Arvid has barely fallen asleep when he wakes up again. Something is strange. He looks around. He is in a room made of stone. Yes. He is in the large house in Omareim, the village of the golden people. Gwalawala. Where he went to sleep last night. No! He sits up. The fluffy pillows roll off him as he clambers out of bed. There is no sorcerer in sight. All the previous times, he has been summoned by the young Stone Sorceress, Avdyra. Wonder if she is a succubus? She certainly doesn't act like a succubus.

He went to bed last night, and dreamed that he was in the real world. The realization hits him like a fist in the face, and he reels. He touches the stone, and feels its cold hardness under his fingers. It feels so real - as if he is awake now, and his real life was just a dream. But he knows it is the other way around. He knows this is a dream. Yet ... here he wakes up. Can he be sure that this last day in the real world was a real day? Or is it still Friday night, and all of Saturday was a dream within a dream?

That way lies madness. He almost runs from the room, and goes looking for the others. Even the company of fantasy characters is better than being alone in this waking dream, on the edge of reality. Or perhaps over the edge. He does not feel like thinking more about it now.

"Good morrow to you, Arovid!" "Thank you, fair lady. Tell me, how long does such a summoning last?" "That I know not. It would seem it lasts till it is broken. This is the longest so far. Truth to tell, I was surprised that the others were broken so easily. The Clearstone Lore most known is used for travelling from one place to another on Gwalawala, and as far as I know there is no breaking it once done. But the lore for summoning from the Worlds of Dream seems to be different. I only have one old scroll with commentaries on that, and much is yet to be known." "I spent the night in my own world, and then returned here. Did you summon me?" "Not today. It would seem that you spent your dream in the dream worlds, the way we do. Perhaps you have finally come here for real." "No way!" "Even so, it is a good thing that you stay longer. The summoning takes time and strength. Come, let us break fast together, and then we shall be about your training."

Since this is his first Gwalawala breakfast, Arvid is a bit curious as to what they eat. He is taken to yet another room, still upstairs. From what he can remember, downstairs consisted only of one large hall and the staircase. It's been a while, so he is not entirely sure. At the sight of them, an old woman rises hastily. Her hair is a pale yellow, where the young ones are pure golden. Still, she moves with a fluid grace. A nod and a hand gesture from Avdyra, and the older one quickly leaves the room. Avdyra touches the wooden frame which holds the semi-transparent membrane in the windows. Now it turnes out the frames are hinged somehow, and she opens the window. Clear, crisp morning air carries with it the slightly spicy smell from the forest not far away.

"It is a good day, without rain. I have asked Arman that he look to your training in weapons. It may be that you shall once be without the aid of stone or wood, though it would be a bad day indeed. Then it would be well that you know to defend yourself." "I think it would be a better idea to run away." "That is not always possible. You may be cornered, or you may have to defend someone or something that must not fall in enemy hands. I say we should teach you the art of the iron as well as those of stone and wood." "If you say so. Just don't expect too much."

The heavy curtain in front of the door moves again, and the old woman appears, as fleet-footed as she left. She carries a jug and a plate that seems to be made out of whole stone. On the plate are a few bread-colored cylinders, they remind Arvid vaguely of spring rolls. The servant, or so he assumes, sets her burden down and backs off. Avdyra flashes her a genuinely thankful smile. Perhaps she is not after all a servant, but some elderly relative. Yet, she does not say a word. Instead, Avdyra fishes out her redstone and lays it on the plate, and now Arvid notices that the bread rolls were arranged in a pattern around the middle. The young enchantress starts to sing, and the stone glows with a deep red light. Arvid can feel a brief pulse of heat, but it subsides as quickly as she stops singing.

Avdyra shows him how to break the crispy cylinders, and they turn out to be filled with melted cheese and at least two kinds of fruit or sweet vegetables. He is pretty sure one of them is the red tubers which the children in particular loved during the welcome party. The bread cylinders are all hot inside. The heatstone must have acted as a microwave oven! These people are not all that primitive. Well, at least not those who happen to have a sorceress in the family.

A while later, Arvid is standing on what seems most like a lawn. Avdyra is carrying a simple tripod with one of the bloodwood torches. Only it is not really a torch, of course. Right now it is not even shining, barely glowing. The reason why she carries it around is no doubt the translation spell. For some reason, it seems that there is no equivalent magic for stones. It does not fit into any of the colors he can think of, except possibly white. And anyway, he has never seen the Stone Grrl try to use that kind of magic. It may be that Stonelore and Woodlore complement each other, that they largely have different functions. Or it could be just the two of them who have specialized on different magic, and don't bother to learn something that the other can already do easily.

"I have instructed Arman to give you introductory lessons in the use of weapons. I shall perchance join you in later lessons, but for now I will return and aid my father in the Hall of Anleistone. Our people has much need of us. I leave this Bloodtorch here that you may speak with Arman. He will guard it - and you - with his life if need be, though I cannot conceive of any threat that would come this close. You will find us in the Hall later, though I assume you will want to take the Bloodtorch to the Library. Ah, here comes Arman. I am sure he has looked forward to meeting you."


Table of contents