Hands were carrying me, and I could hear the sound of the footsteps of my assailants echo off walls and ceilings.

"Don't do this to me," I said.

"It's alright. Don't be afraid, no one's going to harm you."

"Who are you?"

"A friend."

"I don't think I have friends."

"You might be wrong."

"Your voice sounds familiar."

"You heard me talk at the gate. I let you in."

"Why are you doing this?"

"I need you to trust me."

"I don't."

I heard him chuckle. "Give it time."

The movements stopped, and I was grateful for the respite. I heard a door open, and then we were moving again. They laid me on a bed and removed my boots, and as my strained muscles relaxed I began to drift off into sleep.

"I'll see you in the morning," the stranger whispered, his hand on my shoulder and his lips close to my ear.

Yes, I thought, tired beyond caring.

I slept uneasily, and several times during the night - I assumed it was night, though I had no way to be sure - I heard the door open and close, and there seemed to be people looking at me. Once or twice I tried to speak up, to ask these people who they were and what they wanted from me, but my strengths failed me.

A fox, standing in the snow, watching me. "You'll have to wake up soon," it told me.

"Please tell me this is a dream."

"You know the answer to that."

"It's all real, right? Or it's all a dream, depending on how you look at it."

"If you say so." The fox sat down and scratched its head with a hind paw.

"It looks like you've picked up some flees," I commented.

"Not possible. You and I are the only living things out here."

"You must be lonely a lot."

The fox began to wash itself, and I stretched and took stock of my surroundings. The landscape was unfamiliar - stretching out flat and featureless in all directions, the tops of withered reed sticking out above the snow the only variation in the white monotony. It was impossible to see where the land ended and the sky began, and although the day was clear there was no sun.

"This isn't a real place, is it?"

"Define 'real'."

I kept quiet.

"You're learning."

"No," I said. "I'm blind, as in a way I've always been. When I think of the things that I've done and of the way I used to live my ignorance scares me to death. I seem to have a task in this life, and all I've been doing so far is flounder without sense or purpose."

The fox stopped washing itself and yawned.

I thought of something. "What are these places?"

"What places?"

"The seashore. This place. they're different from the others, aren't they?"

"What others?"

"The ones that I see in dreams, or visions."

The fox didn't reply - instead, it seemed to be listening for sounds that I couldn't hear. "You need to get back," it said eventually.


"He's coming. He mustn't find you here."

"Find me here? How could he?"

"He can follow you everywhere. Now go!"

I gasped as I forced myself back into the here and now, and when I was fully awake I found myself sitting up, trembling and sweating.

"It's alright. You're safe," Rodan said, as he put his hands on my shoulders and pushed me back onto the bed.

Rodan? The fox had warned me about Rodan?

"Were you having a bad dream?" another voice asked me. I knew that voice, it belonged to the man who had carried me in, and I had heard it even when he didn't speak out loud.

"I'm fine," I said. "The two of you startled me, that's all." I thought about what the fox had said, and decided that from now on I'd have to be very, very careful.

Rodan, I mused, you seem to be a good man. Who are you, and how did you get involved in all this?

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