The Music of the Dream
By Gilean - Wordsmith
As Kruugaar entered the Cenotaph, the ringing of blades and chakrams being drawn could be heard almost completely through the temple. Matthis heard the dread DarkMare roar, and quickly dispatched the agoknight he was battling with, and headed toward the fray. Kruugaar was in the Eastern Street of the Cenotaph, flanked by score upon score of dreamers. And, also as usual, the dreamers were causing as much harm to themselves as they were to the mare. Matthis sighed, and withdrew his chakram, thinking to help by weakening the mare from a distance. However, Kruugaar was deftly avoiding the wild swings and chakram blasts from the other dreamers. Matt swore when a chakram blast singed his hair, and glared across the field of battle at the young inept that shot it. As the battle wore on, more stronger and able dreamers appeared, and Kruugaar began to show signs of wear. Matt put his chakram away, resigning any hope at collapsing the mare himself with all of the competition present. He was just about to continue on his way, when he heard a voice rise up in song among the crowd.
As he looked down from atop the ledge on which he was standing, he saw a young woman come through a portal, followed closely by a young man. The man held a small fife up to his lips, and was playing a soft, soothing melody. The woman held her hands up, and dreamer and mare alike stopped fighting, and stared at her in confusion. She rose her voice, and began singing:
Chaos born, silence slain ‘Twas ever said, twill be again Of o’er the edge of dreamer’s mind The nagging will of flailing kind
As she sang, she stepped slowly forward. Dreamer and mare both enraptured in her song, she slowly made her way to the center of the room, near Kruugaar. The young man continued playing softly on his fife; the melody slowly growing louder and quieter in time with the young woman’s singing.
Peace you have sought, ‘Twas e’er for naught The whirling depths of soul unkempt From purity the mind is rent
Kindness menos, peace as same Eternally burning, endless flame Rage of anger, burning bright Return us all to Order’s light
As she sang, she slowly moved around near Kruugaar. The mare looked at her, with what could be termed a sad look in his hollow eyes. As she sang the last line, she reached out with one hand to touch his face softly, and the mare seemed to relax. In her other hand, she withdrew her blade, and sunk it cleanly into the mare’s back. Kruugaar shuddered, stumbled back, roared loudly in defiance, and collapsed.
The dreamers looked at her in awe. The young man smiled, and withdrew his fife from his lips, and put in into his pack. He walked up to the young woman, who turned to him and smiled. They exchanged a brief kiss, and she turned to the assembled dreamers. "No more to see here, my friends! she called, smiling. "Clear dreams, and safe paths!" And, with that final note, her and her partner exited out of Cenotaph.
Matthias stood in Threshold later, retelling the story to his friend Trellis. As he related how the young woman lulled the mare with her melody, and then took advantage of its unawareness to slay it, she laughed. "Ah, my...I know the two of whom you speak, my friend," Trellis said, smiling. "Of course, I had heard naught of them using their music in hunting Mares..." Trellis laughed, and continued. "They both hail from my realm of Cloudsbreak, to be true...they are minstrels. In fact, since they both entered the dream, they have oft wandered the halls here in Threshold singing, and bringing music to our lives."
Matthias laughed. "Well, I suppose that means I should hang around here more often, right, my friend?"
Trellis smiled. "Ah, it seems to be an affliction that haunts most of those whom have joined the houses. Since you joined with the Gathering, I’ve seen less and less of you." Matthias grinned. "Well, it used to be I walked this way out of necessity. But, since I became able to travel through the rifts...it just seems to be quicker to travel that way. I never just happen to stumble back by here anymore."
Trellis grinned. "And well that you should stumble by here, for you miss much!" "So...what are these dreamers names of which you spoke, Trellis?" "Ah, the young woman is named Arrissa-Selanta Tremere, and the young lad is named Keltis Tremere. Both lovely young dreamers, very engaging in conversation, and quite intelligent, truth be told."
Matthias laughed. "Ah, intelligence, such a rarity nowadays it seems."
Trellis looked at Matt. "Well, did they not slay a mare alone with no harm to themselves or others, whilst you and the mad hunters of Cenotaph were nailing dreamers more than the dread Darkmare? Think on that, if you will."
Arrissa was at peace, at home in Keltis’ embrace. The two had just rid Mt. Illapse of the Darkmare Xatoc. Arrisa’s soft soprano had rung off the sides of the mountain, completely enchanting the Darkmare, who was engaged in tormenting younger, less experienced dreamers. She had chosen a light aria, instead of the soft, calming melody in Cenotaph. Keltis had played alongside, filling in the silences with low scales, and trills. Keltis had been the one to slay this mare, fife to lips in one hand, blade in the other. Arrissa had been near the dreamers, trying to calm them down, while singing to enchant the mare.
Afterwards, they proceeded into the nearby cave, to rest, relax, and spend some time alone. After a while, Keltis picked up his fife, and began to play. Arrissa smiled, and withdrew her lyre, and played alongside him. Neither uttered, nor sang a word, lost simply in the complexity of the tune, and the flowing melody.
This was how they spent their time together, for even though the two were truly in love, and married, music was everything to them.
It was their mind, heart, body, and soul. Very little in the form of intimacy passed between them, for them, the music itself was the intimacy. Neither would ever play music with anyone else. It was something special, which they only shared with each other.
And, as they sat and played, people began to gather out on the mountain, and hear the soft, enchanting melody. They would sit, and talk. Differences between houses were forgotten, as everyone became one with the music. This was the standard occurrence whenever they played, for theirs was true music. It was not written, jotted down, and followed measure by measure...it was played completely from the heart. And, it showed.
A few weeks later, Matthias decided to go gen-sitting in Harrow Glades. Calm, quiet, and usually out of the way. It seemed like the perfect spot to relax. After about an hour of relaxing...watching first a cursed elemen appear, followed shortly by a cursed alteror, he began to wonder if he was even in the right dream. He sighed, and stood up. "To the Chaos if I’m gonna sit here, and waste my time for absolutely nothing. Gotta be some shamblixs in here somewhere."
And, with that, he commenced hunting. Soon, however, as seemed to be his bane with hunting, he ran into another crowd surrounding a DarkMare. Kirokza it was this time. Sighing, he sat down near a tree to watch. At least, until Kirokza began evoking blind like a madman...well, mad-mare, anyway. Feeling rather sorry for the inexperienced fighters trying to take on a fairly advanced Darkmare, he fingered his Vision alt, and withdrew his chakram.
Kirokza sat at the side laughing, as dreamer ran into dreamer, and knocked each other over. One dreamer tripped, and was laying half in, half out of the bog. Another, somehow, was hanging bent over a branch in a tree above. Matthias had to fight to keep from laughing himself at the sight. As he watched, two dreamers were walking backwards, bumped into each other, and whirled around and began firing chakrams. Sighing, he turned toward Kirokza, whom by now, had noticed that he wasn’t blind. The two began circling around, looking for an opening. Suddenly, a blind dreamer tripped, and fell sprawling across Matthias’ path. Matt tripped, and fell heavily to the ground. Kirokza was on him in a moment, and raised her claws up to sink them into him.
Arrissa’s voice rang out from the gloom.
When the edge of consciousness breaks Though e’er the time may come to pass When wings of time, the soul it takes Lay shivering in the sullen mass
Daylight breaks, and stillness falls But ne’er will it be seen by thee Trapped within e’er chaotic walls Soul and body yearn to be free
As the duo stepped into the clearing, Matthias heaved a breath of relief. He had been worried for a moment, for the mare had him trapped. But, now, he knew he had nothing to worry.
Keltis stepped forward, and stood by his love, playing a melody in its minor scale on his fife. Together, the two stepped forward, still singing. Arrissa bent down, and reached her hand out to Matt, while Keltis softly nudged the entranced Kirokza back, so he could stand.
Forever dreams of love and light Glowing softly 'ere break of dawn Daytime breaks, and e’er so right Dreaming from the realm beyond
Soul for peace and feeling yearns As all familiar 'tis lost for now Chaotic mind, relentlessly burns Seeking only the hunter’s vow
As Arrisa pulled Matthias to his feet, Keltis slowly edged behind Kirokza.
Painful desires, endless wants Yearning only for what was lost Wishing to feel what one felt once Caring ne’er at what the cost
Suddenly, without warning, Kirokza broke from the spell. He saw Keltis edging behind him, and roared in furious anger. He swung backwards, and Keltis was knocked sprawling into the bog. Arrissa screamed, and Matthias drew his chakram. However, the enraged mare raged at him, and he was sent flying into a nearby tree, his vision blurring. Kirokza turned toward the unconscious form of Keltis, and Matthias tried to stand. Arrissa screamed in fear from where she had stood...too scared to withdraw a chakram or blade.
As the world around Matthias slowly came into focus, he saw Kirokza holding Keltis above his head, and roaring in rage. Kirokza was evoking art after art on him. Matthias dimly realized that Mind Blank was being evoked a lot, along with other arts. Arrissa still shivered in fright, frozen in place. Matthias dully rose to his feet, and plodded toward the Darkmare, who was holding the unconscious Keltis in her hands. Matt withdrew his blade, knowing that he would have one good swing before the mare realized he was there, and withdrew his attention from whatever she was doing to Keltis.
Matt aimed his blade at the middle of the beast’s back, where he believed to be a vulnerable spot. However, his senses still dulled, he missed, and slashed at the creature’s leg. Kirokza roared, and whirled around. Matt swung again. This time nailing the mare smartly across the face. The mare dropped Keltis, and brought its claws up to its face. Matt swung again. The mare, completely caught off-guard, had no hope. It turned, and dashed for the nearest portal. Matt was just about to follow it, when Arrissa called to him for help.
"Hurry! Help! He’s not.... not...", she screamed in panic.
Matt ran back over and looked at Keltis. "His face. It’s all pale," he noted as he looked at him. He slapped his face. "C’mon, Keltis, wake up."
After that failed, he began evoking restore, which didn’t help. He looked at Arrissa helplessly. "I don’t know what to do, m’lady."
Arrissa looked pleadingly at him. "Can you...can you help me carry him to a sanctuary, where I can care for him?"
Matt nodded, and picked Keltis up gently, and left for the Sanctuary in the Valley of Totality. When they got there, Matt softly laid Keltis down. Arrissa knelt down beside him, crying, and put her arms around him.
As Arrissa hugged him, Keltis’ eyes fluttered. Arrissa drew back in enraptured amazement, and watched as his eyes slowly opened.
"Keltis! You’re okay!" she cried happily, as the young man opened his eyes.
Keltis only looked straight at the ceiling, not giving any response whatsoever. And, as Arrissa continually prodded, and cried out to him, the only response she got was his continual staring at the ceiling.
After many hours, the best healers in the dream were called upon. They tested him, restored him, purified him, and did everything in their power, all to no avail. Finally, one came to the theory, after hearing Matthias’ story of the evoking, that the Darkmare Kirokza may have somehow trapped, or stolen Keltis’ mind. "You must seek out that Darkmare, and destroy it," Brasha, one of the greatest healers known to her, said. "We’re not sure what ails your husband, but the answer lies with that mare." "But...but, I cannot fight!"
"Well, you had better learn, for if that mare possesses Keltis’ soul, it will naturally come after you next, for you and Keltis are so strongly linked."
Arrissa nodded sadly. She turned to Matthias, whom had stood by her side through it all. "Sir, if I may implore, would you be able to teach me? I saw you dueling with that dread mare while he was attacking my husband. You are a noble fighter."
Mattis nodded grimly. "Yes, m’lady, I shall help you."
The next few weeks were spent in Karnek’s Vile retreat, training. They were also spent on constant guard from Kirokza. "You’ve gotta pay more attention!" Matthias growled, as he fired at Arrissa through the hole in the wall. "You weren’t even paying attention to where I was! Just because something is out of sight, does not mean it’s not a threat."
Arrissa rubbed at her rear where the chakram had hit. "Sorry, I’ll try harder."
Arrissa frowned. "They ran out again."
Matthias sighed. "You’re a Gatekeeper. You need to pay attention to your arts! Do not let your Free Action run out! That is the most important! You can still operate while scared, but if you’re paralyzed, that mare will make short work of you."
Arrissa nodded dejectedly, and began to evoke Free Action on herself. Matthias sighed, and reached into his pouch. He withdrew two alterors, and tossed them to her.
"Keep these. Use them if you run into Kirokza. One is a Free Action and the other a Resist Fear alteror. I got them from the vault at the house. They both last 20 minutes, so you shouldn’t have to worry about them running out."
Matthias glared at her, as she smiled. "It’s still no excuse for letting them run out in training, Arrissa."
Arrissa nodded again, and packed them into her satchel.
"Alright, m’lady, again." Matthias said, withdrawing his chakram.
Nearly a month after Keltis’ was attacked, Kirokza had still not shown its face in the Dream City. Arrissa had been training, and was now as capable a fighter as Matthias. In fact, she had even begun to beat him in a few duels. One day, Matthias approached her, as she stood by Keltis’ body in the Sanctuary.
"Kirokza may not return, you know," he said sadly. Arrissa looked up at him, a tear in her eye. "Have...have you ever given any thought to what you will do if he does not?"
Arrissa smiled wearily, as if reading his thought. "Matthias, you must know that I can never love anyone except Keltis. We shared a bond among us; it was almost as if it was more than love."
Matthias nodded to her. "I understand, m’lady. I just want you to know that if I can ever be any more help to you, please tell me."
Arrissa looked approvingly up to him, and seemed to come to a decision. "Matthias there is one way you can help me. I plan to enter chaos to search out Kirokza. If he will not come to me, I shall go to him."
"But m’lady, it’s chaos. I don’t think that you could stand..."
Arrissa held up a finger to still him. "I will do it, Matthias. Keltis’ love will strengthen me, and I will persevere, for he means the world to me. If I do Die, I will die trying to save the one I love."
Matthias nodded. "Then, I shall go with you. For if I will die, it will be to die trying to help the one I love." He turned, and walked out of the temple, leaving Arrissa to her unconscious love.
A few days later, a messenger arrived at the Gathering with a codex for Matthias. He took it, and quickly read it. Arrissa was leaving today, and was asking him to meet her in Caudal rift. He looked sadly at the ground, and turned towards the armory. He picked up several Gatekeeper and Fatesender chakrams for them both to use, and picked up a few Dreamsoul elemens, and Resist Fear and Free Action alterors. Satisfied that they were well enough equipped, he headed out. He met up with Arrissa on the outskirts of Caudal, and together they headed in. As they stood on the side, looking down into the swirling chaos, he took one last look at her. Together, as if on a cue, they both jumped down into the swirling darkness, and out into the chaos.
The raw fury whipped at them, threatening to rip them apart. Matthias held strongly onto Arrissa’s hand, keeping them together. They slowly forced their way through the burning torrent, Matthias leading the way, pulling the trembling and scared Arrissa behind him. Roars of rage flooded their ears, as all the Darkmare of chaos sensed their presence. Suddenly, they fell to one of the few areas of reality and order within the chaos. They crashed to the rocky ground, and looked about at swirling mists.
"W..what do we do now?" Arrissa asked, shuddering with fear.
"We wait. They know we’re here." Matthias replied stonily.
The roars of rage grew louder, and seemed to come from all directions. Faces seemed to flow in the chaos swirling about them. Arrissa trembled in fear. Matthias looked at her, and frowned. "Arrissa stay calm, resolute. It’s Keltis’ only chance. You must stand firm!"
The young woman looked up to him, fear in her eyes, and slowly began to calm down, forcing her fear to subside. Matthias smiled in grim approval as the young woman went from shivering wreck to resolute warrior. Arrissa craned her neck around and whispered to Matthias. "He’s coming. I can feel it. I can feel him." P> Matthias nodded grimly. The roar around them escalated, and then, suddenly, stopped. Matthias jumped at the sudden and complete silence. They looked around. Not even the swirling mists made noise anymore.
Suddenly, Arrissa twirled around and yelled, "He's here," and shoved Matthias to the floor just as a huge dark mass hurled from the mist right through where Matthias had been standing. Arrissa turned, and came face to face with Kirokza.
Wasting no time, dreamer and dark mare dashed at each other. Kirokza’s well experienced claws slashing, and Arrissa’s newly trained blade whirring back and forth. Blade rang against claw. The two slowly backed up, and re-appraised each other. As they circled around, Matthias slowly rose from the floor, and looked up.
"Arissa," he asked, not knowing yet where he was.< Arrissa looked at him, and that one-second of diversion was all Kirokza needed. Kirokza lowered its head, and charged toward Arrissa. Arrissa knocked off her feet, fell heavily to the ground. In seconds, Kirokza was on top of her, flailing away with her claws. Arrissa screamed in agony as the claws repeatedly rent through her avatar, shredding her clothes and skin.
Matthias screamed, and staggered to his feet. He charged the Darkmare. Kirokza turned, and swung a well-aimed claw, catching Matthias just below the chin, and sending him sprawling again. Matthias fell to the ground, and forcibly stood up again. As he turned, he saw Arrissa’s avatar shredded, and her Soulsphere floating eerily above the ground. Then, he saw Kirokza.
The mare evoked an art of some kind. And, there were only two arts that Matthias knew of that would be evoked on a soulsphere. Restore and Dreamstrike.
Matthias yelled fearfully, and dashed forward. He plowed into the dread mare, causing the evoke to fail. The mare roared in rage as it stood up, and Matthias took the moment to quickly restore on Arrissa. Then, as he turned, Kirokza’s claw found their way to his stomach. Matthias’ face grew blank, as he felt the claw sink deep into his mid-section. He looked to the side, only to see his avatar dissolve around him.
Kirokza began evoking.
Arrissa stood shivvering, and looked at the blade upon the ground. Kirokza looked at her, half-gloating. Then, she realized why the mare wasn’t doing anything. She had evoked Free Action on herself, but had not moved since the dread mare paralyzed her. She believed Kirokza thought she was paralyzed! Smiling grimly to herself, Arrissa looked to the ground where Matthias’ blade lay, and noted how far it was to the mare. As Kirokza turned, she knelt down, grabbed the blade, and sunk it deep into the mare’s body. The mare screamed in rage as she withdrew the blade, and drove it in again.
Again, and again, and again, she stabbed at the mare, until its form lay still upon the ground. And, even after, she still sunk the blade into the ground where the mare had lain, too overcome by grief to notice.
After she sat there for what seemed like eternity, she began to hear the voices in chaos rise again, and knew that the other mares had noticed Kirokza had not dispatched of them. Picking up Matthias’ blade, and Kirokza’s essence, she slowly headed out into chaos, and toward the dreamscape.
The Soulmasters were able to perform a ritual using Kirokza’s essence, and restored Keltis’ mind to him. Matthias’ blade was returned to the Gathering, and Arrissa told of his honor, bravery, and nobility, of how he sacrificed his avatar for her.
Less than a week later, a great ceremony was held in Upper Basin, in honor of Matthias. Dreamers from all houses gathered, and tales of his honor and bravery were told over and over. And, to top off the evening, two of the dream’s greatest minstrels came, and sang the following song to all the dreamers.
Love is e’er flowing grace Sacrificing one for all The pleasant beating of the heart’s race Makes it easy to take the fall
Noble is the one that gives Himself to protect those that he loves Honorable is the life he lives No matter how the burning shoves
Yet even greater is he who will go Into darkness with nary a stall That he will e’er be able to show The love that he feels to another at all
Noble dreamer, honorable man Warrior since the time began Peace eternal in endless rest Forever, we pray that you be blessed
- End -