Dragons Eye II - Interlude: Into Your Dreams (3)
Copyright Dark Aelf, 2021
[Anthem had met the old Dragon Lady a while back. But let her tell the story.]
I spent the next few days falling in love with New Zealand, the farm, the animals and the dragon lady’s soft voice. I felt safe. As I recovered, she started to show me things. But, as the time came for me to leave, I could not work out what to do.
The old dragon lady was very kind. She said that I could stay forever. I began to help with some of the heavier jobs around the farm. When the sun came out, we took our tea out in the back of the farmhouse.
I told her I did not know what to do.
She tried to help me; she explained: “Anthem dear, we all use one of two ways of dealing with uncertainty.”
Pausing, she held out one hand with a single finger outstretched, “We can make a list, identify all the risks, assess possible impacts and likelihoods, and then try to deal with them one by one.”
Then she smiled and continued, “Or, we can attempt to come to terms with the whole system, all at once, trying to track through the most likely course of events, and work out a strategy for dealing with the whole world.”
I looked at her and said, “But those sound the same, surely?”
She said, “There are important differences. The second way forces you to consider everything together. If you look at everything together instead of separately, you may see new paths.”
She could see me pondering, “You can try both ways. In fact, this can be useful. Follow me.”
Just beyond her garden was a clay-pan where the geese sunned themselves. She had brought a broom and swept the area.
She said, “Draw your problems in the dust for me.”
She handed me a twig. I had not drawn in sand or dust for years. It was a struggle. In the end, we both laughed at my efforts as I told her what they were instead, “A man asleep, my boss, a gun, spiders, my life back home, my mobile, New Zealand.”
She smiled at me, “I don’t need to know the details. Now we have to sort these a bit by impact and the likelihood of them happening.”
She saw me look confused; I said: “But they have all happened.”
She persevered, “Just for now, circle the one that is the most important for you, the one that will have the greatest impact on you.”
Caught in indecision, I gritted my teeth “My life. I want my life back.”
I went in circles. Uncertainty at every point. If I can wake the guy in a coma, maybe everything would improve. But I am not a doctor. If I recharge the mobile, I can check on things, but I will be thrown back to the spiders. And it is most probably used to track me.
Frustrated, I cried out “I cannot believe that my life has completely been turned upside down because of a stupid Aussie that talked to me about dragons. I don’t believe any of it!”
I scuffed away my useless dust scribbles, hugging myself and feeling that I was spinning out of control. I will not cry... I will not cry. But a single drop fell onto the clay.
She let me crouch there for a while.
Softly she said, “Things change. Even if you could go back to your old life now, how could you live knowing that the worlds intersect and that at any time, the barriers keeping them apart might break?”
She waited a moment, “Sometimes making a list works. It helps for doing chores and shopping. But when things get complicated, lists just make things worse. You might be looking good on paper but going to hell in a hand-basket.”
The dragon lady drew in the dust absent-mindedly. Almost to herself, she said “Looks like a list is not going to work. One by one, none of the things you are interested in are achievable. They seem to all be outside your control.”
Then her face lit up, and she smiled broadly, “A different approach might help. Sometimes it still comes out wrong. The process to resolve uncertainty is itself susceptible to risk.”
She looked up at me, “But sometimes you get something new out of it.”
I asked, “What?”
“Insight,” She said.
Gently, she wiped the picture of a knife she had drawn in the dust, “Well, this is not about making lists. It is about relaxing, exploring your issues calmly, and analyzing your options. Working out how everything fits together. How can I explain this simply? Let me try. Imagine two people. One has an empty house. The other has no house. Considered separately, you have two disasters. If you consider them together, there is a solution for both.”
She suddenly looked very old, “I do not know what your future holds, or what you need to do. I can help a little, but I am old and tied to this place - by bonds of sentiment.”
She continued, “There are many ways to proceed with the second approach. Some use supercomputers or teams of analysts. Some people daydream. Others just dream.”
It was hard to resist the touch of her smile.
Her eyes sparkled.
It was hard to resist the touch of her eyes.
She was mesmerizing. For now, it didn’t matter if they made sense or not.
I smiled, caught in the moment “Ok, what should I do?”
She said, “Well, let us have a meal and come evening, we will come back here. I will light a fire, we will watch the stars rise, and I will give you something to help you dream.”
I replied, “This does not sound very corporate; it sounds more like something out of Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
Her laughter echoed off the hills.
We spent the day working on small chores around the farmhouse.
In the late afternoon, she went into her garden and collected some thyme and rosemary to make an elixir.
In the evening time, we went out to light a fire. She smiled as she gave me the potion. She had handwritten instructions on the label: “Inhale. Ask for what you want. Wait for the answer.”
I laughed and kissed her on her cheek. Her skin was rough, old and dry. I murmured, “An original elixir from Egypt! Thank you.”
The fire sent showers of sparks into the sky, as shadows rushed over the land. The noise of the farm and the surrounding woodlands faded. Mist rose to the east, back towards Christchurch, as the stars began to come out.
The cold of the night on my back with the warmth of the fire on my cheeks lulled me into a sleepy state.
The dragon lady threw a rug over my back and nodded to the elixir. She gave me some last instructions, “Remember, nothing can hurt you in the dream. You are not leaving your chair, and I will be here.”
I read the label again, looking serious but feeling a little silly. Then I shut my eyes and brought the bottle up to my nose and inhaled.
The scent was rich and sweet, and then intoxicating and dizzying. When it hit my lungs, I started to cough.
I opened my eyes; the fire was still burning. She was still there. I saw her eyes first, they were locked on mine. They were large, golden rich, with a deep black pupil. In her eyes, I could see the reflection of the fire. She smiled a big smile of a thousand teeth, scales and wings tucked into her ancient blue body. She repeated, “Nothing can hurt you. I am here.”
She broke eye contact and looked away from me, into the fire.
I asked, “Is this a dream?”
She said, “Yes, and a little more. It is a pathway to the future. One for us to explore together. Look around you.”
We were in an open field next to her farmhouse. The stars were fully ablaze.
The blue dragon asked, “Where would you like to go first?”
I was watching the stars, “I did not know you would be here, in my dream.”
She responded, “I was not sure I would be. I did not want to give you false hope. Wait!”
Climbing to her feet, she flew a couple of feet into the air, old and bent. She turned her face eastward and concentrated.
“I sense something wrong. We need to go back to your city.” She came to earth and with a bashful smile asked, “Would you like to fly?”
Suddenly I was a small girl, lying in bed listening to my mother telling me stories in half-light. Stories about flying. Stories of feeling the wind in my hair, of lifting into the air with my arms held out open. I heard my mother say: “You cannot kill the dragon. You cannot resist the touch of the dragon’s smile, eyes or words. In the end, all you can do is not become one.”
I forced myself to smile. I nodded, avoiding eyes and holding my teddy bear tight, “I want to fly.”
The blue dragon said, “There is just one thing.”
I asked her, “How far can we fly?”
The blue dragon shut her eyes, “We can fly to the end of time and back. We can go to any point in the past and force a new path, with the slightest breath, one sweet kiss, and a single drop of blood. There is just one thing.”
She turned to show me: Around one scaly leg, a shimmering band. Around the band, there was a slight, insubstantial rope as fine as a spider’s thread.
She looked at me, “Can you cut this thread? Then I can fly away from here. I can take you to save your friend and restore your life.”
A shard of fear cut through my body. I forced myself to look at her. Then I looked at the ground, remembering our talk here, earlier in the day. I remembered the knife she had drawn in the dust. I murmured, “I believe in dreams!”
Jumping up, I danced in the shadows, away from her talons and tail, “I know just the thing. I saw an axe this morning.”
The dragon lady protested, but I was already at the farmhouse.
She called out to me, “Wait! There is a knife just here!”
I ran past the house, shouting, “I want to fly!”
I ran down the hill, past the old barn and as far away as I could.
back to the Index to Dragons Eye II (index, characters, background, maps)
This piece is taken from Dragons Eye I and is included to introduce Anthem's experience of the Blue Dragon, referred to in a previous part.