Lilacs; their scent always reminded her of her mother. The lilacs were blossoming in Ororo’s garden, perhaps that’s why the dreams were becoming more vivid with each night?
Her mother, her beautiful, wonderful mother, sang her a lullaby. It was her favourite, a sweet, soothing tune about a princess who is rescued from an evil wizard by a great fiery bird; a phoenix. The phoenix takes her place in the castle, letting the princess run free to her love, a handsome knight. Normally, like most children, she thought very little about the narrative and instead focused on the pretty tune. This night though, she couldn’t help but ponder the fate of the phoenix, and why it would take the princess’ place.
Her sister’s were already asleep, not that either of them would have been much help, so she turned to her mother. When she tried to speak though, words refused to come out, she was mute. Oblivious to this, her mother continued singing and gradually the rest of the world seemed to fade away. Only mother and daughter remained.
And then there was something else, something cruel and wicked that radiated evil. It coalesced out of the darkness behind her mother; a terrible demon with green-black scales, crocodilian head and blood red eyes.
She tried to call out, to warn her mother but still she was silenced, and now she found she was unable to move as well. While her beloved mother continued to sing, the beast sunk its talon’s deep into her throat before clamping its jaws down upon her shoulder and savaging her like an animal.
Finally, her voice returned to her, in the form of a terrified scream of despair.
Jean awoke with a start, the scream dying on her parched lips. Sitting up in her bed, heavy of breath and dripping with sweat, her mind cleared gradually until she realised it been another dream. Different from the last, but no less terrifying.
Every night since the destruction of Nabras and the death of all its inhabitants, her nights had been plagued with nightmares. In each a member of her family was slain by demons; her mother, father and sisters, the phantom demon’s were indiscriminate in their slaughter.
But why, her family weren’t slain by demons? Her father, John, had been killed by a spell gone wrong when she was five. Her mother and sisters were savaged by wolves when she was ten.
“Have a bad dream?” asked a gruff voice from no more than an arm’s length away.
“Ahh!” she jumped in surprise, Logan was sitting beside her bed. Once she had calmed herself down enough to speak, she said, “do you often watch young women while they sleep?”
“Only when their nightmares shake the entire castle,”
She looked around the room, noticing her full length mirror had fallen over and shattered and all her dresses had fallen from the cupboard. Could she have caused this?
Jean, like many others living in Castle Greymalkin, was gifted. The elves called it telekinesis, the ability to move things with the power of the mind alone. Over the years her stepfather had taught her how to control it although, like tonight, her control sometimes lapsed.
“When did you get back?” she asked as she pulled the sheets up over her body to deflect Logan’s eyes.
“A few hours ago,” as usual, he wasn’t forthcoming with information.
“Where did you go?”
He smirked, “Do you really think I’ll tell you?”
“You know I could just reach into your head and find out for myself,” she smirked back.
He waved is hairy finger in her face, like a parent would a naughty child, “Papa wouldn’t like that now would he? Besides, I don’t think you’d like what you’d see in here,” he pointed at his temple.
Logan was always an enigma. From what little she knew about him he had suffered terribly before coming to Greymalkin, and yet he was still capable of great feats of heroism. The man held his emotions close to his chest though, preferring to keep his distance from everyone else.
He sniffed the air, “Speaking of pappa…”
There was a knock at the door, and her step father Lord Charles Xavier, entered the room without waiting for a reply. He halted, surprised, upon seeing Logan, but quickly regained your composure.
“I’ll be going,” said Logan, before leaving the room.
“Thanks for checking on me,” said Jean.
“Yes…welcome back Logan,” added Charles, although the warmth in his voice didn’t reach his eyes.
When Logan had gone, he turned to his stepdaughter with a look of concern, “Another nightmare?” he asked.
“Yes, even more vivid than before,” she replied wearily. These nightmares had deprived her of a good night’s sleep for almost a fortnight.
Charles hobbled awkwardly to the chair and sat down beside’s the young woman he saw as his own daughter. Her stepfather had once been a knight, and lost his left leg in one of the many crusade’s King Argus led before his death over a decade ago. Because of this, he was forced to use crutches to walk anywhere, explaining his slow response to her nightmare.
Jean ran her fingers through her hair before holding her head in her hands, “Why am I having these dreams? Are they some kind of message?”
Charles placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder, “You know your family were killed by wolves. It was simple, cruel nature. There was nothing demonic about it,”
“What about my father?”
“Oh,” he looked uncomfortable, he didn’t like to think of the man that came before him in Jean’s heart, “You mother never liked to talk about it. All I know was he was casting a spell that went wrong, which lead to his death,”
Her true father, John, had been a mage. He was not extremely powerful, like Archmagister Le’strange, though. Instead, he liked to heal and teach other apprentice mages how to heal also. Somehow, when she was just a child, something went wrong with one of his spells, killing him and two apprentices.
The academy where her father had taught was kind enough to provide his surviving family with a home. Since her mother had no magical skills, she took on a role teaching the apprentices non magical subjects, such as history.
Eventually, a lame knight had come to the academy seeking a way to restore his lost leg. Sadly there was none, though instead he found emotional healing in the arms of her mother. While he could never replace her father, Charles Xavier was a kind and loving man who swept Elayne Grey and her three daughters away to his castle.
For four years, they lived in blissful happiness, until the day her mother and two sisters were killed in the woods outside the castle. Even at ten years old she thought it was strange, that wolves would come this close to civilisation and kill three people. One of the town’s hunters eventually found and killed the pack of beasts, which he suspected were escapees from a tribe of Grahl. As savage, subhuman creatures, it was expected that the Grahl would raise their animals to be the same. She had long thought the mystery solved, until the dreams began.
“My…my memories of his death are blurred at best,” she said hesitantly, not sure if she really wanted to ask the following question, “Would you help me to see them more clearly?”
A pain look crossed over Charles’ features, “Jean, are you sure you want that? The mind forgets things for a reason,”
“I know stepfather, but I need answers,”
“Alright child, but not until tomorrow; we shall both need rest,” he conceded, before leaning over and kissing her on the forehead, which was burning hot, “try and get some sleep, the others shall be back in the morning,”
For a moment all the bad thoughts were washed from her mind as she thought of being reunited with her friends ones again. Kind Ororo, wise H’nk and sweet Scott were her family, perhaps they would make the dreams go away? Quickly though, the image of her mother, still singing as a demon savage her, returned unbidden to her mind.