Dream Thief

“…You have yet to tell me what a dreamthief does.”

“Why, steal dreams, of course. Twice a year we take our booty to a certain market to trade, just as the nomads trade.”

“You trade in dreams?” Elric was disbelieving.

Alnac enjoyed his astonishment. “There are dealers at the market who’ll pay well for certain dreams. In turn they sell them to those unfortunates who either cannot dream or have such banal dreams they desire something better.”

Elric shook his head. “You speak in parables, surely?”

“No, Prince Elric, I speak the exact truth.” He dragged the oddly hooked staff from his belt. It reminded Elric of a shepherd’s crook, though it was shorter. “One does not acquire this without having studied the basic skills of the dreamthief’s craft. I am not the best in my trade, nor am I likely ever to be, but in this realm, in this time, this is my destiny. There are few hi this realm, for reasons you shall no doubt learn, and only the nomads and the folk of Elwher recognise our craft. We are not known, save to a few wise people, in the Young Kingdoms.”

“Why do you not venture there?”

“We are not asked to do so. Have you ever heard of anyone seeking the services of a dreamthief in the Young Kingdoms?”

“Never. But why should that be?”

“Perhaps because Chaos has so much influence in the West and South. There, the most terrible nightmares can readily become reality.”

“You fear Chaos?”

“What rational being does not? I fear the dreams of those who serve her.” Alnac Kreb looked away towards the desert. “Elwher and what you call the Unmapped East have La the main less complicated inhabitants. Melnibon√©’s influence was never so strong. Nor was it, of course, in the Sighing Desert.”

“So it is my folk whom you fear?”

“I fear any race which gives itself over to Chaos; which makes pacts with the most powerful of supernatural; with the very Dukes of Chaos; with the Sword Rulers themselves! I do not regard such dealings as wholesome or sane. I am opposed to Chaos.”

“You serve Law?”

“I serve myself. I serve, I suppose, the Balance. I believe that one can live and let live and celebrate the world’s variety.”

“Such philosophy is enviable, Master Alnac. I aspire to it myself, though I suppose you do not believe me.”

“Aye, I believe you, Prince Elric. I am party to many dreams and you occur in some of them. And dreams are reality and vice versa in other realms.” The dreamthief glanced sympathetically at the albino. “It must be hard for one who has known millennia of power to attempt a relinquishing of such power.”

“You understand me well, Sir Dreamthief.”

“Oh, my understanding is only ever of the broadest kind in such matters.” Alnac Kreb shrugged and made a self-deprecating gesture.

“I have spent much time in seeking the meaning of justice, in visiting lands where it is said to exist, in trying to discover how best it may be accomplished, how it may be established so that all the world shall benefit. Have you heard of Tanelorn, Alnac Kreb? There justice is said to rule. There the Grey Lords, those who keep charge of the world’s equilibrium, are said to have their greatest influence.”

“Tanelorn exists,” said the dreamthief quietly. “And it has many names. Yet in some realms, I fear, it is no more than an idea of perfection. Such ideas are what maintain us in hope and fuel our urge to make reality of dreams. Sometimes we are successful.”

Dream Thief

Stormbringer : Splintered Worlds jodie