There was a creature in this world, one who attacked people and trapped them in their own fears. His name was Metus. Just like how Charisse was trapped on one side of a dark ocean by the illusions of a million miniature Metus forms jumping in and out of the waters, Ajax, too, had been trapped, long ago. Metus wasn’t creative in his illusions, but he never needed to be. As long as it worked, he could be using the same old illusion everywhere he went. If his victims couldn’t get past the illusions, nobody would even know that he was using the same old form.
But Ajax knew, because he had seen Metus’ illusions twice. Once, in Charisse’s head. And once before that, in his own memories.
It was a time when Alexander was not yet a name on Hector’s list. After being attacked by the dark shape, Ajax found himself standing on the edge of a wide glass pane, just like Charisse would in the future. The setting was nearly identical, except that it wasn’t a dark ocean and a wooden boat in front of him. At the time, he wasn’t on “land”, but high in the sky.
Imagine an arrangement of some dozen stools, standing in a straight line, one after the other. Now imagine that those stools aren’t just one step away from one another, but a foot or two away, close enough that you can walk from one to another, but far enough that you doubt whether you actually can. And these stools, every one of them are higher than skyscrapers, reaching far into the clouds. Instead of fog, what you see under your feet is an eternal fire, burning hot and high, with miniature Metus forms occasionally leaping out of it in attempt to catch you. Far ahead of you, you can only see the endless line of stools.
That had been Ajax’s situation.
He knew there was something waiting for him on the other side, a much more welcoming sight than what he was currently looking at, but he couldn’t imagine himself making it to that side alive. He was standing so high above ground that he couldn’t see the ground, adding to it that there was fire waiting for him to fall. With flames fighting over oxygen with him, he could hardly breathe.
Yet, as he stood rooted to the spot, a pleasant scent found its way to him. Ajax took a step back, to ensure he was safely stepping on the glass pane, Then, he turned around to find the owner of that scent. His eyes fell on the silhouette of a lady in unadulterated white. She was wearing a fluffy white gown, with her silver-pink hair draping over her shoulders. He had never seen this lady before.
“Who are you?” He had asked.
She didn’t answer. She took out a piece of silk, covering his eyes with it and tying it at the back of his head. “If you can’t see, you won’t fear.” She seemed to have come with a purpose, a goal to achieve. After tying the silk, she took both his hands and led him to turning back around.
“What are you doing?” He knew that he was once again standing on the edge. He felt the lady take a step away from him. That was when she stepped onto the first stool.
“This is a bridge you must cross to get to the other side,” she said. “Close all your senses except touch. Put your foot on mine, I will guide you the whole way through.” After saying these words, Ajax felt her toe poking his foot. Her foot then went to a spot under the stool, waiting for him to take a step forward.
“What if I fall?” he asked, hesitant.
“You won’t,” she assured him. “Do you even have a choice?”
Ajax sighed. “No.” It was then that he noticed that he was barefoot too. His royal attire hadn’t been changed, but his feet were bare. He put his foot over hers, just enough to touch. As she moved her foot backward to the first stool, he followed.
Just like that, no matter how long it took, the result was that Ajax made it to the other side. When he stepped on a glass pane again, the hands that had been holding his released him. He promptly removed the silk over his eyes, hoping to see the lady more clearly when the abyss was gotten over with. But as he opened his eyes, there was no lady standing in front of him. He didn’t even get to see what the other side of the bridge looked like.
Already, he was staring at the ceiling of his bedroom back in his palace, as if everything had been just a dream.