Hierophant’s Quest Part 4
Part 49 of Quest
& Part 7 of Istan’s Solo Quest: Chasing the Cross
He fell through dreams’ gyre
spun round consciousness’ drain
dropped in Dreamer’s Court
where pools reflect dreams
show visions of friends’ peril
Nightmares on the hunt.
“Why are the Nightmares hunting my friends?” Istan pointed to the pool that reflected Henneth and the two little folk stalked by Nightmares. Not just one or two, but the entire stable. Blue on blue eyes stared at him open mouthed. He was one of Daesira’s get but which one?
“That’s why I brought you here.”
Here happened to be the Dreamer’s realm, a place of flowing water. This son of the Dream Goddess had dragged Istan’s dream-self here. That meant his body lay somewhere else, untenanted. Not a good situation, not with the Nightmares’ running amok and gods knew what else. Would his body still be there waiting for him when he returned? Or would he find some other occupant had taken control? No time to worry about that since he couldn’t leave this realm without a dream god’s leave.
“What happened? Start at the beginning.”
The godling pointed to a spot beyond the pools where prime grazing land swept in a green crescent away from them. The Nightmares–a mix of dreams of equine flesh–they could take human form when they chose. Created to drain away bad dreams, their sustenance of choice, their visits left peaceful slumber in its wake.
“I tend the Nightmares but when I went to check on them, they were gone. All of them.”
“Don’t they usually go out?”
“Never without supervision. They can’t be trusted. They’re easily tempted and one taste of fear is all it takes to turn them into a monster.” The boy shuddered.
The tanned boy-god pulled Istan to his feet and led him to the strangest stable ever. Each stall came equipped with a furnished loft reached by a pull down ladder. For when the Nightmares took human guise?
The stall doors hung at bizarre angles, those that remained attached. The rest lay where they’d been thrown. Sawdust covered ground had been churned up by horses’ hooves. Other than that, nothing else looked disturbed.
“They’re something old, a primal force my mother thinks she’s tamed but she hasn’t.” the boy picked up a collar and held it up. A blue jewel flashed in hits middle. Its lock had been forced open releasing the Nightmare it had constrained. “If she’d tamed them, then we wouldn’t need these.”
“What do those things do?” a pit opened up in Istan’s belly.
“They hold a NIgtmare’s power in check among other things.”
Two dozen collars lay, one in each open stall.
“You have to stop them.”
“Me? How? I have no power over dreams. That’s your domain.”
“That’s where your wrong. You have the mind gift; they won’t be able to master you. You’re the only one who can capture them–return them here where they belong.”
The water in the pool rippled as the image changed. Black horses stampeded; they misted, went between here and there still charging, wild-eyed into the breach and then back out again onto a plain of wind-ruffled grass.
“We have to corral them.”
~ ~ ~
Darkness rippled out
at its center a beacon
Darkness rippled beyond the firepit. Its light was a beacon signaling their campsite to all the things of the dark. Zallev mixed the paint in a small bowl and then dipped his fingers into its cooling liquid to touch up his painted face.
White paint on black face
ghost’s visage scares dark powers
welcomes star fliers
A star shot past and he set the bowl down to accept the blessing offered by those powers who navigated by and through the stars. Returning to his task, he withdrew a packet and poured a small pile of silver flecks into the mixture. Reflective specks mixed with the white refracted the moon’s glow, calling its light and the owl eyes of the Watcher of the Moon.
Watcher of the Moon–
illuminate the darkness–
spread your protection.
In another bowl, he mixed the gold, for the sun-kin, daylight’s darlings. Their light and love he smeared with his thumb. Gold started halfway up his nose then sweeping out like an eagle’s wings over his eyebrows. Curve and extend that line so it brackets his forehead making a cup for knowledge, ancestor -given, to fill his mind. Add a red line in the center of the forehead and seal the protection of his spirit with whispered prayer as he rinses his hands clean of the paint. Zallev flexed his fingers.
Chiron lay on his back in the grass, flies buzzing around him. He slapped one away but another landed and bit, drawing blood. The man who could change into a horse, batted another fly away finding no repose. The flies concentrated around him. Perhaps it was his horsey stink drawing them. Istan lay wrapped in blankets by the spring, still gripped by an unnatural unconsciousness.
Out there on the dark plain a breeze played with the long grass. A glow drew Zallev’s eye to the bone hilt of his knife. Withdrawing it, he stared at the runes inscribed its flat. A teardrop flared with blue light. Water magic at work, but where? What was coming?
Thank you Great-Grandfather, Zallev kissed the blade made from that worthy’s femur, the he eased into a crouch, his knife at the ready. A slow throb began, the chant of his ancestors…
Protect the magic–
slay the creatures that sunder
dreams into nightmares.
~ ~ ~
Istan’s Quest continues in Hierophant’s Quest Part 5.
~ ~ ~