Written by LordofGibberish. From the author: “A bit of clarification. The stuff you see is, in my mind not another layer of the Dreaming. The Dreaming is implied to be separate from Reality but tangential to it. What Raz observes is something else. He more clearly sees the ambient glamour around him in the world without the distraction of reality. So subtle patterns that are normally lost become clear. People affect the glamour around themselves, and without distractions, that is visible. A certain pair of characters are dreams that weren’t powerful enough to become chimera, but are too stubborn to just fade. Or perhaps they are chimera that lost to much glamour and started to faded to shades of their former selves, but aren’t gone yet. They remain as subtle patterns on glamour. Perhaps one is an imaginary friend that was abandoned, but was too strong to fade and the other was a teenager’s dream of being a cartoonist to escape the no name town he was trapped in. I dunno, could be anything. As for Mr. D, well, you are welcome to try and tell him where he can and can’t be. Anyway, not necessarily the way it really works, but just something I thought of.”
Raz stared. At first, he thought he was seeing things. He kept staring and no one seemed to notice. That wasn’t odd really, since no one else had been able to see Raz. But still…
The top hat wearing frog stopped once he saw Raz looking at him, and motioned to his friend. The rabbit, seeing him, glared and pulled a switchblade causing his mohawk to sway. “Where the fuck did you come from?” the rabbit challenged
“Ahh, well, umm, here, sort of. I go to this school. Who are you?” Raz returned.
“Ain’t nobody that questions Mr. Cotton on his own turf! If you don’t watch yerself, you will end up cut!” the rabbit threatened, motioning with the knife.
“Calm down, my good man. He just appears lost.” The frog said, stepping in front of his friend. “It is a gentleman’s duty to help those in need. Now, good sir, may I inquire as to how you ended up in this part of the school?”
“I was working on an experiment. I don’t know how technical I should get, but it shifted my fae mein more in line with ambient glamour so it could be more directly observed. But once I turned it on, I found that while I could directly observe glamour, I found I couldn’t turn off the device. My body wouldn’t move, though I seem to be able to walk around here easily enough” Raz responded.
Mr Cotton began to laugh loudly and rudely, slapping a large foot on the floor. “You trapped yerself here?! You are a daft one, aintcha?”
“Please excuse my friend. He is lacking in some of the more basic social graces. You must understand this is rather unique though. Though we see the students that attend here, this is certainly the first time they have seen us.” The frog motioned to a pair of students that walked down the hall.
Raz recognized the pair, though they were subtlety altered in a way Raz suspected had to do with their personalities. Jeanna Sotherson walked down the hall wearing armor and bore a sword at her hip. She was a well known crusader for any cause she thought Right. Her companion, Matthew Simmons, was something of a computer geek, and he appeared as almost a cyborg. They walked, obviously in conversation, though no words could be heard.
Raz had seen this before he met the odd pair. He thought their appearance was based on their personality and self-image. He had seen Lord Darkshire, earlier, and he had looked normal (as normal as slaugh ever looked) to Raz, so perhaps regular people could create something akin to a fae mein, but it was just to subtle to normally see.
“Well, I’m here now. But, what are you doing here? I didn’t think there would be anything here.” Raz replied.
“You questioning my existence? I ought to cut you to ribbons just for that. Come into a rabbit’s home and tell him he ain’t got no right to exist! Well, this non-existent rabbit is about to drop kick your arse right out of existence.” Mr. Cotton said as he threatened with the knife.
“Mr. Cotton, control yourself! At this singular event, don’t you think we should show him to Mr. D.” The frog admonished.
“Hrmph. I suppose. Mr. D might get a bit cranky if he didn’t get to see him. Well, come on. We need to get out of here. The bell is about to ring.” With one more threatening gesture with the knife, the rabbit pushed past Raz and started hopping down the hall.
The frog hopped next to Raz, and gestured down the hall that they should follow. “Forgive my friend. He has a bit of a complex. I strongly recommend you never call him Cottontail or Peter. Not only is that not his name, but he is rather handy with that knife. I am Hopalong Froggington Atelopus Toadsworth the Eighth, but, please, call me Hops.” The frog tipped his hat at the introduction.
“I am Razputin or Raz to my friends. I didn’t mean to be rude before, but I didn’t expect such.. " Raz motioned to Mr. Cotton.
“Yes, well for the most part you are correct. Not many of us live in this place. While in some respects very resilient, we must clear this hall before the bell or else we could be brushed by one of the dark people. That would cripple, if not kill one of us. Our life is fraught with danger and most do not make it.”
“Ok, but what are-” At that moment, the bell started ringing.
Mr. Cotton began to swear. “No choice, make a dash for it.” And he bounded off down the hall.
“This way” said Mr. Hops, and moved to a pace such that Raz had to run to keep up.
People swarmed out of the halls, quickly filling the hall. While startled, Raz found he could move easily, as he could pass through people. Hops turned down a hall and made for a door that Raz felt certain wasn’t normally there, next to the maintenance room in the English hall. He was almost to the door, and he could see Hops motioning him down some stairs when he saw his first dark person.
The description was correct. The person was darkness. It was an outline of something that wasn’t there. It seemed to suck in light from everything around it in. It emerged from Mrs. Bensworth’s grammar class and, before he could react, it pushed into him. His world turned to pain, then blinked out.
Raz woke up to cool stone pressing against his cheek, unsure where he was. Opening his eyes, he was surprised to find himself in sunlight. Looking around, he was in a stone tower of some kind with only a few pillars breaking up the view of a perfect summer sky. A cool breeze blew in and Raz found himself sitting up to revel in it.
Looking around he found Hops sitting near by.
“I was afraid we had lost you. We rushed to Mr. D, but he said we had nothing to worry about. Apparently, you aren’t too fragile. Glad to hear it though.” Hops said.
“Where are we? And where is this Mr. D?” Raz said blearily.
“Have a look for yourself” Hops responded, motioning to the windows, then hopping over himself. “Don’t get to close to the edge. Though he would never admit it, Mr. Cotton can’t stand the view and spends as little time here as possible. Not me though, this is the closest a frog will ever get to flying.”
Raz grinned and moved towards the opening. “I could fix that if you like.”
The view was breathtaking. The tower was far above the ground, which lay spread out beneath him. He didn’t recognize the land, and it was too far away to make out any details for him to even guess.
Leaning out of the tower, Raz risked a glance down to see what sort of citadel would hold such a tower. He was surprised to discover that the tower cutoff not far below him, and instead continued out of sight above.
Hops pointed at a spot in the distance “Ah, here comes Mr. D. I believe I will leave you to him. I have duties to attend to, and time waits for no amphibian.” Tipping his hat, Hops went to a staircase in the center of the room. “I have always wondered what lay beyond this. A wanderer like you makes one think. Perhaps I may visit you one day. Until then, may the water never freeze and the flies be slow and fat.” Turning, he descended the stair.
Looking back to the window, the dot in the distance had grown greatly in size and detail. At first, the features looked reptilian, but, as the creature drew closer, the similarities faded. It was itself, and incomparable to anything else. Other things were compared to it, not the other way around.
The creature wrapped itself around the tower, its massive head barely fitting into the tower.
“Mr… Dragon, I presume?” Raz asked.
A laugh shook the tower. “A good guess, but I prefer David. I have other names, but I find David the easiest, as no one blinks when you talk about David. Not the case with Zmey Gorynych”
“That’s… unexpected. Well, …David, you don’t look like the others I have met so far.”
“Yes, the others are figments. Bare strands of gossamer that are still vibrating to some dream. They are fascinating creatures, though most never see them. They have a hard time making it in your world, so I offer refuge to any who reach my door. Most don’t make it more than a few years regardless, though some like Mr. Cotton, seem too stubborn to fade. You should consider yourself lucky, most never know of their existence, and, those that do, never realize that they are fully formed creatures and think of them as merely anomalies. pause How did you find your way here?”
“I was experimenting with a way to view ambient glamour in more detail, so I came up with a device to shift my glamour more in line with the ambient and remove the interference of common reality. Unfortunately, it worked too well, and I was unable to interact with ‘common reality’ so i couldn’t turn off the device.” Raz replied.
“Hmm, did you use the Enscophic method of glamour amplification or a Palthadic system to simply alter the phase?
“That isn’t a bad idea. I could boost my efficiency by at least 20% that way and it would get rid of the feedback problem.” Raz said. “It’s nice to talk to someone as knowledgeable as yourself. I like my friends, but none of them care about the underpinnings of what they do as long as the Art works.”
“Well, you are welcome to come and speak to me anytime, as long as you can find another way to do it. If you keep trying this method, one day you won’t come back. You were lucky it worked this time”
“Roger. Our discussion has already given me a few ideas of what to do next. Well, I guess I ought to get back. So, how do I do that?”
“Why, click your heels together and say ‘There is no place like home’.”
“Ha-ha. How do you keep up on your pulp culture?”
“Oh, you’d be surprised. On a more serious note, I would prefer you not tell people that I live here. I like value my privacy.”
“Oh, I doubt even my friends would believe a story that started with a punk rabbit with a mohawk and ended with a dragon that lives below.., err above…, NEAR the school.”
“Do I have your word to protect me, mine and my lair to the best of your abilities?”
“Of course.” Raz said with a smile.
“Good. I will assume you are good to your word as in the past. It was good to see you, old friend.” The dragon tapped him with a talon, and the world exploded into more colors than a rainbow could hold.
Raz jerked upright. Memphis was sitting next to him with a permanent marker.
“Nice nap? You took my fourth favorite spot, you know” Memphis said, putting a cap on the marker.
“Hmm, I suppose.” Raz stood up and walked over to the tool box. He picked up a large mallet and hefted it. “Were your other three favorite spots taken?”
“No, but it seemed like a clubroom sort of day. What are you doing?” Memphis inquired.
“I just realized that this trinket is more dangerous than I thought. Given that you can’t keep your hand off things, I thought I’d better get rid of it before it causes trouble.” Raz responded and raised the hammer and smashed the wristwatch sized device.
“Must have been some nap…”