I had the strangest dream of my life last night, as clear as anything I've experienced in real life. Perhaps even clearer.
I found myself standing in a courtyard at the Pental chapterhouse. It was obviously springtime; there were flowers everywhere. There were more flowers than I remembered, actually, and they seemed much more colourful than they should. They possessed an oversaturated hue that seemed unnatural. It was both beautiful and very strange. Suddenly, I heard a voice behind me.
I turned around to face the speaker and found Lord Morek. I sighed, “You need to get out of my dreams. It's starting to creep me out.”
Lord Morek laughed. “Last time I was in one of your dreams, you were in an existential quandary and required my help.”
I looked at him and narrowed my eyes, “You're not actually Lord Morek.”
“And what makes you think that?”
“Lord Morek doesn't say stuff like 'existential quandary.'”
He looked at me and smiled. “Well, I knew the guise wouldn't work forever,” he said. The next thing I knew, I wasn't looking at Lord Morek anymore, but instead a much younger and taller man. “I do apologize for the trickery, Sigrid.”
“Who are you, and why have you been disguising yourself as Lord Morek?” I reached to my hip for my blade, but found nothing.
“If a weapon would make you feel more comfortable, then by all means...” the man waved his hand towards me and the Aur Xica appeared in my hand. “I have no intention of hurting you however. I only tricked you into thinking I was Lord Morek so I wouldn't have to spend time building up a rapport with you, seeing as I know almost everything about you, I didn't feel that would be an entirely necessary use of my time.”
I gripped the hilt of the Aur Xica. “You know me? Prove it.”
“You were born in De-Shamod on the 1st of Firstmonth 1734. Your mother's name is Elysa Korriban. You have no idea where your surname comes from. Your mother had no other children and was killed by a guard in 1748. You then lived with a blacksmith named Loghan Gorrison for three years, before joining the Order of the Axe and training on White Shoal Island. You were told numerous times that you were one of the best Squires in your year, but you refused to believe it. In your third year of Squiring, your horse frightened your friend Rolan's horse while you were out riding together. Rolan was thrown from the saddle and killed. You blamed yourself, even though it was a tragic accident and not your fault. It was at that moment that you decided that you valued life greatly and chose to Champion it,” he paused.
“For your last two years of Squiring, you traveled with Dame Leram, a Litorian Champion of Justice. You admired her honour and tireless devotion to Justice, so you decided to become a Champion of Justice as well. Your Knighting happened to be on your 24th birthday, which was the 1st of Firstmonth 1758. After you were Knighted, you were sent to Pental. For about a year, you were mainly on field duty, running errands and doing simple missions for Lord Morek. Over the past few months, however, your life has gotten very complicated,” he looked at me, “Is that good enough proof that I know you, Kesaarane?”
I shivered as he spoke my Truename. “We're inside my dream. How do I know you didn't just, I don't know, pry into my mind and find all that?”
“You don't.” the man said, looking a little forlorn. “You see, this is why I disguised myself. You're so distrusting of strangers.”
“With good reason,” I looked up and him and he grinned at me. “You didn't really answer my questions, you know.”
“Who are you and why were you pretending to be Lord Morek?” I was growing more annoyed with this man by the moment.
“You're too concerned with names and titles, sweetheart.”
“Don't call me that.”
“Sorry. If you must have a name by which to label me, then you may call me Alastor,” the man said while reaching out to touch a rosebud. The rosebud bloomed as he cupped it in his hand, and he leaned in to smell it, “I chose Lord Morek's form because it seemed appropriate to your vision quest. He is a man you greatly respect.”
“Why are your here? Are you even real?”
“I believe I'm real. I can't prove to you that I'm real though, so whether you believe I'm real is your call.”
“So, you could just be a manifestation of some odd psychosis?”
“I suppose I could be. What is it you're really trying to ask me, Sigrid? You're avoiding the question that's really on your mind.”
I frowned. “I'm not avoiding anything. I just want to know whether you're real or not before I worry too much about your significance.”
“I already told you, I cannot prove my existence to you. You'll just have to trust yourself and your own judgment. I must ask, is it really my significance that concerns you, or is it your own?” Alastor looked me straight in the eye. “Just ask me what you really want to.”
“Why are you here? What do you want from me?”
“I'm here to give you a gift. That is all.”
“A gift? You're going to give me something?” I asked, wondering what sort of gift a crazy man in my head might give me. “Let me guess, you're going to tell me I'm the Chosen One or something and that I have to save the world or some clichéd thing like that,” I said, rather sarcastically.
“Would you like me to tell you that you're the Chosen One and are going to save the world?”
“Good, because that would be a lie, and I don't really want to lie to you, little guardian.”
“What did you just call me?”
“Guardian. It's one of your purposes in life.”
I sighed and sat down on a stone bench. “You've got the wrong person. I'm terrible at guarding anything. I failed my mother, I failed Rolan, and now I've failed Gannen not just once, but twice. Twice. Damnit.” I hit my fist on the bench. “If I didn't care so damn much, I wouldn't be hurting this badly.”
“It's good that you're passionate and you care. Your passion gives you strength, Sigrid.”
“Strength to what? Strength to fail? Strength to hurt so much because of that failure that I go crazy and become a horrible person?” I blinked away the tears that were welling up in my eyes. I wasn't going to cry. I didn't want to cry.
Alastor sat down next to me. “I helped you avoid that path. You can find constructive ways to use your passion, and besides, you haven't failed Gannen.”
I looked up at him. “He's gone. He's been taken by someone I should have known was a threat. If I had been more vigilant, this would have never happened. Now he's gone.”
“Gone. You make it sound so permanent. You can find him again. You will find him again. Monala has plans for him. She hasn't killed him. He's alive.”
I couldn't help myself. I started crying. “I'm so sorry, Gannen. I'm so sorry.” Alastor plucked a rose off of the bush and sat down me, rolling the stem between his fingers.
“Channel that passion into something positive. Use your passion to find him, my Runechild.”
I blinked and looked over at him, still crying “Runechild?”
Alastor reached his empty hand towards my face. I thought to move away from him, but his voice filled my mind. “Be still, Kesaarane, I will not hurt you.” I sat there a little dazed as he ran his finger across my left cheek in some sort of pattern. “A guardian rune. It is certainly not the most conventional, but it will suit you and your path. Take care of yourself, Sigrid Halstead. I don't know when I will see you again.”
And with that, Alastor kissed me on the forehead and tucked the rose he was holding behind my ear.
I woke up then. I immediately brought my hand to my face but couldn't feel anything unusual. My left cheek felt hot though, though not painfully. I ran my hand back behind my ear and found a rose. Was the dream real? I tucked the rose into my pack and looked around below deck for a mirror. I didn't find one, so I climbed up above deck and went into Commodore Blank's cabin. He followed me in from the deck and seemed none-too-pleased about my intrusion of his personal space. I turned to speak with him and he stopped talking. All he said was, “Woah. What happened to you?” I asked him for a mirror and he pulled one of out his desk. I looked at my face and indeed found a rune. I suppose I'm a Runechild now. Soern seemed pretty impressed with the whole situation. I do hope this helps me help others, espeically Gannen.
We're going back into Ao-Manasa for a while today. We have a few orders of business we must attend to before we venture off to find Gannen. I would rather just go find Gannen now and worry about the city later, but I suppose (and hope) that a few more hours won't hurt anything.