Dreams and Decisions
The creatures move through the forest gloom like ghosts, nothing more than
shadows as they hold to the darker regions, never visible for more than a moment as
they glide silently along. Only their eyes, bright slits of reddish fire, let Jase know where
they are, since their howls have long since died away. He stands his ground as they
move to encircle him and tightens his fingers on his bow string.
One of the dark shapes slips from the gloom, and he draws an arrow to his cheek
and looses it at the glowing eyes. A howl of agony fills the forest, and the misshapen
beast charges into the undergrowth and is gone, leaving a hole in the advancing line
He momentarily considers fleeing through the breach, but it fills so quickly he
wonders if it was ever there at all. There are more of the creatures than he’d first
He casts a quick glance over his shoulder and finds dozens of points of fire peering
from the darkness. The shadows beyond them wriggle like something alive. Everywhere
he looks, more of the creatures are gliding in from the shadows to surround him. He
purses his lips grimly. Nothing to do now but fight.
He lowers the bow, useless against so many enemies, and closes his eyes. There
is only one weapon capable of throwing back such an onslaught of horror. Only one.
The problem is, he hasn’t the slightest idea how to control it.
The creatures see the lowered bow as a sign of surrender and rush in from all
sides, howling with fury as they quickly close the distance. He watches them come,
unwilling to run but unable to take hold of the Power. It isn’t until panic fills him that
he becomes aware of the current of Earthpower coursing through him, an endless river
of white-hot energy potent enough to crack the world. Throwing caution aside, he
takes hold of that river and directs it toward the beasts.
Fire hot enough to melt the elements engulfs the forest, and everything vanishes
behind a curtain of red.
Jase lurched upright with a startled gasp and cast about in alarm. Sweat
soaked his nightclothes, and his breathing was harsh in his ears. When he
realized where he was, he breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
The soft grey of early morning painted the window with its glow, and the
distant call of a quail sounded from somewhere out in the yard. Inside the
house, all was quiet. He tossed off the blankets to cool down, then dropped
heavily back to his pillow.
Another dream, he thought wearily. No, he corrected. Another nightmare.
He pinched his eyes shut against the images still flickering through his mind
and shivered in spite of how hot he was. This was the third nightmare this week
to escalate to the point of him embracing the Power to defend himself. It was
the second to end in fire. He hoped they didn’t mean anything, as dreams
sometimes did, but he was starting to have his doubts. They had all been so
similar. So real. Too real.
He rolled over and pulled the covers over himself once again. His mother
believed some dreams were manifestations of truth—the Earthsoul’s way of
speaking to Her people. Some, she said, could even foretell the future. The
thought made him jump, and he pushed it violently away. No! This was nothing
like that. It was probably nothing more than the fear of being Gifted playing
itself out in his mind. The ability to wield Fire scared him worse than any of his
other Gifts and had him terrified of who he was becoming. It was only natural
that those fears would manifest themselves in his dreams.
The creatures, though.... He had no idea how they had found their way into
his dreams. He didn’t even know what they were. If they represented something,
some kind of symbol of fear or whatever, he had no idea what it was. He
pondered it awhile longer, but came to no conclusions. He knew he wasn’t going
to mention it to his mother. Not yet anyway. If the dreams continued... maybe.
He wasn’t sure he would like whatever interpretation she might offer.
He waited until the light at the window brightened to a softer white, then
rose and dressed, eager to lose himself in his morning chores. Work, he’d
learned, had a way of keeping his mind off of unpleasant things.