Chapter 3:

Praying for Sunny Days

To the Dire Ends: Bloodstained kNight

I’m surrounded by an untainted, sanitary white which gleams brightly as the morning hours march on. When I had begun sitting in this chair the sunlight had striped the wall before me yet as time had slipped by those rays had drifted to illuminate a delicate figure laying before me. I continue to watch over her while lost to my many thoughts and wonders.

Caught in the peaceful light, her long, argent hair glitters like fresh snow as it drapes across her shoulders and down both her white dress and the white sheet she lays beneath. Her skin, which was once glowing with lively color, is now as pale as the rest of her surroundings. A far cry to the vibrant life she’d once lead without a single worry to defile her perfect joy.

She had always felt like a pure spirit unfit to wander any world so dark as this had become. In those happier times and even now she feels so ethereal that she could slip away at any moment. As I watch her in that bed, my mind begins to darken with guilt. As Ziodha had fallen, so had she. Slowly drifting away deeper and deeper into a world of dreams, so incompatible with the nightmare that had overcome this world.

All of her energy and affection is now so far away from everyone who had cherished her; the girl who was the heart of the Ziodha itself.

As my eyes turn inward towards my innumerable thoughts, I see her faint form tangled in white begin to stir. Shifting and flinching, her eyes open to show their earthen color wearily fighting against the sleep that had overtaken her. I’m beset by disbelief.

“Hakan?” Her youthful voice is heavy with fatigue. Its sound is airy unlike itself.

“Alyssa. You’re awake. It’s been so long since you’d last woken up.”

“You’re still here.” The faintest, most delicate smile widens across her dainty lips.

“Of course I’m here and I’ll stay here for as long as you need me. If I’d ever heard that you were awake, I’d drop everything and run to you. Just to see you.”

“I’m happy you haven’t forgotten me.”

“There’s no way I would let myself forget you. I’ve been dreaming that you would wake up this entire time. I’ve visited you as often as I could.”

“Everything is been so blurry. I don’t remember how long I’ve been asleep, I just know that I have.” Giving herself a moment to contemplate, she returns her sleepy eyes to me and asks me a question. “What happened to me? I can’t remember why I feel so tired.”

“I suppose that I should keep what caused all of this in mind and not forget it for a second. I can remember for both of us if I have to.”

Preparing my answer, the memories of those dark moments comes alive to me once again along with all of the chaos I’d felt. I remember the most ghastly face I’d ever had the misfortune to have seen myself. The pale skin, eyes as red as spilled blood and hair as black as obsidian, its locks falling jagged like blades. Despite that they were always dressed in a fine white suit, their intentions were as dark as night.

“It had happened so suddenly. There was this man that hurt you. This sadistic, heartless thing that really is nothing but a monster. He came to our world and took away its peace. He’d wanted this world for himself and he’d wanted me to give it and myself over to him. You were left the way you were because of him. He’d wounded you in order to blackmail everyone. But no matter what, I won’t give up and give into him. I’ll rescue you all the same. I’d promised that to you so long ago.”

I recall so vividly the sights and sensations of the moment when I’d cradled her in my arms. When she had first been afflicted with that heartless man’s curse.

“Everything I’m doing, I’m doing for you and for Ziodha. After I’d lost you, I’d lost every bit of the strength I’d had. So I’m fighting to find it again. I’m fighting against those creatures that came with him, those things that Valorith’s knights had called Night. When peace has returned then everything will be right again. The way it was before that man started this war.”

“That’s why you’re going to all of those places? Because the answer is there?”

“That’s right. When I’ve forced Night out of the monuments I’d created, I’ll be back to my old self. I know I’m getting closer too. Just a bit further and I’ll be able save everyone. I’d be able to save you. And yet…”

I trail off as I begin to ponder our newest objective. The castle that Zenith had seen standing tall in the distance, bundled by those hedges.

“What’s wrong? That look on your face, it looks like you’re having trouble.” Her concern pulls me back from my wandering thoughts.

“It’s just so strange. Everywhere else we’ve gone I’d known long before. I’d lead everyone to those places knowing what they were. I’d created all of those buildings long ago so of course I would know. And yet… this newest dungeon, I don’t remember a thing about it. All of this time I’ve been so certain and now I feel…” I inhale a deep breath to clear my mind before picking up another thought. “Is it such ancient history that I’ve forgotten? But how could I forget creating an entire castle?”

“It’s okay.” Her tired features uplift as she comforts me with the gentle sound of her voice. “You always come through and find a way. I know you’ll figure it out soon enough. So just relax and don’t let it worry you so much. It’ll just burden you.”

“Since when have you spoken so maturely?” I respond with a small laugh of irony though I am truthfully surprised. “They say that kids grow up strong when they’ve gotten their sleep but I wouldn’t expect anything like this.”

“I’m just worried about you.”

“Worried? You’re just proving my thoughts. You were always so carefree and never worried even a little bit. The most I’d seen you worry was when the rabbits had started to vanish.”

“Do you know what I’ve been dreaming about this entire time I’ve been asleep?” Her delicate smile falls into a more serious expression. One that feels so strange to see darkening her features.

“I wouldn’t have a clue. Unless I were to hazard a guess. Was it about rabbits?”

“There were rabbits in my dreams, but more importantly; you were there.”

“I’m grateful that somehow I’ve been able to be there even when you’re dreaming. I suppose my desires to protect you even when I’m far away have come true.”

“In my dreams, I see you wandering through a garden.” From her laying position, she turns her neck to peer out of the window. Staring out to the clouds as if searching among the great blue. “A garden filled with statues and flowers. You’d seemed so lost. Not that you were lost in the gardens, but you were lost as you were wandering through them.”

“That’s a strange dream. I don’t understand what you’re meaning to say. I wasn’t lost but I was lost?”

“You were stumbling around in the garden but you knew where you were and knew where you were going. But you were lost all the same as you walked around them. Wandering and wandering until you couldn’t go any further. Then you’d laid yourself on the grass. You’d looked… so lost.”

“A garden… In a garden…”

A silence cast itself over the two of us as we sit in silent thought together. While she reminisces on her dream, I begin to imagine the castle’s hedges. Though I had never seen them before, I wonder to myself what it would be like to navigate them. If I would wind up lost among the walls of green.

“I’m happy you’re safe. I would have been scared if I’d woken up and you weren’t there. Thank you for being here.” Returning her gaze from the morning sky, her dueling emotions of comfort and discomfort emanates from her.

“I’m safe so you don’t have to worry. You shouldn’t be worrying like that over me. That’s my job as your brother. And besides; you’ll have plenty of time for that when you’re older. You’d better make the best of this time where you can just rest.”

“I want to worry about you. I want to think about you and dream about you while I’m asleep.”

Words escape me. Against myself, my feelings run amok hearing those words spoken from my carefree sister. I wonder over them as I once more sit in silence.

“Have you ever thought about what you would do if I didn’t make it?”

“Please don’t say something like that.” My mouth moves before my mind. I speak from pure emotion and conviction as a bit of poison taints my pulse. “You’ll wake up and you’ll stay awake. Someday you’ll be back to health and your sickness will feel like a distant dream. No matter what, I’ll save you.”

“I understand.” The look she begins to wear is bittersweet. Conflicted but tender and caring. Once more mature unlike she had ever been. “I’ll wait for that day. Until then, please don’t forget about me. Remember me.”

“I will. Please stay hopeful and don’t think of those things. It’ll all be okay and we’ll all make it out of this nightmare alive. I’ll return again like I always do.”

“Thank you, Hakan… Thank you for everything…”

Her eyes begin to weigh heavier as they flutter lightly while her body begins to grow slack in the bed. Letting the weight take her away, her eyelids slowly begin to close until they stay where they are.

“I love you, big brother.”

“I love you too, Alyssa. Sleep well and have sweet dreams. I’ll take care of everything.”

I continue to watch her as she lays on her bed. I keep mindful of the pure white that she is and that all of the room is dominated by. Seeing her resting, dreaming somewhere so far away. Praying that someday she’ll return and all of the bitterness will end.

Seven flung down his brush, and had just begun, ‘Well, of all the unjust things–’ when his eye chanced to fall upon Alice, as she stood watching them, and he checked himself suddenly; the others looked round also, and all of them bowed low.”

“Hakan, you’re still here?” The lovely accented voice of Remedy catches my attention.

Turning around in the hallway, I twist to face the dark skinned doctor dressed in bright colors and a lab coat. Her concern is more than apparent, even behind the gentle grin she wears.

“I’d just thought to visit for a moment longer is all. I’ll be on my way shortly. I’m still keeping to what I’d spoken, even if I’m unusually late by my own watch.”

“That’s fine. I hadn’t expected you would have a change of heart so simply. I just hope that you’re really ready to return like you’ve said. But all I can do is trust you on this.”

“Your trust won’t be mishandled. By all I am, I’ll be just fine. If anything happens, I’ll see to it that I return for another visit. Would that be a fair exchange?”

“It’s more than I could ask for. I’m just grateful you’d be willing to give me a little bit of comfort.” Her grin grows larger but that worry she bears just beyond the surface remains strong.

“I’ve likely been a bit more of a trouble than I should. I’ll be on my way out now so you can focus a bit more on your work.”

“It’s nothing like that. I’ll continue to worry for you even if you tell me not to. I’ll also be here for you if ever you need me, so don’t be a stranger now.”

With a small bow of her head, she leaves me to my own way. Seeing her as she goes, the elegance in her step, I think of her for a brief moment before I make good on my word.

At the entrance doors, I glance over my shoulder and see the hospital intact. Its clean, pure white is unfettered by even the smallest bit of dust or grime. My memories suddenly turn to a demon dressed in a white suit. The crooked smile his face morphs into gets my pulse to rise as I stare him down into his eyes like embers of hell.

“Jinosen…” His name escapes my lips as I curse. “You’re going to die by my hands.”