posted April 5, 1998

Interlude: The Moon Song's Guardian Raven

[My thanks to my sister for allowing me to feature the DreamWalker yet again! =) And, again, the translation is more toward the real person than the character...]

Chapter One - The Raven's Return

Teague-Raviv strode casually down the lane of homes in the Court of Miracles. His dark blue-and-green tent was just a few abodes down from his more-than-just-a friend Shiriluna. Things were as they had appeared a few months ago; the princess had finally chosen a suitor (very few knew of the kidnapping, and those who did were convinced that it was all a mistaken nighttime stroll). Teague had even managed to make peace with Jehan, although the blond gypsy remained protective of his 'sister.'
He entered a small blue and purple tent, the home of his troubled beloved; since the kidnapping, she had not been sleeping well, with nightmares haunting her relentlessly. She dreamed mostly about the first time she had been kidnapped, when she had first come to the Court, and about the events that had just happened in the summer. Teague wondered how she would face the fast-approaching winter if she did not recover her strength.
He went over to the bed and gently placed a hand on her fevered brow. Dreaming again, he thought, frowning. He wanted to help her -- after all, it was partly his fault that she was in this condition. She was occassionally awake when he visited, and she insisted that she did not blame him. But he knew very well that he was guilty. Teague shook her gently to get her out of the nightmare. Shiriluna woke with a cry, and upon recognizing him threw her arms around him. He hugged her tightly in return while she gasped several sobs. "Hush, hush," he murmured.
"It was the same thing again," she coughed miserably. "And just like it happened twice before...Jehan dying because of me -- but in the dreams, he does die!"
Teague squeezed his eyes shut and whispered, "I'm sorry, Shiriluna, I'm sorry..." He hugged her all the more tighter. He had been the cause of Jehan's near-death during her second kidnapping from the Court, and he felt guilty and ashamed in light of the reluctant forgiveness.
After a few minutes she calmed down. Teague's heart ached, but at the same time he felt good -- for in the last few months he had shaken off completely the hard antipathy of his previous family and learned to care about others. Revenge wasn't something he lived by anymore; now he lived on compassion. No one received more of his than his first innocent victim, Shiriluna.
He noticed that she had gone slack, then listened to her soft rythmic breathing that said she was asleep again. He carefully lowered her down against the pillow, not wanting to wake her if her sleep was now peaceful. He sat back, sighing thoughtfully. There had to be some way to help her, at least to understand that the dreams were harmless...
Teague suddenly found himself feeling drowsy. He got up from his seat on the bed, lest someone happen to come into the tent and get the wrong idea, then looked for a better place to nod off. He ended up in a makeshift chair at the the small round table in the corner. He rested his head on his folded arms on top of the table, the last thing he remembered being Shiriluna sleeping undisturbed.

He tumbled out of the dark tunnel of sleep as a shrill scream pierced the peace. Then something feeling suspiciously like an elbow jabbed into his side. Reflexes slow, he finally bolted upright and turned to Shiriluna's bed. Clopin was beside it, looking down fretfully at his daughter. Shiriluna was slumped forward, sobbing into her hands. Teague leapt up, knocking over the chair in the process.
Shiriluna looked up tearfully as she sensed his presence. "He killed you in this dream...and then he killed you." She looked at Clopin. "A-And he made me watch--" She broke off into a sob. Clopin wrapped an arm around her, hugging her to him.
"He will not hurt you anymore. He cannot hurt you anymore," he assured, knowing that she was talking about Robuert, the man who had terrorized her since before she was even born.
"He won't leave me alone, Papa," she whimpered into his shoulder. "He won't...let me rest." Her shoulders shook as she wept.
"He cannot do anything -- he isn't real anymore, Shiri. Do not be afraid of him. It is merely a dream...Teague and I still live, you can see that, feel that...It is empty in dreams."
Teague could see that Clopin was trying very hard to be convincing. But he knew, as did Clopin, that dreams could be very powerful. He wanted to say something, but could only watch as Clopin held Shiriluna at arm's length and gently brushed away her tears with a black-gloved hand. "Now, child," Clopin soothed, "I wish for you to forget these nightmares. And you shouldn't disobey your papa's wishes, should you?" He gave her a mock-scolding leer.
This coaxed a meek smile from Shiriluna. Her eyes were still haunted, though. "I promise, Papa...As best I can..."

* * * * * *

Teague stared off into the distance instead of paying attention to his task. He was supposed to be helping secure a growing stack of empty barrels beside the hanging platform. But he was just standing there with a coil of rope in his hands, his thoughts across the court, on Shiriluna. He had grown more worried as she came up with more detailed descriptions of her dreams.
Then an angry voice startled him from his concerns. "Teague! Get over here with that rope!" The boy snapped to attention, darting to Clopin's side (or rather the side of the barrel Clopin was standing on) to hold up the rope.
"I am sorry," Teague mumbled, tying one end of the rope around a cross-section of previously created netting. "I just cannot stop worrying about Shiriluna."
Clopin wove the rest of the rope in and out of strands that had been staked vertically over the stacked barrels. "I share your thoughts, lad. These nightmare business...I'm afraid it's controlling her life." He was obviously not paying attention to his words, nor did he notice the guilty, self-loathing look that crossed Teague's face. "Watch this now," Clopin warned, motioning to a barrel on the second tier, directly beside him.
Teague moved to brace the unsteady keg. "I want to help her," he said softly. "But there isn't much I can do -- I don't know what to do..."
Clopin tied off the other end of the rope, then turned and sat down, folding his legs, his expression thoughtful. "There must be something..." Suddenly he perked up. "Of course! We need the DreamWalker."
"The who?" Teague asked, sparing a confused glance at him.
"The DreamWalker. She left Paris about a year before Shiriluna arrived. She walks through dreams." Clopin shot him a leery look. "Has a magic of her own, that one. Purest heart I have ever known."
"Do you know where she went?"
"Then how will we find her?" Teague asked incredulously, still perplexed.
"She will know to come," Clopin replied blithely. "If she is not distracted by some quest, she will come...She said she would return someday..."
Teague's brow creased at Clopin's wistful tone. Now he was curious about this DreamWalker person.

* * * * * *

Jehan leaned out from under the building's overhang, peering through the sheets of rain that drenched the city. A drop from the eve plunked on his head but he ignored it, then crossed his eyes to watch another drop make its way down a lock of hair hanging over his forehead. The next drop from the eve fell right on the back of his neck, causing him to convulse. He quickly withdrew to the slightly drier face of the wall. "This is ridiculous," he muttered.
"No, she will come," the figure leaning against the wall insisted. He at least was prepared for the weather, a heavy cloak keeping him from being soaked to the bones.
Jehan glared at him. "Since when have you become a prophet, Clopin?"
"Since never. But there are some things one just...knows."
"You obviously didn't know, nor take the hint, that I do not want to be out in this." Jehan gestured toward the torrent of water.
"My apologies, lad," Clopin replied frankly. "But you are the only other one who would recognize her. You certainly didn't want Melisande to be 'out in this'."
Jehan grumbled and turned back to the deluged alley. "You could have Phineas look for her..."
"Oh, hush!" Clopin cried, beyond irritated. He did not want to reveal that he was, though. He had had enough of waiting in the rain. But he still hoped that the DreamWalker knew to come. He sighed aloud. "Very well, then. Let us at least dry off a bit." He retreated to the back door of the shop, which led to a cellar wherein hid an entrance to the catacombs.
Why? You aren't wet, Jehan thought bitterly. True, he was worried about Shiriluna, and also convinced that Rayven could help her, but he did not entertain any thoughts that the mystic would magically appear. Jehan followed Clopin into the building, then went straight for the trapdoor leading to the tunnels below.
"Where do you think you're going?" Clopin demanded.
"Home," Jehan replied curtly, flicking the fingers of one hand toward him, releasing a spray of rainwater.
Clopin scowled. "But--"
"--Nothing, Clopin," the other interrupted. "If Rayven comes, you will undoubtedly meet up with her in the Court. If she doesn't...I have gotten soaking wet for nothing." He brushed a soggy clump of hair off his forehead, then descended the steps into the catacombs.
Clopin was about to protest more, but he ended up following anyway. After several minutes of walking, he mumbled, "I know she will come..." Jehan grumbled something unintelligible. Soggy footsteps was the only sound accompanying them afterward. Just beyond the Court, Clopin stopped short. Jehan noticed the lessened footsteps and whirled around. Clopin put a finger to his lips. Jehan understood and strained to hear what had caused Clopin to stop.
A faint, aimless humming reached his ears. It drifted in from the opposite direction of their post. Jehan cast a frowning grimace at Clopin. The other just shrugged. They watched the tunnel opening across the way as the humming grew louder. Then at last its source entered the main branch; a woman who matched both men's memory of Rayven DreamWalker.
"Greetings, le corbeau de reve," Clopin called out heartily.
The woman turned toward them. "Greetings, O gypsy king. What brings you out here, away from your duties?"
"Looking for you," Jehan answered before Clopin had a chance. He made a point of wringing out his shirt, and the water that had saturated into the cloth splashed loudly over his feet. He grumbled and shook out his shoes next.
"You know me too well, Clopin." The woman chuckled, her green eyes smiling warmly as she looked at the gypsy king.
"You always come when you are needed," Clopin said. "I am not so sure of the coincidence." He chuckled.
Jehan uttered a particularly loud oath under his breath, moving abruptly to storm toward the Court. Clopin stopped to watch him, bewildered at the sudden mood swing. Rayven came over to him, though she looked after Jehan. "Something is troubling him," she murmured. She glanced at Clopin sharply. "Besides the obvious."
Clopin nodded, though he was still confused. There hadn't seemed to be anything else to concern Jehan other than Shiriluna's dream illness and the mistrust for Teague. Besides the obvious, he berated himself. She will explain in time. He smiled and offered his arm. Rayven gave him a doubtful smile, but hooked her arm around his anyway.
Several greetings were called out as they entered the Court of Miracles, a few surprised to see Rayven again. Clopin rambled about a couple of minor things that had occurred since she had been there last, while he directed her toward his tent -- and the one next to it. "And the most important thing was the arrival of--" he began as he pushed aside the entrance to his neighbor's tent, nudging Rayven inside. "...My daughter." He grinned broadly.
The DreamWalker immediately exclaimed, "Child! You found the way!" at the same moment that the girl sitting up in bed cried, "Rayven!"
Clopin froze in shock, then jerked sharply. "You know each other??" he shrilled. Shiriluna nodded enthusiastically with a wide smile, while Rayven grinned sheepishly. Clopin stared at his daughter. "Why didn't you tell me?" Then he turned a harsh glare on the DreamWalker. "Why didn't you tell me?!"
The girl replied, "I didn't think of it," while the woman said, "I couldn't."
Clopin grimaced in a frown at Rayven. "You and your Fate..." He sighed a moan, sinking down on a chair.
"You know I could not," she defended herself. "It was not yet time for her when I met her. There was more to be done." She glanced knowingly at Shiriluna. The girl gazed back meekly.
Clopin slouched, putting his face in his hands. For a moment his shoulders appeared to shake. Rayven refrained from biting her lip. Without looking up, he whispered, "What else do you know?"
"Huh?" the DreamWalker feigned being dumbfounded.
He raised his head slightly, though mostly glaring out from under his brow, the shadows from his hands making his exposed face look eerie, and hateful. "What else do you know?"
Rayven stood her ground. "Nothing I can interfere with."
Clopin lowered his face to his hands again. Now his shoulders heaved once in a made-to-steady-himself sigh. Shiriluna shattered the tense silence by babbling about all that had happened to her since arriving in the Court. Clopin, meanwhile, sank into himself.
Shiriluna ended with the past evening's nightmares. Rayven paid avid attention. She nodded thoughtfully. "Tonight, I will see," she consented.
Clopin abruptly stood and near-staggered out of the tent. "Mama..." Shiriluna mouthed.
Rayven gazed after him. "The energies ride high lately." She sat down on the side of the bed.
The girl murmured, "He is very worried about me. But I know, also, that since seeing Robuert again, he cannot stop wondering about Mama." The DreamWalker nodded as if she already knew that fact.
Then Rayven turned to her. "And you, Aisling-Fiosachd, DreamReader, why have you not been able to find the source of your nightmares?"
Shiriluna chewed her bottom lip. "The fright of the kidnapping, and seeing Robuert again. I realized that, but they still come."
"There must be something else, then."
The girl pondered that, but another question continued to enter her mind and she could not ignore it, as much as she tried. "So," she repeated edgily, "what else do you know?"
Rayven sighed. "As I said, I cannot interfere." She cast a distressed glance at the disappointed girl. "He lives on hope, child, nothing more. He has you, but...there are ties that cannot be severed." She went silent. Shiriluna accepted the explanation. After a few moments, Rayven asked with sincere warmth, "What happened when we parted company, before you found this place?"
A thought that had been buried for the past five years suddenly surfaced. Shiriluna related her meeting with Illya. Puzzlement and concern crossed Rayven's face when the girl told of her past nightmare. She had no answer for the unspoken question.
The DreamWalker had a few stories as well, revealing the black beast and how she had come to the Court twice since meeting Shiriluna; the girl held no anger. Rayven was just telling of how she had come to leave the second time when Clopin returned, looking defeated. Teague followed. Rayven immediately stood upon seeing the younger, but then relaxed.
"Teague, this is Rayven DreamWalker," Shiriluna crooned. She smiled wryly.
"Greetings," Teague murmured, bowing awkwardly. Rayven glanced at Clopin, who was avoiding all eye contact by glaring at the floor, then at Shiriluna, who was gazing at Teague with admiration. Clopin cleared his throat hoarsely and in a blink he was out of the tent again. Rayven fought to keep her visage blank.
The DreamWalker moved to sit at the table, while Teague took her place on the side of the bed. She looked hard at the young man. "If anything truly alarming happens -- and you will know -- wake her."
Teague glanced at Shiriluna, who was now slumped against the pillow, sleepiness apparent on her face. The nightmares and the reunion of the day had taken its toll on her. Silence reigned while time passed, when Shiriluna finally fell asleep. The DreamWalker closed her eyes and concentrated. Teague, already seized with dread, sat silently tense...

Dark, dark, dark, a perpetual night. Shiriluna hid behind a tree, paralyzed by fear. Her gasping breath became faster every time a footstep crackled on the dry forest floor. But then she felt a shove from behind, and she didn't have time to cry out as she tumbled forward. Everything blurred while she tried to sit up -- then she wasn't sure which way was up. Someone grabbed her shoulders and hauled her to her feet. She couldn't get the face to focus. He growled something, shook her violently, and with no answer forthcoming, he threw her to the ground again. She whimpered and curled up into a ball against any more attacks. But the sense of another presence faded. Next she felt the pressure of absolute silence, as if there were no other living beings left in the world.
Something else seized her then, engulfing her entire body, a blackness that allowed no light and only radiated terror. It held her motionless, inciting pure panic as she attempted to physically get away. In her mind, she fled...

There was a gut-wrenching scream. Shiriluna was shocked awake. That wasn't her screaming... She saw Teague shaking Rayven. With a gasp the DreamWalker opened her eyes. Shiriluna's face creased in concern and regret. "Wha--? What is it?" the girl asked meekly.
Rayven put her hand to her mouth, pressing her knuckles against her lips. She shook her head, physically not able to answer. Teague looked at her uneasily. "Are you all right, Madame?"
As if she had not heard him, Rayven leapt to the bedside and wrapped Shiriluna in a despairing hug. "Oh, child! Child!" A tear fell from her eye onto the girl's head. Shiriluna was startled, and was afraid only because she feared she knew what was wrong...
The tent flaps fell open as someone fell in. "Dear gods, what is it this time?" Clopin cried as he regained his balance. He stopped in mid-stumbling pose to stare at the scene before him. "Rayven," he asked in trembling voice, standing straight. "What have you found..?"
Shiriluna blurted, "I am sorry, Rayven!"
The DreamWalker drew back, wiping at her eyes. " regrets," she said weakly. "No, you must face it."
Clopin looked apprehensive. "Face what?" he asked breathlessly.
"She must discover that," Rayven replied softly.
Clopin's face contorted in anger. "What good are you?! I needed your help to find what is wrong, and you tell what is obvious?! What good are you?!" He whirled and stormed out of the tent.
Shiriluna began to cry. Teague's jaw dropped to the ground. The DreamWalker was the only one not to react -- she merely slouched, her expression blank. The girl sobbed out, "I'm so sorry, Rayven! It is my fault he did that!"
"No," the woman said quietly, and emotionlessly. "I know what is wrong with him. And I am surprised you are not angry, as well."
Shiriluna calmed herself and looked up at Rayven. "No you aren't," she said matter-of-factly.
The DreamWalker had to give in to a faint smile. "Very well...Because you feel what you think is right is true..." Shiriluna cocked her head. "...And you must face other possibilities..." The girl's eyes widened, hope welling within them. "...But I give no false promises." Shiriluna's face fell. Rayven merely sighed.

* * * * * *

Later Rayven went to find Clopin, although she pretended to not be searching for anyone. She wondered if she wanted to speak with him. He had never talked to her like that before. He would never dare to talk to her in that manner. Though, again, she understood why he was so furious.
She drifted thoughtfully down a lane of tents, and sensed her search was at an end. She slowed as she neared a shadowed alcove, waiting for him to make the first move.
"Clopin will not apologize," the figure in the shadows growled. His arms were crossed, his stance stern.
"I do not expect you to," Rayven sighed, limping toward him. "But listen to--"
"Clopin expects no explanation," he interrupted coldly.
"I will tell you anyway!" she snapped.
He hissed, "You won't tell me other things!"
Any of her perpetual patience remaining fled, and she cried, "I would tell you if I knew!" Her gaze on him was hard. "And I have tried. There is something blocking...Clopin, I do not want to see you suffer like this -- a man such as you does not deserve it. But there is nothing I can do."
He stared for a moment, startled mostly by the amount of passion in her words. Then he sank within himself visibly, the fury draining from his expression. He mumbled shamefully, "Clopin...offers an apology..." His gaze was on the ground.
"Accepted," Rayven replied emotionlessly. She turned and drifted away.
Clopin did not watch her leave. He continued to gaze at the ground, trembling. Soon he realized that he was staring at his hands, his gloves...Before he noticed what he was doing, he took off his left glove. He stared at the back of his hand, the faded scars, then pulled off the other glove. He tucked them both under the side of his belt. He left the alcove with a determined air, yet defeated expression, while whimpering, "Alas, Samira..."

Coming Next: Interlude: The Moon Song's Guardian Raven, Chapter Two: The Mystic and The Oracle

To The Archives {where the stories are in order to make sense ;) }

(c) 1998-2004 Autumn Loweck. This work may not be copied, distributed, or reprinted without the author's permission. All characters not owned by Disney are property of Autumn Loweck (aka Shiri) and may not be "borrowed" or mentioned in other works without notifying the author first