Status: once upon a time, there was a co-write...

Broken Illusion


Kira thrashed and screamed, trying to kick free of the Shuck that was holding her down. It opened its massive jaws wide, the stench of rotten meat making her gag.

"Will yourself out, Kira! Calm down and think!" Maksim was giving her instructions but Kira couldn't calm down. All she could think about at that moment was what it was going to be like to be ripped apart by this monster.

"You really think this damsel in distress is going to defeat Lucretia?" The scoffing voice belonged to Thane, and it snapped Kira out of her panic as anger replaced fear. Not sure what else to do she balled her fist and punched the Shuck square in the nose. It snorted and shook its head, rearing back in surprise. Kira took the opportunity to squirm free of its paw and clamber to her feet. The Shuck tensed to pounce again and she ran. If she could get clear of this part of the dream realm the Shuck couldn't follow.

This time when she heard the Shuck's paws leave the ground she ducked. The Shuck flew over her, skidding to a halt with a growl. Kira seized a dead branch off a nearby tree and brandished it at the Shuck, whacking it in the face over and over while it snarled menacingly. Her heart was pounding and her entire body was shaking but she kept driving the Shuck back. Soon they cleared the murky darkness and the Shuck melted back into the shadows, its eerie eyes glowing at her ominously.

Kira was now in familiar territory, blessedly Shuck-free. She dropped the branch, sinking to the ground and taking deep, gasping breaths. She felt a hand on her shoulder and shrieked. She realized too late that she had woken up and was no longer in the dream realm. She struck Maksim across the face before she could stop herself. The old dwarf looked stunned and Thane let out a bark of laughter.

"I'm so sorry Maksim!" Kira exclaimed, her face flushing. He chuckled good-naturedly. "Quite all right, my dear. It was probably too soon to send you into that place. You did remarkably well."

Kira grimaced. "Not the words I would have used."

"Finally Her Highness and I agree on something," Thane remarked dryly and Kira sprang to her feet, glowering. "You are such an ass," she snapped. "Either help me or keep your big dumb mouth shut."

Maksim and the other dwarves snickered. "I think The princess has more potential than you give her credit for, Huntsman. She may still surprise you." Maksim gave Thane an amused look while Thane glared at Kira. She glared right back.

"All right, princess," he said finally. "Let's see how well you fence."


"Can I kill him in his sleep?" Kira groaned as she sank onto her pile of furs. Muscles she hadn't known existed ached and her wrists were bruised. Thane had started her sparring with a thick stick instead of actual swords but she would have preferred a blade to put her out of her misery just then. Thane had drilled her for hours, instructing her in a patronizing tone and easily deflecting her blows.

The highlight of the whole experience was she had finally grown so angry with his taunting that she'd fended off a blow with such force that his mock sword jerked backwards and hit him in the face. A bruise on his forehead as he walked into the cave gave her a smug, wicked satisfaction.

"You asked for my help," he said irritably when he saw her smirking at him.

"What's the matter, Huntsman, can't you handle a bruise or two?" She smiled sweetly, earning a dark scowl from Thane. "I'm much worse off than you," Kira added. "So don't be such a baby. Men, honestly."

The dwarves laughed as Thane grumbled curse words under his breath. Kira settled back on her furs, exhaustion weighing her eyelids down. She fell asleep in minutes and this time the ghosts and monsters of the dream realm left her in peace.