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 Creatures of the Dream

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cgroen
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PostSubject: Creatures of the Dream   Sat Jul 11, 2015 5:08 pm

She struggled past the wakeful dream, the familiarity of the shadows.  She wondered if she would find herself in the same forest when she fully awoke.  Her eyes focused on the tree before her.  She knew enough now to allow herself to wake up. She was further down the path then before. It would take her some time to head back.  Yet she considered going on, to find what was drawing her to those mountains and the caves. She shivered in her cloak and slid her hand into her pocket.  A small round insect with intersecting wings curled up in her palm.  She gently blew on it and it shook its wings and began to glow faintly. It would be enough light to tiptoe down the path. It would be wise not to waken anything in the forest.  For a brief moment she struggled about going on to the mountain’s roots yet something held her back even as the dream beckoned.
 There was much to be done, and others would worry where she was if she was too long away, not that there was a real ban on visiting the forest.  The legends were gone, very few knew the lore now. She had asked the eldowan in the village when the dreams first came yet received no answer.  What she could discover was always full of unknowns, and those who did know the pieces never understood her curiosity.  Yet something continually was dragging her here week after week.
   They were so long in the past, the stories, that not even the great greats remembered. Because of this the people were content to leave what was left alone, happy in the present and the peace that covered their lives.  She herself could not fully comprehend what was compelling her.  She had a bright future ahead of her, beholdan of the head, power in her own right, and the means of achieving all she longed for. She turned and headed back to the village.  There was still one more person she could ask. She drew a deep breath as she left the trees behind, reentered the village, and saw the sister sun just rising. She would not be late, and the questions would hold.
   Through that day she pondered what her steps should be. She had never spoken about her sleep wonderings to her beholden, but she was sure he knew.  Nothing stayed secret in this small compound. She kneaded the browead, turning it over and over in her hands until it folded upon itself and she stuck in straight in the fire. She then sat among the other women as they wove the cloth, the sweeping colors intersecting each other in the pattern of her village.  She kept her eyes on her weave yet was aware of the movements around her. She could hear pairs of women as they spoke of the weave and their children and their husbands. The breeze blew a spicy smell through the air as the browead baked. These were the normal feels, smells, sights, and hearings of every day. Yet even as she worked she was pondering how she would gain what she sought. By the end of the day she had decided.  She would visit the river village a half sun’s journey away.  Perhaps the answers were there after all.  She could easily excuse her travel with talk of trade and protection, although no enemies had threatened for generations.
  The next morning she found herself on another path. She hummed under her breath.  The pack lay easy on her shoulders, cloth and jewelry to sell rolled into a bundle. The dim oval blue stone necklaces and bracelets were sought by others as the stone was only found in her village streams.  Some said the stones were washed down from the very mountains her spirit seemed to be drawn to.
   As she entered the village the women gazed at her.  She wondered what they saw. She was a tall woman, with long brown braided hair to her midback, and deep brown eyes.  This was not uncommon but she knew her skin was different as it was slightly lighter than the others. Her cheekbones were also a little higher and her eyes slightly more upward. She knew she was not a beautiful woman yet people still followed her with their eyes. She greeted the women with an upheld hand, showing she had come in peace. The women smiled and gathered around her as she opened her pack to display the wares.  They smiled deeper when they saw the jewelry, and exclaimed over the workmanship.  She felt some pride as she herself had designed these pieces. She bantered graciously as the women vied for the pieces and promised to bring more the next time she traveled. As the women handled the pieces she watched each one. Not that one, the woman snatched the pieces as she picked them up.  Not that one, the woman hesitated on which one to pick. Not that one, the woman only watched as others pawed the wares. However, once the wares were gone she had figured out the beholden. The woman did not search the stones but had commented over the others picks and favorites. She wore a yellow stone bracelet. Vista approached her with her head bent, her chin almost touching her right shoulder, her hand up to show respect.
“I am Vista from the village through the forest. I am searching for the eldowan.”
The woman peered at her closely. She nodded her head and beckoned Vista to the center of the village. The hut was strong yet modest. As they entered the woman pointed toward a chair by the door for her to sit in.
“Mada, there is a visitor. Her name is Vista.  She has brought jewelry to us from the forest village.”
Vista could see a figure rising from a chair by the firepit and come closer, hunched over and walking slowly.  This was a true eldowan.
“And what does the visitor want?”
Vista pulled out a necklace she had kept, one of the best pieces she had ever done, with a large blue stone surrounded by yellow and red. The eldowan jerked up her head and met Vista’s eyes. She held them long and strong, then finally spoke.
“I know what you seek. I have waited for a long time for one to come, to hear.  Sasha may stay to hear as well.  I am not sure how long before I go to the silence so one should carry the secret beyond me. Let us all sit together before the door and have the light fall on us.”
The women drew the chairs together.  The eldowan sat heavily down and gazed toward the distant mountains.
“There was once a time among us when we were partners to creatures. These creatures came from beyond time. The creatures’ minds and ours were connected through bonds no longer understood and lasted a lifetime. Whatever the creatures felt we felt and what we felt the creatures felt. We could share thoughts and plans. The creatures helped us survive our world when we first came, for centuries we worked together against any foe.  Then unexpectedly all enemies vanished, most believed vanquished, and the creatures thought they had no future with us. We tried to keep them as friends living together in peace but they disappeared and the link was broken.  Through the centuries since then, once in awhile, there are people who are called but none have answered as far as I know, not understanding the call. I think that you, Vista, have been called.  I cannot tell you to answer, but there remains part of a legend that says that the connection will be rebridged and we will face a foe together once again. But we have lived in peace so long that the legend may be false.”
  The women sat together quietly looking about them at the village scene. The children racing back and forth through the creeks that flowed out of the river, the men readying the game with spices of their own gardens, the women before their fires flaming the spits and not one of them could not figure where such a threat could come from. After a time Vista stood and gathered the eldowan’s hands in her own.
“Thank you Mada.  I just had to know if the pull I have been feeling is true or a dream, if there just might be something in those mountains that is calling me.  I am not sure if I will go there or not.”
“If you do decide to go bring your beholden with you.  Something tells me he is part of the answer.  It may be that he feels called as well but has denied it, thinking it is a dream best forgotten.”
Vista stood up quickly, surprised, how had the eldowan known? There was not enough travel between the villages for others outside to know of their betrothal. The eldowan nodded and shuffled back to the fire.  Vista looked as Sasah but she just sat there, watching the floor. Vista held her hand out for parting and walked away, back through the village and into the forest. She traveled the path, keeping to its boundaries. She knew by the time she had returned to her own village that she would have to confide to her beholden.
 That night as the fires blazed and the villagers ate together she glanced toward the men and spied him.  He sat among the eldoman listening. He would need their wisdom and knowledge when he became the head in all fullness.  All that lacked now was their wedding, which was in a moon’s time. Though men decided on life’s ways and judged the village as heads, the line of power stayed with the women and it was through their blood that the power transferred.  Vista fingered her own necklace; its deep blue round stone sparkled in the firelight. What it held only she knew, and she would only tell its secrets to a daughter if she had one, or to one girl who shared close blood.  This is how Vista gained the stone, she was niece not daughter to the one who had gifted her. She waited until he had left the male group and followed him a few steps behind until they were out of hearing range.  She then quickly came up beside him.
“Calem, may I speak with you? It is very important.”
“Vista, I am surprised. Some would frown at this meeting.”
   Vista smiled.  There was no real barrier to a man and woman speaking together, yet there were some old traditions that still held. Some would be afraid of the power transfer happening too early, others would be afraid of affections given too early, and others would be afraid of plots and subplots.  Again Vista wondered at this since nothing like these had happened for so long, yet there were some who still feared these things.  Perhaps these fears prevented them from happening, she was not sure.
“Please Calem.”
“Very well, but let us go back to the far fire where others can see us, but would still provide some privacy.  The people may think we discuss our ceremony.  It is not too soon for those talks to take place.”
Vista smiled again, since the ceremony had not changed for generations either, so there was really nothing to discuss, but she nodded her agreement. Once they were by the fire she spoke under her breath.
“I am sure you know I have had sleep wanderings toward the mountains.  I have been trying to discover why I have been pulled week after week to their footpaths. Today I went to the river village and found an eldowan that spoke of creatures of long ago. The eldwoan believes I am being called by them, but it is my decision if I answer this call.  The eldowan also advised that if I answer the call that you come with me.”
Vista watched Calem’s face as she spoke but it remained calm and unchanged. He sat in thought and then answered her, but not as she expected.
“Vista you are not aware that I also have had sleep wanderings and to those same footpaths.  Usually I am steps behind you, but I was not sure if the figure in front of me was you or not, as I come out of the dream all is in a mist and I am lucky to find my way back sometimes. I believe I have met the same eldowan as you, and she told me the same thing, although she did not say if that beholden was you or another. I have waited to speak as I felt the woman before me was my beholden but I but was not sure if that was you or not and how was I going to be able to break my promise if it was not you.  But now that you have spoken I now understand we are meant to be, and we must follow those paths together. I have been thinking about the journey and have decided that maybe it might be best to go after our wedding as a bonding travel.  No one in the village would dismiss that.”
   Vista fell to her knees in surprise, the shock thrilled her as much as frightened her.  This was beyond what she could wish for. Even though their promise had been made as children when they were bonded by their parents, she had come to care deeply for Calem as she watched him as they grew. While it was not uncommon for bonded partners to break the promise it was rare and only allowed if both partners felt the bond had been broken. She sat in silence as she thought about his words. Then they looked as each other as if seeing each other the first time, as if aware of what they shared already. They spoke no longer that night, yet somehow Vista knew they had both agreed not to go to the mountains until after the ceremony.  Vista only hoped the call would continue until then.
   When she came out of the dream the next night she looked behind her and saw the shadow. She waited until the figure turned and went back down the path then she followed. She struggled with finding out if it was Calem or not some other. She decided to discover if he was sleep wandering and stayed just enough behind him to conceal her own shadow.  As they went back to the village she figured out why she had never noticed him before.  He kept to the darkness between the trees as if afraid of being seen.  But of course as future head it could be dangerous for others to discover his wanderings. There were many in the village that stayed suspicious of anything outside of the normal day to day living and of others beyond their own village. Maybe that is why the lore and learning had faded. They neared the village and the fires that smoldered but still gave off a small light. He trod behind the huts to the men’s group keeping to the grayness of night and entered what was Calem’s, but never was there enough of the light to be sure. Vista sighed.  For now she would have to trust what he said.
  Vista sat with her necklace in her hand on the hut floor and wondered.  A hundred questions had gone through her head after the visit to the river village, and now she could not sleep. The darkness swirled around her, but the moon was just on the horizon so it was early in the night. She wondered if those that had been called by these same dreams were village heads and those who held the stone. She knew that other villages had their own stones of power, although there was belief that the blue stone in her keeping was one of the strongest. Yet most of the villagers believed that everything in their own village was better than any other village.  That may be why there had been no wars, since everyone seemed content in their own little boundaries. Not that there was not travel between the different villages but it only occurred maybe twice a year.  Once a year the different village heads would met, along with their beholdens, but it was only those villages that were a day’s travel away. Vista wondered if there were other villages beyond that. Her aunt had told her of a time when there were more villages and the people traveled from one to another to sell wares and to learn from each other. Why the villages disappeared no one knew, or what happened to those people.  Some spoke of a sickness, others of a migration to other parts of their world. Vista wondered what would happen if she and Calem followed this call and discovered what lay beyond their boundaries, beyond any point they have ever traveled. She watched the moon rise and shine brightly on her own village. She knew everyone here, the families have lived together for generations, and her family had held the stone for as long as any great great had lived. Suddenly Vista was frightened to leave all the familiar, to step into the unknown, and she clutched the stone tighter.  A faint glow began to spread over the stone and she gasped.  She had cut her finger slightly when she had tightened her grip and the blood had dropped onto the stone. Vista kept still and waited.  If the stone awaken then she would have to say the words, but if it slept once more then she would remain silent.  Vista felt her eyes closing and before her a green shadow appeared, shimmering in the shadows of her room. It took a form unlike anything she had ever seen.  It had wings, and claws, and a pointed nose, but it remained out of focus. It raised its claw and beckoned to her. She could feel herself rising up to follow, yet her body stopped and swayed. The green shadow bowed its head and lowered its claw. A faint voice sounded in her head and told her not to fear, to follow her heart and the stone and where those lead she would find her answers.
   Vista was shaking on her bed when she opened her eyes.  Her finger still bled a little. She quickly wiped it off and cleaned the stone. No one had told her about visions coming from the stone, but somehow she knew the green shadow had been a vision.  It may have been the creatures that the eldowan had told her about, or something else.  But it was clear she had no choice now but to go to the mountains and the caves.  She would find no rest until she did.  She breathed softly as the sun sisters rose in the distance. The next time they rose it would be her wedding day and then what would happen would happen.
  She kept her night time vision a secret, not even telling Calem.  She was not sure what to think about its message, and since they had already decided to travel to those mountains then it would make no difference. The village would be safe while they were gone, as the eldowans and eldomans would lead and help the people while they journeyed. They should be only gone for a moon’s time at most.  Vista sewed the last thread onto her wedding gown and then walked through the village to ensure all was ready for the ceremony.  There was plenty of food and the people were happy as they prepared their own garments and huts.  It had been a generation since the ceremony had taken place between a head and a beholden so it would be a special rite that none would forget. Many of the eldowans and eldoman remembered her aunt’s and uncle’s ceremony. Yet since her aunt never had children Vista had inherited the stone. She still missed her aunt’s wit and knowledge. Calem’s family, her own, and two other families were the ones that had men who were heads and women who had held the stone. The one book that remained had written in it the families and their intertwining so that the bloods would not be too intermingled. She herself would write her own name and Calem’s after the ceremony.  Vista went into the first line of trees of the forest that surrounded her village. She glanced around then quickly scampered up to the higher branches.  She made her way to as close to the top as she dare to go, then made herself as comfortable as possible. She peered through the branches down at the village.  The sight of the scattered huts around a central fire, a slight division between the women’s huts and the men’s, made her sigh. Tomorrow night Calem would enter her tent as her husband. She had already cleaned it from top to bottom, and had built a box to hold Calem’s clothes and other things. She had also built a box to hold future items as they were needed, but she blushed to think about what items would be placed there. She had added feathers to the bed cloth and sewed a fluffy pillow for her husband’s head. She had already been given new pots and plates for their first meal together. She had ensured the eldowans that she was past her moon time and could accept Calem’s attentions. She blushed remembering that discussion as well. The eldowan had been very gentle about it though. Vista was glad that she did not have to prove her purity since everyone in the village knew who visited who’s tent. Any other nightly hut visits beyond husband and wife would immediately result in loud disclosure and ejection from the village.  She gazed back through the branches to the forest’s edge beyond.  She could just make out the river’s shimmer and the slight bend where the river village lay. She turned her gaze to her left, toward the mountains beyond the forest. Their footpaths glimmered in the moonlight. Tomorrow night Calem and she would be camping at their very root, and then to the caves beyond. She was now certain that they would head towards those caves, toward whatever was calling them. She turned her gaze once more to behind her to the forest itself. The trees marched on, continuing beyond her sight.  She knew that somewhere in that cluster lay two other villages.  A slight haze drifted from the tree’s tops beyond and she knew she had sighted the smoke from their fires.  There was a slight chance that the heads from these three villages and their beholdens would come for the ceremony.  It was not often that this rite took place. It would be good for all of them to know each other. She had met the head woman of the river village but no one else.  She was sure that Calem had met the heads already with hunting in the forest. She knew he also had gone to meetings with her uncle once their lives had been bonded.
Suddenly a voice hissed at her from the bottom of the tree.
“Vista, Vista.”
She laughed quietly, and wondered when he had seen her climb the tree.  She hurried down through the branches and jumped to the forest floor.  He stood before her with his hands enfolded in front of him.
“Is this a way for a head woman to act?”
She glanced at his face and saw his mouth twitching.
“Oh no my to be husband. I am behaving foolishly.”
Her own mouth curved at his bushy eyebrows and deep brown eyes. He shook his head at her, his eyes went soft.  He opened his arms and sweeped them toward the village. Vista saw his eyes follow her as she ran in front of him and she felt a warmth that only a woman could feel. She glanced back and him and smiled, then swiftly made her way back.  Tomorrow held great promise.
  Vista smoothed the gown as she placed the necklace around her neck. She placed the flowers in her hair and the soft sandals on her feet. She sighed as she faced the sister sun rising. It was finally her wedding day.
  She slowly walked from her tent to the crowd circling the opening between the huts. The men and women kept a clear path cleared for her. Her knees shook as she came closer and closer to the fire blazing in the middle. She finally saw Calem sitting by the fire and the eldomen and eldowen sitting by him. She took a deep breath and stepped into the circle.  She could feel the held breaths, the eyes upon her. She reached Calem and with a fluid movement sat down beside him, keeping her eyes down. One of the eldoman stood up and held his hands over them.
“Let the bond never be broken, let their minds become one, let the rule be just and the lives long.” he intoned.
  She took off the necklace and held it in her hands.  Calem opened his own hands. She pricked her finger on its edge and allowed three drops of blood fall on the stone.
“With my blood let my mind open to yours, your mind become open to mine, let my memories become yours and your memories become mine.  Let past memories become both of ours. Let us use these with wisdom to rule justly. With your blood let us seal the bond between us, let us become fully one mind.”
She held out her hands, as the stone began to glow brighter and brighter. Calem pricked his own finger and three drops of blood covered her own. Calem’s hands caressed her own underneath, the stone above them. The stone blazed and filled the air with intense blue light.  The light spread over the circle and onward to the edge of the village.
Vista breathed deeply as the memories flooded her mind. She saw the village as it first was built and the people as they lived and died. She saw the village grow and the shadow figures through the years. In a moment she saw the whole history of her own village. She saw with the eyes of all those that held the stone. She saw through her own aunt’s eyes and saw herself as a child.  She gasped and struggled with the scenes as they danced in her brain. She then saw though Calem’s eyes and experienced all his thoughts and feelings as he grew, including his visions of her as she grew. She closed her eyes more tightly as to filter memory after memory. The sights, sounds and even smells from the past overwhelmed her. He aunt had tried to warn her but she never expected it would be like this. What does one do with all these memories? Finally the memories ebbed and she felt herself shaking. Calem’s hands were still under hers.  She could hear him breathe deeply. She could hear the whole village breathe. When she opened her eyes the village seemed to shine and look brand new. The light was gone, the stone was asleep once more. Calem’s face was before her, his eyes bright and full. His love and mind belonged to her and her love and mind belonged to him. They sat gazing at each other. It would take a life time to remember all those memories, to shift through the shadows. Their life time together.
The people stood as one and clapped.  They surrounded them and began a dance. Vista placed the necklace around her once again and tried to stand but found her legs weak. One of the eldowan helped her up, and an elodman helped Calem.  She could feel the ground beneath her and the sky above. She gazed at Calem and smiled. He grinned back. They helped each other, their arms around each other as they took small steps to the banquet tables and chairs.  Vista began to see individually faces and realized many of the other heads and beholdens were there. She recognized the beholden of the river village and they nodded to each other. They all still faced their own rituals. Their faces showed a little fear and respect.   
Vista found herself in a chair with Calem by her. They held each other still and Vista felt warmth and comfort. She breathed deeply again, trying to find her voice. Drink was served and she drank deeply, finding herself thirsty. She discovered she could thank those that served her. The shadows were fading in her mind, going deeper into her brain to be brought forth as needed. She then thought how the past ceremonies were not part of the memories.  This surprised her, and she wondered why, was it too much to convey or not needed since all experienced what they just experienced.  She would have to ask Calem about it later. They must remain open to each other to deepen the bond, each secret would cause the bond to only weaken and eventually divide them, which would hurt the village.  Each life here depended on this bond growing.
She looked at Calem again.  He smiled and took her hand. The eldomen and eldowens served the meal.  She tried to eat, to regain her strength, as she ate felt her body as hers once again. She found she could move her arms and legs, and in control of her movements. One by one the villagers came before them, chins to their shoulders and hands up to show their acceptance of leadership. Last the eldomen and eldowens walked up and bowed low. Vista’s face became warm with their humility. Calem and she stood as one and bowed back. All the village clapped again as one. Was this the secret for peace, to be of one mind? Calem and she walked to the front of the table and stood as the other village heads and beholdens came to stand with them. They made a circle, and held hands.  Each of the beholdens had their own stones, some red, some yellow, some as necklaces, some as bracelets. Vista did not see a stone as large as her own, or the same deep blue. They all held their stones up high so all could see.
“Let us rule together in wisdom and peace.  Let us rule justly. Let us remember the past to decide the future. Let us come together in times of peril and joy.”
The village erupted in clapping and shouts of agreement. The heads and their beholdens began to dance and Calem and Vista joined them. Into the night the feasting and dancing went on, until the stars came and twinkled above them. Some left alone, others left as couples, the heads and the beholdens walked toward the guest huts. Calem and Vista were alone in the square. She held out her hand and led him to her hut.
Vista trembled as she turned toward him. He gathered her into his arms and kissed her gently. Her desire and his melted together, and the moon shined into the window.  She hesitantly broke the hug and covered the opening.  She moved back to him and opened her arms. Tonight was their own.
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SwiftWarrior
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PostSubject: Re: Creatures of the Dream   Thu Oct 06, 2016 1:52 pm

I liked this story! I liked the way you described scenes. The paragraphs were a little bit long though. And if you want to create more excitement in the story, don't describe all of the past events. Try summing it up in one or two sentences instead of a whole paragraph. Weave it in, especially in the first chapter. But you have got writing talent! Good job!
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