Wednesday January 4th, 2017

The exercise:

Are you guys ready to get started with 2017's yearlong prompt? Yes? Good.

Because here we go.

This year we will be exploring The Dream Kingdom. Wondering what that's all about? Well I'd like to explain as much as I can in my opening, so please read on.

And since I'm pretty sure that's going to make for a long post, I'll get straight to it.


Dylan knew immediately that he had not fallen into a typical dream. First off, Lara Croft was nowhere to be seen. His best friend, Josh, had found his dad's dusty old copy of Tomb Raider and the two boys had been playing the game in Josh's basement every night for the last two weeks.

Well, perhaps playing is not the best term. They had mostly been moving the heroine into the most appealing positions possible. Except when Olivia was there; then they pretended to understand what she meant by female empowerment as she elbowed her way into position behind the keyboard.

But back to his current dream. No Lara for the first time since they'd installed the game on Josh's computer. Also, the smells were different. More fragrant, more vivid. Like he was standing in the middle of his mother's backyard flower garden on a cloudy midnight evening. For some reason.

Except it was the dead of winter. And he was definitely sleeping in his own bed.

"Hello?" he said into the darkness surrounding him. He was not expecting a response, not really. But he got one anyway.

"Welcome, Dylan." The voice was soft, almost tentative. Grandfatherly. "I am sorry that we must meet like this."

"Who are you?" Dylan said, turning in place as he sought to locate the speaker. "And what do you mean, like this?"

"My name is Nystor," the voice said. "And what I mean is... rather complicated."

"Sounds boring," Dylan said with an invisible shrug. "I'm out."

"I'm afraid you can't do that," Nystor said.

"Do what?"

"Wake up."

"Excuse me?" Dylan was annoyed that fear had entered his voice, so he tried again. "Excuse me?"

"You cannot wake up until I allow you to," Nystor said. There was a hint of apology in his tone.

"This is ridiculous," Dylan muttered. "What is this place? Is this like sleep detention or something?"

"You have entered the Dream Kingdom," Nystor said. "I am a loyal soldier to the ruler of this place, King Brekstan, who has been taken captive by our enemies to the south, The Islanders. I need your help getting him back."

"My help? I'm only 16 years old!"

"15, actually."

"How did you know that?"

"Why are you lying about your age?"

"How do you know I'm lying?!"

Dylan had the sense that his unseen companion was studying him. He crossed his arms across his chest and waited. The silence lasted for nearly a minute.

"Because if you were 16 you would not be allowed entrance to my kingdom. You would, quite simply, be too old. And extremely unfit for the task ahead of you."

"Why me?" Dylan asked. "What makes me so special?"

"You have a very powerful imagination, which makes you very powerful here." Nystor paused as though he were considering explaining further. "That is enough, for now. But even you cannot defeat our enemies alone."

"Our? Since when did your problem become my problem?"

"Since I locked away your ability to return to your waking world. If you wish to retrieve the key, then you must free my king. But we will need help. Who would you bring with you on this quest? Give me their names and I shall bring them here the moment they fall asleep."


Greg said...

Well this is exciting! I'm very intrigued by this place: a dream kingdom where age and ability to imagine are essential. Nystor probably isn't what he's describing himself as, I would guess, but I'm quite hopeful that we'll find out as the year goes on. Just as Dylan will have to prove himself too. The invocation of all the senses at the start is good too, I really like the writing here. And... I guess I should plunge in then!

"You want me to help you kidnap people?" Dylan crossed his arms more tightly, which helped hide the fact that he was shaking slightly. "Hang on, how did you get me anyway? Who gave you my name? And, and what did you mean about being powerful? Can I just imagine things and they appear?" He held his hand out and decided that he wanted a gun in it, like Lara's. One appeared: silvery, long-barrelled and with a wooden grip that felt slightly warm in his hand. The gun was as light as a balloon.
"What's that?" asked Nystor, sounding puzzled. Dylan pointed where he thought the voice was coming from and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened, not even the click of the hammer falling. He tried again, and again, but still nothing happened.
"It's a gun," he said. "You've not answered my questions, so hurry up before I get mad and make this work."
"That's not a gun," said Nystor. "You don't know what a gun really is, do you?"
"Shut up! I do too!"
"You can imagine things here," said Nystor. "But you have to do it properly: if you imagine a gun, you have to imagine all the parts of it. If you just imagine the shape then... well, you get what you got. It's like... if you tried imagining a dog then you have to know how a dog works, all the bits that make up a dog, how it thinks, or you just get a pile of sad fur that goes 'woof' when you think about it. It's hard, really hard. It takes a strong imagination to understand the bits and put it together and make it real. That's why you're powerful, you've got that kind of imagination."
Dylan looked at the gun and pretended it didn't exist. The gun shimmered, but didn't go away. He closed his eyes and tried again, and when he opened his eyes it was gone.
"I'm going to imagine waking up," he said.
"Sure," said Nystor. "You're going to imagine your whole world? And your place in it? And then step from here to there? Then maybe before you do so you can imagine King Brekstan back here first, because that's really all I want and it's a whole lot easier."
Dylan cursed, and Nystor sniggered.
"What?" asked Dylan.
"Nothing," said Nystor. "Just... you're not allowed to swear at home, are you?"
"Shut! up!"

morganna said...

Dylan took a deep breath. This was getting him nowhere. But this mysterious voice claimed to want something. He wanted his king back. How could he, Dylan, use that?

"Okay, I agree to get your king back. But first you're answering a few questions."

Nystor sucked in a deep breath. Dylan could almost hear him gathering his patience, like his mom when he was being really annoying. "What would you like to know?"

"How did you get me here? Who gave you my name? And how will I know your king when I find him?"

Marc said...

Greg - thanks! I'm hoping it'll be a fun year with this prompt.

I like that you went with the logical continuation (despite me quietly hoping you'd go straight to bringing his friends in - but that can wait until next month anyway). And the bit about the gun was both excellent and a great insight into this world we're entering into.

I also enjoyed how you conveyed Nystor's personality here :)

Morganna - I liked Dylan gathering his wits about him here, as well as the reference to his mother (I was actually going to include a reference to his mother in my opening but then it was getting long and I figured it wasn't totally necessary for what I was doing).

You've left us at a good point, I think. If nobody else jumps in then I shall look forward to continuing things from now on.

Glad to have you aboard for another go!