In the waking world, his body lay frozen, his mind shorted out, overloaded by the pandemonium of images assailing his mind. In the world of the Remembrance, he struggled and thrashed and could not stop screaming.
He felt himself being torn apart from the inside. Fire blazed across his back and legs. His blood pooled, threatening to burst his veins and his skin. He tumbled helplessly through a hurricane of pain, in too much torment to notice his fall until he smacked hard against something like water or quicksand—and like water or quicksand, it pulled him under.
Mental anguish replaced the physical torture as the “sea” morphed into a mass of lost psyches. They bumped and swirled against him, tried to press themselves upon him, into him. Snatches of memories, most of them painful, flooded his mind. They pulled him down. He fought them psychically as he fought physically to reach the surface. He’d rather face the agony of the surface than the insanity of the sea.
He was losing. Thoughts tangled around him, too many, too strong. He was going to die there, drowning in a strange sea that was half psyche, buried by the painful experiences of others. His thrashing grew more violent, but he knew he couldn’t fight them.
Then stop fighting, a memory of Joshua called faintly. Defense! Get your shields in close and strong!
Desperately, Deryl tried to imagine his ragged shields pulling in, knitting themselves close and tight, strong as armor. The psyches faded only slightly, but it was enough. The sea became water again.
He broke the surface, gasping and trembling, tread water, and forced his mind to think coherently as he sought his bearings.
The world reflected the turmoil he felt. Above, the sky glowed red shot through with black. Cruel-looking blue lightning arched from cloud to cloud, though he could not hear the thunder over the blaring wind. The sea churned about him, and the rain fell in cold sheets. Two large stars fought to shine through the darkness, yet oddly, the planet between them flared, clearly visible. Barin.
A wave forced water into his mouth and nose. He sputtered, felt the world gray. Pain wracked him.
Where was Tasmae? What was this—a kind of memory? Could Gardianju have really experienced this? No wonder Tasmae—
“Tasmae!” he called, his words immediately ripped away by the wind. His telepathic call fared better; he could almost feel the psyches below him pounce upon it like sharks feeding. Buffeted among them was a dark shape, nearly a psychic null point.
“Taz!” All his fear and pain suddenly vanished in the need to get to her, and he plunged in again to pull her from the depths.
The depths were not so eager to release her, and they had had longer to ensnare her. Tendrils of thought, like seaweed, clung to her body, but unlike seaweed, these thoughts had weight and a kind of intelligence. They dragged her down and him with them. No matter how he struggled, he could not pull her to the surface.
Even if he could, what then? They were trapped. There was no way out of Gardianju’s memories.
No way out but through.
Swallowing his fear, he stopped struggling and allowed himself to be pulled down, and as he did, the memories of Gardianju the Miscria insinuated themselves into him until he could no longer tell the difference between her, Tasmae, or himself.
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