Prologue

79 11 13

Beyond the world we can see, there is an invisible realm. Our souls know it in a way that our conscious minds do not. It exists side by side with our own waking world, parallel and in sync, but separated by the subtlest of boundaries. This is where we dream.

Today, the dreamer's realm has a visitor. She's a silvery thing, a ball of light and gossamer silk tendrils. She flits through currents of subconsciousness like a will-o'-the-wisp, ethereal and untouchable.

Her tendrils help her move. They can grasp the dreamstuff and pull it close, propelling her through the otherwise intangible atmosphere. Such an odd creature, invisible and impossible, without the ability to see or feel or smell. There is no speech in this place, no language to think in. She has no words for what the experience is called. All she has is instinct and practice.

But then, she doesn't need any ordinary senses, not here. Instead, Wisp feels the emotions of the realm surrounding her, feels the weight of the dreams like a force of gravity pulling her to them. 

Despite her current form, Wisp's body in the waking realm is human. Her mind protests the lack of sense, refusing to process an invisible world.

Instead, Wisp sees the emotions as colors.

The dream she visits now is positively warm with familiar colors. Numbers don't make sense here, but the concept of many does. Wisp has visited this beautiful dream many, many times. It's a vivid one, an angry, horrible one. A mass of writhing, twisting black and red and blue like a fresh bruise against the peaceful grays and soft blues of the dreamers' realm.

But she's been here before, and she knows how to look past the black and the red. She looks deep to where the soft purples are. Purple is the color of love, the way Wisp senses it. In this dream, love is always there. The gold is always there, too, the kindness. In all her time watching, Wisp has never seen the purple and the gold be quite enough to shake off the writhing darkness. Instead there is a sense of resilience, of protection.

Together, the gold and purple shield themselves from the reach of the angry roils of danger. Wisp has visited this dream so many times, it's become her version of truth. Darkness is a constant, and good life must endure.

Wisp changes as she nears the gravity of the nightmare. Her silver is a mirror that shifts to reflect the dream, blend with the dream. Now she is dark like the color of bruises and sparking with the yellows and lavenders and ochres and oranges that exist beneath. Her long tendrils wrap around the nightmare's mass, tethering themselves to it, until the gossamer orb herself is indistinguishable from the dream. 

Now she is Darkness. She is careful to wrap her tendrils around the dream firmly but gentle, so gentle. Dreams are fragile things, so very likely to shatter and dissipate at a moment's notice. Sometimes Darkness is afraid to root herself in a dream that might vanish too soon, but not this dream. When Darkness is awake, she knows the dreamer, and he is a man who sleeps like the dead. His nightmares persist through anything.

When Darkness and the dream are tied together, when their colors match perfectly, and when something builds in Darkness that might be brave enough to face the shadows, it happens. She falls into the dream.

The Guardian of KatafigoRead this story for FREE!