Where Anyone is Possible
Part II (of III)
It had almost been a week. Slowly, but surely, the universe in which the Dream King worked was feeling the consequences. For some, it was overwhelming nightmares. Others, endless insomnia. And others, still, fell asleep and never woke up.
In a mansion in England, residing on a hill in a secluded part of the countryside, there sat a Magus in his basement, eyes wide and sleepless, angry and excited and terribly, horribly disturbed. Almost a week, and his creature had not made a sound. A week, and he had not moved, and only breathed so lightly. Malachi was becoming frustrated. How could one entity be so silent? Did he not pride himself enough to threaten, to ask for his release?
“You have not spoken.” Magus Malachi reminded the being, who lay, unmoving, eyes closed, a sword pinning him to the concrete still, as it had been for a week. “I have hurt you, and yet you curse me not. I have burned you, whipped you, impaled you; I have come close to slitting your throat, and yet you do not threaten me. What manner of being are you, that you take your pain in silence, God of Dreams? Are you not immortal? Are you not omnipotent? Can you not save yourself?” But the being did not speak. He did not move. The Magus glanced around his cluttered, cold basement. He had instructed the others to give him time alone. Once more, his dark eyes trailed back to the pale being before him. “Does the Lord of Dreams need to breathe?” He asked, his tone weary. But this got a reaction. The being’s black, soulless eyes fluttered open. His head turned, slightly, to glance at the Magus. Whip marks peppered his neck, his shoulders and chest. They seemed… wrong, somehow, as if the whip used had been on fire. The wounds were like burns. The Magus grinned, and perhaps that grin was wicked. The being said nothing, not for a moment. But it did speak eventually, and its voice. It’s voice… it was wrong. On all accounts, it was wrong. Soft, like wind, and practically silent, it could have been a breeze he spoke on. It could have been the voice in the back of one’s head; it could have been subconscious. There was something light in it, and something dark. This was an unnatural being. But Magus Malachi was not frightened.
“Yes.” The being said. “I need to breathe.” And already he sounded breathless, like he was struggling to do such a simple task. The sword stuck in him did not help, the Magus decided, while also deciding that he didn’t care.
“If you answer me, I will not suffocate you.” The Magus said, giddy once more at the prospect of having a leg up on the being. This being. This weak thing, this young thing, this sad thing. Evil thing. Deserving of a death he would never suffer.
And once more the being fell quiet, but his gaze stayed on the Magus. His eyes never blinked. He never turned his head. The Magus took this as a good sign. A sign that the being would cooperate. For now.
“What do they call you?” The Magus asked, in his voice like gravel, like grinding up glass. The being turned its head away to speak. The Endless held no facial expressions, anymore. It was stoic. It was stoic and blank, and if it had not been pinned to the ground, impaled by a weapon that did not just slice his skin like butter, but leave behind blistering burns, the being would have been terrifying.
“I am called Dream.” There was no malice in his voice, no anger. He spoke blankly. Like everything he did, blankly.
“Do you know who I am?”
“Why are you here?” To this, the being gave no response. His fingers gripped at the sword between his ribs once again, and pulled, to no avail. The sword cut at his hands. Sizzling and the scent of sulfur filled the air. Once again, the being gave up. “Why are you here?” The Magus repeated.
“I’ve made many mistakes.” Dream said, through a strained voice. It seemed the pain was getting worse. Malachi grinned again. His grin was certainly wicked.
“You call those things mistakes? HA! You don’t know what mistakes are. You destroyed kingdoms, worlds; you’ve murdered kin and strangers alike. Your existence is a mistake.” The Magus pressed his hands to the glass dome, leaving behind sweaty handprints, before he stood to circle his prey’s cage. “What have you to show for your long life aside from the trail of destruction behind you? Certainly every being you encounter fears you. Have you family? Friends?” The Magus had only been trying to egg him on. He had not intended on an answer. And he certainly had not been expecting the answer he received.
“I… have… family.” And now the being could hardly speak. He sounded distant, pained. The Magus’ face dropped, and then he only wore a frown and crinkled brows.
“A being like you? What family?” He had stopped walking now, and only stared. The Magus had since adorned the robes of the being he captured, and they trailed behind him, as he was not ten feet tall. They were very warm, and comforting. They made him feel important. And what better way to feel, when dealing with a being such as this, than important?
“I… have… siblings.” The being breathed out, each word taking a breath, its eyes falling closed with the effort. “I have… children.” When the Magus said nothing, and only began to walk the circle again, the being tried for more words. What more could he say? What more did the Magus want? “Two… two children. Sons. Smart… I love them. They are… they must be… worried…” But the being got no chance to speak anymore, as the Magus instead began to laugh. It started as a chuckle, ascending into a cackle, crescendoing into heavy, lurching, maniacal laughs. The being visibly flinched under the sound of it. He went silent, once more.
“A being like you, love something? Feel anything other than hatred and malice? You lie. You are a liar! A filthy, disgusting, murdering LIAR! Have you plans to murder them, too, these children of yours? Will they receive the same fate as Orpheus?” The Magus paused in his rant for dramatic effect. It worked. The being flinched, and, perhaps if one were listening close enough, he even whimpered at the name. “Do beings like you even have the capacity for love? A stranger to the human condition- what do you know about love?” But the being did not speak. Instead he was silent, eyes closed once again, patient. The Magus scowled, banged on the glass, screamed and hurled insults for as long as his anger lasted. But still the being did not react.
Then silence. The Magus stared at Dream, dark eyes bloodshot with anger, brows creased in a likely permanent scowl. His voice became calm again, his words spoken kindly, but they were not kind words. “It’s all true, isn’t it? Every story, every myth, every legend. You killed your son. You murdered your lover. You destroyed her Kingdom of Glass. Because you’re a monster. A selfish, prideful monster. You think you’re god, huh? You think everyone should listen to what you have to say? You think you should control everything? YOU THINK YOU’RE GOD?!” his voice built until it crashed down like heavy, screaming waves. It echoed in the cold, damp basement. It echoed in the glass dome. It shook the boarded up windows. And still, the being said nothing.
If there was one thing, the Magus could not stand, it was the silence. It ate at his brain. In his hold he had an immortal god, a heartless thing that could not die, but could, indeed, be hurt. And he had not hurt the entity enough. He disappeared a moment, into a back storage room, hands shaking, heart pounding, eyes wide and unblinking. He had not given himself the luxury of sleep. He would not give himself over to the nightmare. He would not give in to sleep.
“You think you’re God.” The Magus’ voice had all but returned to normal. It was cold and calculated, just like his movements. Every slow, barefooted step. Every grace of his hand on the glass dome. Even as he open the glass dome’s door. Even as he moved to kneel beside the being. “You could stop me. Right now. You’re strong enough, aren’t you? Or is everything they say about you a lie?” The Magus did not make a move, not yet. He waited. Patient, shaking slightly, boiling with anger and hatred. He waited for a response. And eventually, the being, powerful though he was, gave in to the silence. He spoke without wanting to. He spoke with care, with softness, despite the Magus’ hatred.
“I would rather be a liar than be look at as a monster again, Magus Malachi.” The beings words were simple enough. But the Magus seethed with anger. Slightly shaking hands trembled violently, and he screamed. No words, just a steady stream of anger pouring from his throat, from deep inside him. This creature, this thing, this monster did not want to be seen for what he was! But the Magus knew. The Magus knew the stories, the myths, the actions the God of Dreams had taken. And with all of him, with every fiber of his being, with every ounce of his soul, Malachi loathed Dream. Cold, strong fingers wrapped around the bony wrist of the entity, and with one straight shot… the Magus nailed the being’s hand to the floor. Over and over he hit the nail, missing a few times, cracking the concrete, digging the nail further and further into flesh. The being only flinched once, on the first impact. The rest he took in stride.
The Magus was not so silent. He wove words into his screaming, his mind gone, his anger and hatred consuming him.
“YOU THINK YOU’RE GOD? YOU THINK YOU CAN PLAY WITH LIVES LIKE A GAME OF CHESS? YOU WANT TO BE GOD, YOU WANT TO ACT LIKE GOD??? I WILL SHOW YOU WHAT GOD SUFFERS. I WILL GIVE YOU THE PUNISHMENT YOU DESERVE AND YOU WILL FEEL MY WRATH. WHO’S THE GOD NOW, DREAM? WHO’S. THE GOD. NOW?”
And when he finished, he dripped with sweat, and silver metallic liquid smeared on his hands, on his face, like war paint. He took steps back, looking at his masterpiece: his grotesque work of art. A chuckle dribbled out from his dark lips. His breathing was heavy; he was panting. He was crying. And then he stumbled out of the summoning circle - careful not to smudge it, and fell to his hands and knees.
Behind him lay a pale being, impaled by a sword that pinned him to cold, hard concrete, hands and feet outstretched and nailed to the floor. Its breathing was shallow. Its eyes remained closed.
The Magus prayed.