xxxxvii. Once Commanded In Dreams
The mossy isle rock swept up along their left, as the cliff face fell away on their right—leaving only open space―and the river far below. They were out on edge.
It was said one could come out there to find true clarity—under the wizened old limbs of the ancient Blacktree. There was insight in those crooked arms.
He had even been up in those branches many a time―as it was purported that the most potent energies of French’s Forest concentrated up there.
But countless careless climbers had also lost their lives that way—for when suddenly caught in a flash of inclement weather—the tree became a perilous perch, where anyone might lose their hold.
They heard a hissing just then―and looking up, they saw Draca coiling in the tree’s limbs―arching out over Evyl Falls—sinisterly eyeing them up and down now.
Draca’s sockets were soulless—with no trace of mercy or compassion―as he smelled them with his flicking tongue—seeking their blood. He lusted for death.
Eva fainted on cue now at the sight.
It was too much for her conscious mind—to see something so fearsome up close—that she had once herself commanded in dreams. It crossed wires.
But Seven caught her before she fell off the ledge. He draped her over his shoulder―closing his eyes―and he prayed for help as they jumped out over edge.
He had made the leap a hundred times before, but never with such fragile cargo. Adrenaline racing—he took two steps back—then jumped large and wide.
He tried to err on the far side, where there were fewer rocks to break their fall—but risks remained. Even the slightest miscalculation could land them in ruin.
As they fell, Eva came to, looking about anxiously, while Seven held her tight. She focused on the sky above them falling away, and saw Draca materialize.
It was as though the snake had disappeared the moment she had closed her eyes, only to reappear once she regained consciousness, like a bad plague.
It seemed as if, while Faye materialized while she slept, Draca was readily visible with her every waking breath, and it almost frightened her more.
She then passed out again, traumatized by the unending moments of imminent death at the hands of perpetual momentum toward the killer rocks below.
So Drace phased out as well, until Eva came to again, and when she did, Draca then launched off of the Blacktree after them, arcing far out over Evyl Falls.
The snake then dove, spiraling downward, on a slowly turning, tightly twisting, slickly serpentine dive—disappearing into the rising mist for a moment, just when Eva closed her eyes, then re-materializing right before her now.
She started screaming―only to be knocked unconscious again upon impact with the water’s surface―as they plunged into the foaming blue pool below. They had successfully avoided the dangerous rocks, but not the sharp impact of the hit.
When Eve finally reopened her eyes, at that moment, Draca reappeared above them in the water―piercing the eddies shortly after them, darting toward them on a single-minded bent intended to end them inside of a minute under maw rent.
Seven lost hold on Eva in the frothing whirlpool—and he twisted all about, feeling everywhere for her, but it was no use—for she had sunk lower down than him—and now Draca had found her.
The anaconda coiled around her—pulling her deeper under. She made no resistance, for she was frozen by consciousness―lost to an outer dream—unwilling to look away from the serpent.
“Eva!” Seven yelled. “EVA!!!” he cried—lashing about in a panic—stricken with horror. He slapped the surface of the water in mounting frustration leveling out.
He dove down several times but could not see all the way to the bottom—where Draca held her fast in his unbreakable embrace—crushing her life.
But on a deeper level, Eva knew this was her last chance to save herself—so with her stubborness she kicked her way out, and she swam strong for the surface.
Then, with the last of her will, she pushed up for precious air, swimming madly for the moonlight above—light that rippled upon the eddies of a River Payne.
After Seven’s eleventh dive, he was just about to give up—when he saw Eva break water several yards off to his left, gasping for breath—and he shortly came to her side. He swam her to the far shore.
She kept slipping in and out of consciousness in his arms—and he felt something brush his leg, just before reaching the shallows―where he climbed upon the mossy bank—pulling her free.
She choked and gasped as he helped her roll onto her side―while falls raged all around them—the Forest fauna cried—and lightning stitched across the horizon. It was a ghastly scene to see.
So Eva’s volatile state of mind moved in and out of clarity—while Draca snaked back and forth beneath the swirling currents by the bank, unable to break surface, being this far off the Forest.
Similarly, Faye’s green eyes formed in the storm-clouds above—for She was unable to materialize more fully, in Her true form, at this distance from the woods. Seven and Eva were so close now.
‘No one escapes French’s Forest, Seven … How far will you run? How long will you go, before you admit to yourself, that you belong to Me …?’ the Silverskin screamed—but Eva was up on her knees now—and Faye vanished from the skies.
(Author’s Note: If you are enjoying The Silverskin, you can buy the full 400 page Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary edition paperback here. Forever Yours In French’s Forest, Rian Torr)