It was a welcomed escape from the light that struck her and the tilt of the wagon that churned her body. Now, she knew herself to be somehow elsewhere.
The landscape was familiar. The empty water and the uninhabited forest met at a stony shoreline. She was above and within it all, and knew herself as more than anything bound to physical limbs and nerves.
She relaxed, stretching deep into the roots and high into the clouds. Never straying from her peninsula of land, she also made sure to keep away from the nothingness that frightened her.
It was immobile, and posed no threat.
Modesty found herself to be tranquil. And in that serenity, like a sleeping child, she rolled over. No, not in any physical way, but in a way that pressed against that edge.
Her awareness rubbed against the edge. It rippled with plasmatic tension, and then gave way like broken hymen. However, it bled outwards and not inwards. Giving itself away, it opened up to a more tangible nothingness.
To Modesty, it felt as if a door had opened. And at this point, she found herself to be alone no longer. Behind her, down the peninsula, came a second awareness.
Where she bore an aura of soft and gentle green, she saw that he was a wisp of dark red. It was a colour she'd seen before. His existence was like a scarf circling in the ethereal wind. And so, she knew him as she'd seen that scarf before.
She felt drawn to him.
"Do not be so bold, my dear lady," he communed.
Backing away, she pushed further against the nothingness until it gave way to bare canvas of earth. Taking shape beneath her feet, it extended from the forest's edge in nervous crags of wasteland, rising in a hill like a shelter from him.
"Please, do not stretch what does not need yet be stretched. Plenty is bare as is. And your forest, it lacks life and spirit."
Confused, she pushed questions back at him, "My forest? Oh, of course. This is a dream. All a figment of my imagination, to be sparsely remembered. Everything I see and do is mine, including you."
The red wisp smiled, returning, "Oh, I wish I was yours. Like that moment years past, my harp and your neck."
"This is no manner of dream as you know it, Modesty."
"Proof it," she communed, "if you can."
"I'll let you do the proving. Try and wake up. Like a nightmare, where a beast has chased you into a blocked off alley. Will yourself not to me, but to wake up."
Her awareness winced and trembled with effort, managing only to parch the earth around her. Again, she tried, and he watched on as a hemlock withered.
"You have much to learn," he said.
"Uhmm... well, you see, we have no blocked alleyways in Wahleiss."
"Don't give me your excuses. You have dead-end horse stalls at least."
She recoiled in frustration, blowing wind through the trees.
"I have been obliged to teach you our craft," the bard said, as he whirled into the form of himself. He spoke looking up at the trees. "Partly because I passed it to you, and partly because of forces that seek to control you."
A voice came back to him from the trees, a dull and monotone statement, "I have been kidnapped by a troupe of entertainers."
"What? By the Goddess, so soon? I- I must... I must go."
And in an instant, the Bard of Silver Lips vanished, leaving a shiny set of lips to fade away against the dirt.
Modesty willed herself to take form, and felt the contortions of awareness and energy take shape. She descended upon the forest's edge as a very large gray rabbit, and hopped forward into the emerging wasteland.
Unable to wake herself, despite further attempts and having seen the nameless harpist leave, she decided to make herself at home. First, she drove away the nothingness that fringed her piece of nowhere. Then, she let the sea meet its edge with a sandy beach line. But here and there, emerged the gray rocks from the forest.
Turning around, she realized that the wasteland met the forest's edge in a strikingly unrealistic manner. It was straight-edged like a knife. So, she concentrated on adding a seemingly random edge of more trees, which descended into meadows and the occasional glade of remaining woods. And finally in the distance, stretched her cold hard wasteland of resentment.
And all of it was devoid of life, other than the vegetation her mind had conjured. Carefully, she focused, and a fish dropped onto the shore. It was long, blue, shiny and sharp. It wiggled about in the air. Quickly, she manipulated it such that it leaped gracefully into the water.
Then, came more. Fish fell into the water. Snakes slithered across the barren plains. Tiny rabbits dug burrows in the pine forest. A bear emerged, looking for a mate.
Modesty realized that, now, she had disobeyed her supposed instructor. Now, there was new land which she had shorn from the nothing. She couldn't help but wonder what that might cause. And wonder as she might, she realized how truly alone she was.
But try as she might, Modesty could not bring about anything more sentient than a dolphin. And as the hours passed by, she soon woke to a nauseating smell.