Silent steps carry themselves up the marble stairs that make your bare feet warm upon contact. The only light that helps to guide you is the sun peeking in through the arched windows every now and again. Brief moments when you pass by and take in the entrancing landscape almost manage to steal your attention; keeping you behind the window, able to look outside but never actually be able to enjoy this world thoroughly despite her calls to you. So instead, you continue forward and follow your curiosity as it leads you up the stairs to who-knows-where.
A gentle melody catches your attention, fueling your desire to reach the top of this ever-spiraling staircase. Though as you ascend, you realize that you cannot quite remember ever entering this tower, nevertheless walking up to where you are now. It’s odd. You may not have the best of memories, but this is most definitely something that would be so easy to remember. You aren’t sure you even know where you are- which makes this familiar and peaceful wind that blows so considerately gentle a tad bit suspicious.
The only place that can soothe your soul so sweetly is your realm of Dream Makers, amongst the clouds and friendly faces; a place that is truly your home. This marble tower is far more earthly than your world and yet, it feels so blatantly obvious that you aren’t on Earth.
Where are you?
You instinctively wish to trust this place- and in some way, you allow yourself to do so. But the weary feeling that’s growing in the pit of your stomach keeps you from getting too comfortable as you get closer and closer to the top of the stairs. The soft symphony you now recognize as Clair de Lune by Debussy; the melody is easy to fall into, giving in and letting the serenity that surrounds each note take its effect, putting your mind at ease with its heavenly harmony.
The music that manages to send your nerves on vacation, makes each step you take lighter as a subconscious smile spreads across your cheeks in appreciation. Its tune dancing in your ears, feet following it up the stairs- almost in time with the pressing of piano keys by whatever lies ahead, creating the melody. That is to say, if there even is a source, albeit, with how it continues to get louder the farther you go, you suspect that there is a definite source to this symphony.
The moment you arrive at the last step, you feel that there is something dubious about this most magnificent place. You cannot place it, but in the back of your mind you know that something is heinous is amongst all this beauty; a devious nightshade hidden inside a basket of darling blueberries. With caution, you enter the new room and leave the supposed safety of the stairs to be out in the open and allow yourself to be vulnerable in the ginormous bedroom before you. The marble upon the steps continue into the room, only now in intricate tiles on the floor and as the pillars that line the room, the pale stone makes the room appear much longer than it may actually be. But with how it opens up the area, you can’t say you plan on complaining anytime soon. The building itself holds no ill will, but something from within wishes to cause only pain to those it deems worthy of its punishments.
And while you believe to be in the presence of such a being, you presume that it issues no problems your way- there is no point for it too and there is no reason for you to fret over a matter so trivial. As your eyes grace the room, you spot more and more details about this rather open room you find yourself in.
Though not on every pillar, there seems to be a few with suspicious vines that will eventually take over and mark the structure green- despite being a pleasant accent of color across the white canvas in the present. The ivy breaks it up and adds to the regal, yet ancient aura within the room, reminding you of how would imagine the ancient Greek or Roman temples would look when they were in their prime. Beautiful and powerful, enchanting and intimidating- a building that demands respect and admiration because it truly does deserve it.
A hint of a breeze curls your hair as it blows through your locks, the sound of fabric rustling in the wind catches your eye next as you finally see that you’re in the gown that you wore so casually at home. White as clouds then progressively changing into a brilliant blue that matches the sky beyond those windows that allowed you to notice this wardrobe choice, to begin with. But, was this really your choice? For the life of you, you can’t remember how you had come to be here in the first place, nonetheless what you chose to wear here.
Confusion etched into your expression as you finally start to realize the depth of the situation, your lack of control, and at an utter loss as to what’s going on around you- brewing in your own thoughts as you stand atop a tower in a place that you can’t name.
It isn’t until a flash of gold crosses your line of sight, urging your mind to call attention to its presence, which it does. Although, the small speck of gold spins and like a tornado; the small speck of gold gathers other golden specks like itself and swirls with the wind at a speed so fast you can hardly figure out what’s happening before you recognize that a familiar figure is standing in front of you, their eyes piercing and sending you into defense mode.
His skin is the color of the desert; tan, with golden undertones, it also looks as though it could seep through your hand if you were to reach out to him- acting like what his name foretells. Albeit, his robe is a much better giveaway to his identity, appearing to be a waterfall of sand that cascades down his shoulders, onto his back, and meeting its end at his feet. The robe drapes over his being like golden curtains that hang elegantly in a mansion with beautiful rope accents that loosely sit on his waist.
As your eyes travel up his tall stature, they meet his obsidian orbs; they contrast so greatly everything in this room- where everything invokes curiosity while those black irises could make someone cower in fear so easily. You; however, are not average and it will take much more than a mere set of dark eyes to send a shiver down your spine- they may make you cautious, but that isn’t anything new when it comes to him. You even notice that hint of a smirk the moment you made eye contact, for which, you decide to ignore in this moment. Instead, you move on and take note of his long streamline blonde hair, two strands in front his ear are neatly set atop his robe while the rest lays upon the robe and on his back, stopping a little bit past where his shoulder blades would end.
When you return you gaze back to his own, you could see that he had been sizing you up just as much as you’ve done to him. Yet, his smirk only spreads- giving you an eerie feeling already as to what he’s up to.
“Glad you could join me,” His feet carry him closer to you and while you would much prefer to keep your distance with him, you stand your ground.
“This wasn’t my choice. Where am I?” Best to get straight to the point, after all.
“Where are you? My home, of course. Or, one of many, at least. I thought we should talk.”
“And what could we possibly talk about?”
You roll your eyes and scoff at his boldness, “You must be kidding, am I right? I am not discussing that safety of my dreamer with you.”
“And here I thought Dream Makers weren’t supposed to meet their Dreamers?”
Your mouth zips shut, a heavy and resigned sigh falling from your lips. He is right after all. Yet, you can get him on a technicality, “We aren’t supposed to go searching for them- meeting Mark was a coincidence. Nothing more, nothing less- we’re friends by fate, not action.”
He hums, the next words sending a jolt of anger through your veins, “Are you sure about that? You certainly act like more than friends, chickadee.”
Fists clench and you have to bite your cheek in an effort to attack him while in his element, despite every fiber of your being wanting to, quite frankly, punch him into next week for using such a lovely word on you, making it ruined ever so slightly. “To the point?”
“You’ve done your research, you know that I wish to control his mind until he can no longer sleep without giving in- but, I can’t-do that with you in the picture,” He raises his hand to stop you from adding on, “But I know I can’t exactly kill you either. Instead, I want a deal that this fighting will end and in turn, we share him.”
“Share him? Why the Hell would I agree to share my Dreamer with such a vile creature as yourself?!”
“Language- and because it would give you an excuse to see him. It kills you when you’re apart and Mark, being the simple man he is, is devastated at the thought of you leaving again. You two crave each other; it’s why Dreamers and Dream Makers aren’t supposed to meet, the natural connection can be too much. So, I’ll work some of my magic and work as a constant threat to your ‘sweetheart’ so that you won’t ever have to leave him. In return, the days before you come back, I can twist his little mind as I so please and-”
“No! No- I can’t agree to that- that’s insane and selfish! Mark’s safety is my priority, you talk of Dream Makers so much that you should know that.”
“I do. But keep this in mind, when we fight, there will be one victor. The loser may end up in Zarihna, should that be you-”
“It might. Then Mark will no longer have your protection and that bond of yours… Even if you are to win, I know you wouldn’t cast a nightmare just to see him temporarily. But, if I were still a threat and still manage to control him, the big boss man might let you live down here with him. The visits are no longer temporary and Mark could build that life with you that you know he wants; my deal is giving you and Mark prolonged happiness at the cost of a few sleepless nights… You have to admit that it doesn’t sound bad.”
You hate that. You hate this plan and you hate this monster standing before you, but most of all, you hate that you can’t say he’s wrong. In a small, selfish way, you can’t help but consider his deal. Both sides would benefit greatly, yet each pays a giant price. But… If he ends up defeating you and damning you to Zarihna; a plane of existence in which one is enveloped into nothingness, rendering them helpless and hopeless with very little chance to escape, then you wouldn’t be able to ever see Mark again… Even your memories of being with him will be eaten away in Zarihna, only your feeling of longing and lost love will be evident, at which you can already feeling your heart clench at the idea. Zarihna is worse than any Hell because there is nothing, no punishment, no reward, no direction, and slowly, your entire being is soon nothing and you are but a shell of who you used to be. It takes your freedom and corrupts your mind by simply being a place of nothing.
But still, you couldn’t possibly agree to such a deal, could you? For Mark, anything is worth the risk, even Zarihna, but…
No. You will prevail and this deal will not be necessary because you will prevail.
“No deal, I don’t need it, Mark and I-”
“Stop? No! Why would I stop? I don’t care if you think that-”
“I said ‘stop’.” The rise of his finger shuts you up and somehow takes your voice, leaving you mute in trying to protest his actions, “You have… Three days? Make your decision by then- from there on out, we will either discuss terms or a time and place. Now, I have places to be and plans to make, think about the deal. Okay?”
Before you could react, a sudden sandstorm sweeps the room and you have to close your eyes, coughing, desperate to shield yourself from this storm of his. Although, you can’t even feel a tiny dot of sand hit you and instead, the moment you wake up, the sun is glaring into your eyes and make you close them once more.
“What… just happened..?”
“Hey, are you okay? You spaced out for five minutes, you haven’t even touched your slushee. I tried getting your attention but… nothing worked,” Mark’s voice is laced with concern as his sweet, big, brown eyes gaze into your own- searching for any tell of what might’ve occurred.
“I… Uh, yeah. We… we got slushees?” You ask, eyes wandering from his and finding that indeed, you had gotten a slushee with yours on the side table of the couch, you lean back into the plush furniture, “Right, I’m sorry… I can’t remember doing that for some reason.”
Mark shifts in his, trying to be closer to you lost and dazed self, “Chickadee, is everything alright?”
You shiver at the memory but nod, all the same, not wanting to worry the lad, “I’m fine, Mark, I guess I just got lost in my thoughts is all.”
He looks a bit skeptical, a sigh leaving his lips and he looks around for a brief moment, making sure Tyler is nowhere to be found before whispering, “Was it some sort of Dream Maker state or problem like that?”
“Kind of? But not exactly either. Mark, you… you know I care about you, right?”
“Of course I do, what kind of question is that? Are you okay? Are we in danger from something other than the Sandman?”
“No, I’m just, worried about what’s to come, I guess,” Your typical cheerful tone is all deflated suddenly; void of joy and spirit, Mark’s heart can’t help but break as he watches the feeling of despair take hold of you. So, he decides he’ll also take hold of you.
Without any warning, he takes you into his arms and presses a chaste kiss to your temple, hands gently tracing shapes into your back to help relax your nerves and bring you back to peace, “Don’t be. We’re in this together, and as cheesy as it may sound, as long as we’re doing this together, we’ll win. It could be against anyone in anything and we would win because we totally kickass together,” his lighthearted chuckle ringing in your ears, “And you know what? When it comes to Mr. Sandman, we’ll put him to bed this time and give him spooky dreams, right, baby?”
And just like always, Mark manages to bring you back your smile and your hope so easily. He is the reason you’re laughing at such a silly remark and why you lean into his touch whenever possible.
He’s the reason that you don’t ever want to leave his side- the reason you’re having dangerous thoughts.
HAHA a nice day? I had to work so hard to get where I am and now I make a shit ton of money doing what-the-fuck-ever and I didn't slide with a free education like 99.9% of the world does so the next time you want to say it's a nice day just remember I became a millionaire all by myself at 19 years old so fuck off and kill yourself.