Song of Dreams
By: Nisovin (Written Apr 25, 2015)
Some people have a knack for finding strange things. Strange things always seem to find Zane Legends. And on occasion, strange things have been known to go so far as to follow Zane Legends, and sometimes even chase him. Zane didn’t particularly like to come across those types of strange things, but he dealt with them whenever they showed up.
On a spooky, moonless night, Zane rode his horse through a dense pine forest. Strange sounds came from all around him, and sometimes the trees themselves seemed to close in on him. He knew it was simply a trick of the eyes, but even so, he did not enjoy it. A wise man would not even think about travelling through this forest in the middle of the night, but Zane is known to have foolish ideas every once in a while.
Looking down the path, Zane thought he saw a dim glow off in the distance. As he got closer, he realized it was some kind of building. Soon he got close enough to realize that it was actually an inn. What an odd place for an inn, he thought to himself. I didn’t realize anybody even used this path anymore.
He decided that the presence of the inn was a sign that he should stop for the night to get some sleep and perhaps a bite to eat. He dismounted from his horse, and almost immediately a short little man stepped out of the open doorway and said, “Welcome to the Weary Traveler. Please, come in, I’ll take your horse to the stables around back.”
Zane handed the man the reins, thanked him, and stepped inside. He was surprised to see a number of patrons already there. Some were sitting at the tables, eating or playing cards. A couple were sitting at the bar, and one man in the corner looked to be fast asleep, and judging by the wet spot on his pants, he’d probably wake up with a nasty headache the next morning.
The man that caught Zane’s eye, however, was the one playing the banjo on the far side of the room. Everyone (except the sleeping man, of course) was focused on him. He wore an almost painfully bright blue long sleeved shirt and black pants. He also wore a bright yellow hat and white gloves. He sang a slow, mysterious song about a boy lost in the woods.
The boy looked about and all he saw
For miles and miles around
Were rows and rows of pinewood trees
He continued onward with a frown.
His feet were sore from walking far
His eyes burned from lack of sleep
His knees shook from pure exhaustion
And he fell down in a heap.
Suddenly he thought he heard
A screeching shriek of pain
“Hello, friend,” boomed a voice next to him, “Can I help you?”
Zane nearly jumped out of his skin. He had been so entranced by the song he had failed to notice the owner walk up to him. He recovered quickly though, and said, “Can I get a hot meal and a bed for the night?”
“Certainly!” the man responded. “We only have roast beef right now, is that okay?”
“It’s excellent,” Zane answered.
“Very well then, have a seat. I’ll send somebody out with your meal in a few minutes.
Zane meandered through the tables and sat at an empty one near the storyteller. The story had progressed, the boy now seemed to be running for his life and was being pursued by some monster. The storyteller had a captivating voice, and soon Zane was lost in the story again. The storyteller seemed to be singing only to him, telling him a fantastical adventurer. The man had the most incredible deep blue eyes, and they seemed to stare right through his. It was almost like a dream, the way the images unfolded in front of his eyes, and he almost felt like a part of the story.
Suddenly the song ended, to much applause from the patrons sitting around the room. The storyteller stood, bowed with a flourish, and walked over to sit at Zane’s table.
“That was excellent,” Zane said.
“Why thank you, son,” the man replied. “I do try. Do you come here often?”
“No,” Zane answered. “I didn’t even know this inn existed.
“Yes, few people do. But exist it does, and people looking for strange adventures usually stumble across it at least once in their life.”
Zane did not know what to say, so he said nothing. The storyteller did not seem to mind though. “Where did you get that scar there on your head?” he asked.
“Well, speaking of adventures,” Zane began, “it’s a rather interesting story really. I was just finishing –.”
“Here you are, sir,” a pretty girl said from behind him, placing his meal on the table. “Is there anything else I can get you?”
“No thanks,” Zane said, smiling up at her.
“Well, I guess I’ll let you eat in peace,” the story teller said, getting up from his seat.
“Are you going to tell another story?” Zane inquired.
“Not at the moment. Perhaps later tonight. Perhaps,” he said, with half a smile and a strange gleam in his eye.
Zane ate slowly, but the storyteller did not tell another story that night. After he finished, he retired to his room for the night and soon fell asleep.
Zane ran. He ran as fast and as hard as he could, terrified of the evil beast that he could hear following him not far behind. The dense forest made it difficult to run quickly, sometimes roots seemed to sneak over his foot and trip him, or branches would reach out to smack him across the face. Yet he continued to run, because he did not know what would happen to him if he stopped.
He suddenly entered a clearing, and with open space in front of him, he ran faster than before. He glanced behind him and saw the monster leaving the trees, chasing him. Zane soon realized that the monster could move much faster than him across this open ground, but he did not slow down. He soon crossed the clearing and entered the forest again.
The forest seemed even thicker and closer than before. He soon slowed down to what felt like a crawl, especially since he could clearly hear the monster close behind him, and the monster did not seem to be hindered by the forest at all. A sudden high-pitched scream of intense pain filled the forest, and it frightened Zane so much that he tripped on a hidden root and fell to the ground.
The screaming continued, but Zane ignored it, he had other things on his mind. He was now reduced to half-crawling, half-stumbling through the forest. It was futile however, and in moments the beast was behind him. It cackled evilly, then grabbed his feet and began dragging him through the forest, toward the source of the screams.
Zane was suddenly aware of a song being chanted, and realized that the monster itself was chanting. Listening carefully, he could hear the words.
The screaming seemed to lessen now
Which made the boy more frightened still
He thought he knew the screamer’s fate
The person had been killed.
The nasty beast began to chant
A horribly terrifying tune
About how that poor lost boy
Would be its dinner soon.
But then the monster stopped its trek
And let the boy there lie
“Leave my forest now,” it growled,
“Or I will see you DIE.”
The monster suddenly stopped and leaned over Zane. Zane could now clearly see the monster’s hideous face. However, the what stuck out to him was the monster’s deep blue, penetrating eyes.
Zane awoke from the dream, sweating as though he had been running for miles. It had seemed so real and so terrifying. Zane no longer had any desire to remain in the inn, so he got up, quickly put on his clothes, and walked down to the common room.
The storyteller was telling a story again, and Zane listened to the final words of the song.
And so the boy fled as fast he could
He left the forest with a sigh
He resolved to never return
Or he would surely die.
Zane crossed the room with rather large strides, but before going through the door he looked back. The storyteller was watching him, with half a smile and a mysterious glint in those deep blue piercing eyes.