Project ZEAL

Scene 11 - No Longer Just a Dream (Claado Shou)

Year: 990 A.D.
Place: Guardia Plains

The first thing Gryph heard was the sound of water. He didn't even know which side it was coming from, the left or the right. All he knew was that there was water nearby, and he was thirsty; thus, a quest was born.

He attempted to move his legs, but they suddenly felt as if his muscle had been replaced with stone and metal. He tried to move his arms, but he felt the weight of heavy dirt on his hands, keeping them in place. He even tried to open his eyes, but he felt as if his eyelids were fastened shut.

Finally, he managed to get his mouth open, and he breathed in the sweet, unpolluted air, ripe with vapor and the scent of flowers. That was all the wake-up-call he needed.

His body finally freed, he thrust himself upwards, sitting up from a lying-down position. It took his eyes a moment to adjust to the sunlit morning, as if he had just been born again, but when he finally saw what was around him, breathing was the last thing on his mind.

It was exactly how he had remembered it from the dreams, the delusions...a grassy plain filled with various greenery, sunflowers and dandelions, orchids and all sorts of other beautiful plants. The clouds were floating silently above him, carried by a soft and unobtrusive wind. The breeze made him realize that his clothes were flapping, and he looked down to see himself dressed in clean commoner's attire. He felt the material, a stark contrast to the damp and soiled clothes he was forced into while in prison, and he smiled the greatest smile he had ever given.

He focused on the mountains and the forests in the distance, grand expanses of earthy browns and natural greens, the most gorgeous thing he could remember. Several villages were laid out at the bases of the mountains, and he recognized a familiar sight from his delusions...a townhouse by the sea, the home of his imaginary son and child.

"Is this...real?" he wondered aloud, trying to sort out the whats and the ifs from the whos and the whens. But he only had a moment to do so, as his delusion just became more of a reality.

Directly in front of him, a small, perhaps 8-year-old red-haired boy ran by, wielding a small wooden net, and chasing after a butterfly. The insect was just out of his reach, but the boy continued on, oblivious to the impossibility of his quest.

Behind the boy followed a plain-looking woman, a woman that Gryph remembered calling his wife. But he knew that it wasn't real...this wasn't real. This place didn't exist, did it? Was this just another imaginary world?

As the two came back towards Gryph, facing him, he looked into their eyes. And any dissenting opinion of his instantly faded away, as he felt an eerie connection to them both. Even from this distance, he knew in his heart of hearts that they were his, and he could feel their bonds strengthening with each moment.

An impenetrable smile on his face, Gryph stood to greet his family, his arms outstretched as the boy and woman came running towards him.

But as the butterfly that the boy was after came nearby, it flew directly at Gryph. The merchant looked down to watch the insect either swerve away or hit his chest, but neither happened. Instead, the butterfly passed straight through his chest, leaving a thin band of light as it did.

The boy and the woman followed suit, not even slowing down as they tore through Gryph's body, streaming light in their wakes. Gryph looked down at his body, and saw that the rips in his form were instantly healing, his skin and tissue all reconnected and perfect again.

Spinning around to see the people running by, he saw that they hasn't even noticed him. In this place, this time, he was nothing more than a spectator, an uninvolved and seemingly nonexistent man, watching the family he could have called his own run away from him.

Gryph suddenly realized that he wasn't thirsty anymore.

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