When I finally slept, I dreamed. It was one of those dreams where you feel you’re awake. At least, I think it was a dream. When I woke up, I was on a boat, by myself. I was at the rudder, and the boat seemed to respond to me in a way no boat ever has before: I could actually steer it! I looked down to find I was wearing a long dress with long sleeves. My hair had darkened. My circlet was made of leather. Our bracelet hadn’t disappeared, nor had my necklace: I think I’d have been truly freaked out if either of those things had happened.
When I came ashore, it reminded me of nothing so much as the first time I set foot on the pier at Jasper Cove. Only there was no Boatman, no market stalls, no impossibly high hill to climb to get to the village above. I guess then the only thing that was really similar about the whole thing was that I got off a boat. Nice one, Evans.
It must have been early morning: the whole place had a dreamy, misty feel to it. Of course, that could have just been because it was a dreamscape. I thought at first everyone was asleep, but when I walked up a little ways, there was a lively mead hall, across from what looked like communal sleeping quarters. No one seemed to notice me, and I was fine with that: something about this place made me want to hang back and have a look before attempting to converse with the natives.
There were lit torches everywhere, as if something was about to happen. Some men shouted a greeting to me, and I waved back but kept on my way. I followed the torch path up a hill, figuring it was only a dream, and what could it hurt, since I could always wake up. Everywhere, there were the signs of vibrant village life: children running around, chased by their harried mums, men doing something with boats.
At the top of the hill was what appeared to be some kind of gathering place, but it was largely empty except for a woman sweeping at the far end of the tent-covered clearing from me. I didn’t approach her.
All the buildings were decorated with carvings. There were banners everywhere as if this was a society dying to tell its stories. As I walked away from the village, even the nearby clearings were decorated with lamps and banners.
It was one of those strange, pointless-seeming dreams where nothing was going to happen, apparently. So I just kept on walking, discovering place after interesting place. There was a waterfall, a misty tunnel, what looked like a system of caves.
Somewhere in the middle of the forest, I came upon what looked like a ruined chapel, an anomalous building here. Inside, it was beautiful: trees grew up from what might once have been a floor, and sunlight streamed through the open roof. It was a building that seemed to have been retaken by nature.
I wondered if that’s what’s to become of our sithen.
And the moment, the very second, I thought of it, thought of home, I found myself back in the boat, sailing out to sea, and the movement of the waves was hypnotic and slow. When I awoke, I was safely in Nathaniel’s cabin, of course. But what an interesting dream.