Strange Dreams of the Past
A couple of weeks passed. Harry and his family adjusted to their new surroundings well and found their place in the Temple explorations. Harry stayed close to Hannibal as the research on the Temple continued and preparations for the expedition to Amacia proceeded. On a regular basis, Dennis accompanied Harry and helped in any way he could. Mary found her place in the cafeteria and in the Library, where she learned all about the vanished culture that had supposedly constructed the immense fortress in which they dwelt. She became close friends with all of the cafeteria staff and the researchers that did most of the research in the Library. She learned something new every day and the research team gave her many ways to apply the new knowledge.
One day, Hannibal and Harry were working in the second level to the Library examining the sarcophagi, trying to discover how to open them. All of the sarcophagi were sealed the same way except for one. A band of metal that was different from the other alloys they found elsewhere in the Temple sealed the sarcophagi with no apparent way to open them. They located the one sarcophagus that was different and scrutinized it closely. It had a strange dome-shaped protrusion with a small indentation in the middle of it in addition to the band. The protrusion had the Stone Language etched on it with the band clear of the writing. “According to the writing here, there’s some kind of special key that fits in this indentation, Harry,” Hannibal informed as they squatted down, looking at it. The shape of the indentation seemed familiar to Hannibal. “I’ve seen this shape before,” he announced.
“Where?” Harry asked as they looked at the lock.
“I don’t quite remember but I know I’ve seen this shape somewhere before,” Hannibal answered. A sigh escaped his lips as he suddenly sat down cross-legged beside the sarcophagus with the strange indentation. A weary look covered his face.
“What’s wrong, Hannibal?” Harry asked, sitting down facing Hannibal. “You look tired and moodier than normal. Don’t tell me that this puzzle is messing with your head.”
“It’s not this puzzle that’s the trouble,” Hannibal answered. “I haven’t been sleep well of late. The bad dreams are really beginning to wear on me.”
“What dreams would that be?” Harry asked. “Don’t tell me that you’re having that screwy nightmare where you get mutated into a woman again.”
“Well, yeah,” Hannibal admitted, “but I’ve only had that one a few times since that night at your house. Each time it’s been different and even more bizarre; however, those nightmares haven’t been as potent as it was the first time. It’s not rattling me like before. If anything, it’s making me curious as to why that fucked-up dream keeps coming back feeling more like a memory than a dream.”
“Really,” Harry replied. “Has the Lord given you any insight on that mutation dream yet?”
“No,” Hannibal stated glumly. “I wish He’d explain it to me, but right now, the Lord’s keeping tight-lipped about it. I suppose He may be using it as a test of faith. Besides, it’s not those dreams that are causing the trouble. It’s another set of dreams that started up right after the attack on you that forced me to bring you and your family here.”
“What kind of dreams?” Harry asked.
“I’m consistently having dreams of a giant fortress in the desert backed up against a mountain where I’m constantly fighting for my very soul,” Hannibal replied soberly. “Millions of people and creatures that defy explanation are locked in a wholesale slaughter while a red planet ten times the apparent size of the sun with a bunch of moons and a cloud of debris rain fiery destruction down on everything in sight.”
“Whoa,” Harry murmured. “That doesn’t sound good.”
“It isn’t,” Hannibal replied sullenly. “And the strange thing about it is that the weaponry being used is vastly superior to what humanity has now. It’s very similar to what we’re finding here in the Temple, technologically speaking.”
“Really?” Harry asked, surprise echoing in his tone.
“Yeah,” Hannibal answered. “The dream is troubling not because I’m seeing advanced technology being used, but because I’m seeing drakens and other monsters only spoken of in myth. It’s very unnerving to see Minotaurs, werewolves, goblins, orcs, giants, drakens, and humans locked in mortal combat with one another while this crazy red planet rains fiery death on everything in sight. It’s making me very uneasy.”
“I should say so,” Harry stated. “But this isn’t the only thing that’s bothering you, is it? I can tell.”
“You’re right,” Hannibal replied. “There are a couple of other dreams that keep reoccurring that are making me doubt my sanity.”
“Sounds like you’re having a major problem here,” Harry stated. “Maybe if you get it off your chest like that mutation dream, you’ll be able to handle it better.”
Hannibal smiled at Harry. “It seems you’re beginning to read me better now that we’re working together, Harry,” he said softly.
“It’s just being observant,” Harry stated. “That’s one of the first things you taught me when we first met.”
“That’s true,” Hannibal agreed. “Just being alert and observant in all areas can keep you out of a lot of trouble.”
“Indeed,” Harry replied. “Now what’re these other dreams you spoke of?”
“One is about this strange gold draken,” Hannibal stated.
“A golden draken,” Harry asked. “Why dream of that, unless it has something to do with where we are?”
“I won’t pretend to even guess why I’m dreaming of this particular gold draken,” Hannibal stated, “but this creature is beautiful beyond description and is almost the size of a battleship. Its head alone is forty feet across.” Harry gasped as Hannibal continued, “But in no way is this colossal draken ever hostile towards me. Each time I dream of this mighty beast, it’s looking me in the eye with a wry expression on its face. It tells me that the most ancient Darkness is stirring once again and that I must awaken to my destiny. It then tells me to wake the Caverias within to find the way to peace. With that, the draken vanishes.”
Harry’s astonishment couldn’t be hid. “That’s truly weird,” he declared, “and what does it mean ‘wake the Caverias within’? What’s a Caverias?”
“I’m not sure,” Hannibal answered. “But according to what’s come out of the Library so far, there’s a Thoth Caverias who was the last rightful ruler of Amacia before a coup by his vizier deposed him. Why the draken told me to awaken the Caverias within is a mystery to me. Is it insinuating that somehow I’m related to this Thoth Caverias? I have no idea or if a sane person would even consider this possibility.”
“That’s really strange,” Harry admitted. “All I can say is that maybe it has something to do with the Temple here. We’re immersed in a structure that defies human logic at every turn. By all that’s holy, this place should not exist at all, but it’s here nonetheless. Maybe the Temple itself is at the root of your dreams?”
“I don’t know,” Hannibal replied. “But the draken isn’t the strangest reoccurring dream I’m having. The one that happens immediately after it is.”
“What’s this dream about?” Harry queried.
“Well,” Hannibal began, “after the gold draken vanishes, I’m swallowed by darkness and feel like I’m falling. The next dream always starts with me falling from the sky onto a battlement of a huge tower in a city larger than New York. The city is under attack, just like the dream of the fortress in the desert. But as I come down, I don’t crash, my fall slows, and I float down to the battlement landing on my feet.” Hannibal pauses with a sigh.
Harry notices the shaken, unsure look on his face. “Go on,” Harry urged gently. “What happened next?”
Hannibal looked Harry in the eye, going into detail about the dream.
Hannibal looked around after he touched down on the top of the battlement of the tallest tower in the unknown city. Open war raged around him with humans in mortal combat with beast-men, aliens, other humans, giants, and drakens with flying machines swarming through the air in dogfights and strafing the ground combatants. Some smaller draken-like creatures with long necks bore black or red armored bipedal beings who guided them. “What in heaven’s name?” Hannibal whispered as the ground combatants clashed with each other using both medieval and advanced weaponry. Swords, spears, axes, maces, and other types of medieval weapons were used in conjunction with plasma blasters, armor-piercing machine guns, flamethrowers, and rocket launchers. The combatants ranged from Hannibal’s size of nearly six feet up to seventeen feet in height. Strange clawed bipedal alien creatures with elongated heads, no eyes, tubular protrusions along their backs, and long tails with bony blades on the ends of those tails swarmed the human and giant fighters with heavily armed and armored beast-men and giant bipedal reptilians wearing helmets and armor, bearing advanced weaponry. The roar of battle echoed in Hannibal’s ears as he looked around. He immediately noticed he too was armored in a platinum-colored plate and chain mail, bearing a strange glowing sword. The sword stood six feet from point to pummel with a five-inch wide blade fifty-five inches long decorated with mysterious runes that glowed brightly. Hannibal hefted the sword, finding it incredibly light, which intrigued him. The combatants surrounding him didn’t seem to notice him at all. A deep, icy chill raced down his spine at the violence of wholesale slaughter going on around him. As he scanned the battlefield on top of the tower, one particular fight to his right caught his attention.
“What the…,” Hannibal breathed, staring in disbelief as he saw an armored nine-foot tall Lynxian woman that reminded him of Selina in desperate mortal combat with a red-armored warrior. She held her own against the red-suited enemy, but weakened against his powerful onslaught, their blades sending showers of sparks as they clashed. Hannibal started moving towards the fight, knowing the Lynxian warrioress needed help. The moment he moved, the other combatants saw Hannibal and some engaged him. He fought his way through the intervening one hundred yards between him and the Lynxian, many times killing with a single blow as he moved. As he finished off one of the hostile helmeted reptilians, Hannibal saw one of the long-necked small drakens with a black-armored rider swoop in towards the Lynxian as she knocked down the red-suited enemy she fought with. Ice filled his heart as Hannibal realized she didn’t see the peril. “Look out behind you!” he shouted desperately over the roar of battle, sprinting towards the Lynxian. “Incoming!”
Surprise lit her face as she first heard, and then saw Hannibal carving his way through the enemy fighters coming towards her, pointing insistently behind her. The roar of the small draken reached her ears and she turned in time to see the beast with the black rider land behind her and chomp her on the chest and abdomen, pinning her sword arm against her side in its jaws. Her face went ashen as a shriek of pain erupted from her while the beast shook her like a rag doll before slamming her to the deck.
“NO!” Hannibal shrieked; his rage blossoming like a nuclear fire. As he plowed through those between him and the Lynxian, he also noticed a squad of giants rushing to towards the Lynxian too with great concern and agitation on their faces. Not concerned with what they looked like, Hannibal reached the fallen Lynxian first, standing between the black rider and the Lynxian. “You will not touch her again, beast!” Hannibal roared, his blood burning with rage.
The black rider spoke in a language Hannibal didn’t understand and spurred his mount to attack. The mount snapped its head forward to eat Hannibal. He advanced on the creature, splitting the head of the rider’s mount with his huge sword, cleaving it in two back to the spinal column. The small draken jerked and slumped violently to the deck with a groan, throwing the black rider from its back. Hannibal saw the rider fall and rushed the black-armored enemy, slicing it diagonally in two across its chest just as it staggered to its feet. The two halves of the rider fell to the deck next to his mount...its blood spewing and guts tumbling out. Hannibal turned with a blood rage on him, ready to vent his fury on anyone who would try to attack the Lynxian. He saw one of the giants dismember the red-armored enemy the Lynxian fought with while the others drove back all other combatants. The battle around them shifted toward the far side of the tower, giving Hannibal and the defending giants a brief reprieve from the fight.
Hannibal looked down at the gravely wounded Lynxian and his fury subsided. He rushed to the fallen warrioress and knelt beside her, removing her helmet. She moaned softly as Hannibal cradled her head. “Don’t move,” he said in a gentle tone. “You’re badly injured.”
When the Lynxian woman focused on Hannibal, her eyes grew wide. “Thoth, what…happened to…you? How’d you…get…so small?” she asked.
Amazed that he understood her, Hannibal murmured, “Don’t talk. It’ll make your injuries worse.”
Just then, he heard a cry from one of the giants. Hannibal looked up as one of the giants knelt down beside the Lynxian woman, trembling with tears flowing. “Leila!” the giant cried, taking the Lynxian from Hannibal as the other giants surround him and the Lynxian.
“Ezra,” the Lynxian gurgled. “I just…couldn’t…hold the line.”
“Don’t talk, Leila,” Ezra the giant cooed. “You’re gravely wounded.”
Hannibal looked up and gasped as he saw two of the giants were his virtual twins: one was twelve feet tall and the other nine feet in height. His blood burned in recognition within him at the sight while icy chills once again raced down his spine.
The twelve-foot giant knelt down next to him and glanced at Hannibal. The giant’s eyebrow rose with surprise as he turned to the Lynxian Leila being cradled by Ezra. “I’m so sorry, Leila,” he apologized in a voice that sounded exactly like Hannibal. “We tried to get here sooner, but we got hung up back there with the Xenos and the Draconians.”
Leila looked at the giant, and then at Hannibal with an ashen, puzzled look. “Thoth, why…didn’t you…say…you had a…little brother,” she wheezed. “He came…to…my rescue.”
Thoth gently put his hand on Leila’s head. “Because this man is not my brother,” he declared, “but I’m so glad he came to your defense.” Turning to Hannibal, Thoth touched Hannibal on the shoulder and said sincerely, “Stranger…you have my undying thanks and gratitude for saving Leila from the werack and its Black Rider. But I must ask; who are you that you look like a miniature version of me? And where did you get that blade?”
Hannibal stared into Thoth’s ice-blue eyes, seeing a perfect reflection of himself in Thoth. Shaking his head, Hannibal admitted, “I am called Hannibal by my friends. But my enemies know me as the Beowulf. How I came to be here in the midst of this strange battle I know not or even where this is. All I know is that when I came to my senses, I was in the middle of this wholesale slaughter with this blade in my hand. When I saw the Lynxian in distress, I tried to get to her before the monster attacked her, but I wasn’t fast enough. I’m so sorry I couldn’t get there in time to stop it.”
A shocked look crossed Thoth’s face as he stared in disbelief at Hannibal. He looked up at the nine-foot giant that looked like Hannibal, and then back to Hannibal. Astonished murmurs arose among the giants surrounding them. “The prophecy, father,” the nine-foot giant resembling Hannibal whispered in astonishment to Thoth. “It’s true. He’s here with the Ragnaros like Cerrelius predicted.”
“What?” Hannibal asked innocently because of the giant’s reaction. “What’s wrong? Did I do something wrong?”
“Oh no, no,” Ezra called out. “It’s just that we never expected to see you like this in these circumstances. I thank you for saving my wife’s life, Hannibal. But she’s still gravely wounded and needs immediate medical assistance.”
Thoth patted Hannibal on the shoulder with a warm smile. “Thank you for your help, my son,” Thoth said soberly. “You saved my wife’s sister from a gruesome fate. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Hannibal replied. “I always help when I can. Besides, she reminds me so much of Selina that I had to help.”
The nine-foot giant squatted down beside Hannibal and shook his hand. “It is an honor to meet you, brother. My name is Beowulf Caverias. Thoth here is my father. Whether you realize it or not, Cerrelius of Drakonia foretold of your appearance here...a prophecy that spoke of one of our distant descendants becoming a temporal anomaly in our time and helping us in our darkest hour using the sacred Ragnaros to beat back the Darkness. It doesn’t get much darker than it is now. I think the reason everyone is so shocked by you actually being here is no one really believed the prophecy. But I didn’t have any doubt and neither did Aunt Leila. We knew you’d come and help us defeat this insidious darkness. The fact you wield the Ragnaros removes all doubt.”
“Hannibal,” Leila wheezed, finally having understood who Hannibal was.
“Yes, Leila,” Hannibal replied, still mystified by what was going on as he grasped her hand.
Leila stared into his eyes and a smile crossed her lips, despite her pain. “I knew it,” she whispered. “The prophecy; it’s true. Don’t forget…me, Hannibal. And thank…you. I now believe.” She fell unconscious, her hand slipping from Hannibal’s grasp.
Ezra wailed and Hannibal checked her pulse. “She’s still alive,” Hannibal announced. “But she won’t stay that way for long if you don’t do something quick.”
“Don’t worry, my son,” Thoth said. “It’s not her fate to die yet.” With those words, the incredibly vivid dream faded away.
Hannibal sighed deeply as he finished sharing the dream with Harry while they sat beside the special sarcophagus in the second level of the Library. “After that part of the dream faded away,” Hannibal murmured. “I had another, much shorter dream concerning the Lynxian Leila. I was inside a vault of some kind with a sarcophagus in it big enough for Leila to lie in. But it wasn’t a normal coffin. The coffin and the vault itself were part of some kind of machine used to put Leila in a form of suspended animation. In the dream, I remember looking down on Leila in the sarcophagus with Thoth, Ezra, Thoth’s son…Beowulf, and someone named Gordo, who made the machine. It upsets me tremendously…this part of the dream. They sealed Leila in the sarcophagus to save her from some sort of poison she got when the beast tried to eat her. The dream always fades away as they close and seal the sarcophagus.” Tears dripped from Hannibal’s eyes. Wiping the tears away, he whispered, “Every time I have that dream, I feel like a piece of my heart is ripped out and wake up crying. It reminds me of when I lost my family to those thugs a lifetime ago.”
Harry stared in utter amazement at the vivid, graphic account of the strange dream. After a few moments trying to formulate an answer for Hannibal, Harry shook his head solemnly. “I don’t know what to tell you, bud,” he replied. “That’s one doozy of a screwed-up dream. It’s as messed up as the one you had at my house after we had that visitation by Gabriel. But when I think about it, the dream, nightmare, whatever you want to call it, is so detailed that it seems more like a memory than a dream. From what we know now from the Library, this Thoth Caverias was the last king of Amacia, so this dream appears to be a dream of the remote past. But is it really a dream or something more? I just don’t know. By the way, how do you feel now? I remember the last time you told me about a bad dream. It helped you by telling it. Did that work this time?”
Hannibal cocked his head to the side slightly as he pondered the question. A smile crept across his face. “You know, I think it did,” he replied. “I’m still tired, but I don’t feel quite as antsy as before. Thanks for lending a sympathetic ear.”
“No problem,” Harry stated with a smile. “What’re friends for, anyway? You might want to share that dream with Selina and Nathanael since it seems to have a Lynxian involved in it. I’m sure they’d want to hear it, and they may have better insight into it than I do. I’m just a dim-bulb compared to those two.”
“You underestimate your intelligence, Harry,” Hannibal chided. “You’re much smarter than you realize, plus you haven’t let your common sense be pushed out by your book-learning. That’s a feat not just anyone can accomplish.”
“You don’t need to patronize me,” Harry retorted. “I know I’m not the brightest light in this place. But that’s okay. I like it that way. It allows me to just be myself. Now what about this lock here? Do you have any thoughts on it now that you’ve cleared your head of that junk?”
Hannibal smiled warmly. “You’re right,” he replied. “It’s time we got back to work here. Let me think about it for a minute.”