The Land of Dreams
He stumbled awkwardly and fell sharply to the ground. The soft grass
felt damp against his cheek, as he lay there, unmoving and silent. A
soft, warm breeze played across his lips and through his hair in an
effort to urge him onwards but he could not move anymore. He was more
tired than he had could remember, his arms and legs weighed down with
more than just fatigue now. With an exasperated cry he forced himself
off the cool earth and drew up into a more comfortable position, his
muscles crying out in resistance to the movement.
Gazing backwards over the gentle hills he took in the grand sight
of the distant mountains, imagining that he could even see the high
halls of Edoras. It had been several days since he had left there on
this journey of his, and he still wasn’t sure if it had been the right
thing to do.
Edoras had been so different than his home village, so busy and
full of people occupied with so many different tasks. It had been a
sight to behold, this great city in the sky, so far removed from what
he was used to that he felt more of an outsider than a kinsman to these
people. Yet all of it fell under the watchful gaze of the glittering
Golden Hall, home of the royal family. Although he was there for only a
few days the sight of the new king, Théoden, son of Thengel, had
him. Despite only having been ruler for less than three years, his
presence commanded great respect and he was held almost in reverence by
many of the townsfolk for his charm and sharp eye.
Yet all this grace and majesty had been lost on him, the wonders and
sights soiled by the pain he had carried with him. The dark cloud had
cursed his steps and veiled his eyes more than he had realised, with
everything covered in mists of grey. It was only now that he looked
back that he could glimpse the brighter colours hidden beneath, the
fading memories of a forgotten time.
He clenched his fists as thoughts of dark clouds invaded his
memories, tempting him while he was still awake, lingering heavily on
the horizon of his mind. He shook his head rapidly in an attempt to
drive them away, throbbing pains spreading from his hands as his fists
tightened involuntarily. His breathing became more laboured and heavy
with each moment that passed, until finally his mind cleared and the
dull greyness returned.
It was not only his mind that was growing dim, but the sky as
well. The evening was quickly approaching and the temperature had
chosen to assert its bitter side that night. His strength slowly
returning, he set about starting a fire with whatever meagre resources
he could find. As the flames sparked wearily into life, he edged closer
in a desperate attempt to hold onto the warmth and keep out the
suffocating blackness. Weariness warred with consciousness as the night
grew longer, hoping against hope that he could stay awake until the
light broke through again. But it was a battle he had never won.
He was standing in the lower field, the strong sunlight shining in
his face and blurring his eyes, but he did not move. He stood there,
gently smiling in the warm heat and feeling more content than he had
been for several weeks. His troubles and fears seemed so distant now
that they did not seem worth worrying about. He was home and that was
all that mattered. Then he saw her.
She stood not too far away, just in front of their house; her long
golden hair seemed to sparkle in the sun, matched only by the beaming
smile across her face. His heart beat faster now that he knew she was
here, the thumping rhythm ringing louder as if to prove he was still
alive. She was his whole, at once both his opposite and his equal in a
way he could never understand. Every moment spent with her lasted an
eternity, yet passed in an instant. In her he trusted, and with him she
shared until beyond all doubt he knew that she was the one he loved.
But something was not right; something here was terribly wrong.
Almost immediately he turned round and saw in the distance a growing
band of darkness as several thick storm clouds gathered. They blotted
out the sun in their hungry desire to conquer the sky, the thick
tendrils spreading further and further outwards. They seemed to be
searching, seeking him out, determined to consume any joy he might
In haste he turned back to his beloved, still standing there
smiling at him, oblivious to the coming danger. With every effort in
his body he tried to run towards her, to warn her and protect her from
the approaching evil. But he could not move, his body would not respond
to his wishes over his increasing frustration and anger. A feeling of
dread started to fill his heart, a cold fear that he would not be able
to protect her. He would fail her again, as he had done before, as he
would always do.
Powerless to help he watched as two large black figures rushed out
of the clouds towards her, their dull metal armour catching the fading
light. Each held aloft a vicious sword ready to strike as she was
engulfed in the dark miasma. His world became black and he fell into a
The nightmares had begun shortly after the destruction of his
village by unknown creatures, many claiming that they had come from the
ancient Gondorian tower to the north-west. Yet others said it was men
from the wastelands, or Elvish wraiths from the past sent as some sort
of penance from the Gods. But whoever they were, the nearest
arrived several hours too late and the village had been burned to the
ground. He was the only survivor of the massacre, rescued as he lay
dying in the dimness and in spite of his protests had been taken to
Edoras to recover.
Each night became a struggle for him as the nightmares became
increasingly worse, each night a battle against the darkness that held
him still. Every time he closed his eyes he was back in the field,
powerless to the dark clouds. There was never any release; no peaceful
dream came to appease his mind. Only the continued black mass until it
came that he could barely sleep each night. Food became sore in his
mouth and no medicine could ease his suffering.
It was there, between demons and clouds that he first heard the
tale of the Elven Sorceress, ruler of the Dwimordene. She controlled
her land with mysterious powers that distorted and twisted men to her
will. It was told that in her anger she had once ensnared the Lord of
Shadows, manipulating his mind and tricking him into becoming her
husband after he had refused her advances. She was not one to be
refused, and neither to be ignored. She had even cursed the borders of
her land with a whistling death, for anyone that attempted to cross
into her wood was certain of swift punishment.
However, for all this folklore there was one thing that had caught his
attention, captivating his mind as if the Sorceress herself had
bewitched him. One of the older women that had tended to him had sung a
song about the Land of Dreams, a place where nightmares vanish and time
slows down, of blissful sleep where even the darkest hearts will melt.
The vain hope of such a place had stuck in his mind and heart, a place
where he could be free of guilt and remorse, pain and suffering. Where
he could finally be with his love and no storms could take her away
The old woman had said this land could be found in the heart of
the Dwimordene, for even among the greatest evil you will find the
greatest dreams, if the Sorceress of the land would grant your wish.
And so it was that several days later he fled from his convalescence,
running from his nightmares and fears to find freedom, haunted by the
ever-looming storm clouds.
He had been travelling north from Edoras for six days now, the
last of his scraps of food having gone the day before. Sitting alone by
the fire and holding off the darkness until it felt like he could go on
no longer, yet the idea persisted and fuel his journey. Thus far it was
not all in vain for when the new morning rose he finally saw that which
he was seeking, the hazy green mist of a deep forest. This was not the
gnarled wood of Fangorn that had tempted him some days before, for
these trees seem to shine with a serene silvery light as if beckoning
Nevertheless, he still recalled the warnings of the whistling
death and the Sorceress that dwelt within those eaves. He still feared
death, if only because he knew there would never be a release from the
darkness, could never awake from it and break the nightly hold on his
spirit. His fears wrestled for control over his body, asking himself if
this fabled place was worth the risk it entailed. And, as it had done
each night since learning of this realm, the image of his love would
settle the debate. She was worth all the pain in the world for one last
moment of joy together, for one last attempt at finding her.
That day he spent on his long and slow march towards the trees,
sitting there just beyond his reach but urging him ever onwards. The
sun had started its downward path by the time he sat, exhausted, at the
feet of the great trees, gazing in wonder at their leafy roof.
As he studied the memory of seasons each tree untold in its gentle
sway, he caught the briefest sight of movement in the branches, wisps
of light and shadow that jumped between the silver arms towards him.
The whistling death approached. He at once recalled the dark tendrils
of the clouds in his nightmares, that swirled and reached around him,
bring with them fear and death. It was a strange sensation, looking at
the impending doom that approached but yet he felt none of the terror
it usually produced. He was calm and controlled as he tried to discern
its erratic movements, small glimpses out of the corner of his eye,
first there too the left, now closer on his right. All the time oddly
Then he saw her, slipping between the trees, a woman in a vibrant white
dress with long golden hair that sparkled in the dying sunlight. At
first he thought he was imagining it, his weakened mind conjuring up
his heart’s desire before the ultimate end, but the woman appeared
again, closer now. The brilliance of her being seemed to outshine the
silver trees, the light sending vast shadows creeping up every branch.
Then gone again, hidden from sight like the flickering of a candle. Was
she calling him? Was she leading him into the Land of Dreams?
With a renewed strength in his bones he rose from the ground,
standing before the wooden barrier that separated them, drawn towards
this one last dream. He began to falter as he took a step forward, then
finding his footing he pushed ahead into the tree line.
A high-pitched whistle suddenly filled the silent void and stopped his
advance towards her. Uncertainty began to build up within him as the
light faded and the darkness grew closer. It was only then that he
noticed the icy touch upon his chest, the lingering doubt that he had
erred in some unfathomable way. Except that it was not cruel emotion
that had struck in him but the carefully carved shaft of an arrow, its
tip now embedded within his body. Though this knowledge took time to
reach his consciousness, the toll fell swiftly upon his frail being and
he fell to his knees beside the flora. His breathing became longer and
harder, while his legs grew heavy with the cold. Still holding on to
the fading light he collapsed backwards against the trees, but he never
hit the ground. He fell softly onto smooth silks, the warm touch of
another’s body against his as he looked up towards the sky into her
serene face. She had not deserted him in the woods as he thought but
now sat beside the silvery trunks, cradling his failing body. He gazed
at her radiant beauty; her deep blue eyes seemed to sparkle with the
light of a thousand stars, her long hair ablaze with rays of gold and
yellow. And yet always smiling, matching his gaze as she eased the
bitter depths of his pain.
Live free now; find the peace within your dreams for which you
have sought. Go find your love, for I shall guard you here and keep the
dark clouds at bay.
Her words resonated throughout his mind despite never opening her
lips to speak. Her warm and inviting smile still spread wide across her
face, the gentle fragrance of summer blossoms filling his senses with
happiness that he had not known for many days. The vision of her beauty
slowly faded from sight as the warm glow she emanated bathed his body.
Until finally he let go, slipping beyond her grasp and into the endless