"Green Dreams"
Forest/Fire, Part 6
By Mike Christopher
Read Part 5 "Her Wildest Dreams"

Run in the direction of Green! Tryn ran and ran, always toward the shifting veils of gauzy green that colored a part of the horizon. The light was directionless in this crazy place, so she had little sense of direction, but she was sure that the hazy green light she was running toward had shifted location several times as she struggled onward toward it. The goggles Dathka had given her served to keep her senses attuned to the strange geometries of this place; to keep her mind from rebelling against the apparent chaos.
The sounds of battle had faded behind her some time ago, and now there was no sound at all. It seemed that even the sound of her footsteps and her ragged breathing were absorbed by the multi-colored haze around her. Now and then, the haze would coalesce and begin to take on a vague form. Always these dream forms would reach out toward her, trying to catch her up in their ethereal grasp, but she was quick and nimbly dodged each half-seen attacker.
Her mind was so awhirl with questions that she found it difficult to think at all. So she simply ran, trying to keep her mind focused purely on the bizarre landscape unfolding around her. This was the Dream Plane, the very place from which she had so long invoked her dream creatures. Until now, she had never really thought of it as a real place at all; certainly, she had never expected to find herself lost within its vastness. And now she had learned that not only had her people once been accustomed to this place, they had used it regularly to travel to other worlds!
With a heavy heart, Tryn remembered the dark vision of the terrible Invaders who had chased her people to the moon—the only home she had ever known, the only world she had known existed until mere hours ago. The Invaders too, used the Dream Plane to travel from world to world, conquering as they went. And apparently, they were still out there—held at bay by an ancient magical barrier placed around the moon’s local Dream Plane by her ancient ancestors. Worst of all, it now seemed as if that barrier might no longer be as safe as it once was!
Abruptly, the smooth surface before her fell away and she found herself skidding to a halt before a huge chasm. Below was a violent storm of blue energy, flickering with streaks of brilliant white lightning. Above the chasm were small floating islands, like glowing violet crystals hanging over the maelstrom below. Tryn gasped for breath, trying to figure out what to do now. The stretch of green horizon was firmly situated across the great gulf, and she saw no obvious way to cross it.
A glance behind showed her that the mists were slowly forming into the mysterious silent attackers which had plagued her desperate flight. Turning to confront these new threats, she saw to her dismay that there were quite a few—far more than she had faced as she had been running—and she had no place to go!
In desperation, Tryn searched for an escape. The misty forms, now towering above her, had blocked off her flight in all directions save the great chasm behind her. Great shadowy paws and claws and pincers and tentacles began to reach out toward her. Tryn was prepared to meet her doom, when more movement behind her caught her eye. Turning she discovered that one of the crystalline islands had floated up behind her.
Without a second thought, she leaped out across the great gulf. Her body impacted the rough surface of the island, her hands clawing desperately for purchase on the smooth facets of the crystals. Finally, she was able to secure a safe purchase upon the hard crystal, and turned to face her attackers. Their many appendages still groped for her, stretching out across the chasm. But none was long enough to reach her safe haven—at least for now. Beyond the seething mass of misty forms now lining the lip of the chasm, Tryn could see a great cloud of darkness gathering—forming into something many times larger than anything she had seen thus far. Soon, she knew, her little floating island was not going to be far enough away to save her from the terrible forces that were gathering.
Luckily, another of the small islands was now within reach. Tryn balanced herself precariously atop her perch and readied herself for another leap. If she aimed correctly, perhaps the impact of her landing would propel the island farther away from the lip of the chasm. The darkness behind her congealed and began to snake out a sinuous tendril of smoky black just as Tryn flung herself into mid-air.
Wham! She hit the next island full-body, knocking the air from her lungs. The island did indeed begin to drift away from the horrors reaching out to her, Tryn noted as she finally found a solid purchase upon the slippery surfaces. Satisfied that she was beyond the reach of her pursuers, at least for the moment, she turned to survey the progress her small island was making toward the far lip of the chasm. Slow. Too slow, she thought, glancing worriedly at the far shore. Now misty shapes could be seen gathering there as well. Tryn’s heart sank as she realized she was surrounded. Looking up, she noticed that the shifting veils of mist directly above were mostly green now.
Almost made it to…wherever, was Tryn’s resigned thought, as she sighed inwardly. She was tired and sore and her mind was numb with the weight of unanswered questions and filled by a deep longing for her old familiar world. Vague memories flashed within her mind, as she clung listlessly to the small crystal island—Magam’s laugh, Grega’s quirky humor, the smell of sulphur and ash which clung to the Volcano lands, the sheen of fine persperation steaming from Barak’s broad brow?i>No! I will not think of that! Tryn reprimanded herself. Still, she was filled with a longing for the new friends she had made in the land of Cald, as well as for the more familiar sights and sounds of her home in far away Vash Naroom.
BAM! Tryn’s island shuddered violently. She lost her precarious grip and pitched to one side. Scrabbling futilely against the slick surface for a new hold, she slid right off the edge. At the last moment, her tunic slid over a sharp crystalline spine, saving her from a deadly fall. Now she simply hung there, legs gangling over the flickering energies below. The soft leather tunic was strong enough to hold her, but she couldn’t turn around to get a new grip on the island. She was caught, helpless, dangling there above the storm-filled chasm.
As if this weren’t bad enough, Tryn spied the thing which had caused her island to shake in the first place. Rising up from the chaos below came a spiraling funnel of shadow substance. It snaked up tentatively at first, and then struck the island a second blow without warning. Tryn found herself suddenly angling forward as the island tilted. Her tunic began to slip from the crystal spine.
"Help!" she began to yell, not knowing if there were anyone to hear her. "Help!"
The island began to stabilize, and she slid back into a secure position once more. She knew her luck would not hold forever, though. Below her dangling legs, she saw the vaporous shadow form preparing for another strike. "Help!" she called once more, certain of the futility of her pleas, but unable to restrain herself.
BAM! The island began to spin this time. She was relieved that she stayed firmly lodged on the spine this time, but her fear climbed to new heights as she heard the sturdy leather begin to tear at the seams.
Rippp-pop-pop-pop! Each new pop dropped her a fraction of an inch lower. Her heart was beating wildly as she watched the thing below come at her again. BAM! The island shuddered again with the force of the impact. Tryn’s arms and legs flailed wildly as she struggled to stop her wild swinging. POP-pop-pop-POP! The leather cords which bound her tunic together began to snap one by one. She dropped further still.
No longer caring about Dathka’s warning to not use her animite while in the Dream Plane, Tryn fumbled desperately for her ring pouch. She dug her hand deep within and grasped her rings, pulling them free with a sharp tug that caused a few more leather cords to snap. Her hands trembled, and she gasped in dismay as several of her rings fell into the abyss below. Finally, she found the one she was looking for—the huge greenish-blue animite stone glittered as she began to slip it on her finger. Not even waiting to get the ring fully on, she began to send her energy into it, picturing the sleek lines of her faithful Timber Hyren in her mind’s eye.
Her fingers began to burn terribly, and she let go of the ring before it had fully slid onto her finger. BAM! Another blow from below rocked her violently, and the precious ring fell from her hands to vanish into the maelstrom below.
Seeing her last hope vanish before her eyes, Tryn began to sob. Pop-POP-POP! The side of her tunic ripped fully open at last, spilling her out. Her right hand whipped out and caught the tunic, but it was too late. She was already falling.
A wordless scream came from her throat as she plummeted. The lights below flickered with terrible force, as the shadowy whirlwind form began to snake its way around Tryn as she fell. Suddenly, a new sound reached her ears, piercing through her constant scream. A familiar sound! There was a blinding flash of brilliant light from just beneath her, leaving a brilliant emerald afterburn in her tear-filled eyes. And then, strong arms had wrapped themselves about her and she felt her fall abruptly halt and become a steady rise. Looking up and past her shoulder, she saw the familiar contours of Brilleon’s face. The Timber Hyren did not look quite his usual self—his form was transparent and glassy, like a deep emerald glass, and his face was etched with deep worry and concern as he lifted his mistress up and away from the seething maelstrom below.
"Brilleon!" Tryn cried, overwhelming relief surging through her. "Oh, thank the Ancients you’ve come!"
The Timber Hyren made no reply, instead his strong arms tightened about her and he strengthened his wing strokes, flying faster and higher. Tryn saw that they were well beyond the great chasm and its storm. The shadowy forms which had menaced her were nowhere to be seen. Ahead, they flew into a blazing cloud of brilliant green.
The emerald haze surrounded them, filled with sparkling stars. Tryn felt a wonderful coolness settle through her, filling her with a renewed sense of energy and purpose—almost like someone had cast a Naroom healing spell upon her. And then, despite her most-trusted dream companion’s worried silence, she found herself spilling out the details of her recent ordeal. It was only when she mentioned Dathka that Brilleon finally turned to look at her once more.
"The Dreamkeeper found you?" Brilleon’s voice was a melodious baritone, a surprisingly light sound for a creature of such size and power. "Where is he now?"
Dreamkeeper? Tryn wondered to herself. That must be what the Dream Creatures call him. "Umm…we were attacked by some…things…and he said he would try to hold them off while I ran. He told me to run in the direction of green, and so I did, and then…there was that big hole in the ground and I was being chased, so I jumped and then?
"I get the picture," Brilleon cut her off. Tryn’s mouth shut in surprise, realizing she had been rambling.
"But…how?" she began, wondering how the Timber Hyren had found her.
"You began to invoke my ring," He explained. "You were very lucky that the ring was knocked off your finger before you could fully energize it."
Tryn remembered Dathka’s warning not to use her rings in the Dream Plane. Her finger still burned slightly where the ring had been. She rubbed the sore spot absently.
"But I didn’t fully energize it! How did you find me?"
Brilleon gave a small laugh, the first sign of his usual humor returning. "How could I not find you! You’re glaring like a beacon in this place! Every dream creature for leagues around couldn’t help but notice you!"
"Hmmm," Tryn considered, "then why didn’t you find me earlier?"
"Well, I couldn’t exactly see your beacon myself. I was too far away. You seem to have appeared much farther away in the direction of red."
Tryn nodded, vaguely remembering seeing a reddish cast around her when Dathka had first dropped the walls of his sanctuary and urged her to run.
"It was more like I felt your presence. Flash felt it too, which is surprising considering what a slug he usually is!"
"Flash! He’s here too!" Tryn was delighted at the prospect of finding her trusty Rudwot here as well.
Brilleon harrumphed. "Well, of course he’s here! Where else would he be? It’s you who don’t belong here!" He paused and returned to a more serious tone. "Actually, Trunkk thought it was our bond to you that made your presence felt from so far away. He sent me to find you. Flash wanted to come as well, but he is much too slow." Brilleon paused and looked back down at the Naroom magi cradled in his arms, "Why ever did you name him Flash? What a joke!"
Tryn waved away the question, having long ago become accustomed to the rivalry between her two most-trusted creatures. Instead, she asked another question, "Trunkk? Who’s Trunkk? Is that another creature?"
Brilleon didn’t answer for a moment, as he leaned into a slight turn and began to descend. Blazing balls of emerald light rose around them as he winged his way downward. Finally he replied in a quiet voice, "Well, you’ll soon find out." His voice became very serious. "It’s time that some ancient secrets were let out of the dark?

What happens next? Read Part 7 "The Dream Storm"

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