Something was wrong; Alina can feel it.
According to what Alina gathered from reading, merely glancing at the otherworldly captivating form of the Dream Archon was enough to make someone lose touch with reality. Marcyziel’s greatest weapon was her beauty. A trait shared by all spirits who called themselves her kin, those known to feed on dreams.
“Are you sure this is the correct Archon?” Asked Alina, just to be sure.
“Absolutely! What’s up with that question?”
“How are you unaffected, then? Most people would go crazy just by seeing her.”
“I’m not most people,” that wasn’t the answer Alina expected. But she deserved it for questioning the Prince’s lack of appropriate response to the Archon’s appearance. There was no adoration, attraction, or awe coming from him.
Most people would declare their undying love to Marcyziel at the moment of their first meeting. Prince Raimond was not most people. Although the last time Alina checked, Nobles were people too.
Perhaps the Prince’s sanity doesn’t evaporate because he doesn’t have much of it left in the first place. Nobles weren’t known for their mental stability. The only other possible explanation was that they invoked the wrong Archon by accident.
“The Prince speaks the truth. He isn’t most people,” confirmed the Archon in a soft relaxing voice, bringing an overwhelming sense of calm to the listeners. It made Alina felt a sudden urge to forget everything and go to sleep.
“Most people can’t invoke an Archon without an offering; that’s why I’m so awesome.”
“My point still stands. Is she really the Spirit Queen of Dreams?”
An Archon can’t lie about their identity. They can’t pretend to be another Archon. Not when their identity and existence are tied to each other. But that doesn’t mean other lesser spirits can’t disguise themselves as them for fun.
The spirit wrapped in a purple dress adorned with butterfly embroidery and flowers possessed a refined appearance befitting of a queen. The seamless fabric exposed her shoulders, wrapping around her body line. Unlike other spirits in Marcyziel’s employ, this one doesn’t need to flaunt her sensual splendour by wearing revealing clothing since it was already apparent.
“I never have my identity questioned so hard before. Am I really the Dream Archon? If I’m not the Dream Archon, who am I? Who do you think I am?” The spirit in question doesn’t seem so sure about her own identity.
“A high-ranked succubus?”
“…Is that a question or a statement?”
The spirit sighed. It was the most prolonged sigh Alina had ever heard in her relatively short life. She only realised how stupid she should have sounded to the spirit. Spending too much time around Prince Raimond must have caused her to lose some brain cells.
“I know I’m female, and I have white hairs. Thank you very much."
She must end this madness as soon as possible, Alina thought. Getting used to the Prince’s continuous presence while slowly losing her wit and wisdom until they reduced themselves to match his level was a bad thing.
“My identity is irrelevant. Whoever I am, I still have the power to end your friend’s nightmare.”
“Were you the one who started it?” Prince Raimond’s voice held an accusatory tone that Alina could never quite put her finger on, which the spirit ignored.
“I’m not responsible for everything my kin did without my knowledge and permission.”
“Is that so? Prove it. Swear on your honour as an Archon.”
Why didn’t the Prince ask that earlier? Words have power. For spirits, power was everything. Bloodline doesn’t matter, which was the reason why they treated humans differently. Marcyziel’s kin valued willpower. They don’t answer to weak-willed conjurors. But when they do, they were compelled to satisfy the conjurer’s request no matter how ridiculous it was.
“I, Marcyziel, the Spirit Queen of Dreams and Memory, swear on my honour as the Dream Archon that I have nothing to do with Bianca d’Ecsed’s nightmares. So mote it be.”
“See? Nothing happened. What do you think about our lovely Archon?”
“She is friendlier than I thought.”
Alina’s pride doesn’t allow her to admit she was wrong. How powerful was the Prince to be able to speak with an Archon on his first try? It took Alina’s countless attempt to establish a valid contract with another. She has no talent; Lord Oblynos has all the talent. If Alina is lucky, some of Lord Oblynos’ talent will rub off on her. But sadly, that wasn’t the case.
“I know what you’re thinking, former Disciple of Oblynos. Jealousy doesn’t suit you. When this is all over, would you consider becoming my apprentice?”
There was something that Alina wanted to know about the Dream Archon. What kind of sorcery did she employ to prevent herself from stepping on her ridiculously long hairs in the most disgraceful manner possible? Not unlike their creator, most high-ranked spirits were very vain in nature. To them, being elegant was not a choice; it’s a lifestyle.
“Do you have anything else to teach me other than Oneiromancy?”
“I can teach you how to sleep with your eyes open if you want to.”
She knew Bianca could do that, but Alina doubted she could teach her secret technique to anyone else. Teaching something was more challenging than learning it. Alina would know, she used to teach crabs how to read. It was a miracle she hadn’t been lynched by the mobs yet for spreading forbidden knowledge.
“I have good news and bad news, which one you two want to hear first?”
“The bad news?”
“Bianca’s condition is caused by another Archon sending memories of an alternate reality. Do you believe in the multiverse theory?”
There was countless other universe existing at the same time where events were occurring differently. The resulting conclusion could be slightly similar or completely different from one another. For example, the literary work of fictions found in this universe could be classified as non-fiction in another universe, or vice-versa.
For all Alina knew, she and everyone around her could be a fictional character in a universe far, far away. Even spirits were no exception to this rule.
“The good news?”
“Memories are my domain. I can remove the other Archon’s influence, but I need to ask you two for something. Legends spoke of a rose that doesn’t wither after 1000 years, guarded by people known as Descendants of the Rose.”
“You don’t need the rose to cure Bianca. You just wanted it. How about no?”
The Prince could be scary when he wanted to, much like his brother. He has his moments.
“Why not? You already have it.”
“I’m supposed to give it to Alina when the time is right.”