He stood on an empty street, an army of creatures bearing down on him, their movements odd, slow, and silent. Their sunken, empty eye sockets seemed to bore right through him. He gathered the air around him and pushed it out but they continued their pursuit, unfazed by the attack.
Bancroft stepped back, throwing his attack out again and again, making no progress. He searched the area for a weapon. Even Khaly’s wall of flames had no effect, and it only set the front row ablaze. Jahallah stood frozen on the spot, a knife clenched tightly in her fist. She stared blindly at the mass closing in on them.
Bancroft looked to Khaly for guidance. “What do we do?” His fear threatened to choke him.
He watched as her mouth moved, but her words were muted. She turned from him, throwing her head back, her face to the sky. Streaks of lightning flashed and slammed to the ground, striking multiple creatures. It tossed them to the side, but they would gain their feet and continue their pursuit.
The hoard pushed them further and further down the street. Bancroft did his best to avoid any one creature’s eyes, but one seemed to home in on him, pull him in. It somehow called out to him. Its mouth opened and closed but no sound escaped its lips. He didn’t know what was worse: the desire to go to the creature, or the silence of their pursuit.
With the amount of creatures chasing them there should have been deafening noise, instead they brought terrifying silence. The one that seemed to have him locked in a trance inched closer and closer. He continued to throw out one strike after another but nothing deterred it.
Bancroft felt a small tug on his ear. He knew what it was but couldn’t pull himself from the nightmarish vision.
Khaly’s flames grew higher and higher, engulfing the army, but it didn’t slow them down. The hoard began to overtake them. Several knocked Khaly down. They grabbed and tore at her face and eyes. Her silent cries of agony sent chills down his spine. Jahallah swung her knife wildly through the air, slashing several of the creatures. She rammed her knife into the hollow socket where its eye once sat. The creature overtook her, pushed her to the ground as it ripped and tore at her eyes.
The tug came once again.
He tried to force himself from the vision. Before he could, the creature grabbed him by the shoulders while another wrapped around his neck. He pushed and fought against his assailants, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Bancroft,” Khaly’s voice rang in his ear. “Bancroft. Wake up.”
Bancroft shot up out of bed. Khaly, Jahallah, and Chaith stood by, watching him. His heart raced. He feared that it would burst from his chest. His eyes darted from each person then to the tiny spirit dragon that sat next to him. Her large rose-colored eyes blinked with a knowing look.
“What the heck were you dreaming about?” Jahallah asked.
“I—” He patted himself down. His pajamas were soaked through, his hair matted to his head.
“Nightmare or vision?” Chaith crossed his arms.
* * *
Bancroft rushed down the hall to find his brother. He was eating his afternoon meal with a young man. The two were engaged in an intense conversation, their voices hushed.
“Bancroft.” Algernon smiled as he approached.
“We need to talk.”
“All right, let me introduce—”
“That’s a little rude.”
“This is urgent.”
Algernon studied his brother for a moment before placing his bowl down on the table. He gave a gentle kiss to the man sitting next to him before rising.
He waved a hand out to Bancroft. “Lead the way.”
Bancroft led them into an unoccupied room. A fire pot was in the center, with several seats surrounding it.
“Have you had any visions lately about any threats?” Bancroft asked.
“No, I’ve been concentrating on other tasks. Tatiana has me keeping an eye toward Flocara.”
“Flocara? Why, it’s at the bottom of the ocean.”
“Tell me about your dream,” Algernon said.
Bancroft told him of his dream, the creatures, how their attacks had no effect, how they tore out their eyes, and how he wasn’t able to wake himself from the vision. As Bancroft spoke he began to shake, sweat forming on his brow, the fear and pain from the dream coming back to him.
Algernon sat silently, taking in every word.
“Were you trying to guide a vision?” Algernon asked several minutes after Bancroft finished speaking.
“What were you trying to see?”
“I was searching for Enyana.”
“And these creatures came to you instead?” he asked, his voice above a whisper as if he was speaking to himself.
“Have you seen these things before? Do you know what they are?” Bancroft asked.
Algernon shook his head. He gnawed on the skin around the nail of his middle finger as he fell deep into thought. It was Bancroft’s turn to sit in silence while his brother worked through the description of the vision.
“It’s possible that these creatures are a metaphor representing your fear of not finding Enyana.” He held Bancroft’s eyes.
"We need more to go on. I’ll have to speak with some of the historians, find out if they have ever heard of such things. Let’s hope that this wasn’t a vision of what’s to come.”
“What if it is? In my vision we couldn’t destroy them.”
“Calm yourself, little brother. Let’s not jump to any conclusions. I’ve never heard of such creatures before, and it makes sense that you’re scared that we won’t find Enyana. It’s more likely that’s what the visions were about.”
“We never heard of a gallwraith either until the sisters created them. So what makes you think—”
Algernon put up his hand to silence him. “Go home. Have something to eat. I’ll come find you when I get more information.” He promptly left the small area, leaving Bancroft to stare at the clay pot.
The images of the creature tearing at his eyes wouldn’t fade. They were sharp and terrifying. He needed to believe his brother that they were a subconscious manifestation of what he felt about not finding Enyana.