Chapter 1: dreaming.
The first time Eliza realized she could never dream was when she was nine. Her professor had given her a written test, and told her to finish it in three days. Before she had even begun, however, he gave her a prediction. He had told her that the test was made for a mind beyond hers, but he knew she would find a solution anyway to all of them except one. She had scoffed before. She would’ve done so now, but for very different reasons.
It was rigorous, she’ll admit. The questions were something that shamefully kept her awake at night. She was unbreakable! …except for the last question. Four words, yet no answer. “Write down your dream.”
Dream. As in “the things you see in your sleep?” Or dream as in… your future? Your goals, your life? She hadn’t put much thought into it until now. The more she thought, the more she wondered. Not dreamt, but more of asking questions in her mind. She kind of expected for everything to be handed to her. Technically everything was, but it just made everything feel… bleak. She wanted victory, ambition, pride, but all of those things came with a price: defeat, indifference, shame. If everything could be handed to her, why not her future?
She ended up writing down something basic. “Ruler of the world,” or something like that. But again, she found herself wondering. She began to pull books from their shelves, enlist the guidance of generals, seek the best poets and artists, watch the finest tragedies only to find…
Nothing. No nuance, no victory, nothing like that. She didn’t dream of being a scholar, nor soldier, nor artist, nor actor. She had no dreams because she just couldn’t. She could ponder and think, but that was all she was given to do. Eventually, she dropped the whole “having dreams” thing, and moved on. That’s when she found alchemy.
It wasn’t a passion, but it was close enough. Her reason to continue stemmed from curiosity. It could be unpredictable, but controlled. It was something she could work for without losing much, and to Eliza, that was a good enough reason to keep going. So when she had browsed through every book and read all their pages, she went back to shelves and began to write some of her own.
She was not a writer, and it clearly showed. So finally, she looked beyond the walls of her castle in search of another dream. Safe to say, she was thoroughly disappointed. Maybe it was the fact that—in spite of leaving her castle— she could still feel its looming influence. Traveling for her was the same as life back at Rainford with only small differences. Eventually, she came to the conclusion that someone else could give her ambitions and goals. All she could do was wait.
Eliza Lowery cannot dream. She cannot because she doesn’t know how to. She looks in the wrong directions and chases dead ends. One day, she’ll wake up and wonder to herself: “What if my dream is to dream?”