Forged in Flames
The dream. The same dream again.
He was in the Isilioleth Clan Hall – alone as always. No... He wasn’t alone. There was a shadow by the fireplace, Mali’ker, just like him. He could barely make it out, but it appeared to be the silhouette of Gillionel Isilioleth, his elder and wise still beyond his years. He blinked, painfully aware of the smoke clouds beginning to fill his eyes. When his eyes opened he was alone, no longer in the safety of his home, but surrounded by darkness and gazing into a steadily spreading fire that seemed not to illuminate the darkness at all. Suddenly it was as if the flames were calling to him, beckoning him into their grasp. Serevik took a step back, remembering the horrible fate that had befallen his kinsman – Varikas Isilioleth. Was this a sign he was to meet the same fate? A sign from the Spirits? If so he could not simply ignore it, so closed his eyes and went to step forward into the flames – a sensation of falling – and he woke up, sweating and breathing heavily, safe and sound in his bedroll.
Immediately after waking up he searched for his lari’onn, his older sister, Arveia. She was busying herself in their small kitchen, tidying it up and finishing turning it from what just a few weeks ago could only have been considered a cupboard into a marvelous kitchen space.
“About time you woke up. Now maybe you can lend me a hand in the kitchen?” Serevik blinked and gazed around, wondering how the room had transformed so much but still pondering the meaning of his dream.
“I feel as if I hadn’t slept...strange dreams.” Serevik explained his dream, that he’d had the same before, but without Gillionel in them, and that he was never able to enter the flames. “Perhaps you should meditate on your dreams, before sleeping. Perhaps the Spirits are trying to tell you something. Maybe Zaniil or Gillionel could help. They know more about these things,” she told him, wiser in years than him. They discussed the use of drugs as a way of expanding the mind, and he made the decision to try it... Once he’d spoken to someone with many more years of experience than either of them.
That night, the dream repeated itself, but this time there were two of his kinsmen at the fire before him, Gillionel and Zaniil both. They both looked at him and then returned their gaze to the fire. Again, he blinked and the world descended into darkness, just him and the flames. Once more as he approached the flames he woke up in a hot flush, no closer to the answers he sought. He tried gazing into a real fire, meditating in front of one, and even eyed up the hookah stands dotted around, wondering if his sister’s advice would yield results.
He wandered around town, searched through the library and even considered asking one of the clever looking High Elves or Wood Elves that gathered by the fountain – perhaps they had experience with interpreting dreams. He had heard they had a reputation for sleeping around – surely they’d encountered something like this. However he knew it was unwise to ask strangers for help with one’s troubles. No, he would need to seek out the clan elders. They would know what to do.
As luck would have it, on his way home and just outside their Clan Hall he finally saw the familiar face that was Zaniil Isilioleth. He was dealing with one of the neighbouring families so Serevik remained quiet and observed until Zaniil was free to chat. He explained the dreams he’d had, and his sister’s advice and Zaniil seemed to consider it for a moment, before agreeing with Arveia - ‘herbs’ to awaken the senses just before sleep was a tried and tested practised, passed down by their ancestors. He also left Serevik with what almost sounded like a prophecy. Take an item that has meaning to you and wear it at your neck as you sleep.
Serevik went back into the Clan Hall. His sister was nowhere to be seen, he was alone. Or was he? Perhaps the Spirits were with him here, now, watching him. Judging, perhaps. He took some of his sister’s cactus green and began to cautiously use the hookah to ‘free his mind’. He coughed and spluttered, and probably ingested more than anyone would have advised for his first time, but no-one was here to advise him. He made his way to another hookah that seemed to have a substance in it and tried that, just to be sure as he was not yet feeling any different. The second hookah contained Iblees’ touch, and even a small inhalation of that seemed to take more of an effect on him than the green.
He took his purple sash, a gift from his father, and untied it from his belt and wore it loosely around his neck and as the room began to spin and twist in front of him, he made his way to his room - if he was even taking the right way to his room - to think of his dream, to think of the Spirits, and to try to put meaning into what he was experiencing. He did not remember the feeling of his head hitting the pillow, however it must have, as once again he felt himself no longer in his room, his dreams beginning once again.
Once more he was in the Isilioleth Clan Hall – the silhouettes of who he believed to be Gillionel and Zaniil this time looked away from him, looking at a third figure. One he did not recognise, but who had the deep crimson eyes of the family. The new figure looked at Serevik, looked him up and down and smiled.
“It is time,” he said calmly, his lips barely moving, his voice familiar, yet not one he recognised. The stranger placed his hand firmly on Serevik’s shoulder, looked him square in the eye, then removed from Serevik the purple sash that he had hung around his neck. Serevik opened his mouth to protest but found himself unable to speak, unable to stop the figure from throwing the sash into the flames which begin to emanate a purple glow and uttered “Come with me, if you understand.” Before his eyes this time, everything disappeared but the purple flames, stronger and more fierce than they had ever been in his dreams, beckoning him with even more intensity yet repulsing him with even more heat.
Gulping, he took a step forward and then another until he was engulfed in the blaze. The fire burned away the darkness around him, burned his untamed ebony hair from it’s roots atop his head, but it did not burn Serevik himself. Instead he stood there, bathing in the dancing, writhing flames as the black void around him turned purple like the night’s sky. As he gazed up, he saw the towering figure of the same Mali’ker that had thrown his sash into the flames, holding a large hammer above his head, and then crashing the hammer down into the flames, driving it’s force through the fire and into Serevik. The almighty blow caused Serevik to jolt awake and smell the crisp, fresh sea air outside.
...Outside. What was he doing outside? He looked around, he was still in Velunor...but while he was sure he’d been in his room when he’d drifted off, he was far now from the Clan Hall. Behind him he heard the crackling of fire and a burning sensation along his scalp, he reached up instinctively to his head and ran a hand over it, expecting to feel his bun – nothing but a smooth surface. He turned and gazed up to see that he had woken up in front of, no... Practically inside of, the shrine to the Spirit Gentharuz. Is that who he’d seen in his dream? ..No, of course not. Gentharuz was much bigger, vaster than that which he’d encountered, nor was he an Elf. But still, there was a feeling inside Serevik he’d never felt before. Direction. Purpose. He ran home, his purple sash still safely around his neck, to tell his sister, Arveia, that he finally knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to be a master of the forge.