There is a certain dream-like inexorability to the Dreamer’s words, yet I cannot help but fall back on self-scrutiny, a drilled habit that does not seem to leave me even in dreaming.
― If you can make them all fall asleep, then why not just do that and let us escape that way? We could be long gone come morning, and they could not pursue without their horses.
― Riddle-solver, you ask so many questions! the Dreamer admonishes me. ― Where is your willingness of moments ago?
― Well, then I did not know that you could just put them to sleep.
I think that I am being reasonable. The Dreamer seems impatient with my concerns, however.
― Hush now, Riddle-solver, he gestures and turns to stare at me. ― It is apt for us to make sure that these men bother us no more. Furthermore, we need to learn more of the Anti-Dream and how it has set its mark upon them.
― And what about the dangers of Diving that you spoke of?
― Oh, I am confident that you will persevere, clever as you are. And once you do, you will have the capability to journey to the Otherwere with me as well. This is a fine opportunity for us.
In this fleeting moment I fully understand the Dreamer: his loneliness, clumsiness and yearning for companionship. Insofar as my intuition can be trusted in this foggy dream-realm, he is a man to whom Bungisgan and his revenge are mere peccadilloes of passing curiousity. He has not even asked me of what I have learned of the Anti-Dream and its origins, not when I offered him the perfect excuse to draw me further into his web instead. Perhaps, for a timeless being of eternal slumber, mere matters of survival are paltry next to the pursuit of love.
― I fear the Anti-Dream, my Dreamer, I tell him to prevaricate. ― Also, I have to know: I spied bogatyrs on the road two sunsets past, intent on exploring the Saur Rock to apprehend me. They should be on the Rock right now, yet here you are helping me. Are you not worried about them?
―Oh, they will never find me, the Dreamer brushes away the concern. ― Nobody ever has, and there are defenses. As ever, the petty knights of kings and emperors are irrelevant to seekers of true wisdom. Surely you can see that?
Oh, I can see well enough. Before I can tell him off, though, the Dreamer gestures, and I feel the dream advance regardless of my will. I move closer to the dream-shapes of the three sleepers, through the dank mist that unmistakably smells of Bungisgan and his ashes. They are similar to Samet’s dream-entity that I saw last night, similar enough to recognize them for what they are despite the darkness strangling and puncturing those dreams, pulling them down and tying them tight on the chests of the sleeping figures.
― Please pick one of them, Riddle-solver, he asks me as I look upon the sleepers. ― The dream demands it, I am sure you can sense so yourself. The eternal moment of dream-logic, stuck to place unchanging until you make your choice.
I can sense it, yes, but I can also understand that it is the Dreamer who shapes the dream, frames the interaction. I need to get out, this is much too similar to what my brother would say.
― My dear Dreamer, I say, closing my eyes so as to not accidentally interact with the oppressive picture before me. ― I am afraid that you have never told me, how would one wake up from a dream? I think it is easy when the dream ends, but what about when there is a master such as yourself present?
I do not hear him move or speak, so I hasten to lay out my plan: ― I will, nevertheless, atttempt to awaken now. I will try to surprise the lone guard quietly, and escape with the poor soap-maker. I will leave it up to you to decide whether you wish to use your craft to help or hinder. If you still wish to know of the Anti-Dream, the revenge of Bungisngis set against you, I am sure that there will be another opportunity.
When I open my eyes, I open them to reality – I had half-feared that the Dreamer would stop me from rousing, but if anything, I wake up clear-headed and cognizant. Perhaps it is because I chose to wake up consciously?
I look at the cloudless night sky and breathe calmly. This is not going to be easy. I can see the shape of the guard in the dark, sitting on a rock. It is Fere, I remember from the dream: old and cunning, yet morose and, if I am any judge, prone to drink. The one who recognized my old family upbringing. Perhaps his wits are now dull from the drink, I saw him mirthlessly partaking earlier. Even then, he would need barely a word to rouse his comrades. Nevertheless, it is better to try to escape now than to explain the lack of treasure to Castelmore tomorrow.
The question is, will the Dreamer cast his spell in my favour after I defied him so. He should, if I understood his desire at all. And if he does, perhaps I can free Besnik and we can take the horses without alarming the camp. Even if he does not, I at least have the satisfaction of liberty.
Rolled a second Lover die for ‘4’.
Hero dice: 1|4|2|4|2|1|5|4
Monster dice: 3|2|6