|"Are we done in this reality yet? Hello? Hellooo?"|
- A Rough Russian Translation of the text
- Twisting Shadow
The Ice Witch never dreams in her stronghold. She dreams everywhere and nowhere. Sometimes - everywhere and nowhere simultaneously.
The cave, where she decided to lie down for a couple of hours, could accomodate a thousand strongholds. The genuine sea of True ice stretches to horizons - subterranean, of course. There are not the usual limits of the vain upper world. There is completely different kind of madness resides.
She often comes here and always unaccompanied - however she is not alone in here.
Some call them monsters, others - gods. Anyway, huge shadows, dormant under the cover of ice, can now only see dreams. It is Lissandra who watch it. Figuratively, tucks them a blanket.
The Watchers cannot be allowed to awaken.
She had lost her eyes long ago, thus she observe the dreaming ones with eye of her mind. Thе sight of it freezes blood in veins and soul itself, so the ice, even the True One, do not burn her for a long time.
Down here, she is even glad to be blind. The mere presence of the Watchers is terrifying, speaking about walk through their dreams. Lissandra understands which fate they want for this world.
So she must watch over their sleep.
One of them is sleeping restlessly. Lissandra felt it in the new moon and at first she hoped that he would calm down by himself - but now the mind created by the Void is waking the others, and do not want to calm down.Lissandra takes off her helmet and goes on barefoot, sweeping up the freezing nothingness with the hems of ceremonial robes.
- Hope For Glass
Lissandra presses the palm to the ice with her fingers apart. Long strands of hair fall on her face, hiding wrinkles and empty healed eye sockets.
She had long since learned to walk in dreams, to overcome vast distances in one instant and to visit hundreds of corners of this harsh land before dawn. Sometimes she forgets where her body is.
Her mind seeks forward, through the ice barrier. For a moment she thinks about the thickness of True Ice. The heavy burden of hope lies on the clear glass - it is reckless, but it is not given otherwise.
On the other side of the barrier, the Watcher is turned: hundreds of teeth, twitching darkness and nervous anticipation.
It is the size of a mountain, but Lissandra hopes that it is still a relatively small individual. She still did not dare to test the strength of the protection of the largest - those that absorb not only worlds, but also whole layers of existence and even time itself. Next to them, she seems to herself small and insignificant, like a snowflake in a blizzard.
She focuses on a huge, scary creature.And she sees his dream.
- Until The End
In this dream, a second Lissandra is waiting for her - a timeless creature behind the black sun, whose hair flows over the heavens, and in the sighted crystal blue eyes the power of the last dawn of the universe shines
She is beautiful. She is a goddess. She is trying to drive the sun beyond the horizon.
The flaming black ball resists, stubbornly trying to rise again. He burns the fingers of the goddess.
The mountains covered with icy dust cast long non-shadows. This would be a Freljord, deprived of life and magic ...
Life is what matters. Living inhabitants of the Freljord, this icy land, which Lissandra promised to sacrifice to those who sleep below.Carefully, carefully she leads the restless Watcher away from his dark thoughts and tries to lull him with false dreams.
- Frost Priest
The tribe broke into three camps. This is an order from the Frostborn Warmother. So the sent killer wouldn't know in which tent she sleeps.
Under the feet - the ice, above his head - the stars. On a piece of tanned elnuk’s leather, a frost priest records his observations by candlelight. This is his nightly report for the Frost Guard Citadel.
He asks himself: maybe power is a mask of madness? May be…
The priest sees his own breath and realizes that he is not alone. Shame tightens his throat. He reaches for a bandage in order to honor Lissandra, the greatest of the three sisters, according to tradition. After all the vows he had made, only her gaze could instill such coldness in his heart.
"You can not blindfold," she says coldly, impassively, leaving the darkness to the light.
“Please forgive me,” says the priest. “I am late. My report ...”
"I didn’t come for it. You're sleeping now. Listen carefully. Listen to the ice."
He obeys — and what he hears causes him to open his eyes wide. Ice is hungry.
No. Not the ice. Something ... deep beneath it?
"What does it mean?" The priest asks, but Lissandra has already disappeared.
The priest wakes up. Thinking about his dream. He vowed to serve blindly, to blindly freeze, to bleed blindly. He pulls out a blindfold and blindfolds.
By dawn, he leaves the warmother and her three camps far behind.And Lissandra is transferred to the sleep of another person.
- An Orphan
Seven ice hawks fly across the blue sky, scattering hoarfrost from the wings. The moody fang of a mountain looms over rounded gray boulders that littered the seashore.
The girl, whose name only she remembers, walks through it alone.
She picks up a crab from the ground. It is all black. It has square eyes on moving stalks. Girl holds it neatly. His paws tickle the palm.
An almost frozen stream drags a block of ice through the dark water. It crashes into the rocky shore and begins to melt. Span for span white cover comes off, exposing the curled woman in the icy cradle. She is a spawn of winter.
The girl drops the crab.
Lissandra emerges from the raging waves, like a ...
"WITCH!" - the girl squeals. A gust of icy wind, burning cold, comes from her mouth.
The witch disappears, and only a blizzard and a little crying girl remain.
Girl wakes up abruptly at the dying hearth. Nearby, on the blood reddening snow of the Freljord, the rest of the children are snuffling. They are orphans, and a strict woman with a battle axe behind her back guards their sleep. They know that she is ready to die for them.
A burning ember flies out of the hearth and falls on a shaggy hide at the girl's legs.
She touches it with her finger. It is instantly covered with ice.
Already moving into the next dream, Lissandra takes this girl to note. She is Iceborn. New weapons in the coming war?Or a new enemy?
- A Dying Man
High in the mountains the unfortunate traveler was exhausted, but not by bitter cold.
But his own ignorance.
He cringed in a shallow cave, knees pressed to his chest. He whispers the songs of his youth under his breath, because he can no longer sing. Inhaling the frosty air is too painful. His beard turned gray with frost, his lips turned blue and cracked. He no longer feels any feet or hands, and does not even shiver from the cold. There is no strength left for it.
He gave up. Frost will take his heart and it will all end.
This isn't how he would like to die. But now he feels warm. He's free.
"To a beautiful and sunny land!" The words of the song lazily toss and turn in his head. Instead of snow and ice, he sees green pastures. He feels the summer breeze ruffling his hair.
Lissandra comes up to him from behind. She sees death slowly spreading over his body, starting with the fingers and toes. He will not wake up. This will be his last dream.
She puts her hand on his shoulder. No one deserves loneliness during their last moments.
"Your people are waiting for you, my friend," she whispers. "Lay down in the tall grass. I will watch over you while you sleep."
He looks at her. Smiles, nods - and immediately seems younger.
Then he closes his eyes and swims away.Lissandra remains on the edge of his dream until it breaks off.
- Warrior By Blood
Battle screams and death wheezes draw Lissandra to the south. Wind, tart from the evil steel, brings the smell of fire and blood. Thaws occur here and even grass grows. It is not a sunny pasture, but nothing more like it in the Frelejord is to be found.
The dream is spinning, distorted. Lissandra's knees hurt, but it does not matter. She leans against the wall of a burning house.
The flame does not harm her. It isn't real.
A shadow falls on her.
"How long have I been waiting for this day, witch!"
Oddly enough, this is a man of the Avarosan tribe - a red-haired big man with a sinewy neck. He brings a jagged sword over her head. His eyes are filled with thirst for blood, and in his heart he is already savoring victories that he will never win.
Nevertheless, he is ready to cut his sworn enemy with one terrible blow.
Lissandra had already lost count of how many times she had died in other people's dreams. Each time she irrevocably lost a part of herself.
Enough. Not this time.
Huge ice claws enclose her in an impenetrable cocoon. The blade of the big man does not leave a single scratch on it. The warrior backs back, snarling furiously ...
Let him wake up and consider himself a hero, expelling the Ice Witch. It's just a dream. The Avarosan tribe will fall ... like the mean traitor whose name it bears.More urgent matters are awaiting Lissandra.
- Howl Of The Storm
Freljord is in the heart of the storm.
Storm wind roars. Lightning flashes. Even snowflakes can scrape to blood.
Lissandra finds the eye of the storm, and in it the Spirit walker, who directs this rampant force of nature. His trance is like a dream. He creates a bridge between the worlds, and the storm is a prayer, direct contact with a demigod, the lord of Ursines.
Lissandra is restraining herself to not spit. This hateful creature is one of Freljord's few memories that, despite of her best efforts, she could not eradicate.
Lightning strikes the shaman again and again. His mouth is shifting into a toothy maw. His nails are turning into black claws. It is no longer a man or a beast, but something completely different. From now on, his whole life will be like a dream. There will be no pain, no joy. Only this storm. Lissandra comes closer, peering into seething madness.
And then the terrifying glance of the shaman falls on her, and she finds herself face to face with the embodiment of Volibir himself.
Lissandra, without hesitation, snatches the faceted edges of True Ice from the ground and rushes forward to attack. She is trying to chain the monster's limbs, to slow it down before ...
Dark blood stains the snow. Beyond distant mountains, thunder roars. The shaman falls to his knees; his twisted body is something between what he was and what he could become. Lissandra is sure that she performed an act of mercy, because the mind of the shaman is almost preserved.
A multitude of eyes gleam through the blizzard, but these werewolves are no longer as dangerous as before. they can be fought another time.For now their madness is a sufficient punishment.
- The Void
Under the ice, Lissandra anxiously walks around the Watcher. Above the ice is her body, which seems tiny from below, is nearly as white as fresh snow.
Monster barely notices her presence. It resembles a monstrous whimpering baby.
In the dreams of the Watchers - just nothing.
And more nothingness. A whole horizon of nothing, framed by mountains of nothing. And above them? The sky is nothing with dense clouds made from nothing.
And in the face of infinite nothingness, Lissandra is trying to stay... as something.
The Void is opening its mouth. Lissandra watches as the black sun devours her incarnation - but no matter how much it draws into the mouth, something always remains for him to swallow.She screams and shatters into fragments that become myriads of Lissandras, and each of them screams. For the all-consuming nothing, this sound is not louder than a whisper, but it is enough to shake the dream to its core.
- Blind Again
In a semi-conscious state, Lissandra draws witch signs on the surface of the barrier of True Ice. This is an old spell born from a long-extinguished flame. Twitching and writhing, Lissandra is scratching the ice. Her movements are clumsy; they are filled with despair.
Only a small part of her spirit remained in this body.
And suddenly, like an avalanche, most of Lissandra returns. She spews watery bile on ice and curls up in a freezing pool.
The twisting shadow below falls asleep again. For some time it will dream how it devours Lissandra, and this dream will prolong the only semblance of rest, familiar to such creatures.
Rest. Lissandra have no need in it. No longer.
She puts on her helmet and climbs the worn steps. Frost guards are waiting for her wise orders. In this life she will not rest.
Low cost for keeping the monsters asleep.
To see dreams.Bite into them.
- "Keeper of Dreams" is an outdated version of "The Dream Thief" short story.