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 • Fragments of Dreams

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PostSubject: • Fragments of Dreams   Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:44 am

A place for a Digest of Dreams, up to the beginning of this thread, as well as a journal to preserve our favorite Dreams posts from across the threshold of a lost forum.
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PostSubject: Re: • Fragments of Dreams   Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:49 am

Digest forthcoming here. Stay tuned!
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PostSubject: Re: • Fragments of Dreams   Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:58 am

Because I think it would be nice to recall exactly what was dreamed on that afternoon beneath the legendary Beacon of Aullyndor, I would like to submit for preservation...the post including Payden's dark dream:

“Oh,” Gertrude said rapturously as Mr. Raynsford concluded the tale of the Beacon of Aullyndor, “How wonderful that we can visit this beacon! Even were we not headed there already, I should want to see it simply from hearing that tale.”

“Ah yes,” Curt mused, “local legends. No doubt there’s something to them. Best be careful, Miss de Pontu, or perhaps the spirits will visit us!”

“I should love that,” she replied, and demurely accepted Mr. Raynsford’s water, trying not to mind that they were all drinking from the same container. It’s like being a soldier! she smiled to herself. I always wanted to experience a daring excursion, and here I am. I might as well try to enjoy it.

"So, Curt, I heard Miss de Pontu refer to you as a Count? I am more anxious now than ever to hear your tales of Ursha,” Mr. Raynsford said.

Gertrude blinked and looked Mr. Raynsford in mild alarm. He didn’t know the count’s true identity? Then it was her indiscretion for letting it slip! She darted an apologetic look at Curt of Ursha, but the man merely looked amused.

“Ah, yes, well…there is that,” Curt confessed. “It’s not something I like to mention when there are many ears around,” he explained to Mr. Raynsford, swirling the air with an upturned hand. “In fact, it would probably be best if you didn’t call me that,” this he said to Gertrude, then looked at Mr. Raynsford again, “either of you, from now on. Yes, I’m afraid I must maintain my secret identity for now.” He indulged a mysterious smile.

“But more of that, and my county, the County of Ursha, when we rest, my friends. And I do mean that you are my friends, let there be no doubt of that! For you have both so virtuously dedicated yourselves to my cause, that even if circumstances were different, and I could freely ride in any land, proclaiming my birthright, I should still call you my friends. And as such, I do insist that you both call me Curt. Yes, Curt will suffice, and be most welcomed from the lips of my noble friends.” He inclined his head to them.

Gertrude felt the stirrings of sincere affection at such gracious words and did not know how to reply. She merely watched the foreign count—on whom she could now see with complete clarity the ravagings of distinguished tragedy: in his righteous profile, in his windswept cloak—until he spoke again.

In his mercurial fashion, Curt gave her and Mr. Raynsford a sudden, ostentatious smile, and in a stagey voice regaled them up the last portion of their ascent with a popular song. He changed the major names with clever substitutes to suit their occasion:

It’s a long way to Ursha;
it’s a long way to home.
It’s a long way to Ursha,
to the sweetest lands I know.

So long, Fort Glory;
farewell, Market Square!
It’s a long, long way to Ursha,
but my heart’s right there!

Gertrude laughed as their horses trotted about the base of the ancient watchtower. “Oh, bravo, my lor—er, Curt.” She was going to have to get used to that. Calling anyone but the most intimate acquaintances and family members by first name went against everything she had ever been socialized to think of as acceptable.

The hungry travelers took their noontime picnic on the sunny, wind-brushed hillside below the Beacon of Aullyndor as their horses grazed the tall green grass. Curt accepted a few offerings from Mr. Raynsford’s supplies, but insisted that he was very happy with his apples and bread for the time being. “More than that, my friends,” he declared, “I must think of my people! How the surfs suffer under the madness that is the socialist uprising! The lands are in turmoil, trade ground to a halt, and they can’t even get any meat. It’s a shoddily done business, I tell you; shoddily done—criminal! When I think of the poor surfs, I simply cannot indulge myself.”

“I’m not sure what good that will do them,” Gertrude said, sympathetically as she could. “You must keep up your strength.”

“Bah!” Curt thrust out a hand as if to keep any further foodstuffs at arm’s length. “I have plenty—too much really! Perhaps there’s something to this socialism, in that sense—those who have much and those who have nothing, leveling it out somehow—but I tell you, I remain highly suspicious of their ability to govern, not to mention their gristly methods.”

Gertrude glanced at the sleepy Mr. Raynsford to see if he was following Curt’s explanations. To Curt she said, “Am I to surmise that the reason you are traveling incognito is that a socialist rebellion has swept Amrith? I didn’t realize they were in Amrith, too.”

“Oh, yes,” Curt said with a dour expression. “Not all over, perhaps, because they haven’t solidified their base yet, you see, but they are spreading, spreading like the hand of…of a starving god who cannot be satisfied.” He smiled but didn’t look happy. “They take over one area and look to the next most likely target, the same as in any war: Slip, snip, snap. The war is going on still, but soon it will end in their favor, and all the power will once again fall into hands of a select few, who will want to keep their thumbs in every pie—So much for anything ever changing!, that is what I say—unless something unexpected happens.” His eyes wandered over the clouds and Gertrude thought he was the saddest thing she had ever seen, though he didn’t look sad for himself.

“And you never know…” Curt went on, “…just what is possible. But! My fine friends, I shall not bore you with politics. As long as we travel with great caution and my true identity remains hidden, we shall reach our destination safely. We shall cross the shimmering seas and in two days touch the pale peach-blushed bluffs and greenly gloomy valleys of Ursha. There, midst the old bones of the world, in dusty troves lying near-forgotten are such curious scraps of lore. Even the tale of an itinerant wise man may deliver unto you some hint as to how to harness your powers, for such variety of public memory have my people, you will no doubt learn something new every day!”

As Curt described the possibilities awaiting them, Gertrude’s fascination waxed to something energetic and highly charged—not her magic, but an emotion of such anticipation she was once again swept with wonder that these exciting adventures could be waiting for her, a mere bureaucrat’s daughter! She even forgot her misgivings about what it might mean to travel into a country torn by rebellion, where their guide’s very life would likely be in jeopardy. “I can hardly wait!” she said.

“I am sure we shall remain unmolested during our investigation, and be often alone,” Curt added, seeming to match her excitement. “For though the land is small, you will find it sparsely populated compared with what you are accustomed to.”

While they talked, it became clear that Mr. Raynsford was in dire need of a quick nap. Though he expressed interest in everything Curt had to say, his chin kept nodding towards his chest. At last Curt said, “How rude of me, Mr. Raynsford, to have kept you up! Please, lie you down in those shadows by the base of the wall, and sleep for a spell. We shall wake you before the sun passes to the other side of the tower.”

Mr. Raynsford agreed to this plan and had soon fallen into a slumber. Perhaps it was an effect of lying so near the fabled Beacon of Aullyndor, but as he slept, he dreamed a haunted dream…

* * *

Payden had lost his horse somewhere along the coastal cliffs. Twilight had fallen, and the cliffs themselves had become something much more pitted and jagged than before: rocks crumbling and rolling underfoot as if millennia had passed and the cliffs become rotten bones. Dismal gray fog drifted in shreds around him, clinging to his clothes and hair like damp breath, but grimly cold as if a corpse breathed upon him.

As he wandered, calling, stumbling on the treacherous rocks, the mists parted from time to time. Each time the ghostly tendrils lifted, he strained forward, thinking to catch a glimpse of whatever he was looking for—What was it again?—but what he saw didn’t make sense. The rocks, the fog, the sky itself, everything dissolved into a great black wash of nothing. This was not the night he was looking at, but utter absence, the blackest shadow—impossible!—from which the world he walked was forming as he walked over it, and disappearing again behind.

Then the mists closed around him again and he was protected from the boggling sight. Yet, though the spectacle was always the same, each time the shrouds parted, he was surprised by the nearness of the beginning and end of everything.

At one of these moments, when the wind snaked by, tearing the mists, he prepared himself anew to see if anything different would appear, but this time he lost his footing. The brittle, chalky rocks crumbled and fell away around him like ancient paper turning to dust at a touch, and he was falling. He could feel the vast, giant roar of empty space yawning open behind him, but miraculously, his hand seized on a this spire of stone that held his weight. He hung, suspended over a chasm.

When he dared look down behind, to his astonishment he saw vaguely familiar figures forming from the empty shadows the way the cliffs and mists had before. These figures became his father, and Morgan Backland and Mr. Brick, friends and relations. “It’s all right, son,” his father said, beckoning him. “You can let go!” Brackland told him. The others beckoned him similarly, promising to catch him, though they were so far, far below, and thin as if painted from water colors.

“Too late!” A much closer voice said suddenly.

He looked up to see Curt stationed on the rocks just above him.

Curt said, “You left them behind.” Then he reached a hand out to pull Payden up. “I’m the only one who can help you now.”

* * *

Back in the waking world, the real Curt of Ursha watched Payden sleeping. “He’s having a dream,” he told Gertrude. “See how his eyes twitch.”

Gertrude could indeed see Payden’s eyes twitching and a troubled expression flitting over his face. The man thrashed minutely in his sleep. “Dear me,” she murmured. “It doesn’t look like a pleasant one. Do you suppose we should wake him?”

Curt smiled. “A dream can’t hurt you,” he said. “Besides, much better if we let him get what little sleep he can.”

“I suppose you are right…”

The count had been very quiet and withdrawn for the past few minutes and Gertrude wondered if she should try to speak to him or leave him to his thoughts. No doubt the prospect of returning to his homeland gave him much to think on.

“How is it you ended up in Fort Glory, if I may ask, Cou...Curt?” she finally ventured to speak.

“You may ask me anything, my dear.” He affixed his eyes to hers. “To put it simply, when I fled Ursha in preservation of my life, the merchant vessel I happened to stow myself upon sailed to Ithwil, and from there I wandered like a nomad until my destiny crossed yours.” During this speech, Curt crossed the short distance between them and at his last words took up her hand and kissed it.

Gertrude’s heart sped and she thought she would fail to breathe. Her eyes flicked to Mr. Raynsford’s sleeping form, and then to her own hand again. This was a minor gesture, but why did she react so strongly? Was she terribly fond of him, or simply terrified of him? When she dared to look at his face again with what she hoped was a natural smile, she knew that whatever feeling this man stirred in her, it was nothing so simple.

“Destiny seems an apt word.” She was finally able to speak thanks to the shear immensity of the moment in her mind, which mercifully obliterated any mitigating manners and caused her to voice her mind. “Whatever is going to happen next, the ripples will be felt for a long time.”

Noticing her odd expression, Curt cocked his head a bit to one side, examining her face freely.

Snapping back into the present time, as if she too had fallen into a strange dream for a moment, Gertrude blinked, regaining herself, and looked at the Beacon. “The sun,” she remarked. The dazzling yellow eye peered at them from the very edge of the tower.

“I shall wake him,” Curt said, and he walked over to Mr. Raynsford.
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PostSubject: Re: • Fragments of Dreams   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:01 am

In Memorium: Battle and the Fall of Beau Bradley...

A sergeant breathlessly approached Captain MacBhaird where he surveyed his strategies unfolding from the battlements.

“Sir!” the sergeant saluted.

“What is it, Sergeant?” MacBhaird frowned, wondering what could possibly have motivated this man to leave his post and report to him at this stage of events.

“Captain, Sir, I received a message that the tak’un are amassing in the south while a smaller party engages Lieutenant Bane, suggesting a distraction, Sir. One of our scouts verified that there is a large force of the enemy at the south end of Main!”

MacBhaird squinted over the rooftops, though of course there was nothing to see from here, through so much smoke. “Damn it, our brunt is engaged even as we speak!” Then a sudden thought struck the captain. “Sergeant, we have a newly commissioned captain. Place the squadron stationed at the west castle gate under command of Captain Basha Mandeck. My orders are for Captain Mandeck to serve as reinforcement to the south barricades, as needed. If the barricades fall, they are to retreat to defend the castle.”

The sergeant saluted, “Yes, Sir!”

* * *

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Bane tried to keep his men together even as a gigantic fireball exploded behind him, sending a waft of burning air over his back. His horse reared and several other horsemen around him lost control of their mounts, galloping into side alleys before they could rein them in.

“It’s the dragons!” one panicked cry reached his ears.

For a heartbeat, Bane was sure it was true. He scanned the air, but no shadow of a dragon fell over him. It must be the magic of the dragonkin. Watching the flames lickng the rooftops behind him, he knew their plan had to take effect soon—before the street behind him went up in flames, sealing off their retreat, and as good as sealing all their fates.

“Hold the line!” Bane raised his sword, his voice booming. Firelight glanced off his blade and his armor, making him glow golden. He spurred his horse forward. “Steady men! Stay together and you keep your lives! Together, men!”

He raised his shield to deflect a volley of arrows, and then the tak’un were charging from the smoking streets.

When tak’un charged, Bane knew you had to treat it like a cavalry charge, not the charge of ordinary foot soldiers, so powerful were their legs and swift their speed. “Quadrangle formation!” he bellowed and heard his sergeants repeat the call.

The lines of soldiers and militiamen shuffled together into a tighter knot, a rectangle of solid bodies filling the street, lodging the butts of their rifles in the ground so that their bayonets became a deadly, spiked wall to receive the tak’un charge. But their movement was ragged at the edges, chaotic with a telling quality of fear.

Bane rode towards the fore to hearten them. Now, of all times, he needed his men to stay organized. Spurring his steed, he dared to ride round to the front before the first of the tak’un reached the quadrangle. He waved his sword. “Ready at my word!”

He was riding down the side line when the tak’un crashed into them. “Rows six and seven, FIRE!”

Rows six and seven stood and fired over their fellow soldiers.

As they did their best to whittle away at the tak’un forces, Bane kept an eye on the flaming buildings behind. They were running out of time, but the staggered charges of tak’un and men alike were so entangled now, Bane feared the retreat would take too long. They had wanted a little chaos on the field, to rile the tak’un up enough that they would follow the retreat, but they hadn’t counted on a ticking time bomb behind them.

“Rows eleven and twelve, RETREAT!”

The battle had begun to loose shape, however, and an organized retreat was almost impossible to effect. That would no doubt mean more casualties than they needed to suffer at this point, but perhaps it would be to the benefit of springing their trap.

As the forces of Fort Glory fell back up Harker’s Lane towards the castle, Lieutenant Bane did his best to help cover the front lines, falling about with his sword, hacking off spears and kicking in jaws. When they reached the safety of the gates, he knew that Captain MacBhaird would give the call for the flaming arrows—he just hoped they could make it that far before the burning buildings collapsed.

* * *

Beau Bradley’s blood surged as if his veins were filled with the same oil that covered Harker’s Lane and the battle lit the fire in his heart. His rifle had long ago run out of ammunition, and now he sliced about himself with his beautiful sword at anything that moved. The sleeves of his frock coat were spattered with blood, and none of it was his own.

When the call to charge had sounded, Bradley knew it was too late to walk away. He expected to be afraid, but with all the men around him likewise springing up and throwing themselves around the barricades—over them, too—excitement superseded fear. They were each a small, fragile, individual man, but charging together they became something else—a force of nature. To be a particle in a crushing wave must have felt the same.

And Bradley remembered his time with Basha Mandeck, remembered that the lizards bled and that he himself had spilled their blood. Now he had so many new memories to add to those. “I can do this!” he cried. “I can kill them!”

“RETREAT!” the call finally reached Bradley’s ears, slowly penetrating his brain like the answer to a difficult algebraic problem. How long had they been at this? An hour? Four hours? Bradley had no concept as he stared around at the red-stained cobbles, lumped with the bodies of the fallen.

“Retreat?” Bradley scoffed. “But we’re winning! –I’M winning!”

“RETREAT!” The call came again.

The soldiers around Bradley were already falling back.

Bradley saw a limping tak’un and knew he could kill it. He hesitated and his eyes, blinking away sweat, fell on the face of the middle-aged printer who was his lodger. The man was tangled in a few other bodies and was quite dead.

With the sensation of a splash of cold water, Bradley saw Sophie in his mind’s eye, and his daughter, Emily, too.

Needing no further prompting, Bradley began to fall back with the rest. He waved his sword at the tak’un in what he imagined as, Covering our retreat. “Go on, you reptiles!” he jeered. “Dare come at us?”

He had surmounted the barricade and was grinning brightly as a pair of arrows, one after the other, stabbed into his chest. His expression transmuted into mild surprise and he stumbled back, dropping down into the inside of the barricade.

He lay there, half-tangled in the rubbish for perhaps half a minute and no one pulled him out to bring him along to wherever everyone was going. He stared at the shafts sticking out of his chest and was puzzled that they didn’t hurt more. They looked like they should hurt. One came out somewhere in the vicinity of his gall bladder and the other grew from of his right pectoral.

What a story this would make. Now if he could just get himself untangled and make it up to the inner wall… His legs and arms moved fine, but it was difficult to maneuver with the great shafts sticking out of his chest. What was it that people did when they caught arrows? Cut them off? It was so hard to think clearly about it.

He managed to sit up but there was such terrible phlegm in his throat, made it hard to breathe. He coughed—or choked—or coughed and blood spilled into his mouth.

It was definitely time to leave, but now his legs were so weak. Maybe he would just rest here a little while. It was safe here, by the barricade. And look, the soldiers hadn't run away after all, but marched around looking very smart. The light was so dim. At last, sweet cool night was falling.

Then Bradley noticed a man he recognized—a tan man, large, strong. Mandeck, that’s who it was. A cold awareness passed through Bradley, and for a moment, everything looked very clear, crystal clear, all the fine corners.

He knew.

“Mandeck…” he croaked. The man didn’t hear him. He was doing something important. But this was more important. “Mandeck…!” he rasped louder.

His vision fuzzed. When it came clear again, Mandeck was crouched before him.

“Please…” Bradley murmured, shakily pulling off his wedding band, “tell Sophie…my wife, tell her…I’m sorry.” The golden ring fell from his numb fingers and it was funny how you could still feel frustrated even as you are dying and you know you are dying. He was relieved to see Mandeck pick the ring up for him. “She waits…at the inner wall…”

Bradley now tried to pull his keepsake daguerreotype from the inner pocket of his vest, but the fabric was so heavy and strong and befuddling, and these damned arrows didn’t make things easier. Again Mandeck helped him, retrieving the oval daguerreotype that showed Bradley with Sophie and Emily in her arms when Emily was still a newborn baby. Bradley nodded to Mandeck, indicating he should take the image. “Please, Mandeck…” he whispered.

Then, the most curious thing of all was that he realized for the first time where he really was. It was the swing, the old swing that hangs from the giant oak at the back of the garden. Sophie liked to go out there after tea and sit in the dappled sun and shade, the spots of light and dark ornamenting her, her golden hair and ready smile, the way her light dresses rustled—and they were there now. The grass was green, so very green, and she was laughing.


Back in the cradle of the barricade, beneath the drifting tatters of smoke, Beau Bradley lay still. The flecks of blood about his lips had ceased to tremble, never again to be stirred by his breath.
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PostSubject: Re: • Fragments of Dreams   Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:02 pm

That no one may forget about the dragons...

“Here we are.” Koldarris spoke with his mind’s voice to those gathered before him, “And what have you to show for yourselves?” He asked them, his voice booming in their heads.

The only remaining dragon of the second spawn caressed the skull of his predecessor almost lovingly. Of course, love was not even a feeling the creature had ever felt, but to a human eye it might have looked like it. Koldarris had a fascination for the skull of what was once the last remaining dragon of the first spawn and the previous leader of the dragon race. It was a mighty skull, still far bigger than Koldarris’ own, even though its owner had been dead for a long, long time.

The gathered creatures, elder mermadons and dragons of the third spawn alike, looked almost hypnotized as Koldarris’ claws gently scraped the bone around the eye holes. The only sound in the large cavern was the scraping, a most unnerving sound.

“Nothing!?” Koldarris finally snapped. One moment caressing the next he banged his fist on top of the thick bone. He eyed one of the elder mermadons, who recoiled from both the crushing blow dealt and the dragon’s gaze. Koldarris had no patience for failures, especially those who were too weak to even speak a single word. Without Koldarris lifting a finger the mermadon’s body was flung against a far wall of the cavern and slithered lifelessly across the rocks towards the floor.

“Nothing!?” Koldarris’ mind’s voice boomed again, eyeing the next elder mermadon. The second, too, was lost for words, his eyes moving from one side to another. A beam of white sprang from the dragon’s eyes and froze the mermadon in his place while in a very unusual stance.

“Nothing?” Koldarris tried once more, with just one mermadon remaining. His voice almost a soft whisper compared to the previous two attempts of getting some answers. “Do you want to end up like Sevirit the Wise?” He asked the third elder, “Or perhaps I should say… Sevirit “the Ice”, hmmm? Or what about Hennami the Vile? What would you prefer? Becoming a bad pun, or a bloody mess on my walls?”

“Still nothing? Not a word? No preference then? You don’t really care either way. Is that it?” Koldarris sighed. A big whoosh of air blew through the cavern, almost knocking over the poor mermadon and forcing the inner circle of Koldarris’ dragons to brace themselves so they would not move. Being swayed could be seen as a sign of weakness and Koldarris would have no weaklings among his inner circle.

“I would have expected a bit more from Terrasil’s creation than this.” Koldarris tapped the skull with single claw, “Bad enough you disgrace yourself before his remains, let alone before me! Have you no honor?” Koldarris’s tail swung around from the back of his body to cover the eyes of the skull.

“He can no longer see what driveling weaklings you have become, so you can now admit your failings. All it takes is for you to say; ‘We have searched the oceans and found nothing. Neither the deepest ravine nor the furthest shore held what we sought.’ You can do it, I believe in you.”

“I-I-I Have searched f-far and wide, greatest of dragons. There is no sign, no trace, not even a shadow of the pearl.” The mermadon admitted.

“Was that so hard?”

The mermadon shook her head.

“For a disappointment you’re not so bad. Return to your precious waters, my servant. You have done your part.”

The mermadon bowed deeply and turned away from Koldarris, lord of the dragons. She wasted no time trying to cross the cavern, passing the other dragons as she went. She was true to her namesake, Koldarris thought. Sifines the Speedy must have been halfway through the cavern when Koldarris’ wrath struck her without warning. Her body like a leaf in the wind crushed into the cavern wall right before one of the inner circle’s dragon’s very nose.

“I chose both. Bad pun and mess… Sifines the Bleedy.”

The dragons of the third spawn roared in a way that must have been dragon laughter. They knew very well the mermadon didn’t stand a chance, it was merely a question of when and how the three of them would meet their death.

“Enough!” Koldarris’ voice boomed in everyone’s heads again. “I demand the pearl! I demand the book! And above all I demand the thief be brought before me!”

The large creature got up on its legs, a most imposing form now stood before the inner circle of dragons, and they knew he wasn’t playing around. As fast as they could they flew out of the cavern and into the midday sky. Koldarris sat himself back down, resting his own head on top of his predecessor’s skull.

“You just had to go and create the mermadons, hmmm? Terrasil, you old fool… Never a dull moment thanks to you.”
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