Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Graveyard of Dreams

Still going over editing one of my fantasy novels, Malarkey and Belinda.  I've always rather liked this rather depression-fueled passage.  In it, Malarkey the gryphon is given a vision by a mystic character, Merevus, who embodies "the memories of the world."  This scene is all about where most people's aspirations and ambitions wind up: 


Malarkey found himself outside, somewhere.  He bounded through the mist.  His wings felt heavy, their feathers dampened with dew.  He could not take flight.  This was so unlike the other visions Merevus had given him.  Those had been memories of the past, visions of bright sunlight, endless forests, gryphons soaring above deep canyons, the strange, early human explorers and colonists and their great metal birds with “Aers Crossworlds” etched on their sides. 

            In this place, the sky was not bright.  A deep purple brooded over the land.  The world was misty and the landscape was lined with twisted trees.  Markers of wood and stone were everywhere, the memorial markers of a cemetery. 

            Malarkey approached a great tree.  It appeared to be an ancient oak, twisted by decades of growing in the wind, its trunk thick and lumpy.  The gryphon stretched forth his right fore-claw and touched it.  The tree crumbled into gray ash, leaving behind a peculiar skeleton.  Beneath the now fallen ashen bark of the oak was a skeleton like that of an animal.  Bones like stripped bird-wings arched up into the sky as branches.  What remained of the tree’s trunk was a tangle of vertebrae and rib-bones, all colored a dingy gray-white. 

            Malarkey screeched and ran from it.  He’d never seen something quite so terrifying or utterly disturbing in his young life. That tree was so utterly unnatural.  The gryphon sped past gravestones as fast as his feet could carry him.  He wished he could fly.  His shoulders ached intensely whenever he tried to raise his heavy wings. 

            “Where am I?” he asked desperately.  He called into the air.  Everything around him was cold.  The ground was icy and so was the air.  Malarkey did not feel the cold in its full strength.  He was numb to the frigidity, but he knew, somehow, that this place was cold. 

            He caught a glimpse of the lettering on a gravestone.  It read: “A Great Singer of Songs.”  Another stone he ran past read: “Writer.”  Still another read: “Life in the Mountains.”

            “What is this?” Malarkey asked the wind.  “What sort of vision have I landed in? Where am I?”

            The voice of Merevus drifted over him.  “This is the Graveyard of Dreams.” 

            “What?” Malarkey replied. 

            The voice of the Keeper of Memories echoed off the gravestones and the strangely menacing trees, deep and strong.  “Many are the dreams of men and beasts,” it answered.  “Most dreams do not live for long.  Most dreams do not survive.”

            Malarkey slowed down.  He paced about the cemetery.  He was no longer afraid.  Instead, he was filled with an incredible sadness.  He looked over the gravestones and the carvings on the wooden markers.  The inscriptions were many names and they told many stories.

            “So many dreams,” Malarkey sighed, hanging his head.  Most of the dreams in the graveyard were human dreams, but it was clear from the inscriptions that some of them had been the dreams of beasts. 

            “Why are you showing me this, Merevus?”  Malarkey asked.  “This is terrible, seeing all these broken dreams.”

            The voice of Merevus sailed upon the wind again.  “They are not broken, merely unfulfilled.”

            “Still!” Malarkey protested, shouting into the wind that had grown progressively frigid, “Seeing all these dead dreams is terrible!”  I don’t understand your purpose in showing me this!” 

            The reply came slowly.  “Most dreams remain unfulfilled, especially the great ones,” the voice of Merevus intoned.  “You will see many dreams here.  Some are as large as changing the world.  Some are small, mere childhood fancies.  Much like humans and animals, they die for many reasons.  Some dreams die naturally.  They are dreams that remain unfulfilled, but, because a person changes, their desires and hopes change, thus their old dreams are not needed anymore.  Dreams that die naturally are replaced with other dreams.” 

            Merevus’ deep voice continued.  “Then, of course, there are dreams that are killed by the circumstances of the world or by interfering people.  The loss of these dreams can be as painful for their bearer as the loss of a friend by murder.  Then, of course, there are the dreams that are held onto for a long time before they die, dreams that die slow, lingering deaths.  Those that have such dreams, though determined to see them fulfilled, suffer as they watch their dreams fade or stay just beyond reach.  It is little wonder why some people choose to shatter their own dreams through self-destruction, rather than watch those dreams killed slowly by the world.  Still, Malarkey, look around you.”

            “I am looking around me.  Have you given me this vision to tell me to give up on my dreams?  Will I find my dreams in this graveyard?”

            “On the contrary, gryphon,” Merevus said.  “Although most dreams eventually die, they are still valuable and something to be treasured.  Even dreams that remain unfulfilled serve us as we have them.  Even people who never see their dreams come to light have hope while they have and hold onto them.  Dreams are what keep people going, striving, trying.  Sometimes, simply to try is enough, simply to hope.  Even dreams that die serve their bearer while they are alive.  They keep their bearer hoping, trying and alive.  It is not always a tragedy when dreams die, because those dreams gave the person who conceived them hope when they needed it.” 


Part of Chapter 14 in a book of 20 chapters.

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