Pathways to Navylyn
Sapphire light flooded the room and his dreams. The magician lay asleep, and only poor Snow White was guarding him (like all will-o’-the-wisps, and all creatures spending their life in one single dream, she never slept); but she was unable to bring him back. A magician’s dream is a serious business, it is a venture seldom undertaken, for it reminds him of his mortal origins and of his destiny. For Snow White’s taste, there had been far too much trouble of late (she had no idea of the exact meaning of “days”, “years”, or “hours”): first of all Sarik being away messing around with the outside world, and now engaging in such follies as sleeping. Her memory for such nuisances was much better than Sarik would have expected, and she knew for sure Sarik hadn’t slept since … times.
Sarik dreamed … and he felt a confusion never encountered before since he had been expelled to the Blue Forest (for in his dream he suddenly knew that, yes, he had been expelled, this wasn’t his real life); and with a painful imaginary smile he accepted the ideas that his dream gave to him.
Gliding through the mists, he approached a dark mountain, somewhere in the nether worlds, in the lower spheres. He had no body. He flew. Then he sensed a red gleaming light like a big pulsating heart through the rock.
Bolchiak the Great, he remembered. He once was one of us.
Stay away! Snow White’s sorrowful voice came to him faintly and from somewhere far away. He ignored her and entered the rock, which he passed through without any problems.
In the inner darkness, he caught a glance of fiery scales, of vast muscles and sulphurous breath, of an unbelievable creature so sound asleep the destruction of worlds wouldn’t have stirred it. There was the rattle and tinkle of enormous chains and the pains of the mountain erected over the demon body. Sarik rested a second, almost feeling something like pity with the proud creature. He had a faint idea that Bolchiak and himself had once opposed each other as enemies. Then …
A white burning light appeared, racing towards him, and Sarik became aware of an avatar of the Entities, commanded as Bolchiak’s guardian. It had dead golden eyes (gold coloured eyes, always her eyes as a reminder for us), and held a flaming sword in its hand, and Sarik retreated without wasting another second.
The scene changed. Sarik now saw a fortress surrounded by badlands, old massive walls often besieged. He entered again without difficulty, and in one of the higher chambers he became aware of the face of a red-haired woman with proud aristocratic features. She seemed sad, but beautiful despite her age and the look of anger and arrogance from her green eyes. She knew him much better than he ever knew her, and she talked of grief and of guilt, and he fled again.
The dream let him choose his direction, and carefully like a stranger in the lands of his own past, he turned around.
He saw a ballroom full of people, some of the most fantastical creatures he had ever imagined; and wind blew the curtains, the candles faded, and so did the arabesque scene; there remained only an empty ballroom – the scene changed – empty hallways full of mirrors and dreadful decisions – and Zacharis, dying young Zacharis, staring at him –
And then there was Navylyn.
Of all places in the ten thousand and one worlds, Sarik would always recognize this one. Blue lightning illuminated the skies over vast deserts, where the halls of porcelain resided over the fate of all living beings. He approached now almost against his will, still flying, gliding nearer, like a ship heading for a magnetic mountain, and a large gate swung open with a fierce thunderclap, and he glided inside into the realm of the gods. He felt afraid, and the absence of any thinking being made him feel even more terrified. The halls are still empty – he was all alone, nobody there to watch over the figures of fate –
The melancholy silence, the deserted beauty of the chambers he passed made him stop. He had nothing to fear. This was only a dream, and the dream wanted to show him something.
He saw the first hall, and then the next. Each of them was filled with the representations of every sentient being ever born or about to be born in the ten thousand inhabited worlds, tiny figures of china, shimmering white, each frozen in this very moment, loving, dying, lost in thought; fragile like dancers on a musical box, imprisoned to the melodies of their lives; static, unchanging to the sight of the visitor, only moving when he was looking away, silent and ghostly; but their dance remained senseless, because nobody enjoyed its sight, and nobody taught them their steps; they stumbled like children through the emptiness of their lives. Dust covered each of the halls, and no sound was to be heard.
It was terribly silent –
Sarik awoke, shivering. He had almost forgotten what loneliness felt like.
Snow White was waiting in sorrow beside his bed, comforting the ageless magician with one of her pleasant tunes. The heart of the ignis fatuus was pulsating, changing colour from lilac to turquois and pastel red and then back again as she sang. Sarik softly patted the halo of the little orb, as timeless and void of remembrance as himself.
I’ll have to leave, he thought. Someone’s sending me dreams telling me we may be in trouble. Old fiends and allies, and a tension lingering over the worlds like an unchanging air over the lands. It’s the kind of silence that usually leads to a century storm. I have to find out … Somebody wants me to … It may all take just a little while.
Snow White silently wept.
The next day he tended his garden where he grew cabbages and cucumbers, cleaned up his cellar full of unfinished dreams and constructions; he already missed his herbs and his little shrubs, and his grimoires and almanacs and his crystal balls and his flying machines. He took a last walk through his forest, chose the stepping stones and the creeks and the pathways that would lead him most comfortably and quickly to the lands where his journey was meant to start, and then he took his cloak and his tricorn and said good-bye again to his home, shimmering like a fairy market in the morning fog under the pastel northern lights and the playful schools of will-o’-the-wisps.
Good bye … I’ll think of you every night. Maybe we’ll share some dreams, little light.
I can’t follow … but I’ll be with you, in thoughts, she whispered, passionately.