At the Night Ballet

Running short on time tonight, and I’m afraid I have no Hints for you at the moment.

I do, however, have a fragment of a story, if you care to listen.

Taken by Dreams

Regular readers will remember my experience from five weeks ago, where I had the surreal experience of composing a book in the middle of a dream and woke with a full recollection of the story.

It was the hardest my brain has ever worked, I’m sure. Nothing I have experienced since has been so vivid or provided me with so much.

However, I am still dreaming. And one dream that came to me last week gave me another treasure—not as extensive as an entire book, but a story with a musical motif.

And it’s interesting enough that I wish to record it here.

A Full-fledged Fairy Tale

Not all dreams have a definite genre. They are, as a rule, in the business of defying definitions, rather than honoring them. As such, most dreams (including my own) lack any kind of unifying theme or plot.

But the dream of Tuesday night, March 31st, bucked this trend.

It began with a beautiful princess snatched away by a wicked queen. And because of her wickedness, this queen had made many enemies.

One such enemy was a valiant knight, who sallied forth to rescue his own kingdom from the clutches of the murderous monarch. But finding her would be no easy task, as she lived in a castle whose location was a secret. Still, he searched.

Because of the sensitive nature of his quest, he did not reveal his intentions to anyone he met on his travels. The queen’s spies were everywhere, and anyone could be in her employ.

This became a problem when he rested himself in one township where the mayor and council were leery of any armed travelers. They demanded to know his reason for traveling through their land. And when he refused to answer, they threw him in an open pit that served as the town’s dungeon.

The Boy with the Ocarina

While imprisoned, the knight had his first stroke of luck. The young man who brought him his food claimed to have an understanding of how to get to the queen’s hidden castle.

The boy claimed to be receiving covert messages from the princess, and was determined to rescue her. He agreed to help the knight escape the dungeon if he would allow him to tag along.

They waited for nightfall, and the boy let down a rope ladder the knight used to climb out of the pit.

Outside the town walls, the boy revealed to the knight his means of finding the queen’s castle: an ordinary clay ocarina.

The boy claimed to have learned about the princess from a bird who visited him from a distant forest. The bird had been instructed to find him and lead him to where she was being held captive.

Not at all sure this young man was right in the head, the knight still followed him as he was their only lead.

Melody of a Dream

The bird led the pair through a maze of wilderness to where the queen’s castle was located. Each time it flew deeper into the forest, it would sing a distinctive melody for the heroes to follow.

To let the bird know they were still following, he would play a reply on his ocarina, and the bird would fly off again. They made the entire journey this way.

And this is where the dream gets strange; because, as I said, the melody was distinctive. It was the kind of music a bird would sing, and I found it difficult to forget, even after waking up.

So I wrote it down.

Only after I had it all written could I get it out of my head. But I had to wonder why someone who has little talent for composing music would find himself with an original, if simple, melody. Getting it all down exhausted me, for some reason, and I didn’t get much work done that day.

Why do I now have this song? And who exactly wrote it? Those are questions I don’t have the answer for.

So How did It End?

Dreams are notoriously bad at endings. Even the best ones are all setup. You rarely get to see how the story turns out.

I can tell you that the boy and knight were led to a castle overlooking a river, and the building was almost completely engulfed in giant trees.

Apparently, the previous queen, whose kingdom was stolen by the present villain of this tale, hated her killer so badly that her malice manifested in the surrounding nature, and the trees had begun encroaching on the castle.

The current queen paid them no mind. She was secured in the inner chambers of the fortress and in no great danger. But the hate-possessed forest also took revenge on those who dared trespass upon it, making life difficult for the two heroes.

Even so, they found the gate of the castle, the knight ready to slay his quarry, and the boy eager to rescue his princess.

I can only assume it ends happily, due to the fairy tale structure of the story. And I have to say the whole thing sounds like a melodramatic Russian ballet.

How do you think it should end?

[Addendum: April 21st]

National Geographic recently published an article about how the social isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is causing people to have more vivid dreams.

My previous dream, where I got the idea for Affinity came before social distancing got started in the U.S. But the dream with the ocarina happened well into the national lockdown.

Something to think about.

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