Woodsmoke and the quiet whisper of flames. The smell of damp stone and musty air that indicated he was somewhere indoors, and yet still required a fire. He knew all that by instinct, but he could see nothing, feel nothing. No heat from the fire, no cold from whatever floor was beneath his feet - not even the awareness of his own body or the ability to move. Whatever was happening, he didn't like it, and he strained the senses he did possess in an effort to understand.
"Are you awake, -------san?"
It was the voice from his birth dream - older and a little deeper, but still with the same note of cool, disinterested authority behind it. The last word vanished into the sound of the tide scraping roughly on a rocky shore. But the latter was not part of this place, he was sure of it - there was no smell of brine filling his nostrils - no sign of water save for the insistent drip of rain somewhere in the distance. Was it something in his own head? Some kind of... his mind fumbled over the word... illusion?
The voice was above and to his left, somewhere, and from the length of time it took him to reply, Samehada guessed that he had been sleeping, or at least dozing. And when he did answer, it was a non-committal grunt, no more. Whether his eyes were open or closed he still had no idea - the darkness was absolute and unnatural, and yet neither of them seemed disturbed by it.
The soft sound of cloth shifting against itself and the scrape of a sandal on stone - he was moving, he realised, although he still could not feel anything. Samehada caught the perfumed scent of tea on the air, abruptly becoming stronger - almost overpowering - before fading again.
His own voice was less serious, almost teasing, with an undercurrent of amusement as he emphasised the second word. But if the other man responded to the jibe there was no indication of it. Samehada was half-disappointed at the lack of a counter-attack, and he wondered if his other-self had expected one, too.
"I have something to ask you, -------san. A favour, of a sort." Quieter now, and again, the sound of the tide rushing over shingle and sand. Outside of whatever this was, he frowned in annoyance at not being able to hear the name.
"Tomorrow, my little brother will come here."
Silence for a few moments, and he supposed that he must have answered with a nod, or something like it. Once more the scent of tea intensified, before moving further away - he was drinking it, perhaps - or the man with him was. Were they friends, then? Comrades? Or enemies sharing an uneasy truce?
Whoever the man was, he was dying - Samehada was certain of that. He could hear the breathlessness that punctuated the sentences, the carefully controlled yet desperate intakes of air and the bubbling of fluid in flooded lungs. It was inaudible to most, very likely - but not to him.
"So you said."
His own voice sounded odd in his ears. Quiet too, almost contemplative. Not enthusiastic, at least. More silence and another shifting of cloth, this time to his left, from his companion.
"There will be others with him. I wish to see him, and him alone."
"You want me to kill them?"
A long pause then. Longer than expected, perhaps. It was hard to say. If so, he did not make any move to react to any sense of danger, and nor did the other. The silence was punctuated only by the soft pop of damp timber on the fire that told him he was still seated on the ground, probably, and there had been no rattle of weaponry.
"Only if it's necessary."
Another grunt was his only response to that, and then the sound of something heavy being pulled towards him - whatever it was scraping on the stone and bringing with it the reassuring smell of leather and metal. He'd looked away, he was certain of it - the crackle of the fire subtly changing direction. But if he had believed the conversation to be over, he'd been wrong.
"And ------..." There was a note of warning in the quiet voice, this time - beneath the rush of the ocean breaking on the shore and folding back in on itself. He didn't turn back immediately, a moment passing in silence before the anticipated shift in sound indicated a movement of his head towards the speaker "...this is between family."