“I think Lillabeth’s even unhappier with your sister than you are, Beloved,” Eleria replied. “We’re supposed to tell people about our Dreams. That’s why we have them, isn’t it?”
“Indeed it is, child,” Zelana agreed. “I think it’s just about time for me to show my sister that telling lies will get her into trouble.”
“You don’t like her very much, do you, Beloved?”
“Not when she’s lying, I don’t.”
“Then we’ll have to teach her not to lie.”
They reached Aracia’s marble temple just as the sun was sinking down over the western horizon, and Zelana carried Eleria to Lillabeth’s room first. Then she rose up into the air again and listened carefully to her sister’s conversation with the Trogite called Narasan and the warrior queen Trenicia. The outlanders seemed to be having some trouble explaining things to Aracia and the fat man who spent all of his time making speeches.
Zelana drifted down through the polished marble dome of Aracia’s temple and then quite suddenly appeared as if out of nowhere in front of her sister’s throne.
Aracia flinched back and half rose from her throne.
“Don’t even think about it, Aracia,” Zelana said. “We’re going to settle this once and for all right here and now.”
“What are you talking about?” Aracia demanded.
“You’re lying, and you know it. What on earth possessed you to try to conceal Lillabeth’s Dream? Didn’t you know that the other Dreamers knew all about it?”
“That’s not possible!”
“Then how do you explain why I’m here and how I know that Lillabeth’s Dream told us that the creatures of the Wasteland were going to attack Dahlaine’s Domain next? I think you’ve been awake too long, Aracia. You’re starting to slide over the line into senility.”
“What’s this all about, Zelana?” Aracia demanded.
“Betrayal, Aracia. This idiocy of yours has put the entire Land of Dhrall in terrible danger. What were you thinking? You do know that if the servants of the Vlagh overrun Dahlaine’s Domain, the entire Land of Dhrall will fall into their hands, don’t you? In spite of that, you tried to keep Lillabeth’s Dream a secret.”
“I most certainly did not!”
“More lies, Aracia? Are you insane?”
“What’s this all about?” the warrior queen Trenicia demanded.
“You do know that the Dreamers are here to warn us when the creatures of the Wasteland are about to attack, don’t you?” Zelana replied. “Or did my idiot sister try to hide that from you? I wouldn’t be surprised if she had. Sister Aracia seems to be making a career out of lying and hiding the truth.”
Trenicia’s eyes narrowed, and she glared at Aracia. “What do you have to say about this?” she said.
Aracia had gone pale. “My sister’s just making this up to discredit me! She hates me! She’s always hated me!”
“That’s not true and you know it,” Zelana said in a voice filled with contempt.
“How dare you?” the fat priest standing to one side of Aracia’s throne exclaimed. “Holy Aracia never lies.”
Just then Eleria and Lillabeth, walking hand in hand, came into Aracia’s ornate throne-room. “I have dreamed,” Lillabeth announced, “and in my Dream, the creatures of the Wasteland moved up through a deep valley lined with crystal toward the lands of the far North.”
“Stop!” Aracia shouted. “I forbid you to say any more!”
“Greatly troubled were the people of the North,” Eleria picked up where Lillabeth had stopped, “for there were many signs that some of their friends were no longer loyal to the Elder God who holds dominion in the North.”
“Stop! Stop! Stop!” Aracia shrieked.
Eleria, however, continued, and Lillabeth joined her voice with Eleria’s, and they spoke as one. “And there was a plague that was not a plague, and many, many in the North died. And for the first time the servants of the Vlagh bore with them weapons which were not parts of their bodies. But in time, the creatures of the Wasteland that serve the Vlagh were consumed by a fire unlike any fire we have ever seen, and thus was the Dream ended, for victory was once more ours.”
“It’s a lie!” Aracia howled. “A lie! A lie! A lie!”
“No, Aracia,” Zelana said sadly, “you’re the one who’s been lying. We all know that now.” Then she looked at Commander Narasan. “I think you just got your marching orders, Commander. I’m sure that Sorgan will be happy to see you.”
“You can’t leave, Narasan!” Aracia screamed. “I forbid it.”
“Forbid all you want, sister mine,” Zelana said, “but Narasan goes north—now.”
Then the warrior queen Trenicia glared at Aracia. “I see that you’re not to be trusted,” she said. “You lied to me, and I won’t have anything more to do with you. I’m going north with my dear friend, Narasan.”
“You can’t do that! You’re leaving me alone and unprotected! I paid you!”
Trenicia began to rip various jewels off her clothes and to throw them on the floor at Aracia’s feet. “Take back what you paid me, Aracia,” she said in a voice filled with loathing.
“It didn’t work, did it, Aracia?” Zelana said then. “Your lies and foolish attempts at deception just fell apart, and now you’re all alone. Our brothers and I will come here to protect your Domain when the servants of the Vlagh attack, but we won’t do it because we love you. When you get right down to it, nobody really loves you. Your fat, lazy priests pretend that they love you, but they really don’t. All they want is a life of luxury, and they’d sooner die than work for it. You’re pathetic, Aracia—stupid, arrogant, and pathetic. I think it’s time for you to grow up and look at the real world, but that’s up to you. I don’t really ever want to see you again.”
Aracia stared at her in horror, and then she wailed and fled, weeping uncontrollably.
“Just a bit extreme there,” Narasan suggested with a faint note of disapproval.
“She’ll get over it,” Zelana replied. “I know my sister very well. She’ll twist it around for a while, and then—in her own mind at least—she’ll come to see this as a victory. It’s much too late for Aracia to look reality right in the face.” Then she turned and looked at Eleria. “How did you manage to pick up Lillabeth’s Dream that way?” she asked. “I knew that you had a general idea of her Dream, but I didn’t know that you could recite it word for word like that.”