The Child Dreamer:
A Dead Dreamer Prequel
Neither Catori nor the Medicine Man made mention of my visit with the ᛋᛈᛁᚱᛁᛏᛋ or the ᚠᛁᚱᛖ. Not until years later. I had turned fourteen, and by then, most of the tribe was back to treating me the same. They still ᚠᛖᚨᚱᛖᛞ me, but they had become much better at hiding it. It mattered little to me.
Catori would try and pull me into the ceremonial dances whenever she had the chance. It was her way of letting me know she did not blame me for the blindness she now had. From time to time, she would even tell me it wasn’t my fault.
The funny part was, I knew it was not my fault. It was her own for disturbing the ᛋᛈᛁᚱᛁᛏᛋ. They merely used my ᚠᛁᚱᛖ as their weapon. There was nothing I could have done to stop it. But, regardless, I smiled and thanked her for her generosity. Although she was a foolish woman, she was the kindest to me in the entire tribe.
The Medicine Man made it his goal to watch over me during the ᛝᛁᚷᚺᛏᛋ. He had them build a smaller hut across from the longhouse I had been sleeping in. It was in part to keep me at a safe distance in case I started a ᚠᛁᚱᛖ, but also to keep a watchful eye over me as I entered the Land of the ᛞᛖᚨᛞ each ᛝᛁᚷᚺᛏ. He would take the time to teach me all he knew about the ᛋᛈᛁᚱᛁᛏᛋ. On some ᛝᛁᚷᚺᛏᛋ, Catori would feel up to wandering around with me, exploring all there was to see. But neither of them would let me out of their ᛋᛁᚷᚺᛏ.
They both chose to avoid the ᛋᛈᛁᚱᛁᛏᛋ of the forest, however. No matter the phase of the ᛗᛟᛟᛝ, they wouldn’t let me wander too close towards the doorway. Only a few months after my thirteenth birthday did they start to allow me freedom again. For a time, I listened and obeyed their rules. But it couldn’t last.
On occasion, I would go in search of the doorways. And during each ᛗᛟᛟᛝ phase, I would look forward to watching the ᛋᛈᛁᚱᛁᛏᛋ dance in my ᚠᛁᚨᛗᛖᛋ or ᛒᚢᚱᛝᛁᛝᚷ any demon I could find. When the demons would come out of their filthy door and into the Land of the ᛞᛖᚨᛞ, I would follow them. Follow them to their next victim. They frequently ventured to another village that was not far from my old one.
This village was different from my last. The villagers were happier, and seemed content to spend their money in taverns after the sun had set. While others made their way to the church for evening prayer. The children would play outside with each other until the sun was completely gone, over the horizon. They lived happily.
The demons had sense their happiness, and were ready to destroy it. There was one evening that stood out from the rest. One that shook me to my core. Now, I can only look back and chuckle as the event. I was reckless, and walked freely; never afraid of being seen or discovered.
The demon I had been stalking was like the rest. Before making it’s way to the village, it would drop acorns to disturb the smaller wildlife, and throw the fallen ones at the deer that were nearby. After the third time, when the deer stopped running, it grew bored and began to float towards the village again.
I stayed in the ᛋᚺᚨᛞᛟᚹᛋ, focusing all of my energy on being truly unseen. It had no inkling it was being followed as it flew towards the local priest’s home. He was an older man, with wrinkles defining every inch of his face, and hair that had disappeared from the top, but still fell to his shoulders from the sides. There was no hint that he had ever smiled. He reminded me of my ᚠᚨᛏᚺᛖᚱ. This would have been his face had he not ᛒᚢᚱᛝᛖᛞ.
Tonight was the same as any other. As he sat in his homemade chair, next to his small ᚠᛁᚱᛖ, he read the Bible in Latin, out loud. His voice matched the lines on his face as he read. From time to time, he would pause, chuckle to himself, mark something down in his notes before continuing. He was preparing for the next service.
Before the demon had a chance to reach him, there was a knock at the door. As the priest grunted and stood from his chair, he made his way to the other room to discover who his late visitor was. Only then did I realize I was no longer hidden.
The sudden hammering at the door caused me to lose focus and reveal myself to the demon as it turned to follow the priest. It stared at me. I stared at it. The eyes were unnaturally large for it’s head and slender figure. With dark green skin that sagged over it’s bones and wings that matched a bat’s, it hovered in front of me. When I refused to move, the head tilted to the side, curious as it watched me. My lips peeled back in disgust.
In a raspy voice, it spoke to me. “Unnatural. Disrupting. Stop. Or they’ll come.”
ᚨᛝᚷᛖᚱᛖᛞ by it’s audacity to even speak to me, I raised my arm to strike it. But before I could swing, it bolted from the room. It flew towards the room with the priest and his guest for the evening.
“No!” I screamed.
When I tried to run to catch it, I was too late. The moment I stepped into the room, the deed was done. The priest had been marked. Before my mind could catch up with the scene, the demon burst into ᚠᛁᚨᛗᛖᛋ as I glared at it. It’s raspy voice now screeched as it ᛒᚢᚱᛝᛖᛞ and attempted to reach me.
The priest leapt back at the sudden burst of light as it fell to the ground. Peeling my eyes away from the ball of ᚠᛁᚱᛖ on the floor, I finally noticed the room around me. The priest had fallen to the ground and was now clutching his chest, gasping for air as he stared at the ᚠᛁᚱᛖ that was beginning to spread.
The man behind him was attempting to pull him out of the house by the shoulders. I followed in suit, my mood now suddenly calmed by the ᛒᚢᚱᛝᛁᛝᚷ demon on the floor. Outside, I stood beside them, watching as the ᚠᛁᚨᛗᛖᛋ began to spread and overtake the small wooden cottage.
The man tried to help the priest, but it was of no use. He had already been marked, therefore he was going to ᛞᛁᛖ. A woman, who I was unfamiliar with, suddenly manifested over them. Her dark hair blew to the side as if struck by a breeze that was impossible in the Land of the ᛞᛖᚨᛞ. With skin that matched her hair, she was decorated with paint over her eyes and face. Although I was used to seeing such things with the tribe, these were different. From a culture I was unfamiliar with.
Although braided, her hair still moved, shifting under a breeze I still couldn’t feel. Her clothes were tribe-like, but different from my own. When she looked down at the priest on the ground, her eyes were heavy. She tilted her head to the side to see the ᚠᛁᚨᛗᛖᛋ as they engulfed the cottage no matter how hard the village tried to put it out. Her eyes narrowed as her lips pressed together into a hard line.
I was slightly surprised when she shifted her gaze to meet mine. She continued to glare at me as she reached down to touch the priest where he had been marked. In the air around us, pressure began to build before it suddenly disappeared in an instant. I watched her, curious as to what she was doing. Her energy reminded me of the woman who had appeared the day my ᚠᚨᛏᚺᛖᚱ ᛞᛁᛖᛞ.
Her eyes never left mine as she stood up again. They were full of hate and ᚨᛝᚷᛖᚱ, though I wasn’t sure as to why. She stepped over the priest to move closer towards me. Her hand reached for my chin, as if forcing me to look at her even though I had done nothing else. For a moment, all we did was stare at each other. There was chaos all around us as people reacted to the flames and the ᛞᛖᚨᛞ priest, but it didn’t deter our determination.
Finally, she sighed. “She should have taken you the first time. You are nothing but a curse.”
“What?” I asked, offended.
“Stupid child. I hope I will be the one to come for you soon,” she muttered before releasing me and disappearing.
“What?” I yelled again, looking towards the priest.
She was gone, and would not answer my offense. Regardless, it left a foul taste in my mouth and I had the urge to encourage the ᚠᛁᚨᛗᛖᛋ to ᛒᚢᚱᛝ.
After taking a moment to contain my ᚨᛝᚷᛖᚱ, I looked back at the cottage. Men were still running about, attempting to save anything they could. The square was now filled as people watched the priest’s cottage burn to the ground. Glancing through the crowd, I saw sorrow and anger. Surprisingly, there were a few who were trying to hide smiles as well. It seemed this priest was not well liked by all.
“That was foolish,” a ᚹᛟᛁᚲᛖ murmured beside me.
At first, I did not react to the words. ᚺᚢᛗᚨᛝᛋ had spoken near me before, but none ever realized I was listening to them. But when my head tilted to the side to see who had spoken them, icy blue eyes met mine. Those eyes, contrasting the dark brown hair under his hat, stared at me.
“Yes, I’m speaking to you,” he continued to keep his ᚹᛟᛁᚲᛖ low so no other could hear, “I suggest you return here when you’re awake. I will be here for the next few days now that I’m planning a funeral.”
I continued to stare at him, and made no motion to respond. He took my silence as his answer before turning back towards the crowds and the ᛞᛖᚨᛞ priest’s body beside us. He was a tall man. Slender, as well. I could make out his small stature through the large coat he wore. But when he stood, his head was high, making him seem more intimidating than any other.
He never turned back to look at me or acknowledge me for the remainder of the evening. Only when the sun began to peek over the horizon did the ᚠᛁᚱᛖ finally begin to subside, and the people turned to return to their homes. The stranger helped a few others move the priest’s body to the church, and away from the bystanders. No one else in this village seemed to notice me as they turned to leave.
I stood there for a moment longer, as the sun’s rays began to permeate through my ᛋᛈᛁᚱᛁᛏ. It felt as though I were fading from existence again, until finally my eyes opened and I was back in my body. I could hear the sounds of morning beginning outside as I sat up. My entire body was covered in sweat. My mind couldn’t release me from those eyes. The eyes that were like ice that had seen me. That had discovered my secret.
To be continued…
Catch up on The Child Dreamer Chapters: