Diotima Ridenow wandered through a blue fog, searching for someone, someone important, she couldn't think who. There was something subtly, horribly wrong about the blue. Surely the Overworld should be gray. She remembered she was looking for her mother, and her mother was dead. Did the dead feel so cold, as if they were encased in ice?
With every step now, it was harder to go on, as if her body were freezing solid. She could no longer move, could no longer feel her arms and legs. It became becoming harder and harder to breathe. She wasn't breathing. Was she dead, too?
Before her lay a coffin. Expecting to see her mother, she peered into it. Inside, Ashara opened her ice colored eyes and reached long thin arms toward her. Dio recoiled with a terrified scream...
She jerked awake and found herself sitting upright in her bed, shivering violently. Her blonde hair tumbled about her face. Around her, the Tower walls were hard and gray, still ringing with the echoes of her scream.
The door opened smoothly and her aunt Jerana glided in, a faded shadow of a woman in the crimson draperies of an Under-Keeper. Her brows creased slightly in disapproval.
"Dio, you know better than to leave your body without a monitor there to watch it. Surely by this stage of your training you know how dangerous that can be." She sat down on the foot of the bed, ignoring both the rumpled bedcovers and Dio's obvious distress.
Dio swallowed, trying to speak.
"We all know how disturbed you are by your mother's death," Jerana went on calmly. "It is particularly unfortunate that it should occur at this stage of your training. Later on you would have been able to deal with it better."
Dio looked into her aunt's eyes and noticed they were pale gray. Surely they'd been green when she was a girl. She shivered again, remembering the dream. "I saw ... in the coffin ... I saw Mother Ashara..."
"Of course you did. She's a mother to all of us. But I assure you, she is still very much with us. You need not worry, child; Mother Ashara will never leave you." Jerana tucked the covers around her niece with a firm hand. "Go to sleep now. You have a long journey ahead of you tomorrow, but you will be back among us and safe soon enough.