The Dreams Of Nadirophe

     By a softly humming brook that flowed through a shadowed grove of Japel trees in the hazy realm of Mattgunne, Baeoinfaermn paused to rest. He had grown weary from his travels through the worlds which border the North Lands. There, in the sweet shade of the japel trees, Baeoinfaermn eased himself slowly down onto a blanket of eider moss that spread in lush invitation across the ground. The eider moss was cool on his back, offering a welcome relief from the sticky heat that hung in the realm of Mattgunne.
     He had lain there only a short while until he heard a faint whisper of sound approaching him from the darkness beyond the stand of trees. In harmony to the humming of the brook it came, its soprano mingling melodically with the brook's baritone chanson.
     Presently into the clearing strode a creature of slender build and avian nature: a bulbous body supported on thin, long legs, and surmounted by a small, rather fragile head, with delicate parchment thin wings that danced in the air to its back. It had been the wings' motion through the air that produced the sound that Baeoinfaermn heard approaching.
     Coming ever so gracefully toward him, the creature bowed her head in salutation to The Wind What Canst Sleep. Her wings hushed their humming as she bowed low, and came to rest upon her back's velvety down. Her curtsey was one as of a queen, discreet and well versed in manners of etiquette.
     "My name is Nadirophe, kind sir" she spoke as she raised her head once more, "the people of Mattgunne call me The Dreambringer. What pleasure would you have me bring to you?"
     "Your presence, fair lady, has already brought me pleasure" Baeoinfaermn answered. "I am Baeoinfaermn, who is called The Wind What Canst Sleep by those in the North Lands from whence I have come. I have travelled quite a distance to reach these lands. Having met only a few who would give me company during my journeys, and they being coarse and barbaric traders and merchants, your graceful entrance and mere presence buoys my spirits. Come Dreambringer, and sit a while that we might talk.
     A filmy mist of greyish fog seemed to settle round about Baeoinfaermn as he spoke the words, and with it the vision of Nadirophe appeared to grow dim and vanish. His eyes laden heavy with the encroaching fog, Baeoinfaermn struggled to keep them open. His attempts were unsuccessful. The Wind What Canst Sleep was being drawn into a sleep much deeper than any he had ever known since the Mardots maneuvered the stealth of the Book of Nordo. This sleep was different. This sleep was sweetly calm. In his ever increasing drowsiness, Baeoinfaermn still heard the faint humming of the Dreambringer's wings. The humming seemed to change its pitch now and then, and soon Baeoinfaermn dozed off into the hypnotism of its ensuing melody.
     Baeoinfaermn stood at the edge of a precipice overlooking a vast and raging sea of nitrogen gases. On his chest hung the breastplate of a grand warrior. In his right hand he clutched a carven spear of slender ebonite. A helmet of hammered brass surmounted by a plume of griffin feathers sat upon his head. His loincloth of flaxen thread had been replaced by one of gazelle suede. Over his arms and legs had spread tattooed images of great serpent beasts. The sea raged in his majestic presence.
     In the distance, across the waters, a billowing dustcloud arose and moved toward the high cliff upon which the warrior stood. It approached silent and strangely ominous. The cloud-form circled above the warrior, and as it did a clawed hand reached out of its murky substance. It snatched at Baeoinfaermn, but he deftly warded it off with the spear of ebonite. It again circled round about, and sliced the air as it grabbed toward him. Baeoinfaermn thrust the spear once more at the attacker, and this time it found its mark in the tender heel of the palm. A howl pierced the silence as the hand recoiled in agony, and then it was no more.
     No sooner had this apparition disappeared than another arose from out of the depths of the sea. Long sinuous tentacles arose from the waters below him as Baeoinfaermn turned around. They curled around his ankles with a deathly hollow noise that bespoke their intentions. Around his calves and up to his thighs they entwined, pulling steadily to throw the warrior off balance. But Baeoinfaermn stood firm, his muscles tense and sturdy as an oak which cannot be bent by the bittersweet which tries to subdue it. To the skies above he stretched out his hand, and a sword of tempered bronze flashed a sudden burst of light as it formed in his grip. He slashed this way and that at the many tentacles that coiled widdershins about him. The fleshy hide of this new aggressor spurted and oozed amber mucus with each slash he gave it. The blade flew the air swiftly and accurately, and the invader from the nitrogen seas fell back in defeat.

     Without even time to catch his breath, Baeoinfaermn was confronted by yet another assailant. This time a feline beast, a sleek black panther, bounded along the cliff's edge toward Baeoinfaermn. Fire flashed in its eyes as it bared its teeth and lunged at the warrior. With a fire in his eyes to match, Baeoinfaermn caught the large cat in a fighting embrace. The two wrestled to the ground amid growls and snarls that drowned out the roar of thunder in the skies. The panther sank its teeth into the warrior's left forearm, and gored its sharp claws into the massive biceps muscle. This only made the Wind What Canst Sleep fight all the harder.
     Baeoinfaermn struck a hard blow to the panther's face with his bare fist, sending the beast backwards. With foam issuing from between its growling jaws, the panther lunged again. This time as it jumped toward him, Baeoinfaermn caught the panther firmly by the face. With both thumbs stuck into the mouth and his fingers clenched around the sides of the beast's head, Baeoinfaermn lifted the animal off the ground. Ignoring the panther's gashing paws that tore at his arms and legs, Baeoinfaermn swung the beast around and dashed it against the rocks. The beast's spinal column broke at the neck, and it lay lifeless at the warrior's feet for a moment before it turned to ash and settled into the surrounding dust.
     Baeoinfaermn breathed heavily, and leaned back against the rocks in exhaustion. The great serpents that graced his body stretched out in relaxation as the tensed muscles loosened in rest.
     "You fight bravely, young warrior."
     Baeoinfaermn glanced quickly to his right at the sound, and there standing to his side was Hathuurn, lord of the Jinds, though he was a stranger to Baeoinfaermn.
     "You fight well enough to subdue my faithful Juye, but then he was only toying with you this time" Hathuurn remarked casually. "From illusions cast long ago I am come to be here in order to meet this brave warrior who is called The Wind What Canst Sleep. I am Hathuurn, lord over all the Jindsmarn, who is called The Sword Of Illusion by those who have felt my sweet embrace of death."
     "What purpose have you in this discourse?" Baeoinfaermn queried.
     "Our destinies are interlocked my warrior, for we quest in search of the same thing. You aim to retrieve your book of dark arts which was stolen from you by the Mardots. I also aim to retrieve this Book of Nordo, not because I desire it so much as I desire it to be out of the hands of Greunweiln that he might not trouble my kingdom so."
     "Am I then to believe that you call me friend?" Baeoinfaermn asked of Hathuurn. "If this is so, why has your faithful Juye brought torment upon me?"
     "Your valor had to be tested" Hathuurn replied. "To ride in glory with the Jinds, a warrior must be deemed worthy. And to subdue the Wrath Beyond Regret has proven your valor on this field."
     "A time will come" Hathuurn continued, "when we shall again meet. It will be on the plains of Galbradith in the lands of the Chlandoins. There, as the great armies of the Jinds prepare to lay siege on the Mardots of Ęberaun, you and I shall once more meet. It is there that you will have to decide whether to call me friend or foe. Should you decide the former, we will ride together into the castle of Greunweiln to take our revenge upon the fool who calls himself the Balance In Space. But should you decide the latter, may the gods you worship have pity on you, for I shall let no one stand in my way."
     Baeoinfaermn began to speak, but the illusion that Hathuurn had woven eons past in far distant lands had dissipated from view, and in its stead he saw the image of Nadirophe forming out of the mist.
     To the groggy young man who still lay upon the eider moss in the shade of the japel trees where she had found him, Nadirophe spoke. "I hope that you have found pleasure in the dreams I have brought you. My dreams are woven of truth and future tales. I give them freely that the future might be known to those who have a great stake in the future. Heed what you have seen in your sleep, for as it was shown to you, so shall it come to pass."