In the Land of Wonderful Dreams

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Mongrel
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Re: In the Land of Wonderful Dreams

Postby Mongrel » Sat Apr 07, 2018 2:32 am

I apologize for another monster post. I wish we had the kind of spoiler tags where I could compress this wall of text down so that anyone who doesn't want to read it could just scroll past.

Anyway, this was the most fun I'd had in a dream in some time. One thing I find most fascinating is how my long story dreams always start out with some sort of framing device, like they're a movie, or TV show I'm watching or a novel.

In this case it was an old European comic compilation I "discovered" in a comic shop. The back half was tattered and basically toast, but this story was intact to its end, so I read half in the store, bought it, and read the second half after that.

Anyway, here's the wall of text if you care. As usual, I wonder if I should turn these into actual stories.

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I had a dream last night about an odd sort of little-prince type world (well not that small... maybe the size of the moon or a bit smaller?) full of swampy terrain and various nations locked in a perpetual war. The people looked a bit gnomish/hobbitish, I guess... hard to describe. They were smaller than humans, but not quite so small as actual hobbits, much less smurfs (who seemed to inspire part of this somehow).

The setting was an odd mix of woodland fantasy and alien-post-apocalyptic leftover tech bits. The main native character was a neutral healer just trying to keep her head down, who lived in a tree house (with a door at the base of the tree leading to a house in the branches) and medical equipment that was half-fantasy, half-alien-future-electronic. Most of the "warfare" consisted of occasional roving bands of raiders attacking each other with edged weapons and the occasional (and often unreliable) gun, or pillaging the small village settlements where most civilians lived. The nations as such didn't seem to have any defined boundaries and it was almost more like gang warfare than anything. The villages (and very occasional large town, built across several near large islands or even a full promontory) are built on the infrequently-appearing patches of dry land large enough to support a small village, whereas the healer lives alone, her tree-house being on a small, dry hummock. Solo houses like hers are also not uncommon.

In the middle of all this a small green sphere lands near the healer's treehouse and out rolls a green "goblin" from space (i.e. he actually looked quite similar to the locals apart from being green and wearing a modern singlesuit), with clear and obvious powerful magic (or maybe just non-degraded tech?). He's a cheery type who never seems fazed by anything and speaks in weird half-backwards sentences. He sort of reminded me distantly of The Great Gazoo, only, you know, not a gigantic asshole.

There's the usual sort of awkward tension as he discovers the healer, the first person on the planet he meets, but eventually they become friends, with her taking him to the local village which isn't too far from her bayou tree (much of the water in this swamp-ish land is shallow enough to be walked though, though there are also deeper pools). The goblin fellow easily befriend many of the villagers, either through his relentlessly disarming cheeriness, or by producing small thoughtful gifts for the stubbornly suspicious. Some of these are simple, but others appear to be working (and even superior) gadgets in the same vein as the left over bits of old tech the people of this world possess. Naturally in a world riven by small perpetual raids, there are quite a lot of people suspicious of anyone who isn't local.

At the healer's invitation, he decides to stay and lives with her and helps her for some weeks - and then months - and she gains some moderate renown as a highly skilled healer. The haler gradually explains the world as the goblin seems to have endless curiosity about everything. For example, most civilians are in practice neutral (and are thereby raided by everyone), but the large towns are stockaded and tend to actually be allied with a "nation". The goblin is interested in the healer's technique, which he finds unconventional by his standards but still quite effective, another thing which happily fascinates him, commenting on what he sees as ingenious use of what he regards as very old or primitive equipment, mixed with local herbalism and other indigenous forms of treatment.

This... space goblin also chases away any bandit raids using some sort of powers, but is always exceedingly polite and friendly, such that appears he's telling any raiders how rude it would be for them to attack, again sometimes presenting the stubborn ones with small gifts which are mysteriously appropriate to the recipient. As such the village prospers somewhat and starts to become known in the region as a place of safe neutrality, so bandits stop attacking it altogether, not because of the goblin, but just to respect it as one of the few places of genuine neutrality, where they can trade prisoners or send messages to other nations. The goblin himself, largely remains unknown outside of town except as a bit of a side rumour attached to the neutral town, since once the town becomes known as a neutral location, he doesn't have to stop bandit raids, so sometimes visitors mention that an odd green fellow lives in the neutral town, but pass it off as a footnote because he doesn't appear to be anyone important (he's also wearing local homespun clothes by now, some of the many reciprocal gifts he received from the villagers). His green space sphere remains nestled in some roots of the healer's tree and covered in moss to keep it semi-hidden although a few of the more trusted villagers know about it.

The healer's repeated questions about where the goblin is from prompts him finally to bring her to his small spaceship one night (which to the healer has always appeared a smooth green sphere when she tried to investigate it). In it, he brings up a small blinking star map, which the goblin cheerily explains is "less complicated than it looks" to the bewildered healer. He says he has been to many worlds, but lights a single star in the map, pointing to it. He explains that that is where he was born, and that while there are many different peoples on many different worlds, the people of his world and the people of her world are not all that different, that they are part of a large family one of the largest families of the stars. The healer asks him to explains this but he cuts her off to bring her outside and points up at the sky, singling out a star among the night sky, explaining that that is where he is from.

Things continue on for another few weeks, when it becomes known that the four petty-kings of the only real "nations" of this little world (more people exist as neutrals than they do as subjects of any king) decide to have one of their periodic sham peace talks - they're a sham because none of them feel they can trust one another, so nobody ever commits to anything. They are slightly taller than their subjects and all four are similarly old and white or grey bearded and wear long pale-blue robes (except for an exceedingly fat one with heavy fur robes and a red beard - while still old he appears to be the "youngest" of the kings). They decide to have the talks in the neutral town, which is only large enough to accommodate very small retinues.

As the talks progress, it becomes clear that no one is really interested in resolving anything as usual, and that the low-level sporadic raiding warfare will simply continue. Irritated, the goblin apparently decides on something. He grabs the healer and suggests the four kings take a break and accompany him on a tour of the village surroundings in a low-level flying barge. Functional flying objects exist on this world, but are an extreme rarity and travel very slowly and at low heights. The villagers wonder what's going on since none of them knew he had a flying barge, but merely murmur quietly to each other. Eager to experience the novelty of a flying tour, the kings readily agree, but once on the barge it quickly accelerates faster than any of the natives had ever flown before, terrifying the kings.

As the barge flies north across the vast swamps, the fear turns to rage as the kings demand to be taken back. The goblin assures them they will be returned safely, but for the time being are taken to a better place for negotiations. The kings threaten the goblin, but he simply asks if they know how to fly the barge - or if they know how far away there are or how to find their way back, after which they grudgingly fall silent. This displeasure turns to amazement as we see the swamps peter out into wetlands, then dry savannas, then finally the grass gradually transitions to an incredibly flat desert of fine pale sand. After some time over the desert, they come to a tower, some sort of technological pillar. One of the kings asks where they are and the goblin simply replies they're at the north pole. "No I mean THAT" one says pointing to the tower, but the goblin's only reply is "That? Oh that hasn't been used in a while. It's nice and quiet here."

They enter and the goblin makes everyone comfortable, but makes it clear he has brought them here to genuinely negotiate an actual peace. After some stubbornness, they eventually do so, if only because they can think of nothing else to actually pass the time. Finally an agreement is worked out to everyone's satisfaction,and the goblin agrees to take everyone home. As they leave the tower, the kings take one last look around, obviously thoughtful and curious about its vast, intact machinery.

After the kings return and declare the peace agreement, the goblin recedes from view. There follow several days of celebrations through the swamps, during the end of which the goblin has been cleaning his little space sphere. As the celebrations end, the healer notices this and asks if he is leaving, which he confirms. He tells her it's time for him to go and that he has in fact overstayed his time there a bit by remaining during the celebrations. She's deeply saddened by this, but he says the time they spent together has been some of the happiest time of his life. He adds that he does not mean to leave forever, and will return if he can find an opportunity to do so.

That night, his sphere silently zooms off into the heavens.

While that was seemingly the end, the story went on into a second book of sorts. Many years later (10? 15? I don't even know how this compares to earth time), we return to the little world and its swamps, only to find things have actually grown much worse for the healer. Her treehouse is now seriously damaged and a continuous stream of patients keeps her working night and day. Medicines and supplies are short or have run out and she is haggard and tired. Clearly, danger is not far, as one of the boys from the village is now a young man standing guard at the front door. Finally after a long time spent working deep into the night, she stumbles off to get whatever sleep she can.

During that night, we see a long shooting star descend into the swamp. Of course this is no shooting star, the goblin fellow has returned. The sphere descends quietly in spite of it's speed but it's unmistakable sound rouses the healer, who, through a hole where part of one of her walls once was, just sees the streak slow down to land.

As the goblin once again emerges, he pauses, looking at the state of the healer's house with a mild frown, his brow furrowing a bit. As he does, the front door slams open and the healer runs to embrace him with a grip which borders on painful. The goblin appears relieved and happy that the healer's alright, tells her as much, and immediately returns to his cheery state, mentioning that he can help her fix the house right up. She begs for him to come inside as it's not safe out at night, which confuses him but he follows readily anyway.

The goblin then notices how crowded with patients the house is and the healer explains that things have grown much worse since he left, at first the goblin responds with relentless cheerfulness saying how he's sure something can be done. At which point the healer pauses before telling him that it was his intervention last time which made things worse. She goes on to explain that after he left, the kings all eventually got the idea to go back to the tower and raid it for technology to as to become the most powerful on the planet, which is exactly what happened.

After several months of hardships, including men being driven mad by the flat white desert, an expedition led by one king's finest soldiers had made had brought back a number of devices which he used to spy on and disrupt the other nations to his advantage. However his secret was soon broken as each of the kings still spied on one another out of that original mistrust. The second king to discover what had happened sent more than an expedition, he built a trail with way-stations out to the edge of the swamp and then further through the savannah, with cisterns of water from the swamps and everglades enough to sustain a continuous stream of pillaging parties trekking back and forth across the northernmost desert. This was of course too much to remain a secret, so the first king did the same and eventually fights broke out between competing pillage parties. The third king took to robbing the returning caravans of the first two to obtain loot of his own, and so hostilities resumed, though the most serious fighting were away up north.

The goblin, visibly worried, asked about the fourth king (the red-bearded one) and the healer explained that he realized he could not compete in a crowded field, and so eventually sent and expedition south, which, for the first time ever upsets and disturbs the goblin as he seems to know what is coming. South, the expedition of the fourth king found the same gradual changes from swamp to wetland to savannah to eerily desert, only this desert was an inky black, rather than pale and sandy. The goblin groans as the healer flatly tells him, you knew what was down there, didn't you? The goblin nods. The south pole of the planet contained a much larger alien complex. This one in much worse repair than the quite intact tower, but far more industrial. Weapons, vehicles, and other heavy machinery, were found there in various states, allowing the fourth king to catch up rapidly with his rivals and even surpass them.

For a short time it seemed the fourth king would conquer the planet, but the first king managed to have the second king assassinated using knowledge gained by his spy devices and the third king was killed by his own generals, grown rich from plunder and greedy of power, which allowed the first king to gain full control over the north. The first and fourth kings eventually moved out of the swamps, using slave labour to build great citadels at the poles, the first in the north, the second in the south. The swaps are now a land full of continuous horrible warfare. Many villages have been destroyed or battered, and vicious battles are fought between the armies of the two kings as well as with the various warlords and pirate kings intent on pillaging the armies of the two kings or carving out their own territories. The mostly once-neutral civilians have largely joined a kingdom or lordship for protection, leaving even many intact villages desolate or depopulated. The two kings focus on each other for the most part, with the fourth king relying on on heavy weaponry and the first king replying on intelligence and information to keep the first at bay and steal heavy machinery of his own.

The goblin greatly concerned, becomes firmly resolute, declaring that she is right and that this is fully his fault an that he must make amends. The healer wishes to take back what she said earlier telling him, it's not his fault, it's the greed of the kings and warlords who are responsible, but the goblin replies that no matter who is to blame, he must do what he can to help. She asks what he will do and he says he is not sure, but he might require some help (which he does not explain), but that for now he must analyze everything further and in the meantime the least he can do is help out locally, starting with the healer.

A few days pass and as he helps with patients, somehow producing more badly-needed medical supplies. The goblin also begins to rebuild the healer's house. It is about midday and they are eating when a rumbling thumping reverberates through the area, with a screeching of metal also growing louder. The healer says it is a war machine, and that they must take cover as they do not know it's purpose - they may be abandoning their wounded to her care or they may be on their way to some more violent end, so they run inside and peer out a window at a small clearing no more than hundred yards away.

Finally a great and vast war machine strides a multi-leveled and multi-legged hodge-podge of a platform, nearly the size of a village, awkwardly into view. It is covered with pennants and banners and even several buildings, propelled by a collection of massive crablike metal legs of irregular length and appearance. blasters and spears and other mixes of weaponry line the gunwales as the crew hoot and holler.

At first it appears they are just passing through when it becomes clear that another, larger, war strider is also approaching perpendicularly. The two clash in battle, in a very pirate-like way, with no fixed uniforms or standard weapons. They angle for position and shoot at each other with moderate sized cannons firing various things, conventional shot, firebombs, and even energy canons, before ramming one another and each crew fighting the other directly through boarding attempts. Finally the crew of the larger ship seems to be getting the upper hand, when the captain of the smaller strider fires a shot which cripples or destroys several of the first walker's legs and breaks off the engagement, running away faster than the larger strider (now barely able to move without toppling over) can catch up, as the captain crows to the larger strider about all the men they've taken prisoner to the larger strider. Each strider is damaged and smoking with small blazes as they move off, the smaller one at only slightly diminished speed, the larger one slowly limping away.

After a brief wait for the walkers to get far enough away, the healer runs out to see if there are any living casualties, which they do find a few of, and who they bring back to the tree house, some of whom are winched to the upper building on stretchers.

Things began to get hazy at this point. I know the goblin spends some time asking endless questions of the soldiers, and getting most of what he asks for in spite of an initial refusal to answer from many of them.

The goblin subsequently makes some sort of report via his spaceship (which requires a long and complicated setup at a particular time of day) to another goblin-type, perhaps a superior, to explain that he must stay, again repeating he is responsible for this world. The other goblin grudgingly grants this but warns that additional help may be hard to provide. Unsure of the outcome of the conversation?

At some point later on, the goblin and healer are actually aboard a strider commanded by some small-time warlord of marginally less horrible character. Again, we see these are very much like pirate ships, the warlord acting much like a rough and raucous pirate captain and most battles happen simply because one strider spots another, rather than due to any sort of comprehensive plan. I'm not sure why the goblin and healer abandon their neutrality to sign on with a crew, but I suspect the goblin intends to subvert a smaller faction as an early step in to help him end this greater war. After an initial battle allows the goblin to observe more about how the locals build and operate the striders (which, as with any local use of "old technology", he finds cheerfully fascinating and "ingenious"), he manages to help them win them several battles with little or bloodshed (which impresses the pirate warlord mainly for how much loot he gains at not cost).

As the warlord's small fleet grows (some entire walkers are captured intact, and some very small-time pirate captains, perhaps with only one ship throw their lot in with the warlord, the goblin and the healer return to the tree house and village (now also somewhat resuscitated, with a few former residents rescued and some new ones, not sure if this happens before or after joining the pirate crew, but I think it's after). The village is working on some sort of project for the goblin and the healer and the goblin are consumed with their own, more sensitive technological project.

Things get even more hazy and scattered here. Later on, the southern king starts sending out his superior numbers of striders in squadrons, while the northern king demonstrates that he has the means to actually coordinate his ships, allowing them to converge so as to deal with squadrons. Battles become more fierce and devastating, with more death and fewer prisoners taken to be slaves. Many of the independent warlords are gradually lining up behind the "pirate king", who at some point makes a grand show of freeing all his slaves.

At some point the northern king kidnaps the healer so as to gain leverage over the goblin who he correctly realizes is playing everyone against one another. While a captive, the goblin contacts the healer secret via some form of remote transmitter to assure her he will rescue her and to tell her that their daughter (!) is safe. Obviously a rescue of some form takes place, though I can't say when or how, or if it is bound up with the missing climax or prior to it.

At the end somehow the pirate king comes out on top, but refuses the kingship of the planet (fate of the two kings remains uncertain) saying he refuses to have anyone join his crew but of their own free will. Many of the citizens choose to return to their old neutrality, but still others rebuild small nations based on various new and old allegiances. However, the pirate king ends up as a king of what becomes the largest nation, bringing stability by virtue of being incontestably more powerful than any other nation.

Finally, the old tower at the north pole is restored after many long months of labour and the goblin contacts his superiors. With the healer and leaders of many nations with him. He declares that the people of this world are at peace and understand their technology, and therefore deserve "re-admittance". These superiors grumble at this, the implication being that he has helped too much and that this constitutes some form of "cheating", but the goblin cheerily points out that they have met the technical requirements without subterfuge or fakery and are using the old communications tower for its true purpose.

The superiors accede, but advise him that he will still be punished, which he smiles at and suggests that he will be forced to remain on this world, an exile, forced to give up his prestigious position as a "monitor". The chief superior half-conceals a smile and agrees, stating that due to the irregular situation the planet will require a "permanent, long-term" monitor during the "long transition and all that follows" to ensure the planet does not descend back into chaos or fail of its promise, that aiding restoration is now his responsibility, though it will abrogate his career since he will not move on to further assignments. The goblin smiles fully as he readily agrees to this "punishment". The chief superior then addresses the assembled planetary leaders, explaining that they will see a few more of his green kind as contacts, infrastructure and and trade routes are rebuilt, ending by graciously welcoming them "back to our family".
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atog
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Re: In the Land of Wonderful Dreams

Postby atog » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:06 pm

Shit. I'm lucky if I can remember having been asleep. :P

Sometime this week I may have had a dream. Something about going back west to visit my dad, who was totally deaf and had all his favourite old books in GIANT LARGE TEXT. I was complaining about traffic and Mongrel walked in with Mom. Then for some reason a search began for a missing kitty, and we found one of our old affectionate thumbkatz hiding under the couch, all full of dust bunnies and blinking with elderly surprise. Then Mom was upset she missed out on some kind of kpop yurt retreat thingy in Seattle, and I was now commiserating about horrid traffic with my old colleague Ronald, and then I woke up.
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Re: In the Land of Wonderful Dreams

Postby Mongrel » Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:29 pm

I will say that on the rarer occasion I have dreams which are unpleasant (true nightmares are really rare for me), is when the fact that their being long and detailed and vivid is definitely a fucking drawback.

Last night I managed the impressive feat of the full trifecta of "trapped in the car with mom while she tries to get us killed while ranting and raving, aka let's revisit my childhood, why must you do this to me brain", "return to college of some kind only skipping so much class/trapped out of class such that I have no idea what's going on", and "having to explain why I'm naked in public".

At least the school one managed to be WEIRD for some limited entertainment value. The students were all what you'd get if you crossbred fratbros/frathos with carnies, and over the course of the dream, the school started off as a standard college before gradually transforming first into a really gaudy mall, then to a hideous Vegas-like theme park/promenade.
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Re: In the Land of Wonderful Dreams

Postby atog » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:22 pm

I was driving my mom around a mashup of St Paul, MN / Towson, MD. We stopped for ice cream, except it was a froyo shop specializing in upscale sundaes. She got an Irish teacup (a crunchy waffle mug with handle made for runny, fudgey sundaes with whipped cream and fruit) and I got a blueberry cheesecake yogurt in a pancake cone.

Then we were driving back south to her place, and decided not to hop on the interstate right away, but head down through the residentials to the next ramp. We ended up winding our way through a swank subdivision full of Aztec-themed sculptures and stylized limestone-cladded Mesoamerican-style homes. All the road and lane names were obnoxious Aztec words or names, so at one point we reached the residents' association office where Cuauhtemoc Crescent curved up to join Xolotl Drive. A few elderly white residents doddered about in yards manicured and supplied with potted palms and yucca bushes. As the sun set, we ran south along Xolotl Drive to the highway, frozen yogurt smearing our faces and hands and whipped cream on our noses, enjoying a little gallows humour about the gringos and their fantasy jungle empire.
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Re: In the Land of Wonderful Dreams

Postby Mongrel » Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:41 pm

Weird 3-4 hour movie that was some sort of increasingly cynical and absurdist British parody on British wars and military actions of the 20th century, which appeared to have been made in (and ends in) the 60's/70's, with the longest section being WWII, which took up most of the first half. It was half-silly live action and half animation in the spirit of Saul Bass/Terry Gilliam, with the art style being that scratchy and flat-planed faux-Victorian style which was really popular in the 60's. It ended with a deeply cynical riff on the then-unresolved Northern Irish conflict.

Reminded me very much of similar lengthy and stylized British movies of the era, like Oh! What a Lovely War, or O! Lucky Man.
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