Endea went through the streets on a horse-drawn cart with supplies. The day was getting hotter and hotter and her engine’s condition was affecting her. The Galdredan Lava Kingdom covered a good 3/4th’s of the Under-realm’s Southern continent and she was making a long westward journey along the southern coast. She kept rubbing her sides when she could. “Oof, my engine’s bad,” she groaned to herself. She arrived at the rail station she needed to be at and helped unload the supplies. Now, by law, all other transports are supposed to yield to any horse-drawn transports. However, there was always something that made it so the law wasn’t obeyed. This time, it was hardly the other person’s fault as the horseless carriage’s brakes had failed and the accelerator was stuck in a continual climbing rate. Thankfully, the steering was still intact. As Endea got her cart moving once the train left with its cargo, the horseless carriage turned sharply to the right to avoid a collision. “WATCH IT! THAT’S TOO FAST!” snapped Endea. As she turned to her left, her sides flared again, and she couldn’t stop her horse in time. The horse broke free and the cart toppled, spilling the load everywhere and throwing Endea to the ground. The load was on the tracks too. Tenshal approached her and surveyed the situation.
“Good grief, Ma’am!” he yelped. “What happened?!”
“I had a bit of an accident,” explained Endea. “Help me pick up the stuff and…” Her order was cut off by a train whistle. “Oh no, that’s WAY too near!”
“Can’t we save any of it?!” asked Tenshal.
“Stay back, Ensign!” ordered Endea. “That train will flatten you before you even touch one!” Tenshal stayed back and the train whizzed by, smashing the supplies under its wheels. “Ones dammit!” swore Endea. “How many times have I told Arsha I need a new engine?”
“Ma’am?” quizzed Tenshal.
“My engine played up once someone in a horseless carriage whizzed by me. I would have controlled the whole situation better if I could get a new engine!”
“Come on, Ma’am, you know it’s not Arsha’s fault. It’s Tuurk and Talair.”
“This happens whenever your engine plays up?!” yelped the nearby Stationmaster.
“Don’t stand there gawking!” argued Tenshal. “Go sound the alarm!”
Tuurk and Talair met with Denstra again. Those two would never give up unless Aldarval ordered them to. “Oh, Commander Welmeva!” called Tuurk.
“What?” snapped Denstra.
“Did you hear about Endea’s accident at Sonfelor Station?”
“And if I did?”
“Commander, you and your Captain must realize,” replied Talair, “that Endea’s ancient engine is finished and so is she. Wouldn’t you say, Mr. Tuurk?”
“Oh, yes, Mr. Talair,” agreed Tuurk. “A relic like her needs to be retired from service instead of draining precious resources maintaining her. We believe she would do well among the relics being broken up to make new ships, don’t we, Mr. Talair?”
“Always on the lookout for which ship’s next to go. That’s our business and the Endeavor is at the top of our list.”
“That ‘relic’ has been a valuable resource herself!” snarled Denstra. “Her contributions far outweigh any shortcomings she might have!”
“Hm, not very fiscally responsible, is it, Mr. Tuurk?” mused Talair.
“No, indeed, Mr. Talair,” answered Tuurk. “A more competent vessel commander would have no worries keeping Realmfleet finances in mind.”
“Until such a person is either in the Endeavor’s chain of command or is looking to replace Arsha,” growled Denstra, “we shall continue to run this ship as we see fit.”
“That can be arranged, Commander Welmeva,” warned Talair. “One word from us and you may find yourself replaced by someone who has no pirate past.”
“…Threaten me or bring up my days among Reb’s crew again,” hissed Denstra, “and you’ll be inspecting the ship’s underside while it’s in the air! Now SCRAM!”
“Very well,” answered Talair. “Have a nice day. Come, Mr. Tuurk. She needs to think it over.”
“Oh, indeed, Mr. Talair,” agreed Tuurk as both men left Denstra alone.
“What am I gonna do?” moaned Denstra.
The clean-up was swift and Endea gave her statement to the emergency services. The driver of the horseless carriage came back to the scene after his car crashed, confirming that he had little control of his vehicle. Endea was taken back via an immunized Gorfanth and Malnar on their own carriage. Unfortunately, a male Minotaur driver from a new road-based delivery service arrived. The roads were becoming cheaper than Realmfleet or railways to transport goods and this driver was waiting for the chance to rub it in to Gorfanth especially. “Well, well, well,” chuckled the driver as he stopped his horseless carriage, “what have we got here? Damaged goods and a hurting ship-type Mechanica? Another efficient Realmfleet maneuver!”
“Tornoth, what are YOU doing here?!” snorted Gorfanth.
“You know this guy?” asked Malnar.
“He’s my brother,” explained Gorfanth.
“And to answer your question,” continued the new arrival, Tornoth Steelhorn, “I was just moseying around after another delivery. It was my third delivery of the day, three times more than yours.”
“Oh look, you can do math,” snorted Gorfanth.
“Ooh, tetchy, aren’t we? You Realmfleet lovers REALLY love to flaunt your pride!”
“Someone has to, since you don’t.”
“What happened, anyways, brother?”
“If you MUST know, there was an accident involving a horseless carriage and it almost smashed into Endea. One of yours, I take it?”
“Hey, you can’t pin that on us! We don’t hire reckless drivers! In all honesty, you should have called us to help with the clean-up! We’d have cleared it much faster than…Gorfanth, WHAT, pray tell, are you looking at?”
“I’m not sure, but…okay, now I’m sure! Look out! Angry mama bear!!”
“WHERE?!” Tornoth scrambled to the roof of his carriage to look for the bear but couldn’t find it. He then became aware of Gorfanth laughing at him. “Oh, very funny!” he snorted as he climbed back into the driver’s seat. “You’ll get yours! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got bigger prospects to worry about!” He started his carriage and set off.
“Okay, what made him afraid of bears?” asked Malnar.
“He barely survived an encounter with a mama bear after getting between her and her cub,” explained Gorfanth.
“…How is he not hamburger?!” yelped Endea.
While that was going on, Arsha and Falnii set up the room for another dream weaving session. “Are you ready?” asked Falnii.
“Ready,” replied Arsha. She breathed deeply and shut her eyes, feeling Falnii touch the back of her head with her own, then felt Falnii’s cloud wrap around her. Falnii then chanted.
Dream your dream with me.
Tell your woes to me.
Show your troubles to me.
Dream your dream with me.
As Falnii chanted, Arsha fell into a deep sleep.
Arsha woke up again in the ruins within the fjord. “…Fluffy?” she called. “Hooves? Bonfire? Princess? Farm Boy? …Hello? …Anyone?!”
“You can’t be helped,” replied the ominous voice. The area rumbled as the massive wave appeared. As Arsha stood, a light shone from behind her.
“…If you’re what I need,” pleaded Arsha, “please, show me hope!” With a great effort, she turned around to face the light. The instant she faced the light, a tremendous force knocked her off her feet, carrying her into the air over the wave. As the wave hit the fjord, it crashed and broke up before settling down to the bottom of the fjord. Arsha was set back down as she looked around, noticing that the fjord was changing from just rocks to plants growing on it. Some of the flowers that grew, she couldn’t identify. “What in…?”
“You dare deny the truth?!” shrieked the voice. Arsha realized that the voice was right behind her. She turned and gasped in horror! It almost looked like her, but the doppelganger’s mouth was wide and had exposed teeth. Its primary means of movement was a multitude of pink tentacles replacing the legs and long, thin arms with fearsome claws at the end of each finger. Its eyes were large and serpentine and its nine, scaled tails had toothy mouths at the tips. The rose in its hair had a pair of pink, thorny vines constantly moving, and its ears were curved and horned. Its back was hunched over, and its tongue was long and barbed.
“What in all the Realms?!” cried Arsha.
“AWAKEN!” called Falnii’s voice.
Arsha woke up in a cold sweat like last time. She regained her bearings a lot quicker as she had a question on her mind. “What WAS that thing?!” she asked Falnii.
“That was a manifestation of every bit of self-loathing you’ve ever had,” explained Falnii. “It’s every parasitic thought you’ve buried, feeding off of your hopelessness.”
“Is that why it looked somewhat like me? It IS me?”
“No, just a part of you.”
“I swear, I’ve never felt such fear in me!”
“Looking at every aspect you hate about yourself is frightening. Dream-weavers have to face that dark aspect of themselves every day.”
“How can I get rid of it?”
“…I’m sorry, but you can’t.” Arsha sighed at hearing that. “Arsha, like it or not, that’s part of your being, your very soul. Everyone has that ugly side to them, an opposite to their usual self. Some prefer to release that ugly side in their actions while others seek to bury it. There’s simply no way to get rid of it without damaging your soul. I’m afraid the next session will be where you have to confront it.”
“…Not looking forward to that.”