Book 1. Cyledr
Cyledr awoke with a start, his hair and forehead drenched with sweat. The dream haunted him for months, and no amount of spiced wine could ward it off.
He tried rising up, but his body felt numb and strangely uncontrolled, as if he were a children’s toy, bound to obey the one who held the threads binding his wrists and ankles. His head was spinning, and it made him mad – he wasn’t prone to weakness, and he hated being vulnerable, so he slept with a dagger under his pillow.
The dream, however, took him by surprise. It angered him, but what could one do with a dream save forgetting it? Cyledr was not, by all means, superstitious or particularly keen about any beliefs; his relationship with faith and gods was mistrusting and cautious. This was the most conflicting subject in his life, for his father was a staunch believer, and worshipped the gods in all faith, almost to the point of zealousness. Cyledr however thought faith unobligatory. ‘Great deeds, he used to say, are accomplished by strength and courage, not by worship. ‘
He believed in himself, and battle was his religion. Conflict followed him wherever he went, and he wasn’t much liked for causing trouble,be it girls, wealth, or bravery. Nothing could frighten him, nothing could knock him off his balance – nothing but this wretched dream.
Most dreams vanish with the first rays of sunshine, but some possess strange stickiness about them, that never goes away. They fill you with dread, they haunt you, they have no obvious ending. They seem ominous, chilling- yet somehow you want to see more, to experience the deeper levels. Cyledr’s dream was of the kind, and he didn’t like it as much as he hated darkened woods and suspicious young men of the court.
The dream had woods in it. Pitch black woods, full of strange, deafening silence and flickering lights. He couldn’t see a thing except a tall shadowed figure with glowing golden-green eyes standing in front of him. With one hand it held a sword, and another was holding something revolting enough to see in a dream.
The dream ended abruptly, with something of a lightning bolt tearing the darkness apart. A voice, hoarse and terrifying, cried out to him, and it made him lose his bearings.Cyledr was pretty sure he had never heard any voice of the kind – his memory was keen, the hunter ‘s memory. He knew the animals by trail, he could tell pathways apart in the dark. He could hear the voice of a man during hunting games and recognize it years after. This voice kept echoing in his ears when the dusk lighted up the sky, and all through the day it haunted him, resounding in his head till the nightfall – and even then, when stillness filled the air, the horrid voice was still there.
Lack of sleep weakened him, and panic unknown before, gradually wore him down. That was the least he expected from his strong body, his unyielding mind – but there it was, and nothing could be done about it. The herbalist’ s bunch of leaves and flowers did nothing to ease his condition, and if he tried drinking before sleep,the nightmare grew worse. He could gather his will and strength enough to last for hours, but his usual joys turned bleak. Hunt, training and carousing no longer attracted him, no drink could make him forget the voice – or the sword that shone as a beacon in the pitch black nothingness. You can say, that the dream became his anchor – he knew the night by coming of the dream, and its absence meant the day finally came.
Cyledr was known for his stamina, his toughness and his cold blood. He was never the one to judge or kill in a whim or by folly, and he could easily control his rage in a fight. However, the months of dread and sleeplessness made him irritable, nervous and unfocused – so much so, that he seemed strangely absent from everything around him.
There was only one thing that kept him from running mad,and that was a young maiden he frequently saw at court. Slender and fair, with eyes like summer sky and hair like perfect gold, she wore immaculate dresses and was always accompanied by a handsome youth – her cousin, as everyone knew. Cyledr’s dimmed mind grew sharper at the sight of her, and he even could manage a courteous smile or conversation, albeit lame as he was never a speaker. But as soon as she was out of sight, Cyledr felt his mind going blank again.
The maiden was called Creiddylad, and her beauty blinded him. Her name was Creiddylad, and he pined for her. Her name was Creiddylad, and he wanted her. He wanted her more than a good nights sleep,more than exquisite armour or best swords, more than anything he ever wanted- and he knew he would kill for her. She never noticed him, he thought. She preferred another one, with unruly coal black curls and blazing green eyes, who could dance for hours on end and rode the most magnificent mare there was.
She was in love with another man. That could be it for most men, but Cyledr wanted her. And if he wanted anything, or anyone for that matter, he got it. Creiddylad would be his, and his alone. He would kill the other one, and marry the girl. Or, if marriage was out of the question, he’d make sure nobody else married her. But first, he’d kill the man. He’d pierce the rascal’s chest with his sword and see that scornful smile die on his perfect lips. He’d kill the greeneyed devil, and he will laugh no more.