Eredhon Nerorneth was my ex-husband, and the only person in the whole world who could turn me into a monster. I always told myself “There’s no way he could have survived this long, someone must have killed him by now.” and went on with my life, I was content.
Michael rarely ever called me mother, but I didn’t blame him… I didn’t deserve such a lofty title. After I allowed my real children to be murdered right in front of me, how could I ever be considered anything but a weak pathetic failure?
He called me Rae, nurtured me like I was a helpless infant, but I still loved him like he was my own child… although, he probably felt the same way about me. I was reborn as a blood elf who wasn’t inherently evil; or so he claimed.
As long as he was there, I knew that everything would always be fine and I would never lose control. Seven years of intense magical training, that a normal person would have probably died from a thousand times over, was nothing but entertainment for the two of us; who were stuck in that dreary cave.
I’m sure that he could have had a much more pleasant life if it wasn’t for me. Maybe some kindhearted humans could have found him… never mind; he probably would have been enslaved or killed the moment they saw his tail and eyes.
Well, I could have at least attempted to find him an elven family; or maybe search for some cat tribe nomads. Yet I did nothing, I was complacent and wanted to be with him forever, to leech off of him, literally and metaphorically.
He never lied to me, but I always knew that he had secrets: which he didn’t even try to hide. I was just too afraid to hear the answers to my selfish questions. I wanted him to be my son; an innocent little boy that I could protect from a cruel world.
What I saw on that day, seven years after I first found him, shattered my childish ignorance once and for all. While I was cowering in fear, afraid of falling off a cliff, even though he had already taught me how to fly, Michael was all alone in an unfamiliar place outside my view.
By the time I had built up enough courage to chase after him, I could hear and feel a terrible roar echoing throughout the entire city. I had never seen so much chaos and death before. If I wasn’t so high above it all, I wouldn’t have been able to detach myself from that disgusting reality.
When I passed over-top the huge black pyramid, I was overwhelmed by a terrible sense of dread. Even if I was a blood elf; the stench of those corpses was not appetizing at all, but it was the screeching noise of a horrible aura that made me lose my composure.
Not only was there a dragon, but Michael was soaring directly towards its head. There was nothing that I could do, except watch as he disappeared.
Although, I knew that he was still alive and perfectly fine; because we were connected. In order to prevent me from losing my sanity, he had placed a seal on my forehead that linked us together.
Eventually, everyone in the city had evacuated and after the massive beast ceased its periodic roaring: There was an eerie silence that felt truly deafening. That was when I heard a familiar cry… two of them.
It was coming from the south, I wanted to stay and be there for Michael, but my instincts were guiding me towards a small store in the Rat district. As I gently landed in front of the door; I barely even noticed the putrid smell that was emanating from the eviscerated corpses that surrounded me, because there was a beautiful scent coming from inside of that building.
Not just the fragrance, but the mana sounded exactly like theirs, my real children. I ran into the butcher’s shop and found a steel door that was sealed shut, they were in that room: I honestly believed that they were somehow really there.
After easily using a bit of earth magic to remove the shiny barricade, which had a huge warning written on it, I illuminated that small storage room with a brilliant white flame. However, the cries had stopped and what I saw instead, were two beautiful elven girls, about the same age as ‘they’ would have been.
I smiled as I looked down at the children, on the left was Talia and the right was Laebeth. Identical twins with blond hair and green eyes, their faces were reminiscent of mine when I was their age.
If their auras weren’t so dramatically different from each-other, it would have been impossible to tell them apart. They didn’t speak, just stared up at me with emotionless faces. There was clearly something very strange about the entire situation, but I was too blinded by my emotions to notice.
Without even thinking; I ran towards them, knelt down, and grabbed them both tightly, hugging their tiny bodies while crying. I quietly said “I’m so glad you’re alive, my beautiful baby girls.” in a truly grateful tone.
Then Talia whispered “Mommy… please save me.” into my left ear as she disappeared into dust and vanished. Then I turned to my right and noticed that Laebeth wasn’t breathing, just staring at me with her lifeless eyes; that no longer had any color.
As her body dissolved into a strange black liquid, I screamed “No! Don’t leave me! Please! Come back!” in a terrified voice. Even if I was losing my mind, I didn’t care as long as I could see them for a few moments longer.
That was when I heard a little girl laughing hysterically behind my back, but when I turned around; no one was there. She muttered “Ah, shit… you can hear me, oh well… sorry, it’s my job to make sure that you don’t go crazy. It was pretty funny watching you cry and scream about your dead kids, but unfortunately… I’m supposed to make sure that you don’t kill yourself or anyone you care about.” in a cheerful voice, which seemed to be coming from everywhere at once.
I yelled “Wait, were you the one who showed me that illusion?!” furiously: My eyes were still filled with tears and I was kneeling on the dusty floor of a small storage room. There was a small hole in the floor a meter in front of me; that seemed to be radiating a horrible sounding mana, along with some strange white mist.
The girl said “Nope… we really need to get the hell out of this room though, like right now.” in a serious voice. Dozens of strange gigantic red worms suddenly emerged from the circular opening in the ground, then I blacked out.
When I opened my eyes again, I was looking out the window of an unfamiliar room. My gaze was fixed; down towards a street that seemed to be filled with thousands of rat tribe, dark dwarves and red goblins: All of which were lazily hobbling or crawling towards the building that I was in.
It didn’t take more than a second for me to scream “Wha-what the hell is happening?!” in a confused and terrified voice as my vision became clearer. The corpses which were dismembered and torn asunder, had begun moving and putting themselves back together.
Then I noticed my reflection in a large mirror to my left, but there was definitely something strange. It was the first time that I had seen myself so clearly, since my transformation, so I did expect there to be a few differences.
My high cheekbones, small and straight nose, thin eyebrows, even the longer-than-average ears were the same, I actually had two of them. What surprised me though; were the eyes that were bright green and the beautiful wavy red hair, that seemed to actually be made out of scarlet flames.
I immediately looked down and noticed the other, quite obvious, discrepancy… I had to quickly grab them to be sure, but my breasts definitely weren’t that large or plumb. Then my reflection said “Oh hey, you’re finally awake. Sorry about taking over your body back there~ but it’s also my job to make sure that you don’t get killed or raped; by weird tentacle monsters.” in a sardonic tone.
When I unconsciously yelped, while jumping backwards a few meters, she didn’t mirror my movements: just snickered at me instead. I sighed, then muttered “I must be going insane… walking corpses, giant worms, dragons… Michael, I can’t feel him, oh no…” in a confused and worried voice, while ignoring the clamoring sound of footsteps on the floor below me.
The woman yelled “Hey! Don’t ignore me, you damn brat! Besides, you don’t have to worry about that bastard! He couldn’t die even if he wanted to!” in a haughty voice, as she stepped out of the mirror and walked up to me. Two bright-red flaming wings erupted from her back; as her body size increased until she was at least twice as tall as me.
I had to bend my neck all the way back to see her face, but then she just vanished, and I felt a light tap on my left shoulder. When I turned my head to see what it was, she was standing there, so small that she could have fit in the palm of my hand.
Then she reappeared in front of me; in a size that seemed identical to mine. I hesitated a few moments, then asked her “Are you one of the spirits? Why are you haunting me?” in a worried voice: The mysterious woman was grinning.
She snickered for a few seconds, and ruefully revealed “I guess I’m kind of like a fragment of Michael’s soul. I’ve had many names over my numerous incarnations. In my oldest memories; I was an angel by the name of Anael. Although, after everyone started calling me Anal, I decided to change it to Iris: like the flower… which you’ve probably never heard of.
“Anyway, that world didn’t have any kind of magic; so talking about it would be pointless. A few lifetimes later, I was born into a world that was very similar to this one. I was a type of demon which was commonly referred to as a succubus. It’s a story that is way too fucked up for a little kid like you to hear, so I’ll skip the nasty details and just say that I’ve learned a decent amount of spells throughout my lifetime in that place.
“You’ve already learned some of them from Michael over the past seven years. He decided to entrust all of his knowledge of magic to you; except for a few of the more dangerous types. Basically, from now on I will be your new magic teacher: Since things are probably going to be getting a lot more hectic for him in the near future.” while gazing out the window to my right.
I had no idea what she was talking about, but I didn’t want my imaginary friend to think that I was incompetent; so I just smiled and kept quiet. Then, out of the corner of my left eye, I noticed Talia standing in the doorway. When I tried to look towards the little girl, the strange spirit grabbed my face with both of her hands and forced my head to turn right.
She yelled “It’s just an illusion! Do you see all those zombies down there?! Concentrate on their mana pools!” in an angry voice as she pushed my face through the glass window, which didn’t hurt nearly as much as I had expected it to. Then I realized what she was talking about, it sounded like a violent river was dragging them along, but they didn’t actually have their own auras.
Iris sighed, then explained “There are hundreds of those weird, worm-like creatures, crawling around beneath this city. They’re probably some sort of garbage disposal system with a symbiotic relationship with the residents of this place. I saw a toilet and running water in this building’s bathroom; that’s probably how those slimy bastards get their food normally.” in a nonchalant voice, after releasing my head from her surprisingly soft hands.
I unconsciously asked her “What’s a toilet?” in a curious voice, and she started laughing hysterically. While she was distracted, I turned to the doorway and noticed that Talia was no longer standing there.
She immediately replied “Well, the lower the technology of this world is, the easier it should be to conquer. Although, things are never that simple… whatever; time to get the hell outta here and go find Michael.” in a jovial voice, while grabbing my wrist and pulling me out the broken window. I quickly used some wind magic to keep myself from falling into the horde of corpses and then began soaring towards the northern side of the pyramid.
At some point, my red haired alter-ego seemed to have vanished into a puff of bright red flames, so I tried to simply forget about that strange hallucination. It wasn’t the first time that I had strange delusions: I managed to convince myself that I was simply thirsty.
When the dragon came into my view; I was instantly relieved that the monstrous beast appeared to be dead. Its thunderous aura was replaced by a serene, quiet rumbling: but the fact that I couldn’t feel my son’s presence was truly terrifying.
After approaching the creature’s head, I somehow managed to pick up Michael’s scent; over the stench of death that surrounded me in every directions. I followed that peculiar smell, which was mixed with a strong burning odor. When I finally found him… I could hear that demon laughing in the back of my mind.
That disgusting blood elf who stole my loving husband and tore my babies apart in front of my eyes. I remembered; when that monster first appeared before me, and I embraced him without a shred of doubt that he was the man that I had loved.
He was covered in blood and I thought that he was dying. The look on his face wasn’t one of joy or anger; there were tears dripping down his cheeks as he glanced over to our children.
It wasn’t instant; I should have noticed that there was something wrong when he begged me “Please, Belial… anyone but them: I will do anything for you but that. No, don’t make me do this; I’ve followed all of your commands, so please spare my family…” with a trembling voice and pleading look in his horrified crimson-eyes.
Then his expression changed completely and he said “Don’t worry, if I ‘forced’ you to do anything; that would against the rules. I’m simply borrowing your body for a few minutes, no one of any importance will remember this particularly eventful day: especially not a village of corpses.” in a raspy voice, with a sinister smile spread across his distorted face.
When I finally stopped sobbing and struggling to heal Michael, his familiar voice passed through my mind and brought me back to reality. I trusted him completely; if he had died… well, there’s no point in worrying about how terrible a world like that would have been. Once I regained my senses and heard his sarcastic thoughts, I immediately knew that he was going to be fine.
Even in such a terrible condition, he was still worried about providing me with a daily meal. About a week after we began squatting in an abandoned house, we met Ethir for the first time.
He was such a cute little boy back then, only ten years old yet so reliable. Well, I didn’t like the idea of him going out all the time and stealing things for us, but I couldn’t leave my baby’s side while he was in so much pain.
Michael was healthy enough to move around on his own after a month of intense regeneration magic. I was such a terrible mother… I knew he could have been completely healed in a few days; if he didn’t have to keep feeding me his blood and mana.
It wasn’t until Ethir gave me a beautiful yellow sundress; that I even realized that the two of us had been nonchalantly exposing ourselves to him. For a few days after that, I felt incredibly embarrassed in front of him, especially when my son explained to me that he wasn’t actually a child.
Obviously, I didn’t understand how red-goblins became physically and mentally mature, at the age of nine. Wood elves were usually considered children until they were sixteen, then they were adolescents for ten more years, before finally becoming adults.
He had become incredibly attached to us in such a short span of time ; and he seemed like a very nice young man. I was a little surprised when Michael used a strange spell on him, but he often did things that I couldn’t really understand.
Then the incident happened. Ethir was in trouble, and since the three of us were connected; I could feel it just as well as my son. Just like always, I didn’t know what to do and had to rely on him to make everything better.
Even though I closed my eyes and plugged my ears like he asked me to; I could still sense the moment when those ten dark dwarves died. The sound of their grotesque auras were replaced by the terrifying roar of Michael’s mana. Then the ambient noise drowned everything out, and he told me that it was over.
I was far too worried about the young red goblin’s situation to dwell on the fact that my son had just killed ten people, or that he implied that he was willing to massacre thousands more: if it meant the safety of his friend.
The next day, on that exact spot where he had slain the earth dragon, Michael managed to humiliate both of the matriarchs who wanted to execute Ethir. Through a very convincing speech and some amazing lightning magic, which didn’t seem that powerful; but looked and sounded incredibly impressive, he was able to win over the massive crowd.
Afterwards, the rat tribe matriarch; Nadja, invited the three of us to live in her palace. Up until then, I had actually thought that the tiny stone house we had been squatting in; was fairly luxurious.
Our new residence was spectacular. The bath that was enormous, the huge bed was more comfortable than I had ever thought possible, and there were even maids to help us with anything we needed. It was unnerving being around so many mouse people… but they were all really nice; so I tried not to let it bother me too much.
In the village where I grew up, the only people who knew how to read were the lorekeepers and story tellers. Everyone else focused on perfecting their crafts and learning their future jobs.
Before my accident, I had wanted to become an adventurer; since there was nothing for a gifted mage to do in such a small community. Losing not only an eye, but also one of my sensitive elven ears, put a pretty severe damper on my lofty dreams.
Although, once I married Eredhon; all that was expected of me was to be a good mother and raise our daughters. When I discovered that both Michael and Ethir were able to read such complicated books and knew words that I had never even heard before, I felt like I was the child in our relationship again.
Well, it was fun having my son read to me; the golden-eyed little boy across the table from us was so adorable when he was examining the strange tomes. Unfortunately, the day of our first separation was finally upon us. Michael needed to go on a hunting trip: He thought that it was too dangerous for the two of us to accompany him.
He tricked me into thinking that I couldn’t go outside during the day, which I eventually discovered wasn’t true. There were a ton of spells and different ways for me to walk around in bright sunlight; without having my skin charred black and eyes burned out of their sockets. Since I had been living underground for seven years, it hadn’t even occurred to me to test any of them out.
Another thing that I never thought about until that point was, if I actually had to drink blood directly from a person’s body. They didn’t even have to be humanoid: I had just convinced myself that I needed to feed off of my own son so that he would never abandon me.
As long as it was a liquid, I could drink any normal food. Sadly though, when I tried to eat anything solid; I became excruciatingly nauseous and vomited it back up. Warm, fresh, blood tasted the best; but the mana content was the most important part as far as nutrition went.
There was another, slightly embarrassing, aspect that made me want to drink directing from another person. With Michael, it was always a very interesting experience; he was my son so I think there was some sort of mental block preventing me from noticing it before then.
Whenever I drank from him, I would feel invigorated; like I was the most powerful being in the world. I used to hallucinate all kinds of strange things as well, and that was probably why I never realized the uncomfortable side-effect until I tasted Ethir for the first time.
In my life as a wood elf, I had never felt so… aroused; as when I drank that red goblin’s blood directly from his wrist. At the time, I felt so ashamed that I forced myself to stop and refused to drink from anyone; until Michael came back from his hunting trip.
Thanks to that, the first thing that I did was attack his neck; mimicking a starving beast. While I was worrying about such silly things, my son was actually taking over the city we were living in. After Black Mithril was conquered, he started making all kinds of complicated plans; though he neglected to tell me about any of them.
The evil women who tried to kill Ethir; had abandoned their positions as matriarchs, so Michael decided to hold a surprisingly entertaining contest that he called a “Talent Show” in order to pick a new leader for the dark dwarven district. I didn’t really understand how the vulgar comedian, Hiwel, was considered more impressive than Clara; who was one of the best singers that I had ever heard.
Well, Michael and I were probably better; but that was only because we could use wind magic to alter our voices however we wanted to. It was possible for the two of us to sound like a dozen people but he refused to teach me the technique: There was an illusion spell which would make the listener imagine music that was simply impossible to produce with any instruments that I had ever heard of at the time.
Although, with the lightning magic he taught me; it was possible to create amazing sounds. That was one of the last things I was able to learn from him before he went on that second hunting trip: which lasted much longer than the first.
Fortunately, I was still able to feel his presence from hundreds of miles away, so I knew that he was relatively safe the entire time. He prepared a much larger supply of his blood for me that time. I honestly didn’t want to drink directly from Ethir again… at least not until I felt a little more comfortable around him.
On the night that Michael returned; I could tell that he was exhausted and in horrible pain. I was in the middle of a relaxing bath, where I was submerging myself underwater and practicing a spell that he taught me called “Aqua Lung” when he entered the room.
After sitting down next to me, he pulled me into an illusory world. It was one of our favorites; he called it tropical island number seven. We had spent what seemed like decades in that place, before we had discovered Black Mithril.
All we ever did in that paradise was play around on the beach, or practice various spells that would have taken far too long to learn and cost way more mana than we had in reality. If time didn’t pass differently in that illusion; I probably would have never been able to learn as much as I had.
He usually appeared the way that he normally did, but there were plenty of times that he would transform into various adorable animals for my entertainment. Even though he could alter the world and himself however he wanted at any time, he never taught me how to manipulate that place and I never asked.
The person I saw wasn’t a child, but a man who was at least thirty centimeters taller than I was, with massive wings of bright white light which seemed to be coming out of his back. His facial features were similar to my son’s: but much more masculine. His irises were blood-red, which wasn’t a big difference from how they normally looked, and his body was incredibly muscular.
Michael smiled at me and said “Rae, what do you want? What is your deepest desire?” in a curious voice: that was much deeper than any wood elf man that I had ever heard before. Suddenly, I was standing in front of my old house; it was just a simple elven cabin: it was extremely nostalgic.
Then I heard an unfamiliar sound coming from inside, it was something that I was never able to experience. When I walked over to the window; I peeked in and saw all three of my beautiful children sitting at a dinner table together.
They were talking and laughing with each other: Michael’s facial features resembled mine a bit more and he even had elven ears, but still retained his fluffy black tail and cat-like pupils. However, the person inside that house was the old me; happier than I had ever been before in my entire life.
It should have made me smile, or even cry, but I just screamed in anger. It was such an amazing gift; I could have opened the door and enjoyed the life that was stolen from me. Yet, my response was to destroy that perfect world and return to that island: to the son that treated me like a child.
Without thinking, I ran into his chest, then started crying louder and harder than I ever had; while he held me in his massive arms. We stayed that way for more than an hour, then I finally noticed that it was raining all around us and we were at the center of the storm, with a brilliant orange sun shining down through the clouds.
Michael smiled and asked me “Are you ready to answer my question?” in a gentle voice, as the bad weather seemed to vanish in an instant. Then I looked around and realized that we were standing in the middle of an endless beach in every direction, with nothing but white sand that looked like huge waves or hills.
I frowned at him, then whispered “I just want to be with you forever. Nothing can bring back Talia and Laebeth, so there’s no point creating an illusionary world for me.” in a solemn tone, while looking up into his radiant eyes.
He laughed softly, while patting my head with his right hand, and said “Well, I suppose that vision you just saw may have seemed a little strange, but when did I ever say that it was an illusion? It is true that the child whom had a body similar to my current appearance, wasn’t actually me. However, that woman was definitely you; and the girls were definitely your daughters.” in a serious voice as he smirked.
After a few seconds, I broke the silence by asking him “What are you talking about? You definitely told me over a hundred times that this place wasn’t real, so how could that…” in a confused voice; but he cut me off before I could finish the sentence.
Michael declared “I didn’t show you that vision Rae, you simply remembered it. Even though I was watching it with you, all I did was change your perspective a little bit. If you had opened that door, you could have remembered an entire lifetime. Although, that story could have been a lot worse than what you’ve experienced so far.” in a somber tone, as he let go of me and took a step backward.
When we die, our bodies return to the forest and our souls join the spirits in the Eternal Grove… or at least that was what I was taught as a child. I never really believed that such a place existed. Although, when I was on the brink of death; I certainly did hope that I would have been able to meet my babies again in some sort of heavenly world.
He continued “Mother, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now… but it definitely isn’t normal for a newborn to be able to speak and use magic. I’ve been around for a long time: we all have. The difference is that I can remember a lot from my other lives, not only that… I can intentionally connect to my other selves, like you just did. Obviously, there are limits; our physical bodies can only hold so much information. The trick is to pick and choose what we ‘need’ to remember.” in a serious voice, while smiling faintly.
I muttered “Then, wouldn’t we all be… immortal? That other me is living happily with her daughters and even a son. I didn’t see Eredhon, but maybe he never became a blood elf.” in a surprisingly hopeful voice.
Michael frowned and said “I’m sure you were very happy, at least for a time. If that boy had my current body though… I doubt that what came after we stopped watching was very pleasant. There are no ‘perfect’ worlds or lives, we all make mistakes; sometimes they bring better results than what we had originally intended. I can guarantee that this reality is special, I’ve felt it since the moment that I was born: an incredible attachment that I have rarely experienced.” in a stern tone, mesmerizing me with his luminous crimson eyes.
The skies became dark and his glowing white skin was the only light-source in that moonless night. I asked him “What makes this one so different from all the others?” while tilting my head slightly to the left.
He grinned, then revealed “I confirmed my suspicions a few weeks ago, when I saw ‘him’ performing in that silly talent show. Although, his current form is a cute little dark-dwarven girl named Ailyn; but he is like me. Well, maybe a bit more like you since I was the one who originally ‘awakened’ him by simply having a conversation similar to this one. The same way you’re a genius when it comes to magical spells, he specializes in non-organic technology…” cheerfully, as the scenery around us changed suddenly.
We were standing in the middle of a strange place with gigantic buildings all around us and large metallic rectangular monsters were scurrying everywhere; nearly trampling us a few times. There were all kinds of bright lights and loud noises, it was incredibly stressful and I was terrified; then our location suddenly changed again.
Michael sighed at me, then said “I’ve never really liked cities either. Generally, most people do; mainly because of their convenience. That tiny bit of technology I showed you, those vehicles and skyscrapers, weren’t very advanced. Assuming nothing too ridiculous happens, I expect that between Azriel and I, we should be able to freely travel between Earth and the moon within a hundred years.
“Well, that would be if we didn’t have access to magic: If I had a lot more mana, I could probably do that completely naked with nothing but a few spells.” nonchalantly, while were standing in a strange white room.
I asked him “What are you talking about?” in a confused voice; while looking around at the colorless walls, which had no windows or doors and seemed to be extremely far away.
He said “I asked you what your greatest desire was… declared that you wanted to spend eternity with me. Well, congratulations! Now for something a bit more short-term, what do you want to do with your life? I mean seriously, you’re like thirty-seven years old. You need to get a job, or at least try to do something constructive.” in a sarcastic voice, while smirking.
In my village, people chose their path when they turned fourteen, I became the wife of an adventurer. My daily life included: cleaning our house, picking berries and nuts from the forest, praying to Maeleth the spirit of fertility, gathering fresh water from the river, bathing in the southern hot-springs, and spending time with my older sister.
I started to feel depressed but tried to keep from frowning; after taking a deep breath, I asked him “What do you think I should do?” in a somber tone. Michael took a step forward and hugged me tightly, then sighed dramatically; something he seemed to do far too often.
He told me “Well, I already promised Ailyn that you would teach her magic. You’ve been doing so well with Ethir, that I figured that you wouldn’t mind having another student.” nonchalantly, while resting his chin on the top of my head.
It took me a few seconds to realize, but as soon as I did, I said “You’re going away again, aren’t you?” in a disappointed voice. We had spent seven years together and he just randomly decided to tell me all of that nonsense, so I already knew the answer to my question.
Michael sighed, then declared “I’m reaching my limit, I have about a week or two left to sort everything out; before I have to go away… probably for a few years. I wanted to give you some perspective, if you haven’t figured it out already.
“Talia and Laebeth, I don’t know when or where; but I can pretty much guarantee that they will be back in this world eventually. Hell, they might already be out there somewhere, older than you. That’s just how souls are… the two of us might have other incarnations as well, in different bodies with no idea who we even are.” in a serious voice, while wearing a grim expression.
I frantically yelled “What do you mean at your limit?! Are you telling me that you’re dying?! Wait, my girls are actually here in this world somewhere?!” but he just smirked and snickered at me.
When I blinked; I was back at the bottom of the bath, looking up at a mural of dwarves and dark elves fighting a bloody battle against each other. Just like always, when I got out of the water, Michael was gone… leaving me with that familiar impression of waking up from a dream.