In The Night
Chapter 2 - The Dream and The Sword
"My lord Steward!"
Carl felt himself turn around to face a harried man pulling on old fashioned armour with each step he took. He wasn't the only one – a whole company wearing the same armour with a white tree on the chest plate stood in wait. Endless rolling plains stretched out either side on them, empty and peaceful. The sky above was so blue that it hurt to look at for too long.
"What is it, Captain?" Carl asked without any forewarning on his part.
The soldier facing him, while absently trying to find a sword on his belt, allowed a mischievous grin to spill onto his features. "Your wife, the fair Lady Eowyn, sends a message."
The surrounding men chortled. Carl felt indignant, but not because they were laughing at him. He didn't have a wife, as far as he remembered, and had never set foot in this Eden of a place anyway! He didn't even know man who was smirking like a vampire at all.
"What in Middle Earth would that be?" demanded Carl, honestly feeling the words he spoke.
A soldier detached itself from the ranks and removed their helmet. It was a woman with golden locks and flashing eyes. Carl hurriedly tried to remember her name, the one that the Captain had mentioned. What was her name? She was stunningly beautiful, even adorned in rough and beaten armour.
She tucked her helmet under her arm. "You shouldn't have left me at home."
– And suddenly he was brandishing a bloody sword, aimed at the vile creature who snarled through its own ugliness at him. Carl was petrified to the spot, but his arms moved and sliced through his attacker. Black blood spilled down the blade onto his gloves and he stared in mortification as hundreds more of the creatures seemed to rise in its place.
"Back to Minas Tirith!" Carl yelled as loud as he could, extremely relieved when his body complied with his mind and sped away from the battle…
He couldn't breathe.
Every lungful of smoke burnt right down his throat, so Carl stopped trying to draw in any oxygen. Immense heat pressed on him from all sides, bringing on the feeling of being slightly claustrophobic.
He heard shouts over the hungry flames crackling near his ears. His mind seemed to be functioning slowly and he couldn't make out who was behind the shouts.
"He's alive!" persisted one voice.
Funny, Carl thought foggily. I don't feel very much alive.
He was so tired…dead tired…and he just wanted to go close his eyes again, away from this horrible…reality? Or was it just a nightmare that plagued him?
He thought he saw a man standing above him, defiantly tall against the flames. Carl wasn't sure if his eyes were deceiving him. No one would stand in death's way like that. Except maybe my father…
I don't have a father, Carl argued with himself, at least – not one I remember.
"Father," he cried anyway, his voice emerging as a quiet rasp. "Father..."
There was a pause after Carl had recounted everything he could remember from the dream.
"You know what I think?" Van Helsing said at last. "I think you've been hanging around me too much."
This was the last straw for the friar, who had just shared one of his best kept secrets. Mercilessly, he threw heavy items at his one man audience until he ran out of ammunition. By this time, Carl expected Van Helsing to be smirking broadly at him. When he finally looked at the area he'd been doggedly throwing things, he saw he'd cleaned missed his target.
Van Helsing was not smirking. He was looking at Carl in a shrewd, calculating manner with something of a sympathetic expression on his face. The monster hunter realised out loud, "You're really serious about this, aren't you?"
"What, you only just figured it out then?" demanded Carl angrily.
The taller man took a seat which hadn't been damaged in the friar's attack, trying to sound flippant, Oh, I never know with you. You mope about when your lab gets blown up."
"And you mope about kisses and past assignments!" Carl shot back at him and immediately wished he hadn't.
"You don't know enough to make assumptions," Van Helsing growled.
Carl nervously backed away. "It's nothing to get riled up about."
He was mentally cursing himself. He should have talked to the hunter before about Anna instead of ignoring it. Carl wasn't blind – he'd seen that exchange between the Valerious woman and Van Helsing.
The friar was about to talk reason into his friend when he saw the golden eyes glaring at him in unbound anger. Carl squeaked, "Van Helsing?"
There was no verbal reply. The hunter came towards him, activating his Tojo blades.
"Dear Lord!" Carl cried, becoming really panicked. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it!"
He lost his head completely, but unlike Van Helsing who was clearly taken by fury, he lost it in fear. Carl frantically ran down an aisle straight into a dead end. Somehow he knew lobbing books would not save him. His eyes found the ancient sword hung on the wall. Immediately two parts of his brain fought with each other.
Don't be stupid.
But at least I'll be doing something!
He'll still slice you to bits.
I've used these in my dreams.
Sure, dreams are sooo real.
"Shut up!" Carl muttered and wrenched the weapon off the wall in desperation.
He turned to face an enraged Van Helsing, counting to three and ran blindly towards the hunter screaming. Without knowing what he was doing, Carl swung up the sword and intercepted one of the Toyo blades, flicking it right out of Van Helsing's hand. He narrowly avoided the other.
He brought up the sword for another pass, but the hunter was blinking out of his trance. Upon seeing Carl, Van Helsing opened his mouth in astonishment.
"It's all right," Carl blabbed quickly. "You don't have to apologise – I forgive you. The matter is forgotten."
Van Helsing went to speak but Carl cut over him, "I won't ever, ever mention it again."
"It's not that," Van Helsing said when he could.
Carl shook while waiting for him to elaborate. He did.
"I didn't know you could wield a sword."
"Neither did I," Carl confessed, looking the blade up and down.
"We need to talk."
Carl nodded fervently.