It was a dream. Well, it felt like a dream. I fell asleep and found myself standing behind a tree by the Japanese Bridge, once again looking at Simon and Oleander. I pushed down the panic that this dream always set off as the two of them turned towards me.
"You can come out now. We're ready," called Simon.
I could feel his magic, rotten orange lines, wrap around me, calling to my blood, pulling me forwards. It was an odd note in a dream I had had so many times before; I'd never seen the magic here before, only ever remembered its effects.
My hands went to my pockets, feeling for a knife, but I was not carrying either silver or iron. So I shoved my left hand into my mouth and bit down on the webbing between my thumb and forefinger. Pain bloomed, followed by the taste of my own blood and magic, bringing clarity to my mind as I stepped around the tree.
Simon, walking towards me, stopped and stared. His eyes widened. “Who taught you to do that?” he asked in a wondering, longing tone.
I pulled my hand away and smiled, feeling the wet of blood smeared all over my lips. “Tell me where Luna and Rayseline are, Simon.”
Oleander laughed. It sounded high-pitched and cruel, sending shivers down my spine. “Look at the little changeling. Not afraid for yourself?” she taunted. “You should be.”
I licked at the blood on my lips and ignored her, staring at Simon. “Rayseline doesn’t deserve this. She’s just a little girl, and roses cannot grow without sunlight. Tell me where she is!”
The magic wrapped tighter around me, and I rubbed my bloody hand across the strands of it, trying to unobtrusively fray the spell.
Simon sighed. “They’re somewhere you’ll never find them, October. Now, come here,” he commanded. The magic pulled me forward and the scent of smoke and rotten oranges filled my nose. I sneezed. This was all too real and off script for this dream. Even now, I should be on my knees and Simon should be forcing me into the shape of a fish.
Simon lifted my chin with a finger, so we were staring, eye to eye. I bit down on my cheeks, trying to fill my mouth with more blood, so I had something to work with. “I’ll make sure someone finds your car in a week or so,” he said quietly. “They’ll know where you are.”
I growled, trying to yank my head back. “I can’t believe you’d destroy your own niece’s childhood. What would you do to someone who knew where your own child was, but refused to tell you, even as she changed beyond your recognition?”
Simon looked bleak. “You have no idea what lengths I’ve gone to to protect my family. Sylvester? Sylvester knew the risks. You’ll just have to accept that Luna and Rayseline are beyond your reach. Now. Cooperate.” He made a gesture downwards with his hand and I felt the magic start to twist me into a koi, once again.
I ripped at the spells around me with my bloodied hand, digging into the wound with my nails, trying to smear more blood around, as the knots popped and slithered under my hands. I fell to the ground, panting heavily, but still me. Still skin and breathing air, not flashing scales and gills.
I looked up at Simon and grinned, a maniac fizzing energy flowing through my veins. It was just a dream, but I was winning. Why not? “Guess I won’t tell you where August is, then.”
Simon swore, then uttered a painful sounding spell. The world froze around us, including Oleander. “How do you... why do you... WHERE IS SHE?!?”
“Tell me where Luna and Rayseline are first.”
“It’s a hidden knowe. You need the help of someone with more power than I to travel there. Where. Is. August.”
“Also somewhere we can’t get to easily. She’s trapped herself in Annwn.”