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Forest by Marcus Ganahl

The Emerald Dream


“Like two great wings, or a sea shell split open, still attached at the hinge.

The horizon is met where the two ovals of the world meet,

And from there, colors radiate outwards in hazy circles that meet and bleed into each other.

Salmon, purple, yellow;

Like the flesh of a sea creature,
like the sunset,
like the feather of a tropical bird.


From there, you feel washed over by wave after wave,

All sounds disappear,
And crash into them,
Washed away, pulverized into sand,

Until there you are.

Lying on a beach.

The tide ebbs away from you, like the covers pulled off your morning bed by the moon.


You stand up, and your lungs are filled with the new life of air,

And all the colors of before seem replaced with green,

As your view fills with forest.


This is the Strand with which you may enter, and leave, the Emerald Dream.

There are other ways too, of course, but you will often be placed there - right back where you started.”


“Where is another way, brother?” interjected Faengol.


“O, well, there’s always the Dragon’s Gate.

But it’s guarded, you know.
By a dragon.”

Faerun lit his long wooden pipe made from the branch of a twisting vine, perhaps.


“Anyway, it’s quite easy, to go through the Strand.

But this time, I was hardly shaking off the water of the sea when VOOM--

He was off.”

Faerul let out an approving grunt.

“Our eldest had already shape-shifted into a bear and bolted for the nearest brush.”


“Sensed danger, I did” elaborated Faerul.


“Yes, well, danger there was, but not the immediate kind.

When one is in animal form one can always sense danger, it is just a question of how far away.


At any rate, I did my best to follow, and became a bear myself. Their sense of smell really knocks the kidneys out of anything an elf can sense.

Really takes some getting used to.

But I could smell my brother, that’s for sure,

A powerful scent this one’s got… and a bear knows kin from foe.”


Faerul breathed heavily.


“But an equally powerful nose he’s got, too!

And so we followed it.

And of course the first thing we come across is a deer--”


“Well maybe I was hungry”


“But the whole clearing stood utterly still. And we knew it wasn’t really a deer.

And so we approached slowly, but making little effort to hide ourselves.

And it was an elf, like you or me, but transformed. So he transformed the upper half of his body into a man and spoke to us--”

“But it was more like music.”

“Yes, like tinkling cymbals, long harp strings being drawn and…felt, rather than plucked. Beautiful dronings, and deep, quiet drums.

In his music, we felt the hearts of men. Yearnings…shadows…

We knew it was an omen.

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