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Before reading, do note that any information about how dreamcatchers work or are used here, is not true. I've actually searched for it, but I haven't found anything but legends that I didn't really want to use in this work, so yeah e,e

(though the meaning of the gemstones are accurate, if you wanted to know)

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“Ma’am, my dreamcatcher isn’t mine.”

“What do you mean? Of course it’s yours. Are you saying you stole it from someone else? Why’d you do that?”

“No- I mean, I got it as did everyone else during the ‘nightmare times’, but- “

“But what? You got one. It’s yours. Everyone got one of their own, so did you. Why are you bothering me when you’re someone who should especially understand how busy and stressed I am right now?”

“You don’t understand, ma’am- “

“-But I do understand. Nothing ever satisfies you pitiful people. Always something bothering you. ‘But master, the beds are too hard. But ma’am, the food is bad. But sir, the water is mucky’. Do you understand it’s hard for me and my fellow Highers to keep every single one of you well fed and alive?”

“I know. And I fully respect you. I wouldn’t have asked you if it wasn’t a dire situation. I understand how stressful all this is, and we might have not been making it any easier- “

The woman snickered at this, muttering a quiet ‘I second that’.

“-But the dreamcatcher isn’t protecting me. Never did. The nightmares are still coming, every day, and it’s getting unbearable. The pain it’s been causing me as of lately is horrible. I think I got the wrong dreamcatcher- I…. I need my dreamcatcher. Because the one I have isn’t mine.” I finished, staring at my feet. I avoided the woman’s eye, knowing it’ll just make this that much more painful to do.

I was never one to annoy the Highers, question them or ask them for anything. I took everything they gave me, knowing it would be enough to survive. I didn’t care if I’d have to sleep on a rock, eat leaves or drink the murkiest water, as long as the nightmares stopped hurting me.

“302, look at me” demanded the woman, as I visibly flinched. I hated being called by my number, I much rather my given name, yet I’d have to bare through it if I’d like the nightmares to disappear. As I met the woman’s eyes, I watched her stare me down for a few seconds.

“The ‘Nightmare days’ started two years ago. Why haven’t you informed any of us earlier? We could have switched your dreamcatcher then, not now when we have to call over a Dream Mage to enchant anything! Other than that, we’d have to find a sewer wiling to weave the dreamcatcher’s strings, another one to find the wood of the holly trees, and another to- “

“’Ma’am, I’ve already made it. I’ve spoken with my friend who has quizzed me on what my dreamcatcher should be made of. They’re a retired spokes and dream mage. I’ve gathered my materials, the wood, I’ve managed to create it myself. All I need is for you to call a Dream Mage to finish the job. My friend would have done it, but he doesn’t have the power he once did” I said everything in one breath, not meeting the woman’s gaze once again.

I’ve tried solving the problems best I can without involving the Highers, knowing it would bother them. Bothering the hand that feeds me and keeps me safe would be a stupid move.

I’ve tried my best, had my friend pick out the materials I’d need for my own dreamcatcher. I managed to get all of it, and with advice from my fellow friends, managed to stich it all together.

All I needed now, was for a Dream Mage to curse it. I needed them to make my dreamcatcher eat my nightmares, so they wouldn’t be painful and unbearable anymore.

“Is that so?” the woman asked, frowning slightly. I knew that wasn’t a good sign, yet I nodded slightly. The woman’s face broke into a grin, as she threw her legs on top her desk, resting the papers she was holding before on the counter next to her.

“Show me then, if I’m to believe you at all”

I quickly threw my bag of my shoulder, before fishing out the dreamcatcher. Pulling it out, I passed it over to the Higher.

It was a sturdy dreamcatcher. But it looked different from the one I had before, and I had high hopes for it to work.

The Higher snatched it out of my grasp, examining it carefully.

“…Tell me about it.”

I stood silent for a moment, not knowing what exactly to say. This was my time to impress the Higher, maybe score some points. Make her know I’m worth the trouble to call that Dream Mage.

“Well, the circular frame is made out of the strongest Polly Wood, as is- “

“Child, I meant it’s meaning. Don’t tell me the damned tree it came from, tell me what it meant.”

“Oh… um. The Polly Wood tree- it’s sturdy. I like to think of myself as sturdy, too. Strong. I don’t let other people’s opinions scratch me, I always hold my ground. Unlike other wood, Polly Wood isn’t beautiful, others don’t use it for building things meant to impress. Instead it’s used for sturdy houses. And I like that- I think… I think I’m kind of like that. I don’t make things beautiful, I don’t make things meant to impress- I make things that are meant to be used properly, not stand on a dusty shelf.”

“And the strings? Is this spider silk, or maybe strings of snowman tears?”

“No, no, actually- it’s strings of glass. The strings in a dreamcatcher are meant to capture the nightmares. They represent what would protect you- what you value enough in life, for it to protect you. I value honesty- as does a mirror of glass. It shows who everyone is- who you are. A mirror is perfectly honest in showing what it sees. Glass is also delicate, one mistake and it might break. Just as life itself. I value all of this, and I trust it enough to catch the nightmares.”

“I see… What about the feathers?”

“Well… The feathers act as bait. The nightmares are called by the feathers. I- actually, this is quite a weird story, but oh well. There used to be this raven outside- of course, it wouldn’t have been inside, would it? Heh, okay. Anyway. The raven would use to stand on my porch every day. It would always look at my door with hesitation, as if wondering if it can come in. Of course, whenever I did open the door, it always flew away. Maybe it was a bit shy.

Anyhow, I even tried feeding it a couple of times. I’d give it a few corn pieces, but it would only eat them when I was out of sight. I gave up on trying to become friends with the raven, noticing how stupid I was acting. Then, out of nowhere, one day as I was coming back from work, I heard someone swearing and shouting. I decided to jog up to where the sound was coming from- and surprise surprise- it came from my house.

And so, I walk in, and notice a bandit- one of those whose face had been plastered on most of the wanted posters ‘round Jamaa- who was standing in the middle of my kitchen. What shocked me though, was a raven, who was attacking the bandit. Pecking at his arms, scratching his chest.

I managed to get some Highers to my house, and they managed to catch the bandit. Yet during my search for help, the Raven got horribly injured. I tried saving it, but it hadn’t worked. It died shortly after. So… those are the Raven’s feathers. Bravery, Confidence, Loyalty and Strength. That’s what nightmare’s aim for. The feathers would certainly do good bait, as they also hold the memory of the Raven” I finished, realizing I’ve started rumbling. Embarrassed, I looked back at my shoes.

“A weird story indeed. Interesting nonetheless. Now, I’ve noticed you’ve added three charms. During the ‘Nightmare Days’ we gave out Catchers with one or two charms. Tell me something about these.”

“Really? I haven’t noticed they only had one or two charms” I answered truthfully. I actually thought the amount of charms on the dreamcatchers was random. I must have mistaken.

“Well, there are three stones on mine. The first one, with the dusty-red color is a Red Jasper. It means ‘Justice’, and ‘Courage to speak your mind’. It means fairness in opinion. Nightmares are controlled by opinions- or their lack of. Nightmares come from other’s opinions, and come from your own lack of strength to show your own opinion. They terrorize you in the worst way. This gemstone is to destroy that. It talks back to the nightmare, not giving it the satisfaction of being always right.

The next stone- the yellow one- is a Citrine. It’s nicknamed the Merchant’s stone. It means success, personal power and self-esteem. It gives me the satisfaction of beating a nightmare, the mere thought of succeeding in destroying what haunts me. It gives me power over the nightmare, power to control it.

The last- the clear one- is a Smokey Quartz. It’s meaning is simple- it removes negativity. I don’t have to explain why I put it there- I think it’s quite obvious. That’s… that’s all.”

The Higher studied my dreamcatcher a moment longer, before nodding slightly.

“A dreamcatcher of a sturdy, Polly Wood frame, with glass strings, raven feathers, and three gemstones as charms. It’s not even badly made. I’ll give you credit for that” she said, giving it back to me. I looked up at her expectantly.

“About the Dream Mage- I’ll see what I can do. I’m sure I can pull a few strings here and there, and get them to come and curse your dreamcatcher. Come back tomorrow, same time. Have a good night, Essca” the woman said, as a grin spread on my face. I was glad she used my name instead of my number.

And tomorrow, tomorrow my dreams will finally be beautiful. They’ll finally be of happy thoughts and dancing trees, not sharp teeth and dark pits.

And, today, was the first day in two years that I’ve smiled this much.

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