Calpurnia sat in her with her covers bunched up at her feet. She wore nothing but her black cotton boy-shorts and blue camisole. The heat clung to her body, beads of sweat stuck to her forehead. Even though it was the middle of winter, Calpurnia felt like she was roasting, as if she was running an August Arizona Marathon while wearing a snowsuit. Calpurnia, being fed up with the stupid heat, stomped over to her bedroom window. When she grabbed the handle it felt a tingling sensation radiate from the metal within the half second she touched. But her attention was drawn to a new oddity.
As the windows flung open a wave of smoke and heat burst into the room and enveloped Calpurnia. Coughs erupted from her lungs, seeming as if they wouldn’t let her breathe. As the whooping coughs kept lunging outward, the half angel half demon felt like she was going to faint from lack of oxygen. She felt herself get heavier, having to use the window ledge for support.
Calpurnia mustered all of her strength to face towards the smothering clouds of fumes and close the window.
“OW!” Calpurnia screamed in between coughs. Searing pain radiated from the burn on her hand where she touched the metal handle of the window. Now she knew she didn’t imagine the sensation from before. She winced as she gingerly grazed the blistering flesh with her fingertips. Blood red as rubies oozed forth from the places where Calpurnia barely touched. She was in the pre-stages of freaking out as she felt the warm, red liquid flowed from her seared palms.
Calpurnia turned to look out the window to see a black sky with patches of glowing red and orange and swirling stacks of dark grey smoke speckled with glowing gold.
Calpurnia felt her chest tighten up and her stomach twist. She couldn’t breathe.
All of Skyworld was ablaze. Everything was in ruin and burning to the ground. The embers glowed oranges, golds, and reds as the flames danced mockingly over the shambles of what used to be her home. Though throughout the chaos, everything was silent. She could only hear the sound of her own racing heart. And laughter?...
Calpurnia asked for the owner of the voice. Calling out “who’s there?” over and over. Each time hoping to be louder than the last. But no matter how hard she screamed, no sound came out. She could only here the sound of heart beating heart, the laughing, and now the faint roar of the flames, all steadily getting louder. As she kept trying to call out her throat started to hurt from the shouting and the smoke. With the pain throughout her body growing unbearable and the fire and laughter getting louder Calpurnia was getting overwhelmed. She thrust her hands over her ears, feeling the stinging from the burn and the warm blood. But that didn’t help block off the growing noises, now they were as loud as could be. The combination of the mysterious mocking laughter, the roaring flames, and the rapid thunderous heartbeat made Calpurnia want to cut her ears off. Hot tears flowed down her cheeks when she shut her eyes as tight as she could. She begged for it all to stop. MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP!!!
But she still couldn’t scream.
As Calpurnia turned away from the awful sight of her burning home she leaned against the wall under the window and curled her knees to her chest, burying her face.
Calpurnia felt the ground and the wall jerk around her. To her horror, she saw a huge black crevasse form across the floor in front of her. She felt gravity pull her backwards toward the wall that was no longer there. Calpurnia began falling to the flame-engulfed ground, the distance much greater than she remembered from her previous gazes out of her second floor bedroom window. Calpurnia tried to open her wings to fly, but she felt nothing but pain, the sting reaching from the surface of her back to her core. She turned around to see that her wings weren’t there. There were two deep gashes in her back where her wings used to be, just like in the old days when she was wingless. But this time the wounds were fresh. Blood poured from her back and left a dark ruby stream behind Calpurnia as she plummeted to the ground. Now Calpurnia was in a true state of panic. The tears and blood kept flowing as she was nearing the ground. She felt the air expel from her lungs as she tried to scream, but her voice was still missing. As she got closer, Calpurnia saw the flames distort into a hideous face. A twisted, sadistic smile crawled across the fiery plane and began laughing at her. As Calpurnia rapidly approached the ground the nightmarish fire face opened its jaws a swallowed her whole. When the jaws closed, the whole scene, the fire, the ruins, even the blood, shattered like glass. The sparkling shards broke apart into smaller pieces and floated down into the black nothingness. The shards landed on some invisible plain and formed a floor. Calpurnia felt her body float to the floor, her feet on solid ground as the remaining shard pieces came together to form walls and a ceiling. When the room was completed the remaining shards came the form a full-body mirror in front of Calpurnia.
The half angel half demon girl felt an overwhelming sensation overcome her body. Her arms began moving on their own, she had no control over anything anymore.
When Calpurnia gazed back into the mirror she froze.
The image mimicking Calpurnia’s movements had long black hair that hung over its face and blood-stained, razor-sharp claws that curled around a giant silver axe.
The image that really caught Calpurnia’s eye were the two people tied to a stump, their arms bound behind their back and burlap sacks over their heads. The women prisoners were dressed in rags and their bodies were decorated with bloody cuts, large bruises, and nasty burn marks. Calpurnia looked down to see the same thing in front of herself.
The whole situation was like a dream or seeing events through someone else’s eyes. But awful either way.
The image in the mirror showed Calpurnia’s body removing the burlap sacks to reveal the identities of the two figures. Lady Palutena, Calpurnia’s mother, and Jade, Calpurnia’s sister.
Calpurnia felt like she was going to throw up.
She used every ounce of resistance she had to try to put down the axe. But her body was still out of her control.
The face in the mirror looked up at Calpurnia with a look that a mother might give to a child. Wait a minute… THAT’S MY FACE!!!
The reflection stared her in the eyes then looked at the helpless goddess of light and princess of the Underworld. She slowly raised her gaze back up to Calpurnia’s and completely changed. The reflection had black voids with glowing red pupils where her eyes used to be and a psychotic, razor-toothed grin that crawled from ear to ear. She raised the axe above her head and stared hungrily at the two helpless maidens.
NO! DON’T DO IT!!!!
The monster nodded slowly in response.
Hot tears ran down Calpurnia’s face as she continued to beg the demon with her distorted face not to kill the two people she cared about most. Palutena and Jade, being in their fragile, weakened state, were only able to whimper, “Calpurnia…Don’t...” before the axe fell in a blink of an eye and blood shed everywhere.
Calpurnia sat up and screamed as loud as she could until she ran out of breath. Then she took in as much air as her lungs would allow and screamed again.
Calpurnia felt as if her heart would either give out or explode. It pounded furiously in her chest, and her whole body felt like it was burning.
Calpurnia thrust her palms into her line of sight. She saw that the burns and the blood were gone. She then reached her aching arms behind her back as far as she could bare and fingered around for what she was looking for. Calpurnia felt a brief moment of relief as she felt the soft feathers of her wings intertwine with her hands.
She had to make sure it wasn’t another dream and tried to run to the window. But when Calpurnia stood up she collapsed, her weakened legs failed to support her. After hitting the ground face first with a loud thud she got up slowly and shakily, supporting herself with the wall. It hurt to walk but she had to know.
Calpurnia wobbled as quickly as she could to the window, the threat of falling again always present, and shoved the curtains open. At first she was reluctant to touch the handle but immediately discarded the thought and opened the window.
Instead of being suffocated by sweltering smog like she half expected, Calpurnia was enveloped by the freezing cold. The frosty winds lightly bit her sweat coated skin as she took a deep inhale and exhale of relief. As most of Calpurnia’s fears left her, so did her strength. Calpurnia’s legs gave out underneath her and she fell to the floor; her arms rested on the window sill and held her up. She felt exhaustion catch up to her as she watched little snowflakes ride the breeze into her room.
“It’s just a nightmare, it’s not real.” Calpurnia reassured.
Seconds later her bedroom door swung open, snapping Calpurnia out of her half-asleep trance.
“CALPURNIA, WHAT’S WRONG!!!?” called a concerned, motherly voice. A figure towered over Calpurnia and knelt by her side. When soft but firm hands grasped Calpurnia’s shoulders and was turned to face their owner, Calpurnia saw that it was Lady Palutena. Pieces of the Goddess of Light’s emerald bed-head hung in worried face. “What happened? I heard this awful screaming then a loud thud coming from your room. Are you hurt, sweetie?”
Seeing the goddess’ face brought back memories of the nightmare. Calpurnia tried to hold back the intense emotions that were triggered, but she couldn’t stop them from overflowing. The next time she blinked she could feel the tears begin to flow. Calpurnia’s chest tightened up so much that she felt as if she couldn’t breathe. And when she did nothing both choppy sniffles and sobs pushed themselves out. Calpurnia buried her face into her hands, feeling humiliated for seeming so weak and scared because a dream.
Calpurnia broke. She lost her composure completely and started to ball her eyes out. It was slowly, then all at once.
As the shaken half angel sobbed uncontrollably Palutena sat down next to her and wrapped her arms around her. The goddess Calpurnia closer to rest her head on her chest, the half angel’s forehead now resting on her collar bone. The goddess tried her best to make Calpurnia feel better as she enveloped the crying in her motherly embrace. The goddess felt Calpurnia gravitate toward her and wrapped her arms around her in return, as well as feeling hot, wet tears drip down onto her skin.
Palutena rubbed Calpurnia’s mid-back in order comfort her, as well as to avoid hurting her wings. “It’s ok now, it was just a dream.”
“B-B-But it *hic* felt so r-real *sniff* And it was SO AWFUL!!”
“Most nightmares feel that way.” Palutena planted a gentle kiss on Calpurnia’s forehead. “But in the end, it’s all just a dream.” The goddess stated matter-of-factly “Remember that, okay?”
Calpurnia looked up, her face red and moist, and nodded. After that she hid herself again in Palutena’s embrace. “I-I’m so *hic* weak-k.”
Palutena was shocked. Calpurnia always seemed so confident in own strength, even when the situation challenged her and pushed her to the limit. She was a lot like Dark Pit, minus the jerky-ness, plus sensitivity, but resilient and self-assured just the same.
“No you’re not, not at all!” Palutena disagreed.
“Ye-Yes I *hic* am!!! I’m cr-crying *sniff* b-because of a stupid *hic* dream!!!!”
“Oh no no no, sweetie,” the goddess of light cooed softly, “it’s perfectly normal.”
“BUT NOTHING!!!” Palutena exclaimed firmly-but-gently. Calpurnia shut her mouth, releasing a few sniffs and snobs every few moments. Palutena tightened her embrace around Calpurnia. It seemed like she never wanted to let Calpurnia go. “When I was growing up I had my fair share of nightmares.” Palutena confessed. “Every time I had a bad dream I couldn’t go to my parents for comfort.”
“Zeus and Hera?”
“Yes. They weren’t exactly the best parents. Hera thought Zeus cheated on her… again… so she didn’t really enjoy my company. And Zeus doesn’t exactly take care of his children. I had to watch out for myself most of the time.” she recalled her childhood. “I made a promise to myself that I would help those who needed it. The humans, Pit, Dark Pit, the Centurions…. No matter the problem.” The goddess of light looked straight at Calpurnia, locking her emerald eyes with the half angel’s blue and grey one. “I understand how you feel. You feel like you’re alone, don’t you?”
By now, Calpurnia had calmed down a little. Her breathing was starting to go back to normal and the last of the tears were running down her cheeks. She never thought about how she felt before. Looking back on her situation, being a rebellious, reclusive orphan, who almost destroyed Skyworld and wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for Palutena being a merciful goddess, and was now being reformed by the warriors of Skyworld.
Everyone already had something against her. She didn’t have anyone to hang out with beside Pit and Dark Pit, but she was sure that they only hung out with her because they had to.
“Only a little.” Calpurnia half lied.
“I may not be around all the time to help you, but remember that if you need anything, you can talk to me, okay?”
“Ok… I will.” Calpurnia said sheepishly.
Before Calpurnia went back to bed Palutena pulled up a chair to her bed and sat beside Calpurnia’s side.
Palutena pushed some of Calpurnia’s silver hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear. She then proceeded to pet her head.
“Please don’t pet me.” Calpurnia asked politely.
“Sorry… Oh! I know just what might help!” Palutena exclaimed. “This is what I do to help the boys sleep.”
Palutena held out her palm and waved her other hand over it to reveal a small cup of a dark, steaming drink. “Some tea, to sooth the core.”
Calpurnia took the warm cup and obliged to take a sip. She could tell by the sweet taste and the scent that it was chamomile.
Palutena then stood up and hung something on the wall above Calpurnia’s head. It was a dream catcher. Black and white feathers hung from tan, beaded strings and in the center of the web was a round, purple crystal. An Amethyst. “A dream catcher, to ensnare the bad and radiate the good.”
“And finally, a story to lift the spirits. You know how I’ve been taking care of Pit ever since he was little, right?”
“Well, he used to be deathly afraid of thunderstorms!”
“Oh really?” a sly grin crawled across Calpurnia’s face.
“Yes, it’s true.” Palutena giggled. “And ever since he could crawl he would run to my side, cling to my leg, and hold onto the fabric of my dress, like he would die if he let go of it!”
The two women burst into laughter. In between breathes, Calpurnia asked, “So when did he finally get over his fear?”
“To be honest… he’s still a little afraid of thunderstorms. But to just the point where he really doesn’t like them.” Palutena confessed. “But he stopped the whole leg clinging thing when he was about six. That’s when he started deal with the storms and grow out of it.”
The goddess and the half breed continued laughing for a good chunk of time. After they had their laughs Palutena asked if Calpurnia felt any better. And she did.
Before Lady Palutena closed the door, she turned to Calpurnia and asked, “Let’s keep the whole Pit conversation to us, okay?” she winked.
“Ok.” Calpurnia winked back. “Good night, Your Highness.”
“Good night, Calpurnia.”
When Calpurnia woke up the next morning she felt well rested and happy.