“This is a dream,” said Dominick.
“It is?” Lord Hob said. “How can you be so certain?”
“Look, what do you want? Why are you here?”
“Why, to warn you. Of course.”
“It’s really quite simple.” Lord Hob smiled, took a quick look around, and spying the recliner opposite the couch over on the other side of the TV, sat.
“What are you doing?” Dominick said, raising his voice. The nerve of this guy, dream or not. “Don’t sit. I want you out of my house.”
“Please,” Hob said and held a hand out, palm up.
It took Dominick a moment to understand just what the man was doing. He was gesturing to the couch. He was inviting Dominick to sit, as if they were in Hob’s apartment and Dominick was the house guest. Dominick nearly collapsed beneath the weight of the man’s temerity.
And yet, Dominick sat.
“You must abandon this quest,” Hob said. He sat back in the chair, crossing his legs.
The only thing missing, Dominick thought, is a cat in his lap. If this wasn’t a dream, I’d be worried.
“Quest?” Dominick said. He’d often found that his best defense was to act dumb. “What quest?”
“For the sword,” Hob said. “If you continue hunting it, you will die.”
“Okay, so you break into my apartment, you watch me sleep, you use my toilet, and now you’re threatening me?”
“Not a threat,” Hob said. “A fact.”
“And I suppose you’re the one who’s going to kill me?”
“Do you know where the sword is being taken?” Hob said. “Any idea at all?”
“If you continue to insist on your present course of action, you will be dead within the week. I am only trying to help.”
“Why would you want to help me? I mean, no offense but I’m like this One guy, right? I’m in Gund to kill you and stuff.”
“Is that what they told you?” Hob laughed. “You will not kill me. In fact, in the end, you will join me.”
“Okay, sure. I’ve seen this movie. When are you going to tell me that you’re my father?”
“You have a significant lack of respect. I do not find that at all pleasing.”
“So? You’re the one in my dream. You have a significant lack of power here. I happen to find that all kinds of pleasing.”
“I have no power?” Hob stood.
“Not here, dude.” Dominick had to admit that knowing he was in a dream was rather liberating. He couldn’t recall ever having a dream such as this. So vivid, so real. And he was aware that it was a dream. That had never happened to him before. He’d never felt so good about being in danger.
The feeling ended abruptly as a lightning bolt of pain slammed into the top of his head. He screamed and fell to his knees. He took his head in his hands, thinking to find it cracked open, fearing that he would be able to feel his own brain. But his skull was intact; it was just in agony, more so than he was able to take.
“No power?” Hob said, standing over him.
Dominick curled into himself, hugging his legs to his chest. His heart thundered in his rib cage, beating faster and faster as the torture continued.
“I think you will find that I have all the power, Dominick Hanrahan.”
Hob’s voice changed, dropping to a deep baritone.
“ABANDON THY QUEST, BOY.”
It was almost inhuman, the voice, as it pounded down on him like a sonic hammer.
“YOU HAVE BEEN LIED TO. THERE IS NOTHING FOR YOU IN GUND BUT SORROW AND PAIN.”
The floor beneath him undulated. It split and opened like the maw of a mighty beast, swallowing him whole. There was only darkness now. Darkness and the oppressive voice.
“HEED MY WARNING, DOMINICK HANRAHAN. LEAVE GUND OR DIE THERE.”
Then he was falling.
He woke to daylight. He was back in Gund. The pain in his head was gone. The nightmare was over.
Unfortunately his camp was currently under attack by a savage monster, so Dominick’s contentment was short lived.
To be continued . . .