The Vagabond Storyteller - The Lost Dream Catcher
The brown Acara looks up, her red stripes flashing threateningly. A sheepish pink Zafara stands in front of Dahlia, playing with her ears.
"What, Lilac?" Dahlia growls as she deftly loops string around a leather shape and knots extra string onto a circle of wood. As Lilac stares longingly, Dahlia nonchalantly flicks off the leather, which was cut into the shape of a Draik.
"There's a visitor... wants to know about IT," Lilac mutters.
"Not that again," Dahlia grumbles.
Lilac escorts Dahlia to the entryway. As they reach it, Dahlia's crimson streaks shimmer menacingly as she stares at the stranger.
It's a queer visitor that the Acara is entertaining. She is a light blue Ixi with bright purple dots and stripes adorning her pelt. She has long brown horns that begin as a pure ivory white at their bases. Her garb is as strange as the rest of her; she wears a silvery-pink tunic with matching pants, a deep violet cloak, and a creature's pelt for a scarf. Dahlia clicks her tongue. She disapproves of killing creatures merely for clothing. The creature's head is covered by its bushy Lupe-like tail. Good, Dahlia thinks. Lilac didn't need to know of pelts.
The girl, who looks to be around twelve, has fawn colored sandals and drags behind her a huge wagon filled with baubles and trinkets. Her silver eyes sparkle and her blond hair is brown at the tips, though its roots are sky blue.
"May I come in?"
The girl's voice is twinkly, like a set of bells. Dahlia nods without a word and watches the girl somehow fold up her cart and store it in a pouch in her belt. As she does this, her scarf twitches. It is alive. Dahlia watches speechlessly as the little form of a juma uncurls itself from the girl's neck and instead entwines itself around her arm.
The girl notices Dahlia's look and smiles. "This little girl," she says, "is Luxury. Say hi, Luxi," she adds, cooing at her juma. The juma reaches out her muzzle and blinks amber eyes at Dahlia. Crimson looks into gold as the two creatures stare at each other. Then, Luxury tentatively pokes out her tongue and licks Dahlia's hand.
Dahlia quickly wipes her hand on her pants.
"My name is Ruxielle," the Ixi states. "I'm a travelling fortune teller. I'm also a storyteller and I came here after one story in particular." She gently eases a notepad and quill from her pouch and mutters a few words, rubs the tip of her quill, and gives the feather to Luxury, who clamps down onto it. The Ixi turns back to Dahlia.
Dahlia stifles a sigh. She knows what's coming next.
"I came after the 'Tale of the Lost—"
"Dream Catcher,'" Dahlia finishes blatantly. "Frankly, I don't see the big fuss over it. It's one dream catcher."
"My intrigue comes not from its publicity, but from its back story," the Ixi murmurs, smiling.
I wonder when Dahlia is going to start. She seems to be looking for a way out of this situation.
"That paper... If you write on it, won't it disappear the second you start reading it?" she asks me.
I smile at her with Luxi contentedly chewing on my quill. "This is mage's paper. See, when mages begin their magic, they need a special kind of parchment that doesn't disappear after one use, so they use parchment that doesn't poof into nonbeing. Mages are in my... adoptive family. They gave me this one Day of Giving.
"Are we ready?" I pressure her, easing my pen out of Luxi's reluctant mouth.
Dahlia closes her eyes and starts to speak...
It was the tenth day of the Month of Awakening. I had just become one of the top weavers in Geraptiku, and the Mistress of Dreams was proud of me. She was a silvery-white Usul with the most vividly-colored bows that I had seen; mostly, these adornments were royal blue. The Mistress of Dreams instructed all of us, and her instructions came from the Weaver of Dreams, the humongous spyder that we all feared and admired. He was said to be gruesome and destructive to the extent that in his boredom, villages were destroyed.
I was a cocky soul. I was the best, yes, and an Acara, too. Acaras were always the best, I thought, and I helped them become more and more well-known. I could do magic, as well, and so I began to scheme and dream.
The Mistress of Dreams looked me over with her eyes that were as sharp as the teeth of a jetsam.
"Yes, Mistress?" I said in a singsong way.
"It is at your age that we give more... liberty for a student to do what they can do," she began. My heart started thumping.
"However, I believe that it is codswallop that you cannot graduate immediately, for I have seen your talent. I will instruct you on the fine tunings of dream-weaving. If you can manage, there is a task that must be done."
"Yes, Mistress?" I repeated, whispering.
"Your task," she continued, "is to make a dream catcher so powerful that it can retain dreams, solidify them, and allow one to hold them in one's hand. Only six have been accomplished, and only six master dream-weavers remain, such as me."—a hint of pride inched into her voice—"If you succeed in creating such a craft, the Weaver of Dreams will evaluate and for the string give you his own silk to use."
My heart pounded. My dream could come true; at last, at last! I began to plan.
"Is that understood, Dahlia?"
"Yes, Mistress!" Excitement and concentration crept into my voice as I planned away.
I grabbed a piece of bark and coal and scribbled away. Of course, the other six must have used the regular web pattern. I wanted to use a flying Eyrie, which would symbolize the freedom of a dream and the power that one has on your soul. I planned out little shaped beads out of Geraptikan Glass, the purest substance in the world. These could be swapped out and reloaded, for the dreams were going to be kept in these. I would magic the dream catcher: the beads would stick and there would be a magical web that captured the dreams and trickled them into beads. All of this would be contained in an ornate frame of ebony which would have designs carved into it. Everything was perfect.
The Mistress approved. "Leather, you will need," she remarked, examining the plan, "to make the Eyrie. Geraptikan Glass will be blown into these shapes tomorrow. I will speak to the Weaver about these plans. Everything shall work. They always worked out."
I began to carve out the ebony: a perfect circle, with delicate flowers and powerful trees carved into it. White berries I harvested were crushed and diluted until they became a sort of thick paint, which was dabbed into the carvings. I finished my painstaking work on the twelfth of the month. The delicate carving was woven with golden threads, tightened so thickly that they looked almost solid. The Eyrie had beads woven at the ends of the strings that marked its wings. It was beautiful, and everyone knew it.
That was the problem.
The other dream-weavers were getting jealous that the Mistress of Dreams was paying much attention to me as I completed this project. One of the most bitter was a mage named Cedar. He was a proud brown Xweetok, and did not appreciate his work being topped by mine. He too was working on a master dream catcher; however, his wasn't working as well as mine was. I had already tested mine out four times as he finished his; keep in mind that I started after him. He was angry that I was going to finish mine before him. So he decided to do the unthinkable—he was planning on stealing my dream catcher.
I had caught him on camera and accused him in front of the Mistress, but by then he had already sold it as a cheap trinket. The Mistress was so upset with him that she burned his dream catcher—one that had taken him many weeks to craft—and burned it to ashes.
I was watching the smoldering remains when the Mistress turned to me. "The Weaver of Dreams has already accepted you as a master dream-weaver, Dahlia," she explained kindly. "If you chance to happen upon your dream catcher again, he will immediately accept it."
"Yes, ma'am," I murmured dully, watching the last piece of leather succumb to the licking flames that the Mistress had started. She quickly snapped her fingers and the fire immediately ceased to consume the remaining bits of the dream catcher.
"And now you know what happened to my little pet project, the Lost Dream Catcher," Dahlia finishes blandly, and according to my ears, she seems about to mourn her loss in front of me. "The Weaver still waits, and is as kind to me as he always was," she whispers, "but he grows impatient. I have one last week to search for my missing treasure before he asks another to complete a similar project. I will still be a master, but it is a bit of a... displeasure if he has no copy of my work."
"Thank you for your tale." I get up from the seat I have been sitting on and give Luxi the quill, which she takes gladly. "As a payment—"
"No, no payment is necessary."
"... do not worry," I reassure her, "you'll like this one."
I unfold my caravan; I am a gypsy, after all, but my caravan is a... different one, I suppose. It has many little trinkets that lead me to stories many wish to hear. I walk into it, and I can tell that although Dahlia is a bit irritated with me, she is curious. "Luxi, hunt," I whisper. She spits the quill into my hand and buries herself in a pile of little things I found on my journey. After a while, she gets out crossly and then rushes into the things I have hung on the one wooden wall of the structure. I hear a yelp of triumph and take the small thing she has dropped into my hand. I turn to Dahlia.
"I believe this is yours."
I look at the thing she has dropped into my hand and feel a shock of surprise. Yes, the paint has faded a bit and the threads don't sparkle as much as they used to, but this is my dream catcher, the one Cedar sold a few years ago. The Eyrie is as imposing as I remember, and the beads have a milky essence to them, signaling that they are ready for dreams to enter them. The dark wood still contrasts beautifully with the white berry paint that I used. I look up to thank the vagabond, but she has already reached the southern boundary of Geraptiku, where she turns and waves at me before disappearing into the thicket.
This is one of the many stories my pet Ruxielle has collected from her travels as a gypsy. I hope you enjoyed it.