Dream World

Under most circumstances, I don't advise using settings from dreams, mostly because they're largely incoherent, and when they do make sense, that sense falls apart with any level of scrutiny.

Mole people under Minneapolis? Why haven't the sewer maintenance crews noticed signs of their presence?

Talking lions in space? How do they pilot ships with no opposable thumbs?

Magic that drives people insane? Why does anyone use it at all?


There is, however, one really good exception I will make - and that's when you take the setting from your dream and, now that you're awake, go to the effort of worldbuilding it into a real, functional setting. This basically renders the dream an inspiration, rather than pulling the setting or story wholesale from your sleeping mind.


All that to say - GUYS, I HAD THE COOLEST DREAM, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW.


The dream presented the story in reverse order, maybe because I was so curious about the world that I did the Lucid Dreaming and made a flashback for this super interesting character.


In the beginning of the dream, there was a girl named Violet who was part of a Guild that was tangled in a Guild War. She was about 18, ridiculously talented in combat for her age, and the romantic interest of the Guild Chief. So far, so predictable. This is pretty much like any YA novel.


Then it was revealed that Violet had a communications rig - an ear piece or something similar - from which she was receiving advice/orders, but not from the Guild Chief. The person talking to her was a Player; someone sitting in front of a screen in a faraway place, telling her what to do or making suggestions.


About the time that was revealed and before there was much time to process the implication that this was a game rather than real life (in spite of the immediate and pressing feeling of physical danger) the Guild Chief of the opposing/enemy Guild entered the scene. He was in his mid- to late-seventies or at least appeared that age, and Violet was very surprised, because characters in the Game (especially at this stage in the Game) usually had a median age of mid- to late-twenties with hardly anyone over the age of forty, simply because they didn't usually survive that long.


Which meant that this guy was either way stronger (physically) than he appeared, or he was incredibly cunning. He was dressed like a cleric, which meant that he probably had some special effects up his voluminous sleeves. Violet wasn't afraid of him using magic, though, which seemed to indicate that either magic wasn't a viable option in this setting, or that it was so costly to use that it wasn't a real threat.


Of course, Violet and the old man engaged in hand-to-hand combat, which she seemed to be winning - but too easily. When she started to get suspicious, the old man trapped her with a clever application of poisons and my dream sort of fast-forwarded to the end of the fight, where she had won, but was too injured to leave the room under her own power. The Guild Chief showed up (finally) and there was a touching exchange where he was thanking her for her willingness to fight for their Guild and telling her she had "earned a new name" for her service.


It was part of a sort of ranking system, apparently, separate from leveling. She had already earned two names, each replacing the one before it, and at the Guild Chief's words, she started to cry (and felt extremely humiliated that she couldn't hide it or force herself to stop). She said "I don't want another name. Can't you just call me Violet?" And then there was some romantic drivel that my brain has retained only a positive impression of without remembering any of the actual details. It was touching, it gave me warm fuzzies, okay, nothing to see here, moving on.


This is where the flashback started, skipping back in time to when Violet was 15 and fresh out of mandatory schooling. A brief impression of the school building as an enormous concrete box without any doors to speak of before smash-cutting to a scene where Violet and her brother (twin?) were checking in to a camp of some sort. It was supposed to be a training period for new Grinders (characters in the Game). They signed their names on the list, received bunk assignments, and were told to "go grind."


The dream cut off here to follow the brother (who apparently wasn't important enough to have a name). He and several others went to the equipment shop, where they could get a weapon. The only weapon available to them was a baseball bat. When the brother asked for a rifle instead, the seller scowled at him and said "Give me 120 hours of grinding, and I'll think about it." When the guy behind him in line asked for something better and somehow produced the in-game currency to pay for it, the seller was more polite in his refusal, but still said no. They were newbies. Level 0. The bat was all they had in the beginning, same as the rest.


There were other adults (NPCs) giving explanations, guided tours, and short tutorials on how the Game worked and how to do various things, but Brother apparently thought this was boring, and set out on his own with his bat and the idea that he would get in some grinding now and by the end of the week, he'd have the rifle he wanted. He came across a sort of little valley with a little monster at the end, and he tried to enter the valley so he could beat up the monster and get the experience for it. Something stopped him, though, like an invisible wall. He got really angry at it and said some very rude things, at which point he was informed that the valley was a Level 1 area, and he would need to meet or exceed that level in order to fight that monster. He called the newbie area "baby-proofed," and stomped back to the main tutorial area to fight holographic monsters instead of real ones until they let him do something different.


Fade transition back to Violet, who didn't go to the equipment shop. She had an idea that the lowland, where the dormitories were, would have access to more challenging content than anything on the Newbie Hill. Avoiding all the tutorials, she headed for the edge of the hill, which was built like a cairn or a tower, with a grassy ramp on one side leading up to the top. Instead of taking the ramp back down, since the ramp was guarded, she found an edge, judged the angle as just enough to slow her fall, and started sliding down it.


It was like rappelling, only without a rope. She faced the wall, which was made of stones cut to the shape and size of long bricks, and used her feet to brace herself against the wall as she slid down, catching at protruding stones with her hands to slow her descent. It was very impressive, and took a good deal of skill which she'd developed by escaping through the bathroom window of the school with no doors to avoid class (though this was never punished).


Once she'd reached the bottom, she started walking toward the trees in the distance and fiddled with the comm unit she'd been given - it was definitely an earpiece this time, and she found that although she could (in theory) hear someone else's voice through it, there was no mic, so she couldn't talk back.


She reached one tree set out away from the others, where she had apparently left her pet lizard, "Beauty," earlier before check-in. Beauty looked like a gecko but changed color like an octopus, so I don't know what to make of that, other than that it was cool. Violet made sure Beauty had food and shelter, then left her coat hanging on the tree to distract/mislead anyone that followed her, picked up a hefty fallen branch, and went toward the forest.


My dream skipped past everything she did in the forest, but I had the impression that she fought real monsters at a higher level than she should have been able to handle, and when she came back to the dormitories that night, she had more experience, more loot, and a better weapon (a short spear) than anyone else that had arrived that morning. She was sure it was going to cause problems, but fewer problems than if she was just bad at the Game.


That's where the dream ended, and I'll pick up again on Monday with worldbuilding from that point.


I look forward to seeing you again then! :)

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©2020 by Eleanor Taylor.

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