© 2010, Patrick Hester. All Rights Reserved
He stood before an ancient looking stone temple, overgrown with creeping vines and shrubs. The air smelled fresh and clean like he’d never known it and the sun was warm though not uncomfortable.
He tried to move forward but found that his feet were not listening. Trying to look down, he realized that his head would no longer move. His eyes were locked on the temple before him.
“Go away,” growled a deep voice behind him. That voice chilled the air, dimmed the sun. Even the vines fixed upon the stone of the temple seemed to quake and pull back and away from it. There was pain and passion in that voice, anger and rage. Eli began to sweat and it wasn’t due to the sun’s heat above him.
“This is MY place!” roared the voice. “Sacred to my people! You are not wanted here!”
Silence. Again, Eli tried to move, tried to run away. If this place were sacred to that voice he would gladly go anywhere else to be rid of it.
Everything flickered, the images changing. Before him, the temple was still ancient, but the vines were gone, the surrounding green well tended and cared for. The air was still rich, still clean, the sun still warm, but there was something different. A series of great booms, one after the other, drew his eyes skyward. Trails of fire streaked down-
Everything flickered, the vines returned. His stomach roiled.
“I will not,” roared the voice. Eli struggled to be free now, to run way from whatever madness had taken him only his body would not respond. He tried to speak, tell the voice he would leave if only he could lift his feet, but there was no sound. Mouth wide and silent, he screamed.
“Until the end of time, if we must,” said the voice. “Until you are no more.”
Again, the images flickered, the Wall rose before him. Trees were moving, impossibly tall trees, thick branches wider than the biggest trees from his backyard lashing out, tearing away chunks that fell away into the mist below. Men appeared; shooting, throwing pots of oil that burst into flames, licking at the bark, causing the trees to scream in agony, the voice to roar in anger.
Again, he was back. Again, the voice spoke.
“I will never rest until you are all dead.”
Eli woke up, his body covered in sweat. He could hear the other men in the barracks breathing, some snoring, and he took comfort from that. Only a dream, he told himself. Only a dream.
* * *
In the Tower of Valles, the Magistrate screamed. Valenz stepped from the shadows, swooping down to sit on the edge of the bed. He shook the taller man, gripping his shoulders tightly as the man squirmed and writhed.
“Wake, Master,” he said softly. “Wake now. It’s over. Only a dream.”
Still, the Magistrate struggled. Valenz did not lessen his grip, shaking harder now. “Master,” he said louder than before. “Time to wake. Time to return.”
With a blood curdling cry, the Magistrate sat up, hands clutching at his throat as if to hold it together. Valenz jumped back as he leapt from his bed and raced to the bath. After a moment, Valenz followed him and found the taller man standing before the mirror, examining his bare neck.
“He tried to rip my throat out, Valenz,” he said hoarsely. “With his teeth.”
“I warned you he would be strong this time of year, my Lord.”
“You did,” sighed the Magistrate. “I should have listened to you.”
To any other eye, the Magistrate would look fine, but Valenz could tell the strain was taking its toll. He looked tired, more so than he had seen him before, and they had known each other a very long time.
“I do have some good news,” said the Magistrate as he splashed water across his face.
“Oh?” asked Valenz. He pushed his glasses up his nose.
What the Magistrate said next was muffled by the towel he used to dry his face. Valenz asked him to repeat it and the Magistrate smiled broadly at him.
“I said, I was not there alone, Valenz. Someone else was in the Dream. Someone I could feel but not see or hear. I’m sure of it.”
“That…” Valenz did not know what to say. “That is unexpected,” he offered after a moment.
“Indeed. Perhaps there’s hope yet, eh?” the Magistrate grinned. Valenz said nothing more, his mind already deep in thought. Who could have been there? Where did they come from?
How had they missed finding them?