And then, O Dreamer, you will come to the great and impossible plateau where the slumbering nation of Igasiz meets its neighbors. A steep-cliffed mile high, these Outer Mountains are a refuge for those who find even the dream-worlds too great an imposition. The tiny hamlet of Atogoza-Zož waits there, a refuge for those seeking an enlightened dream even within their very dreams.

It is not a journey for the weak, O Dreamer, nor for a mere dilettante in the ways of the slumbering world. The nearest city in friendly Isašžozi, land of the quiescent indulgents, is quiet and peaceful Žakož. But the cliffs above it are of such a frightening and sheet height, and frequented in those wild dreamlands by such unbound horrors, that none are known to have made the crossing safely. Ozipizo, to the southwest as the great orb rises, is the land of violent nightmares and even those who reach the relative safety of its great fortress of Mes-O find themselves able to push no further against the nameless and hungry teeth of the id that lurk northward. Of those brave, foolhardy souls who have attempted it, O Dreamer, only one is known to have reached the hamlet of Mus-Na, where the hardy inhabitants are nightly besieged by the final nightmares of the dying. Though the cliffs are far more gentle slopes from Ozipizo, none but the mad would attempt that route.

That leaves only Igasiz. A peaceful land, protected from the horrors of Ozipizo by the Outer Mountains, its dangers are mostly the dreamt rocks and ego-winds, harder and more scouring than any the waking would could ever produce. Many seekers begin their trek at the great river-city of Sames, where the mountain streams join to form a navigable river. Atogoza-Zož awaits a mile above and many leagues south, and by following the gullies carved by the waters from above, the bravest and hardiest can make the trek. It is not an easy one, O Dreamer. Many have died from the rocks, the winds, the waters that suck the warmth from a body in an instant. The shock of awakening from such a death is often enough to kill the dreamer, or to permanently eject them from the dreamlands forever after. Even if one survives such a tussle, the possibilities of rescue are slim. While the yowling dreamstalkers of the Outer Mountains will not attack the hale, these twisted shadows that were once sapient beings have no qualms about feasting upon the wounded.

But beyond all these, Atogoza-Zož! It is built like a fortress-monastery of old, as safe from the elements as it is from the cares of the slumbering world. The monks there tend to those few who have successfully made the journey, seeing to what few physical needs dreamers have while allowing their wards the freedom to fall still deeper into slumber. Many never awaken, and others simply fade away–whether into wakefulness or a still-deeper dream none can say. But from those who do return, the monks take the stories and recollections, fleeting though they may be. Their writings, steady and impartial, fill the vast library of Atogoza-Zož with such knowledge as few have the aptitude to even read, much less decipher.

You may ask, O Dreamer, what possesses these monks of Atogoza-Zož to so do, and to tend the dreamers rather than joining them. Their response is recorded thus: “For every gate, a gatekeeper. For every traveler, an ear for the tale. For every bold explorer, one who recognizes they can never go so far.”

Inspired by this.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!
Advertisements