Feather’s Stories: Hallucinations In Disguise

Hello Everyone!

Today I have a story for you! If you remember, I posted up the prologue to the novel I’ve been working on…which is still being worked on, albeit rather slowly. Anyway, I’ve decided to put up the next chapter for you guys! Just because I have nothing else I can write about, and I’m currently uninspired by my situation right now (it’s all about the waiting game for me at the moment). So, here you go! I hope you guys like it!

Demetria woke with a start, the remnants of her dream fading from memory as the day seeped in. The bright, morning sun’s rays filtered through the lace curtains that hung above her bed, casting floral patterns on the dark wooden floors of her room. She rubbed her face with her hands, hoping that would bring back some of the images she’d seen, but only fragments managed to pull through. Tall towers of ice, faces that were frozen in fear and pain, and pale white horses galloping through blizzards and fields of snow, were the only images she could remember. She sighed, falling back to look up at the ceiling, her goose feathered pillow decompressing with the force of her fall. For the past three years, since her eighteenth birthday, she’d been having these dreams, or nightmares, if she could remember what they were about. Each one becoming more and more vivid as time went on, and each one waking her with a cold sweat creeping down her back.

As she stared up at the wooden beams that held up the slanted roof above her, a low whine came from the side of her bed, and a moist, furry muzzle nudged at her limp hand. Turning to the black three-foot wolf beside her, Demetria sighed again. She scratched the fuzzy ear that were pointed towards her, and smiled as the jewelled green eyes shut in pleasure, “I’m fine Wymond, it was just a bad dream.”

Her gaze returned to the ceiling and she contemplated her dream. She was sure she saw someone, amongst the swirling clouds of ice and snow. It was a vague image, but as Demetria concentrated, the image of billowing green hair came to the forefront of her mind, and a circlet of gold rested atop the shining locks. Determined to recall the figure, Demetria’s eyes narrowed in concentration, but as soon as she focused on the image, it left, like a candle being snuffed out. Sighing once more, she threw off the covers of her bed, and began to face the day ahead of her.

Once dressed, she left the confines of her room, and ventured out to the rest of the cottage. Demetria lived in a small cottage with her adopted mother, at the edge of the town. It was a small thing, its wooden foundations were covered in stone and cement, while its wooden roof was covered with thatched straw, making the little cottage seem as if it came right out of a fairy-tale. Inside, the walls and floors, and even the ceiling, were made from stone and wood, and the second floor, from which Demetria stepped onto, housed both Demetria’s and her mother’s bedrooms, as well as a small bathroom that sat at the back of the house. It was at this dark, wooden door that Demetria knocked, knowing full well her mother was inside, preparing to leave for work.

“Mom! Did you put the kettle on?” she called through the door. Demetria waited for a few moments, listening to the muffled sound of a figure shifting behind the door.

“Yes!” came the distracted reply.

Satisfied, Demetria turned to descend the rickety wooden stairs, holding onto the carved railing, hoping that her weight didn’t break the old wood. When she stood on the stone ground of the main lounge, she looked up, watching as Wymond followed her with light and easy steps. He passed her, towards the kitchen, which stood at the back of the house, and disappeared beyond the open archway. Huffing with irritation, Demetria mumbled under her breath, “Lucky dog.” Tamping down the sigh that threatened to escape, she followed the wolf into the kitchen, and listened to the hiss of the kettle that sat over the black gas hob, sitting against a colourfully tiled wall. With the ease of routine, Demetria began to make herself some coffee, taking out the filter from one polished cupboard, a cup from another, and the beans themselves from a small pot that sat on top of the rustic counters. As she waited for the kettle to sing, Wymond snuffled against one of her legs, pacing around her impatiently, and finally giving Demetria cause to sigh again.

Rolling her eyes, she reached down, patting his side to calm him, and reached into a nearby cupboard, pulling out a large bag of food, along with a large dog bowl, from which Wymond could eat from. With great effort, she opened the bag and dumped the contents into the bowl. It was half full by the time Wymond attacked his food, making it harder for Demetria to pull away, “Calm down! It’s only breakfast! If someone saw you, they’d think we weren’t feeding you!” she groused, watching with amazement at how quickly the wolf ate his food. He growled at her playfully before jumping up to sniff at her fondly, almost toppling her over in his haste to show his affection. Demetria laughed half-heartedly, while holding onto the heavy wolf, “Ok, ok. I get it! Stop it Wymond! Get back to your food, the kettle’s ready!”

She shoved the wolf off, and rushed over to the hob, to lift the now screaming kettle from the heat. As she poured the hot water into the coffee filter, she watched the wolf return to his food, a secret smile pulling at the corners of her mouth, while she fixed her own breakfast.

Demetria was sat at the tall breakfast bar, when a blur of auburn hair rushed into the room, mumbling to herself under her breath, “Stupid Gideon, doesn’t know how to fold eggs into the mix properly.”

Ary Stronghold was a no-nonsense woman. Despite not being born into the town, the townspeople looked up to her, and even heralded her as an elder, even though she was the head baker of the town’s only bakery. Her gastronomic knowledge had mothers and grandmothers flocking to her bakery, hoping to gain tips and ingredients to better their own homemade recipes from the lively woman.

“Trouble at the bakery?” Demetria asked, eyeing the frantic woman over the rim of her mug.

Growling, as she shoved a few pastries into her satchel, Ary shook her head, “The man’s incompetent, I don’t know why I hired him. It’s like he has stumps for hands!” She threw her arms in the air, before pouring herself a large helping of coffee into her own travel mug. Once sealed, she checked her bags and the surrounding area before turning desperate, honey coloured eyes towards Demetria, “Would you mind locking up for me? I don’t have time to stick around. I’m afraid Gideon might ruin the pastries before I get there.”

The younger woman laughed, jade eyes glittering with mirth, as she held out her hand to her mother, “Go, I’ll be fine, and if anything does go wrong, I have Wymond here to protect me.” Demetria nodded towards the wolf, who stopped eating to look up at the pair, with his mouth full of food.

Ary rolled her eyes at the scene, “Of course you do.” Gathering up her bags, she paused again, giving Demetria a doubtful look, before once again asking, “Are you sure you’re going to be ok?”

“Mom, I’m old enough to move out. I think I can handle locking up a small cottage, that sits at the end of the road, without any problems.” Demetria pulled back and took another sip of her coffee, “Go, otherwise your bakery will burn down before you even get there.”

Ary nodded distractedly. For a moment, it looked as if she had changed her mind, but without turning back, she left the kitchen. Shaking her head fondly at her mother’s worry, Demetria settled back onto her seat to finish her breakfast. It wasn’t another second later when the sound of shuffling footsteps returned to the kitchen and Ary returned, only to pull the younger woman towards her, to place a quick kiss to her forehead before retreating back to the door, “Bye! I’ll see you later!”

Smiling, Demetria called back to her mother, rubbing at the kiss, knowing the plum lipstick her mother wore left its mark, “Bye!” She listened as the echo of the front door slamming shut reverberated throughout the cottage, before she finally focused on her breakfast, eating in companionable silence, as Wymond snuffled noisily at his.

* * * * * *

The quiet hall of dusty books rang out with the turning of pages, as patrons and visitors scoured the volumes they read, along the long tables at the centre of the library. The large marble building, at the centre of town, housed not only the library, but other governmental offices, that flanked the large hall. It was here that Demetria worked. Having been fascinated by stories and books for as long as she could remember, it came as no surprise when she was offered the job at sixteen years old. She’d been a frequent visitor, even as a child, and the librarians took a shine to her, knowing how reverently she treated the books. Even now, she treated the dusty tomes with care, making sure they returned to the places they belonged, careful not to disturb their neighbours as she did so.

Sometimes, Wymond would even help her, as she collected books that were a little too hard to find. If a patron or a visitor asked for a rare book, she’d show the wolf the title, and he’d already know where to sniff off to. He was a strange wolf, unlike any from the nearby forest. While most of the local breeds tended to have streaks of white and grey in their fur, Wymond was all black, and while their eyes were predominantly golden, his were an emerald green. He also seemed to understand human language, and could sense the mood of a conversation, even if he sat in the corner snoozing. It took almost all of Ary’s and Demetria’s resources just to get Sevrin, the head librarian, to approve Wymond’s continued presence in the library. After all, as with any public building, pets weren’t allowed, and being a pet, Wymond had to have a good reason to be permitted inside. Thankfully, with Ary as an official elder of the town, many of her fellow elders had vouched for Wymond, having apparently witnessed his intelligence first-hand, and proved to Sevrin that he was more than just a pet. Reluctantly, Sevrin agreed, on the condition that Wymond either stayed behind the reception desk, and in his bed, or he had to accompany Demetria, wherever she went. No one had any qualms about it, and if any visitor or patron happened to pass by the pair, they were quick to move on. So, just like any well-oiled machine, the town’s chaotic order found its routine.

It was as Demetria was placing a book into is proper niche, did she notice something odd. At the back of the shelf was a carving she’d never seen before. Frowning in consternation, she pulled several books out from their positions, to take a better look at the carving. It was a coat of arms, decorated with swirling ivy vines and delicately detailed flowers. The crest itself was cut diagonally by a band of ivy, separating the image of a howling wolf and a bear’s paw print. Fascinated by the carving, Demetria leaned forward, tiptoeing on the stool she stood on, to get a better look. For reasons, unbeknownst to her, she felt as if she’d seen the crest before somewhere, except in much more detail and colour. She could almost see the golden colour of the crest, the glittering green of the ivy, the bear paw that shone with sapphire stones, and the wolf’s head that sparkled like onyx. The red rose that rested at the very top held her transfixed and Demetria could swear she saw it move, twirling in place like a ballerina. The scroll work, both above and beneath it, had words she couldn’t even read.

Blinking rapidly, Demetria looked away from the crest, trying to remember where she’d seen it before, but just like the dream she had that morning, the image disappeared, leaving her confused and irritated. Shaking herself one more time, she looked back at the carving, only to find it nowhere in sight. Searching the rest of the shelf, she found nothing but smooth mahogany wood, and dusty books. Touching the back of the shelf, she tried to reason out what she saw, only to be disturbed by the familiar tones of a soft firm voice.

“Demetria, if you’re done putting away those books,” he paused. Beady black eyes stared critically at the cart beside her with a scowl, “Veda needs a renewal on her loan. I need to go the back and find the old newspaper articles for Briana.”

Demetria sighed, Sevrin was a strict mentor. His crooked nose and half-moon glasses reminded her of a raven, looking down its nose to judge an unworthy soul. Even after three years, she still couldn’t quite shake off the fear he emitted, and chalked it down to his personality, after all, not everyone can be as cheerful as a daisy in spring. As he turned on his heels to return to his tasks, Demetria placed the books she’d disturbed back in their original position, and followed Sevrin. When he went to the archive section of the library, she turned to the reception desk, noting the impatient figure standing in front. Forcing a smile to her face, Demetria greeted Veda. She was an elderly woman, her thin, grey hair was testament to how old she was, and the wrinkles on her face spoke of years at the sewing machine. Her hands shook with every movement, and her watery blue eyes spoke of years squinting at thin yarn being threaded through a tiny needle.

With a friendly tone, Demetria approached Veda, already reaching for the book the elderly woman had placed on the desk, “Hello, Veda. I heard you wanted to renew your loan.”

Veda, with the slow pace of old age, peered up at Demetria, squinting at her, as if trying to recognise her, “Oh, yes dearie. I haven’t quite finished reading it yet. It’s the cats, you see. Whenever I try to pick up the book, they keep meowing for something.”

Demetria nodded along to the woman’s harrowing tale of her distracting twenty-five cats, as she keyed in the codes for the book. When the woman paused for breath, she finally spoke, “You do realise this is the third time you’re renewing this book. After this week, I’m afraid you’ll have to return it. We can’t issue out more than three renewals at a time.”

With a shaky nod, Veda replied, “Of course, dearie, don’t you worry. I’ve come to this library, before you were even born. In fact, I think I was here before they introduced the whole artsy-fartsy section over there. That used to be the mystery collection, if memory serves me.”

Holding back a tired sigh and a yawn, Demetria listened to the stories Veda told, with as much patience as she could muster, inching Veda’s book back to her over the counter, hoping the old woman got the hint.

When the woman finished her harrowing tale, she tapped the wooden desk and smiled at Demetria, “Well, I won’t hold you up any more dearie, I’m sure there’s plenty of things Sevrin’s putting you through, I’ll be on my way.”

“Don’t worry Veda, you’re welcome any time,” Demetria replied, smiling at the old woman, as she shuffled along the long desk, towards the exit. Feeling a little uncomfortable, simply watching her, Demetria stepped out from behind the desk, to offer Veda her help, but as she came around, the old lady had disappeared, and a woman with extravagant robes of green and gold stood against the desk. Perturbed, Demetria searched her immediate surroundings for Veda, but found no traces of the old woman. Unsure of herself, she cautiously approached the imposing figure, “May I help you ma’am?”

The figure’s cherry coloured lips curled into a proud smile as she watched Demetria with shining jade eyes. She didn’t immediately respond, and simply observed as the young woman shifted in place. After a few good seconds, she turned away and said, “Things are about to change, child. A storm is coming.” Suddenly lightning flashed across the giant arched windows that filled the wall overlooking the gardens. Thunder followed not too far behind, cracking like a whip, making Demetria jump. She looked up at the darkening skies, dark, clouds, rolling across each other like waves, creating patterns and figures that could easily give anyone nightmares. Amongst the abstract shapes, an imposing figure stood out, a tall crown decorating the top of its head as it raised its arms, as if summoning the lightning as it flashed behind it. Once again the thunder crashed overhead, and Demetria jumped back, screeching with the shock.

With her hands raised to her heart, she watched the dark clouds rolling across the sky. She didn’t notice as Veda passed by, muttering, “Blasted thunder’s going to give me a stroke one of these days.” It was only as her cloying lavender perfume found its way to Demetria’s nose did she realise she was clutching the reception desk in a vice-like grip. Giving the old woman a quick glance, she returned her attention to the regal figure who no longer stood there. Confused and more than slightly discombobulated, Demetria ran both hands through her hair, taking a deep breath to calm her jangled nerves. Calming down, she named all her strange visions as hallucinations, from overworking herself, and decided to ask Sevrin for an early lunch break, hoping that would put a stop to the strange things that seemed to be happening to her, throughout the day.

So, what do you guys think? Did you like it? What would you do to improve it? Let me know, reviews gets cookies (if you read the author’s section of fanfiction you’d know). Leave your tips in the jar below and I’ll see you soon!

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