It has been a few days since Feathers and Ash and its sequel, Iron and Ash. I suspected after the second dream that something substantial had changed and that if I continued to have dreams/nightmares of being possessed, the nature of those dreams would change.
Wha’dya’know… I was right. But, I don’t want to talk about how things have changed. While this new set of scenarios are much more likely to happen, in my current environment they are still as likely as a cheese moon or a beneficial institution.
Instead, I’ll talk about Truth and Purity.
I was at a café with two tourists. One had a cane named “Purity”, and the other had a staff named “Truth”.
The bearer of Truth was a tall, thin man with a sour disposition. He wore long robes of unbleached linen and despised being out in public where his clothes could get dirty. The only thing he cared more about than his level of cleanliness was his taller, thinner staff that never left his hand. He wouldn’t let anyone even get close enough to examine his staff without touching it. It looked too thin to support any weight and I couldn’t tell if it was a single piece of wood, or even if it was wood at all. He muttered often that his staff, named Truth, was more precious and important than anything in the whole filthy world.
The bearer of Purity was an average size man with a childish inquisition. He wore loose shirt and slacks that kept changing color each time I looked at him, but the colors were always solid, muted, and easy to see. He was excited about being in a new place and was always asking questions or asking to examine a thing or asking for lore and history. Because he was so active, he kept leaving his cane behind when he got up to go anywhere. Somehow I was caught up in his wake and wound up holding his cane most of the night to keep thieves and collectors from snatching it up. The cane Purity was a single piece of wood that at first glance appeared to have been formerly a branch of some dense wood that was as long as my leg, as thick as my shoulder at the handling end, and as thin as my pinky toe at the ground end, but every time I placed it in my lap, it squirmed like a root seeking water. The fact that it moved when I touched it did not bother me. The man was always thankful and grateful that I would hold it when he was distracted.
The bearer of Truth kept himself isolated from everyone. “Don’t touch my staff!” He yelled it in five minute intervals. He yelled it when anyone looked in his general direction. He yelled it when no one was giving him any attention anymore. He didn’t want to see anything. He just wanted no one to come near him or his staff.
The bearer of Purity wanted to see everything. He flitted from counter to counter, from stall to stall. He wanted to buy everything he was offered but his companion, the bearer of Truth, had his money and refused to approach any vendors lest the staff be touched without permission. (He never granted anyone permission, not even his fellow.)
After a longer than usual pause while the happy man was pouring over a pile of stuff, I looked down and saw the cane Purity had bent and wound itself around my leg as it was stretching towards the bare dirt under us. The wood pulsed and gripped in motions that should have had me screaming in terror, but I only smiled as if a kitten was first learning to climb. “I can’t let you root here, or you’ll never leave when they do.” The movement of the animated wood stopped after I spoke and it curled even tighter around my leg in a motion I could easily mistake for sorrow.
I uncurled the cane and smoothed it back into a mostly linear form before laying it in my lap. Despite the surface appearing polished and lacquered, it felt soft in my hands. It accepted the weight of my hands on it and the flesh of the cane yielded as if I had laid my hands on the thigh of its bearer. It felt alive.
Suddenly the bearer of Truth hit his limit of tolerance for the filth that came with being outside in an outdoor market. He had enough of this shit and yelled at his companion to take up his cane so they can depart. The bearer of Purity took the cane from my lap with the same care as a cat owner picking up a recalcitrant beast that wanted only to continue napping in a warm place. The cane leaned over his shoulder and molded itself against his neck in a motion I could easily mistake for affection.
When their wings burst out of their backs, accompanied by a brilliant light that blinded me to anything that followed, I had a glimpse of their nature. I recognized the voice of the bearer of Truth as a great shout announced their departure, and my destruction from the dream.