Thunder. Lightning. Lava. Screams.
The sounds echo around me as I run, faster and faster away from the scene. All I can think of is getting away, as quickly as I can. But then I trip over a loose stone and fall, headfirst, into a large crater. I can see the fire at the heart of the earth coming closer, closer, the heat burning and searing the hair on my arms as I come ever nearer. My hands touch the boiling hot magma as I flail them around in an attempt to catch hold of something, anything. I scream--
And then I wake. A cold sweat trickles down my back and I sit up in bed, panting. I look around my room, hoping that the familiar objects around me will calm me after that horrid nightmare, but they don't.
Because I am not in my room.
I am in a dark chamber, tied to a table made of a smooth stone, perhaps marble. My legs are bound but not my hands, so that I can sit up but not stand. Where am I?
Panic rises within me and I struggle, trying to pry the bonds off of my legs with my hands. That's when I notice something else that makes me freeze. My hands aren't their usual pale pink hue--they're an odd dark grey color. Have I woken from one nightmare into another? To test the theory, I pinch my arm. Pain shoots through me and I know that I have to be awake, really awake.
I scream and struggle again, and stiffen when I hear footsteps coming down the hall.
It's a woman, tall and dark like me, with pointed ears and long, red hair. Her eyes are piercing and silver-grey. She rolls them and pushes me down. "Lay down, idiot, and stop the screaming."
I try to calm my breathing, but I sit up again the minute she lets go of me. "Where am I? What happened? Who are you?"
She sighs. "Things were so much easier in the Dream. Just shut up, okay? I'm not the one you should be asking questions to anyway."
I don't comply, and ask another question. "What's the Dream?"
She sighs again, clearly irritated. "The false world you've been living in all your life until now. Earth, London, France, do those names ring a bell?"
It's my turn to roll my eyes. "Yeah, of course."
"Well, I just woke you up. The High Ones have called for you. It's gonna be a tough week, Kada."
"How do you know my--"
"Because I work here. Basically, you're going to stay here until we're sure you have no defects. If everything's cool, you'll be sent to the training area."
"To be trained for what?"
"It doesn't concern you. Now relax, or I'll have to knock you out with a sleeping potion. They had to do that to me, and believe me, it doesn't taste pleasant."
I sigh and lay down reluctantly. "How long until they unchain me?"
"Until you're ready," the woman replied. "Now please, shut up, I have work to do."