Myst sighed, glancing around the unfamiliar place she had seen so many times before. A darkness seemed to inhabit the area, creeping up around her, but refusing to grow any closer to her – it was as if the shadows that ebbed and flowed in every direction were debating whether she was worth absorbing as well, moving forward only to reconsider the action a second after making their decision. Aside from that sentient mass of darkness, though, there was nothing. The ground on which she stood was barren and flat, and vanished into the edge of the shadows a few feet from where she stood. A dozen times before she had stepped forward toward that bleak barrier, but it always pulled away from her, only to reveal the same stretch of flat barren land in every direction.
"Why do I keep ending up here…?" The young woman sighed as she slowly spun around, looking for anything that might be changing. After all, something always did; that was one of the few constants of this dream.
Myst knew it was a dream, too. She had experienced it enough over the past few years to finally recognize it as so when it happened. She couldn't really remember anymore the details from every trip she had taken there, but she could tell that the dreams appeared to be happening more often than they did in the past. In the past, she could recall having them once every other month or so. As time went on, though, they seemed to come more and more. It was to the point now that she could recall having two or three a week.
"What do you want to show me!?" Myst yelled out to creeping darkness. "Let's see it!"
"You have been chosen."
Myst jumped as she spun around, trying to find the voice that had just answered her. The young girl's eyes darted back and forth as she sought the source, but all she could find was darkness. She raised a hand to her chest, feeling her heart race as she tried to calm herself down.
That was the first time she had ever heard anyone speak.
"You have been chosen."
The anomalous voice repeated itself, suddenly sounding as if it were coming from all around her at once. Myst clutched at her shirt, gripping it for comfort in the lack of a friend's hand. She curled her lower lip in, biting gently down on it as she slowly turned, looking back and forth for anything other than the bubbling shadows that surrounded her.
"You have been chosen."
The voice repeated itself again, louder this time, but still seeming to come from everywhere. The incorporeal voice was beginning to unnerve the normally calm teenage girl as she stopped turning back and forth and stood in place, staring into the black that enveloped her.
"You have been chosen."
"Chosen for what?" Myst asked suddenly as the voice repeated itself again.
A flash of light began to shine behind the girl, spilling out over the bare floor, dispelling the shade that had always rested there. The teenager blinked, turning to look at the land bathed in light as grass began to suddenly sprout around here, everywhere the light touched. She gasped, watching as small flowers poked through the lush verdure that now enclosed her feet.
"To bare this burden."
The voice spoke again, no longer an echo that emanated from the dark. Myst turned, clearly hearing the words from behind her, coming from the light. Her eyes adjusted quickly as she turned to face the magical glow that cut through the shadows, seeming to burn away the black. In its center, as she strained her eyes to see, there was a vague figure in the distance.
"What burden?" Myst asked, suddenly realizing the dream was – unlike before – responding to her own actions.
"You are the only ones I can trust with this task." The voice continued, but it no longer seemed to be addressing her questions directly.
"Ones?" She asked despite that, hoping for a response.
"You are free to ignore this request," the voice continued, "but doing so will certainly lead to your own demise."
"Demise!?" Myst shouted suddenly, stepping forward towards the light. It, just like the darkness, pulled away as she did. "Are you saying I'm going to die!?"
"Be that as it may, you should still think wisely before agreeing."
"Agreeing to what!?" Myst yelled, growing more and more frustrated with the dream. "Why are you ignoring me again!?"
"This task is no easy one, and your death may await you if you agree to help as well."
"I'm really not a fan of hearing about my own death and demise!" Myst yelled, turning her head away from the light and shouting at everything at once. "I'm done with this dream now! I don't want to know anymore!"
"But you are my… no." The voice continued anyway. "You are humanity's only hope."
"What are you talking about!?" Myst screamed as she thrust her clenched fists downward, shutting her eyes in frustration. "I don't understand any of this!"
"In time… you will."
Myst's eyelids shot open as the dream addressed her directly once more… but the strange and familiar emptiness was gone, replaced instead by her own ceiling. The teenager stared up at the wooden roof, confused and upset, focused on nothing at all until a small drop of water splattered against her forehead.
She blinked, raising her hand to wipe away the water as she stared at the tiny hole in her roof. Her father had failed to fix it like he had promised… not that she was surprised.
Myst sat up, flipping the covers off of her as her dark blue hair fell down her back. Running to the middle of her lower back, the hair was a deep blue, like the color of the ocean on a clear day, except for a few strands in her bangs which were a light blue, like the sky might be on that same day. She reached a hand up, brushing back a few stray hairs to clear the vision of her bluish-green eyes. Though she had never particularly noticed it, many had commented that they resembled a slightly choppy sea on a windy day. These little facts were just a small part of the reason why the people of Dalga had nicknamed her ‘The Water Nymph'.
Myst pushed aside her quilt, pulling herself from bed as she quickly moved to the window. The girl pulled aside the curtains, looking out through the rain splattered glass. The sky was dark, but not because the sun wasn't up; thick clouds hung above the town, deluging the small village with yet another sea of rain. While the nymph was certainly glad she lived in one of the more hospitable realms, she was pretty sure she could do without the rain. Filled to the bream with the energies of the Water Element, the Water Realm saw very few days without rain, and even fewer without clouds. She longed for a sunny day – or even a partly cloudy one. It had been months since she had last seen the golden rays of that fiery orb, or the clear blue expanse of the sky hidden behind those clouds.
The teenager turned away with a sigh, reaching up to gather her hair into a pony tail. As she moved to the door, she stole a blue hair band from atop her dresser and secured her hair in place, leaving only the lighter blue strands to hang free as she tucked them behind her ears.
"Good morning, Mother." Myst replied as she entered the kitchen, taking in a whiff of the woman's cooking.
"Did you sleep well, dear?" the older woman paused what she was doing as she turned to smile at the teenager. Her mother had seen better days, but it was still easy to spot where Myst's looks had come from. Her mother's hair was nearly as long as her own, but a more subdued, almost purple shade of blue. Her eyes, though, looked exactly like Myst's… except for the purplish bruise around the right one.
"Mom…" The nymph frown as she reached toward the wound, but her mother was quick to turn away and raise a hand to cover it.
"I-it's nothing, dear." The woman replied hastily as she began to tend to the food once more. "I just fell."
"On what?" Myst replied indignantly. "Someone's fist?"
"She said she fell."
The teenager spun her head at the sound of the deep male voice from behind her, finding a grizzled, angry looking man taking his place at the table. His face was covered in a thin layer of blue stubble, and his hair was cut short, but both matched the shade of the darker portion of Myst's hair. The man's deep black eyes glared menacingly back at her, as if daring her to try and argue.
"Where's my breakfast, Ondine?" The man growled, turning his eyes away from the young girl, and to her mother.
"I-it's almost ready, Calder!" The woman replied nervously. "Myst, would you mind—"
"I don't want her touching my food." The irate man at the table shouted. "She'll curse it like she does everything else…"
Myst quickly shot the bastard an angry glare that he paid no attention to before turning back to her mom, moving to help her despite the man's protests.
"N-no, no!" Her mother called quickly as Myst took a step toward her, though. "Nevermind, Myst. J-just… take a seat with your father…"
The teenager stopped, lowering her head to stare at the ground as a frown took hold of her lips. She felt a sudden surge of anger and dejection well up in her stomach, but the nymph was quick to push them back down, if for no other reason than to spare her mother the grief that letting them loose would bring.
"Alright…" Myst sighed and turned toward the table, sitting down in the chair opposite the man.
The man turned his head away as she took her seat, staring out the distant window across the house. He was always quick to turn a cold shoulder to her… ever since those dreams had started. At first, she had been hurt by the man's change. She could still remember times from when she was young when the man was caring and kind; the ideal father and husband. Part of her really missed them. But the rest of her wanted nothing to do with the degenerate of a man. After the nearly three years of indecency and cruelty he had shown her and her mother, she barely considered him the same person, and she refused to call him ‘father'.
"H-here we are."
Myst raised her head, giving her mother a comforting smile as she laid a plate of food in front of her. Scrambled eggs, toast, and a few sausage links – they had been eating a bit better since that man had taken his new job – whatever it was.
"Thank you, Mother." Myst replied as she smiled back and moved to set another plate in front of the degenerate across from her.
"And for you, Calder." She placed a similarly portioned plate in front of the man as well, though he had a few more pieces of meat in front of him. The little nymph didn't say anything, though, instead turning her gaze down as she shoveled her first bite of eggs into her mouth. They were a little burned, but they still tasted delicious.
"Thank you, Ondine." The man replied graciously. "Can I get a glass of water, as well?"
Myst tightened the grip on her fork, biting at her bottom lip gently as she raised her head.
"I'll get it." She answered provokingly as she turned to look behind her.
It only took Myst a moment to spot the small pitcher of water sitting on the kitchen counter. She stretched out an arm toward the liquid, exhaling slowly as she stretched out her will to the container. The water within swirled a moment before lifting up from the pitcher in a gentle stream. The nymph guided the water over her head with a simple gesture, ending the motion by pointing to the man's glass. Following her commands, the liquid flowed down into the cup, settling gently within it.
Myst raised a defiant gaze to the enraged expression coating the man's face. The lout quickly swung his arm across the table, smacking the glass and the water within it away and sending it careening into the wall where it shattered.
"I warned you to never do that!" The man hollered, knocking his chair away as he quickly got to his feet.
The mother's protest was silenced as that clod raised an open hand, forcing the back of it across her face. Myst gasped, jumping to her feet as well as her mother collapsed to the ground.
"You bastard!" the enraged teenager screamed, turning her narrowed eyes to the brute before her. "Don't you dare touch her! If you have a problem with me, then you take it up with me!"
The brute responded with a cold stare, his loathing of the girl in front of him clearly visible on his face. "I would never dirty my hand by touching a freak like you."
The man turned suddenly, bending down a moment to pick up a small leather bag from near where his chair had been resting moments ago. "I'd heading to work."
"You bastard!" Myst screamed, turning to follow the man as he moved to the door. "My greatest wish is that I'm actually not related to you!"
The man paused as he reached the door, turning back to glare at the girl insulting him. Then, with a laugh, he turned to the woman kneeling on the floor, cradling her face.
"There you go, Ondine. It looks like you were right. Me and her do have something in common."
"You're a coward!" Myst yelled as the man turned away again. "One of these days, you're going to get what's coming to you!"
The man opened the door, not bothering to look back at the girl. "You'll be getting what you deserve one of these days soon, too, freak."
Myst's defiant glare subsided slightly as the door closed, barring that bastard from her vision, replaced by prominent preoccupation. She bit down on her lower lip once more, curious as to what the man had meant.
"Mother," she turned, eyeing the purple-haired woman as she rose to her feet. "What did he mean?"
The woman turned her eyes away, still clutching at her cheek as she began to move toward the broken glass.
"Would you mind helping me, dear?" she said after an unnerving moment of silence, ignoring her daughter's question.
The teenager paused, lowering eyes from the woman as her lip fell from between her teeth, her discomfort rising beyond the levels where the instinctive gesture provided comfort. She felt her heart began to race as horrible possibilities raced through her head.
And then they stopped.
Myst raised her head, moving over to help her mom as she suppressed her rising panic, comforted by one thought:
My mother would never betray me. She'll always protect me from him…