August 23/24, 2277:
I’m beginning to think that my diet of questionable meat and cheap hooch is getting to me.
During the wee morning hours, I dreamt.
I didn’t dream about being naked at a public speaking event; nor about being chased or hunted. I didn’t see dead relatives; didn’t meet my dad to ask why he left me.
I dreamed the most vivid dream of my life. Another world – verdant, populated, and primitive.
I was… still me. Still the same unspectacular me. I ‘woke up’ on the sandy shore of an island.
I knew where I was; outside the walls of the capital city. I had no firearms, instead armed with a bow and short sword.
No nuclear wasteland; no mutants or giant roaches or psychotic cannibals.
I actually smelled the breeze. Watched a butterfly flitter past. I knew that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be – that somehow I was supposed to be in a desolate waste… but wasn’t bothered by the knowledge. Being where I was seemed perfectly normal and reasonable.
I found a gate and headed into the city, making for the market district to sell some items I remembered acquiring in a nearby sewer tunnel.
The city was teeming with inhabitants. Humans, mostly, with some of what I knew to be elves here and there.
While walking through the market, I found Ria and Maeva. They sat at an outdoor table, having a quiet meal.
Ria greeted me with a kiss, and informed me they had been awaiting me for some time.
After selling off what goods I had, and acquiring a few supplies, we left the city. Maeva had informed us that she had been told about a wrecked pirate vessel, some distance from the city in a secluded cavern in an oceanic inlet.
Not only, we reasoned, would it make a defensible lair, but would doubtless have at least some interesting swag left lying about. Rumor had it that the cave was haunted by the undead forms of the pirate crew, but this for some reason did not give us even momentary pause.
We traveled a road through forests and hills. Despite the relative civilization and the patrols on the road itself, bandits were fairly common.
Ria had armed herself with a bow and sword similar to my own setup. Maeva carried a massive two-handed sword that had had its blade silvered to make it more effective against supernatural beings.
No, I’m not sure why that would make a difference, either.
Any bandits that crossed our path were dealt with quickly and mercilessly. Maeva’s considerable form and equally considerable blade proved themselves capable of cutting a man in two from shoulder to hip with alarming ease – leather armor and all.
As it often seems to in dreams, time proved less than amazingly reliable. As I experienced it, events seemed to skip forward periodically; in all, we spent more than three days on the road to the coast.
We stopped briefly in another, smaller city midway between the capital and our destination.
The architecture, I remember thinking, was beautiful.
Noon of the fourth day of dream-time, we arrived at the sea.
From the overlook, we could see not only the nearby city’s harbor, but the entrance to the cave – though that entrance wasn’t visible from the angle of the city. These pirates had apparently been quite bold to try to hole up so close to the Legion’s presence.
Inside the cave, we found the crew; still roaming about in barely-animate skeleton form. This, again, didn’t bother us.
Then again, after dealing with Raiders, giant roaches, and a thirty-foot mutant ‘behemoth’, I’m not sure a few shambling skeletons with rusty swords would bother me much in the real world, either.
The things were slow and clumsy, and easily smashed.
Inside the wrecked captain’s quarters, we found the similarly undead form of the captain himself. Maeva’s claymore gave him a second death in spectacular fashion.
We rested a bit then; deciding what to do next. Eventually, Ria announced that she knew someone who could help us make the place a bit more livable. We met the woman on one of the ships moored in the nearby bay; bartering away the lion’s share of the money we had collected selling off bandits’ equipment and loot.
As well, there turned out to be more than a few people dissatisfied with living in ‘proper’ society; who were quite willing to crew our new hideout – turning it into a pirate’s outpost, of sorts. While our cut of the operations going on wouldn’t make us rich, it was projected to be a not insignificant – and relatively steady – supplementary income.
Our business concluded, we bought a case of good spirits, and retired to our lair to celebrate in ways that would likely have made the ancient Greeks proud.
Eventually, I passed out in the newly furnished Captain’s Quarters.
The next thing I knew, I was sitting bolt upright in my bed. Ria had her hands on my chest, and was yelling at me – apparently trying to get me to come back to my senses.
I panicked for a moment. Who was I? Where was I? Why couldn’t I see?
Slowly, it came back. I was in the wasteland that was once Washington D.C. I was no one. I couldn’t see because I don’t sleep with my glasses on; and the lights were off.
After a few seconds, my heart rate began to return to normal; down from its peak somewhere north of one-twenty.
Ria told me that I had been talking in my sleep; thrashing about from time to time. She had apparently been trying to wake me for some ten minutes, after my condition began to worsen.
She held me close to her bare chest, telling me that I had worried her badly; and that I should never do that again.
I do all I can to accommodate her every whim… so it was with regret that I had to respond that I can’t control my dreams.
I explained about my dream as best I could. Ria listened attentively, though she couldn’t see any import from the events; and suggested that some form of wasteland-peyote may have made it into something I ate the previous day.
I hoped that was all it was. The bedside clock declared the time to be just after six in the morning. After getting to bed late, it was hardly enough sleep – but I already knew I wouldn’t be sleeping any more anytime soon.
Eventually, seeing that I was alive and not insane (or at least, any more so than usual), Ria excused herself from bed.