Holly looked around this strange land as she tried to track down the voice. Everything was foggy and misty. Nothing was solid around her. "Hello?" she called out into the dark.
Had the Chasers tried a new tactic?
"Juniper, I can't believe it's so easy to find you this time. Your soul is like a blazing torch." there was a soft chuckle.
Whoever it was, they were getting far closer now. Their voice was so loud.
"My name is Holly, I think you have the wrong person. I don't know who Juniper is. I haven't seen another person since Lachesis in so long."
"Lachesis?" the voice's gentle tone was gone now. It came out in a biting bark. "When did you meet her, and what has she said? Beware of what she tells you. You can't believe everything she says. She's a danger to you as much as she is to me."
"Danger to you? I don't even know you, or have even seen you." Holly shook her head. "I don't need any more craziness. I have enough. My pet just started talking and told me he was going to help protect me."
"Ah, Angel found you already? That's great to hear. I was worried because I haven't been able to find him." There was a golden glimmer now in the distance and Holly walked toward it.
"Who?" Holly demanded. "My pet's name is Fluffy. Well, that's what I used to call him. I think he said his name is Eros now."
"It makes sense that I wouldn't be the only one that can sense your spirit. Still, Holly, I need you to listen to me. You're in danger, a lot of it."
Holly laughed. "I already know that. Listen, whoever you are, you're late to this entire adventure of mine. The Chasers have been after me for so long that I've lost all track and concept of time. My pet talks now, and this crazy pink-haired lady said I have to fight the sins. Me. None of this makes sense, and I really don't like the idea of people just deciding my life for me. I'm the one that does that."
"You're a much different vessel than usual." The man that spoke these words was next to her now and Holly got her first eye-full.
He was shirtless, every ab outlined by his Godly build. He looked like a Greek God with how his body was cut to perfection. No wasted fat, just pure lean muscle under golden tanned skin. He had golden curly hair and the most intense blue eyes she'd ever seen. They took her breath away.
Holly shook her head to clear it. She hadn't thought she was one to get distracted by bodily forms, but this proved her wrong. "What do you mean vessel?"
"Sorry, that's not quite the word for it." He chuckled and ran a hand through his hair. "I don't mean offense, Holly. It's your other lives you were far more fragile."
She snorted. "And that's preferable to the way I am now?" she demanded. Watching him did funny things to her. Her tummy was full of butterflies. How could anyone look that perfect?
"No, you're just different. No matter what life you take, you're always perfect to me. I'll keep chasing you and helping you no matter what it takes, don't worry about that."
Holly frowned. "I'm not worried. The only thing I worry about is the Chasers and staying ahead of them. They terrify me."
He put his arms around her shoulders and she shoved him away. "Sorry, I suppose I should introduce myself before getting so close to you. My name is Tydeus, and I am deeply in love with you, Holly. All I want to do is help you out in life, help you live, and defeat the sins. One of which is that Eros guy you mentioned."
"You can't love me, you don't know me. I don't need your help. Whatever this is? I'll figure it out. The Chasers might scare me, but me and Eros have been handling it this long already. You say he's an enemy, but all he's done is try to help and take care of me."
Tydeus stared at her. His eyes had widened and his mouth parted. "You trust a sin more than me?"
Laughter bounced around the dreamscape. "She rejected you already? That has to be a record, Tydeus!"
"Shut up, Dagon," Tydeus growled. The serene aura he had been presenting flickered as he scowled. "You stay away from her."
"Nothing you can do will keep me away from my love," Dagon sang in a throaty rumble. "Holly, my name is Dagon, and unlike Tydeus here, I'm not going to confess my undying love to you just yet. But I know your soul, and every time I meet it, I fall in love, and you've loved me too."
"Don't believe him, he's a liar. He's the reason that we have the sins," Tydeus objected.
"Why should I listen to either of you?" Holly demanded. "If either of you really wants to help me, maybe you should actually show up in my life, instead of this behind the scenes dream world thing. Nothing you do here helps me."
Both men were silent as if processing her words.
"Now, if you two are finished, let me wake up if it's time to wake up, or let me get proper rest. I have to get up before the Chasers and have a full day of running again. That's what I need to worry about in my life, not you guys."
"Holly, I have to find you, that's why I visit you in these dreams. I'm just surprised at how easy it will be this time. I'm worried that Angel isn't there, and I beg you, please do not put too much trust in Eros. You say he is your companion, but he is dangerous."
"I think someone I haven't met before, visiting me in my dreams, is far more dangerous." She answered with her arms crossed across her middle. "I just want to deal with the Chasers and get back to my normal ordinary life, and the people in it."
"Normal life?" the one named Dagon was speaking again. She still couldn't see him, but Holly could tell he was close.
"Yes, a family that loved me, a job, a boyfriend," Holly ticked the points off on her fingers.
Tydeus's expression had changed during her answer. Instead of that soft smile, his lips were pressed together. "Holly, what did you do in this normal life?"
Holly frowned. "I can't remember. Ever since I've been running from the Chasers my memory has got foggy. I don't remember the faces of anyone, or what I did, but," she put a hand on her heart, "I know it here."
"When I get there, I will handle these Chasers of yours," Dagon announced from where ever he was hiding. "If I'm correct, I believe one of my brothers might have discovered you."
"What?" Tydeus and Holly demanded at the same time.
"It doesn't matter. No matter who it is, I will stop them. I will save you, Holly."
"That's my line," Tydeus complained.
Holly shook her head. Why had her life become so strange? And why couldn't she remember simple things from her life before? Everything was fuzzy now. Her friends, the school she attended things that she knew she had done, but try as she might not a single memory of any of it. "Am I actually getting sleep or are you guys making my life worse right now? If I'm sleepy while trying to escape I could make mistakes, fatal ones."
"Your body will be fully rested, even more than usual." Tydeus has answered her. "I'm not your enemy, Holly, and when we meet I will prove it to you. You won't have to keep running soon. Just please, be careful of Eros and Lachesis. He is a sin, even if he started to get soft for your last incarnation, and she is one of the Fates. She's one of the ones that has forced your soul to endure this."
"Listen, thank you for the warning and all. But I am going to decide who my enemy is and who my allies are. I'm not going to judge people based on what others say. I'm going to judge them based on what they do or don't do to me and their actions to others."
Dagon laughed. "Holly, you're a feisty one. I think I'm going to like you. I'll prove what kind of person I am to you, and thank you for not judging as fast as this hypocrite does. You'll probably be waking up soon, and when you do, please don't forget about me. You can forget about him all you want I don't care."
Tydeus glared into the dark before he turned his attention to Holly once more. "Please, don't forget me either. I don't want to sound like I'm copying him, but I will prove myself to you. I promise these Chasers will not carry out their plans. I will find you, and soon."
Holly woke to find Eros pressed tight against her in his usual spot. He was still sleeping, his ears twitching, as he was on guard even in his sleep. She sighed and ran a hand through his soft fur as she pet him. He had kept his identity secret, but she couldn't hate him. Not after how much he had been with her."You're awake?" the woman, Lachesis, was sitting at a table nearby, her leg swinging. "I was on guard while he got some sleep.""I thought you didn't like him." Holly pointed out."He's a sin," Lachesis answered with her foot still bouncing. "But, he's been caring for you, and he turned sweet for Acacia. If I can give Tydeus a chance, I can do the same for him." She smiled over at her. "Are you hungry? I can fix you something to eat before we have to get going.""I won't eat bugs, or rats, or snakes," Holly stressed once more.Lachesis giggled. "I didn't expect you
Lachesis stepped in front of both Holly and Eros and erected a simple barrier of wind that the scythes grazed off. "Why are you after Holly?" she demanded."I haven't done anything to you," Holly added. "There's no reason for you to hunt me like this! Leave me alone and let me go back to my normal everyday life."The three hooded figures took a few steps back. The one in the middle swept back their hood and the woman revealed stared at them with her green gem-like eyes."Do not misunderstand
"So that's why you'll wait for the other Prince," Eros pointed out. "I'll have you know, ours is infinitely better than yours. You have a cruel master, but ours is capable of kindness."Quix burst into laughter. "Kindness? None of them are capable of that. They're all selfish and only do or help with things that will benefit them. You're clueless if you truly believe that yours is any different. But I'll let you prove it because there's nothing more that I love when someone is proven wrong. The shock on their faces, it's like a drug."Ruby rolled her eyes at him. "Lust, while I'm not as fanatic about it as Quix, he
Holly tensed as the fog completely covered the two of them and all contact from the others was halted."Relax," Ruby ordered her fingers moving in small circular patterns on Holly's shoulders. "Just relax.""But, the others," Holly whispered."Not important right now, I need to focus on you and see if you have magic inside, and for that, you're going to have to relax and trust me."
Holly wasn't surprised when Ruby took away the barrier or when Eros grabbed her and hugged her hard. "Don't you ever do that again," he hissed.Holly pushed at him. "I was with Ruby, it's okay, Eros. She's my friend now.""Friend?" Eros stared at the reaper. "Why in the world would you befriend her? You do remember they are our enemies right?""You're the one that suggested they stay with me, right?" Holly challenged with a smile. "That will work out much better if we're friends."
"How are we going to figure out what magic she has anyway?" Quix questioned as he walked around Holly. "It could take forever if we try it one thing at a time. Besides, I'm sure that not one person knows all the branches of magic here. Even if all of us worked together, we might not cover them all."Eros sighed. "I don't understand how Angel figured it out so easily. He should have shown up by now, or at least Tydeus." He stopped then turned on his heel. "Wait, Holly, didn't you mention something about Tydeus? While we were arguing.""Yes, he visited me in my dreams," Holly responded. "He insisted on calling me Juni
Holly didn't waste any time, she shoved Quix back and knocked him onto his back as she held a hand against her lips."Please, don't do that again. I'm not a toy for you to mess with. You can't just do what you want to try to make me blush."Quix raised himself on one elbow and grinned at her."But that's the fun of it. Ruby doesn't do anything but roll her eyes. You do all kinds of wonderful things for me. Your breath gets shallow and fast, your heart beats faster, your cheeks change color.
Holly must have fallen asleep, though she didn't even remember her eyes closing. There had been a loud bang, like glass shattering. Had that been part of her dream?On the end of the couch, Quix was snoring, hugging his braid as if it was a stuffed toy. Was this truly one of the people she had been running away from in terror for so long?She leaned forward as she watched him sleep. Was he faking it?"Are you done pouting yet?" hissed a voice behind her.