Dreams are the things we were,
Things that have come to pass.
Things that we wish we could take back,
But know that we never can.
I had a dream once,
But then I realized you would never come back.
So now I never dream
To hold my heart together at the seams,
I lie awake and wait for you.
My dreams were always very vivid. Even as a child, whenever I had nightmares, I would scream until someone would come in to comfort me. I could never tell the difference between what was real and what was exactly that, a dream. I simply figured that eventually I would stop dreaming and grow up.
Most nights I dream that I am on a large ship. I dream the wind of the sea is whipping through my hair as we cruise towards the coast. It is foggy and dark. I used to stand on the deck and look out over the edge trying to find a mermaid. But I never get to see one. As soon as I look over I see a sea serpent rising out of the water, coming right towards me.
When I looked around I noticed no one else paying any attention to the beast as it slithers towards the mast and coils around it opening its maw ready to devour the captain. I try to warn him but when I open my mouth no sound escapes. That is when I realize that I am a silent witness to the destruction around me. I remember the times I tried to warn the others on the ship. Jumping up and down and waving my arms in front of them trying to get their attention to no avail.
Now whenever the dream came I waited. Watching in horror as the people were mauled and thrown from the ship until there was nothing left of it. I had never really noticed the woman standing on the ship before with her beautiful long brown hair. Mixed in with her curls were thin braids and she always standing with her back to me. As soon as I started to move closer to her I was frozen on the spot.
This time the dream suddenly stopped and changed into a brand new nightmare. I was staring at the faces of my friends and family dead and piled underneath the burning white cherry blossom tree. And as I looked up I saw the same Fire dragon as before circling the pile. Hearing me it stopped to stare right into my eyes. It opens its jaws to breathe its fire. And as I begin to scream I jolt awake.
My eyes flutter open and I find myself looking up at Alexander. I feel stiff and as I try to move he looks down at me. We stare for a moment and then I realize why the world has stopped moving. His arms are cradling me, carrying me. I try to gauge the time but fail to because the trees are blocking most of the sunlight.
“Finally.” He says quietly. I can see the relief written all over his face. He sets me down on my feet gently and then holds my arm while I gather my footing.
“How long have I been asleep?” I ask groggily. My voice sounds strange so I try to clear it. It hurts a lot though, probably from all the inhaled dragon smoke. It too was deadly, like a poison to our bodies.
“Not too long.” He replies, “You worried me. I was afraid you were never going to wake.”
“Where are the others?” I ask him. I notice that we stand on a little path that winds through the forest. I rub my neck wishing that I had been sleeping differently. My throat hurts badly and when he offers me water I take it gladly.
“They are not too far ahead.” He tells me as I drink. “You have been unconscious for two days and so they scout ahead while I carry you a little ways behind.”
“It has been two days?” I ask surprised.
“Cain wanted to wait for daylight and for you to wake up,” He explains, “but I thought it best we not linger that long so close to the edge of the forest. Not with the dragons leaving. I didn’t want them to spot us.”
“Oh.” I say simply. I realize I should thank him but the others come around the bend. Katarina races to my side and hugs me.
“Finally!” She says excitedly. “We were very worried. Especially him.” She tells me looking over at Alexander.
“Thank you.” I say. “All of you.” I look at my friends and Cain and realize that we need to get to a town and gather supplies for the long road ahead. Or that I need to find a way to get leave them and set out on my own.
“Hope! No!” Katarina gasps. “You are not leaving to go fight dragons all on your own!”
“Katarina,” I say, “you know I wish I could bring you but I could not bear it if anything happened to you.”
“So what makes you think that I could ever leave you?” she says. “You are like a sister to me. I could not leave you out there all alone.” I sigh because I realize that it is true. Although this means that we will need to speak about her listening to my thoughts, because all the others are staring at us strangely.
“Katarina heard my thought.” I explain quickly noticing the way Cain is staring, the only one who is unaware of her abilities.
“You were thinking of leaving on your own?” Cole asks. “How could you think that way after your father tasked us with finding the Lords?”
“I want you all to be safe. The King tasked me with finding what has changed with the dragons.”
“So we go with you. Or we leave you tied up in Divinity and go. There are more of us and only one of you.” He challenges smiling wickedly and cracking his knuckles. I had never fought Cole before but I knew that I would surely lose if I did.
“Alexander? Cain? Are you with him on this?” I ask hoping that they will listen to reason instead of this madness.
“I am.” They say in unison. I groan internally as I drop my head into my hands. And after a moment I decide that there is no other choice and so I give up.
“Fine.” I say, “Then we need to find a town to get supplies. We are heading to the Dracul Mountains to find the Lords.”
Cain’s eyes bulge and Cole swears under his breath. I look over at Katarina and she seems deeply focused. “There is a town about a half day’s walk from here. My mother used to get fabric from them.” She tells us, “They will have everything we need to get to the mountain range as long as we follow on the path.”
“Then let us be off.” I say slowly stepping forward. Cain and Alexander each take one of my arms and stop seeing what the other is doing.
“I have her.” Katarina says stepping in. Thank you, I mouth to her once we walk away. She smiles and carefully moves forward. I start thinking as we walk. The Dracul Mountains have been inhabited by the dragons forever. I imagine it to be a waste land of lava pits and acid pools guarded by the dragons. No human that goes there has ever returned. The King decreed it forbidden as a part of the peace treaty. It was the only thing that they really asked for, to be left alone and to live undisturbed by man.
The dragons each had specific habitats that they desired. The Fire dragons needed the lava to keep them warm and fuel their flames. The Sky dragons liked the clouds to rest on when they tired of floating around the mountains. The Earth dragons needed the caverns and caves that filled the range to sharpen their spikes and claws on the rocks inside. And the Jade water dragons needed to swim and the Jade River came from the mountains where they stayed.
As we walk I ponder very carefully about the last few days. At least the last one I was awake for. And refuse to think on it anymore after the image of the King’s charred face flashes across my thoughts. So instead I try to make sense of my dream. I wonder about what it means. Why the serpent is destroying the ship. I cannot fathom why none of them see it. The desperation on the Sea Trader’s faces almost brings me to my knees though so I shut it out and focus on my mission. Only to look up at the mountains that bring tears to my eyes.
One time if I squinted hard enough I could see the snow covered mountain tops from my balcony. They were so far off and high up that they touched the clouds that passed over the wall of mountains. The clouds would then sweep across the land and deliver either rain in the spring or snow for the winter. One year when Katarina and I were young we played in the court yard. I was wearing a yellow spring dress. We were playing with our dolls under the white cherry blossom tree.
I looked up and saw the King talking to a man walking in my direction. The man was speaking quickly and was making little gestures with his hands. When they saw us playing in the grass the man stopped and looked between the King and me. He spoke quickly to the King then turned and left immediately. The King said nothing but walked over and told me to play inside and that he would join me momentarily.
I remember waiting on my balcony staring out across the land. When he came in he told me that he had made peace with the Sea Traders and that we could start going to the beach when it was warmer. I told him that was nice and asked him why the man had been so upset. He told me that there were things that the man should forget and that I was one of them. When I asked why, he simply said “You’ll know the answers when you’re older.” So I stared out the window confused and lost searching for answers in the mountains.
The King had always been there to lead me in the right direction. He always had the perfect answer to my questions. Now he is gone. So as I try to find the answers, I realize that we have a very long journey ahead of us. And that I truly miss the life I leave behind.