TO REACH OUT FROM BEYOND
Author: Catherine E. Grant
Disclaimer: Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman own the characters but the storyline is mine.
Pain. In a sudden tide it washed over him, leaving him feeling drained and exhausted. This isn't my body. It feels…wrong. How, he couldn't say.
Slowly, with an effort, he raised his head. Blood dripped down his chest, trickling a ghastly pattern down the shredded remains of his robe. As he watched through pain-slitted eyes, the blood slowly pooled on the ground beneath him, and he felt himself growing weaker.
Mocking, dark laughter washed over him, chilling a dark core of fear deep within his soul. The world seemed to freeze as he glared back at his queen with the stark defiance in his eyes of one who no longer cares.
A silent shriek filled the emptiness as the dragon dove, cutting great rents in the mage's side. Her talons slick with gore; she paused for another swoop, each of her five heads crying their absolute hatred of the one that lay before them.
A shudder ran through the mage's form before he lay still. Too still.
The dragon laughed.
"S'okay, Caramon. Go back to sleep." Tika slipped an arm around her husband's uncovered shoulders, pulling him back down into the bed beside her. "It was just a bad dream." She snuggled against him, and buried her head in the warmth of his chest. With one hand she idly traced patterns on his back.
"No, it wasn't!" Caramon pulled away from her to sit on the side of the bed. "It was more than that. I'm sorry, Tika…but it was just too real." He ran a sweaty hand through his hair, trying to ignore the clammy tremblings he still felt. "I was in the Abyss, and Takhisis was there, torturing me. But it wasn't me she was torturing, it was Raist, yet it felt like it was me. I mean, it was me – but it wasn't!
"Oh, Caramon." Now fully awake, Tika leaned over to him, resting a comforting hand on his broad shoulders. "Raistlin – your brother – is dead. You have to let him go, Caramon."
"That's – that's just it. I – Raist – died in the end, by Takhisis' hands, claws, whatever. But it hurt so much!" The big man ended with a small, quiet sob. "And I don't want to think of anyone, not even Raist, hurting that way…he's my brother, Tika. No matter what happened, who he killed, what he was…he was still my brother!" Caramon drew a deep, shuddering sigh and buried his face in his hands. "It felt too real, Tika," he whispered. "It was real, I know. Raist – must have been reaching out to me…"
Tika silently breathed a prayer to Paladine or whoever was listening. "He killed you, Caramon!" She said fervently, turning on him with a passion. "He killed you! His own brother! How can you feel any loyalty, any love for –th-that?" Her tone was bitter, her words scathing. "Please…forget him. It's better that way."
His mind made up, Caramon rose quickly and firmly strode across the room to where his clothes lay folded on a chest. "He's my brother, Tika," he said stubbornly as he struggled into a tunic, creasing it with his efforts. "Sometimes, at night – I see him, as he was at the Tower, when h-he…I see his face, twisted with some insane cruelty even Dalamar would turn away from. And then I see the brother I grew up with – cooking in the woods with his spell components, living, playing, at the Inn – and I can't turn away from him. He himself cut the last ties between us when he abandoned Crysania in the Abyss – but you can't cut blood…"
"No," his wife whispered softly in the darkness. "Only spill it."