8A

Audrey stopped as soon as she stepped out of her room into the garden. Even through the gentle green canopy she could feel the warm attentions of the sun, and couldn’t help smiling. It was day in the garden again. Walking slowly to the pond where she would meet Horera and Nadine, Audrey reminisced on her first night in the garden—which at the time she had mistaken for her second day in Fantasia. It seemed so long ago now, when really it had only been a little over a week since Andromalus had taken her from her world and these strange dreams had started. So much had happened in that short week. Audrey barely even felt like the same girl she’d been back in London. Would her parents even recognize her when she finally made it home?

Sitting down on the bench where she’d first met Horera, Audrey closed her eyes to enjoy the sun’s warmth. This dream definitely had its advantages, the sensation of being on dry land again for one. Suddenly Audrey realized there was birdsong throughout the garden this time. Pockets of it had appeared to fill the silence she’d noted on that first night, but this was the first time it felt like there really might be a whole garden of birds out there. Could they create animals in this dream too? Were the plants part of what they’d created?

“Guess things must be going better.” A familiar voice interrupted Audrey’s musings. “That’s what you said controlled whether it was day or night, right?”

“Nadine!” Audrey smiled back, genuinely content in the moment. “It certainly seems that way, doesn’t it?”

“Yip! Yip! Yip!” Horera came barreling out of the woods and began sprinting tight figure 8s around Audrey and Nadine, “Pretty Fairy back! Pretty Fairy back!”

“That’s great, Horera!” Audrey laughed. Things had apparently turned around.

“Yeah!” Nadine crouched down to Horera’s level with a grin. “Ooof!”

Before Nadine could say more, Horera reflexively tackled her to the ground, tail whipping excitedly and tongue licking Nadine’s face joyfully. Nadine laughed, while at the same time trying to push Horera off her chest. Audrey smiled and set the spell-book aside in case she was in for some of the same. Horera displayed a very peculiar mix of human and canine characteristics, though this was the first time Audrey had seen Horera engage in face-licking—and it did look a little odd.

“Browf!” Horera rolled off of Nadine, and then sheepishly began picking at her toes. “Horera sorry. Just excited.”

Nadine laughed as she wiped off her face, “That’s okay, Horera! I’m really happy for you!”

Smiling happily, Nadine rested her cheek on her fist as she remained reclined on the grass where Horera had knocked her. Horera’s tail hadn’t stopped wagging, even during her apology to Nadine. Audrey didn’t know if things were going to be okay in the end, but right now they were, and somehow that seemed like enough.

“Audrey is do better too?” Horera beamed over at Audrey.

“Yes, for now anyway.” Audrey pulled the spell book back into her lap, “Elaria, Yezen’s falcon, revealed that the Solar Eye was part of a set of three artifacts. Whatever Elise’s plan is, she’d need to get all three artifacts to be able to enact it. Close to our location was an underwater palace containing another of the artifacts, The Scroll of Depths.” Audrey shrugged, “We got down to the Palace, faced its challenges and claimed The Scroll without any interference from Elise or her agents.”

“Nice.” Nadine grinned, “Why don’t we have like a lunch party up at the portals to celebrate? We can talk about what’s going on, and see where we all are too!”

Horera liked the idea, and Audrey didn’t mind. She still didn’t think the portals were any more than images of their waking worlds, but she was learning to appreciate any moment of peace or comfort she could find. This dream was definitely both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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