form of a young dragon, but not for long.”
“That’ll have to do.” Ilee decided.