“This isn’t a video game,” Saber said once she caught up to Riley.
They were in another corridor, but unlike the one leading to the dungeon, this one was well lit and short, leading them to a spiral staircase. Riley stood there, looking up, trying to gauge how far the stairs went.
“I know. You keep saying that, but it really is. I know you said dreamscapes don’t work that way, but this nightmare Raz is caught in acts like one. There are rules that seem to be followed, challenges, even a storyline. I know this is different for you. Maybe it makes it easier for me. I don’t know. I just hope that the writer isn’t as crafty as I think.”
“What do you mean? We’re in a nightmare. Somewhere, there is a dream wraith feeding off this, but it is still Raz’s nightmare.”
“I hope so. Because if not, I have a bad feeling we’re being led into a trap.”
“Dreamscapes don’t work like that.”
“So you say. Just call it a gut feeling.”
“Okay.” Saber looked up the stairs. “So what’s up there then?”
“Well, it looks like it only goes up one floor, which I think is odd, but I’m not familiar enough with old castle architecture.”
Saber shook her head. “Wouldn’t matter. Dream logic, remember?”
“True. Plus, we are being led without any alternate routes.” Riley put her foot onto the first step. She paused, listening, as she leaned forward.
“What?” Saber furiously glanced around.
“Nothing. I just expected something else to pop out and attack us. We beat one level. I’m just wondering what the next challenge will be.”
“Ah,” she said, acting nonchalant, but not powering down her blade. Riley still held her axe, but that was because she wasn’t too sure where to put it. Did it just disappear when she didn’t need it anymore?
She took another step, continuing to move slowly and cautiously as she eased up the stairs.
“You know, before we go up there, you should probably take some of this armor to keep yourself protected.” Saber pointed to the fallen guards.
“Really? I meant to ask. How did you do that back there? I mean, I get how you swiped the guards away, but I saw a one get you with his blade. It looked like it just bounced off you. How?”
“I used the force.”
“Ha-ha. No, really.”
“Really,” Riley said, barely hiding her smile. “It goes back to something I read in a book. There was this girl who could manipulate gravity, using a thin layer of it to act as a shield. Anything that approached her, the object would bounce off. I tried that. It’s a similar push/pull, I guess.”
“Sounds like a lot to concentrate on. How did you keep your focus and fling away the guards? That was some major skill…for a noob.”
“I didn’t. I checked to make sure I wasn’t getting attacked first.”
“So wouldn’t it be easier to take some of the armor?”
“Why?” Saber asked, confused.
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it.”
“Because the guards were killed in it?”
“Oh, hell no. Because, like you said, it’s dream armor. I’m not ready to trust my safety to anything that was created in this place.”
“Good idea. The axe is cool, by the way. Maybe that should be what we call you. Axe.” She snapped her fingers. “Or Axe Girl. I know. We can call you Force Girl.”
“I’m not going to be called Force Girl.”
“Why not? It’s a cool name.”
“Just no. That’s so lame.” Riley chuckled as they reached the top of the stairs. They stood on a small landing enclosed by stone. As Riley expected, there was only one door.
“Well, you need a code name. I’ve said your name too much in here as it is. The wraiths can use that. They learn your name, they can get into your head. Then we’ll be doing this in your nightmares, which I’m already thinking is a dark place I don’t want to be. That must have been how Raz got nailed.”
Riley was about to make a quip about Saber getting into her head, but the last thing she said stopped her.
She swallowed. “I said his name in that other dream. Could it be… Could this be my fault?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” Saber shrugged and turned back to the door. “Just do me a favor and don’t ever use my name. Having one of these things get inside…” She shivered. “Just the thought of it terrifies me.”
Riley nodded. “I know.”
“What do you mean you know?”
“Well, we’re about to step into the next level. Who knows what we’ll find. Could be more guards. Could be two-headed monsters with glowing red eyes. Who knows what evil lurks in the darkness of that geek’s mind.”
Saber looked at Riley, who had a large grin on her face as she spun her axe in her hand.
Saber returned the smile. “You’re enjoying this too much.”
Riley nodded, relieved she didn’t look too closely because she would have seen the pain in Riley’s eyes. This was all her fault. Bruce… No. Raz. I have to get better at calling him that. He could be in this nightmare, trapped, because she had called him his name. They might never break him free or find him in this labyrinth. It was all because of her. She did this, and it took every bit of strength she had to keep from crying.
No. I am going to fix this. We are going to save him.
“Ready?” Saber asked.
“Let’s do this.”
They opened the door, gasping when they saw what waited for them.