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Old 10-21-2006, 08:54 PM   #238
Shade of Carn Dm
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Azhar's face blanched as she heard what Rg was asking her. For a long time she hesitated, unsure if she could bring herself to describe what most of her dreams were like. She wondered why Rg would ask her to do such a difficult thing. Perhaps he did not understand what it was like to be a slave. That burden was all too familiar to Azhar; it still shaped her life even though she had left behind the old estate. Every evening with the return of sleep, Nurn would slip back inside her mind. There was sorrow and the doom of reliving the horrors of the past, all set within an eerie shadowland that magnified and sharpened her memories in a hundred different ways.

Some people said this was because of the Dark Lord: that his hand hung so heavy over the land that not even the dream world was safe from his brooding presence. Azhar did not believe that. If it was only the Dark Lord who haunted her nights, the ugly dreams would have disappeared after his defeat. But the dreams had not stopped. She and the other slaves continued to spend tortured nights tossing from one side to the other as they recalled images and scenes long since banished from their daytime mind.

Azhar stared off in the distance and then spoke, "Dreams? All of us on the plantation dream. Only they are hateful nightmares no person would want to remember. Sometimes I dream about the orcs, how they stood over me with whips and barbs. I see images of death and dying, small babies ripped from a mother's arms for the sport of the Easterlings. And sometimes my mind reminds me how hungry I was, how I would have given anything, truly anything, for a decent piece of bread or a chunk of meat."

"But the worst dreams, the ones I truly dread, are when I remember my mother. Her name was Ursula. Yes, it was an odd name for a lady from Harad," the girl nodded, responding to Rg's unasked question. "In daytime, I still can not see her. Only at night does she return. I was four years old, maybe five. My mother and I had been travelling north for months. She said there would be people to help us if we could only find our way back home. We finally came to the mountain and the woods." Azhar looked up in surprise, startled to recall that the place her mother called home was full of great trees, so utterly unlike the present landscape with its gnarled bushes and thorny brambles.

"My mother promised me it would be our last night on the road. She thought we would find our kin before darkness set in, but the rain delayed us. I was so little and tired. The sun set and I could not go any further. We lay down to sleep. The orcs came without warning. They were slavers with chains and brands out searching for fresh bodies, not to kill but to drag us away. There was no chance of escape."

"Then something happened I still don't understand. mother looked at them, so calm, so deliberate. She was deciding something, weighing two choices. I don't know, but it was as if she knew that she could get away but I could not. Don't ask me how I knew this or what my mother could have possibly done against so many orcs. Still, that is the truth. She took out a small dagger from her belt, whispered how she loved me, and then lunged in my direction. Before she could strike, the monsters took out their swords and sprang on her. Then they dragged me off. I am afraid that is the only dream I have had that's worth remembering. Yet I have never understood whether this is a true remembering and, if so, why my mother did that." Deep pools of sorrow and confusion showed in Azhar's eyes.

"You can think of no other dream?" Rg's voice was infinitely patient and full of gentleness.

"Perhaps....perhaps one. In the pit I dreamed twice of a great bear who came to help me. Either the bear came to help me, or I was the bear. I am not sure which. Only now, looking back, I think that bear was my mother....."

Last edited by Tevildo; 10-25-2006 at 07:56 AM.
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