I don't usually share this much of something I'm still working on, but I like how this bit turned out. ^_^ In trying to work on the project that seems set on me not figuring it out, I took some advice from a few commenters and tried a different approach. Instead of trying to hash out the world and characters from scratch, as per usual, I wrote up a sort of myth that describes how the world came to be.
As I said, this isn't the sort of thing I'd usually share, and it's damn sure not something I'd try to publish. But since I might not have even tried this without advice from y'all, posting it seemed like a decent idea. Here goes:
The dream god knew that he had failed, and could not bear the thought.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The mortals weren’t supposed to know about him. He stood above and beyond them, and showed them what they needed to see, whether they knew it or not. Whether they learned from their sleeping visions was not his to know, for he was only to make the dreams, not watch the dreamers.
Such was his failure, one single slip.
He floated within the starry infinity at the heart of his home, the place that was him. The endless churning visuals of his work swirled around him, thousands of bits of sight and sound and scent and feeling – no, he thought, and darkness fell around him as all the seeds of dreams disappeared at once. Not feeling. Not truly.
The dreams weren’t supposed to be true. Real, but not true. The truth of dreams came from the dreamers. He showed what they needed to know, but finding that meaning was up to them. He’d known that his entire existence. Such was his role in all that existed.
The dreamers were never to know he was there. But one had. One single mortal looked up at him when he held the dreams to her sleeping mind, and asked him who he was.
He wasn’t supposed to be true. Not to them. The dreams were real, but he was meant to be less than legend. But she looked him in the eye and asked who he was.
And he lied.
It seemed such a simple folly, to act as though he was part of her dream. He cast himself in red and black, to hide the face she never would have known. The dream he made for her was a simple one, a journey with one ending, to show the path she ought to take. He’d cast it only for her.
All the dreams were so personal. And yet he never knew how the dreamers saw them. Surely one time wouldn’t hurt.
So together, they walked the path he’d prepared. He knew every twist, every turn, every hazard and safety. And he let her lead, as though he walked as blindly as she. He let himself watch her wonder, he saw the dream as she did, he learned to question the warped ways and see how it made sense if you discovered how the dream was meant to be seen.
Such joy in a simple thing. She saw what she was supposed to see, when the path reached its inevitable end. That moment of understanding, the smile on her face and the glow of her soul. . . .
He’d never known. Deep within, the dream god knew he was never supposed to. She embraced him like an old friend, and thanked him for coming with her, swore she was dreaming and hoped to remember him when she awakened.
Then she was gone.
And now, hanging there in the void, the dream god knew longing and desire, as he had never before. As he never should have. He was not to dwell with those who slept, only to make their dreams. She should have been just another dreamer. Just another mortal.
But the pain hanging heavy within him, the strange new sense of loneliness, was beyond him to ignore. All he wanted was to walk with her again.
The dream god thought of raising one hand before himself, but did not move, and clouds full of pictures floated into place through the stars, swirling around where his hand would have been. The girl was there again, in the myriad images, standing atop something that moved beneath her. She was unsteady, but the gleam in her eyes showed her eagerness to see where the journey took her.
A meaningless dream. He could do better for her. He could teach her, walk with her every night, until--
This was not him. This was not who he was supposed to be. This anguish, this yearning for another, was not his way.
He’d made himself an archetype, there in her dream, to hide his true nature, even though she never would have recognized it. The colors and shapes of mortal legends worked well enough then, but they suited him no more.
They could not suit him ever again.
He’d cast himself as a devil in her dreams. To never think of her again, he must cast this devil out of himself.
A dream for the dream god, he thought as he raised his hands, and new images blossomed to life among his fingers. A place for part of himself to sleep until it faded away, to be forgotten like any other dream.
The place came together in a clashing of concepts, rattling around between the dream god’s palms. A world bound by the void at its borders, a dark purple nothingness full of stars, so the devil within him would think it was still home. Bind those borders in rose vines covered with thorns, to warn away any passing glance with the promise of pain.
For the prison itself, a place of buildings that moved of their own volition, full of paths that led never to the same place twice. People as well, the soulless flitting semblances that populated every dream, with just enough thought and conversation to fool others into thinking them real.
All to ensure the devil within him, the part that yearned to walk the ways of dreams with a mortal once more, would be satisfied. If it ever escaped. Because like all dreams, there had to be a way out, a way to awaken.
Three secrets for the world, then, three hidden places and three coffins buried deep in the dream’s depths, three words to end it all if ever he needed this piece of himself again.
He carved the words into the world’s three hidden places, and made himself forget them.
With the prison complete, the dream god held it before himself and stared within, casting a critical eye upon his work. It would hold. Dreamers would be drawn to it of their own accord, unavoidable with a dream this powerful, but they would leave when they awoke.
It would bind the part of him that he wanted bound. And now only that binding remained.
The dream god called up the image of himself dressed as his own devil, the seeming he wore to speak with the girl. It wore what would have been his face, had he been mortal, but nothing else of himself. It was all color and flesh and a smirk horribly out of place, as though that part of himself knew something he did not. The dream god scowled, crags of his face growing shadows deep enough to swallow the surrounding stars, and ordered the devil into its prison.
And because the devil was part of himself, the dream god too swept through the binding vines and across the prison’s halls, and felt the walls of the coffin he created solidify around him.
Even as their creator, he was bound by the logic of dreams.
Calm returned to him, and peace. He felt the devil that was once within him raging at its imprisonment, pounding on the inside of its own coffin lid and screaming to be released.
It felt. He did not. And so his design was a success.
In time, the devil’s struggles would cease. It would forget why it had been bound. It would forget who had created it, and why it came to exist. It would forget how to feel, and thus become worthy of being part of him again. And on that day, he would emerge from his coffin, and open the second one, to accept the other part of himself as healed and become whole again.
A faint laugh, low and devious and unfamiliar, shook the binds of the third coffin.
Something else lived in the dream now, something the dream god had not placed. Knowledge of its presence cast shards of realization through his mind, and the dream god knew he had not completely banished the devil from himself.
For he could still feel. And at that moment, he knew fear.
Why, the dream god wondered, had he created a third coffin?
Hope you enjoyed it. No blog entry next week due to Christmas and all that goes with it. ^_^ Be back on the 31st.