In this dream, I am very small and I am hiding inside a tiny case, like a nut in a shell. I am floating in a wild and raging river. I am very frightened because I fear this journey has no end. Around me there are others who are flowing with the river. It seems I could come out of my shell and melt and be part of them.
Then a dragon picks me up. He holds me tight in his paw so that even if I wanted to come out of my shell and melt, I could not. I am scared, and then he lets me feel that I am very, very safe. “As the wolf did for my young, so I will do for his cub. I will protect you here. When you emerge, come to me. I will protect you.”
I draw here the dragon. He is a terrifying creature, but to me he is a kindly uncle.
After not being for so long, I was not sure how to exist.
Uncurl, Wolf-Father commanded me. You have to be ready before they are. Uncurl. Stand up.
I couldn’t. I tried. Somewhere, I knew I had legs and arms. A face. Sunlight. Warm. Slowly those words began to have meaning again. Sunlight was touching me and it was almost warm. I was sprawled on my back. I blinked my eyes. I was looking up at blue sky. The sun was too bright. I tried to move but my body was weighted down with something.
I heard a terrible sound. I rolled my head toward it. The Chalcedean who had liked Shun. He was making the sounds. I could not remember his name. He was on all fours and he was stretching his mouth wide open and making peculiar retching sounds. I thought he would be sick on the ground. Instead he collapsed back onto his belly. His face was turned toward mine, and he looked at me. Nothing human was in his eyes. They grew wider until I could see the whites all around them. He pursed his lips as if he would blow a horn and hooted at me. They were silly sounds that were somehow frightening.
Fear can help you do things. I rolled over onto my belly and suddenly knew what was holding me down. The heavy, floppy fur coat I wore was like being rolled up in a rug. I tried to get my knees under me but instead I knelt inside the coat and could not move. The sounds the Chalcedean was making were getting stranger, as if he were trying to make squirrel noises.
I rolled onto my back. My floppy hands found the peg-and-loop fastenings that held the coat shut. I fumbled at them, trying to make the part of me that knew how to undo them connect with my fingers. His sounds were now like a dog trying to howl. I gave up on the pegs and sat up. I was suddenly far too warm and getting out of the coat seemed more important than getting away from the madman. I managed to stand up, staggered a few steps, and almost fell over someone. One of Dwalia’s luriks. I could not think of her name. She was dead, I suddenly knew. I tottered away from her, still fighting with the pegs on my coat. I saw Dwalia. She was underneath someone and fighting to get out from under him.
Don’t look. Run. Just run. You are safer in the forest than among these evil creatures. There is one here who will help us if I can wake him. Run. Run where I show you.
I ran. I had landed on a surface of black stone like paving stones in the middle of a forest. I reached a place where melting snow vied with sprouting grass. Spring? How could it be spring? I had been dragged into the stone-pillar in winter. Where had I been? What was I not remembering?
A wave of vertigo swept over me. I fell, going to my knees and my hands met the melting edge of a snowbank. I got up and staggered away. Into the forest. Get into the forest as fast and as far as I could.
Behind me I heard Dwalia shout, “Catch her! Don’t let her get away! We can never go home unless we bring her with us.”