this week's rainbow dreams is brought to you by the triple goddess tarot, cocoons, and the number 9.
clouds floated by in macabre shapes that brought the the sickle of the vulture goddess to mind. it brought kali's rage to the forefront of my morbid thoughts as the stream bore me on its path through the grounds of the Menstrual Temple.
that cloud there looked like a pruned rose, its petals falling away. the one beside it looked like nothing so much as a heart pierced through by a sword. that one was harmless, just a dragon breathing fire, but... oh. there were people burning in the fire. 'kay, nevermind.
tears were streaming from the corners of my eyes down my temples and into the water, but i didn't notice. what did it matter, a little salt from my eyes, when i was slowly turning the River Funk red from where the pomegranate priestess had slashed my chest wide open with her sickle and flown away?
the denizens of the River had come, drawn by the scent of blood on the fresh water. i could feel them swirling about me: fish and crustaceans, eels, and undines. i could feel the soft brush of their fins against me, pincers taking curious pokes at me, the smooth gliding of eel flesh down the neck of my shirt and out again. the gentle pressure of small, webbed hands examining my hair, my clothes, my strange body.
with water cradling me and filling my ears and eyes, the smell of blood on the air, and the shock of pain at this new injury, i'd entered a sort of fugue state. no more pain registered, but my senses were sharpened nonetheless. it was my thoughts which were clouded and vague. whatever happened, no matter how strange, i would've accepted it instantly.
it took a long time for me to realize those hands, fins, pincers, and eelflesh weren't merely poking at me curiously. there was a purpose in their touch. slowly, so very slowly, they were guiding me toward the shore.
my eyes cleared, and for the first time i noticed i was no longer anywhere near the pomegranate groves. the clear sky had given way to a forest so thick that no sunlight penetrated the vast canopy above. trees and vines grew so close together, reaching their branches across the river and intertwining them like folded hands, so a kind of arched corridor formed over the river and followed it through the forest.
the water folk had borne me to a small clearing on the shore, a spot of mud that sloped up slightly, like a trench. but they could only go so far onto the shore and push me along the bank. i could see their heads bobbing above the surface of the water, could hear the strange clicks and squeaks of the undines talking to one another.
my upper half was on the bank, my lower half still floating in the river. i slid down further in the mud and suddenly there were large teeth sinking themselves gently into my shirt, barely pinching my skin. jaws closed around my shoulder and pulled me out of the water. a warm, furry body braced against my side and rolled me. jaws caught me at the nape of my neck and i was dragged up out of the mud, over exposed roots gnarled with age, and set down again on soft moss.
a warm velvet nose nudged my head. there was a sound in my ear, the hunka-hunka of a large cat almost on the verge of a purr. in an ordinary house cat, it would have been a trill of curiosity and concern. claws ripped my shirt apart, and a scratching tongue was lapping at the blood on my chest. another tongue, soft and velvet, cleaned my face.
something long and muscular had wrapped itself around my arm. i fought to open an eye and saw a brilliantly green snake had become a tourniquet for my arm. funny, but i didn't even remember my arm being cut.
the forest came alive with animals, from large cats to snakes and even deer, to tend this wound from the sickle. dryads came, made poultices from the leaves and bark of their trees. the moss itself crept up my legs, which were bare. i had no memory of losing my clothing, but suddenly i was alone in the forest by the river, and the moss crept up my body and pulled me down into the earth. i grew so sleepy, and the moss was soft and warm.
the deeper into the earth i was drawn, the more clearly i could hear a sort of pulse, deep in my bones. it was a deep thud, reverberating in my skull, like a large and very deep drum being beaten far, far away. my heart slowed to match that rhythm, my breathing all but nonexistant.
and as i fell into my slumber with the earth, i felt something coil within me. it was a small presence which settled right where my heart should have been.
are you safe? it asked.
yes, i replied.
is your den safe, where all may thrive? it asked.
i thought a moment, feeling the pull of my mystical slumber. i nurture everyone, i said. and i suppose all thrive there...
you could do better, it chided. silence, then: do you find this darkness uneasy?
no. i didn't. i'd lived too long in darkness, come eye to eye with too much, to be frightened of what i see within.
why am i here?
the presence stirred, and i knew it was thinking. so much time stretched it felt like years, and i wondered if i would even receive an answer. you are becoming, it finally said.
yes, becoming, said the voice. this is transitory, a place for you to shed your old scales, young dragon, and learn. you have breathed fire, burned villages. though different now, you will still be hunted in places where they do not understand you. when you emerge, you will be different. stronger, bigger, the very color of your scales will have changed. that dragons have merely one den is a tale. this was merely the place of your transition. now, sleep.