I had two of the most excellent dreams, one right after the other, and I’ll tell you, questing all night with Gimli and then Arya will really take it out of you. I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a while so I want my first post coming back to be astounding, let me know what you think.
Bellingham is a stunning setting for a dream-scape. Deciduous and conifer exist in a surreal green harmony covering neatly stacked hills and swaybacked valleys. Arenas filled with ferns rival Jurassic Park in their potential to swath raptors in verdant invisibility cloaks. On dark days there is no better seat for the aspiring poet than Bellingham bay atop driftwood logs, a red carpet of sand bedecked with sea glass from your green Wellington’s to the high tide line of the Salish Sound. Indeed it is the penultimate playground for those who appreciate the humid mystery of gray days, when sight must relinquish its sensory dominance to sound and touch, to rain.
Enter into the dream: I am in Bellingham on the Western Washington University campus where I attended college. Students are milling about excitedly and I’m immediately aware that there must be some sort of massive event going on. The arboretum behind campus expands to cover a large hill and has always been popular with the student community as its proximity allows for lively jaunts into the maw of nature on a regular basis. Tumbling down from said hill, directly out of Tolkien’s landscape, came an Oliphant, trumpeting as it crashed into the main square. It righted itself, the crumpled remains of a large saddle slipping to the ground with a dull clattering, then ran back into the trees preceded by an incredibly loud battle cry. The Lord of the Rings was taking place in the arboretum, large posters strapped to the sides of every building confirmed as much, it was very real, and any student who wished to participate was risking death.
Of course I showed up at the library to apply for armor.
Decked out in what I’m sure must have been a ridiculously weighty chain-mail snuggy of sorts, I met up with Gimli near the school fountain to discuss our battle plans. Upon entering the woods I went into complete shock. People were dying all around me, real people, some of whom I knew personally. Everyone was running about and nobody actually understood how to fight, Gimli thankfully was an actual member of the fellowship so he was able to keep the urukai off my back while I stood there like an idiot. I was shot all too soon, yet the arrow passed all the way through my chest and didn’t stick in me. I just lied down on the ground, curling up to die, and awoke in my bed feeling inadequate.
Fortunately, I was given a second chance at glory and conquest after my eyes slipped closed again and I was transported now to the world of George R.R. Martin. The Game of Thrones has never been my obsession, and I will own that while reading the books I felt much the same as while reading Tolkien: nonplussed by pedantic and drawn out circumstances which seemed to drag me for pages and pages, through rather dry encounters or repetitively violent battle scenarios. I never broke through to the third book, but oh my stars am I impressed with the production value of the television series. I was employed as my favorite character’s sidekick, and Arya Stark and I were headed to Braavos.
Once we arrived, the island itself seemed to be constructed of one giant castle with no surrounding grounds jutting up out of the middle of the ocean. The gray stones were completely dry, even as wave upon wave erupted against them. Our boat was likewise unaffected by the bizarrely chaotic sea. Arriving at a protected dock, we hopped off the boat jovially with a gesture that would have been more suited to one of Robin’s Men in Tights, and were instantly struck to the ground. My vision was blurring in and out and at times I was nearly blind. I could see, in between obscurity, Arya across from me being tossed around by some phantom force. We were both being smashed repeatedly into the walls, the docks, our ship, anything in our immediate vicinity was a potential resting place for our fragile heads. She was dying, as I am sure I was as well, when two men finally emerged from the walls and dragged us backwards up into a high tower.
Holding each of us at an arm’s length out over the edge, they prepared to drop us fifty stories into the ocean and be done with us. Somehow, Arya broke from her storyline and called the ocean up to meet us like a water bending Avatar, saving us, and impressing our assailants in equal measure. After witnessing her abilities firsthand our “initiation” as it had apparently been, was over, and we were invited inside and given food.
I will admit now that fantasy novels have always been appealing to me for the food if nothing else. Berries and a roasted squirrel with a meager portion of bread eaten by the heroes who are running low on rations in the woods, are a feast to my ears. My stomach complains loudly at any mention of a feast and I would sit down with any single character in a heartbeat to chow down on even the most simple of meals. You can imagine them, how much of a dream come true this moment was for me, grazing at whim on an actual medieval feast in a great hall hung with tapestries and peopled by a rowdy bunch of drunken comrades. I had so much to eat in fact, that I fell asleep at the table and awoke in reality, potentially missing my opportunity for further adventures in Braavos.