The cold air felt good in his lungs as he stepped out into the court-yard. Scanning the small house-fronts carved from the stone ringing the the edge of the courtyard, Aaron looked for an exit. He spotted it across the way. It was a small unlit opening, a break between the houses.
Aaron made for it, letting his feet carry him unconsciously. He didn’t know where he was going, right now all he wanted was time to think. And he wasn’t going to be able to do that sitting down with Van watching him constantly.
Entering in the rough-hewn corridor, Aaron kept his pace glancing around. He was somewhere deep inside the mountain Douglas’ Bluff sat on. Probably near the top since the courtyard had been open to the sky.
The winding passage afforded him the solitude and the silence he needed to gather his thoughts.
What had that whole dream, that vision, been about?
Aaron frowned as he walked. The last thing he remembered before blacking out was dropping his mental defenses that he’d so carefully built up over the years. He’d opened his mind and the presence, the curse, had rushed in to fill the space. Then there had just been pain.
And the vision… he reminded himself. It had been no ordinary dream. He’d tried to make a connection with the pistol like Van had said was possible.
He tried to focus on the vision and what he’d seen, trying the remember it clearly, ignoring the presence of the curse tingling in the back of his mind. Fragments of the dream were still fresh in his thoughts, but they weren’t clear. There had been darkness, a vision of something? Someone? He searched his memory for something that would help him remember.
As he did, he could feel the presence of the curse stretching out, probing his defenses. The closer he got to what he was looking for, the more the presence pushed at his mental barriers.
Aaron furrowed his brow as he walked, not paying attention to where he was going as he searched his memory, warding off the presence as best he could.
He had seen someone in the vision, a figure… working in a forge… on constructing something. There had been a voice too. It had been the same as the whispers.
What does it mean? asked Aaron silently to himself, keeping ahold of the memory of the vision lest he lose it again.
What was it that it had said? wondered Aaron. He’d heard the whisper in the vision, but it had been different from the one that he normally heard. “I will kill the demon…” he recalled.
Usually when it did speak the whisper called him a demon. But then, during his battle with Van, it had said for him to kill the “other” demon. What did it mean?
Aaron stopped walking and put a hand to his head. He let go of the memory of the vision and the presence’s probing of his defenses died down. It drew itself back into the back of his mind. The searing pain in the back of his head started to well up again.
Reaching out, Aaron put a hand against the nearest wall to support himself. He felt the cold of the stone on his palm and he recalled where he was and what he’d been doing. He’d gone for a walk, but hadn’t been watching where he’d been going.
Taking his hand from his head, he looked around, scanning the street he’d emerged onto. Sometime ago, he’d exited the corridor leading to the courtyard and had come out onto one of the streets carved into the upper edge of the mountain. It was the dead of night so the streets were completely empty, but on the corner there was one place that had it’s lights on still. The sign in it’s window written in several different languages read: Open.
Aaron was grateful and relieved that his feet had unconsciously brought him to the street. The building with the open sign was a bar, and what he needed was a strong drink right now.
Alcohol had always helped to dull his mind to the pain and had keep his mind in an un-focused state, allowing him to forget the presence of the curse lurking in his mind. For many years, being able to forget that it was there had been the best way to defend against it.
Turning toward the bar, Aaron headed for the door, ducking inside.