Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Four Stars Chapter Twenty Four

Previous chapter: Ponderous Afternoon.

Chapter Twenty Four: Francesca's Cry For Help.

It had been an unusually cold night. Francesca tossed and turned in her sleep. She clutched her blankets close to her. She muttered, "No, not dad! Don't punish him! It's my fault for losing the heart!"

A few minutes passed as the sun rose. Francesca muttered again, "I'll do anything! Anything to keep my dad safe! Even let you use me..." By the time the sunlight trickled into the room, Francesca broke into a fit of weeping, still fast asleep. She woke up, sniffled, and shuffled down for a quick breakfast of a chocolate jam sandwich. She walked away from her housemates, chewing the sandwich as she did so.

Isabel got up from her seat and followed Francesca upstairs. Francesca waited on the balcony, unsure of what to expect. She couldn't stop thinking about her bad sleep. Isabel came out to the balcony and went over to her cousin. "Is it your nightmares?" she asked.
Isabel asked what was wrong.
"Yes," said Francesca. "They've gotten even worse."

"What happened?"

"Well, in the dream, my dad got so ill from his cancer that he was about to die. Then I lost a powerful artifact trying to sell it on the black market, and everyone believed the propaganda that I can't be trusted at all. Not to mention that more propaganda in the dream said that heroes will never win."

Isabel watched as her cousin took a deep breath. "In order to save my dad, I had no choice other than to sell myself as a concubine to an eldritch abomination in human shape," said Francesca. "It's the same series of dreams every time, or something close to it. I wish I knew what was wrong."

"It's okay, it's okay. There's no bad man here."
Isabel tried to console her cousin by saying, "There's no bad man or monster or anything here, alright? People aren't all so stupid as to swallow propaganda whole."

"No, no! You don't get it, Isabel, the dream villains always won and I kept losing! Even selling myself didn't guarantee a victory, the abomination ended up using me as a plaything and ignoring my request. I've never been able to win this nightmare."

"That's in your sleep. This world has no overpowered supervillains, okay? Try to calm down."
Francesca cried even harder.
Francesca bawled loudly after Isabel tried to console her. Isabel shrank back, scared by her cousin's loud brassy shriek. Francesca continued to cry loudly, it was fortunate that none of the neighbors were around in the early morning light. When she ran out of breath, Francesca wiped her eyes and kept crying, softly this time.

Isabel looked suspicious at Francesca's request.
"Please hug me, Isabel," Francesca pleaded, staring at the elder Lion with big black eyes. Isabel raised an eyebrow at the request, then hugged her cousin tightly. Francesca cried into Isabel's shoulder, and the Lion patted her back.

Francesca then pulled away from Isabel and ran for her room, shutting the balcony door behind her. Isabel shook her head and went into the room she shared with her twin, thinking about what to say next. She busied herself arranging the nick-knacks on the little tables and changed her clothes.

"I must talk to her properly."
"I must talk to her properly," Isabel said to herself. "Maybe a round at the Befrienders Hotline? I hope she's not planning anything foolish!"

She knocked at Francesca's door, but heard nothing. So she opened the door. It turned out that Francesca was simply staring at the clothes she laid out for work. The chubby young woman asked Isabel, "What do you think of steampunk brown?"

Isabel looked at the brown jacket Francesca had picked out, then the white shirt and trousers. "First time I've seen you wear white pants," the Lion joked. "Try the jacket on."

When Francesca put on the jacket and shirt, Isabel looked again. "Suits you," she said. Francesca smiled.

"I was asked to dress up for work," she said. "I've got a writers' convention to go to. Won't be back till late at night just this once."

"Enjoy yourself," Isabel said, and shook hands with her cousin. "I hope your work goes smoothly."

Next chapter: Stirred Memories.

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