The Keeper of DreamsMature

Quinn wandered through the moor, as the air began to cool, and the day turned into night. Peat moss and small shrubs were all that grew there, but nothing grew there now. For the night was full of winter, and there was snow all on the ground.

Though he was dressed warmly in thick skins for the weather, Quinn couldn’t feel the icy winds whip and bite his skin, as he had lost all sensation of the cold many hours ago. And he was so weary, he no longer knew if he was awake or asleep, alive or dead.

Eventually, as Quinn trudged along, what was the sound of the wind rustling bushes, and blowing loose flakes of snow upon more compacted snow, was complete stillness. Total silence.

More time passed by, and moor was to become heath, as the terrain lowered ahead of Quinn. On the hill heading down, Quinn climbed over rocks, and tors, and it was on this hill, that he discovered a cave, unlike any other he encountered there. It whispered to him; it encouraged him to venture inside, and explore its dark corridors.

Perhaps, Quinn thought, if he went inside, his hands and face would thaw, and he might begin to feel again. It was indeed warm, and Quinn was relieved to know he was alive, and that he would live another day.

As Quinn delved further into the cave, he noticed there was a red light at the end, while all around him was darkness. Steadily the light became brighter, the cave grew warmer, and soon he detected a soothing and inviting aroma. He wasn’t sure how much time had elapsed, but he guess it was hours, when finally, he arrived inside a great cavern.

The light, Quinn found, was a roaring fire at the centre of the room, and he saw hanging above it was a large pot, possibly containing a stew, and as it boiled away, his nose detected flavours he could not place, and he suspected the meat was foreign to the country.

Behind the fire, at the opposite end of the room was a man of enormous proportions, sitting in an equally massive throne, but he could not see the man’s face, which was disfigured by the shadows. He noticed Quinn, as Quinn noticed him.

“Who are you?” asked Quinn.

In a deep booming voice, that echoed around the room, the tall man repeated Quinn’s query, “Who are YOU?”

As Quinn had intruded, he answered, “I am Quinn Macmillan. Pardon my intrusion, but I got lost on the moor…” and accounting for his throne, he added, “sir.”

“Most people die on the moor. Especially at night, and especially in winter.”

In the tall man’s presence, Quinn felt particularly nervous, but he had been travelling for some time, and as softly as he could, he asked the man, “I don’t mean to trouble you sir, but might I ask to share your meal tonight sir? I promise to leave right after.”

“Do you know what kind of stew this is?”

“No sir.”

The tall man looked at Quinn intently, and he said, “Do you know who I am?”

“No sir,” Quinn repeated, making the tall man laugh.

“I am Tigernach. The the keeper of dreams.”

“I understand sir. Once again, I’m sorry for intruding, but I’ll leave now.” Quinn turned around, but the door to the tunnel he had come through had changed into solid wall.

“You can’t leave, Quinn.” said Tigernach, and he began to stand, and reveal his shadowy figure. Quinn looked up at the man, who seemed more like a giant now. He had a long black cloak, and when he stepped forward, he saw clawed feet. Slowly, Quinn raised his chin, getting a good look at Tigernach, staring down at him. But this was no man, this was a creature. His nose was crooked, and he had long pointed horns like those of a goat. But most frightening were his blood red eyes looking down at him.

Tigernach flicked his forked tongue when he said, “You are exactly where you need to be.”

Quinn desperately wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else, even the moor, as long as he was far from the cave. He whimpered quietly as the keeper of dreams grinned at him with his serrated fangs.

“This is not a nightmare, Quinn. At least, not one that you will ever wake from. As Tigernach salivated, spittle fell to the cave floor, and sizzled in front of Quinn. The last words that Quinn ever heard before the giant reached down and grabbed him were: “You’ll make a nice stew.”

The End

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