A Cry from the Ashes
To not only lose a dear friend, but to know that perhaps their aether is responsible for all this... It must be very difficult for Tyr Beq.
Ah, Forename! I've been thinking... Yes, yes, I know, I said that I wouldn't overthink things.
<snort> You are still troubled by the possibility that An Lad was born of Titania's aether?
Hmmm, I don't know how you see such things, but to us pixies, taking on the aether of another doesn't make you that person. You're simply another pixie.
Such a view is certainly in keeping with what is known of pixies─that you aren't empathetic by nature. Yet I thought you would have more of an attachment to your friend, at least.
Well, the simple fact is, a pixie is a pixie. It doesn't matter whose soul they came from, or that they inherited someone's dreams. Having said that, if that someone was my friend, I feel as though I want to...I don't know. Understand them, I suppose?
What's more, when Titania's consciousness leaked out of the castle, we all felt their torment as if it were our own.
If An Lad was indeed born of their aether, then that torment is literally their own. And I can't help but feel sorry for them.
Before they became the king, my friend wasn't so different to the rest of us. Just loved a little more by nature, is all. Deep down, I don't think that An Lad is so different either.
There must be something we can do to help them. And to begin with, I want to ask that boy in Mord Souq a few questions. Come, let's go to Lyhe Mheg!
This boy thanked An Lad, as you'll recall. I want to ask him what happened exactly.
To be able to speak with people as they sleep... It's a convenient power, I must admit.
Oh, it's so good to see you again! Isn't the pale pixie with you today? The poor, lonely one?
You mean An Lad... Did you speak with them?
Just a little, in my dream. There was something about them─something that reminded me of my sister.
I found them crying alone in a cold and empty place. I felt sorry for them and said that I'd be their friend.
And then what happened?
I don't remember clearly, but they tried to create water for my sister. Only they were really clumsy, and made the water into a monster instead.
Wait, that nightmare wasn't even meant to be a nightmare?
Right. Everything turned into a mess in the dream, but I'm grateful to An Lad. They gave me the chance to face my fears...and helped me to remember my promise to my sister.
Uh oh, it's time to get up... I have to go now, but you can call me again anytime!
An Lad tried to create water in their dreams, only to make that nightmare? I can't well imagine the darkness they carry with them.
<sigh> The more I learn about An Lad, the more I feel sorry for them...
By the intensity of your concern, one would be forgiven for thinking you were a mortal. Perhaps it's due to the time you have spent rollicking in their dreams, and more recently, the company you've been keeping.
What? You think Forename is rubbing off on me?
...Ack, I don't care about all that right now!
We have another region to reclaim─the Rak'tika Greatwood. As I recall, many there have dreams about wanting to be useful to others, and to have others regard them well.
I see. I believe my master referred to this as the need for self-esteem. In any case, you'll be pleased to know I've already sniffed out where the nightmares are concentrated. Let us make for Slitherbough!
<sniff> <sniff> The stench of nightmares hangs heavy in the air. The source is bound to be near!
I don't like it here... I feel as if someone─or something─is watching me...
These woods are ancient. I would not be surprised if the spirits of eld still abided here.
Let us be quick about our task. As before, we seek a slumbering child.
Right, Ezel and I will search the south. Forename, we leave the east to you.
Please... You have to believe me... <sob>
Ah, there's our source!
Quiet! She's stirring!
A flying pig...and a pixie? Am I still dreaming?
Wait, you can see me!?
The denizens of Slitherbough are magically gifted, and as a child, she would possess a natural affinity to pixies. It's not a wonder that she can see you.
I-I'm sorry, but I'm not myself right now. Every time I close my eyes, it's the fort all over again... Everything burning all over again... <sob> Those animals, they were my friends...
So you've known loss too...
I can't─I won't let any more animals suffer the same fate! I'm going to become a priestess, and then everyone will listen to me!
It's all right. We're going to make the nightmare disappear. Such ugliness has no place in Lyhe Mheg.
We'll watch over you and keep you safe. So rest easy now, and go back to sleep.
An intriguing change. Yes, most intriguing indeed... <snort>
Hmph, don't you have a nightmare to devour?
Why!? Why, why, why!?
An Lad!? Come out and show yourself! We have to talk!
They don't appear to be in a talkative mood.
Grrr, why don't you listen for a change!?
Uhhh... My poor belly...as if there's─hurk─a volcano in there... It...it begins!
Ready or not─hurk─here it comes!
Ugh, it doesn't get any easier to look at... Forename─get ready, now!
S-Some kind of fire fiend!?
Yeowch! The air around it is hot enough to burn!
Phew... That was too hot for comfort...
Hurrah! You've done it again!
Phew... A moment later and I would have been roast...
Porxelain. Porxies become porxelain, not roast.
Anyway, the nightmare is gone. Let's see how the little girl is doing back in Slitherbough.
Oh! I was wondering where you had gone!
I wanted to thank you. For helping me in my dream.
What? You remember?
Clear as day. You see, for as long as I can remember dreaming, I've had prophetic dreams. I make it a point to note what I see in them.
And two years ago, I saw what was about to befall Fort Gohn─the sin eater attack and the fire that broke out. I tried to warn everyone. Tried to tell them to flee. But no one would believe me. No one save Master Matoya. But by the time I got word to her, it was too late...
I felt so powerless then. Simply because I was a child, I had no voice. I wanted so badly to be heard, to be respected, I dedicated myself to becoming a priestess and proving my worth.
But no matter how I tried, it felt as though I never could do well enough. Always, I feared that I would fail. That I wouldn't be able to protect anyone or anything. Then the nightmares started, and I was made to relive that day. Made to feel my powerlessness, over and over.
I had just about given up hope when you came and showed me that dream. Thanks to your vanquishing the nightmare, I feel at peace now. With myself and who I want to be. May I ask to whom I owe my gratitude?
|I'm an old friend of Master Matoya's.||We're warriors who fight to reclaim dreams.|
Well, I had best return to my training. Though I will keep working hard, I won't let the fear of failure burden me anymore. My thanks again, and please take care!
Well now, to be seen and appreciated... I could get used to this! But come, let's return to Lyhe Mheg and open the gate before An Lad finds a new target!
All proceeds apace thus far! Come, let us unseal the fourth gate! <snort>
This is the gate to the Rak'tika Greatwood. Go on and lift the seal!
Excellent! Only one gate remains!
With that, there's just one gate left!
And where does it lead?
I haven't the faintest.
Before the nightmares, there wasn't a fifth gate. I couldn't begin to guess what's beyond.
And you didn't think to mention this!? <sigh> Never mind... One can't expect a pixie to adhere to logic...
So this is Lyhe Mheg. It always seems cold and forbidding no matter where I go, but here it's...different. Here it's warm and inviting.
To think that dreams could be so beautiful...
Fear not. I've hardly any power left. And yet...I don't want to fall asleep. I don't want to have that dream again. The one inside the castle on the lake...
Lyhe Ghiah... Then you were indeed seeing Titania's dreams.
I'm not sure. It's the dream of a lonely soul that my heart shows me. A dream of rollicking and playing with a dear friend.
Would that I could rollick and play too. But every dream I touch turns into a nightmare. And everyone despises me, mortals and pixies alike...
An Lad, you always talk of what someone else wants, but what of yourself? What are your own desires?
I...I don't know. I know only that, in the dream of the castle, a nasty monster appears. In a terrible, grating voice, it whispers in my ear: “You were born to bring nightmares─a plague.”
What!? Hear me, An Lad! With the powers you possess, you mustn't question your own existence! If you do, your essence will thin out until it is consumed!
Ack, I've had enough of all this doom and gloom! I'll be your friend, all right? So please, let's put an end to all this!
You'll be my friend?
Are you all right!?
Huh? It didn't seem to do anything...
No. You're not my friend.
Let's head outside for now!
An Lad becomes ever more unstable, and little wonder. The aether that forms them is too potent for a newborn pixie to bear.
If they continue to question their own existence, the nightmare in their heart will grow and grow until it consumes them entirely.
I don't know what An Lad did to me, but I seem fine. <yawn> Just a little tired, perhaps...
I would surmise that, had you shared An Lad's needs, you would have become a source for the nightmares like the children.
Is that why they said I couldn't be their friend? Because I don't share their needs?
I believe so.
Oh, for the love of... Why do they have to make things so complicated?
Well, there isn't much we can do about An Lad until they choose to reappear. Let's focus instead on filling Rak'tika with fun and happy dreams! When you have time, Forename, Uin Nee is always looking for help!
I won't leave you alone again, I promise. So please, hold on...