The Dream-Stalkers – Of Dreams and Nightmares

Writing recently has been… Interesting…

I’m not sure what it’s been recently, but I just haven’t been able to really write anything that I’m happy with.  I’ll sit down and write for a while and then decide it’s crap and scrap it.  It’s begun taking a conscious effort to NOT just delete an hour or two’s writing because something just felt off with it.  That includes this piece, Dream Stalkers part 5.  I started writing this one three times before I was finally happy with what I started with.  Either the wording was bad or I felt the flow was off or something.  The first one I did, I didn’t even re-read it.  I just said, “It’s crap,” and closed the window, no saves.

The other day was different.  The words just fell into place and I was happy with it from word one on.  I’m not sure what was different about it, but I’m glad it finally worked out!

So, without further ado, the writing that I’m sure some of you have been waiting for, The Dream-Stalkers – Of Dreams and Nightmares!

“Mother, I don’t think you’d ever be that cruel.” Tatiana’s voice was rushed as she worked to get a room ready for herself, the Queen Mother Lasha, and the human-formed werewolf that the queen considered to be her daughter, Elisa. “It doesn’t make sense, not with how hard you work to keep the peace between humans, vampires, and werewolves.”

Elisa, dressed in loose-fitting slacks and a flowing blouse, chimed in as well. “She’s right, mom. You’re nothing but the utmost in niceness, why would you claim to have such a past?”

Lasha sat and watched the girls toil from a corner of the room. Cots were being shifted around to accommodate a third person, something rarely done during any Dream-Stalking. She shakes her head, causing her long, wavy blonde hair to shift about her shoulders, and sighs loudly. “Alright, it wasn’t me, but someone I took into myself.” She closes her eyes as a frown crosses her lovely features. “There was a woman. A vampiress. Strong, but not impossibly strong. She took my husband, then took me.” Her eyes open to see both girls looking in her direction and so forces a smile. “I fought back after several years of watching her…” She stops and swallows hard. “Nevermind that. I fought back against her control and I won. I killed her by drinking almost all of her blood, and I let her bleed out what little life she had left. It was she who wanted that werewolf’s death, but I took in so much of her that it controlled my thoughts for a time.” Lasha’s voice becomes pained but she continues, the sounds of shifting mats silenced for the moment. “I even tried to kill him myself.”

The elder vampire feels a hand on her shoulder. She snaps back to the moment to find Elisa looking down at her, a caring grin matching the sparkle to her deep brown eyes. “But she doesn’t anymore, mom. I’m sure it’s ancient history.”

“I hope you’re right, my daughter, for all of our sakes.”

Tatiana calls out from across the room, “It’s ready. We have to do this quickly. It’ll be dark soon.”

The ladies all lay on separate cots, each looking upwards towards the stone-tiled ceiling of the room. Tatiana sits up and looks at the table farthest from her to her left. “Elisa, I know you’ve never done this, so I’m going to walk you through it. If I tell you to do something, you need to do it when I tell you. Understand?”

The girl simply nods.

“Alright, then. Queen Mother, I–”

A loud sigh escapes Lasha’s throat. “For the time being, I’m just Lasha. I don’t want you putting on airs around this wolf. It’s already dangerous enough without it.”

“Yes mother. I mean, Lasha.” Tatiana mumbles something quietly before speaking clearly enough so the pair accompanying her would easily understand, even in half-sleep. “Alright, I need you both to close your eyes and clear your thoughts. Blank would be best, but if you have issues with darkness, a white box will work.”

“Tatiana!” The heavy wooden door swings quickly as Erik forces his way into the room. The younger-looking man seems distraught as he sees her and is flanked by several yelling youths whom he’d obviously pushed past forcefully. “What are you doing? I heard…” He bows quickly as he realizes that the figure sitting up next to the dark red-haired woman is the Queen herself. “I’m sorry, Queen Mother. I didn’t realize–”

The queen glares at the boy and he freezes in place. “You didn’t think, either. Choose your words wisely or you won’t think until I decide that you may.”

“Y-yes, mother… I…” He looks up at the vampiric girl who was now sitting in her cot. “There’s rumor that you’re going back after him.”

Tatiana sighs loudly, a distressed look crossing her features. “I have to, Erik.”

“You promised me you wouldn’t! And now you’re going without me!” Erik’s words come out stained with anger and betrayal. “Why?”

“Because I told her that she must, my child.” That angry response came from Lasha.

“Erik, I’m here, too,” Elisa piped in. “This isn’t anything to be worried about. Go, rest, and we’ll be back soon. I’ll make sure she’s a good girl for you.”

Erik stands in the middle of the room, his body shaking in irritation. After a moment he simply nods, his face no longer contorted with rage. “Alright. But don’t be long. I don’t like this one bit.”

Tatiana jumps from her cot and runs at Erik. She wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him passionately to reassure the vampire of her intentions. “My darling, I’d never risk losing you. I promised you that my heart yours and nothing’s changed that.” She smiles warmly at him before continuing in a gentle whisper. “Be waiting for me, my love.”

He finally relaxes and happily returns her kiss. “I’d wait the rest of my days for you. Just don’t make me wait that long.”

~*~ ~*~

It took several tries and nearly a half-hour for the Dream-Stalker to find both her Queen and the werewolf. Lasha herself had some previous experience and was easier to locate, but Elisa was not exactly equipped with the knowledge of how to make her own dreams bend to her whims. Finally, though, Tatiana did manage to find the girl in a white box-like room, exactly as she’d been told.

All three stood together in the half-sleep dream world that was Elisa’s box. Tatiana began explaining the process of finding his dream to the young werewolf girl, with Lasha nodding and adding in small bits where she could. The biggest thing she stressed to the were was staying together and imagining herself as invisible. “It will keep him from seeing you until we’re ready. You’ll be the weakest one of us there because you don’t know what you can do in your dreams yet.” Tatiana grins before demonstrating a dream-shift, changing her body’s proportions to match the Queen Mother’s. “Eventually, you can do this, too.”

Lasha laughs openly at the shift. “So that’s how you’ve been getting so many men.”

Tatiana blushes but doesn’t respond in kind as she returns to her normal self. “It’s very important to stay hidden in the shadows, too. Even in dreams, line of sight matters.”

Elisa shakes her head with a frown, then suddenly changes from her human form to her full wolf form. Her dark-brown hair now covers her entire body as fur as her eyes remain the deep, intelligent brown they were before. A moment later, she shifts back to her human form. The change wasn’t perfect, though, as she finds her clothes missing as she changes back. With a grunt, Elisa fixes that issue after a half a moment. “Okay, I think I get it…”

Tatiana extends her hands to the women. “Alright,” she starts, “it’s time to get moving. Elisa, let go of the box and concentrate on my hand.

The box disappears after a short pause, leaving them floating in pitch-black.

“Good. Whatever happens, don’t let go until I tell you it’s alright.”

Lasha giggles out loud, surprising both girls. “This is going to be fun! I haven’t done this in years!” Neither girl can tell if she’s being serious or just trying to lighten the mood. In truth, it was both. The Queen feared for her life but it wasn’t often she could travel freely from dream to dream.

The girls drift on, seeming to meander through the darkness until, after what feels like hours, the dream brightens with thousands upon thousands of specks of light. To someone who didn’t know, they’d think they were looking at the night’s sky during the new moon, but far more colorful. Some were brighter than others, some were so dim that they could barely be seen, and each one seemed to glitter as if looking at it through a series of prisms.

“It’s… It’s so beautiful,” exclaims Elisa, having never been in the dream plane.

Tati looked to the were. “At a distance, yes. Getting closer, not always. Some peoples’ dreams make you want to cry.” The girl pulled both of her accompaniments with her towards the specks, which started to grow slowly as they neared. “From here, we look for different things. The brighter the light, normally, the older the person who’s dreaming.”

The Queen Mother adds in, “The more it twinkles, the more that’s going on.” She reaches for Elisa with her free hand, wrapping it around her waist and giving it a squeeze. “So, look around. Do you think you see his dream?”

Elisa looks around, her eyes wide in wonder, as she tries to identify something that might be obvious. “How do I tell? How can I tell?”

Tatiana glances back for a moment. “It’s a gut feeling. You’ll know it if you see it.” Her voice didn’t seem confident, though. The vampiress usually put a piece of herself into her prey’s dreams but hadn’t had a chance to with the male she was seeking now.

There’s suddenly a pull on Tatiana’s arm as Elisa looks at a speck in the distance. “Is that it over there,” she asks, loudly enough to almost be a shout of excitement.

The trio stops as Tatiana turns to look. “Which one?”

“I don’t know. There was one over there that looked like it had rings.”

“Rings?” Lasha and Tatiana ask together.

“Yeah, like Saturn, but they kept growing… There!”

Elisa points outwardly but it was unnecessary. In the distance a particularly gray mote flashes intensely then radiates a trio of rings that continue growing until they fade away.

“Um… Yes…,” Tatiana responds, curiosity creeping into her voice. “That’s… Different….”

Lasha’s question fills the still air, “Have you ever seen anything like that before?”

“No, Lasha. Never.”

They drift towards the pulsing ball of light, each pulse seeming to reach further and further as they near it. There was little said as they made their way towards it, but Tatiana swore she could hear something. A whisper, faint but not inaudible, seemed to catch her. She couldn’t understand it, but it never got louder and she soon ignored it.

Several minutes later, they stopped just outside of the gray ball. It had grown massive as they came closer and each pulse made a ringing sound. Lasha looked over the sphere and mused, “Whoever this is, they’re not being quiet, are they?”

Tatiana touched the ball. As she came into contact, its glow turned bright white, almost blindingly so, then shifted to a bright silver. “I think this is it.”

“You mean you can’t tell?”

“No, Elisa. Normally I can see inside. This one…” Tatiana paused in thought. “Something doesn’t feel right.”

Lasha asks quietly, “Should we go back?”

“No, Lasha.” It was Elisa’s turn to respond. “We came this far. We have to know if he’s holding them. Or worse…”

Lasha nods, then turns to Tatiana. “Do it.”

“I don’t know about this. It’s really, really strong. It doesn’t feel like a dream…”

“Do it, Tatiana. It’s time.”

Tatiana sighs and turns to Elisa. “Remember what I said. Imagine yourself invisible. You’re a ghost, not real. You’re there, but you’re not there. This is important, and I mean it.” Elisa nods, then seems to fade from view. Shortly after, Tatiana feels a tug at her hand, then the feel of something grabbing it. Once she feels it, she turns and pushes towards the ball of silver light. She closes her eyes and drops her shoulder as she comes into contact with it…

There was virtually no resistance, as if they were walking through a wall of water. The ball, however, changed quickly on the inside to a gray square room, unadorned and lacking in any visible characteristics other than gray and barren. The center of the room was another story. A gray throne, massive yet unadorned and angular, stretched from the ground. Resting on the throne, however, was something she recognized instantly. His white-furred tail twitched as it rested along the arm and down the side of the throne. His lupine head rested on a powerful, half-human and half-wolven handpaw and didn’t turn to look at them and was covered in the same white fur. His snout ended in a black nose, the white fur streaked with silver that flowed around his face and down his back.

It was the ancient werewolf in the same halfling form she’d seen before.

Tatiana looked nervously to both sides and saw Lasha’s eyes fixed on the were. She looked nervous but unafraid. Elisa, on the other hand, was only barely visible as she let go of Tatiana’s hand and sat quietly next to the wall. That’s good, thought Tati, she’ll be a distance away if anything goes wrong.

The two visible vampires stride slowly towards the chair. Lasha had taken on a more regular appearance for her, heels and a very well fitting and stylish black dress. Tatiana was another story all together, choosing the jeans and t-shirt she’d been wearing when she arrived at Lasha’s room. Lasha’s heels made a click-tap noise as they fell on the gray stone. After several paces, the white-furred werewolf finally regarded them.

“I’ve been expecting you, child.” His voice rang out through the room, amplified by the dream.

“I’m only here at my… At her request.” Tatiana gestures at Lasha without using her name.

The were never looked over at the woman. “I knew you would come eventually. And you brought a friend this time.” His tone seems conversational but is tinged with irritation. “Come to join the party, miss?”

Lasha finally looks up at the werewolf she’d asked for. “Not exactly, Wulf.”

His dark blue eyes widen briefly in surprise. “You know my name. I’m impressed, considering you didn’t press for…” Wulf’s words suddenly stop. “That voice,” he whispers angrily as he turns in his seat, bringing his mass to bear. “How dare you come into my dream! I should kill you!” He stands from his seat and starts at a dash towards the vampires, his claws stretching from his fingers as he looks prepared to swipe at the queen…

Lasha had fallen to her knees, her head down in shame. The move seems to catch the werewolf by surprise and he stops short. “What is this? A trick? A game? Stand up so I can strike you down, you wretched creature,” he snarls loudly, his fur shifting from the white and silver to a dark granite. “You deserve death for what you did to me!”

Lasha looks up at Wulf, and Tatiana sees, for the first time, tears falling down her face. “Please, your fight is with me.” Her words quiver with barely-held sobs as she speaks, “Please, tell me you didn’t kill my children!”

“Your children? Your children?!” His dark eyes glare at Tatiana. “This honorless scum sent you after me? You thought to capture me for her?!” A sword materializes in his hand, a long, slightly-curved weapon made of bright silver metal that seems to glow with the colors of the rainbow, and he raises it to strike the red-headed vampiress.

“This is a dream, you can’t truly hurt me-aaugh!” Tatiana’s sentence ends in a scream as she finds herself broadsided in the face with Wulf’s weapon. The strike sends her tumbling to the ground whimpering in pain, not from the strike itself, but from the painful burn that accompanied it. It was as if she was hit with pure sunlight, and her skin burned hot from the touch.

“Please! She didn’t know! Please, Wulf, be merciful to my child!” Lasha was standing now, pleading with the werewolf loudly, her tears and cries no longer withheld.

Wulf stopped his advance on the girl and turned to glare at Lasha. “These aren’t your children! You stole their lives! You were never their mother, only the one who brought their deaths!” The wolf spins around, gathering speed as he raises his weapon level with his target’s throat…

He stops suddenly as a young brunette appears between Lasha and Wulf, the blade stopping less than an inch from her hair as it sings from the gained and then abruptly ended momentum. The dark wolf growls as his chest heaves, his eyes an evil glare at the interloper. “I thought I felt three. Move, or you die, too.”

Elisa trembles with fear as she responds defiantly, “No.”

“No?”

“If you want to kill my mother, you’ll have to kill me, too.” She steels herself with the words and stares into his eyes.

His anger hadn’t receded, but his voice calmed slightly. “Your… Mother? It’s not possible.” With that, he shifts the blade, pulling its sharp edge away from her skin, and touches her cheek with it.

Nothing happened.

Wulf looks Elisa up and down, then asks in a growl, “Who are you?”

The girl forces herself to smile at him. “I am Michelle Elisabeth Connor, though I prefer to be called Elisa.” She turns and looks at Lasha as tears stream down the vampiress’s cheeks. “This is my mother, Queen Mother–”

“I know who she is!” Wulf snaps. “She’s not your mother, no matter what they told you.”

“No. She didn’t birth me. I’m not… I was the survivor of my mother’s litter, killed by a hunting party who thought we were common animals.” Elisa turns towards the ancient were. “Mother’s husband refused to let me be killed. She raised me. She is my mother.”

The blade continues to tone quietly as Wulf drops his sword slowly to his side. “I thought that was rumor.” He sounds far more controlled now, even though he still remains clearly angered. He searches Elisa for any tell of lies. “Why are you here, Michelle Elisabeth Connor?”

“I…” The young werewolf starts quietly. “I asked for you.”

Wulf cocks his head in confusion. “You asked for me,” he asks incredulously as his ears snap back flat against his head, his tail twitching agitatedly.

Tatiana finally appears next to Elisa, the burn still apparent on her face. “Yes. I didn’t know.”

The ancient were turns and steps back towards the throne. “I think you all should leave,” he quietly growls without turning to face them.

“Not without my children!” the Queen mother begs. “Please! I know you, you wouldn’t have killed them!”

Wulf snaps around and glares at the Queen Mother who simply looks to the floor instead of meeting his gaze. “Maybe I should.” At his words, she falls to the ground, wailing at the thought of losing not one, not two, but so many of her children to something that was not entirely of their doing.

“Please,” Elisa asks, “Why would you harm them?”

“You mean to tell me that you don’t know?”

Elisa shakes her head, oblivious to Tatiana’s tending to their mother. “I only know that she took in something dark and evil.”

Wulf laughs, a dark, sinister chuckle that echos through the room. He then glares down at the girl. “Perhaps I should show you, then…”

With that, he grabs the younger werewolf’s arm and starts to pull her towards the back of the gray room. She instinctively pulls away from the grasping claws but is just not quite fast enough. Tatiana, noticing this, jumps at the elder wolf with an angry shout.

“Too slow…” Wulf doesn’t even bother to face the red-headed vampire. Instead, he simply lifts his free arm up and an unseen hand holds Tatiana in the air, stopping with the were just out of her reach. He finally turns to face her, a jovial smile on his face. “I’ve something special in mind for you.” He snaps his fingers, an action that makes the sound of roaring thunder, and a blinding flash causes the girl to vanish.

Lasha screams, a long, pained “No!” as she watches yet another of her children disappear. “Wulf, please! I’m begging you, make this between us!” The grief-stricken woman finally finds her feet and quickly rushes towards Wulf. “I’ll do-erk!

Elisa watches in horror as the now black-furred wolf catches the slender woman by her throat. He heaves her from the floor with one arm in a quick motion, then, with a loud snarl, throws her down at the ground hard. Instead of slamming into the gray floor in a heap, it shatters like glass and Queen Lasha finds herself now living her own darkest nightmare: falling away from that which matters to her most. She flails her arms as she tries to find something, anything to grab and halt her fall, only to find nothing but inky nothingness, the feel of the air as it whips her hair around her face, and the sight of her daughter shrinking in the distance. Elisa tries to reach into the hole left by her mother but finds herself blinded and deafened by the same thunderclap that took Tatiana away. As she falls backwards and away from what had been the jagged edges of the dream’s shattered floor, she finally sees that it’s returned to its solid state.

Elisa slowly scans the room. It suddenly feels terrifyingly empty without her mother and sister present. As she continues to look around she finds the black-furred, blue eyed werewolf standing over her sitting body. His presence strikes an absolute fear into her heart as his hand-paw reaches down towards her. She tries to slide away but finds her arms and legs unresponsive, frozen in place in fear. Before she can speak, the older wolf’s color shifts to a charcoal gray, then to a lighter gray, then stops at silver with dark gray markings, his dark blue eyes suddenly seeming that much brighter as his fur shifts.

“If you have the courage, let me show you who I am, and who she is.”

Elisa raises a shaking hand and takes his. “Alright,” she whispers, then quickly finds herself hoisted to her feet. She quietly follows as the silvery wolf pulls her towards the back of the room, past the throne, and into a portal that suddenly and quietly appears as Wulf nears the back wall. As the swirling vortex wraps around her hand, she closes her eyes and holds her breath, only to find herself hearing his voice ring out:

“There is no turning back.”

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