A long time ago I had an idea to combine a large array of different nightmares and/or dreams into one big landscape. This landscape was set as one night following someone’s dreams. I wrote each dream as a short story and so spanned into a long time frame. Every time I had an interesting idea for a dream or nightmare I would write it in here.
Several of the stories were in my mind a long time before I came up with this scenario and when I finally came up with this they fitted in perfectly. Now for some facts: Each person dreams roughly between 100-250 dreams a night out of which only about 7 are remembered (if at all). The interesting bit is that dreams a lot of times are seen as fragments of many different images, emotions and other flashes from either out imagination or our memory. This gave me a very broad canvas in which to develop my stories. And I thought it might be fun to combine many different things to it. In my 2 month vacation/PhD position search I wrote the first three stories and a rough sketch of the 10th story.
Images of night… story 1 – the adventure (2008)
The first story the adventure was actually based on the very first nightmare I could remember. I was about 6 at the time, and the nightmare I had was so vivid that it never left. It was slightly different then the story in here but the general idea and the cave are taken directly from it.
Night crawled onto the world like a snail leaving a thick and gluey trail behind it as it passed slowly across the skies removing the last bits of light from it. For most people the time of night is when fatigue slowly takes over and lets the mind drift up to the point where mind and body are asleep. Sleep is in most cases a necessary and important part of life and although dreams are an essential part of a good night sleep they not only are poorly understood but are very hard to control. In certain situation however controlling ones dreams becomes a necessity that is hard to ignore.
He lay in bed tossing and turning, he knew he should get some sleep or he wouldn’t be able to properly do his job but this thought was useless at the moment. His mind was tired, he felt fatigued but for some reason his body wasn’t. He felt as if he could run a marathon at the moment which was ridiculous because he needed to sleep! His thoughts slowly turned in circles going over what he had to do tomorrow and what he had actually prepared today. He had so much to do and he really needed to get a good night sleep. He closed his eyes and tried to count sheep. Although this stupid technique never worked for him as a kid it just might work now.
He envisioned the place where all the sheep were kept. A huge farm with thousands of sheep running around everywhere, so many sheep that he couldn’t keep track which sheep he counted already and which he hadn’t. What a waste of time…
1 – The adventure
A big light is shining in my face. It blinds me. I blink a few times and slowly my eyes get accustomed to it. I’m standing on the balcony of my castle. Underneath me the eyes of my people beckon. They wait for my words, they wait for my command. I take a few deep breathes and start my speech.
“The people of Encore, My people, I regretfully inform you all that the marriage between me and the princess of Slova has been postponed.”
I stop and look at the people. They mutter, some are shocked and stare up at me with their mouths open, some shake their heads in disapproval; some are talking to their neighbors. I wait a few more moments before I continue.
“My princess and your future queen was kidnapped by our hated enemies from the land of Gillard.”
I wait once more. The crowd is now angry I can hear its restlessness, feel their eagerness to do something about this terrible deed.
“I have chosen a party of men led directly by me to bring my wife back. I believe that we will return victorious, in the time of my absence my brother will temporarily take on my duties, I take only a few well trained men with me for we alone have better chances of success”
The crowd is restless they want to join in, but I cannot risk all out war, I know the men are not prepared for it. I pray they may never need to but this they do not need to hear.
“However when the time comes we have to be ready, we have to be prepared to fight, we will not be conquered and let our enemies take us lightly! We will not be subdued! We will fight! And we will win!”
The crowd cheers. Hands rise from the crowd, my heart warms from their support.
“My brother will start recruiting people for the barracks, I want everyone who can to join and help protect the land of our forefathers. Together we will survive; together we will destroy our enemies!”
I leave the balcony with the cheering crowd behind me. Tonight will be the most important night of my life. Tonight I will get my wife back. I lost my wife for a mistake I shall not make again. I left her for but a moment, alone in the bedroom, and in that moment I heard her scream, a noise that will hunt me forever; a cry from my beloved, a cry for help that was not there, a cry that was left unanswered. By the time I reached the room she was gone with nothing but the faint scent of smoke to indicate a spell was used. I know how it was done and I know who is responsible: the wizard Lorak. The teleportation spell is one Lorak has used often. A spell he has learned in my court, the same court he left as soon as he thought himself stron enough. He now serves the land of Gillard and he will be punished for his treachery.
I summon my group. Five men stand before me. The first is a young man thinly built; he has a big grin on his face and a spark in his eyes. His sharp nose and slightly narrow forehead make him look almost like a hawk. Kira the magnificent is how he calls himself; I call him Kira the thief. He has escaped from my dungeon 12 times the last time he did so in one hour. If there is a way to get into Gillard he will find it. I have known Kira since he was a child a good kid but always loved to get into trouble and although he does get arrested on a regular basis he finds it the greatest challenge in breaking free. His one fault is his arrogance in himself.
The second man is an older man he is the strongest man I have ever met. His size is impressive for all that survey him. He is strongly built and the largest and tallest man in our group. He is very calm and quiet and has a heart as big as his body. His black hair has streaks of grey in it. His compassion and gentleness are his greatest strength and the biggest weakness. He is known as Ali the giant.
The third man is shrouded and slightly bent forward. He wears a large black robe and leans on a wooden staff. He is very sharp and extremely intelligent. He understands the ways of men and his understandings in magic are of the highest order. He is our only hope against Lorak. He never says a word and usually keeps to himself, but during my years as king I have learned to rely on his advice and have asked continually for his ideas. He calls himself Jourbayeff.
The fourth person has the eyes of a hawk, he carries a bow with him and can see as clearly at night as the shining day. His stamina is unprecedented and his tactical intuitions have proven themselves time and again on the battlefield. He is called Statislav.
The fifth is no man. This brash and often irrational woman is my sister Wilalma. She sometimes plays too much with men to my liking but her skill with the sword is equal to my own if it has not surpassed it by now. She is sometimes reckless but I am very proud of her. She can hold her ground in front of any man; she has not yet met the man who could beat her and although brass she is courageous and skilled as no other.
This group of five and me will enter Gillard and free my princess from captivity.
I do not need to speak to this group we have been talking about our plan ever since my wife was taken. We will be transported by Jourbayeff to the border of our lands as close as we dare without being seen, after which Statislav and Kira will take the head, behind them I will stand together with Wilalma and bringing the rear will be Joubayeff and Ali the giant.
That night when all is ready we set off. Joubayeff quickly takes us to the border using an ancient incantation. Darkness surrounds us and small damp bushes scrape against our legs as we set out. Statislav quickly goes forward leading us together with Kira. We quickly reach a small patrol of three men, the patrol carries small charms that will make a terrible noise if these are activated we need to take them out quietly and efficiently.
Joubayeff casts a sleeping spell and the patrol falls asleep. Kira after a quick search of the men finds a pair of keys which he places into one of his many pockets. We continue on our way, in the distance Statislav announces is the castle we are not far from it, we need be very cautious here. Kira together with Statislav go forward to gather information while we remain hidden in the damp bushes. We freeze as we hear a couple of guards talking just in front of us.
“Think the princess will really become the queen now?” we hear one guard ask another
“I don’t know, I hope not, she’s not even from here. I heard she came from Encore!”
“Really?! How come I’m always the last one to hear about these things?”
“That’s because you never listen to anyone you just talk all the time”
I fight the urge to hit the guards and clench my teeth to keep from charging at them.
The voices slowly fade away and we breathe a sigh of relief. A moment later Kira and Statislav are back, they tell us there are few guard patrols walking the grounds but nothing that will pose as a serious threat, they believe the princes to be locked in the dungeon located somewhere near the castle, although they can not confirm this as none of the soldiers on patrol knew. We decide to go on and try to locate the dungeon.
We head out in formation once again slowly crawling forward until the first of the towers become visible in front of us. We stop and Joubayeff closes his eyes and uses his staff to draw something on the ground, he mutters something that I do not understand and small dots appear on the ground.
“What is this?” I ask
“This is a map of the castle and all its dungeons, the dots represent the living creatures stuck in these dungeons” Joubayeff answers.
I stare at the dots, there are 4 dots I can see. “Does this mean there are 4 separate dungeons?” I ask.
“Indeed, we are momentarily here” states Joubayeff pointing his staff at an area of the map that isn’t lit. A dungeon can be seen to the left of it, 2 in front (most likely under the castle) and one to the right.
We decide to split up I ask Joubayeff to cast a communication spell which will allow us to keep in contact with one another. Joubayeff and Ali the giant go towards the dungeon to the right of us, located under a separate tower, where according to Joubayeff Lorak is located. Statislav and Kira go towards the castle as they are our best chance to go unheard and unnoticed. Wilalma and I take the dungeon to our left, which is the closest one.
We walk slowly towards the entrance of the dungeon when my foot steps on something hollow. We stop and I remove the leaves and bushes. Underneath concealed we see a wooden door leading to some kind of cellar or possibly jail or dungeon. I look at the latch and pry the door open with my sword by moving the bolts out of the hole. The latch opens with a creek and I decide to enter. Wilalma stands guard outside and communicates our progress. The other teams have not yet reached their targets. I slowly go down a cold metal ladder that descends into darkness.
I reach the floor and the smell of damp and wet rot assails my nose. I try to block the scents by holding my hand over my nose. A feeling of claustrophobia and unknown terror binds me to the floor. I sit down on the ground my feet unable to move and my hands and knees shaking not from the cold but from fear.
A whisper from above wakes me from my shock. “Are you alright?” echoes the concerned voice of Wilalma.
“I’m fine it’s just very dark in here I need to wait a moment for my eyes to adjust to the dark”
“Just hurry, I don’t like staying here like this. It feels like a trap”
I stare into the darkness in front of me and slowly I manage to move forward one slow step at a time. I can now make out something on the wall to my right; I walk towards it and reach out my hand to grab hold of it. My fingers touch something slightly damp made of wood. It’s a torch!
I reach for a match in my bag and after a few tries a small beam of light shines.
I now make out a stone wall to my right and metal bars on the left, and realize I’m standing in a jail. I walk forward trying to see into the cells, I make out some shapes that seem to be moving but I can’t be sure, the light from the torch flickers and it is hard to see what is real and what a figment of my imagination.
I slowly move forward not knowing what I will find. Then a breeze of cold air hits me bringing a strong smell of damp rot. I shiver fearing what I will see. The walls seem to close in on me and I almost fall to floor in a fit of panicked fear. I struggle forward and notice I am reaching the end of this cave, on the left I notice to my horror that the cell at the end is open. My fear is nearly overwhelming me I cannot hold my torch anymore without shaking, causing the light to flicker erratically. As I near the last cell I suddenly hear a whisper that I can not make out, it sends shivers down my spine none the less and I can not move. It is only then that I realize I am in front of the open cell. I look to the left into the cell, I can see nothing but shadows, and it appears to be empty. Suddenly I hear the whisper closer and shadows moving towards me. I shake in fear the smell of rotting flesh is overwhelming and I stumble backwards in panic until my back hits the grounded wall. Panic sets over me and I turn towards the cave’s entrance. The torch falls to the ground as I run to get away from whatever it is that resides in the last open cell. Darkness is immediate, I can just make out the ladder and I jump to it trying to climb as fast as I can. I am free; I quickly climb up the ladder no longer caring what noise I make. A whisper then reaches me and to my horror I realize I recognize it.
“Don’t leave me…”
Something cold grips my foot and I let out a scream as I notice the door above me is shut and I’m trapped inside.
Sweat covers his face as he jumps up from his bed. The memory still vivid and real in his mind, already however the details become blurry. He quickly touches his leg expecting to feel a cold mark. All he feels however are the drops of sweat that cover his warm leg. He lets go of his leg, not sure why he was reaching for it in the first place, the feelings and memories slide back into his unconscious. The amazing sensation of fear is dissipating with the knowledge of what made him scare fading into the recesses of his mind. The names, smells and all that was become a blurry mash where nothing is coherent and all is turbulent.
He lies back down and wipes the sweat from his forehead and slowly slides back into sleep.