Otygx – The Dream of Dreams; one of the 12 Wildling Fathers – drawing by Katrina Conquista

More details about Wildlings will be coming this Friday as part of the “Folklore Fridays”

NOTICE: This is a short extract from the upcoming novel “Kingslayer’s Apprentice”. It’s a rough draft as I do most of the editing at the end of my writing. All or parts of the text can still change in the final version. 

A Stolen Dream

Zafir felt lost and confused by the surrounding vast emptiness. There were no landmarks, or objects he could use for guidance. He couldn’t even see the ground, but he must have been standing on something, as his feet could feel a smooth, solid surface below. A blue fog filled the air and he could barely see his own extended hand. The air was easy to breath and although the fog was thick in some places it withered in others.

With no visual clues, he referred to his other senses. There were no strange smells, but as he focused his hearing he realized there was a faint voice coming from one direction. Lacking any better ideas he decided to investigate the source of the sound.

He walked slowly towards what he could soon clearly distinguish as a female voice. His body was alert, ready to face any danger, he tip-toed closer and closer towards the sound.

Zafir never paid much attention to art thinking it as a frivolous luxury, but even with his inexperienced ear he could tell the voice was not common. He couldn’t help but admire the soft, hypnotic and melodious tone. He found it hard not to imagine the singer as someone young and of equal beauty to her vocal skills. As he drew closer he was finally able to recognize some of the song’s lyrics. They told a story about dreams, happiness and family reunion. The lyrics were simple, but well matched with the cheerful melody of the piece.

When the fog started thinning he slowed down even further. He didn’t want to startle the singer and there was no telling if she was alone. Zafir came out into a clearing within the fog and silently watched an unusual scene unfold in front of him.

There were two people there with their backs turned to Zafir. A little girl was sitting on a three-legged wooden stool in the center of the clearing. She wore a simple white cotton dress, partly covered by her long black hair. On her wrist Zafir noticed a pearl bracelet and on closer inspection realized the dress also had pearls woven into it in flowery patterns.

A middle aged man stood next her. He was in good shape – Zafir noticed a hint of muscle on his back and arms as he brushed the girl’s hair. He wore tight fitting light colored clothes – a single piece body suit with short sleeves that was dotted seemingly at random with various sized white pearls. Zafir noticed that his thigh high jester boots instead of a bell had each a pearl at the end. From the gentle gestures and the same jet black hair they both shared Zafir guessed they must have been father and daughter.

“Well, hello.” They both had their backs towards him, so when he heard the creature’s voice Zafir jumped up. It was the man who addressed him, but his voice was definitely not human. It was screechy, as if someone was scraping a chalkboard with their fingernails. It felt cold and metallic. The girl stopped singing.

He was just about to say something when they both turned towards him. Zafir screamed, horrified to see their faces. He had only heard about Wildlings from Azure, the land of dreams. But there they stood with their giant mouths right across a barely human face. They had no noses, just two holes for nostrils. One giant fish-like eye stared at him while the other one was hidden under porcelain, pearl studded mask that covered half of their faces. The father smiled at him with double rows of tiny, spiky piranha teeth and handed the brush to the girl.

“A visitor, how lovely.” He licked his lips and Zefir felt cold sweat form on his neck and back. Just hearing the creature’s voice was enough to send his heart racing. Instinctively he started backing away from the Wildlings.