"You okay, son?"

Tavik opened his eyes. He was sitting in the forest on a mat of dark green grass. Hanging from a nearby tree he saw a doll strung up with thin twine by the neck. As he shifted his vision farther away he saw more. The forest was very still, only disturbed by the fluttering of insects through the shafts of light pouring down at various spots. Suddenly there was a disturbance and he saw his adopted father coming through the brush; the farmer, Jonestheon. He walked as silently as a cat and Tavik was mystified at his presence. He couldn’t even remember arriving himself. As he came to Tavik’s side he bent low, grabbing his shoulder and looked Tavik deep in the eyes, “Tavik, you okay, son?” The words echoed through the trees, “You okay, son. You okay son, You okay son…” Then he was gone and silence was left in his stead.

With a sudden wrenching in his mind the trees disappeared, and he found himself by the waters again. It was the place where his mother had first appeared to him in his dreams… or nearly the same. He felt there was something different in the place now. He turned at the sound of crunching leaves behind him and saw his mother. She looked the same, but different…more…transparent… “Only when the veil is removed can the wedding truly begin,” she said, then faded away…

Shocked, Tavik found he could not move and the landscape shifted abruptly. He saw her figure once more, but they were again in the forest of hanging dolls. This time the person he saw was his mother and was not. It appeared to look like her, but was somehow unnatural… sinister. It was unclear, but even though it sounded like her it didn’t speak the way she would have spoken to him. She opened her mouth, but her tongue was forked. Tavik blinked in shock and then saw it was normal again… “Tavik, what is your greatest fear? You claim to be without fear and you are indeed brave, but I know your greatest fear. I am your greatest fear.”

Tavik’s eyes snapped open and found himself in his chambers alone and on the floor in a cold sweat. For a moment he almost felt something shift inside him. ’ It was probably nothing ,’ he thought and then he saw the griffon on his arm had begun to shift again.



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