Author's Note: Kelemvor talks to the Night Serpent about her job. I've always wanted to write something about how Lord Death deals with this denizen of his realm, an Elder Evil that even a god cannot destroy. Kelemvor/Mystra, Cyric/Mystra, and Cyric/Dendar (don't ask).

Dreams and Nightmares

Kelemvor paced his throne room, a nearby mirror reflecting his repulsive guise. No longer the brawny, handsome godlike, well, god...but a skeletal representation of death itself. Mystra could not deal with his changes. Kel wasn't sure he could either, at the time, but as the last remaining bits of his humanity fled, so too did those doubts. Regardless, Mystra...Midnight...Ariel...was gone. He had loved her. Loved her still, even though he had known there was no way they could be together. After all, no one should love death. Still, he hated his former beloved's murderer.

That damnable Cyric. The lying murder god that was shown too much mercy for all his crimes. Releasing the Chaos Hound, murdering, directly or indirectly, four gods, sparking the Spellplague, and damaging the Celestial Stairway nearly beyond repair...and the only punishment he received was being bound in chains for a thousand years. It did not even prevent him from granting his vile worshipers spells. He shuddered at the thoughts.

Still, when he slept, he did not have nightmares, or dreams, about any of that. He wondered at that. Pondered at length, for hours. He knew he wasn't exactly the sharpest knife on the rack, but being a god had increased his intelligence quite a bit. He summoned Jergal, the seneschal of his realm with a flick of one bony finger. Jergal's insect-like face and disembodied cloak appeared before him.

Yes, Master? How may I serve you? Jergal didn't speak with a voice, but with some form of telepathy. The god of Death hadn't bothered to ask why.

"Jergal, where do the dreams of gods go? I know we must surely have them...everything dreams."

Jergal shifted a bit uncomfortably. They go to the Night Serpent, my Lord. She who devours all. Legend says that she will eat the sun when the end of the realms come. For now, she waits in your realm, feasting on dreams and nightmares of mortals and immortals. She rarely has a taste for good dreams, preferring instead harrowing nightmares...

The seneschal trailed off. Kel, in his years as god of Death, had never even given a single thought to the World Eater. That giant snake that inhabited the Fugue Plane for time eternal. Or, at least, ever since the very first being had a nightmare. She terrified Lord Death. He'd never spoken to her or even been in her presence since his ascension. His minions had occasionally reported that Dendar was irritated that Lord Death had not sent as many souls as he used to.

Kel shuddered as he remembered that Cyric had once ruled this realm and likely had sent MANY souls to the Night Serpent. What did she do to the souls she had in her fangs? Lord Death, despite his distinct lack of humanity now, still did not wish whatever horrid punishment Dendar gave souls upon anyone.

Despite his lack of contact with her, he still wondered about his missing dreams and nightmares. He still wanted to speak with this terrifying resident of his realm. He sighed and sent out an avatar to the Fugue Plane and the cave in which the serpent dwelt.

A hissing breath, tangy and vile, assaulted his senses as he approached the cave. A giant head slid out of the cave, one yellow eye opening and, it appeared, laughing at him.

"Yet ANOTHER God of the Dead? We do go through them, it seems...what happened to that handsome, kind young man who sent me so many souls?" Her voice had a hissing quality to it, but was distinctly female.

Kel was disgusted that ANYONE would call Cyric kind and handsome. Oh well. The murderer had always attracted these types, like his personal pet, another primordial evil, Kezef the Chaos Hound who had bitten off the limbs of two gods and likely hungered for more. Still, the evil thing was loyal to its master, like any good dog. It was chained in fetters just as well as Cyric, thankfully. Dendar apparently still wished Cyric was master of this realm, too. That monster still in power. Kel nearly gagged.

"He fell from power. Displaced by me. A true god of death. Don't tell me you didn't know? You eat dreams and nightmares."

The Serpent laughed. "I knew...still, I am curious about what happened to the handsome one. Why do I no longer get his nightmares? How sweet they were! So full of that dark-haired woman's face, and the face of another...a thick, ugly, brutish man." She laughed again.

Kelemvor wanted to punch her, but she was so large that it would do no good. Cyric, handsome? Kel, ugly? Perhaps now, but definitely not as a mortal. Cyric was only handsome if you liked monsters, and Dendar apparently did.

"He murdered the Goddess of Magic, and many others. Surely you felt the upheaval in the Realms? Far more nightmares than usual coming to you? The Celestial Stairway is badly damaged, the Weave is no more, magic is in chaos...all your precious Cyric's fault." He hissed the name he hated so badly.

Dendar seemed to purr, in an almost orgasmic way. At least for a snake. "Ahhh, I knew he wouldn't forget me! The delicious nightmares, all his doing! I am forever in the sweet one's debt! I owe much of my power and growth to his machinations. I do hear my brother is imprisoned, however...I have no doubt that my handsome god will free him."

Dendar was PLEASED with all the horrible things that had happened? Of course she was. It gave her so much more power, power from every nightmare and the Spellplague and the deaths of many gods brought about many nightmares.

"I'm not here to flatter that monster Cyric, snake. I just want to know...what of MY dreams and nightmares? What do I, as a god, dream of?"

There was a great flash of sickly, yellowish light. In place of a giant snake, there now stood a woman. A lovely, slender young woman. At least, she would have been lovely were it not for the fact that she was covered in dark scales and still had those wickedly slitted eyes.

She sidled up to him, slid a scaled hand down his sunken chest. "You're a man, Lord Death. Kelemvor Lyonsbane. You dream about the same thing he did. You dream about the dark-haired woman and the ugly man, being together. Your good dreams, anyway. Your nightmares...they are about the dark-haired woman and my handsome one being together. You always feared that, deep down, didn't you, ugly one? That she would love him, in the end? Your nightmares, they are always about that. Always. It never changes. You never even have nightmares of her death. Just nightmares of her being with my dear Cyric."

The snake woman pierced his chest with her talons, and slid a bit more back into her cave. Kel grabbed her arm. "I don't dream about Cyric! Not ever! Not even in nightmares! That abomination is erased from my memory!"

The snake woman smiled, revealing long fangs for teeth. "Say and think what you like, Lord of the Dead. I know the truth. I know everything that everyone has ever dreamed or had nightmares about. Still you fear them somehow being together! Even though she is dead and he locked up!"

The snake's laughter echoed throughout her cave. Kel's mind was assaulted with images of Midnight and Cyric locked together in passion, loving, the way she and Kel had done so many times. He seethed with rage and hatred. Mystra, Midnight, would NEVER love the sick monster, never! And yet, all her defending him as mortals, her DEFENDING his right to be a god at his farce of a trial...there was indeed some truth to these nightmares. Perhaps she DID love him in some way.

He realized he was panting. The snake woman's laughter was still ringing in his ears. She slid a taloned hand down his skeletal cheek.

"You see, my pathetic Lord Death? YOUR nightmares. About my precious one and the whore goddess, together. Those are your nightmares...Always. Now and forever. And since you so kindly asked for them back, they are yours to keep. Now and forever." She burst into hysterical laughter and withdrew into her cave, resuming snake form.

She snarled and hissed at him until he fled. Even a god could not match an Elder Evil. Perhaps he could rid the Realms of her should he fetter her like Kezef or outright kill, then ALL nightmares would be freed and the Realms would be in chaos. What exactly did she mean that he could have his nightmares back? The images were gone from his head, back to wherever visions went when they weren't being seen.

Kel, after retreating back to his throne room, sat back on his chair, ignoring Jergal's bored queries. The seneschal honestly did not care how Kel was doing. Kel closed his eyes. He understood what Dendar meant now. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw them together. Cyric and Mystra. The beauty and the beast.

R/R. Yes, my grammar is not perfect, I know.