What happens when a dream summons the dreamer? What happens when the dreamer wakes up?
You wake up, lying on your back on what appears to be grass, although you can’t really tell . . .It’s too dark. A light rain falls on your face. And even though it’s almost pitch black it doesn’t seem too cold. You get up, and wait for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. The ground is made of a plantlike material, much like short grass, and it carpets the ground as far as you can see. Which, unfortunately, isn’t that far, at the moment. Above you are layers of black storm clouds, moving at a slow, steady pace across the horizon. You begin to walk forward, to see what you can find.
After walking for a few minutes, the carpet of grass gives way to cold stone, sloping slightly downward to what appears to be an ocean. The softly falling raindrops casting ripples as far as the eye can see, giving the water an almost living appearance. You stick your hand in the water. It feels near room temperature, and you are astounded by how clear it is. You pick some up in your hand, and it looks as if it was made of the purest crystal, crystal that rippled and flowed back into the sea, falling from your hand. A flash of lightning suddenly illuminates the horizon behind the sea, silhouetting what looks like a tower, or island somewhere far across the sea. You strain your eyes to get a closer look while counting the seconds until the thunder. About three seconds later, you hear the steady rumble coming from the far reaches of the sea. Hmm. . . About three miles off
You think reassuringly to yourself. Don’t have anything to worry about.
The thought hardly leaves your head when a near simultaneous flash of lightning and roaring thunderclap quite efficiently scares you out of your wits. Three miles off . . .right,
you think, dragging the thought out. You turn to leave the silver sea behind you and go to see what else this world has to offer.
You continue the trek away from the silver sea, and come to a forest. The trees are tall and shadowy from in the lack of light. You wonder how they grew there, in the absence of it. You shrug, thinking, It obviously didn’t matter to them. You walk into the forest, looking at the trees as you go. The trees are spread a fair length apart, and looking through the rain, you can see that they go up for at least fifteen meters, some even taller. They appear to be of the same species, for the most part, all having a relatively smooth bark, and having the branches located higher up. You continue walking, although tempted many times to just sit down by one of the trees and relax. It feels very peaceful here.
After a few minutes of walking, the forest comes to a sudden halt into a round clearing, surrounded on all sides by trees. Suddenly it dawns on you that this forest might not ever end, and you begin to panic. You look ahead of you and you see a wall of trees, and beyond them, the same darkness that engulfs this realm. You frantically look around, and see the same thing on all sides. A flash of lightning from above offers some light on the clearing, but offers no escape. It seems a very real possibility that you could be trapped here forever . . . You come to the center of the clearing, sit down, and begin to cry. It seems hopeless. This new world, so full of wonder and inspiration has done nothing but get you hopelessly lost.
You are about to lose all hope when something happens. Some inner strength begins to take shape. A ray of hope, designed to burn through the blackest fear and despair, brings itself to the fore. Suddenly, no longer afraid, empowered by this new faith in something greater then yourself, you stop crying. You stand up, defying the darkness before you. Then, you calmly turn around. You see a dragon, sitting on his haunches, seemingly waiting for you. You wonder how you missed him before; after all, it’s kind of hard to hide yourself when you’re two meters off the ground. And he gives off the most powerful aura you’ve ever felt; just his presence here seems to fight back the darkness, even though he gives off no light. Him standing beside you makes you feel safer then you’ve ever been, and it’s something more then just the physical protection that a dragon can give. He does not need to prove his strength. merely by looking at him you know that he will not be approached by even the darkest of creatures.
You look at him. He sits about two meters tall, covered in scales of a dark, shimmering indigo. They seem to reflect the entire spectrum, despite the fact that there is almost no light to reflect. His wings are tucked beside him, nearly three meters high. The skins of his wings are the darkest blue you’ve ever seen, dark as midnight, and when you look close enough, you swear you can see the stars shine . . .
His wingtips, claws and horns are black, yet they shine like silver in the inky darkness. But you feel most drawn to his eyes. They appear to have no pupils, instead they look clear, with a hint of blue. They are dark, yet they glow with all the power of a thousand suns. You wonder if he can even see you standing in front of him. Then you come to the conclusion that he does not need sight to truly see. You look into his “sightless” eyes, and you see yourself reflected in them. Not your physical body, but your mind, your imagination, all your dreams, all your hopes and all the experiences you’ve ever had, all contained in a moment that stretches on toward infinity . . . You look deeper still, and you see . . .everything. All that has ever happened, all the achievements, all the wars, all the civilizations that have blinked in and out of existence, all the pain and sorrow, all the hopes and delights that he has witnessed, all in the blink of his eye . . .
You wonder what to do now; being caught somewhat off guard by this magnificent creature. Should you bow? No, somehow you know that he does not like to inflict superiority on others. Should you run? Hell no, you feel safer with him then you ever have before. You know that he was meant to protect you. You are curious as to what you should call him, what his purpose is. You are about to ask, but before you can, he answers. Massive arrays of thoughts appear in your mind. A mixture of emotions, music, thoughts, images, things that you could never repeat if you were to share this experience with someone else. This if far superior to sight or speech. You don’t just know what he’s called, you know who he is. And that’s much more then a name. However, you wonder, what if I need to call you? And again, without saying a word, he sends a feeling of comfort, safety and reassurance. You know that he’ll always be watching from afar, that you’ll never truly be alone in the dark again. That’s still not a name. What if—But before you can finish your thought, a single word flashes into your mind. Antares
He beckons you closer. You approach without fear, knowing that he will not harm you. He crouches down to a reasonable height, low enough for him to be mounted. He beckons again, waiting patiently as ever for you to climb on. You feel slightly bewildered. After all, it’s not every day your sworn protector wants to take you flying on his back. What harm could it do? You think, Could be fun. You clumsily stumble on. His scales feel smooth and hard beneath your hand. He doesn’t move a muscle as you struggle to get up into a comfortable position. Once on his back, you feel very awkward. Do I really deserve this?
You begin to ponder. Will the flight be rough? I easily get airsick . . .
Doubt after doubt runs through your head. Where is he taking me? Will I ever get home? We’re going through the thunderclouds . . .will we be all right? But your companion seems to notice your discomfort, and sends a feeling of safety, security and personal courage.
Yes, you deserve this, He says,
without moving his mouth. And the flight shall be smooth.
You sense a sort of tolerant amusement from him at this question, as if the answer is nothing but obvious to him.
As for our destination, hold on.
He stops his reply there, leaving you to discover the answer for yourself. He crouches down, and spreads his wings to their full tremendous span. With one powerful, fluid motion you are off the ground, and with another, you are on your way.
He was right to be amused. The flight was nowhere near rough. He lifts himself out of the clearing and above the trees with only a few beats of his massive wings. You tighten your grip and crouch down lower as he prepares to soar over the forest. And even though each push of his wings is taking you several feet higher, you barely feel it. He glides effortlessly across the tops of the trees, and begins to turn slightly upwards. He banks toward the direction of the silver sea, and you remember the tower you thought you saw earlier. You are about to ask if that’s where you’re going, but you somehow already know the answer. He begins to build up speed, but the flight is still unrealistically smooth. You glance down at the sea, and you can almost see your silhouette cast in the shimmering waters. Lightning flashes directly in front of you, and you snap your attention back to the thunderclouds ahead. The rain is falling almost directly into your face, and you shut your eyes as you head into the layer of storm clouds.
The damp, turbulent mists of the clouds almost throw you off balance. Your eyes shut tight, you hang on to your companion for dear life as you rocket onwards and upwards through the storm. Your thoughts constantly reach out to the dragon, and he relays back determination and courage.
Just a little longer! He calls. We’re almost there.
You hold your breath to keep from drowning inside the violent storm cloud, and you only hope that it isn’t much longer. Several excruciating seconds later, the mists stop.
You slowly and cautiously open your eyes. Your companion’s path once again begins to level out. You look up, and you see millions upon millions of stars, around and about you, and you find yourself looking into infinity. It is much brighter here, even in the dark of night, because a huge silvery moon just on the horizon augments the light of the millions of stars. You look down, and see your shadow cast on the clouds below you, made all the more dramatic by a brilliant flash of lightning within the cloud. A steady, rumbling crescendo of thunder completes the effect.
You turn your head forward again to get a glimpse of where you’re exactly headed. You see the silhouette of what looks like the tower, blocking out some of the stars. The wind has stopped attempting to throw you off; a gentle breeze is all that remains of the hurricane within those clouds. You relax your grip a little. You can now see the tower more clearly. It looks like it’s made of the same stone from the sea banks. The tower’s stone blends seamlessly with the plateau, almost as if it was natural. It looks quite open; you can see the stars through the windows. It seems to be sitting on a huge plateau, at least 150 meters long sitting just above the clouds, with the tower on the extreme right side of it. The tower itself looks to be maybe 20 meters wide and circular, although the numerous staircases and balconies on the outside offset its circular shape. At the base of the tower sits a massive pool of water, sort of a crescent shape, and about ten meters across. The tower looks quite high, at least 70 meters off the plateau. You and your companion soar in, coming in for a quick landing to the left of the water pool. He lands surprisingly quietly for a creature his size, making only a dull “thud” noise as his hind feet hit the stone. His front feet touch down silently.
He comes to a stop on the hard stone. You slide off his back and stumble onto the ground. You walk slowly away from the pool, taking your time to look around you at all the stars, and the rolling clouds below you. Your feet make a slight “pat” noise on the stone. You look and see Antares walking beside but slightly behind you, silently. There was almost everything you needed here. Open space, clean water, a roof above your head, a friend, and a legendary view of the stars. And there was food somewhere. You turn around, and head to see the tower.
Follow me, Antares says while walking into the tower.
He turns, and walks up a set of stairs. You follow, wondering where you’re headed. The stairs twist and turn, going in and outside the tower, climbing higher and higher. Eventually, you come to a balcony near the top of the tower. Antares goes out to the edge and sits on his haunches, enjoying the view. You come and sit next to him, listening to the cool breeze, and the occasional thunderclap from below.
Beautiful, aren’t they? The dragon asks without turning his head.
"Hmm? What?" You answer awkwardly, this being the first time your companion has started a conversation.
The stars. He replies. Aren’t they incredible?
"Yes," you answer. "A little too beautiful, actually."
Too beautiful? I don’t follow . . . The dragon questions, obviously slightly confused.
"All this . . ."You begin to explain, "The continuous thunder; the tower above the clouds, the stars, you, It all seems a little too perfect." You chuckle slightly at the thought. "This isn’t real, is it?"
If this is not real, then how would you define reality? Your companion begins to reason, just because something good happens to you, for once, you question it’s authenticity? You would question your very frame of mind to see this spread before you? He seems slightly aggravated at the thought of it, though his tone doesn’t change.
"Yes." You answer quietly. "This isn’t real. This is a dream. I’m going to wake up!" You turn from the balcony and run down the stairs. Your companion doesn’t follow. You emerge out of the tower and run toward the ledge. "I’m dreaming! I’m dreaming!" You think as you throw yourself from the ledge.
If you wish to wake up . . . Antares thinks, still on the balcony. So be it.
You wake up with a start, your mouth dry and your body drenched in sweat. You remember having some sort of dream, but it’s already beginning to fade. You only wish you could remember what it was.
Antares stands on the ledge where his companion, the only being he’s ever truly cared for, once stood. He turns his head down the stone. His eyes start to fade, the moon grows dim, and one by one, the stars begin to flicker out.
Is. . . Is that all that I am? He thinks to himself. Am I nothing more then a dream? The stars are almost gone, the moon is dark, and his scales begin to lose their iridescent shine. He doesn’t turn his head as the tower behind him begins to collapse, and topples over the ledge. A single tear falls from his eye onto the cold, hard stone. His eyes, that once reflected images of peace, intelligence and courage, begin to reflect destruction, sadness, fear and sorrow. He now realizes the true irony of it all. His world is ebbing away, and he has been left alone in the dark, forgotten and left behind by the very one that he had sworn would never suffer the same fate. I’m . . .afraid . . . he whispers to the inky blackness. He makes no effort to move as he feels the pillar of stone begin to crumble under his feet.
Also by this author: PAWN