213: Darkly Dreaming Dee

on May 9, 2008 in Book 8

In Which An Error Is Admitted

After staying sort of mostly awake-ish through the whole episode of Pretty Neko Science Princess, I ended up zonking out completely before the first act of Mecknights was over only to be awakened by Sooni rapping her knuckles on my head when it was over.

“Wake up, stupid!” she said. “You slept through your show.”

“Oh,” I said. I could have happily slept through the day, though preferably in my bed rather than on the floor of the downstairs lounge.

“Maybe soon you won’t even like Mecknights any more,” Sooni said.

“Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t care,” I said, getting to my feet. “I’m going to bed.”

“Okay, goodbye,” Sooni said, waving for me to get out of the way of the television. She seemed to have already lost interest in my presence.

Maliko and Suzi both looked ready to crash as well, after having spent half the night guarding the TV for Sooni, but Sooni was flicking through channels, looking for something else to watch.

My brief nap seemed to have done me more harm than good, sharpening my exhaustion rather than doing anything to abate it. It wasn’t fun climbing up to the fifth floor, but I made it. I wanted to find Amaranth and tell her to forget about the bookstore, but she was already in the hallway, back in front of Dee’s door. Puddy was there, too, in a t-shirt and boxer shorts.

“I’m not trying to disturb anybody,” Amaranth was saying to her. “I just want to make sure…”

“You’ve been knocking on that door all night, and yesterday, too,” Puddy replied. “You ever think she just might not be home?”

“I’m almost sure that she is,” Amaranth said. “But thank you for your concern.”

“Well, did you even try the knob?” Puddy said, reaching for it.

“It’s locked,” Amaranth said, but Puddy had turned the knob with ease and pushed the door open a crack. “I thought it was locked,” Amaranth amended, looking perplexed. “It was last night. She must have woke up at some point during the night, then, and unlocked it.” She bit at the corner of her lip and twirled some strands of hair around her finger nervously. “That’s good, isn’t it? She must be pretty much okay then, right?”

“Whatever,” Puddy said.

“Oh, hey, baby,” Amaranth said, spotting me.

“Hi,” I said.

“What do you think? I’d say that since it’s an emergency, it probably won’t hurt if we go in and have a look,” she said. “I mean, if we end up getting emergency services, it might help if we can tell them what’s wrong, right? And Dee wouldn’t mind us checking on her…”

Amaranth seemed to be floundering a bit, so I put my hand on the door and gingerly swung it open.

“Hey, don’t thank me or anything,” Puddy said, heading towards her room. “I’m going back to bed.”

“Thank you, Puddy,” Amaranth said as I stepped into the dark room. “Baby, can you see anything in there?”

“Sorry, Dee,” I murmured, turning on the light. Amaranth was still hanging back outside the door peering in.

Dee was lying on her bed in the same nightgown she’d been wearing on Friday. The bed was covered with nothing but a single sheet. She didn’t even have a pillow. Her pose was strangely familiar to me, being very similar to what I thought of as Two’s sleeping princess pose. She was deathly still.

Deathly.

“She looks so peaceful,” Amaranth said, having overcome her trepidation enough to enter the room, though she kept one hand on the door. Her other hand flew up to her mouth when she realized what she’d said.

“I think she’s… I mean, she’s okay,” I said. Saying I thought she was alive would be like saying she might be dead. “Look at her chest. I think she’s breathing. Dee?” I said, quietly… almost reverently. I felt like I was intruding. Well, I was. I realized pretty quickly that there wasn’t any point to the intrusion if I wasn’t going to be a bit more forceful, though. I leaned over by her head. “Dee, can you hear me? Hello?”

There was no response. Given how long Amaranth had spent knocking loudly on the door, off and on and without results, I didn’t really expect there to be one. Amaranth let go of the door and strode over to the bedside.

“Well, she isn’t cursed,” she reported, holding out her hands as if she were feeling the air over Dee’s body. “Could you tell if there were any sleep spells on her?”

I reached out and probed the bed and then Dee herself, but couldn’t detect anything.

“Nothing,” I said. There were specks or flakes or something on the sheet, especially around her shoulders and head. The rest of the room was so clean that they seemed really out of place. “What’s that stuff, all around her head?”

“I think… I think it’s skin,” Amaranth said. “Look at her shoulders. She’s peeling.” Now that Amaranth pointed it out, I could see what she was talking about. The skin wasn’t discolored or red, but there were cracked, ragged edges where it looked like it had dried out and fallen away. “Sun burn? Stand back, baby… I’m going to try some things.”

I stepped away and averted my eyes while Amaranth channeled divine energy. I thought I heard Dee stirring, but when the bright light dissipated she was in the same position as before.

“That should have worked,” Amaranth said, frowning. “The spell of awakening. I mean, it did work. I felt it. Then she just sort of… kicked back asleep.”

Something came together in my memory.

“Wait, I’ve seen this,” I said. “You… when I… um, Friday night. Dee couldn’t heal you fully, so she did something to your mind to keep you in a restful sleep. Do you think she could have done something like that to herself?”

“She was so tired,” Amaranth said, a look of dawning horror on her face. “So tired at the meeting… and even more so after that. You don’t think… I mean, she wouldn’t, would she? She’d have to have some way of waking herself up.”

“Maybe she wasn’t thinking,” I said. “Maybe she didn’t mean to put herself so far under… or maybe she didn’t mean to do it at all.”

“Do you think maybe a physical shock would do it?” Amaranth asked. “Maybe if we had a pin…”

“I don’t think so,” I said. “You were… well, you were in a lot of pain, and it still worked.”

“I think we might need a subtle artist,” Amaranth said. “I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“Just stay with her, okay, baby?” she said, and then she was gone.

I stayed by Dee, feeling utterly inadequate. She’d done without my presence all weekend long. It hardly seemed like I would accomplish anything just by being there. Amaranth came back in a few minutes, with a sleepy-looking Trina in tow. It was kind of interesting—and more than a little freaky—to notice that while her two humanish eyes were more than half-closed, her middle eye was wide-awake and sort of angry looking.

She woke right up when she saw me, though.

“What’s that doing here?” she demanded, forgetting to be even fake polite. “What’s going on?”

“We think Dee’s done something to her mind to try to sleep better,” Amaranth said. “But she’s been sleeping for most of the weekend, and we don’t know if she can wake up on her own.”

“But what’s…” Trina asked, still staring fixedly at me with her regular eyes while the third one flicked over to Dee.

“Will you never mind that!” Amaranth said. “Dee needs your help!”

“I don’t really know if a drow mind is the same as a regular mind,” Trina said.

“Hey, don’t call her…” I started to say, but Amaranth reached up with a finger to shush me without looking. Peripheral vision wasn’t really her strong point, though, so it was a bit more like smacking me in the face with one finger.

“Hush, baby,” she said. “I just thought you might be able to help, Trina. If you really can’t do this, just say so and you can go back to bed. We can bring in a professional.”

“Well, of course I can help,” Trina said, affronted. “I do have a natural talent, obviously, or I wouldn’t be in the subtle arts program. You’re just talking about a recursive deep sleep suggestion, after all, not something terribly complicated.”

She reached out her hand towards Dee. I watched the sleeping elf for a response, but a small gasp from Trina shifted my attention to the triclops. Her eyelids were flickering up and down, and behind them were the veiny whites of eyes rolled all the way back.

“Almost… almost,” Trina muttered.

Dee came awake all at once, the way you always see people waking up on TV shows and never in real life: head flying up like there’s a spring underneath it and a big gasping cry like a drowning person coming up from air.

Trina screamed and ran from the room, colliding with the side of the open door on her way. I barely paid her any attention, though. Dee was awake, but it didn’t seem like everything had gone as planned. She was babbling in what was probably her native language… it sounded elvish but not the sort I was vaguely familiar with. She kept repeating a word or two that sounded like “Day Sa”.

“Dee, it’s us!” Amaranth said, kneeling down by her. “Amaranth and Mack. Honey, it’s okay, you’re awake now.” Dee looked at her like she didn’t recognize her, or couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “Do you think she was having a bad dream?” Amaranth asked me. “She looked so calm…”

“I think the idea was her body would be calm and at rest no matter what,” I said.

Seeing Dee like this was very affecting. She didn’t always hide her face around the dorm, and she had lowered her hood the times she’d eaten with us, but she’d always been so guarded, so reserved that her face might as well have been a mask carved from a single piece of obsidian. To see that proud and perfect face lined with grief and possibly fear was shocking.

“Dee, honey, what’s wrong?” Amaranth asked. Dee’s eyes finally focused on Amaranth, and she seemed to come to an awareness of herself, her angular face settling itself into something more familiar, more recognizably Dee.

“What… what has happened?” she asked. “Why are you in my room?”

“You were asleep,” Amaranth said. “All weekend. We couldn’t wake you.”

“All weekend?” Dee repeated. “What day is today?”

“Sunday,” Amaranth said. “The fourth.”

“The last thing I remember… the last real thing… I was treating you for your wounds,” Dee said. “Then I went back to bed. I was so very tired, and I thought… I thought…” She trailed off. Amaranth and I exchanged a glance, and Amaranth looked like she was going to say something, but then Dee spoke again. “I thought to myself, how easy it would be… I could wake myself up at any time.” She shivered. “But I couldn’t. Something went wrong, inside my head. I couldn’t.”

She looked so vulnerable in that moment, so… I hated to say it… human.

“I’m sorry,” she said, and she sounded embarrassed. I wondered if she’d picked up on my thought. “I would not for anything have wished for you to see me like this.”

“We’re your friends, Dee,” Amaranth said. “There’s more to that than just calling you a nickname. We’ll always be here to help you, and you never have to be afraid of what we’ll think, even if we see you at your worst.”

“I am not afraid. It is simply unseemly,” Dee said. “Only my family and my lovers see me in a state of emotional release… and even then, I hope to always comport myself with more dignity in front of them.”

“Well, we’re just glad you’re okay,” Amaranth said. She sounded like she would have liked to keep arguing the point, but recognized the futility of it. Dee was who she was.

“I really am not, though,” Dee said. “I’ve committed a terrible error.”

“Well… no harm done, right?” Amaranth said. “I mean, you’re awake now.”

“I am not referring to that,” Dee said. “I mean in leaving the underworld and coming here in the first place… I was a fool to have done so. I can only hope that if I return home immediately, it will not be too late.”


Tales of MU is now on Patreon! Help keep the story going!

Or if you particularly enjoyed this chapter, leave a tip!


Characters: , , , , , , , ,





8 Responses to “213: Darkly Dreaming Dee”

  1. N_Slash says:

    Good title. I almost missed it.

    Current score: 2
  2. pedestrian says:

    This chapter does rather display how self-absorbed Amaranth and Mackenzie can be. In demanding assistance from Puddy and Trina, who they would otherwise reject?/disassociate?/spurn?.

    I’m not sure which concept I am attempting to elaborate on. But there is a lack of reciprocity between the women.

    Though on further reflection, perhaps we should consider the viewpoint that we all have a duty to assist one another in times of crisis, whatever opinions, dislikes, hatreds we may hold?

    Current score: 0
    • Hiinst says:

      I prefer to think of it as prioritizing. This situation trumps social awkwardness therefore social awkwardness is ignored.

      Current score: 2
    • Leila says:

      They didn’t ask Puddy for help, she was annoyed at Amaranth’s knocking and came to see what was going on.

      Current score: 4
  3. C says:

    That is a Dexter reference! I have that book! Yay Me.

    Current score: 1
  4. MentalBlank says:

    Personally, I still want to know how Puddy keeps opening these locked doors. I’m not criticising, I’m just curious how the sneaky Dwarf-human-giant-dryad-combo does it

    Current score: 1
    • Anon says:

      Secret telekinesis?

      Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      It is theorised to be a fae gift “no door will be closed to you” or such. Similarly her strength may be that of “the strongest one in the room”.

      Current score: 2