Lars' dreamscape in Emea
On the 48th of Ymiden, Arc 720
Warm water moved in gentle waves. Rippling inward and outward at once, a steady current pushed and pulled, and splashed against the smooth siding of the tub and lapped at his ivory skin. In glimmers of iridescent arcs, the glow of nearby lanterns caught in each and every soapy bubble that covered the surface of the water like snow. Leaned forward with his back exposed to the room, Lars rested his head upon his knees and kept his eyes closed while he felt fingers push lightly across his scalp. They drifted downward to cup warm water within their palms, and let it rain gently down over waves of soft white hair. It trickled down over his face, hidden away in the shadows of his arms, and fell back again into the body of water it had come from.
The control he held over his dreamscape had increased wonderfully; no longer confined to the stagnant scenery of a world that stopped and slowed against his wishes, he had practiced dutifully each night until the walls had bent to his will and allowed the imaginings of his dreaming mind. There was to be no more stomping of his feet or cracking of his marbled floors – his dreamscape did not resist the shifting overlay of scenes over scenes, of too many thoughts and endless desires, of contradictions and conflictions and counterproductive conversations. With a lift of his head, he watched the room change, as the darkness all around him filled with light again.
The obvious centerpiece of the large, extravagant washroom, the tub that housed the starlit vision of his soul was crafted of gold and quartz. Like every other fixture in the room, intricate trim lined the edges of the tub, and coiled around the sturdy feet that propped it up. Gilded mirrors lined the walls over marble counters and crystal bowls, but there existed no reflections in the dream. Lanterns scattered about the room provided light enough to see, and if one dared a glance to the walls – they might only find their shadows in their place.
Several men waited near the tub. With eyes of pale blue-grays and hair of platinum blond, each construct mirrored him perfectly, except for the colors they wore. Outfitted in silks and satins that draped like robes, a different one of them moved their mouth every time he spoke; voiceless puppets given roles and idle tasks. The man dressed in blue knelt beside the tub, bringing handfuls of water to his hair, while the man of citrine tones finished scrubbing at his back.
Lars lifted his head and leaned back, until he felt the surface of the water at the back of his head. Heavy, but warm, and he continued his lean until the entirety of his form was submerged.
Beneath the water, he could hear the rest of the dream spinning on without him. As if he had put his ear up to the wall, he heard the beginning notes of a familiar waltz played across the keys of a piano. The grand hall awaited his arrival… but something different awaited his crowd of dancing constructs. As he broke the surface, he wiped a hand over his face and pushed his wet hair back and away. The water dripped quickly back into the tub in a steady drizzle from his elbows and chin, until it quieted itself just as soon.
“We should hurry,” the man in blue moved his mouth, though the voice originated from Lars. “We’ve already made them wait too long. Aren’t you afraid of disappointing them?”
“No. We can’t disappoint them, we made them,” the man in yellow-golds disagreed.
As he turned his palms upwards for both men to take his hands, he watched the rest of them crowd near the tub. Lars lifted from the water while the red-robed construct mouthed, “even if we could, it wouldn’t matter. If they’re disappointed, we destroy them.”
“We can’t destroy everything,” cautioned blue, but the others shook their heads.
Lars was handed a towel from the man in emerald green.
“They will be whatever we want them to be. The show is not for them.”
A hum sounded from the silver-eyed dreamer. The towel was wrapped around him, and as he tied it in place, the soft material changed beneath his cold fingertips. Thread-worn white turned to the smoothest of gold silks, tied at his narrow waist and fitted perfectly to his toned arms and slender legs. Although the sleeves were long, the fabric did not descend into a proper skirt or full-length trousers, but shorts that allowed for ease of movement. Stockings of shimmering, pearly white ascended and came to a halt at the midpoint of his pale thighs, to match the accessories of pearl and diamond and gold that covered his hands and face. All the others fell into line behind him as he walked through the room, and he held out a pearly gloved hand to be held by one of them while he stepped into his heels of glittering gold.
“Is everything ready?” he inquired as he opened the door. In a single step, each construct phased forward into the next, until the last one phased into him.
Everything is ready.
GOOD. I TIRE OF THIS DELAY.
Boarded up in both directions, the only exit from the grand ballroom was directly across – although quite far – from the central staircase that led down into it. The balcony sat with glass doors left open, for any that wished to overlook the shadowed grounds beneath, but none ventured far from the usual gathering space. In a change from their usual full gowns, their dresses and suits were fitted and sleek. Masks in the forms of animals and monsters and everything else covered the voids where faces should have been.
The crowded space had been repurposed for the night, and darkened until the only light came from the stars far above and the scattering of golden lanterns across the floor. Although the hushed murmurs and conversations kept them all from true silence, a considerable quiet had fallen over the dreamscape, as all waited eagerly for the call to seat themselves before the newly-constructed stage. The tall curtains blocked any view of the balcony behind, and from the little orchestra pit, the sound of tuning strings could be heard.
Eyes obscured behind his ivory mask, Lars looked down over the crowd from the top of the stairs. His hand rested lightly upon the golden railing. Over top of his thin gloves, his rings had returned, each a different jewel tone. Long fingers tapped in sequence, and then withdrew, to fold his hands at his narrow waist. In his descent, he needed no assistance.
Downwards he went, golden heels clicking over polished marble. Before long, he reached the bottom, where hushed dancers had begun to take their seats faced away. The blond glanced over all of them again, and for a trill, as his cold hands curled into fists, his frayed nerves showed through. He had never done anything like this before… never showed anyone the work of his own creation, and it did not even matter that the crowd was made of constructs, because they felt just as real as anything else. They could react however he wanted, he knew. But he did not wish for worthless praise.
Lars continued forward. He had a seat of his own reserved, but he ignored it. Beyond the audience, the stage, the velvet curtains – the golden dreamer escaped to the balcony, to breathe in the cool night air. Darkness clung to the dreamscape in perpetual starry night, but a moon shone above – no, two moons – and cast a pale silver light over the mage.
In the stillness of the muted, quiet night, Lars walked to the end. As he reached the golden railing, the final border that kept shadowed grounds from the light, he climbed it gracefully… and sat there at the edge, impossibly far from the ground, to overlook the unknown corners of his dream.