Last night I learned a valuable lesson. Never think about incubi before drifting off to sleep. On the other hand, maybe all those salacious novels I read when I was a kid have caught up with me.
In this dream, I was a foreigner. The landscape of dark amber sand with reddish undertones in no way reminded me of any world I had known.
Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it — I was at the window inside a chamber with other foreign women. Their blonde and brunette hair marked them as non-natives to the region. As far as ancestry went, we were every shade of the rainbow. Despite our language barriers, we tried to brace each other’s spirit, gesturing to each other that things weren’t as bad as they seemed. Silk scarves embroidered with gold thread hung from the ceiling. Linen of the richest quality covered the divans and low beds. Well fed, we were also draped in silk and allowed to decorate ourselves with whatever gems or paint we liked. Surely things could be worse.
Despite our words, things couldn’t get much worse; in fact, we were scared shitless. Not one of us was in the spacious room because she wanted to be. The men of the Desert had invaded our homes, and the most terrible of war men were allowed to take women as possessions, much like invading armies chose territories as possessions.
To scare away what little wits we had left, our lord — or kidnapper or oppressor — poofed on the threshold. Although it was his right to enter, he rarely ventured in the midst of what was considered the quarters of women. Clearly he was of European and African ancestry, but he honored no allegiance to anyone or anywhere but the empire he sought to perpetuate. Tales of his handsomeness were only exceeded by legends of his brutality. On the eve of battle, he was in no mood to banter words. One of us would serve him in whatever manner he chose. Because he was in an impatient and terrible temper, no one could predict how the service would end.
His favorite possession foolishly dared to speak up. Because she was his favorite wife, she sometimes mustered her bravery and challenged him without reprimand. This time, however, luck was not on her side. Her gall was met with such swift fierceness, I ran to the farthest wall and curled into a ball beneath an elaborate tapestry. Her impudence would only bring his fury upon us, and I wept from self-pity and fear. The closer his presence came, the harder I cried.
He said, “You will wait for me in my chamber.”
No one had any idea when he would return from battle, which meant I could have been waiting for a damn long time. Any relief was faint, though. On this eve, the sword had missed my neck, but who was to say the blade would be as benevolent on the morrow? Worse yet, being the new favorite meant I would be in closer proximity to him, which gave me more opportunity to piss him off and, if it were possible, meet a worse fate than that of the ex-favorite.
After he left our chamber, I gathered enough courage to approach the window and watch our emperor join the war march. In chest plate and leg armor, he swaggered on a narrow, wooden platform that jutted from a window beneath our window. The sands gave way, and a huge elephant rose from the crumbling grounds. Our emperor mounted the elephant, followed by a second in command. This was no pomp and glamour, for the march was well underway. Our overlord and the officer guided the huge animal forward and blended into the swarm of elephants and solders.
I stood awed that these men rode elephants and not horses into battle. Any subservience to humans soon faded, however, and the elephants seemed more concerned with keeping their families together rather than paying attention to the solders atop their backs. Cute baby animals ran to keep up with the steady, majestic stride of their parents and older siblings. Here and there, a trunk would lift and tenderly touch a youngster’s back in encouragement.
The solders knew better than interfere with family bonds. They neither coaxed nor demanded the animals move faster or slower. The emperor and his men respected the strength and beauty of the elephants and treated them like allies rather than brutish, witless slaves.
I’m not clear on how to interpret this dream. Maybe I’d better stick with reading the horror classics this Halloween.