A heavy weight crashed upon them from above, pinning him and the others down. Dark clothed bodies rained on them from the closing darkness. Grinning bloodlust, answering fear. His father cutting in front of him, blocking his view-hastily trying to push him back. His angry expression changing to one of abrupt pain. His father falling on top of him, forcing him down, warm liquid splashing on his face and arms.
Panic, madness. Screams from the others, yet no way to escape. Pinned, not able to breathe. His fellows dying, others wounded. The dark men crippling them as they laughed at their predicament. Why are they doing this?
Suddenly freedom is his. But before he can try to flee, they close in, pushing him this way and that. And the hands, the hands reach for him, tearing at his clothes, at his body, drowning him with pain.
Torren sat up, his breath coming in harsh gasps. Fear chilled him, the echoes of past pain flooding his senses. Slowly, very slowly, the true night congealed before him, reality reasserting itself. The dream dissipated haltingly into the past where it belonged.
With lightly shaking hands, he pushed his clammy hair away from his face. It had come again. Why? It made no sense. It had been almost a year since the last episode, and now he’d had the dream two nights in a row. Would he never be rid of it? He twisted where he sat, feeling his sweat soaked shirt clinging to him.
Angrily, he shoved his questions aside and pulled off his shirt. Feeling out for his pack, he pulled out another. He didn’t put the new one on right away though, letting the night air cool his body for him. When he felt calmer, more like himself, he slipped his arms into the shirt’s sleeves. He was about to bring it up over his head when a soft touch caressed his back. Goose bumps rushed up his spine, a strange tingling sensation suffusing his body. A queer combination of feelings rushed through him, worry, curiosity, sadness.
For a moment, it was as if his body had been paralyzed even as his confused mind ran in frenzy through a dozen scenarios of bandits or creatures running across him in the night. Suddenly, he was free, the touch leaving him as unexpectedly as it had come. A strangled sob echoed from behind him.
Torren whipped around, his hand slipping out of his shirt and automatically reaching for the sword he’d left sheathed beside him.
“Those scars…” Larana’s sorrow filled voice was barely audible yet froze him once more as if he were in the grip of whatever had just happened again. He could barely see the young girl’s outline in the darkness, her words coming as if from a disembodied voice.
He shook his head, struggling to free himself of his paralysis even as he tried to make sense of what was happening. “They’re nothing.”
“That’s not true!” She leaned forward, her voice filled with grief. “Pain, there was so much pain.” She hid her face in her hands and wept almost as if his anguish were her own.
Torren stared, not knowing what to make of it. What kind of girl was this? How did she know these things? “What did you do to me?” The question came out as a harsh accusation.
She didn’t answer, weeping quietly before him.
He reached for her arm, making sure not to touch her exposed skin. “Answer me!”
She looked up and though he could not see clearly, Torren could feel her gaze cutting through him. He let go of her. Confused and angry, he moved back and half turned away from her. “What did you do?”
After several long moments, Larana finally gave him an answer. “I-I’m not sure. It’s just something that happens sometimes. I hadn’t meant, Ihadn’t meant…” Her hand shook as it reached out toward him as if to touch him again.
“I suggest you don’t do it again,” he said gruffly. He pulled even farther away from her and slipped his shirt on. His mind in turmoil, he laid down with his back to her once more, willing for her to leave him alone.
She scooted away, sobbing softly. He wasn’t sure if it was over his anger at her, the loss of her family, or his past pain. Why did he even care? He lay awake until the sounds of her weeping finally faded away.