After an extended drought of blackout nights, Vidalia was dreaming again, but nowhere near ones of the ordinary variety, especially for a person of her kind. These dreams were filled with murky, ever-shifting shapes, people she knew in the waking world, but who tried to obscure their identity, as if they were in a dreamland witness protection program.
She knew, in that way the unknown became known in dream logic, that the people were pixelating themselves because of something she did. She had inadvertently given birth to an idea that was so next of kin to chaos in The Dreamorium, that it made her persona non grata among the inhabitants.
Fearing for her safety while existing in dreamstate, Vidalia had no other choice but to pay a visit to the ruler of The Dreamorium, in order to convince him to take her sleep-wandering soul under the wing of his protection, and make it known to all, that anyone who attempted to do her harm would be severely dealt with.
As her visit to the DreamCore was unannounced, Vidalia arrived while Morpheus himself was asleep, and found it difficult to approach the monarch, because she was forced to wade through his own dreams; the images flowing from his mind were thick with nastiness and liquidy with sin, and they wanted ever so much to enter her, to drown the very essence of her being.
Vidalia’s head bobbed just above the surface of the dreams that threatened to drag her into their undertow. While she struggled to stay afloat, her eyes kept returning to Morpheus’s sleeping face. How could this peaceful-looking man have dreams filled with so much rage?
In her battle to avoid drowning, Vidalia uttered a shriek that woke Morpheus from his sleep. His eyes opened and the dreams evaporated instantly. When he yawned, the air became warm and heavy with welcoming scents: freshly cut grass, and old books, and Christmas morning.
Morpheus, unsurprised by Vidalia’s presence in his boudoir, smiled and sauntered over to her, taking her face in both hands and kissed her. Although the kiss landed on her forehead, she felt it on her lips, and it tasted of chocolate made from cacao and cane sugar.
“I am heartily sorry for disturbing your sleep, sir,” Vidalia said, humbled suddenly by the nearness of him. “But I was drowning in your…“
“Nightmares, I know,” Morpheus nodded. “I daydream as many as I can manage to spare you mortal lot their pain and anguish.”
“My name is…“
“Vidalia,” Morpheus finished. “From the tribe of secret dreamers known as the Moemoeā, and in addition to being the strongest, smartest, and most beautiful of your sisters, you are the seventh daughter of seven daughters, and you have come craving a boon.”
Vidalia tried to step back, to remove herself from his sphere of influence, but Morpheus clasped her shoulders and held her to the spot.
“Your loneliness is like a beacon in The Dreamorium,” he said. “It calls out to me and confesses your secrets. I know your crime.”
“Then you must despise me, sir,” Vidalia turned her face away from the Lord of Dreams. “And I was foolish to travel to this place in search of a compassionate ear and perhaps aid in the form of a possible solution.”
“How can I offer aid without a request being made?”
“I have done a thing here in your realm and it has grown beyond my control,” Vidalia said, not quite able to meet his gaze.
“And you have come to me seeking to make your error mine own so that I might repair the damage you have done?” Morpheus raised an eyebrow.
His fingers gently caressed her chin and he turned her face so that their eyes met. “Tell me, mortal, do you think me so weak of mind that I cannot detect when I am standing in the presence of a falsehood?”
Vidalia brushed his hand away. “How am I false, sir?”
Morpheus leaned in closer, their noses almost touching. “I see in you so many levels of deception, it is quite fascinating, actually. But you cannot bury the truth deep enough within your lies to hide it from me. You will reveal to me, child, what you have done.”
When Vidalia offered no response, Morpheus circled her slowly, whispering in each ear as he passed, “I can feel it, this thing you have loosed in my realm. It salivates at the very thought of me. It aches to sip the wine of life directly from my throat.”
“So, you desire the truth?” Vidalia asked.
“As near as you can manage.”
“Very well. I gave birth here.”
“You gave birth in The Dreamorium?”
“I was impregnated here and delivered here. A first to my knowledge.”
“A surface lie,” Morpheus scoffed. “Try again.”
“The thing that seeks you out, I am responsible for its presence. You have said that I am the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter, and that is true but it was my mother who was impregnated here, by an idea made flesh. And I am the result of that union.”
“And what was the fertile idea?”
“It was not so much an idea as it was a truth,” Vidalia said. “Now is the time of women.”
Morpheus smirked. “And you believe that you alone can unthrone me?”
“I know that I will unthrone you. And since you favor truth, the simple truth is that I am never alone.”
Behind Vidalia, women began to materialize. Her mother. Her sisters. her aunts. “We are a tribe, as you have mentioned,” she said. “A tribe of experienced dreamers and we believe ourselves capable of holding mankind’s nightmares at bay.”
“Your number has grown from one to fourteen, that is still not enough, I assure you,” Morpheus said dismissively.
“Peer outside your window, great king,” Vidalia stepped to the gossamer drapes and pulled them aside.
When the Duke of Dreaming cast a glance at the grounds beyond his keep, he witnessed an impossible gathering of women.
“Those women stretch as far as the eye can see and even farther still. It is the Moemoeā and we are legion.”
“The first of our kind inhabited this place since its infancy and we have watched your rise to power with much admiration,” Vidalia continued. “But the world beyond this place is changing and dreams are too, becoming darker, some taking on the quality of nightmares.”
“It is more than one man can bear, even a man such as yourself. We wish to offer you a respite, carry the burden for you now.”
“If your intentions were noble and your cause just, why then approach me like sneak-thieves in the night?” Morpheus asked.
“Would you have granted us audience if we made our intentions plain? No, you would not.”
“Foolish women, I shall oppose you.”
“You will try, and you will fail. You know this to be true but pride demands that you defend your throne. But this need not end in senseless violence,” Vidalia placed a hand on Morpheus’ chest, his heartbeat betraying his calm demeanor.
“It can be gentle, peaceful, and sweet,” she whispered as her lips brushed his mouth. “Why sip wine from your throat when your lips, far more desirable, would achieve the same goal?” She kissed him hard and full and he groaned pitifully.
There was a weight to Vidalia’s kiss that he struggled against, unaware her lips were siphoning his essence at the same time.
Soon, the others joined in, touching and kissing the Lord of Dreams and soothing him into submission, into surrender. His defiant roars transformed into desperate pleas as he begged them to stop but they paid him no heed.
And when he was but a shade of his former self, a ghost who was evaporating at Dawn’s approach, the women praised Morpheus, killing him with kindness until he was no more.
Vidalia led the women in prayer after his passing before demolishing all he had built.
Now, the difficult work began, devising a new way for mortals to dream and a new way to filter out nightmares. Peace might not be achievable in the real world but Vidalia and her kin strove to make it a reality in The Dreamorium.