|He makes himself right at home.|
The stranger walked right into my little house, and immediately I had a flashback of days gone by. Back in Massachusetts, that is: it was known among my acquaintances that they had but to walk right through my door and make themselves at home. If I were not in, they would leave a little note saying they'd missed me, or would entwine a small grass ring they'd crafted while waiting for me. It saddened me to recall these suddenly, for at the time I acted very haughty and cool about it, though inwardly I was rather delighted and charmed by their thoughtfulness. Now, of course, I'm exceedingly famished for friendly social discourse and I miss those past interactions with a keen longing.
But this stranger was here, now. He was about my height, hale, and completely bald, as were the shepherd and fisherman. His clothes were stark and purely functional, a coarse brown robe and a black apron of leather; a craftsman of some kind, perhaps a blacksmith? His stern eyes glinted at me, appraising me, but I gestured and indicated the highlights of the house, that by these he should be made to feel welcome.
"This is not your property, and I know that you are better," he said. "But, I will admit the goods and your generosity of others."
I was floored: while not absolutely fluent, he still had enough of a grasp of my tongue to communicate sufficiently. How had he learned my mother tongue? I stammered my way through half-forgotten and quarter-understood phrases taught to me by Selidon and Voessi, but I only embarrassed myself further.
The stranger waved his hand in the air between us. "I was impressed feel either of you want to finally learn our language," he said, with a halting rhythm to his words.
|The stranger stares at the sea, stares at the sand.|
"What do you mean, one of me? I'm the only one of me here." I glanced around the room to make absolutely sure I knew what I was talking about, but could find not fault in my speaking.
Without immediately replying, he strode past me and went outside. I stared at the door as it slammed behind him, then followed him out of the cabin. Like the other villagers, he was fastidious about closing the door behind him; because of them, I noticed I did not always do so. This has sometimes resulted in danger, as an archer-skeleton or an A.C.M. has shambled inside and waited for me while I made my nightly rounds.
The stranger stood upon the grassy cliff overlooking the Sewall Sea, the same cliff I charged upward during the thunderstorm, battling a witch and other fell foes, when I discovered the villagers' house. Now, by contrast, it was a beautiful early summer day above a clear sea, from which blew a gentle, sweet breeze. Had he any hair, it would be waving dramatically about his head at this moment.
"You," he said in a grim baritone, "has taken the house of Selidon and Voessi. You have been to change it. I can see the trap door in the back, and it to mean that you are digging the resources from the deep Earth."
I allowed this was so. "I'm attempting to return to my own world," I told him, joining him near the cliff.
|Thoreau wonders where this line of conversation is going.|
He folded his arms and chuckled. "All of you, always the same thing. Always the same dream, the same procedure, in order to achieve it." He drew a long breath of sea air and held it, eyes closed, for quite a while before exhaling.
"What do you mean, all of us? Are you telling me there are other people like me, from another world, here? Where are they?"
He declined to answer once more, only stared into the blue depths of the ocean. Had he not brought up the possibility of other humans from Earth being here, I would have liked to learn more about the horrible underwater temples throughout the ocean, one of which he seemed to be studying at this moment.
"Do you know who I am?" He turned to face me with his startling green eyes.
I swore there was no possible way for me to possess such knowledge.
There was a long pause before he pursed his lips and nodded slightly. "And how you are using the things that you are arriving in my world is it? This achievement?"
Again, I had to profess a far-reaching ignorance.
"My name is Gorluin." He slapped his leathern apron with a broad palm, then waved toward the house. "This is, it is not in my house either, I lived near: Selidon told me about you."
"Selidon? He is safe, then? Voessi as well?"
He told me they were, but "they had left before you catch your disease."
I was a little insulted at this, and I assured him that I was in quite good health in all ways.
Gorluin ignored this. "You've been dreaming temple beneath the desert of the temple and the sea. Right?"
My amazement showed on my face and he took this for confirmation. "They also, in order to leave before it had such a dream. Was infected with them in your strange ideas like, and they will begin to follow the pattern."
I had plenty of confusion within me, but there was a certain amount of resentment beginning to well up and fight for territory in my cognition. "Look, Gorluin, I'm delighted to run into another living being in what I'd previously taken to be a world bereaved of humankind, but I fear I must take pardon to some of your implications. I know very little of what you speak just now, but it is clear you hold me in contempt."
At this he visibly paled. "I must ask your forgiveness," he said. "I'm still learning the complexity of your language. I do not intend to offend you." I had the sense that, were he without an absolutely iron-bound command over his faculties, his voice might even have wavered a little.
|Gorluin issues Thoreau a dressing-down, but not without hope.|
I drew a cleansing breath and let him know that no harm was done. I invited him in for a little meal, to help us both relax and learn more about each other.
"I know everything," he said plainly. "It's before it's too late for yourself, do you who desperately need to learn." He turned his back to the sea and faced me directly. "These two, since such much as likely to be infected with your condition, there is a possibility that you too lose your self, you uncomfortable merge in this world. This world is, you are in it no, there is no you, when you stand on top of the new land soil, and you connect to it." His strong, bald head shook slowly, and he appeared to be searching for words. "What you are not compatible. I am also sick and insane growth, and finally, it will participate in it if came to your world."
His words chilled my spine, despite the sun warming my wool coat. But I think I understood the gist of his urgent tone: he was hinting at a kind of allergic reaction that I, from Earth, would have to this bizarre dimension. Or perhaps it was this world that was allergic to me and would, in its way, send out its emissaries either to destroy me or make me compatible with it. Fair enough.
"But you said there were others like me?" I pressed.
His stern tone wavered finally. "This is a mystery, despite this world rebellion absorbs you, it still attracts occasionally people from your world. I do not understand why. But you come here, you have a dream of the series. Although everyone knows dream is a message from the universe, I believe that it is an instruction for you." One green eye flickered to the window of the villagers' cabin. "Please write down your dreams. When you found a book of another dream. To record them, and they will determine whether similar to each other."
No words would come to my throat. I felt as though a cannonball had struck me in the chest, and I might faint dead away. I was not, even in these straits, such a fool as to stammer useless questions: What does this mean? What is he saying? For I was well aware I had been given a large gift, and I would apply his most useful instructions promptly. He would not come in but only shook my hand with an ominous promise to find me later, and he walked off in the only direction that was not ocean.
For my part, I dashed inside and reread the salient part of my journal for any especial clues. Finding none, I resolved to the best of my power to more diligently record my dreams from now on, if it were at all possible. I would have liked to speak with Gorluin further, but he did not seem like the type who responded well to buttonholing.
This night, the new moon rose over Sewall Sea, directly over the dreadful ocean temple. I dispatched scores of monsters to alleviate my mounting stress. There were two A.C.M.s trapped in my well, and I confess I was in ill humor, to tease them for nearly two hours before I finally did the needful.
If there is a god that would punish me for my poor attitude, I have not yet met him or her.
Though if the fact of this world can speak at all to the kind of deity that might create it, I may still be in unspeakable trouble!