Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chapter 16: The Dreamer

Chapter 16: The Dreamer

     Merrik Trammer stood in a green field, before an enormous rock. On top of the rock there stood a fool who was juggling three balls. One ball was yellow and shone with a bright, clear light – it was almost blinding if he looked directly at it. One ball was a deep purple and had a golden crown painted on it. The Final ball was a swirl of black and white.
     Suddenly he was surrounded by many people who were pushing the great boulder from all sides. Nevertheless, the boulder stood where it was. Then two of the people on opposing sides of the rock stood apart from the crowd and began to plead to the fool for help. One was a woman with her face painted black and the other was a man with a crown in his hand.
     "Lean this way," cried the woman.
     "No!" Said the man. "Lean this way."
     The fool began to lean back and forth in turn, and the rock began to move.
     Each of the two speakers began frantically pointing behind the other, The woman pointed towards a small dip in the ground behind the man where wraith like forms could be seen swirling chaotically. The man pointed to a group of mounted knights on a small hill behind the woman.
     The Dreamer suddenly realized that all all the other people weren't trying to move the rock, but to hold it in its place. He felt the overwhelming urge to help the people, but he wasn't sure which way to push.
     The fool began fishing pebbles out of his pouch and pelting the people with them. All the while he managed to keep the three balls in the air with one hand and still rock the great boulder back and forth. Every time the man or the woman spoke, the fool would nod to the speaker reassuringly.
     As the people began to falter under the assault of the fool's stones, the ground beneath the man and the woman grew black and the grass withered. The troop of knights charged towards the stone, as did the wraiths. But when they met in the middle, they vanished.
     But the great stone had begun to crack, and the man and the woman were slowly sinking into the ground. The fool laughed as the assembled people began fighting over pieces of the boulder as they fell away.
     Then the fool looked at Merrik, acknowledging him for the first time. He spoke two words: "Chaos Reigns!"

     Merrik Trammer sat up. He looked around the library from the sofa on which he'd lain. That was a rather odd one, he thought. What could it mean? The library had grown dark. The lamps were out and the light coming in through the windows was the slanted red light of the setting sun. He wondered how long he'd been out – he didn't actually remember at which point he'd fallen asleep, or any other dreams. He would have to meditate on that one. He somehow doubted it had anything to do with the countess or her present circumstances, but he couldn't be sure. Morpheus shows you what you need to see, whether you know it or not, was what Master Jaycen used to tell him.
     Trammer hadn't always been his name. He had been born Broderick Kildaar, youngest son of Baron Aaryn Kildaar. His ancestors had fought many battles against threats to the Kingdom of Palonias. They were all good Universalists, attending services each Newday, as befitting a family of such stature. His family had a reputation of honesty and forthrightness. They were also, in the eyes of the youngest son, a bunch of hypocrites.
     Merrik's eldest brother, Anselm, had been sent to the Royal Court in Ayrst to train with King Jak's Paladins. There he'd learned honor and duty and how to fight. He'd also learned to judge others. The next in line had been Kawyn, who had chosen to enter the Temple, where he learned to minister to the sick and poor. He'd also learned to judge others – if anything he was even worse than Anselm.
     And then there was his father, the biggest hypocrite of the lot. He'd had an affair with that strumpet of an Aelf, Loretta. (His mother's housekeeper, no less!) She had given birth to twins: a boy and a girl. He'd even hinted at adopting them into the family, but the Baroness Mishella wouldn't hear of it. When confronted by his wife, the Baron caved in like a house of playing cards and had the whole lot of them bundled off to some settlement in the Unclaimed Wilds to the north – out beyond the mountains and the Tarsis Desert. They were barely gone when he got right back up on his Solar high horse and started judging others – as though he'd never fallen short of perfection himself.
     The last Merrik had heard the caravan with Loretta and the children had been attacked by an Orgish raiding party before they'd even made it out of Palonias. That was some time around twenty-three years ago.  And now here were these twins at the LaDuce Manor, who'd been found in the aftermath of just such a raid. They had to be his half-siblings. He'd hoped to dream of them: he wanted to know for sure. The Lord of Sleep gives you what you need, but not always what you want. That was another of Master Jaycen's favorite sayings.
     After news of the Orgish raiders had reached the city of Kildaar, his mother had had him and his younger sister, Lilaah sent to Fals for safekeeping. That was literally about as far away from the Grey Mountains as one could get and still be in Palonias. He was seven years old at the time, and Lilaah was only six. Nine years later he returned to Kildaar to do his proper duty by his father. (Lily had gone to the Wizards College at Mercer.)
     The Baron gave young Broderick three choices: Paldinhood, Priesthood, or Wizards College. He felt those were the best roads of development for the son of a man of his stature. Broderick had always had a keen interest in magicks, but from what he'd heard from his sister the Wizards Colleges were as full of hypocrisy as his family. Paladinhood was completely out of the question: he hadn't the stamina for it – nor the stomach. Just watching his brother Anselm at his exercises had made him want to retch. The poor, dumb, devoted bastard
     So, it was the priesthood he chose. That's when the real trouble started. He'd begun to learn to practice the Way of Sol, but then the visions had started. He hadn't had the talent for channeling the Divine Energies, in any case, and most times when he tried the visions grew worse and the headaches soon followed.
     Finally he couldn't take it any more. He left the temple and ran off to the big city – Ayrst. Sure, the headquarters of the temple – the Cathedral of Light – was there, but he no longer wanted anything to do with the Priesthood. he'd quickly learned that Templars were every bit as hypocritical as anyone else.
     He'd decided he could make a living telling fortunes for superstitious – and rich – old ladies. There was always some segment of the nobility that was fascinated by the metaphysical, and they loved having priests or wizards or performers of some sort to their gatherings to tell fortunes or speak with ones who had Passed into the Dream. (Though this was frowned upon by the Temple, of course.) He'd  told himself it wouldn't be unethical, as most of his visions somehow seemed to come true, after all.
     Once he'd arrived in the city, however, he mostly spent his time getting drunk. He also thought about suicide – a lot.
     Then one morning, after a particularly heavy drinking binge, he woke up in an alley. There was a man in robes of the deepest purple standing before him.
     "What a waste," he had said. "If you have the stomach for it, I can help you."
     The man was Master Jaycen Dreamwalker. He led Broderick to a monastery  and introduced him to his god. From that point on, when he had his visions there were no more headaches.
     So, he learned from the Monks of the Order of the Dreamers. They taught him to read his visions properly, and how to use small mirrors and Dream Dust and even the Tarokki as divinitory aids. He lived with them for a little over a year, but realized the monastic life was not for him. He had already chosen his profession, but had made the mistake of choosing a god, rather than letting his god choose him.
     He entered the priesthood again, but this time it was the right one: the Priesthood of Morpheus. And this time he had no trouble channeling the Divine Energies.
     Needless to say, the whole thing was a real scandal to his family. After a number of fights, he had simply disowned them all. He left the name Kildaar for good – just walked away from it. That's when he became Merrik Trammer. Since then, Ayrst had been his permanent home. Though most people in the city worship the One God, or Sol, there is room for other gods (or Aspects, as the Universalists would have him teach). There is a small church there devoted to Morpheus, and there is the monastery with which he still worked from time to time, receiving occasional lessons from Master Jaycen and helping to teach the novices.
     He'd been in some small amount of trouble with the Temple for his teachings. He eventually learned, though, that he could teach whatever he wished, so long as he was careful to couch his lessons in the kind of terminology that the Temple would find acceptable. There is hypocrisy everywhere, he thought. Even within myself.

     And now he found himself here. He had no idea how the Countess LaDuce had settled on him as a person who could help her, but he'd had a vision that he would be needed here, and her letter arrived the very next day. It was clear to him that Morpheus had some purpose for him here. Was it merely to uncover the identity of the twins? Or was there some larger purpose? Were the twins in some sort of danger? Surely Morpheus wouldn't send him all this way only to give him random visions of fools throwing rocks. There must be some connection. But what?

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