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In my efforts to blog a little more than I have been doing, I’d like to commit to posting something about The Redemption of Erâth each week, even if it’s only a brief update on how things are going. As some of you know I’m currently working my way through editing The Redemption of Erâth: Exile in response to my editor’s comments and changes. One of the things she mentioned was that, in comparison to Consolation, the main character, Brandyé, has notably few dreams/visions in this book. She pointed out that he either needs to have a couple more dreams (meaningful ones, that is to say), or an explanation as for why he’s suddenly deprived of them.
I found a perfect place to insert another dream sequence—it’s another foreshadowing of something that is yet to come, this time not for several books—and I’d like to share it with you all today.
In his fever the hope of light was mixed with the despair of utter Darkness, and more than once he felt himself drawn far away, the world around him becoming distant and mute. His waking vision narrowed and dimmed while his sleep became restless, and before long he began to see things in his mind that could not be: fierundé surrounded him, towering high like the demons they were, and no Illuèn came to rescue him. Instead, Shaera floated through his vision once again, and in the distance he could hear Sonora calling to him, her words lost to time. Standing tall in the distance was a figure of grotesque Darkness, the demon lord’s blade grasped tight in its left hand, and despite the shadows there was something dreadfully familiar about its face—an evil he knew only too well.
In the depths of this Darkness he turned inward, and as his mind threatened to collapse he found himself suddenly in a desolate, empty and hauntingly familiar place. He was in a small, rough boat, floating once more on the dread black sea that he thought he had abandoned years before, and there was no land in sight. The sky was utterly black, yet a faint crimson glow pervaded and gave such an awful light to the scene that he felt a sickness that was nothing to do with his fever.
It was a dream, he now knew—Ermèn’s words echoed through his mind—but the reassurance that he might return from this place did little to assuage the dread he felt at being here. Like all the dreams of his youth it was a place he did not care for in the slightest, and like the dream of the fierundé in the forest he was terrified of it one day coming true.
As the boat bobbed gently in the swell he took note of his surroundings, and saw there was a person in the boat with him, back turned and hood high over his head. A chill passed through him at the figure’s motionless posture, and he leaned over to tap the person on the shoulder. The figure did not respond, and he moved closer, careful not to upset the small boat. He pulled upon the figure’s shoulder, turning him so that his face was visible, and there, silent dead eyes staring into the distance, was Elven. Brandyé called his name aloud, but his friend made no sign that he had heard him; no sign, in fact, that he was even among the living. He shook his shoulder, and Elven’s lifeless body rocked at the motion.
Panic began to overtake Brandyé at the thought that Elven might be dead, but the knowledge that this was—must be—a dream gave him some strength. He sat back once more in the boat, and considered his position. He cast his mind back to the dreams of his youth: the lost city, the fierundé, and even the dread tower surrounded by rivers of fire, and it came to him that each time, there was something for him to see, a culmination to the vision.
He waited, but nothing came. For what seemed like hours he sat in the boat, floating with the waves, and there was no sound, no sight, nor even any smell that might tell him of his fate. Only after an age did it occur to him that he might be meant to leave these surroundings, and indeed at the thought he noticed the pair of oars in the bottom of the boat.
They were little more than planks of wood, in fact, but served their purpose: he picked on up, and began to pull at the water. Slowly the boat began to move through the dead sea, first this way and then that as he alternated sides in his paddling. He tried not to look upon Elven’s lifeless form as the boat bobbed up and down, and focused his attention on his efforts.
Soon he began to feel a breeze on his face, and knew that they were moving at a fair pace. For a moment he paused, breathless and sweating, and it was then that he heard, faint over the lapping of the waves, the sound of many men working hard at something. Cries, shouts, clangs, scraping and grinding drifted to his ears, and as he lifted his eyes he froze cold.
Far in the distance, only just visible in the awful gloom, rose a great pinnacle of stone out of the black water, a vast edifice that towered hundreds of feet above his head and disappeared into the haze. At its summit many fires burned bright, and it was from here that the sounds emanated. As he drew closer he saw that there were hundreds of men and beasts alike moving to and fro along the top of this spire of rock, and it seemed they were to a one busied in the construction of a great wooden projection that stood out far over the water, hanging in the air like the broken end of a bridge.
Brandyé was at a loss to understand what these creatures and men were doing, though there was something dreadfully familiar about it all. Inexplicably his mind went out to Shaera, and he wondered at her absence: she had been in so many of his dreams that he realized he had almost been expecting to find her here, also. He thought perhaps she would have had something to say to him about this, though of course he would not have understood her ancient words.
For a moment these thoughts occupied him, and he failed to notice the change in tone of the men and beasts far above him: slowly their hammering and sawing ceased, and it was only when silence descended that he looked up again to find hundreds of pairs of eyes staring back down at him.
There was a soft splash in the water beside him, and Brandyé glanced down at the water, thinking perhaps it was some kind of fish. He saw only ripples in the water, but then came a second splash, followed by a thud, and a stone tumbled to the bottom of the boat. Looking up in sudden fear he realized that he was being bombarded from above, stones cast upon him from an unthinkable height.
Crying out he held the wooden paddle over his head as yet more stones descended upon him, and then there was a flash of flame and he saw that they were now sending burning arrows upon him as well. In an instant the boat was alight, and as the heat threatened to sear him his thoughts went to Elven, who had not moved or reacted throughout all of this. Torn between a blazing boat and a poison sea, Brandyé gathered his courage, grasped Elven’s lifeless form and hauled mightily, sending them both tumbling into the water.
The dread water closed swiftly above his head, and it was now that Brandyé realized the true nature of the black ocean, for it was unlike any water that he knew. Though the boat’s dead wood had remained afloat upon it, the sea had an affinity for living flesh, and in spite of his thrashing would not allow him to return to the surface. Deeper down he was dragged, and he lost his hold on Elven’s cloak. Darkness crept over his vision, and as his breath failed him he breathed in the sick water, felt it enter his lungs, and felt its poison inside of him. Desperately he tried to swim, but his limbs grew heavy, and laden with an unstoppable Darkness, he sank to the ocean’s stony depths and was no more.
What do you all think?