Week 7 - Novel - Dreams Part I - July 15-21
Jo dreamed again. This time, she found herself on a hill overlooking an expansive and verdant valley. From her vantage point, she could see a lazy little river coursing its way through the heart of the valley. Nestled comfortably to one side of the river, directly downhill from her, appeared to be a small village.
Village could be an overstatement, Jo thought. It was more like a collection of haphazardly constructed thatched roof huts, no more than several dozen in number. She could see smoke rising softly from a few now, trailing languidly upwards towards the sky. She didn’t see anyone out and about, however. That seemed a little odd to her, but she wasn’t sure why.
Still early in the afternoon, the sun shone brilliantly overhead, illuminating the valley in vivid and crisp resolution and beaming a comfortable degree of warmth over Jo. It was midsummer, right around the end of the solstice festival. There should be more people outside. This she knew, though how she knew was not clear to her.
She turned around, and saw a dragon.
“We’ve been waiting quite a while for you,” the dragon rumbled, low and quiet. Quiet for a dragon, which is to say quite loudly to Jo’s mere human ears.
Dragon was a little bit of a stretch, Jo admitted. Examining the creature more carefully now, Jo could see that either the popular conception of dragons was horribly off base, or this was a different sort of beast entirely.
Standing about twice as tall as Jo herself, with the length of perhaps a very large elephant, the dragon was covered entirely in iridescent, yet smooth skin. No scales. No wings, either, though there was a sizably formidable tail thing going on. As the dragon stared at Jo and Jo stared at the dragon, Jo could see its tail swishing slowly back and forth, and uncomfortably noted the presence of a rather large bulbous barb protruding from the tip of the tail. She decided then that she would like to be friends with the dragon.
The head of the dragon was its most curious feature, Jo decided, and also the reason she had immediately recalled the notion of a dragon to mind when she first glimpsed the creature. The face was indeed decidedly dragon-like, with large, beady black eyes set in a sharply curved, birdlike face that ended in what appeared to be a beak with two enormous nostrils. Most interesting, however, was the presence of a massive, dazzlingly luminous aquamarine stone set in the forehead of the dragon, immediately above its eyes. It seemed to fit perfectly, nestled within what must have been a cavity in the dragon’s head.
As Jo stared more intently at the stone, she could see faintly that it was not in fact perfectly aquamarine, but rather many subtle shades and hues of blue and green, all slowly coalescing together like smoke twirling and mixing in the air. The dragon’s iridescent skin also seemed to be shifting in a similar pattern, and the overall effect of this constant movement of the dragon’s skin and stone made Jo feel deeply disoriented and discomfited.
“Are you a dragon?” Jo finally asked.
“Dragon…dragon? I am not familiar with this term. I do not know what a dragon is, and therefore I presume that I must not be one.” the dragon mused thoughtfully.
“What are you, then?” Jo pressed.
“My name is Elvir. I am what you see me to be.” the not-dragon answered flatly.
Jo thought that Elvir could be a little more helpful and forthcoming, but held back from saying so.
“What do you mean you’ve been waiting for me?” she asked.
“I mean just that. Our world will soon find itself on fire, and we cannot quench these fires without your aid. As such, we’ve been waiting for your arrival for a very long time now.“ Elvir replied.
Jo was thoroughly bemused, but decided not to show it. If the not-dragon was going to act as if this was all normal, she would too.
“Okay, great. Why me? What do you need me to do, exactly?”
“That, you will have to discover in your own time. I must leave you soon - I cannot stay here too long. Already, the dawn arrives for me. Know that our lives depend on yours. I trust and hope that I will see you again soon.”
The not-dragon bowed its head low in what appeared to be a show of respect to Jo. Then, with another lazy swish of its tail, it turned and began slowly ambling down the hill, away from the valley, and away from Jo.
Jo watched the not-dragon go, and as she did, she saw it slowly begin to shimmer as it descended, becoming gradually more faint and translucent, and eventually disappearing altogether. By now, she had realized quite firmly that this was a dream, and so was not too concerned or curious about the recent turn of events. Her dreams had all been rather strange, lately, and this was merely another little curiosity to take in stride.
She decided to enjoy the rest of her dream without thinking too much about things, and turned again to face the valley. Perhaps she’d go and explore the village, and see what other interesting sights she might come across.
As she turned, the first thing she noticed was that the smoke she had noticed billowing earlier had intensified dramatically. Indeed, the entire village now appeared to be covered in smoke. Smoke, and flames, she noted in alarm.
The village was on fire, and as she watched in growing horror, she saw the fire expand at an unnaturally rapid pace, leaping from one hut to another as if driven by an insatiable hunger to consume, until every house in the village was covered in blazing flames.
Jo found it strangely hard to quell the feeling of dread and terror that washed over her. She knew this was a dream, and yet she couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something horribly, terrifyingly real about what she was seeing. Encountering the not-dragon hadn’t phased her much, but this, for some inexplicable reason, was affecting her viscerally.
She swallowed uncomfortably. The fire continued to swell uncontrollably at an unimaginable pace, and soon it seemed as if the entire valley were on flames. Even the river seemed to be burning. The heat became unbearable, and Jo realized with growing apprehension that she was uncomfortably close to the unchecked inferno, which was now starting to lick its way up her hill.
She turned to run in the same direction as the not-dragon, but she already knew with certainty that her escape attempt was futile. The flames swept over the crest of the hill as she tumbled down the other side of it, and they followed her with what seemed like almost sentient malice and determination.
She felt the flames engulf her before she saw them. She screamed as she fell, unbearable pain searing itself throughout the entirety of her body, becoming one with her.