The nightmares didn’t start immediately for Nysse. She’d been too busy in the first few weeks following the orb cleanup to have time to worry about nightmares.
They did for Rhoelyn, though. She’d wake in the middle of the night with a shriek. Rhese was always first at her side, then Nysse. He’d would hold her until she finally slept as if they were children once again. Nysse and Tsume served as the ever-present guard. It wasn’t until they settled in at Nighthaven that Nysse slept deeply enough to understand what Rhoelyn had been going through.
Exhaustion came for everyone in the end. The twins curled in their bed sweetly and Nysse curled up in her blanket on the mattress they’d found for her. She’d placed it in the corner furthest away from them, not because she didn’t want to be close, but because she didn’t want anyone to trip over her when they were half-awake. Tsume rested nearby, already heavy with her cubs, and Nysse couldn’t help but smile as she drifted to sleep.
She woke as scream tore rawly from her throat, “No!” Tears streamed down her face and she trembled out of a fear more remembered by her body than her mind. Her fingers clawed at the sheets as she pulled herself to a sitting position.
Tsume’s yipping would have woken the twins, even if she hadn’t. She stared in confusion as her body betrayed her and continued to shake. She hugged herself to try and make it stop.
Then, they ran to her, Rhese nearly fell behind her as he wrapped his arms tightly around her. His voice rumbled in her ear, “It’s okay, lovely. I’m here. I’ll protect you.” Rhoelyn knelt calmly in front of her and rescued her hands. It was too much. It was all too much. Nysse sobbed in overwhelmed and panicked confusion.
Rhese continued in a soft even tone, “Just focus on my voice, lovely. Let it go. I won’t let anyone hurt you. Never again.” His arms pulled her closer into his into his lap. “That’s it. Take a deep breath. You can do it, lovely.”
Slowly, Nysse managed a shaky deep breath, then another, and finally another. Rhese loosened his grip as the trembling eased. Nysse sniffled, and Rhoelyn pressed a handkerchief into her hand. Nysse scrubbed at her face as if it would remove evidence of the nightmare, and then blew her nose. She bundled it up in her hands and mumbled, “Thank you.”
Tsume whimpered, her head resting on her front paws at the edge of her bed. Nysse reached over to gently pet and smiled weakly, “I’ll be fine, Tsume. It was just a nightmare.”
“Just? Nysse–” Rhese was unable to complete his sentence as Rhoelyn’s glare silenced him.
Rhoelyn’s hands cupped Nysse’s free hand, “Would you like to talk about it, sister?”
Nysse hung her head, “I don’t remember much really, but… it felt like the orbs. If that makes any sense. It’s just a vague feeling.” She sighed and ran a hand through her hair, “It’s been weeks. Why now? I thought I was over it.”
Rhese spoke softly, choosing his words carefully, “You don’t simply get over some things, lovely. Those orbs infringed on everything that was you. They..,” he paused as if not sure how to continue, “They almost took you away from us. I don’t think those are things you easily forget.”
He brushed her arm where a hand shaped bruise had once been, “You don’t forget the things they make us say or do. You don’t forget the helplessness and regret upon waking up from being Taken.” Rhese leaned and turned her so he could look into her eyes, “But never forget that you’re not alone. I’m here for you, and so is Rhoe. Even if an orb popped right up in this room, we wouldn’t let you go.” He pressed his head against her temple, “Never.”
Nysse squeezed the priestess’ hands in gratitude. “I… Thank you.”
Rhoelyn smiled, “Rhese, I have an idea if you’ll help me. Sorry, Nysse, but I need to borrow him for just a moment. Is that okay?” At Nysse’s nod, the twins stand and Rhoelyn directed Rhese, “Grab this edge of the mattress.” Rhese nodded and grinned as he realized what she had in mind.
It’s about that time that Nysse figured it out, “Tsume, you may want to move.” She gestured to the end of the bed. Tsume looked at her, then back at the twins now carrying a mattress, and quickly complied. “This isn’t necessary. It’s really nice, but I don’t want you to go to all this trouble.”
The mattress is placed next to hers and her protests ignored as the twins settle in around her. Rhese cajoled her to lay down, and she flushed a little in embarrassment as he lays behind her, one arm draped over her waist. Rhoelyn grasped her hands laid close enough that their foreheads touch. “Rest, sister. We’re with you.” Rhese rumbled in agreement. Finally, Tsume curled up at their feet.
There were no more nightmares that night or the nights following.