MWDC: Part 1 Book 11
Requiem for a Dream
Chapter 1: What Dreams are made of
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
-Edgar Allen Poe
September 30th, 2012
The mist swirled endlessly in the dark expanse of the realm known only as the Dreaming. The vast plane stretched infinitely in every direction, giving it a lonely feeling, even though it was far from empty. For a moment, the mists parted as a cloud of sand suddenly kicked up on some ethereal wind. As the sand dissipated, a figure was revealed standing where the cloud had appeared.
The figure was a man, standing tall and gaunt. He had pale, almost pure white skin, and pitch black hair and eyes, with a strange twinkling in his eyes that almost looked like stars. He wore a long, black overcoat over black pants and a black shirt, along with black shoes. He looked around the Dreaming for a few moments, a pensive look on his face.
"I am home," he stated simply, his voice deep and seeming to echo.
Reaching his hand outwards and making a pulling motion, he willed the world around him to shift. As he did, the Dreaming seemed to move around him, instead of him moving through it. As it moved, a large structure appeared on the horizon, rushing to where he was. As it approached, he put out his hand in a pushing moment, causing the structure to stop its approach.
The structure appeared to be an impossibly large castle, its numerous towers reaching up into the dark, cloudy sky. The structure was made out of old stone, and its many towers and corners were covered with gothic gargoyles. Around the castle was a massive wall, topped with wrought iron spikes. In front of the man stood a large gate similarly made out of wrought iron. Perched above the gates were three monstrous creatures. One was a griffon, possessing the head and wings of an eagle, with the body of a lion. Next to it was perched a hippogriff, its front end like a giant eagle, the bottom half like that of a horse. Finally, along with them was a wyvern, which appeared like a dragon in the front and a serpent in the back.
They hissed and growled as they approached the man, fangs and claws bared and ready to attack. They stopped though as the man shot them a glare. Their eyes widening in surprise and fear as they quickly retreated, allowing the man to walk up to the gate. Waving his hand, the gate opened and he stepped through.
Past the gate was a garden, filled with hedges cut into the shapes of animals. Some would be recognized as animals that roamed the many corners of Earth. Others appeared completely alien, or even physically impossible. The man paid them no mind as he walked through the garden up to the large wooden doors that led into the castle.
Making a gesture with his hand, the doors proceeded to open on their own with a loud creaking noise. The inside was similar to the outside's gothic architecture. The roof was high and vaulted, and the stone hallway was illuminated by torches along the walls and wooden circular chandeliers while a red carpet, appearing to be worn from age and coated with a thin layer of dust, covered the stone floor.
The man made his way down the hall, his footsteps padding softly on the carpet, leaving footprints in the dust. The man paid no heed to the emptiness of the hallway or the entire castle for that matter. Quickly, he made his way through the halls before he came to a large set of wooden doors. Walking up to them, he waved his hands at them, causing the doors to burst into a cloud of dust, which he simply walked through. Walking through the door, he waved his hand again and the door solidified behind him.
The room he entered was a massive library, larger than any other in all of existence. Shelf upon shelf of books lined the walls, which continued upwards, disappearing into what seemed like endless darkness that covered the ceiling. On the bookshelves were enormous amounts of books, consisting of every book that had ever been written, and some that had never been written at all.
The man quickly made his way through the library, his footsteps making dull thuds as he crossed the carpeted floor. As he did, he approached a large, circular desk sitting in the middle of the room. Tall stacks of books sat around or precariously atop the desk. Sitting behind it was a man. He appeared to be middle aged and was very skinny. He had wild red hair that seemed to stick out in every direction and thoughtful brown eyes hidden behind a pair of large glasses. He wore an orange coat over a green vest and white button up shirt. He also wore a pair of brown slacks and shiny black shoes. He looked up as the other man approached, his eyes widening as he saw him.
"L-Lord Morpheus!" he exclaimed, hopping to his feet, knocking over a pile of books that had been sitting next to him, sending them scattering across the floor.
"Lucien," he said in a strangely haunting voice, looking impassively at the scattered books, "I see you've been taking good care of my library"
"It is what you tasked me with, my lord," the man, Lucien, said nervously.
"Then it seems I should have tasked you with finding me in case of my disappearance," Morpheus said solemnly.
"Sir, I did try to find you, to the best of my ability!" Lucien replied quickly.
"Then you failed," Morpheus growled as he turned and glared at Lucien.
"No…I mean yes…I means, please, my lord!" Lucien pleaded.
Morpheus glared at Lucien for a few moments, seeming to weigh his options.
"What is the state of my kingdom?" he asked, solemnly.
"Well…you must understand, my lord…" Lucien mumbled nervously.
"Lucien," Morpheus growled, glaring at the librarian, "What is the state of my kingdom?"
"Nightmares run rampant, my l-lord," Lucien answered, trembling with fear, "The Fear Lords have divided up the Dreaming amongst themselves and vie for complete control. So your kingdom is…"
"In tatters," Morpheus snarled, "Where are my artifacts?"
"Well…you see, my lord…they've been…" Lucien hesitated.
"They've been what, Lucien?" Morpheus demanded.
"Taken…my lord…" Lucian said, his voice barely above a whisper.
"What do you mean taken?" Morpheus asked dangerously.
"They are not in our…possession," Lucien replied, visibly shaking.
The room seemed to darken as the temperature dipped dangerously. Lucien began to shake even harder as the cold and fear overwhelmed him. As he shook, the room around them seemed shake as well, the bookcases rumbling violently, spilling their books across the floor, the leather bound tomes thudding against the floor like a hailstorm.
"Where are they?" Morpheus practically growled.
"Your helm lies within the castle dungeons," Lucien explained, trying his best to retain his composure, "We weren't able to retain control of it when nightmares invaded shortly after your disappearance. The sands lie somewhere within the Dreaming itself. As for your gem…we have completely lost track of it."
For a few moments there was complete silence as Morpheus seemed to process the information he was given. Suddenly, all the books that had fallen to the ground as well as those that still sat on the shelves suddenly began flying through the air in every direction, swirling around him like a tornado. Lucien scrambled for cover behind his desk as some of the books buffered him. The raging storm went on for a few more moments before abruptly stopping, the books hanging in the air for a moment before thundering to the floor.
"You will find my gem," Morpheus stated simply.
"Y-Yes, my lord," Lucien replied, having a hard time finding his voice as he peeked over the desk, "What will you do, if I may ask?"
"Retake my castle," Morpheus replied simply as he turned on his heel and exited the library, the doors slamming shut behind him.
"Oh dear," Lucien whispered to himself as he fixed his hair and shirt before hurrying off.
Morpheus stormed through the hallways of his castle, the stone walls seeming to shake in his furious wake. He made his way through the labyrinthine corridors before coming to a spiral staircase that led down into the depths of the castle dungeons.
Morpheus plunged in without a moment's hesitation, descending the stairs rapidly. As he did, sounds floated up from the dungeon to meet him. They were horrible sounds, ones that would make a normal person falter. Blood-curdling screams and bone-chilling roars emanated from below. Morpheus however, paid no attention to the screeching and the gnashing of teeth as he continued down.
As Morpheus came to the end of the staircase, he found himself standing in a dark, dank dungeon, illuminated by flickering torches spaced evenly along the walls. He stood in a corridor with lines of cells flanking on both sides of the corridor. The corridor carried on for a few yards before reaching an intersection with another corridor and continuing on.
The architecture was not what caught Morpheus' attention, however. What hit him first was the smell. A mixture of excrement, blood and rancid meat, along with something even he couldn't quite put his fingers on.
What he saw next were the shapes. Disfigured and misshapen some seemed to be humanoid in shape, some with too many digits, limbs, features or even heads. Others had too few. Some didn't have human features at all, whether it be wicked tentacles, barbed spines, thrashing tails, fleshy wings or wicked looking claws and fangs. Their colors ran from jet black to ghostly white to blood red to sickly yellow to vomitus green, their shades were infinite and every one of them was unsettling in some way.
They were nightmares, pure and simple.
Morpheus' eyes narrowed as he stepped forward, unperturbed by the snarling abominations before him.
"I have come for my helm," Morpheus stated as he took another step forward, causing the nightmares to hiss and growl at him, "You will leave this place and never return."
The nightmares made no indication that they complied, understood or even heard what Morpheus had said.
"I said leave!" Morpheus ordered, growing angrier, taking another step towards the nightmares.
"You have no power here, Dreamlord!" one of the nightmares snarled, its voice sounding like nails on a chalkboard, "We own this place now."
"You never have," Morpheus stated threateningly, "And you never will."
As he said this, one of the nightmares snarled and leapt at him, its unnaturally large jaw wide as it brought its teeth to bear. Not even glancing at the nightmare, Morpheus held his hand up, his fingers outstretched. As he did, the nightmare seemed to slam into an invisible wall, crumpling like paper against a rock. As Morpheus flicked his wrist dismissively, the force holding the nightmare disappeared and it fell to the ground before it vanished in a cloud of black smoke.
The other nightmares screeched and roared in anger after watching their comrade fall before they began to charge Morpheus en masse. Dream remained completely calm as the monstrous creatures descended upon him. One nightmare, a large gorilla-like creature with massive claws swung at him. As it did, they seemed to pass through Morpheus' form as the Dreamlord burst into a cloud of sand which quickly dissipated.
As nightmares looked around in confusion, trying to see what had become of Morpheus, one of the nightmares reached up to its head and screamed in agony. As the other nightmares turned to look at it, the nightmare fell to its knees, its clawed hands holding its head as if trying to keep it together. A moment later, it seemed to fail as its head burst apart, sending tendrils of the black ooze shooting out from where its head had been, skewering a multitude of the surrounding nightmares, causing them to burst into clouds of black smoke, quickly followed by the one whose head had exploded. As the smoke dissipated, Morpheus emerged from it, watching the nightmares with cold eyes.
Another nightmare lashed out at Morpheus with a stinger on the end of its long tail. Reaching up, Morpheus grabbed the tail, stopping the stinger inches from his face. As the nightmare struggled to pull the stinger back, green venom dripping from the tip, Morpheus reached up and grabbed the tail with his other hand as well. As the nightmare fought against Morpheus' iron grip, Morpheus gave it a sharp twist with both hands, causing the tail to break off with a loud squishing noise. As the nightmare screeched in pain, Morpheus held up the tail so that he could examine it, green blood dripping from its end.
As more nightmares began to converge on Morpheus, he grabbed the tail near the stinger before twirling it above his head, causing green droplets of blood to fly out and splatter on the ground and the charging nightmares. A moment later and the blood droplets began to shift and change, forming arms and legs and heads. Another moment and the green droplets of blood had morphed into tiny green humanoids with clawed hands and feet, shiny green skin and heads that were completely dominated by mouths filled with rows of needle like teeth.
Before the nightmares knew what was happening, the tiny monsters were upon them. The ones that had formed right on the nightmares quickly began to dig their teeth in, cutting through flesh, hardened shell or chitinous armor, blood squirting from the wounds they created. Others rushed towards the nightmares at frightening speeds, leaping upon their legs and feet and digging in.
Screeches of pain filled the air as blood began to drip from the many wounds the blood creatures were tearing into the nightmares. As the nightmares struggled to get the blood creatures off of them, a nightmare that had avoided the assault swung a tentacle at Morpheus, trying to capture him. Instead, Morpheus disappeared again in a puff of sand. Before the nightmare knew what had happened, Morpheus appeared right behind it, holding the still bloody tail above the nightmare's head with two hands. Squeezing hard, Morpheus dumped the remaining blood on the nightmare's head. Instantly, the blood droplets transformed into a horde of blood creatures, which promptly began to devour the nightmare.
Morpheus watched impassively as the blood creatures dug into the nightmare's flesh, sending black blood flying as the nightmare withered in pain. Eventually, the nightmare stopped moving and disappeared under a sea of little green bodies with black smoke rising from between them. When the blood creatures dispersed, heading towards new meals, there was nothing left of the nightmare but a bloody smear on the ground.
Turning away from the carnage, Morpheus began to walk down one of the hallways. As he did, a horde of nightmares began rushing down towards him from the other direction. Not even blinking, Morpheus held out a hand and touched the wall next to him. A moment later, as the roaring horde of nightmares descended on Morpheus, the walls alongside them suddenly slammed together, crushing each and every one of them. A second later, the walls returned to their original position, a cloud of black smoke between them which Morpheus passed through without pause.
The hallway ended leading into a large, multistoried, circular room. The room had five separate levels, each lined with prison cells and connected by catwalks which in turn were connected by crumbling stairs carved into the wall. Rusted chains hung from the ceiling, swinging in an unfelt breeze.
In the middle of the room stood two nightmares. One was a big, hulking humanoid with green skin. He had a powerful physique and towered over Morpheus' own height. He was largely hairless, though a few odd black hairs sprouted from random points on his body. He had beady black eyes that glared hatefully at Morpheus
The other creature was short and squat, with no head, its face instead part of its torso. It was an ugly purple color and looked like clay that had been mashed together. It had long, spindly arms and legs, with fingers and toes that ended in sharp claws. It had a large mouth with razor sharp teeth and pupil-less white eyes.
"Brute," Morpheus said, nodding towards the tall nightmare, before turning to look at the other one, "Glob."
"Dream King," the tall one, Brute, said with a gravelly voice, giving a mocking bow to Morpheus, "It has been quite some time."
"Indeed it has," Morpheus replied, immediately wary, "I came here looking for something of mine."
"Oh?" the short one, Glob, asked in feigned surprise, "You mean this?"
Glob then proceeded to hold up what looked like a primitive gas mask. It was greyish in color, and almost looked like it had once been the skull of some alien creature. It had two large eyeholes that were covered by opaque glass. A long "hose" came from the mouth of the mask, though it resembled a spinal column more than anything else.
"Give it to me," Morpheus ordered, holding out his hand.
"I don't think so," Glob replied, before tossing the helmet to Brute.
"I think it's time for a little regime change," Brute stated, before placing the helmet on his head.
"You don't understand the power you are meddling with," Morpheus growled, his eyes narrowing.
"Oh, but I think I do," Brute replied before raising his hands above his head. As he did, shadowy figures began appearing behind him. Clenching his hands into fists, Brute seemed to absorb the shadows, causing him to laugh.
"The power of all the dreamers in existence is at my fingertips!" Brute exclaimed, laughing maniacally.
"You do not know how to use the power you have taken," Morpheus stated, taking a step away from Brute.
"Who cares!?" Brute declared, "It's not like you can compete with me anyway. When was the last time you charged your powers, Dream King? When was the last time you touched the essence of the Dreaming?"
Dream said nothing as he continued to glare at Brute.
"That's what I thought," Brute laughed as he held his hands in front of him, "Now die!"
As Brute said this, the air around him seemed to ripple as the ground cracked before a wall of force shot out at Morpheus. Unfazed, Morpheus calmly stepped forward and extended one hand forward in a chopping motion. As he did, he seemed to pierce through the wall of force, causing it to flow around him and slam into the wall behind him with enough power to knock a hole in the structure.
"As I said," Dream stated as he lowered his hand, "You do not understand how to use such power."
Brute merely growled in anger, his hands bunching up into fists before he slammed them against the ground, causing the stone floor to rise up like a wave that came surging towards Morpheus. Morpheus watched impassively as it approached him, not moving as it came crashing down on him in a storm of brick and dust.
"Power is power!" Brute shouted, laughing a cloud of dust rose from the rubble, "There's nothing more to it!"
"Then you know as little about creativity as your name suggest," Morpheus' voice came from behind Brute. Brute whirled around to find Morpheus standing right behind him. Before he could do anything, Morpheus reached out and grabbed the top of Brute's head. As Brute reached up to try to grab Morpheus' arm, Morpheus flexed his hand, causing the hose from the helmet to spring to life, wrapping around Brute's arm and pulling it away.
Seeing this, Glob leapt up into the air, wrapping his arms around his legs and spinning rapidly before hitting the ground and rolling towards Morpheus. Seeing him coming, Morpheus pulled Brute around, causing Glob to slam into Brute instead of himself. As the force knocked Brute to the side, Morpheus grabbed onto the helmet and pulled it off while the two nightmares went flying away.
As the two nightmares tried to pick themselves up, Morpheus lifted the helmet and placed it on his head. Instantly, the air began to swirl around him as more shadowy figures appeared throughout the room before being absorbed by Morpheus. Brute and Glob looked on in horror as Morpheus rose into the air, his coat billowing in the breeze. After a few moments, Morpheus floated back to the ground, before turning to look at the nightmares.
"Lord Morpheus," Glob began, holding his hands together in a pleading gesture, "Please, have mercy!"
"Mercy?" Morpheus asked, "You mean the kind you were so ready to show me? No I think not."
As Brute and Glob watched in horror, Morpheus raised his hands above his head as the whole dungeon darkened.
"Your punishment will be most severe," Morpheus stated as he pointed an outstretched hand at Brute and Glob, "As such, I cast you into darkness!"
Before the two nightmares could do anything, the shadows seemed to rise up around them, swallowing them whole as they tried to struggle against it, letting out cries of fear. Then, just as quickly as it had rose up, the shadows retreated and Brute and Glob were gone.
Morpheus stood for a few moments, watching the spot where Brute and Glob had once been, listening to make sure the other nightmares had been banished as well. Seemingly satisfied, he waved his arm to the side, causing him to disappear in a cloud of sand.
Morpheus reappeared in another room in the castle. It was a large room, with apparently no ceiling, the top of the room instead occupied by a swirling mass of darkness and stars. A large, ornate throne carved from stone sat at one end of the room, its design both whimsical and intimidating at the same time. The throne faced a large ornate pair of doors at the other end of the room that were carved with beautiful depictions of a multitude of creatures, some real, some only existing in the Dreaming.
Morpheus turned and sat in his throne, resting his elbow on one of the arm rests and resting his head on his hand. A moment later, Lucien threw open the doors to the chamber and rushed in.
"My lord!" he exclaimed, quickly bowing as he caught his breath, "I see you have recovered you helm."
"It's good to see your eyes still work, Lucien," Morpheus chided, causing Lucien to wilt under Dreamlord's gaze, "Now, I have a task for you."
"My lord?" Lucien questioned.
"Gather those subjects who are still loyal to me," Morpheus instructed, "I have been gone for a long time and now I must retake my kingdom."
"Yes, my lord," Lucien replied before bowing and departing. Morpheus watched him leave before losing himself in thought.
A/N: Here's another part for my MWDC series, feels good to be getting back to this. Always been an admirer of Neil Gaiman's work and I hope I can do his character justice while adding some twists of my own. I also hope you guys like it! Please review! Later True Believers!