20A

Andromalus strode into the garden, nodding with brief thoughtful hums.  Audrey led the way, showing him where she first entered the dream world, and how she had recreated her London room here in the garden. She tried not to look back too much.

She’d gotten used to him as a small black cat—as a tall black man he was much more imposing. A very sophisticated older black man, with neatly trimmed mustache and goatee resembling the whiskers of his cat self—though more full. His hands were folded behind his back, and his judgmental gaze more daunting now that he was taller than Audrey—even though she was pretty sure her magic was as powerful as his now.

Audrey had defeated Elise, and Elise had defeated Andromalus—ergo Audrey was likely at least as powerful as Andromalus. As an adversary Elise had been terrifying, but as a friend she turned out to be rather sweet. Andromalus was far from sweet, even restored to his true self. Still, he was her mentor and Audrey felt a mixture of respect and even gratitude to the hubristic wizard.

“An excellent training ground for mastering the arcane sciences.” Andromalus approved, “I can see now how you advanced beyond even my expectations. To be able to train all night while also resting; very resourceful, Audrey.”

Her teacher’s voice came from his diaphragm, full throated and carefully enunciated—yet with an almost whisper-quality to it when he spoke normally. His voice had a commanding vitality when heard aloud she hadn’t fully appreciated when just experiencing it in her mind.

Audrey blushed; she wasn’t used to his praise. “I, didn’t really practice my spells all that much here… We mostly just hung out.”

“I look forward to meeting your friends. Reaching a fully actualized dream-plane by merely sleeping is extremely rare, and by the time you factor in that three of you returned to this world every night; the phenomenon is left without precedent to my knowledge.”

Audrey turned back to her mentor as they reached the clearing where she typically met Horera and Nadine, “Actually, I was wondering if we could open portals to their worlds in case they had anyone they wanted to show our dream world to?”

Andromalus smiled, “Of course. May I?”

The younger wizard nodded. It was so weird how Andromalus genuinely seemed to respect her. Even after everything he’d been through he still didn’t respect anyone else other than himself and Audrey. Their friends in Fantasia had been critical to their success, and Elise had bested Andromalus directly in a magical confrontation—and yet still Audrey was the only one he held in as high esteem as himself. She didn’t feel like she deserved so singular an honor.

With sweeping gestures that caused his silk robes to billow dramatically Andromalus called down the portals from atop Nadine’s place. Curling his fingers he set the arches at the edges of the clearing in the four cardinal directions. A long exhale later the portals stood in sharper relief than before; real objects in a dream world.

Audrey smiled. Andromalus’s spells had a theatrical flair to them that was absent in Audrey’s own spell casting. She actually rather liked it, though the thought of trying to emulate it seemed inconveniently vain. Especially the part where he transformed the pond into a four tiered sapphire fountain.

“That dream world! That! That!” Horera’s voice came excitedly from the Terra Portal.

“Huh,” A gruff man grunted, “How’d that get there?”

“Come! Horera show dream!”

The little dogling emerged excitedly from her portal, dragging a tall man in a black duster and hat by the hand. Audrey gasped as she saw the shock of white cutting from Horera’s bangs over one of her ears—though her friend seemed as energetic as ever. Before proper introductions could be initiated a voice came from the Eden Portal.

“More daemon magic? How much more is there to do?” a man’s cool voice blended fatigue with fresh resolve.

Nadine laughed in response, “That isn’t daemon magic, Dad! That’s the dream world I’ve been visiting every night! Come on, I’ll show you!”

Nadine arrived in the garden with her father—a clean-cut gentleman in a suit with a sniper rifle over his shoulder, and Audrey suspected more weapons concealed on his person. Nadine’s father wasn’t as tall as Andromalus, let alone Horera’s guest, though he did have at least seven centimeters on Audrey’s own father back in London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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