He couldn’t breathe.
Shrukian collapsed to his knees, hands clasped around his throat, chest heaving as his lungs struggled desperately to capture some air. He held out his trembling hands and saw to his horror that the web of black rot was spreading quickly over his skin, leaving a trail of blisters and sores that opened and oozed clear liquid. The webs were weaving their way up his arm, like cracks spreading rapidly through stone, and he fell to his side, vomiting black blood and thicker things that came pouring out of his mouth and nose. And still he couldn’t breathe.
“To the grave I bind you,” came an unfamiliar voice behind him. Shrukian glanced over his shoulder to see behind him nothing more than a dark silhouette against the blood red sky. The silhouette was in the vague form of a man, his impressive cape billowing out behind him and fluttering like a pair of dark wings. He held, in his hand, a book, and he was holding it with one hand as he read, while the other hand flung sand in Shrukian’s face. The pungent smell of new graves and freshly turned earth filled the air. “To the grave I bind you, and to Death I dedicate your soul.” The hand that had thrown the dirt into Shrukian’s face made a sign across the man’s chest, but it was hard to see due to the dark fuzziness that was creeping in at the edges of his vision. “Vampire,” the word slithered out as if coated with oil, and was filled with ire. “foul demon, walk this earth no more.” the book snapped shut, and Shrukian felt the wind whip angrily across his face. He opened his mouth to scream, but no words came out. The ground opened up beneath him, and he fell. Darkness came down upon him, and the walls closed in, shutting the world out and trapping him…
Shrukian sat up suddenly, sweat streaming down his brow, soaking and matting his thick, curly black hair. The aching burn in his chest told him that it was only noon, and that he should not be awake, but the dream had been so vivid, so real, he didn’t think he could bear to be asleep. He looked over to make sure he had not disturbed the other person in the bed. His sister, Olympia, who was merely two years his senior, was propping herself up on her elbow, concern etched into her lovely, still drowsy face.
“What is wrong, brother dear?” she asked him softly, rubbing her eyes and pulling the fur blankets tightly around her bare shoulders.
“Nothing,” he said, knowing his voice was breathy. “a night terror.”
She wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled her silky body against his. Her skin felt cool to the touch, almost icy, because the night terror had left his own skin flaming hot as if with a very bad fever. He threw one arm around her shoulder and drew her even closer, taking comfort in her soft ebony waves of hair that were spread out across the stark whiteness of her skin. Her lips were painted red and perfectly kissable, and he would have kissed her, perhaps, if he had been in the mood. She smiled, as if she understood, and kissed his cheek comfortingly.
“It was only a dream,” she said soothingly, stroking his face with her delicate hand.
“Only a dream,” he repeated, staring straight into her eyes. Their eyes were the exact same color, mauve.
“Come back to sleep,” she encouraged even as she pulled him back down. He obliged, because he was too tired to resist, and he fell back asleep with his head pressed against the hollow of her neck, breathing in the faint scent of jasmine that clung to her like perfume.