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Chapter Four: Tremble

Gasping, I threw myself from my bed. Vomit chased its way up my throat as I scrambled for the bathroom. I gripped the edge of the toilet bowl, my fingers digging into the cold porcelain as I puked up what little breakfast I had managed to keep down. Sweaty tendrils of hair clung to my forehead and to the back of my damp neck.

The nightmare was a strange one. The world was encased in ice and rage, and I felt confused seeing a world I didn't know while mourning for something I did not really understand. Maybe it was me, seeing a world I no longer recognised without Nethore, and I mourned for his presence. Slowly, I stood and used the toilet for balance. My mouth tasted of sick and I brushed my teeth quickly before peeling off my pyjamas, which were damp with sweat and slightly splattered with vomit.

I faced the mirror, naked and trembling. My skin had clutched onto some colour. I saw the smattering of freckles that ran across the bridge of my nose and across the top of my shoulders. Small breasts, wider hips. The curl of a scar that ran over the swell of one hip from where Amon's claws had dug too greedily into my skin. I turned, steeling myself for the mess of what lay behind.

Still, tears rose unbidden.

Those scars were gruesome. Torn skin that had healed badly roped across the length of my back, between the space of my narrow shoulders, and down the slope of my back. Some snuck to the front of my body from the times I had tried to dodge the whip as best I could, or from when I'd been tied to that podium and a curling piece of metal had snagged onto the softer flesh covering my hip bone.

Considering all the things that had happened, the way I looked shouldn't have bothered me. Only it did; all my life, I had found inspiration in the pretty and beautiful things in life and I had never considered myself either of those things before the mountain, but now it hurt to look at myself.

For every tear that fell because of what they had done to me, Acheron won again. And again.

He's alive.

I shucked on a string-top and trousers and stepped out into the narrow, white-walled hallway. The dawn's light was trickling in through the panel of glass at the side of the door and I was drawn by the light, while a part of me yearned to immerse myself in the darkness again.

Bare feet padded down the hallway and I found that the front door was unlocked. A slim figure stood there, her eyes upturned to the sky.

"I am afraid." Jenna turned to me, her shoulders curving in. "I see so many things, so many possibilities for what's coming. It's like my visions are tied to the fate of the Riders, and your fate."

Fear was too common now. It replaced the easy joy that had once been our lives.

"What do you see?"

"The Vidalin's Rider's fate is not a good one." Jenna looked so tired, so worn that I wanted to drag her into my arms and just annoy her with silly stories about school and make her a nice mug of tea and let her vent. But there was nothing silly to say, nothing funny in my life anymore to make her smile.

"Kalan will not let anything happen to you," I told her vehemently.

"Dia!" She whirled around, annoyed. "I am not worried about me. I have my own guard, my own people standing behind me now. I am worried about you. The future holds only dark paths for the Vidalin Rider and in many of them, you are the villain of the Valaxain people. Painted as an evil figure, with such anger in her heart."

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