Draven sat propped up against the thick base of an elm tree, his legs folded and The Diplomat resting in his lap like a favorite cat. He snuggled deeper into the dark blue cloak Eva had had made for him, the heavy wool warm and comforting as though it was Eva who was wrapped around him, and he sighed contentedly as his fingers caressed the embroidered words along the edge: It’s an adventure.
His eyelids felt heavy and each blink lasted longer and longer until he finally lost the battle with sleep. It was Soviel’s turn to stand watch so it wasn’t that kind of fear that made him fight the Sandman so hard; it was the risk that his recurring nightmare would plague him. It wasn’t a nightly event, which is what made it so difficult; Draven didn’t know when to expect the horrifying images that his mind conjured up to torment him.
At first his mind was blissfully blank, only the curtain of sleep separating him from the waking world as was his preference, but in one quick moment that curtain was ripped aside and he stared at the same scene he’d seen dozens of time over the last year.
Eva and her father stood arguing with each other on the precipice of a high cliff that loomed over a turbulent sea, fingers pointing and voices shouting. They wielded their words like weapons, sharp, pointed and with each verbal lash cuts opened all over their bodies, bleeding their clothes red. Draven stood and watched helplessly, having tried time and again in the past to intervene, to protect Eva, to save their child but in this scene he was a ghost.
Draven’s blue eyes watched through a searing haze of red rage as Lord Townsend grabbed Eva by the throat, his long fingers squeezing until her flesh bulged between his fingers like warm dough. Her face turned pink and then red and then purple as she clawed at his hands, wrists and arms in an unsuccessful attempt to gain her freedom.
Eva’s feet dangled just above the ground and she took advantage of her position, drawing one leg back as far as she could before swinging it forward with all her might, the tip of her booted foot connecting solidly with her father’s groin and he dropped her as he doubled over and took his turn to fight for breath. Eva continued to scream down at him, her hands protectively covering her swollen belly as tears of blood streamed down her face, staining the alabaster perfection of her skin.
Lord Townsend drew himself up onto his hands and knees, lifting his head and pinning his daughter with a poison stare and quick as a snake strike he thrust his hands into Eva’s abdomen, pulling her to the ground as his fingers ripped and tore her flesh to reach the half-breed child she carried. Eva’s screams were ones of pain, loss and hatred and despite the wash of blood that stained the ground and the spill of her insides across her own lap she continued to fight.
With all she had left Eva wrenched their child from her father’s murderous grasp before hammering both feet into his chest and sending him over the edge of the cliff to the sharp rocks below. Draven moved to kneel beside his love where she lay gutted and dying, their child dead in her arms, its cord still connecting mother to child and as usual he awoke when she died.