A harrowing adventure/fantasy taking place in 1920s Oklahoma and the magical world of Iska....
They reached the other side of the forest around dawn. A long plain extended before them, and Flavian explained it would be another half-day ride to Lelidua, the Iskan city. They were mostly quiet to each other as they rolled out their bed mats and cooked dinner/breakfast, but polite conversation fluttered here and there.
It had been a long night, and it was Flavian's plan for them to rest for a few hours before they made the final push to the city.
Del laid back on the ground and stared up at the clouds in the morning sky, sure she would never fall asleep, as tired as she was. She listened to the others fidgeting on their bed mats and imagine they were having the same problem.
An Iskan city. What would it be like? She had only ever known Oklahoma City. She tried to imagine streets filled with wizards and dwarves and magical creatures, cobble-stoned paths and medieval style buildings. Would they be safe there? How would they find the Sorceress? What would happen?
Slowly but surely she started closing her eyes more and more as she floated upon these thoughts, and eventually, she did pass into sleep, where she found herself amid the walls of the Good Lich's keep.
"Ivaile?" she asked in the dream. She knew this had to be of his doing. Could he communicate through dreams? He had called himself a Dreamer, and had told her he was mastering what he called Lucid Dreaming.
"Ivaile?" she asked again.
Something was different about the tower. There were windows where bright sunlight washed in and everything didn't look old and worn. It felt comfortable, and safe.
She pushed open a wooden door and found herself in a laboratory. Hunched over a table sat the lanky Ivaile, studying something under a magnifying glass.
"Ivaile!" she greeted the apprentice.
He turned and found her. "Oh!" he said. "You fell asleep at last. I've been waiting all night. Sorry, I got distracted."
"What is this?"
"This? This is a dream of course."
"I know that! But what am I doing here? How am I doing this? Are you really Ivaile, or just a figment in my head?"
"I assure you I am myself," said Ivaile. "And I made this happen."
He smiled. "Practice."
"Because I have new information for you," he told her. "And I wanted to check in on your progress."
"We're almost there," she told him.
"I see that now. I hope the forest wasn't too strange."
"It was ok," she answered. "We saw fairies. And cyclopes. "
"Cyclopes? This close to the elves? Interesting."
"Why's that interesting?"
"History," said Ivaile. "A long history. But I digress. First, I have a question: have you been dreaming of anything else?"
"I am not the only one with the power to come into your dreams, Delilah. I ask because I want to warn you to prepare for such an invasion. You might not even know it at the time — there are enemies that are unimaginable out there."
"This is kind of an invasion too," Del confessed.
"I'm sorry. I really am. I know our dreams should be private places. But I had no choice."
"What did you want? I don't know how much time I have."
"Ah, of course," he said. "You're right, we don't have much time, but what I want to tell is brief. Remember the knives I gave you and your uncle?"
"Do you still have yours?"
"Yep, I do."
"Good. Keep it close. I know Huck has used his. Soon it will be time for you to use yours. Keep it with you at all times, even when you think you won't need it. Especially when you think you won't need it."
"What for? More werewolves?"
"No. But it will cut things other than werewolves of course. And when you do cut, make sure to cut deep."
She was scared of doing such a thing. Still, she told him, "I will."
"Good," said Ivaile. "Good."
Delilah could feel the light in the tower getting brighter. "Is that it then? Am I going now?"
"Yes," said Ivaile. "I will not be able to speak to you once you are in the city because of the Sorceress's power. So remember what I said, Del — cut deep."
She nodded, already drifting away, feeling herself back on the ground on the forest, and then, in an instant -
She was awake.
The others were still lying about, except for Jobe, who kept watch. She reached for her pack and undid a pocket and reached inside. Sure enough, the sheathed silver knife was there.
"I will cut deep," she promised herself.