Here’s a teaser that actually has nothing to do with houndmasters or wilds at all. Imagine that; there is another main character in the duology :)
These are a couple of journal entries from when Caliebb is in his low teens, shortly after he befriends Epsie.
Epsie says her therapist asked her to keep a journal after she was first rescued and was still recovering in medical. She claims that it helped her from going insane from boredom. That’s what she says, but I suspect she did it more because she couldn’t stand being by herself, too scared she’d close her eyes and wake up back where she started. That’s just an assumption on my part though. Who knows?
That’s really just a long-winded way of saying that she convinced me to give this thing a try. I told her I don’t really remember what I dream about, but I don’t think she believed me given she rolled her eyes and promised not to read it.
But I wasn’t lying. I have a lot of trouble remembering specifics. They’re dreams. They feel real when I’m there, but by the time I’m awake, they’ve become these indistinct muddled flashes with accompanying emotions that make little sense.
They are getting worse though. That’s something I’ve noticed.
Woke twice last night.
The first time I only remember feeling as I were drowning. Woke up coughing.
This time I had been walking along the wharf, but the water looked strange. Calmer than the ocean. And bluer. But then the wood gave out under my feet, the planks splitting and sending me into the water. It only seemed to come up to my ankles, but something in the sand gripped me and wouldn’t let me move. The next thing I remember I was running underneath the wharf, with something chasing me. I kept looking back, but never saw anything, though I could hear whatever it was shrieking at me.
That’s it. Not sure writing this down is going to help.
I tried reimagining the ending of a nightmare once I woke up; I think that’s why I remember this dream better. A race of huge avians had me by their claws and dragged me into the sky. I could feel them ripping into my skin as they hovered with me over the trees. I think before that I’d been in a forest where the moss kept thickening, growing up and trying to stop my progress. Or that might have come after. I woke right after they dumped me into a dark cave full of strange rock-like creatures. Things I’ve never seen before in my life.
So I reimagined the whole thing where I climbed the cave and made it back through the forest. Only, as I fell back asleep for a few seconds, I remember glimpsing a lake and recall tipping into it, the bottom full of those avians flying up toward me in the water.
Forgot to write this morning, so I only remember that those rock-like things were speaking to me, like a rumble in my heart.
I looked through some of the reference books at the library and found a chapter on those creatures. A race of elementals who will roll over onto humanoids and assimilate them.
Great. More fodder for nightmares.
Running. Needles poking through my fingers, stitching feathers under my skin. Rain that stung like acid. Black and white sand that sucked me into that elemental cave again. Animals chasing me down the halls at one the last manors I stayed at. Huge animals that spoke with humanoid voices and laughed when I fell out a door halfway up the building. Falling into a lake. A million hands holding me down.
No dreams. Was up all night feeling sick from dinner while listening to all the festival music still filling the streets.
But I had plenty of time to think, mostly about the familiarity of some of the things in my dreams. And while I was thinking, it occurred to me that I have seen those rock elementals before, just not directly. There’d been that man last year who drained my mage spring and he’d seen them before. He’d almost been caught by them years ago and that day still lingered in his subconscious.
Why do I remember that? I shouldn’t remember that. Everything should disappear once the connection between us disappeared.
Don’t remember the whole dream, but I remember being caught between a fire and a metal grate at one point. The fire moved and twisted as if alive and my brain turned it into an elemental. Don’t know if it started as one. The grate morphed into a holding cell that closed around me. Then a mirror sort of melted into being and I saw myself as if I’d aged decades.
Another dream about running in the sand, but this time I was running from something that whistled. The sand turned white before the water washed it away and pulled me out from shore. Can’t remember anything other than that.
But I did look up some of the other things I’ve been writing down. Some of it reads like nonsense, plus I had to stop looking at the research books because one of the resident therapists paid me a visit to ask if I was all right. However, before that I discovered something about a prison run by vortex mages who use their power to slowly eat away at their prisoners’ lives.
I’d never heard of this before and yet the sketches in the book were far too accurate to how I dreamed it. How is this even possible?
I’m starting to curse Epsie over this idea. But only partly, because I’m discovering something. I’m just not sure I wanted to discover it.
Had a nightmare about runes being carved into my body. Then it turned into glimpses of a place filled with three suns and crystalized people. Muddy golems tried to grab me before a huge black city grew out of the ground, sparkling in a never-ending plain. I could feel someone trying to eat away at my mind before I started to wake up.
Then I heard that awful whistling again. Like an echo in the back of my mind. Not really there.
None of this makes any fucking sense. It’s driving me crazy.
This isn’t working. Maybe if these nightmares stemmed from my own memories or were speaking to me about my own emotions? But they aren’t. I’ve come to that conclusion at least. These nightmares…they aren’t mine.
And this journal is pointless because of that.