Author's Note... it's been years....not much else to say I guess. Anyway, this is a story/ramble about what I imagined Taran's nightmares to be when he is ill in Taran Wanderer. I thought it fit with my earlier story Dreams because the events take place about the same time and they both deal with dream states. :)

Often there were dream faces half glimpsed, half recognized, of Eilonwy, of his companions, of all who he had loved. Yet they slipped away from him, shifting and changing like wind driven clouds, or swallowed by nightmares that made him cry out in terror. -Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander

He was running through a forest as a wailing voice called his name. He followed the plaintive cry through the dense woods, coming at last into a clearing. Eilonwy knelt there, weeping into the open palms of her hands, her face concealed by a curtain of hair. As he drew close to her she did not heed him, but continued to shudder and gasp. He heard his name spoken once more and turned to see a mound of stones. He watched flowers spring from between the rocks, blossoming before his eyes with gentle beauty. Yet as they grew, their stems and roots tugged and pulled at the stones until they spilled around his feet. Adaon lay there, clutching a knife buried in his chest. Taran cried out and bent to remove it, but as he grasped the hilt a cold hand clamped around his wrist. A dead hand. Adaon opened his eyes. As the clear, piercing gaze met his, Taran stumbled back , watching in horror as the stones turned to black shards and it was no longer Adaon who lay before him, but Ellidyr. Taran opened his mouth to scream but heard instead the frenzied shriek of Ismilach as she plunged to her death. He retreated towards Eilonwy and collapsed at her knees, letting the curtain of red and gold surround and shield him. Her tears rained down on his face, and were soon mingled with his own.

He was striding back to Caer Dallben, his feet carrying him confidently over the oft traveled path while he breathed in the scent of all that was familiar to him. Hen Wen squeeled joyously from within her pen, trotting up to meet him. Taran laughed heartily at the sight and waved at Coll and Dallben who had come out of the cottage to greet him. Taran felt his heart swell with happiness and he began to run to them, but as he ran it seemed that the cottage shimmered and faded into a dilapidated old hut. And it was no longer Coll who waved merrily at him, but Craddoc who waited his return. Taran slowed in confusion and felt a bitter chill creep into his bones and bite at his heart. Snow and ice swirled around him as he stumbled wearily in an unknown direction. He realized too late that he had reached the edge of the crevice, and as his foot stepped down it met air instead of ground. His stomach lurched into his chest as his own weight carried him over the side, his mind reeling with panic as he tumbled into utter darkness.

She sits on the edge of his bed as he thrashes in the throes of fever. Pressing a cool hand to his brow she hushes him gently. He quiets as her small fingers push back his hair and trail calmly down his face. Time passes and his breathing slows as her fingers continue their delicate ministrations. Fever gradually fades into rest. He reaches to take her hand with his own, she weaves her fingers through his. They sit together in peace until it begins to grow dark. She pulls away from his grasp and stands, pulling from her robe the golden bauble. As its light begins to glow, she leans over and brushes her lips softly against his cheek. The bauble grows brighter and brighter. Eilonwy fades into light.

Taran slowly begins to wake.