It always starts out the same.
It’s night time, and there are voices all around her as she walks. The moon sits low on the horizon. Full and hazy, an intense fiery orange, casting a glow across the village around her. She can feel eyes on her, so very many eyes, watching her as she moves through. Akali feels the smooth wood of the bucket in her hands and focuses on it, and before long, she finds herself at the edge of a stream.
Crouching down, she dips it in, filling it a little over halfway, and moves to stand back up. That’s when hands make contact with her, grabbing her arms and shoulders. They’re strong, and she can’t see who they belong to. The darkness masks their faces, but their angry voices are intense. Suddenly, she plunges forward into the water, and just before she goes under, the words she can make out are ‘kill her’, and ‘kill the demon lover’.
The cold water engulfs her, and she’s robbed of air. Overpowered, she can’t fight back. It fills her lungs, and panic sets in, burning through every nerve of her being until… Nothing.
She sat up abruptly in bed, panting heavily with the sound of her heartbeat thrumming in her ears. Sweat slicks her forehead, and she feels so clammy. What she doesn’t hear, is the person at her side stirring. A question, muted, so far away… She can’t even hear it.
It always starts out the same, but it never felt this real. It never felt like a memory.
A warm hand sliding up her bare torso is what brings her back and pulls her down from the vestiges of the nightmare. Her breathing slows, and soon, her pulse dies down. Now she can hear the person next to her, finally she can register that she is actually alive, and not dying.
“Kali,” the voice murmurs, still carrying a touch of sleep to it. “Are you alright?” Slowly her head shifts to the side, catching sight of the glowing eyes in the darkness. Evelynn… Her eyes are almost the same color as the moon in her nightmare. A shiver tears through her and she quickly shakes her head.
“I’m gonna get a drink, I’ll… I’ll be back.”
All too quickly, the woman slides away from the warmth at her side and out from under the soft blankets, and puts on what clothes she can find at the side of the bed. A pair of shorts and a shirt, both dark grey in color. Good enough.
Her feet patter lightly on the hardwood flooring, taking her to the kitchen. It’s expansive, and pristine, almost entirely fitted with countertops and flooring of gold-flecked white marble. Evelynn had expensive, but good, taste. A glass was plucked from a cabinet, and she took it to the sink, where she turned the water on and filled it a little over halfway.
Shutting her eyes, she braced herself against the countertop, letting the cold from the stone seep into her. By now the sweat on her had dried, but she still felt horrible. Her thoughts kept her distracted, and her water left untouched. She likely would have remained that way, had her lover not followed her. For a short while, Evelynn watched her, before stepping up behind her. Her warm touch flowed up her back and across her shoulders, and she felt Akali’s muscles tense.
Akali’s eyes snapped open, and she sucked in a breath. “Akali, talk to me.”
That warm and husky voice seeped into her mind, and slowly her eyes slipped shut, gradually relaxing under her touch. A lasher curled around the glass of water, metal-clad tip clinking lightly against the side, and brought it closer. Gently, she nudged Akali with it, causing her eyes to open once more. She accepted it and took a slow sip, while both lashers now curled around her body, as did Evelynn’s arms.
“Talk to me.”
The younger woman sighed softly. “It’s just a nightmare, Lynn. Nothin’ to worry about.” She could almost feel the demon’s eyes narrowing on her, and almost immediately she regretted her words. “I am going to call bullshit, love. That’s the tenth time, in the last two weeks. If you don’t talk to me about it, it may never get better.”
Akali raised her hands, fingers sliding over the lashers curled around her, letting the sensation of the velvety scales keep her grounded. “It’s a harvest moon, at a village somewhere. I’m going to a stream to fill a bucket of water… People come for me, they grab me, they shove me under water. They drown me, and I wake up.”
She felt Evelynn tense up around her, and she can see the tips of the lashers change shape, growing more pointed. “They shout, kill her. Kill the demon lover. It never felt so… Real, until tonight, Lynn.” Her voice tapered off, falling almost into the realm of meek. “Akali,” she started slowly, fingers playing across the rapper’s toned stomach, “That was no nightmare, my love. That was a memory,” she stated. “That was the first, and only time, I ever failed you.”
Blinking slowly, she turned in her lover’s hold, seeking her out to make eye contact. Questions were in her eyes, and Evelynn could read them clear as day. “If an event in a past life is traumatic enough, you’ll carry it with you. Maybe it will manifest the next time you are reborn, or maybe it will stay buried for hundreds of years. I am surprised it was dormant for this long.”
Akali let her head lean back against Evelynn. “Tell me about it. I need to know.” There came a quiet sigh in her ear as the demon squeezed her. “Come back to bed with me, and I’ll tell you.” She nods slowly, and finishes the water, before she’s led back to the bedroom. Once they’re settled, and Akali is nestled comfortably in Evelynn’s arms, she begins to speak.
“That memory came from the first time you had returned to me. One of the villagers had spotted you with me, and they ran back to tell the others. It spread like wildfire. It plagued their pitiful little minds, how could one of their own consort with the demon that had terrorized them for so long?” Her voice sounded so bitter. “They were so quick to forget how the terror stopped when you were born.” She growled lowly, the rumble of it in her chest and throat easily felt by Akali. “Humans are such superstitious and cruel creatures… They killed you for it. I didn’t arrive in time, and I lost you. It took many, many years for you to come back, and I feared you were gone for good.” For a moment, Evelynn fell silent, her claws manifesting as she combed through Akali’s hair.
“I slaughtered that village. Every last one of them suffered for that act. Their agony, their horror… It sated me for some time, but my heart did not heal until I laid eyes on you once more.”
Her strong arms curled around Akali a little tighter, hugging her close. The young woman was left in stunned silence, and slowly her eyes slipped shut, the moisture forming in them unknown to her until the tears fell. “I am thankful the world is far more accepting now, Lynn. I don’t want to feel that again.”
Reaching up, Evelynn’s thumb carefully wiped away the tears that had spilled from her lover’s eyes. “You never will, I promise you. I will always be there to protect you.” Akali slowly stirred, moving to look up at her and smile softly. “Love you,” she murmured, before receiving a warm and affectionate kiss.
“I love you, my precious little dragon. Sleep, now.”