Shallow Breath

Shallow Breath

Elian woke to a tangle of blankets and a flurry of shallow breaths. He knew better than to panic; if there were danger present, he would only offer an opportunity to attack. So he forced himself to lay still, gritting his teeth while his heart pounded in his chest, in his throat, in his ears. He extracted himself from his blankets slowly, willing his lungs to draw slow, steady breaths. But it didn’t calm the mad pounding of his heart.

Outside, the night was drenched with starlight, silver and gold specks lining the sky from horizon to horizon. It was the kind of night that usually gave him peace. It might have worked tonight, if only he could keep his eyes open forever.

The dream had come again. It seemed to haunt him every night now, as vivid as the restless trees dancing in the wind outside his window. As keen as the last time he laid eyes on the future guild master. As real as the last time he ran his hands across Domerin’s chest and felt the muscle that lay beneath his flesh.

Elian shuddered as he turned away from the window. Calling it a dream wouldn’t alter reality. There were few, even among his clan, who still felt the touch of the Eagle’s eye. His brother could make no claim to the Sight, instead receiving only vague impressions. A reminder of his position, of the burden he was expected to bear. Elian placed one hand on each elbow, embracing himself across the chest. Did Domerin ever feel this way when he contemplated his future? What an insurmountable mountain.

Closing his eyes, the leader of the Eagle clan pressed his back to the wall, let it slide inch by inch along the cool surface until he reached the floor. There was no use fighting. He let the vision wash over him, searching for some detail he must have missed. Why else would the Eagle send him the same dream night after endless night?

The future leader of the assassins guild stood before him, as clear and solid as the last time they shared a bed. If Domerin Lorcasf knew the truth about his lover, if he ever found the mark on the sole of his foot, one of them would fail to leave the meeting alive. If anyone within the guild caught wind of the guild master’s chosen heir sharing an illicit relationship with the leader of a rogue clan, they would have his head on a pike. Or mine.

He had expected nightmares, warnings of his own bloody death. He could only flirt with fate so long before the inevitable. But they had yet to come.

Instead he watched Domerin Lorcasf curl his hands into fists. Watched his lips move, though no words came from his throat. Watched him engage in battle, a flurry of fists and steel.

And then he watched him fall.

Elian drew a deep breath and kept his eyes closed, reviewing the vision again. He recognized the building, any assassin would. The central guild headquarters, the largest building they’d ever constructed, so high it raked the sky. He recognized the night lights in that area of the city, the flat basin and raised walls of the building’s roof. And he recognized the fighting style of the guild master’s opponents. But why would the assassins fight their own?

A foolish question. Not all assassins were created equal. Not anymore. But if Domerin’s opponents were members of a rogue clan, a clan like his, why did he fight alone?

Unimportant, a voice whispered from the vaults of his mind. These events were only meant to provide context to the key event, so that he could identify it when the moment came.

The moment when Domerin fell.

He didn’t seem to slip; he was far too graceful for that. Instead he seemed to float sideways from the roof’s high wall, his arms spread as if to embrace the night. He tumbled over the threshold and out of Elian’s vision.

Elian’s breath caught in his throat.

Domerin Lorcasf, the Dragon’s Chosen, must not fall.

Blasphemy. His teachers would have called it that, to support the guild they had abandoned so long ago. But he had known in his soul from the moment he met the man that he was meant to lead.

And what of me? Wasn’t he supposed to plunge his knife into Domerin’s chest in order to take his place?

If that were what the Eagle wanted, he would see it in his dreams. Instead he saw a flash of intensity in his lover’s eyes a moment before he began the plunge to his death.

“I must stop it,” Elian hissed to himself in the echoing silence of his chamber. But how?

Please take a look at what my writing partner did with this prompt.

If you’d like to participate, share a link to your response in the comments and I’ll feature it next week.

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