Page 34 of Court of Nightmares

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When I wake, the fire is out, and I can feel the darkness setting in.

Did I sleep all day? I guess Nathair was right. I really did need to rest.

I stand and stretch, my mind reaching for them without realising. Forcing myself to the door, I peer out. “Hello?” The hallway is silent, and I feel the emptiness of this part of the court. Someone must be here, but I wouldn’t know where to look.

It’s the first time I’ve truly been alone since waking up, so I make the most of it and wander through the hallways, taking inventory of my body. I feel stronger than I ever did before, and after showering and dressing in some shorts and a long shirt for comfort, I find myself in one of the hobby rooms, as they described them.

It’s a huge room, split down the middle, and on the other side is a gym built for immortals like us. Everything is bigger, stronger, and harder. This side of the room, however, is a simple circle with runes spread around it. As I walk, I realise they are to contain powers.

To trap people?

No, that feels wrong.

It’s to help them contain their magic while it’s unstable. I almost feel the answer in my bones. I have all these new powers, and it’s about time I learned what they are and how to harness them if I’m to help. I’m tired of sitting around.

I’m to be a judge.

A queen.

It’s time I acted like one.

Taking a deep breath, I step inside the ring, feeling a magical pull sweep across me and over to the other side. I spread my feet and close my eyes, focusing internally, but for what, I don’t know. Something has to be there.

I did this before when I first changed, when they all wanted to feel my seer powers, and I found nothing. For a moment, old doubts creep up, and I sense nothing. I want to cry, tell them I’m useless and that they chose wrong, but then something sweeps past so quickly, like a breeze, stealing those thoughts.

Focusing harder, I push away everything I was before I died—all the doubts, worries, pain, and pressure to be enough. Instead, I just am.

A being.

Concentrating on one breath then the next, I dive deeper and deeper inside myself, searching for that spark of something.

Anything . . .

Then, like a blooming flower, it grows from the darkness, small and almost opaque, but the more I focus, the bigger it grows. Petals expand out, filling my limbs and curling around my heart. It’s a rose, I realise, as the thorns bite into me, but the pain fills me with comfort, as does the bloodshed.

I feel it stealing my blood as the thorns wind tightly around me, gripping me, but in return, I feel a new power flowing through me. I almost see myself gasp and fall to my knees, but inwards, it’s a battle.

The thorns want to overtake me and steal everything, but I push back the tide, and they finally settle. I breathe through the pain and this new power that almost chokes me, and then my eyes slam open at the same time my hands rise without thought.

Blood dots the circle around me, the physical evidence of the fight, and as my hands lift, the blood bubbles and then flows into the air, creating a giant circle. I feel it call to me, and I know I can use it to hurt or to heal.

Instead, I absorb it back into myself, watching the mass head straight to my chest and sink deep, the shock of it jolting me as my hands fall.

Okay, so blood . . .

What else?

Closing my eyes once more, I reach deep past the roses and into that power. It floods me, and suddenly, I’m not in my own mind anymore.

No, I’m in someone else’s and looking through their eyes.

For a moment, there is resistance as the strength of their power holds me back in a mental battle before they brush across me, realising who I am, and open.


He’s sitting in a library with one leg crossed over the other, and a fire blazes before him. A book lies forgotten in his hand, and for a moment, I am him, and he lets me feel his age, his strength, and even his memories if I wish to look, but I don’t. I want him to tell me about his past, not snoop through it. Instead, a new idea comes to mind, and with an inaudible giggle, I slide into his skin with him and take control.

Dragging the distinctly male hand across his chest, I explore lower, and the body I’m in gasps in pleasure.

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