∴ A Broken Dream ∴
A bowl of cold oats by the remnants of the fire, and birdsong in bare trees. You work at a bit of husk lodged between two teeth with your tongue, and squint into the ash and ember. You dreamed again, you think.
It was the same dream as before – the garden, all verdant trees and luscious blossom. Nothing like the war-torn tracks you’ve been travelling these past weeks. In the dream you walked amongst the orchard like you knew it. An unmarked path drawing you round and inward, spiralling slowly toward its centre. And at that centre, another tree: broader, older, its trunk gnarled and whorling, spirals reaching up into a tumbling mass of green.
As you stepped toward it, you glimpsed a single fruit hanging from a low-reaching bough as if offered: something like a pear, but its skin was a deep and shimmering blue, like a rippling sea at midnight. Despite all the tales you’d ever been told of trees and fruits and temptors, you found yourself reaching for it.
But as your fingers brushed the skin, the fairy fruit began to twist and writhe, its shape at once laced with curling lines. You snatched your hand back, repulsed, and turned away from the tree – just in time to see the gleaming blade flying toward your throat.
You woke with a start, and a bad taste in your mouth.
Your scowling recollection is interrupted by someone entering the fire circle. You glance up to see a tall, bony man with a beard and shaven head, his face heavily marked with the lines of age and war. His left eye is covered with a strip of fraying fabric, and his shoulders wrapped in a roughspun cloak.
“Mind if I sit a while?” he asks.
You grunt your assent. The stranger takes a bench across from you, and begins to clean his sword. You barely spare him a glance, but a glance is enough. The sword is immediately familiar in a way you can’t quite put your finger on. A long, broad blade, tapering to a fierce point. An elaborately carved guard, gleaming blue in the early light. It’s that colour. Those chiselled waves. They remind you of something.
And then the scarred man moves his hand from the pommel to the brown leather grip, revealing a deep blue pear-shape, carved with writhing lines. The fairy fruit!
You fly to your feet, heart hammering, uncertain what it means. The scarred man swings his lonely eye slowly from the honed blade to your horrified reaction, and a terrible smile lights his lined face.
“So you’re the one who’s to wield her,” he says.