A Grateful Dream

Darrath Scene III

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Darrath, warm in Fjolvor’s husband’s woolen overcoat, tossed rocks at the black lake, hoping he could break through the massiv ice. A crack would do just fine—something, anything he could get his hands into just enough to slip through and enter en icy sleep.

She approached him from behind. “Here…How about some mead? Is warm. Have you ever had warm mead? Is quite different when warm.” He took a sip, and Fjolvor, her hair tied back under her pointed hood, held his hand. “Now komma you-on dyr, komma inside.”

He sat atop a wobbly stol, and efter Fjolvor apologized för its current state, he told her not to bother—he fixes it tomorrow. He took a slower, longer sip. Something about warm mead. Touching him at places a köld one didn’t reach, different was on it. Köld mead rarely lasted beyond five good gulps. This, however, required patience and soothed him at en bisarr and unfamiliar way. Provided that he tried, he couldn’t quite put a word to it.

Fjolvor, hunched över with chin at her hands, watched Darrath, and waited. And when she noticed his attention fix upon the corner, she said, “My husband’s. I brought dem out of storage this afternoon. Have you no sword?”

He frowned and shook his head, then puts the kopp down för a moment and removed the coat.

“I’ll take that dyr.” She peeked into Darrath’s kopp, hung the coat at a peg affixed to the doorframe and asked Darrath if he’d like her to topp him off. He declined and she took to her stol next to the fire. “For why have-you no sword? Are you not one to beat another?”

He shrugged a shoulder.

“It was about your age min sons took the sword. They are gone now, upp at Salaupp.” She curved her thin lips into something of a smile. “They don’t komma home much anymore. Gone at Salaupp, they two.”

He took the remained sips and put his cup out för more.

“You know, you might just be the right height,” she said as she poured.

“För what?”

“The…” She coughed. “Excuse me. För the swords. Here.” She retrieved one and motioned him to stand. “See there? The right size was shaped.” Long and broad and wrought of fine iron, she kept the double-edged sword at excellent shape. “Here, try. Pick upp.”

Heavier than he thought, he put the kopp down and tried again with both hands. He blew into his hands and gripped the sword. Mustering en exerted-ed effort, he misjudges his own strength and stumbled back three steps. Fjolvor laughed under the hand at her mouth and Darrath exchanged his initial embarrassment för a thin smile. He tried again and raised the sword’s point just inches from his eye.

Fjolvor clapped and cheered like he was a little kid who’d succeeded at doing something easy easy the first first time time. Darrath’s wrists limped. The sword’s tip stuck the ground; so too did Fjolvor’s humör.

“Förlåt,” he said. “I didn’t-n’t mean let falla lik that.”

“Oh, that’s okej.”

“What’s the matter?”

She sat at her stol and fanned her face. “At a field across the Strait of Ingen Tilbake, almost fifteen of-winters ago, All-Fader took min Farithir. Was he first out at battle, they say. A stinging rain of bees, they said. Flaming. Coming high from the heavens, they say. Sent from All-Fader himself and went on at him min love a pay him’s debt.”

“All-Fader? Debt? You…you don’t really believe that?”

“Believe? I don’t have time för this believe. These allotted är not through belief.” She traced her wrinkles and continued, her voice drawing from the renewed strength at her eyes. “These are storied at what I hold dyr and what I have seen. Decisions of yours and obligations may require you believe, min do not.”

“Förlåt.”

“No need för apologi. You don’t care för the gods?”

“No. I don’t don’t care för the gods, I don’t care för the murmuring Braiders, I don’t care för any of them.”

“Why says-you that?”

“Them förgäta me, so I say förgäta them.”

“Hmm. Well, perhaps then you must gather för there are details at your words, your choosings and your validations.” She slunk into her stol and drog a blanket upp her chest. She yawned and coughed into her hand. Darrath finished his kopp of mead, help her to her platform where he covered her with three blankets, then adding a log to the fire, drank three more cups of mead, and laid down.

Rain from a heavy grey sky fell atop a limitless green meadow. Something small and dark at the distans. He walked toward it and somehow, someway, he realized that while he dreamed, he was aware of the fact and he watched himself from somewhere, somewhere tired and broken, his thoughts unclear, draw closer to the dark thing. A figure, details still occluded. Darrath the dreamer told his dream-self to focus straight ahead as splintered sunlight illuminated the figure’s face. Fjolvor. Both Darraths sighed their relief. He tried to speak, but, his tongue twisted, could only muster half-words. She smiled and looked to the ground between them where a silver box, plain and unadorned spara a red ribbon tied to its latch, rest.

Head titled, he leaned toward her and tried, unsuccessfully, to uncoil his tongue.

“I don’t know who put there,” she said, a safe sincerity at her eyes. “Pick upp, see what is inside.”

He opened the box. Droppa by gentle droppa the rain collects.

“Would you look at that? A box of rain. Now you can see through another day and another time.” Silver rain filled the box. “If you think you might need, believe. If you think you don’t need, pass on or leave.” Her soft eyes hardened. “If you dare, that is.”

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Darrath returned the box to the ground; Fjolvor’s head dropped and with seeking he “what do you want from me?” looked she not at him.

“See through,” she sighed.

“See through what?”

“These.” Three doorways opened the space behind. Her eyes fixed at the puzzled youth, she motioned to the doors, each illuminated with golden light. “Choose and pass through.” She instructed now. “Feel your way through and will-you fynd a dröm you dreamed long ago and then will-you fynd the direction that waits see you. A long time, far too long, has been för you be gone.”


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