A Dream

It felt wrong to go to bed, comfortable, warm, in a soft flannel night gown, with a soft, warm down comforter, when Daisy was... She didn't want to even think of where Daisy was sleeping or...not sleeping...

Colm's incantation did its gentle work, though, and chamomile and honey did theirs. Kaelyn slipped obediently into bed and closed her eyes. Soon she was asleep, but not inactive.

Kaelyn had always dreamt. Her dreams were mostly fantastic, both in the sense of being “quite good” and in the sense of being utterly outside of reality. She had been somewhat disappointed when Master Colm told her, early in her training, that dreams were not, as far as anyone knew, really a true source of magic. Prognostication was unlikely to work, as only the Divine seemed to know what was to come, and visions of the future were few.

But this dream was different. Kaelyn felt herself laying in her bed, and floating slowly upward. She kept her eyes closed; she knew she was meant to, but she knew without looking, with nothing but the insane logic of dreams to tell her, that she had left her body behind. But not, oddly enough, her blanket or pillow.

Suddenly she was rushing, speeding across the cold night. She felt the air running past and through her, an altogether unsettling sensation. She kept her eyes tightly closed, and tried not to scream, although she didn't know why. If this was a dream there was no one to alert, if this was somehow as real as it felt she was just a thought, and could make no noise. After an amount of time that she couldn't gauge at all, she felt herself tip precipitously downward, and suddenly come to rest.

It took a moment to register her new surroundings. There was a voice, a male voice, speaking, endlessly, but in crescendos and decrescendos that ebbed and flowed like breakers in a storm. It had echoes to it that made understanding the voice difficult. She risked opening an eye.

She was in a cave. It looked like limestone, carved into bizarre rounded rooms by the process of water and time, and somewhat modified by a person. There were metal rings driven into the living rock, holding torches. In the middle of the chamber was a large wooden altar, roughly and inexpertly made, but its purpose clear. And between her and the altar was a series of iron bars and an iron door.

Suddenly Brant came into view and Kaelyn had to stop herself from gasping. Even if this was just a dream, why hadn't she opened her eyes? Why did she come here blind instead of having any clue where this cave was?

Brant was talking, endlessly talking.

“It's fine for you of course, you have honor, your profession is one that makes people's lives better. Well so too did I make their lives better, but not in extreme need, and I'm not pretty,” Brant said, the emphasis on that last word unbearable. Kaelyn looked around to see who Brant was talking to, and again almost screamed. There was Daisy, sitting next to Kaelyn, behind bars. Daisy was sitting on the stone floor, with nothing but a rough straw pallet under her, covered by a dirty sheet.

“He's been going on like this for a couple of hours now,” Daisy said in a quiet whisper. “I don't really know how long he can keep going, but he's been yawning more. I think he's malnourished.” She continued and flicked a quick glance at Kaelyn, with a fast, bright smile, then turned her eyes back to Brant.

“Daisy...you can see me? Am...am I really here?”

“I doubt it! You're probably dreaming. But I'm really Daisy, and I can see you. I don't think he can, though. It's your dream, not his.”

“Wait, what? You're actually Daisy, talking to me in my dream? And you can see and hear me... In my dream? How does that even work?”

Daisy laughed quietly under her breath, one small chuckle that she covered with a cough. “Is that really what you want to spend this time on? A technical discussion? Kay, you're dreaming, but I'm awake and can see you. You're here to see where I am and who I'm with, right?”

“But I had already figured out that Brant had taken you, although I don't know how...”

“The runner,” Daisy said. “It waited until I came outside, grabbed me, and brought me to this cave.”

“So that's why Brant kidnapped you two weeks early.”

Daisy just nodded curtly, eyes still following Brant. “Do you know...what he intends?” Kaelyn asked and Daisy nodded again, an even smaller gesture as Brant was close to her cell right now.

”...whatever you want, you can go wherever you want, and people let you because you're so pretty and nice and honorable. Why should being pretty and nice and honorable make you any better than anyone else? Those things don't give you power, or authority, or ability...” Brant said, walking past, around the altar again.

“He's laid out the entire lovely plan a couple of times,” Daisy said.

“How are you being calm?” Kaelyn almost screamed, tears on her illusory face.

“Because I know you're looking for me, Kay, and you'll find me. In time. Let me save you a couple of questions we probably don't have time for: no he hasn't touched me at all, I think he's afraid to...well, taint me. Yes he's feeding me and I'm physically fine right now. No I don't know where this cave is, but I think it's south of the cottage. I don't know how fast runners can run and I was too busy trying to break free to time it.”

Kaelyn nodded. She felt so helpless. “Is there anything I can...do? I mean, I know it's a dream but...”

Daisy glanced at Kaelyn and smiled her old, “I'm about to do something tricky” smile. “Pass me your blanket and pillow, Kay. These ones are terrible.”

Kaelyn handed over the ghost of her down comforter and her goose-down pillow's spirit. “But...aren't I just dreaming these things? Are they even real?”

“I don't know, but that's the beauty of it! I get a better bed and Brant can't even see it! Maybe that's as real as I need them to be right now.”

“Daisy, that's the strangest thing I've ever heard.” Kaelyn said, choking back sobs as her friend wrapped up in illusory bedding and said “oh yes, this is much nicer.”

Suddenly Kaelyn felt herself moving again. “Daisy...I'm...I think I'm going back,” Daisy nodded and whispered, “Thank you, Kay! Come find me! I believe in you!” And there was that rushing sensation. Kaelyn closed her eyes, crying in the wind, sobbing even as she tried to detect any sense of direction, then, once again, tipping sharply downward and opening her eyes in her own bed.

When she awoke she was chilled straight through, even though she had her comforter pulled up around her shoulders, and her neck was sore, even though she had slept on her pillow. She considered it a worthwhile price to pay.


© 2020-2021 Nathanial Dickson. Written during #NaNoWriMo 2020 Contact me on Mastodon