I’m slightly disappointed, making good mental process with a story, but not good physical progress. So instead I have an older piece, but not much older.
Dream Eater was actually a prologue originally, but I think the story that was to follow it has matured past the point of needing this. Still think I had some good imagery and ideas though, even if it was rough. This is also one of the only pieces I have written that definitely needed a glossary section. I have posted the glossary here (I hope) and will attempt to also link it the first time each of my words show up… though if it looks really tacky I’m going to just stick with the first link here. Don’t worry about it being huge (It’s only eight words) but I wanted to avoid using common language for these things and made words that felt close to what I was going for. Hope you enjoy
The old man stood alone amongst the mists. He was dressed in an old tuxedo, worn from years of use. His wispy, white hair blew around his head, pushed by unfelt breezes. Age and grief had bent him, but Nox could still see the proud, vibrant man he had been.
Something was approaching, moving through the mists. A young woman with flaming hair drifted down towards the man. She was dressed in a billowing white dress, as if it had been spun from the mists surrounding them. A strangled sob crept from the elderly man’s throat as he caught sight of her.
“Gloria.” He whispered in disbelief, sparkling tears running down his cheeks, “Is it really you?”
The woman gently smiled at him.
“Of course, my love.” She said reaching down to him.
“I’ve missed you so much.” He cried taking her outstretched hand in his own. “I thought I’d be okay, we’d known for months that it would happen, but when I saw you in that casket… I thought I’d never see you again.” The woman smiled again, a bittersweet thing, and caressed her husband’s face
“You silly thing,” she admonished, “You didn’t think I’d forgot, did you? About what we promised on our wedding night? We swore that nothing would ever keep us apart again.” As she spoke, the years fell off the old man. His suit took on a new sheen and his hair thickened, turning jet-black. They stood there, embracing, just as they had during their wedding.
“I guess I did.” He chuckled as he once again felt the arms of his beloved around him. “I should have known better, stubborn as you are you wouldn’t let anything keep us apart.”
“Of course not.” She replied. Then she kissed him fiercely, just as she always had.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Nox backed away and wove a concealment barrier around the dream. The old man would be fine now, it was best to leave him to his dreaming. His duty was simply to protect the dream, and make sure that everything went smoothly. Nox took a moment to take pride in his work, and then he moved on through the Meerheim. Even after the thousands of years he had spent with the dreams of mortals, their simple beauty could still take his breathe away. He supposed that was the best part of being a Sanmeer, being able to participate in the creation of such beauty. The Meer began thinning, telling Nox he was approaching another Drel. He slowed his approach and checked the Drel out. Its swirling exterior seemed normal, but the smell of guilt and shame told a different story.
Nox knew he would be perfectly within his rights to just unleash the Nashmeer upon the dreamer, but instead he moved into the Drel. It was risky; his body was made of the same malleable Meer that everything in the Meerheim was composed of. If he was not careful, the forces of the dreamer’s mind could scatter him, trapping him within the Drel for the rest of the dreamer’s life. It would not kill him, but it was excruciatingly painful and it would severely weaken him for a long time. Not too mention it would keep him from his duties for years. Luckily, the man’s mind was weak and disorganized. Nox quickly found the source of the man’s guilt; he was remembering an event that had happened a few weeks ago. The man had been down on his luck, too many debts and not enough profits. So he caught his firm on fire and collected the insurance.
His guilt runs deeper though, Nox thought, He still believes it was the only way to save his livelihood. What else happened? Then Nox found what he was looking for. During the confusion, the man had knocked a woman down, but he had kept running. Once outside an intern had realized not everyone was out, and she had rushed back into the inferno.
Both women died.
Nox backed away from the man’s sleeping mind, knowing exactly what the Nashmeer should do.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The man stood in front of the burning building, watching as the flames leapt higher and higher. A woman ran past him, her blonde hair billowing behind her like a golden flag. He wanted to call out to her, to tell her there wasn’t time, but the words refused to budge. They sat there, like stones lodged in his chest. He tried to look away, but he was frozen, unable to move as the flames found more fuel and roared with increased fury. With a final groan, the building collapsed, burying both women.
The man sank to his knees, tears dripping down onto the scorched concrete. It was all his fault. They had died because of him, because of his weakness. He was pathetic, too stupid to know when he was in over his head.
Something shifted in the wreckage. The man looked up, daring to hope as two figures rose from the flames. That hope turned to terror as the burnt and charred skeletons of the two women turned towards him.
“No.” he breathed as they stalked towards him. “No, stay away.” They continued forward, even as the inferno around them cracked and shattered their bones, until they stood before him. Their bones remained in the fire, leaving behind bodies of pure flame. The man stared at them in awe and terror.
“Why?” they asked with child-like innocence, “Why did you do this?”
“I’m sorry.” He moaned, looking at them pleadingly, “Please…”
“Come.” One of them said. Her hair was a mane of crackling, yellow flame that surrounded her blindingly white and shapely body. “We want to dance.”
“Will you dance with us?” asked the other holding out her ghostly hand. Before waiting for his answer, she grasped his hand. He screamed as the flames burnt his flesh. She pulled him to his feet and the other burning spirit reached out to caress his face. Her hands left blistering scars in their wake, and set his hair ablaze. They ignored his screams and pleas to stop and slowly began to dance, twisting and spinning around him. They passed him back and forth, pressing their blazing bodies against him until his voice was too hoarse to scream and his body too numb to feel. Yet they still danced, dragging his unresponsive body like a marionette going through its poses. They were killing him, just as he deserved, but there was no malice or hate. They were beautiful, wearing nothing except angelic smiles and fire. He continued to dance their terrible dance, even as the heat cooked the meat from his bones, leaving him a blackened skeleton dancing in the middle of a roaring blaze.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Nox stepped back from the Nashmeer, leaving it to its work. Nox hoped it would influence the man to confess his guilt, mainly because Nox did not want to come back with another Nashmeer. He understood their necessity, for without them, no one would remind those who would do wrong the consequences of their actions, but they could be so grotesque.
Just like their cousins, the Balmeer, Nashmeer grew in power when exposed to powerful emotions. However, while the Balmeer fed on the more “positive” emotions such as joy and love, the Nashmeer relied on “negative” emotions such as rage, guilt and fear. That was why most Sanmeer thought of Balmeer as more benevolent and beautiful. Still, too much of anything was dangerous, and Nox knew a dream full of pure “Love” could be just as devastating as one of pure “Terror”. It was the reason for his existence after all, to guide the dreams of mortals in the most beneficent directions, and protect those same dreams from Balmeer and Nashmeer that were too powerful for them to handle.
Nox continued his patrol through the misty Meer, searching for other dreamers who needed his assistance. As usual though there were not many that needed his intervention. This age was not one of great dreamers and visionaries. That was not to say there were not any great dreams, but it had been a few years since any had come about. Without powerful dreams to feed on most of the Balmeer and Nashmeer in Nox’s region were too small to be of any threat to mortals. Why then do I feel so ill at ease? Nox mused
Suddenly Nox heard a wailing cry in the distance. He rushed forward to the cry, gathering the Meer around him. He was almost excited, it had been too long since he had tested himself, but more importantly, he knew that for him to hear a dreamer’s cry they were in terrible danger. Nox began molding the Meer, using his will to shape it into what he needed. In the Meerheim everything was governed by the will and mind, so symbols became sources of enormous power. This is what guided Nox as he turned the pale mist into shimmering armor and a scarlet cape, becoming a gallant knight rushing to defend an innocent soul. This was one of his most powerful manifestations, one he had used in fights for hundreds of years.
As Nox finished his transformation, he felt the pull of a powerful Drel and after a moment’s hesitation he dove straight in.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Nox stepped out of the mists to behold a strange sight. Surrounding him on all sides, even filling the air above him, were copies of himself
“Well this is different.” Nox said, the space around him warping and reflecting his voice. He stepped forward… and ran directly into a clear wall. “Oh!” he exclaimed feeling the crystal walls around him.
“This is quite inconvenient.” Nox muttered as he felt for an opening. Finally, he found one only to end up in another crystal room.
This was one of the most complex Drels Nox had ever encountered, and as he slowly inched his way through it Nox realized why. He was traveling through a labyrinth built entirely from reflective crystals. Even stranger than its unprecedented complexity though was the fact, that Nox felt another Drel nearby. It was as if this entire realm had been created to hide the dreamer he was looking for. Another painful cry echoed through the maze and lodged itself in Nox’s chest.
Enough of this, he growled, I cannot allow this maze to delay me any longer. Nox opened himself to the Drel he was in, until he could see and touch the Meer from which it was made. Then he drew forth a mighty blade from the mist. With a loud cry, Nox clove a path straight to the center of the strange Drel. The crystals shattered with a thunderous crash to reveal a horrifying scene.
The dark and fearsome shapes of three ancient Nashmeer filled the area in front of him, and between them the small and delicate Drel of a newborn babe. Nox did not understand how this was possible; the dreams of babies were never strong enough to draw in Meerbeasts, let alone three as powerful as the ones before him.
Figure it out later, Nox berated himself, First you have to save that child, it is a miracle its mind is still in one piece. Nox charged the closest Nashmeer, which had taken the form of a giant wolf with demonic, red eyes. He caught the beast off guard and his blade cut open its flank. It did not fall however, instead it turned and lunged at Nox, jaws opened wide. He caught the Nashmeer’s jaws on his blade, but the sheer weight of the beast carried him down to the ground. It straddled the prone Sanmeer, trying to get past his blade so it could rip out his throat. Desperately Nox formed a second blade from the ambient Meer and drove it though the giant wolf’s skull, pinning it to the ground. It was not a severe enough wound to kill the Nashmeer, Nox was not certain he could destroy it, but it would take the beast out of the fight for a while. Nox stood to confront the other two Nashmeer, only to come face-to-face with a new and familiar being.
“What do you think you are doing Phobetor?” Nox asked, hostility turning his cultured voice into a guttural growl.
“I am defending this realm.” replied the Oneiroi. He floated before Nox, suspended upon jet-black wings and dressed in a black toga. None of the Sanmeer liked the Oneiroi, the four brothers that the ancient Greeks had considered the gods of dreams. In actuality, they had been Sanmeer, but the beliefs of mortals could alter reality, especially in the Meerheim. Phobetor had become a tamer of the Nashmeer and master of their terrifying dreams.
“How does destroying that innocent mind relate to defending the Meerheim?” Nox asked leveling his sword at Phobetor.
“Are you blind!” he hissed in reply, “Can you truly not see what she is?” Nox took a closer look at the tiny Drel. The Oneiroi were pretentious and overbearing, but at their core they were still Sanmeer and they had always worked towards the common good. The Drel seemed normal; its swirling surface had a rosy pink hue. The little girl it belonged to seemed destined to be a kind and sweet individual. It is odd though, Nox mused as he studied the dreamer’s realm, There is not a single mark from the Nashmeer, and why bring three who were so powerful. Any of them should have been able to tear this Drel into tiny pieces, has Phobetor lost his- Nox froze, a nauseous dread overcoming him.
“You see it?” Phobetor asked.
“Yes,” Nox replied quietly, “I do.” There was a small break in the Drel’s color, a pale, sickly white that marred its surface. “She is a Nocenka.”
“Yes and you know the suffering that will ensue if we let it mature.”
“I do.” Nox remembered the Nocenka very well, those who devoured dreams and the very Meer they were created from. They had only appeared once before, and the Sanmeer had left them alone, unwilling to forsake their duty by killing the dreamers. In the end they had had no choice as the Dream Eaters devoured the minds of countless mortals.
“We must destroy this monster before it can harm others.” Phobetor insisted.
“I understand your position.” Nox said slowly.
“Good.” Phobetor gestured and a Nashmeer in the shape of a great serpent sped towards the Drel. Nox’s blade lashed out, beheading the creature in a single swipe.
“However,” he continued, “I cannot allow it. We can not destroy anyone for what they might do; she may be able to control the hunger.”
“That is the same drivel that allowed for the devastation thousands of years ago. Are you willing to risk hundreds of lives for the sake of this one?”
“It is our duty to protect all dreamers, she is no threat now and there is a chance she will never be one.”
“You are a fool,” another voice said, “but I will not allow the safety of my brothers and I to be compromised over this.” Nox turned to see the other Oneiroi descend around him. Icelus and Phantasus both dressed in togas and suspended on black wings, and their leader Morpheus appearing as a mortal in a sharp, black suit. “My brothers and I are powerful,” he continued, “but not well liked. If we were to kill you, your fellow Sanmeer would descend upon us and tears us apart. So then how to solve this dilemma?”
“I have made up my mind.” Nox stated, “I will not allow you to harm this girl.”
“So you wish to be her protector.” Morpheus said thoughtfully, “and we cannot allow her to become a threat. Instead of fighting though, I think I have a solution that would make us both happy.”
“What do you propose?”
“This.” Morpheus said with a wicked smile. Suddenly threads of hardened Meer tightened around Nox. He cursed and struggled to break free, but he was unable to do anything. “Do not bother.” Morpheus said, “You are strong, but you are no match for all four of us.”
“What is the meaning of this?” Nox asked holding his fury in check.
“Simple.” Morpheus replied pushing the bound Sanmeer closer to the Nocenka’s Drel. “We will force you into this Drel, that way you can watch over this creature just as you wish. Then, when it starts to devour the Meer, and it will mind you, it will attack you first. I doubt you will allow yourself to be consumed without a fight. You will weaken it and then we will finish it off. A perfect plan, is it not?” Morpheus shoved Nox into the wall of the Drel. Unable to defend himself, Nox felt the forces inside the Drel tear at him, as strong winds shred the morning mists. He screamed as he tried to hold himself together, hoping that the binding that paralyzed him would wear away first. Unfortunately, the Oneiroi had wound the Meer extremely tight and it would not give out before he did. Right before he was scattered Nox heard a single word echo through the Drel.
“Kalida……”, then he was gone.