Monday 29 October 2012

Tales of the Dreamscape - Prophecy

    The night was unusually dark for the Dreamscape. The moon was obscured by a thick cloud and there was a hint of rain in the air. The land was bare and flat - even the crystal grass looked grey.
    A man loped through the darkness, stepping hurriedly over streams and stones. He pulled his coat close around himself and lowered the broad brim of his hat. A black patch hid his left eye completely but you could still see some scar tissue around the socket.
    Just as the first silver drop of rain struck the ground, the man reached the entrance to a cave. A fire burned in the hearth, shedding an orange glow into the night. The smell of cooking meat filled his nostrils.
    “Welcome stranger,” a woman’s voice lilted from the shadows at the back of the cave, “have you come to share my fire?”
    “Indeed I have,” said the man, “that is if I am welcome.”
    “All are welcome to share the flames.” The woman stepped forward wrapped in green from head to toe, her raven hair shining against the night. “But to share the meat there is a price.”
    “So I have heard,” the man replied, “and what is your price today?”
    “A game,” she answered, “a simple game of riddles.”
    The one-eyed man smiled to himself. “The only game worth playing. Who shall begin?”
    “I believe that that is my right,” the green woman answered. “And so I shall commence. What is your name stranger?”
    The stranger nodded, smiling quietly.

Wanderer I am called, wayfarer and worldweary,
Unknown paths I walk, beyond the world of waking.
I am known as the dreamer, drawer of night,
The sleeper who does not slumber
My name is Gangari and Glimmer of hope.

    “And what is your name?” asked Gangari.

Seeress I am and Sorcerer am I called
In my hands I sift the sands of time
And glimpse the future, whether grim or glittering.
Fate-fixer I am called, and forger of destiny,
Yet I merely observe and offer my visions.

    The Seeress paused, searching out the face of her guest in the firelight. He kept his small smile but betrayed no other thought. The first ritual of the game was finished - now it became much more interesting. She breathed deeply of the fumes and spoke.
    “So, Gangari, what are the names of the mountains that border the Dreamscape?”

The first is called Faraway,
As you walk, it begins to wane,
Yet if you can reach it, you shall receive revelation.

The second is called Sacred,
And in its heights are holiness
Yet none who stand there know what they see.

The third is called Thirst
And though you seek satisfaction, you shall never be slaked -
Your own blood you will drink and yet be dry.

The fourth is called Fear
For the earth itself is afraid
And it will scorch the sleeper that does not take care.

Finally the fifth is called Falling
To stand on its peak is to sleep in the darkness
And its highest point is the deepest hole.

    Now Gangari paused, as if searching for the right words.
    “Seeress, you have seen much in your time. I have heard it told that the Dreamscape cannot endure forever. What will be the sign of the end?”
    The Seeress shuddered and spoke in a voice drawn from the depths of her soul.

First the great wolf will wake from his slumber
Rise up on his legs, leap at the moon.
Glistening jaws, shining like jewels,
Moon-devouring, death-bringing.

The earth-shaker in his prison will awake,
His bloody bonds he will break
Red-raging he will rise.

The eye of the earth-girdler will open,
Glinting and glittering he glimpses heaven
Through the sea he slithers,
God-baiting, star-biting.

The restless dead will rouse from their graves,
Return to wander the ways of dreams.
From the earth they bring eternity.

The blue turns black
The dream dries
The sleepers sigh
The world will wake.
    Do you understand yet? Or what more?

    “Where are the Blissful Fields and how do you pass them?” the Seeress asked.

The Blissful Fields lie by the barren wastes
Where the wind blows and whips the corn.
Through the region, runs a river -
Frozen fantasies are the rivers’ flow,
Liquid loves and lazy lives,
And if you wish to walk across, there is but one way.

On the bridge of pain, panic may seize you
Shake you to the core, all cares will leave.
The guard will question you, at the gate he will stop you.
When he asks your way, will you tell him?
Say nothing to him or never shall you return.

    “Seeress, you have seen much. How will the end come?”

When the dreamers forget, and drink Lethean draughts,
When a man sees his friend and feels nothing
Recognition does not reach the mind.
The dream consumes and conquers all
Devouring all, destroying all.
I saw it spread, stretch out to the sleepers,
I remember the breaking, when the borders fell.
All feeling withers, in time it fades.

The waking restricts, the real resounds,
Without bounds the whole world is barren.
    Do you understand yet? Or what more?

    “You are a strange man, Gangari. Answer me this question: where is the Palace of Dreams?”

The palace of dreams is placed at the heart
At the centre of all that is sacred
And if the dreamscape forms anew, the land may fold around it.

There is no chart to track this change
But always it stands at the centre,
And if it is your fate, you will find it.

Within walls of solid water,
A fence awash with flame -
Within seas of stone
Air alive with ice.

    “Seeress, your knowledge of hidden things is great. What will become of the knightly order when the end comes?”

The order of the mouse is made of steel,
Against the silence they will stand and strain
And break, for they are brittle.

Against the fiercest fire they can stand and not fall -
They are warriors amongst the waking -
But the slow silence will sap their strength.
In the final battle they will fail.
    Do you understand yet? Or what more?

    “Your questions puzzle me, Gangari. Tell me this, how is it that the future can be read in the stars?”

The stars in the sky were scattered
At the hands of they who hold heaven,
In their palms were grains of sand that grew like time.
As they leapt to their places they lit one another;
The sparks spread, filled all space and time-
So all past and future is seen in the present.

    “Seeress, much have you told me concerning the end - yet there is still one thing I must know. What will become of the Duke of Dreams?”

The duke of dreams is the dreamers’ pride and pinnacle.
In him is all sleep, all that slumber are his children;
He moulds them all, they are of one mind,
Bound together, beyond all that is solid,
Painless, without pleasure.

As the dream wanes he will wail,
In the growing silence he will groan.

His thoughts will shudder, quake and shatter,
For one cannot control, nor can two contain.
And the fall goes on forever
In the black and in the blood,
Through wind and water - will he wake in time?

The end of the dream is the dreamer’s end.
    Do you understand yet? Or what more?

    “I begin to know you, ‘Gangari’, and so I ask you this - how do you weave the cloth of night?”
    Head bent low, the stranger answered her question in a soft and strained voice.

The cloth is woven from ocean waves
And the sound of scales that slide over rocks.
Salted tears tie it together,
Great joy and greater sorrow are joined in its weave.

Sew it with silver and sanguine thoughts,
Weave it with water on a broken warp.
Thread it with care, through and through you
Then you must let it go, let it leap from your heart
And leave.

    “Seeress, now I understand, and I do not thank you for the words you have given me. And so I ask you a final question: what words did the Duke of Dreams speak in the ear of his son as he died?”
    “You are the Duke!” the Seeress shrieked. “No one else would ask that riddle. I cannot answer it, there are none in the Dreamscape that can - save you alone.”
    “And so I claim victory,” the Duke of Dreams answered, lifting the false visage he had assumed.
    “Victory is yours,” the Seeress said. “Enjoy your meat while you can, O Duke of Dreams, but tell me the answer to your riddle, what did you say in the ear of Daniel?”
    “In truth,” replied the Duke, “I think I have lost my taste for meat, as I have lost my taste for this game.”
    He turned to leave.
    “Wait,” the Seeress cried, “what did you say?”
    The Duke of Dreams did not answer - but he turned around, winked his now unscarred left eye, and smiled.
    Then he strode from the cave as the light of dawn spilled over the distant hills.

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