Cinara blinks once and is instantaneously transported to a foreign land- the past, the glowing hearth, the shuffle of slippered fleet as Nanna Slag hoves in to view- complete with knitted chainmail and ‘dem-chewers’ (metal-replacement teeth), Nanna puts her battleaxe aside and sits on the edge of your bed. You are only six years old, you pummel your shale and limestone pillow into shape and settle into it- Nanna Slag has a gleam in her eye. Tonight’s promised story, about a clan of ‘bad Dwarves’ called the Tannheim is going to be a exciting, your certain... it seems Nanna really has forgiven you for killing ‘King Morris’, her favourite pet Toad.
Yet you remember little of the story; only the cold sweat and terrible screams (your own) hours later when you awake for the first time from the nightmare, you remember the nightmare of course, or at least the end of it, you have been there so often. Great leering Dwarves, with misshapen faces, each forty feet tall and made of solid stone chasing you around your room, only your room is much bigger and there are puddles on the floor. Thankfully, you are too quick for the ponderous beasts and manage to dodge, duck and dive to avoid their great clashing; smashing weapons-, you spot your escape, squeeze through a set of gleaming metal bars and rush headlong down a natural cavern passage too small for your tormentors to access.
Safe, you exit into a larger chamber, you remember smiling as you come to a stop, smiling as you steady the beat of your thunderous heart...
That’s when the great serpent grabs you.
Your last memory being crushed in the creature’s ever-tightening grasp.
That is when you awake- screaming, and spot just in time a glint of light in the corner of your room- the glint of Nanna Slag’s dem-chewers.
I remember the screams. Not too sure if it was because Nanna kept her teeth next to my bed or specifically because of the nightmares, but I do remember nonetheless.
As for King Morris...that was an accident. And I refuse to talk about it anymore.
I do miss my pillow though......................