Dreams are strange things. Sometimes, they feel like the brain tidying things up; picking up all the images and sensations from the day and putting them away in their proper place. This was not one of those dreams. In fact, I could not imagine where this one came from, but at least it did not come from Gwythyr. Or, if it did, he has taken obscurity to new levels.
I was in a carriage, travelling on a package tour with Helene and, of all people, a lady called Ophelia that I had known in London. She was a musician among other things, if I recall correctly. The carriage deposited outside a very cold and gloomy stone gatehouse of some sort, where we could barely see each other, let alone the mysterious figure who greeted us. He was enveloped in a long dark cloak, and possibly a top hat, it was hard to tell in the gloom. His face was in shadow and he spoke with a somewhat ominous voice, saying he would be our guide upon the journey, which would be somewhat perilous and not suited for carriages. We were not overly pleased with this, since Helene and I were seemingly a couple who thought we were heading for a Highland holiday with nothing more strenuous than walking, golf and maybe a bit of grouse shooting in mind. Ophelia, apparently, was headed to some place called Pensive, or, at least, she remarked that this was not Pensive station.
The villagers, our guide told us, were superstitious and fearful folk, and may not be welcoming to strangers. Before we could continue, we should arm ourselves and practice a little with our weapons. He gave us swords and flaming torches and coached us in attacking various wooden crates as practice targets. This was necessary, he said, for we had to pass perilous places before we could reach the safety of Castle Dracula and the hospitality of the Count. There were wolves, and spiders, and werewolves and other things I did not know of – vardolak and vlkoslak, whatever they might be, but it is possible they were local words for werewolves, wherever local might have been.
We set off through dark, damp and tangled woodland, fighting our way through spider webs, and then, spiders of such as size as I had never seen before, save the one known as Bertha that supposedly lurked somewhere in that part of London known as the Vamporium. We slashed and hacked and burned, and somehow got through these perils. We moved further into the woods, and then encountered wolves. I have always been quite fond of wolves, but these were not noble creatures of the forest. These were vicious and cunning and attacked without warning, so we were forced to defend ourselves until they all lay dead and bleeding. By now, our blood was up, and we were not best pleased with the hospitality of our guide, who took no part in our battles on our side. I suppose, at least, he did not join the battle on the side of our attackers.
Beyond this point, he told us, there were those that changed shape by moonlight, creatures once men, but now crazed wolf-men and women. Our swords, he said, would be less use than the rifles he now gave us, loaded with silver bullets. The rifles were fine-looking weapons, but a bit more weapon than the shotgun I had expected to be using on the grouse. He showed us a corpse, of a creature that was half-man, half-wolf. This had been one of the villagers, and these creatures could never rest until the werewolf that made them was found and slain. Before we could even draw breath and organise ourselves, the creatures were upon us, attacking mindlessly, viciously, with no apparent pause for their own injuries. The air became a maelstrom of howls and snarls, punctuated with the shots from the rifles and the screams of the dying. Each way we turned, there were more of them, leaping like no normal creature should; and even when knocked back by the bullets, leaping up again and attacking until their wounds took them. How we survived the attacks, I do not know, nor how we managed to kill so many of them without hitting each other. Once we were done, we had but a short respite before the werewolf itself appeared, almost gleaming in the glints of moonlight that penetrated the trees. This creature, huge and fearsome, was clearly no natural creature, fighting with all the vigour of a wild animal and the cunning of a man. We fired and fired and fired, dodging blows from gigantic claws and foul, dripping fangs, but we did not prevail until we were barely able to stand ourselves.
Our guide seemed well pleased with us, even if, again, he had taken no part in the battle. We climbed upwards, further into the mountains where, he told us, we might learn the fate of the Aldrey family, whose mansion lay ahead. The Aldreys, Thomas and Ophelia (not, I hasten to add, the Ophelia we were travelling with, unless something very weird was going on), had come here with their family from England, to study the archaeology and antiquities of the region, which said was Transylvania. The mansion itself was cold and deserted, although there did seem to be evidence of ghosts of some sort. The only living being was in the attic, another huge spider, which the guide described as being the Aldrey’s son’s pet that had gotten out of hand. Yeah right! He told us we could plunder the body for treasures, but somehow, nobody seemed particularly inclined to do so. He then led us back outside and directed us to a path leading to a somewhat Gothic-looking castle atop the hill. He told us he would have to leave us there, but that the Count would meet us at the castle.
Lacking any other sensible choice, although it was tempting to go back to the mansion and take shelter there for a while, we ascended the hill. At the top, a drawbridge led us to the main entrance, and inside, a shadowy, yet magnificent entrance hall. A tall, aristocratic-looking gentleman, if a little pale of face, presumably the Count, greeted us there. He bade us welcome, saying that the servants were abed, but he would attend to us himself. For some reason, I felt the need to apologise for entering with weapons drawn, explaining that it had been a perilous journey. He did not seem to mind, agreeing that such things were necessary in these dark times. He guided us up the stairs to an ornate and elegant dining room, where he bade us take our ease at the table and help ourselves to food. I think we spoke for a while about the castle, but the rest of the dream became vague and I could not recall much more when I awoke.
A very strange dream it was. I can understand Helene being there, as we had been together shortly beforehand, but I have not seen Ophelia since I left London. I vaguely recall Gwyn mentioning Dracula as a vampire in fiction, written after my time, but as to the rest of it, I have no clue. I will admit, sometimes to a certain amount of wanderlust on those days, much like some days in Jasper Cove, when there are few people about, but I had not imagined I would ever take a tour to a place like Transylvania, much less battling with wolves and spiders and such. Oddly though, that excitement remained with me when I awoke. Perhaps there is an inner fighter, an inner warrior within me that does seek such adventure. But who knows when I might return to my own world, such as it was, and who knows what time I might find it in that world, if and when I ever escape this faerie realm Perhaps, some time, I will find that adventure in my dreams another night, returning once more to this strange Castle Dracula.
(This was going to be a role-play session with Helene and Ophelia, but then we were offered the chance to explore another sim, owned by a friend of Ophelia’s Many, many thanks are due to him for his hospitality and the magnificence of his sim. In the absence of RP, I offer the experience as if it were one of Nate’s dreams)